The only thing better than a Phoenix map is not needing one.
The good news is, Phoenix and its bedroom cities are known for being very easy to navigate, thanks to gridded, well-planned streets.
makes it very convenient for visitors and newbies. Once you have your
North, South, East and West down, learn a few major roads and understand
how the streets are set-up... You'll be able off and running.
So, this page has two objectives.
First: Get you “on the grid”. I’ll show you some easy to remember rules of thumb that will help you eliminate your need for a map in no time.
Second: Introduce you to a few excellent maps of Phoenix (printed and digital), that will get you all the info you need to find your way around Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, etc.
Captain Hancock did us all a favor in 1870, when in the midst of planning the city of Phoenix, he decided "Hey, let's grid this place".
Central Avenue was born, and so were the other gridded streets and conveniently numbered avenues of Phoenix. That means there are only a few things you need to know in order to take the training wheels off and get rid of your Phoenix map.
Here we go:
Step 1: Get your bearings.
Figure out which way is North, South, East and West.
The easiest way to do this is to pay attention to the compass in your car. If you don’t have one, the next best thing is to learn some landmarks.
Mountains are a good start. They're easy to spot and you can see them from almost anywhere in the valley.
So, if you're facing the Superstition Mountains, that means you're looking East. If you're facing South Mountain, you're headed South (that’s easy). If you're looking at the back of Camelback Mountain, you're facing West.
How will you know which mountain is which? It's pretty easy.
You can't miss Camelback. It looks just like a camel.
South Mountain has massive red twinkling airplane light towers on top. And the Superstitions look like this...
Don’t worry, they’re easily differentiated from any other mountain in the valley. And you can see them from miles away.
Step 2: Learn the sequence of streets & avenues.
This is the most important, and perhaps easiest step. Take a look at the Phoenix map below.
Central Avenue is highlighted in Red.
Starting from Central Avenue, streets and avenues fan outward.
All you have to do is remember:
- Avenue #'s increase as you head WEST, Street #'s decrease
- Street #'s increase as you head EAST, Avenue's decrease
So if I'm at 75th Street and Camelback Road and my friend says to me, "hey, come meet me for a movie at 24th Street and Camelback Road"...
That means I need to head West.
It may be a confusing read, but once you're in your car and you see it for yourself, you'll realize it's extremely easy.
Besides, locals tend to give directions by major cross streets. For example, I would say... For the best shopping, go to Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, on the Northwest corner of Scottsdale Rd and Camelback Rd.
So it helps to know your North-South-East-West ahead of time. Or, you can simply carry a Phoenix Map with you.
If you're flying into Sky Harbor Airport, the easiest way to obtain a map is at the Information Booth inside of Baggage Claim.
They look like some variation of this...
These maps are also
inside the Airport Rental Car Center. They're free, and as long as you learn the two rules above, they'll be detailed enough to get you around - not every street or avenue is listed on them.
If you're looking for a more detailed printed map, I recommend the Foldout Street Map of Phoenix.
I like this map of Phoenix because it's small enough to fit in a pocket or purse.
It's not some massive hunk of paper that blankets the entire dash, engulfing you at the slightest gust of wind. Not only is the Foldout Phoenix Map detailed enough, it also identifies popular Scottsdale and Phoenix attractions like the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo.
For those of you who'd rather get technical, the most up to date, ad-free map of Phoenix and the surrounding cities is a Google map.
You can pan, tilt and zoom away, making it as small or as detailed as you need it.
If you've got the streets down, but now you want to learn the highways, click here for a map of Phoenix freeways.
The same rules of thumb I mentioned above, apply when traveling around Scottsdale.
As long as you know how to navigate Phoenix, you'll
understand the streets of Scottsdale and have no problem finding your
I do however, have a few other tips and bits of info on navigating Scottsdale that some rookies may find helpful.
Head over here for a map
of Scottsdale Arizona, and to learn about each district of Scottsdale
in more detail.
In the meantime, with Phoenix map in hand and info in your noggin’, you’re now armed and ready to take on the city like a pro.