Situated in south-central Arizona, Phoenix is the largest city in the state, in terms of both size and population. Also the state capital, Phoenix boasts a subtropical desert climate and receives the most sunshine of any major city in the world. Summers in Phoenix are very hot, with average triple-digit temperatures, while winters are mild, sometimes even warm. Phoenix is your one-stop shop for stunning natural views and a gorgeous city skyline, brimming with plenty of exciting attractions and amenities, from theaters and museums to spas and golf courses. Consider one of these 12 vacation rental locations in and around Phoenix, the Valley of the Sun.

1. Phoenix

giant cactus plants at the golf course

Book a vacation rental in center-city Phoenix to take in everything the area has to offer. Ideal for the avid golfer in your family, Phoenix has no shortage of championship courses. The Musical Instrument Museum offers a cultural experience for the whole family. Take a guided tour through the Desert Botanical Garden to discover the cacti and other desert plants, and head to Rusconi’s American Kitchen for an incredible dinner.

2. Tempe

people at the arena

A mere 8 miles east of Phoenix, Tempe is home to Arizona State University. A vacation rental in Tempe lets you soak up the youthful vibe of this college town or take in one of the Sun Devils’ football games. Delight the kids with a trip to the SEA LIFE Aquarium Arizona, and be sure to visit the Mill District for shopping and restaurants, or just enjoy a pleasant stroll along the tree-lined streets.

3. Scottsdale

sunset view

A vacation rental in Scottsdale puts you just 12 miles east of Phoenix and right in the midst your relaxation paradise. Scottsdale is known for having more spas per capita than any other city in the United States. Hike Tom’s Thumb Trail at sunrise, then takes the family to Butterfield’s Pancake House for breakfast. Adventure-seekers are sure to love Octane Raceway, which also has mini bowling for the little ones.

4. Mesa

yachts resting at the pier

Those craving a trip with plenty of outdoor adventures should find a vacation rental in Mesa, just 20 miles east of Phoenix. Hiking trails crisscross this booming metropolis, which offers access to two rivers and three lakes. Upscale restaurants and high-end shopping abound, as well as golf courses. Take in a play or concert at the incredible Mesa Arts Center, and take your time checking out the exhibits at the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

5. Glendale

water park slide

Scope out a vacation rental in Glendale, 9 miles northwest of Phoenix, to situate yourself in “Arizona’s Antiques Capital.” This modern city still pays homage to its rich history, letting you enjoy the best of both worlds. Football fans can catch an Arizona Cardinals game at the University of Phoenix Stadium. For Mexican cuisine, head to Popos Fiesta Del Sol for dinner. Keep the kids entertained for a day at the Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix water park.

6. Peoria

desert plants on the mountain

Travel 13 miles northwest of Phoenix to find a vacation rental in Peoria, a charming town with plenty to keep your family busy. Take a riverboat cruise on Lake Pleasant, or rent some kayaks to navigate the lake on your own. Take a bike ride on the New River Trail, and take your little scientists to the Challenger Space Center of Arizona.

7. Paradise Valley

woman enjoying a massage

A short 15-mile trip northeast of Phoenix lands you in Paradise Valley, a relaxing oasis in the desert. Take an evening stroll through Barry Goldwater Park, and check out the bronze statue memorializing the U.S. Senator and Paradise Valley resident. Visit one of the town’s spas, play a round of golf, or pick up some souvenir bells at Cosanti Originals.

8. Chandler

skateboarding

To the southeast of Phoenix, just 23 miles away, lies Chandler, a city packed with entertainment for the whole family. Shop ’til you drop at the Chandler Fashion Center and let the kids show their skills at the 35,000-square-foot Chandler Skate Park. Art lovers shouldn’t miss the Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery, and Rawhide Western Town & Event Center is a must-visit destination for the whole family.

9. Gilbert

carousel

Near Chandler, Gilbert is located 22 miles to the southeast of Phoenix. This popular tourist spot features the Gilbert Historical Museum, dedicated to the town’s history. Vacation rentals here give you access to the booming downtown area. Take your tiny astronomers to the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory, or catch a live performance at the Hale Centre Theatre. Don’t leave without a trip to Freestone Park, which delights kids with a miniature train, carousel, mini Ferris wheel, and more.

10. Surprise

giraffe

Head 21 miles northwest of Phoenix, and you hit Surprise, a town worthy of its name. Perfect for the outdoor adventurer, Surprise is home to mountains, lakes, and deserts. The Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is the ideal place for families. For incredible Asian cuisine, visit Saigon Kitchen.

11. Maricopa

sky divers in action

Just 27 miles south of Phoenix lies Maricopa, a thrill-seeker’s paradise. Choose a vacation rental here to enjoy the nearby Harrah’s Ak-chin Casino, or take the kids to the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. Grab a burger and play a round of golf a The Duke at Rancho El Dorado. Skydiving and hang-gliding are popular here, or you can take a sightseeing airplane tour with Arizona Soaring Inc.

12. Sun City West

bowling balls

Travel 21 miles northwest of Phoenix to find a vacation rental in Sun City West. A great place for seniors or families looking for quiet relaxation, Sun City West boasts three great golf courses. Grab some VIP passes from the Sun City West Visitors Center, and enjoy seven-day access to four recreation centers throughout the city that offer everything from shuffleboard and bocce to pickleball and bowling. Save room for dinner at the Hole ‘n One restaurant.