Cloudless skies, warm temperatures and more than 300 annual days of glorious sunshine – the weather in Phoenix is pretty perfect year-round. And even when it’s heating up, the low humidity lends itself to activities like strolling among downtown’s street murals and discovering the desert ecosystem. So when is the best time to visit Phoenix?
Winter is high season in Phoenix, with plenty of so-called “snowbirds” in the US and from Canada seeking out the Valley of Sun’s warmer environs. Hotel rates are often at their highest. Spring and fall are equally appealing, with balmy weather, complemented by crisper mornings and evenings. Summer is unquestionably hot, but it’s not a dealbreaker. Monsoon season brings short bursts of much-needed rain, cooling off the arid landscape. It’s also prime time to visit myriad museums and chill out in hotel swimming pools as well as in Phoenix’s refreshing lakes and rivers beaches.
Read on for a month-to-month breakdown of weather, accommodation costs and activities to make the most of your time in Arizona’s capital.
High Season: October to May
Best for outdoor activities and seeing desert flowers
You’ll rarely need more than a light jacket or sweater during these months, when life outdoors is idyllic. It’s easy to occupy your days by teeing off on one of Phoenix’s eight golf courses (five are championship) and checking out iconic saguaro cactuses at places like Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.
Low Season: June to September
Best for watching pro sports
Sure, it’s already hot in Phoenix in late spring and scorching come summer, but that gives you free rein to kick back indoors, whether watching the Arizona Diamondbacks play (in an air-conditioned stadium), shopping, or finding solitude in the city’s museums and galleries. It’s also the best time to find bargains on accommodations and activities, especially golf.
When much of the country is freezing, Phoenix is perfectly pleasant in January. Temperatures average highs of 67 and lows of 44, but don’t expect freezing. The one thing that heats up is hotel rates, so book early to secure the best price. Events haven’t ramped up for the year yet, but the cooler days lure runners to Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona, a series of races from 5km to marathon, the longer routes traveling through the red rocks surrounding Greater Phoenix.
One of Arizona’s biggest draws is golf, and enthusiasts arrive to the fairways in droves for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. February is also the best month to explore the city’s local cuisine and brews at monthly events and learn about Indigenous culture at the Heard Museum, which hosts the world championship in hoop dancing.
Major League Baseball’s spring training season is in full swing in Phoenix, with teams in the Cactus League playing at ballparks and stadiums around the city. Keep this in mind when booking accommodations, which may be more affordable outside of the city. Temperatures warm up to the mid-70s, making March an excellent month for desert hikes in places like the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve when the wildflowers and cactuses start blooming.
An eclectic range of festivals and events held in April exemplify Phoenix’s diversity. Race car and motorcycle fans arrive for Nascar, and Arizona Bike Week’s rally and music fest, while other events celebrate the humble taco and all things Renaissance (including jousting tournaments) round out the mix. Hotel prices can still be fairly high.
Although it’s technically still spring in May, average highs hit the mid-90s. Travelers tend to thin out toward month’s end. Now is the time to make the most of the weather by eating al fresco; find one of the city’s green spaces for a picnic, like Encanto Park, where you can also fish or row a boat in the lagoon. Evenings are in the mid-60s, but still warm enough to sip a cocktail on a rooftop deck and watch the sun setting over the Sonoran Desert.
Key Events: Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
As temperatures steadily climb, cracking the 100s, hotel prices start to descend, making the dream of staying in a luxury resort in Phoenix more attainable. Large-scale festivals are long gone, but there’s still plenty of revelry catching pro sports. Teams like MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury play at indoor venues throughout the summer.
July is typically the hottest month in Phoenix, but it’s quieter here too with locals heading north to cooler climes or on water-bound excursions for camping and fishing. That also means it’s easier to book lazy afternoon spa days at glam resorts or secure dinner reservations at Phoenix’s top-notch restaurants.
The heat recedes a bit and it’s blessedly (almost) bone dry in the desert. Phoenicians take advantage of cooler mornings and evenings when the temperature is in the 80s. You can do the same, taking part in evening activities like Flashlight Nights, a self-guided adventure through Desert Botanical Garden. Look for night-blooming plants and keep your eyes open for nocturnal desert animals. Or head out on a day trip to higher, cooler grounds, like Tonto National Forest, a wilderness area ranging in elevation from 1300ft to 7900ft, with tons of backcountry trails surrounded by streams and pine forests.
Triple-digit temps are almost a distant memory come September, and festivals and events kick into action once again. Take a big bite out of southwest and international cuisine during Arizona Restaurant Week, which is also a fundraiser for families in need. Tourism also makes a resurgence, but reasonable room rates can still be found.
Harvest season in the desert also ushers in the first crisp autumn afternoons, with temperatures dropping to the mid-60s. October days somehow feel fitting for outdoor fairs and fests that celebrate arts, craft beer culture and the carnival atmosphere at the stalwart Arizona State Fair.
In November, celebrations amp up and so does tourism, causing hotel prices to spike as sunseekers start their escape to Phoenix for reliable warmth and ample activity. Arizona’s trio of burgeoning wine regions are represented at the annual wine festival, and partying goes all out at Phoenix Pride, a two-day celebration of the LGBTIQ+ community and its allies.
The winter chill finally arrives as daytime temperatures drop to the mid-60s. It’s not cold enough to freeze, and Phoenix celebrates the holiday season in true desert style. One southwestern tradition is Holidays at the Heard; the museum’s annual showcase, which features art exhibits, authentic Indigenous crafts and live music. If you’re set on visiting Phoenix in December, book early. An influx of tourists can drive up costs, especially on weekends and during winter holidays.