No one heads to Phoenix looking for a cold winter. This is America’s sunniest metropolis, with 211 rain–free days a year and an identity so tied to the heat that even the basketball team is called the Suns. While snow is extremely rare in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, the Sonoran Desert offers its own sort of winter wonderland. Each December, the Christmas cactus and desert mistletoe burst to life with succulent flowers and crimson berries fit for any wreath. At night, visitors can grab a hot spiced cider and a churro at the Desert Botanical Garden’s annual Las Noches de las Luminarias. Set in rustic Papago Park—a hilly red–rock expanse bordering Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Tempe—the gardens glow with over 8,000 luminarias (paper bags lit from within by candles). “We don’t get snow, and we don’t wear big winter coats,” says Event Director Marcia Flynn. “So we all need an event like this to get us into holiday mode.” 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, dbg.org, admission $25, Dec. 1–30, select nights from 5:30–9:30 p.m.
Average High/Low Temperatures
27% cheaper, compared to February high season (daily rates of $88.21 in December for the Phoenix metro area)
(for the Phoenix metro area)
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