So maybe the closest Phoenix ever gets to a white Christmas is hearing the beloved holiday tune on the radio. But any resident knows that doesn't mean the Valley is devoid of Christmas spirit. And snow or no snow, the light display on Comstock Drive is impressive for any city. Grab your decorative scarves, light sweaters, and fingerless gloves, jump in the car, and head for Gilbert, where you will find a neighborhood so decked to the halls that even the Grinch would be proud. As 2015's winners of ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight," the would-be Whoville rock stars are not messing around with thousands of colored lights blinking in time to your favorite carols. Best part? You get to enjoy the entire display from the comfort of your own car.

Every year, the Valley gets a fresh influx of art courtesy of a public art program called, ahem, IN FLUX. From Chandler to Glendale, new works by local artists are installed temporarily in libraries, museums, malls, and along the light rail (among other unexpected spots). For the 2016 cycle of the program, Jeffrey DaCosta brought 18 wooden deer sculptures coated with light-sensitive paint to an empty storefront at the Pavilions at Talking Stick. When the sun sets, the animals are illuminated in green, yellow, orange, and red, highlighting how the natural world melds and merges with technology. Up through December 2016, it's a work worth bringing out-of-towners to see — and a glowing introduction to the Valley's stellar public art offerings.

It was early in March that artist Karlito "Mata Ruda" Miller Espinosa did something you don't hear about too often: He left New York to further his arts career as a muralist in Phoenix. Out-of-towners have been known to paint a Phoenix mural or two, but making a full-time commitment to the desert is a whole other deal. His first street piece as a freshly minted Arizonan depicts a woman wearing a crown of pinkish roses who longingly stares with a slight furrow in her brow toward a bright white moon. It's called Más Allá, which translates to "further" and references the struggle of immigrants searching for better lives. Small but affecting and rich with meaning, we hope it's a look at what's yet to come from the painter.

Sprawled across the side of the Drumbeat Indian Arts store, the Reverberate Her Lines installation is a sprawling, cosmos-inspired work by a collective of Native American graffiti artists working together to create a wide landscape that incorporates elements of the desert — elote, canyon walls, sandy vistas — and vivid character work. Featuring the work of 17 Native artists —  Bel2, CC, Gloe One, Perl, Stef XMEN, Rezmo, Cherri, Monstrochika, Lady Rise, Agana, iLash, Live, Sensi, Yukue, Averian Chee, Zena, and El Dreck — the mural was completed this summer, and its contrasting bright and dark colors make for a stunning addition to the already art-packed 16th Street.

Okay, so maybe we're a bit biased, but we like to think of Phoenix as a Midcentury Modern mecca. And there is no better way to ogle the impressive and Dwell Magazine-worthy architecture from an era past than attending the Modern Phoenix Home Tour, put together by Phoenix's own Midcentury Modern maven herself, Alison King. Whether you're looking to admire Ralph Haver's handiwork in neighborhoods like Marlen Grove, or get some style inspiration for your own Mad Men-esque den, this tour is the place to be. But you better be quick nabbing those tickets, because this annual tour sells out fast.

When plans for Windsor Square were announced in 1929, the up-and-coming central Phoenix neighborhood was touted for its proximity to Brophy Prep and the Arizona Biltmore, both of which were newly established. The price for a lot? A mind-boggling $1,100. Now, the 26-home historic district features an array of architectural charmers built over many decades, as building was halted for the 1929 market crash, the Great Depression, and again during World War II. But the variety makes Windsor's curving streets all the more appealing, as well as more recently added nearby attractions like Medlock Plaza shopping and a collection of Upward Projects restaurants. Much like the area that surrounds the idyllic neighborhood, its prices have changed. Expect to see three-bedroom, two-bath ranches sell for around $500,000.

Oh, Sunnyslope, you are an enigma. Between your midcentury marvels and the many places to buy meth, Phoenix natives have long since struggled over what to make of you. Fortunately, there are those who were willing to stick by you in your less-than-sunny days and, while we're hesitant to say it, we think it's working. From being featured in home tours to having your streets filled with your own homegrown art walk, we, along with the rest of this town, are slowly coming to terms with the idea that Sunnyslope has changed for the better. Don't get us wrong, you're still weird — but we like it.

Think about what makes a good neighborhood. Beautiful, interesting homes? Restaurants and shops? Plenty of things to do in the surrounding area? Good schools? A friendly community? Well, the Coronado Historic District in midtown Phoenix meets each one of these requirements and then some. Weather permitting, residents can ride their bikes to Phoenix favorites like the Main Ingredient or Tuck Shop for a bite. Fitness buffs can get their sweat on at Sutra Midtown or get in touch with their spiritual sides at the Sikh Ashram. Besides the lovely 1920s bungalows and charming 1940s ranch homes, families are drawn to this less-than-two-square-mile neighborhood by the schools nestled within, and young professionals love the proximity to downtown and the vibrant artistic presence. Plus, the community welcomes you into this historic 'hood from the day you move in with a neighborhood newsletter delivered to your front step and smiling neighbors waving as they stroll by.

For years, the building at 333 East Portland Street sat neglected. In its former life, it had been Beth Hebrew Congregation, the first Orthodox synagogue in Phoenix; a Mexican evangelical church; and the performance space of the Black Theatre Troupe. Even as condo projects and hip eateries went up around it, 333 went overlooked by most — but not by artist and real-estate developer Michael Levine. In March 2015, after years of trying to save the building from destruction, he bought it and set out to restore it. Built in 1955 by Valley architect Max Kaufman, Beth Hebrew is a treasure of local Modernist architecture, with some fascinating Hebrew and Egyptian design details thrown in for good measure. While the restoration is still a work in progress, the building has played host to Jewish religious services and community events, and Levine has big plans for the future, including film screenings, art exhibitions, and private celebrations. We're glad to see the lights on and the spirit back in the place. L'chaim!

Whether you're a midcentury building or a midcentury human, facelifts are rarely ever a complete success. Which is why we were pleasantly surprised when local developers Vintage Partners did away with the stucco surrounding Uptown Plaza and replaced it with a more honest interpretation of the shopping center's 1955 roots: exposed brick, atomic fonts, neon signs, and some much-improved shade structures. Now the neighborhood shopping center at Central Avenue and Camelback Road has become the hotspot for local boutiques like Manor and Muse as well as trendy restaurants like Shake Shack, Flower Child, and Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. Restoration never looked so right.

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