Phoenix is a very large city, and many places that tourists visit are spread out. Having a rental car is a convenient option for getting around.  If you fly into Sky Harbor, you will be able to choose from several national and regional chains. Clicking the “Sky Harbor” link will give you information on the airport, car rental names and phone numbers. Even first-time visitors will find that this city is very easy to drive in, thanks to its well-designed roads with accompanying clear, informative and illuminated street signs, and building addresses that correspond to the building’s location within the grid of numbered streets and avenues. 

When driving in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area make sure you obey all traffic laws closely.  This area has numerous photo enforcement locations including signalized intersections for red-light running and on the freeway for speeding.  Most of these locations will have signs warning you where they are located, but some are not so easy to spot.

TIP: Several of the Valley's cities, including Mesa, Tempe and Chandler, do not follow this county-wide grid, so if leaving the Phoenix city limits be sure to consult a map or other navigational aid.

Navigation is easy, and parking is even easier, even downtown during events, due to ample street and garage parking. Parking meters in the city run only during weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the rate of $1/hr, and the spots are free to use at other times. Numerous parking garages are available at very reasonable prices. Outside of downtown, just about every place you might drive to provides free parking.

Visitors should note that the Phoenix sun can get very, very hot, especially in the summer. Cars can quickly turn into ovens. Be sure to rent a car with air conditioning. Try to park in the shade or leave your car windows cracked. Don’t leave anything in your car during the day that could possibly be damaged by excessive heat or sunlight. Never leave pets or children in a parked car, even in the winter months the sun's intense rays can raise a car's interior temperature to dangerous levels. Finally, always have a pair of sunglasses handy for driving in this city, especially near sunrise or sunset.

Sky Harbor has recently relocated all rental car agencies off site, requiring visitors to take a ten-minute shuttle bus ride--with all of their luggage--to go pick up their rental car.  It makes sense, but be aware of the additional time required to pick up your rental, and especially to drop it off prior to your departure.  Plan on arriving to return your car at least 90 minutes before your flight is to leave.

Be Advised: Phoenix has very high rental car taxes and fees so factor that into your trip budget or don't rent a car at the airport.  Here’s the breakdown of the add-ons for a typical Sky Harbor car rental: 15.1 percent in taxes, 11.11 percent in airport concession fees, 3.25 percent in stadium tax and $4.50 a day airport surcharge. If renting for a week, it may be cheaper to pay the $25 cab fare to an off-airport location and return the car at the airport in order to avoid the daily tax and fees.

Taxis are available curbside at the Ground Transportation area of each terminal. Rates from PHX are $5 for the first mile. Each additional mile is $2.10. Each hour of a traffic delay is $21. The minimum fare is $15. Each per trip airport surcharge is $1.  Due to the spread out nature of the city, a short 10 minute cab ride can easily total $30, making rental cars a generally more cost effective option for travelers that intend to sightsee.