If you are looking to escape the snow and cold during the winter months, the valley of the sun offers a perfect place to explore.
Phoenix offers a myriad of arts, cultural, and historical attractions worth your dollar. You will find spots offering the ultimate view of the city that do not require any spending. The perpetual sunshine of the city makes it an obscure gem and an excellent destination for outdoor activities. Although golfing is the most prominent, there are hiking, biking, camping, and climbing opportunities.
To help you have a great time in Phoenix (AZ), here is the ultimate Phoenix metro bucket list. Let’s dive in.
1. Desert Botanical Garden
Located in Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden is a spectacular vista and a sunny home of tens of thousands of flora. The garden combines art and nature with a vast array of beautiful wildflowers strategically placed to enchant visitors.
Besides the treat for eyes during spring, you will find ethnobotanical trails meandering around the property, illustrating plants’ importance beyond the natural beauty. This brightly colored garden debunks the myth that deserts have little to no flora.
The Botanical Gardens has many different types of plants for you to see and photograph and there are also an assortment of other exhibits to view and visit. These gardens have been around for over 100 years and provide visitors with a chance to experience the history of Arizona botany and gardening in a way that few places can. The beautiful gardens and botanical research facility are open year round and are located just a few blocks away from the heart of Phoenix. If you are looking for a place to visit while in Arizona, this is one place you should not miss.
2. Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum happens to be the favorite of many who visit the Phoenix. It is one of the largest and unique museums showcasing instruments and live music from around the planet.
Being the only global musical instrument museum, it is delightfully and thoughtfully curated with over 6,800 instruments from all walks. With various signature events, you will get an opportunity to learn about instruments and watch them being played.
3. Phoenix Art Museum
This is another institution with top-notch traveling exhibits. With a global scope, the Phoenix Art Museum features a permanent collection of arts representing Latin American, Asian, European, and American art.
It has more than 18,000 works of art, with some dating back to the Renaissance. This world-class art museum caters to virtually all tastes.
4. The Heard Museum
Dating from 1929, this renowned museum is dedicated to the art and culture of American Indian art with a massive collection of over 40,000 pieces of art. It is a comprehensive unit where art aficionados enjoy spectacular exhibits of basketwork, jewelry, textiles, pottery, and a vast collection of katsina dolls. This is the go-to destination if you want to learn about Native American art and people.
5. Papago Park
The verdant and lush Papago Park is the dream of many hikers. It is punctuated by a network of trails and lagoons, offering an excellent starting point for beginners. Red rocks dominate the park, where enthusiastic hikers will enjoy scrambling up.
The park was originally built in 1933 and is situated just minutes from the downtown areas of Tempe and Phoenix, as well as the vibrant entertainment districts of Scottsdale and Chandler, Arizona.
Papago Park can be visited by visitors of all ages, but it is primarily open to the public from May through October. The park is open year round and visitors can enjoy various special events throughout the year such as concerts, theatrical performances, family events, and educational presentations. The park is also one of the best places in Tempe and Phoenix to visit for an afternoon of fun, relaxation and entertainment. Visitors can find a wide range of dining options as well as shopping in the local area.
6. Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix Zoo houses a variety of animals; therefore, making it an excellent go-to destination to enjoy nature with the younger tots dying of boredom. You will find four trails leading through the property, and nearly all encounters generate squeals of delight. It is famous for its Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, baboons, and orangutans.
The Phoenix Zoo has four main attractions that are designed to appeal to different groups of people. The three primary attractions are the Phoenix Zoo itself, the zoo’s two elephant parks, the Wild Animal Park, and the Aquarium. The Wild Animal Park, located in Cave Creek Park, is a habitat for four different types of wildlife, including bears, cats, deer, birds, snakes, and turtles. The Aquarium, which is also located in Cave Creek Park, features a wide range of marine species and was designed to house approximately one hundred thousand sea creatures.
7. Camelback mountain
This is one of the most scenic and popular hiking spots with enchanting hiking trails. With an elevation of over 2,700 feet, it offers incredible views of Phoenix and Scottsdale. However, the place is not for the faint of heart.
While you are at the mountain, you can also enjoy many different activities. If you are into photography, you will be able to take your photos while you are out enjoying the great views that you can see when you hike up this mountain. There are also hiking trails where you can enjoy the scenery of the city around you as well. You will be able to see the many different features of Phoenix’s downtown area, and you will also be able to see all of the features of the National Parks that are in Phoenix. This mountain offers everything that you need in order to spend an enjoyable weekend in Phoenix, AZ.
8. First Fridays Art Walk
This is a monthly showcase where folks get to enjoy extra artsy. People enjoy the art and revitalization around Roosevelt Avenue between 7th Ave and 7th Street. If you visit on the first Friday of either month, this is a colorful thing you can’t afford to miss.
9. South Mountain Park
Covering over 16,000 acres, this is one of the largest municipal parks with a maze of well-maintained hiking trails. Springs makes the best time to hike with knee-deep colorful wildflowers. At night, you will enjoy the fabulous look of city lights.
South Mountain Park in Phoenix, AZ is considered by many as one of the finest urban parks in the entire country and the second largest city park in North America. It was originally designated as Phoenix Point of Pride in 1998. When it was first built, it consisted of three parks; South Mountain, Cactus Mountain, and Camelback Mountain. However, as it developed, it expanded to include more parks and other areas of interest such as hiking trails and the famous South Mountain Loop Trail, which is one of only four loops in the United State.
10. Taliesin West
Even for those with little interest in architecture, you will find this national historic landmark worthwhile. It was the winter home and school of the famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. This architectural gem features charming tour guides and stunning surroundings.
11. Arizona Capitol Museum
This free museum is housed in a beautiful stone building that was formerly the state capitol. Notable highlights include the Arizona flags, USS Arizona display, and Arizona Takes Shape display. Don’t miss to check the Wesley Bolin Plaza memorial monument.
12. Arizona Science Center
The Arizona Science Center offers a great refuge from the broiling weather, where you will find hundreds of interactive exhibits. On-site is the IMAX theater, where signature events are held yearly.
13. Japanese Friendship Garden
Located in central Phoenix’s heart, this garden offers an attractive and relaxing break from the desert. It is a gorgeous gateway with lanterns, a koi pond, stone footbridges, a 12-foot waterfall, and a tea house with traditional ceremonies.
FilmBar is the coolest art house theater in Phoenix, where you can enjoy watching amusing and exciting movies on a wide range of topics. Have a glass of wine as you watch favorites, including documentaries, foreign films, 1980s classics, among others.
15. Mill Ave
Mill Ave is the home to Arizona State University (ASU) and is packed with plenty of exciting boutique shops and an outstanding restaurant selection. With great ethnic restaurants, you can feel right at home. During warm weather, you can visit the Big Surf Waterpark to cool off.
16. North Mountain and Shaw Butte
These spectacular landmarks are among the famous recreation destination in Phoenix. There are two hiking trails leading to the summit for enthusiastic hikers who want to explore the local flora and fauna. Make sure to top up your water bottles.
17. Phoenix Children’s Museum
Started in 2008, the Phoenix Children’s Museum is a hit for younger tots boasting over 300 play experiences. It offers a vast range of fascinating exhibits to engage growing minds. Attractions include Noodle Forest, Pedal Power, miniature market, Texture cafe, and others.
18. Phoenix Symphony
If you want to spend your night out while in Phoenix city, having time in the Symphony Hall is one of the best things to do. You will enjoy classical, pops, chambers, and family programs to complement your visit.
19. Enchanted Island Amusement Park
This is one of the oldest and most picturesque parks in Phoenix. With free admission and located at the heart of Encanto Park, the spot offers a perfect escape for families with kids. After exploring, you can enter Encanto Park for picnicking.
20. Phoenix Golf Courses
Phoenix is emerging as a premier golf destination, and golfing the things you cannot afford to miss. Save time to have great moments and learn at Arizona Biltmore Golf Club, which is among the best things to do in downtown Phoenix.
Golf courses are definitely great places to spend your days. There are many different courses around and you will find that this sport has so much fun. If you are someone who enjoys the outdoors then you are sure to like this sport.
21. Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park
This is the Phoenix’s largest preserved archeological site and a historical landmark that should appear at the top of the things to do list of history buffs. It is a well-maintained, hidden gem featuring ruins of an ancient Hohokam village.
22. Orpheum Theater
Orpheum Theatre is a magnificent go-to destination decorated with strikingly glorious works of art that takes you to the Spanish villa courtyard. It is a great place to explore a wide range of musicals, stand-up comedy, shows, live music, and ballet, among others.
23. Grand Canyon Day Tour
This is it. A tour to Grand Canyon from Phoenix allows you to explore the most spectacular spots in the world in a single day. The Grand Canyon is a wonder by itself and offers magnificent and breathtaking sights. The World’s best Arizona sunset will grace your tour.
24. Old Town Scottsdale
While in Phoenix, one of the best things to do for a fun and idiosyncratic experience is to visit Old Town Scottsdale. Featuring spectacular works of famous artists, this spot was primarily designed for tourists. There are great selections of restaurants.
Old Town Scottsdale is a popular destination for residents and tourists alike. The location has a strong reputation as one of the best places to live in the country. However, it’s quickly becoming recognized as a place where families can get away from it all and enjoy their lives. The town was long called “Downtown Scottsdale” to reflect the historic core of the place. However, that’s all about to change today. The town announced a new re-branding campaign to call the whole place “Old Town Scottsdale”. The old “downtown” branding won’t be used anymore.
25. Chase field
Even if you’re not a die-hard baseball fan, watching Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field is worthwhile. There are unique amenities, a kid-friendly atmosphere, and a retractable roof to cope with blazing heat.
Phoenix is prominent for premium, day, ad high-luxury resorts welcoming visitors for rapturous hours of massages, steaming, pampering, and beauty treatments. A visit to these opulent Spas is a must appear on your things to do.
There are many things to like about Phoenix spas, from their location to the various types of treatments that they offer. For those looking to experience a total treatment, one might consider visiting Phoenix spas that offer body and mind-body integration therapies. These spas focus on improving the overall quality of life through the use of massage therapy, relaxation techniques, meditation, and also bodywork, such as Reiki, or a therapeutic dance.
27. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
If you are a train aficionado, this should top in your thing to do in Phoenix. With over 1.1 km of ridable tracks, the line is an excellent rail-themed attraction and exhibits that deserves your attention.
28. Goldfield Ghost Town
On the east of the Valley of the Sun lies a touristy renovated ghost town complete with desert landscapes and rustic wooden buildings. There is plenty of things to do, including mine tours, hiking, and panning for gold.
29. Tempe Beach Park
This a grassy 25-acre recreational base offering a romantic spot to watch the sun tuck into the horizon. There is a 5-mile trail; therefore, once you visit, make sure to rent a bike or scooter and zip off that trail. Kids can play on splash grounds as adults enjoy in the amphitheater.
Tempe Beach is one of Phoenix’s most well-known and well-liked family attractions. Over ninety years ago, Tempe Beach Park has been entertaining locals all over the area. Construction on the park was started in 1931 by John C. Gillooly. Built on the north side of Lake View Drive, the park was built with the intent of attracting families to a large natural oasis. The original area was originally constructed of sand, and only later were landscaping elements added to the park, which helped to create an area with an arid climate. Today, the park is well-loved as a family attraction.
30. Tempe Town Lake
The two-mile oasis stretching at the heart of Phoenix metro is a great destination during the warm weather. Once you visit, spare your time to enjoy kayaking, rowing, fishing, sailing, or picnicking in Tempe town lake.
Tempe Town Lake is a natural freshwater pond located just above the confluence of Phoenix Creek and the occasional Salt River in Tempe, Arizona. It is the only part of Tempe City Lake which lies directly on a natural river. The lake receives most of its water in the Central Arizona Project from the mighty Colorado River through the Central Arizona Canal. Some water is diverted into the Phoenix sewer system for use in industrial and commercial facilities in the area.
31. Roosevelt Row
Another thing to do in downtown Phoenix is exploring the highly-specialized, behind-the-scenes, and fun Roosevelt Street. The walkable arts district is packed with eye-catching murals, sumptuous restaurants, bars, and intriguing shops.
32. Castles N’ Coasters
Stretching about 10 acres, this astonishing theme park is an excellent adventure to meet sky-high thrills. The small world has a lot to keep a family busy, including double looping rollercoasters, water rides, enormous arcades, bumper boats, bumper cars, etc.
33. Tovrea Castle
This theatrical stuccoed four-story house, previously the home of Tovrea Castle, stands out like a beacon in the desert landscape. The interesting 5,000-square foot landmark was restored with its terraced cactus gardens and now wins the attention of many curious visitors.
One of the most rewarding hikes will lead you to this natural wonder – Hole-in-the-Rock. It is a sandstone hill perforated with several openings. The aperture and its ceiling were used by Hohakan culture to mark seasons, making it a worthwhile scenic landmark.
35. Arizona Museum of Natural History
On the east of downtown Phoenix in Mesa, there lies the only natural history museum in the Phoenix Metro. You will find delighting galleries devoted to native cultures and skeletons of theropods, iguanodonts, ceratopsians, and sauropods.
36. State Farm Stadium
A top venue for the NFL, this monumental piece of sports architecture can host up to 73,200 persons and has a retractable roof to cope with the weather. If you love architect works, you marvel at this amazing work of engineers and designers.
37. Dobbins Lookout
The Dobbins Lookout is the highest accessible point in South Mountain Park and a scenic observation point. Equipped with a toposcope to identify landmarks, it offers the ever best view of downtown Phoenix and the city surroundings.
38. Piestewa Peak
The second-highest point in the Phoenix mountains, Piestewa Peak, stands 796 meters, and it is an undeniable allure for walkers. There is only a single 1.2-mile summit trail to the top, and if you make it to the top, you will be rewarded with an ultimate panorama of the Phoenix Metropolitan area.
39. Wrigley Mansion
The labyrinthine Italianate mansion stands at the top of the hill; therefore, offering a spectacular view of the city and the mountains. Lovers of history will get guided tours and ghost stories about this house formerly owned by the chewing gum industrialist William Wrigley.
40. Scottsdale Fashion Square
This is a three-floor mall built more than 60 years ago but continually evolves and gets expanded. You will find nearly all you need within the exterior walls of this spectacular building. There is an excellent balance between premium brands.
41. Talking Stick Resort
The Talking Stick Resort features a high-end luxury hotel, massive showroom, golf courses, decent casino, generous grand Ballroom, and many table games. It is set in the open-air and graced with a fascinating view of down Pheonix.
42. Rosson House Museum
Dating back to 1895, this heritage house is outstanding as an example of early buildings constructed using fired bricks. If you admire old-gold, pay a visit, and you will be guided through the woodwork, decorative art, furniture, curtains, and wallpapers.
The Rosson House Museum is located in Historic Heritage Square in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. Built between 1895 and 1896, it serves as an ancient house museum situated at the site of an ancient Spanish mission.
43. Paolo Soleri’s Cosanti
A few miles from the Taliesin West lies this fascinating maze demonstrating Soleri’s creativity. Soleri, a student under Frank Lloyd Wright, created the complex with experimental, earth-cast concrete structures. Cosanti features plenty of sustainable elements.
44. Mystery Castle
Mystery Castle is a whimsical 18-room 3-story mansion blending neatly with the northern foothill of South Mountain Park. There is a fascinating story behind this monument that you can get to hear once you tour the house as you enjoy the supreme view.
45. Desert Ridge Marketplace
Located near the Musical Instrument Museum, the Desert Ridge Marketplace is a great entertainment and dining destination. In addition to blending dining with entertainment, there is a broad selection of shops, cool off spots, and fireplaces.
46. Hall of Flame Fire Museum
With displays dating back to 1725, the Hall of Flame Fire Museum is an attraction that chronicles firefighting history. The museum galleries feature lots of preserved antique pieces, including old fire engines. Featuring the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes setting, the museum pays tribute to firefighters who died in the line of duty.
47. Desert Belle Cruise Sightseeing Cruise on Saguaro Lake
The Desert Belle makes gentle 90-minute cruises on the lake and provides an unforgettable way to soak up this vivid desert scenery. You will have a great time viewing the cacti-strewn desert terrains and its wildlife.
48. Sahuaro Ranch Park
The Sahuaro Ranch Park sets a reminder of Phoenix’s agricultural beginnings, where it was planted with pecan and citrus orchards. It preserves the orchards, historic irrigation ditches, an early automobile garage, etc. You will find picnic spots, playgrounds for tots, courts, and dog parks.
49. Phoenix Fan Fusion
Formerly known as Phoenix Comic Fest, this is where geeks and nerds converge to gloriously celebrate all comic-related things from around the world. There is much to make you feel right at home, including celebrity panels, signings, diverse workshops, and photo ops.
50. Luhrs Tower
This spectacular 56-meter Art Deco tower is a great destination exhibiting early architectural works. Being 10-story high, it is the tallest building in the city, featuring fine marble moldings on the upper floors and corbelled rosettes, balustrades, garlands, and cornice.
Phoenix is filled with a myriad of things to do either in the city or downtown. Boasting plenty of perfect trails, it is the best place for enthusiastic bikers and hikers. This is the go-to destination if you want to hide from the cold winter.