Touchdown Phoenix! In just a week, the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will be facing off in the sunny city for Super Bowl XLIX. For football fans and vacationers alike, here's what you need to know about the Arizona city.
Vacationers and retirees long ago anointed sun-splashed Phoenix one of the country's top winter retreats. As far back as the '50s, Marilyn Monroe spent time at the swanky Arizona Biltmore, and gum magnate P.K. Wrigley escaped the harsh Chicago winters for his hillside mansion overlooking the valley. Fast forward a few decades and the once sleepy desert haven, now the U.S.'s sixth largest metropolitan area, has become a major sports destination. In the next three years, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale will host three of the country's premier sporting events: Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, the College Football Championship Game in January 2016 and the Final Four in April 2017.
The Phoenix area offers visitors unique experiences, from authentic Mexican food to spectacular sunsets to scenic golf adventures. You can gamble in the Native American casinos, swim in luxurious pools and, yes, even ski in snow barely two hours away. To put together a comprehensive travel guide of the Phoenix area, Sports Illustrated teamed up with students from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, who came up with 49 things to do for Super Bowl XLIX.