Where to stay in Phoenix for first time: 6 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Phoenix without a car (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Phoenix for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Phoenix for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Phoenix and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before get into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Phoenix:

Phoenix is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Arizona known for its hot desert climate. It is situated in the Salt River Valley (Valley of the Sun), and is surrounded by mountains, including the McDowell Mountains to the northeast and the White Tank Mountains to the west.

The city has a vibrant cultural scene with numerous museums, theaters, and art galleries. The Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, and Musical Instrument Museum are among the notable museums.

Phoenix is served by several institutions of higher education, including Arizona State University, which has multiple campuses in the metropolitan area.

Some notable landmarks in Phoenix include Camelback Mountain, Papago Park, South Mountain Park, and the Desert Botanical Garden.

The city has an extensive freeway system, and the Valley Metro Light Rail provides public transportation within the city. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a major transportation hub for the region.

Phoenix has a hot desert climate, so staying hydrated is crucial, especially during the summer months. Drink plenty of water and avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat.

Is Phoenix safe to visit?

Yes, Phoenix is generally considered a safe city, but like any urban area, it’s essential but it’s essential to exercise usual precautions and awareness during your visit. Stick to well-traveled areas, avoid poorly lit areas, and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.

Where to stay in Phoenix for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Phoenix for first-timers and tourists are Downtown Phoenix, Old Town Scottsdale, Tempe, Glendale, Biltmore Area, and Paradise Valley. It is recommended to always exercise common sense when traveling no matter where you stay.

Downtown is one of the most popular areas in Phoenix for first-time visitors who want a central location, proximity to cultural attractions (museums, theaters), sports venues, and a growing food scene.

Scottsdale is a popular choice for tourists and is known for its upscale shops, restaurants, and resorts. The area around Old Town Scottsdale is particularly vibrant and safe.

Tempe is a budget-friendly area near Phoenix where you can find the Arizona State University and Tempe Town Lake. This area has a lively atmosphere, great nightlife, and a variety of dining options.  

The Biltmore area is an affluent neighborhood with upscale shopping and dining options. It’s generally considered safe and is located near the Biltmore Fashion Park.

Paradise Valley is an affluent suburb, known for luxury resorts and beautiful landscapes. It’s a peaceful area, but accommodations can be expensive.

Glendale is a good base to book accommodations if you’re interested in events at the Westgate Entertainment District. It may be less central if your main activities are in downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale.

In Phoenix, it’s advisable to avoid certain areas such as Maryvale, south of downtown, and the Central City area, as they have faced challenges with crime.

During my trip to Phoenix, I stayed at the mid-range Kimpton Hotel Palomar Phoenix Cityscape. The hotel has a central location in Downtown Phoenix, close to the train, only a 5 mins walk from Chase Field. They had a gorgeous rooftop pool and a comfortable and well sized room.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Phoenix for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Phoenix first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Phoenix first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Phoenix, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Phoenix have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 Safe areas to stay in Phoenix for first-timers and tourists:

1. Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix, without the doubt, is the best area to stay in Phoenix for first-time travelers. It is best suited for those who want to be centrally located with access to cultural attractions, sports, and a mix of dining and entertainment options.

Downtown Phoenix is home to various museums and galleries, including the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona Science Center, and the Heard Museum.

If you’re a sports fan, Downtown Phoenix is close to major sports venues such as Chase Field (home to the Arizona Diamondbacks) and Footprint Center (home to the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Coyotes).

Downtown is home to Cityscape, offers shopping, dining, and entertainment options. You’ll find a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops within walking distance.

You can also explore the vibrant Roosevelt Row Arts District, which is known for its street art, galleries, and creative spaces. It’s a great area to explore if you’re interested in the local arts scene.

Downtown Phoenix has access to the Valley Metro Light Rail, making it convenient to explore other parts of the city, including Tempe and Mesa.

If your visit is business-related, Downtown Phoenix is the central business district and has various corporate offices, government buildings, and conference facilities.

While the nightlife scene is not as extensive as in some other areas like Old Town Scottsdale, there are still bars, clubs, and entertainment options to enjoy.

Best places to stay in Downtown Phoenix for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, great 5-star hotel in central Phoenix, a short walk from Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns. It features a nice lobby, comfy bed, and lovely onsite restaurant.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Regency Phoenix, popular 4-star hotel in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, 5 mins walk from Chase and US Airways Arena, short Uber ride from Arizona State University. It features an Outdoor swimming pool, valet parking, and comfortable rooms.
  • Budget ($): Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix Downtown, 3-star hotel, centrally located within walking distance from Copper Square, and Phoenix Convention Center. It has well-equipped air conditioning rooms, and a private parking for those who drive a car.

2. Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale is a popular and lively area known for its historic charm, upscale shopping, vibrant nightlife, and cultural attractions.

Old Town Scottsdale is renowned for its upscale shopping, especially along Scottsdale Fashion Square and the various boutiques in the area. There’s also a diverse range of dining options, from fine dining to casual eateries.

The area is home to numerous art galleries, including the Scottsdale Arts District, which features a variety of contemporary and Native American art. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is also located here.

Old Town Scottsdale is known for its vibrant nightlife, particularly in the Entertainment District. You’ll find a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues, making it a popular destination for experience the local nightlife scene.

The area hosts cultural events and festivals throughout the year. The Scottsdale Arts Festival, Scottsdale Culinary Festival, and various art walks are just a few examples of the cultural offerings.

If you’re interested in the history of the American West, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is worth a visit. It showcases Western art, artifacts, and cultural exhibits.

Old Town is also close to outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve or enjoying a round of golf at one of the nearby courses.

The Scottsdale Waterfront offers a scenic area along the Arizona Canal, with walking paths, public art, and outdoor spaces to relax.  

Best places to stay in Old Town Scottsdale for first-timers:

  • Mid-range ($$): Canopy By Hilton Scottsdale Old Town, great 4-star accommodation that has an  excellent location, within walking distance to attractions, art galleries, restaurants, bars and shops. It has free bikes, a private parking, rooftop lounge, and outdoor pool.
  • Mid-range ($$): Bespoke Inn Scottsdale, great boutique inn in central location of Scottsdale, close to restaurants, shopping and the main roads.
  • Budget ($): Hyatt Place Scottsdale/Old Town, popular 3-star hotel conveniently located on East Third Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale, right in the middle of everything. It features Outdoor swimming pool, good breakfast, and Free parking which is a bonus for travelers with cars. 

3. Tempe

Tempe is an excellent choice for those who want a lively and dynamic atmosphere with a mix of cultural, recreational, and entertainment options. It is a lively city known for its youthful energy, thanks to the presence of Arizona State University. 

The Mill Avenue District is a popular area for shopping, dining, and nightlife. You’ll find a variety of restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment options along Mill Avenue.  

Tempe is home to the Tempe Town Lake, an artificial lake that offers a scenic area for outdoor activities, including walking, jogging, cycling, and boating. There are parks and recreational spaces around the lake.

Tempe is home to cultural attractions such as the Tempe Center for the Arts, which hosts a variety of performances, exhibitions, and events.

Sun Devil Stadium, located on the ASU campus, hosts football games and other events. Tempe is also close to hiking and outdoor recreational areas, such as Papago Park.

In addition to Mill Avenue, Tempe Marketplace is a large outdoor shopping and entertainment complex with a variety of retail stores, restaurants, and a movie theater.

Tempe is well-connected to the Valley Metro Light Rail, making it easy to explore other parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, including downtown Phoenix.

Baseball fans may be interested in visiting Tempe Diablo Stadium, the spring training facility for the Los Angeles Angels.

Best places to stay in Phoenix Tempe for tourists:

  • Mid-range ($$): Hyatt Place Tempe Phoenix University, this is a popular 4-star hotel located  adjacent to ASU, with easy access to the Sun Devils Stadium, where the Arizona State Sun Devils football team plays. It has free breakfast, a swimming pool, and paid parking next door. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Tempe Mission Palms, a Destination by Hyatt Hotel, great 4-star hotel, situated on East 5th Street, Tempe, featuring a rooftop pool and tennis court. It is close to Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, Sun Devil Stadium, and Phoenix Zoo. There are also free parking and free airport shuttle services.
  • Budget ($): University Inn ASU/Tempe, a star accommodation, located on South Mill Avenue, just across the street from Arizona State University. It has free parking and easy access to the Tempe Beach Park. 

4. Glendale

Glendale offers a mix of entertainment, shopping, and recreational opportunities. It’s an especially good choice for those interested in sports events and entertainment venues. 

Westgate Entertainment District is a major attraction in Glendale, featuring shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It’s home to the Gila River Arena (NHL hockey and entertainment venue) and the State Farm Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals and host to various events).

If you enjoy shopping, Tanger Outlets Westgate offers a variety of brand-name stores, making it a popular destination for bargain hunters.

Glendale hosts major sporting events, concerts, and festivals, particularly at the State Farm Stadium and Gila River Arena. Check the event calendar to see if any activities align with your visit.

The historic downtown area features antique shops, boutiques, and local restaurants. It’s a charming area with a nostalgic feel.

If you’re interested in the performing arts, the Arizona Broadway Theatre in Glendale offers Broadway-style productions and dining experiences.

Glendale has several parks and recreational areas, including Thunderbird Conservation Park, which offers hiking trails and scenic views.

A popular attraction in Glendale is the Cerreta Candy Company, where you can take a guided tour to see how chocolates and candies are made.

Best places to stay in Phoenix in Glendale for visitors:

  • Mid-range ($$): Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa, 4-star accommodation, located on Entertainment Boulevard, easy distance from Gila River Arena and University of Phoenix Stadium. It features an indoor/ outdoor pool, spa center, private parking, and 2 restaurants.
  • Budget ($): Tru By Hilton Phoenix Glendale Westgate, popular 3-star hotel in Glendale, within short walking distance of Desert Diamond Arena and the Tanger shopping outlet. It has an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, and 24-hour front desk. 
  • Budget ($): Aloft Glendale at Westgate, 3-star accommodation located on North 93rd Avenue, close to Westgate, eateries, sport stadiums, and movie theater.

5. Biltmore Area

The Biltmore Area is an upscale neighborhood known for its luxurious accommodations, high-end shopping, and fine dining. It has luxury brands, designer boutiques, and upscale department stores.

The Biltmore Area is home to several prestigious golf courses, including the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club. Golf enthusiasts will find well-maintained courses with scenic views.

The area offers a variety of upscale dining options, ranging from fine dining restaurants to trendy cafes. Many of these establishments are located within the Biltmore Fashion Park.

The Biltmore Area is close to Camelback Mountain, a popular hiking destination with scenic trails. It’s a great option for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a more active experience.

While the Biltmore Area is primarily known for luxury and recreation, it’s also conveniently located for exploring cultural attractions in Phoenix, including museums and theaters. 

Best places to stay in Phoenix in Biltmore Area:

  • Luxury ($$$): Arizona Biltmore A Waldorf Astoria Resort, 5-star accommodation on Camelback East, featuring 8 swimming pools, family rooms, and Very Good Breakfast.
  • Mid-range ($$): AC Hotel Phoenix Biltmore, great 4-star hotel, offering Wonderful Breakfast, free parking, and 24h front desk. 
  • Budget ($): Sonesta Select Phoenix Camelback, 3-star hotel located on East Camelback Road, short distance from Biltmore Fashion Park Shopping Center. It features spacious, well equipped rooms and a heated swimming pool.

6. Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley is an affluent and exclusive residential area in the Phoenix metropolitan area, known for its upscale homes, luxury resorts, and scenic views of Camelback Mountain.

Paradise Valley is home to some of the most luxurious resorts in the region, offering high-end accommodations, spa services, and fine dining. These resorts often feature beautiful grounds and pools.

The area boasts prestigious golf courses, providing a picturesque setting for golf enthusiasts. Many of the resorts have their own championship golf courses.

Camelback Mountain is a prominent natural landmark in Paradise Valley. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore hiking trails with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The resorts in Paradise Valley often have world-class spa facilities, providing a range of wellness and relaxation services.

The Musical Instrument Museum, although not in Paradise Valley, is located nearby and is a unique attraction worth visiting. It showcases a vast collection of musical instruments from around the world.

Best places to stay in Phoenix in Paradise Valley:


In conclusion, Downtown Phoenix, Old Town Scottsdale, Tempe, Glendale, Biltmore, and Paradise Valley are the best areas to stay in Phoenix for first-timers and tourists. These are generally safe areas for visitors offering a variety of accommodations and amenities for all budgets.

You can continue reading about Phoenix and other cities in Arizona in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Phoenix. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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