Things You Need to Know About Arizona

Last fall, I spent 8 weeks living in Phoenix, Arizona while my fiancé played baseball in the Arizona Fall League. I have lived in a lot of different places, but I’ve only lived west of the Mississippi River once (Rochester, Minnesota). While I’ve visited the West quite a bit, I was sure visiting there was going to be different from living there. Although 2 months isn’t a long time to get to know a place, I definitely got comfortable enough to be able to pass on some of the things I think you need to know about Arizona.

8 Things You Need to Know About Arizona

It really is just a dry heat

This blew my mind, but the heat in Arizona really is (as everyone says) just a dry heat. I lived in Florida last summer right before moving to Arizona last fall. Florida has a tropical climate, which makes it hot, but also extremely humid. Arizona has a desert climate, which makes it hot as well, but without the humidity. I would take 100 degrees of Arizona dry heat over 85 degrees of Florida humidity any day of the week. Seriously.

Arizona

Mountains and snow in the North, Palm Trees and desert in the South

I was surprised by how much the climate of Arizona changed from the North of the state to the South. The Phoenix area and South is extremely dry desert with lots of palm trees and very little rain. Flagstaff and North is void of palm trees and instead covered in mountains that are often snow covered in the fall, winter, and spring months.

Related: Arizona Scenic Drive: The Apache Trail

Arizona

The retired population is booming

Arizona, much like Florida, has a very large retired population. In fact, nearly 30% of Arizona’s population is retired. In general, Arizona is a cheaper place to retired to than Florida. For this reason, Arizona is home to many retirement communities.

It actually can get cold(ish)

Ok, hear me out on this one. I lived in Arizona during the fall. Daytime was beautiful and in the 70’s-80’s, but evening and night time was chilly! Temperatures in Arizona can fluctuate by as much as 20-30 degrees from the daytime high to the evening low. I sat at quite a few of my fiancé’s evening baseball games in 50-60 degree temps. Compared to Wisconsin winters, that’s nothing, but by Arizona standards it was down right chilly.

Arizona

Brown, brown, and more brown

I knew Arizona was desert, but I was still surprised with how brown everything was. Lawns are few and far between, trees are replaced with cacti, and it’s rare to find a home that isn’t some shade of beige, taupe, or brown. Even the mountains, while beautiful, are brown.

Arizona

It’s incredibly beautiful 

Arizona is insanely beautiful. Yes, it’s very brown. Yes, I missed grass. But honestly, Arizona made up for everything I missed with everything it had to offer. The mountains left me breathless. The abundance of hiking close by had me in outdoor fitness heaven. Even just the few hour drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, or Antelope Canyon had me pulling off the road unable to pass up a picture of a stunning landscape.

Related: Tips for Hiking Camelback Mountain 

Arizona

Dust storms galore 

Tornados, hurricanes, and flooding is all something I’ve dealt with but a dust storm was a completely foreign concept to me. Because most of Arizona is so dry extremely windy days are prone to wind storms. This might sound lame and not like a huge deal but trust me, it makes doing a lot of things extremely hard, especially driving.

Daylight savings time isn’t a thing

Arizona (along with Hawaii) does not observe day light savings time. Arizona actually participated in day light savings time for one year (1966). It was soon noticed that more sunlight in the evening, in a place the endures scorching summer temps, meant more air-conditioning and more energy being used. In 1967 Arizona voted to opt out of daylight savings time.

Have you been to Arizona? Did anything surprise you?

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  • Sarah P

    That’s so interesting about the daylight savings time! You’re really living the life right now traveling all over the country. One of these days I’m going to have to visit you in one of these places! Arizona is definitely on the bucket list.

    • Tons of hiking there! you would love it! but sadly not much #boatlife there, more like #desertlife, lol.

  • The dry heat is SO much better than humidity.

    • gosh it’s night and day different. I never understood what people were talking about before i experienced it. I was like, you guys are crazy, heat is heat! wrong wrong WRONG!

  • Ugh, Arizona is so beautiful! I haven’t been since I was a little kid and was just chatting with a friend about wanting to head back out there. Your photos are reminding me that not all summers have to be East Coast humid!

    • oh east coast, so beautiful and amazing, but definitely sticky and humid. I lived in Rhode Island for a summer and even all the way up there the humidity could be brutal. I think it’s just the entire east coast that is plagued by it.

  • I love that you get to live at different places for some months and then move somewhere else! Kinda my dream – now only to convince the boyfriend 😀 Arizona sounds absolutely lovely and I’d love to visit! And I totally agree with you on the heat – as long as it’s a dry heat, I could definitely cope!

    • all the moving is definitely fun! the downside is that once I get used to somewhere it’s usually time to pack up and leave again, lol. Visiting Northern arizona (which is stunning) made me want to make a trip to Utah, which is supposedly very similar to northern arizona in terrain and climate.

  • I’ve only ever driven through Arizona as a child, stopping at Lake Havasu! Would love to go back because that scenery is amazing! #WednesdayWanderlust

    • ahh Lake Havasu is one place I didn’t make it to! I wanted to badly but it just never worked out! I’ve seen the grand canyon during a prior trip to Arizona, but I’d love to go back and hike in the grand canyon because i’ve heard it’s amazing.

  • You have me dying to visit Arizona now! People always think I’m crazy, but I would much rather take a 100 degree dry heat over a 80 or 90 degree humid heat. At least with the dry heat your sweat is actually cooling you off, right? Even though there’s a lot of brown in the desert, it’s still just so beautiful! Now I just need to find a time to make a trip to Arizona happen!

    • both horseshoe bend and antelope canyon are unreal! I still have yet to blog about either of them! yikes! but the best part is they are both literally right outside the same town so you can see two amazing places in one trip. completely worth it.

  • Ahh thank you for sharing this 🙂 I’ve visited Arizona countless time. I love it! The weather is similar from my homestate in Mexico, so I am used to it. Great observations!

    • glad to hear it! Arizona definitely left me pleasantly surprised. I love when that happens 🙂

  • Ahila Thillainathan

    Arizona has been on my travel wishlist for quite some time. I was almost about to visit in 2011 but postponed my visit. Enjoyed reading your post, Carrie.

    • Thank you so much, Ahila! Arizona is definitely worth a visit. Northern Arizona is stunning! with the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon all so close to one another it’s definitely worth a trip!

  • I’ve been to Phoenix and Sedona. It was gorgeous!

    • Sedona is on a whole other level. we only spent about 12 hours there, but I would love to go back and do a long weekend getaway there!

  • I saw a bit of Arizona last fall and boy was it beautiful! I have to say the dry heat was definitely a nice change from the humidity of the East as well! I was seriously surprised by just how pretty so much of the state was, even just along a random highway and also found myself yelling at my father (the driver) to pull over quite often! 😛

    • lol! I was exactly like you! yelling at the driver to slow down! we would be stopped at a red light in Sedona and the light would turn green and I’d be yelling to my fiancé “hey! don’t pull away yet! stop! slow down!!” lol he was so annoyed with me by the end of the day.

  • I love Arizona! I have been going every year for three years. I have not visited when it is really hot, so, I have not experienced the dry heat (but I have experienced the bone chilling cold and even snow). There is so much more I want to see on the state. And, that daylight savings thing drives me crazy (the state does not observe it but the Navajo do on their nation). Some friends have missed appointments because they didn’t know Arizona does not observe daylight time savings.

    • ahhh, I didn’t know that about the Navajo observing daylight savings time! that’s very interesting, but I’m sure it’s annoying for those living there.

  • My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Arizona this winter because so many of our friends from Seattle left Washington for Arizona, so we have lots of people to see! I haven’t been in a few years, but it truly is one of the prettiest places in our country. It’s so different! I’m from Wisconsin, so I totally agree about the winter weather, haha.

    • yay! a fellow Wisconsinite! I love meeting Wisco people in blogland! I was born and raised in Wisconsin so when I’m not traveling I spend a few months out of the year there visiting family and friends. Besides the winters it’s the best state in the country…but i’m biased 🙂