Arizona Today

COVID-19 Recovery

In the spring of 2020, the United States (including Arizona) was gravely impacted by the COVID-19 virus. Businesses were forced to shut down and travel stopped in an attempt to curb its spread. Even though the state was relatively quick to reopen, many restaurants, hotels, shops, bars, and even cultural institutions have since closed for good. The Navajo Nation was hit especially hard. While the longterm effects on Arizona's tourism is still largely unknown, we expect more than the usual number of businesses to close. If you’re planning a visit, remember to call ahead to verify open hours, and to make sure the property is still in operation.

Environment

Over a decade of droughts in the area has made that water a precious resource to residents, especially as the state's population continues to grow. While Lake Powell is recovering, Lake Mead remains at record-low levels, and meager snowfall in the high country is making ski season more of a celebration than an expectation. Nevertheless, the Valley of the Sun is becoming more conscious of its water usage, including an uptick in artificial lawns and natural landscapes in residential yards throughout Phoenix, while golf courses optimize every drop of water, and many are installing low-flow showerheads that use a quarter of the water normally used in a shower. State agencies have been preparing for the future by leveraging canal systems and groundwater. The Central Arizona Project has banked years' worth of water, and residential and commercial construction projects have built-in environmental conservation mandates. All hotels now display “save the water” placards asking you to keep towels an extra day or two. Every drop saved helps.

Food

A decade or two ago, you didn't necessarily come to Arizona to eat well. Today, however, renowned chefs are making their mark across the state in every imaginable style, from pizzerias and wine bars to Mexican food and molecular gastronomy. Nobuo at Teeter House in Downtown Phoenix features fine Japanese cuisine crafted by the delicate hands of Nobuo Fukuda. Chris Bianco’s pizzas at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix are among the best in the state, while Silvana Salcido Esparza has elevated Mexican food to a whole new level at her revered Barrio Café, also in Phoenix. Wineries across the state are also gaining a strong reputation for offering unique blends and tasting rooms. A trip along the Verde Valley Wine Trail makes for an excellent afternoon, as does a visit farther south to Sonoita or Willcox.

Transportation

As Arizona's population continues to grow, public transportation cannot be ignored. The Phoenix area took a big step forward with a light-rail system that has cemented Downtown Phoenix as a go-to entertainment district and transformed the way thousands commute to and visit the city. Thanks to the Sky Train at Sky Harbor International Airport, it’s now possible to visit and enjoy Phoenix without a car. More transit lines are planned through 2032. Further, the city's bike-share program has 700 bikes available at 70 stops throughout Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. Improved freeways are also planned from a wider and more efficient drive south to Tucson to improved roads north to Sedona, Flagstaff, and beyond to the Grand Canyon.

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