Where and What to Hire
When hiring a car in Phoenix, Arizona, there are a good range of international car rental companies to choose from. Thrifty, Alamo, Sixt, Hertz, Advantage, Dollar and Airport-Rent-a-Car can all be found at Phoenix Sky Harbour ‘s 140-acre Rental Car Centre under its towering roof. In the Scottsdale area of phoenix, car hire companies Hertz, Dollar, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Alamo all have branches. Budget, Avis, Thrifty and Enterprise are all located off the main Papago Freeway, west of the city centre, while Avis and Budget also have branches in Superstition Springs. All types of drivers are catered for with everything from two-door city cars to three and five-door family vehicles, huge MPVs and 4x4s as well as classic all-American cars like Corvettes, Porsches, Mustangs, Camaros, Hummers and Mercedes.
Phoenix is definitely a car town and it is almost essential to have a vehicle in order to get around the ‘Valley of the Sun’ as it is otherwise known. However, despite the endless good roads and space there are some important factors to bear in mind when driving in Phoenix. Wildfires are one. These are seasonal and can occur without warning. A good place to check for updates before travelling is The Wildfire Incident Information System, InciWeb. Dust storms are another common occurrence with high winds sweeping across deserts blowing dust onto the highway. Although many associate Arizona with deserts, the area also has heavy rainstorms particularly in the summer monsoon season. Rush hour in Phoenix is from 5am to 12noon and from 12noon to 7pm. More unusual road hazards to look out for include skunks, cows, horses, tyres, rabbits, squirrels, vultures and coyotes. It is worth wearing driving gloves as the intense heat can make the steering wheel untouchably hot.
Parking in Phoenix isn’t usually a problem, with plenty of free on-street parking, particularly outside Downtown. More parking can be found at the many shopping malls and plazas. There is also free valet parking available in most places. Let someone else do the ‘space finding’ but always be sure to tip them when they do. Downtown Phoenix has over 25,000 spaces to park, many of them metered from 8am to 10pm every day. The rate is approximately $1-1.50 per hour.
Where to Go and What to See
There is much to see with a hire car in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Just 40 minutes north of Phoenix is the lovely small town of Cave Creek while Flagstaff, just over two hours north, is a blissfully cool break from boiling Phoenix. Those who don’t mind driving further have wonderful San Diego approximately 5 hours west of Phoenix. The zoo here is known for being one of the best in the world and is a fantastic place for the whole family to visit. For kids there is no end of incredible things to do in Phoenix from horse riding and go-karting to cycling and Science Museums but by far the best for cooling down is the Wet ’n Wild Water Park in Phoenix, set amid 35 acres of land with slides and pool and rides galore. For animal loving kids the 20 minute drive to Tempe means a trip to Sea Life Arizona with underwater creatures from seahorses and seals to rays and sharks. Five hours northwest of Phoenix is the gamblers paradise of Las Vegas where neon lights and all-you-can-eat buffets are big crowd pleasers. However, there is another reason to visit Las Vegas. Just a stone’s throw from The Strip is the breath-taking natural beauty of the Grand Canyon National Park. Carved by the mighty Colorado River, this steep-sided canyon is a must for anyone who loves walking, hiking, massive skies, fiery sunsets and huge outdoor spaces. In just 20 minutes, visitors to Phoenix can be in Guadalupe in Mexico, exploring the Native American and Hispanic communities, founded by Yaqui Indians a hundred years ago. It is well worth stopping at the local markets where wonderful Mexican arts are produced and sold. For those just wanting to drive the wide open spaces of America, take the 198 miles Apache Trail. This six hour loops starts on the Arizona Highway and continues on through desert, mountains, parks and rugged canyons for an unforgettable experience.