34 Best Things To Do In Phoenix In 2023 (By A Local)
Phoenix is one of Arizona’s best cities – there’s no doubting that. Phoenix has bustling city life, art galleries galore, and some world-class museums and day trip opportunities, including the chance to ... Continue Reading Read the original post 34 Best...
Phoenix is one of Arizona’s best cities – there’s no doubting that. Phoenix has bustling city life, art galleries galore, and some world-class museums and day trip opportunities, including the chance to head out into the Sonoran Desert. The contrast between desert surroundings and vibrant city culture is a tourist dream. And if you are looking for things to do in Phoenix, just know you won’t be disappointed. This city has incredible entertainment, from the Phoenix nightlife scene to its potential road-tripping day trips through desert scenery and beyond.
Best Things to Do in Phoenix
This guide will introduce you to the very best things to do in Phoenix, Arizona. As the capital of its state, there’s just so much to do and see in Phoenix. You should take in as much inspiration as possible before settling on a single itinerary. In the region called ‘Valley of the Sun’, Phoenix is known for its desert setting and year-round sunshine. We could spend all day listing fun facts about this unique Arizonan destination. Get ready for some serious Phoenix itinerary inspiration.
1. Arizona Capitol Museum
The Arizona Capitol Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Arizona, and if you enjoy political history, it is an absolute must. This Arizona Museum is set in the state capitol building and it is entirely free to visit. On set days – Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm – you can tour the museum to learn more about Arizona and its state heritage. As far as free attractions go, the museum is pretty impressive, and it’s nice to say that you’ve ticked off visiting the State Capitol Building.
The US government’s history is always fascinating to learn about, and Arizona has some particularly gripping tales. As an extra bonus, this is also a top indoor attraction in Phoenix, meaning you can escape from the heat while staying entertained.
2. Phoenix Art Museum
It is nice to wander through areas of street art and enjoy smaller art galleries, but when it comes to world-class museums, large-scale art museums just offer a different experience altogether. Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the southwestern US. It is a staggering collection of international pieces, including more than 20,000 artifacts. Phoenix Art Museum is mesmerizing, and you should allow at least a few hours to scratch its collection’s surface.
If you are an art enthusiast, Phoenix Art Museum is a definite highlight for your trip to the Arizona capital. But even art newbies will appreciate the variety of the collection and the regular special events that the museum holds. Keep an eye out for the schedule online, as you can attend special events ranging from workshops to film screenings and lectures.
3. Legoland Discovery Center Arizona
Who doesn’t love Legoland? This attraction in Phoenix is heavily catered towards children. Still, we are sure some parents will be happy that they can attend as well. The Legoland Discovery Center has a massive indoor play area with two rides. Children can play and create in ten different Lego build zones. In contrast, older children can enjoy screenings at the 4D cinema and even Lego factory tours. The whole experience is super niche, one of the top family-friendly things to do in Phoenix.
Traveling to Phoenix with young children can be daunting in summer when the weather is notoriously hot. The Legoland Discovery Center is an ideal midday solution for your itinerary. Spend the hottest part of the day in Legoland with air-con, then head out for some other sightseeing during cooler times. Grab your tickets here.
4. Children’s Museum of Phoenix
If family-friendly things to do in Phoenix are what you are after, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is your next best option. This museum offers entertainment for children aged 0 to 10 years of age, and it has special rooms designed to prompt engagement and enhance development. Fun and creative, the Children’s Museum is one of the top three rated in the US. If you want to escape the heat with an indoor attraction while providing your child with educational fun, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is ideal. The museum has over 48,000 square feet of space and 300 play areas, so you have tons to explore together.
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is in the city’s downtown area. If you stay centrally, it is easily accessible on foot or by public transport – precisely what you need with children in tow.
5. Butterfly Wonderland
Butterfly Wonderland is located just outside of Phoenix, in the major city of Scottsdale. It is a breeze to reach by car, taking just 25 minutes from Phoenix city center. This beautiful attraction is a massive indoor rainforest habitat that holds some serious aesthetic allure. You wander along little trails in a huge conservatory-style building, with extra attractions along the way like aquarium and reptilian exhibits. The main draw is the butterflies though. Butterfly Wonderland really lives up to its name, and you can spot hundreds and hundreds of butterflies in the huge enclosure.
This butterfly park is the largest in the country, so get ready to be really wowed by the variety of specimens and the scale of the enclosure. Walking through the butterfly enclosure is a really special experience, whether you are visiting as a family or just as adults. Once you are done, you can visit the gift shop and café. We’d recommend combining Butterfly Wonderland with a few other Scottsdale attractions too, like Scottsdale Old Town.
6. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Hot air balloon rides are easily one of the most exciting things to do in Phoenix. There isn’t much dreamier than floating through the clouds at snail-pace, and if you haven’t hot air ballooned before, know that the experience is almost hypnotic. You barely realize you are rising, and the movement is incredibly smooth. And, of course, you get the best views possible – especially considering that Phoenix is surrounded by striking desert scenery.
You can book tons of hot air balloon experiences in Phoenix. The most popular experience is a sunrise hot air balloon ride with breakfast included once you hit the ground again. Sometimes, these packages also include a luxury champagne breakfast. To treat yourself, a hot air balloon ride above Phoenix is the perfect way to splurge on your visit to Arizona. It is one of the most fun things to do in Phoenix and definitely has a novel allure.
7. Phoenix Mountains Preserve
The Phoenix Mountains Preserve is where to head for your insight into Arizona’s desert landscape. This is your stereotypical southwestern experience, with spiky cacti and the odd rattlesnake to be wary of – all explorable via a network of hiking trails and mountain biking tracks. You can choose some mountains for summit hikes, and everything is well signposted and marked. The Phoenix Mountains Reserve has some stunning viewpoints, too.
The reserve is just a 15-minute drive outside of Phoenix city center, which is practically unheard of when you think of most major cities and their closest ‘wild spaces’. We love how close Phoenix is to its desert areas of natural beauty, and you can see how impressive this is when planning a visit to the Phoenix Mountains Reserve. The mountain park and preserve is super convenient to visit from Phoenix city center, even if you are rushing to cram a short itinerary.
8. Paradise Valley
Paradise Valley is a town just 25 minutes outside of Phoenix city center by car, or just under 2 hours on public transport. We’d suggest renting a car to enjoy the valley. The town is famous for its luxury golf courses, so any golf enthusiasts should note it down as an absolute must when it comes to planning their Phoenix itinerary. The three main golf courses are Paradise Valley Country Club, the Short Course at Mountain Shadows, and Camelback Golf Club. You can make bookings online for each separate course. Each has its own rules and regulations, but you are guaranteed to bag a spot for at least one if you book within adequate time.
The town is the best place to visit if you love golf. You can book lessons or just book a slot for a laidback game. The scenery is stunning from these courses, as you are just in the wake of Camelback and Mummy Mountain.
9. Taliesin West
Taliesin West is a more unusual attraction in Phoenix but is momentous nonetheless. The museum was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, a famed architect, designer, educator, and writer. There isn’t much Frank Lloyd Wright couldn’t do, and his legacy lives on with guided tours of his old home. Taliesin West also doubles up as the headquarters for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. It is a campus for an architecture school. It is clear to see that Frank’s impact continues to be as great in death as it was in life. And this attraction is a thought-provoking and wholesome insight into a well-lived life.
Walking the exhibits is a brilliant way to better appreciate Frank Lloyd Wright’s impact on the architectural and design industry. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and is likened to a ‘desert laboratory’ on its official website.
10. Grand Canyon
Arizona is nicknamed the Grand Canyon state, and visiting the Grand Canyon is obviously one of the best things to do in Arizona – if not the US. The Phoenix to Sedona drive is routinely tackled as a day-long road trip, taking you past the Montezuma Castle National Monument and numerous almost-roadside attractions. And while the total drive is 3.5 hours one way, you’ll be well-entertained with lots of potential stop-off points to break up the driving. If you rent a car with multiple drivers on the insurance, it is a highly feasible, albeit ambitious, day trip from Phoenix.
At the Grand Canyon, you can enjoy one of the rim hikes, check out the best viewpoints, and visit the visitor center. It is an iconic attraction for a reason. If you have a spare day in your itinerary, we suggest carving out time for an all-day visit. You need at least a few hours at the Grand Canyon, so we’d set off as early as possible to maximize your time there. If you don’t want to rent a car you can jump on this all-day tour which we think is really worth it.
11. Phoenix Raceway
The Phoenix Raceway is a fabulous place to visit if there’s an event. The racetrack has a seating capacity for up to 65,000 people, and if you are lucky, your visit to Phoenix will coincide with one of the car races. It is exhilarating if you’ve never seen a car race before. Keep an eye on the schedule for something a little more exciting and an ‘event’ experience in Phoenix. You can even splurge on tickets with pit access for a more exclusive experience.
The Phoenix Raceway is just 30 minutes away by car, a reasonably convenient distance from the city center. Try to book tickets as far as possible in advance, as the races are super popular, and quickly book out.
12. Goldfield Ghost Town
Goldfield Ghost Town is somewhere to be thrust into Wild West-style history. You are immersed in a reconstructed 1890s town full of actors, tours, and lingering heritage with a gold mine you can enter. Goldfield Ghost Town is the best spot to embrace history in Phoenix, and it is easy to stay engaged with so much action – including Old West gunfights. A history museum is onsite for anyone who wants a more traditional history sightseeing experience. Still, as a whole, it tackles history in a more engaging, radical way.
Goldfield Ghost Town is just 50 minutes from Phoenix city center by car. It is easily squeezed into a Phoenix itinerary. You’ll just need to organize a car rental. We’d suggest allowing half a day or a full day to fully appreciate this impressive attraction. As a National Historic Landmark, Goldfield Ghost Town is exceptional and deserves a substantial chunk of time. You can also jump on this day tour if you want to save a little time.
13. Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is a vast area, and many of the attractions we’ve covered or will cover are already in the desert region – even Phoenix itself is classed as located within the Sonoran Desert. To have a ‘real’ desert experience, you may wish to embark on a guided day trip to see the region’s highlights and get much more remote. Taking a specific Sonoran tour can help you understand the area much better. For instance, learning about the desert’s importance in Native American history, culture, and wildlife.
14. Sahuaro Ranch Park
Sahuaro Ranch Park is an absolute gem of an attraction in Phoenix. The old ranch has historic grounds that have been protected and transformed into play areas and relaxing green spaces. Children can enjoy the playpark equipment, while adults can wander the rose gardens and spot the peacocks that strut throughout the property in bold blue. There are also tons of sports facilities. The ranch park is a brilliant all-rounder if you want a fun place to visit in Phoenix. It is hard not to love, and its historical element adds a bit more excitement than your standard park experience.
15. Arizona Heritage Center
The Arizona Heritage Center is a bitesize taste of Phoenix’s and Arizona’s story. The museum covers everything about the 5 Cs and how they influenced the development of Phoenix as we now know it. The Cs include copper, citrus, cattle, climate, and cotton, and are the root of what boomed the Phoenix economy. The Heritage Center strips back all the twists and turns of the story of Phoenix and gives you a short, sweet, and simple introduction. If you want to learn about the city’s history without dreary, drawn-out exhibits, the Arizona Heritage Center is the perfect historical snapshot. Plus, it is located right next to Papago Park, so you can head there immediately for refreshments, hiking, and different attractions.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
If you are looking for just plain fun when visiting Phoenix, locals and visitors alike love heading down to Chase Field to see the Arizona Diamondbacks. The iconic baseball team plays in Major League Baseball, and seeing a game is one of the best things to do in Phoenix. The baseball season runs from late March to early October, meaning if you visit in this period, there’s a chance that your visit coincides with a Diamondbacks game.
Watching any sporting game is a brilliant way to get that ‘event’ experience and also embrace an influential culture within the city you’re visiting. Phoenix and the Diamondbacks are no different. Watching a game is one of the most fun things to do in Phoenix.
17. Penske Racing Museum
Penske Racing Museum houses more than a dozen Penske team cars. For anyone passionate about car racing, this little museum is more than worth a visit. Entirely free to enter, you can get up close to actual race cars who have deservedly retired from action to spend the rest of their lives admired and well-polished. There’s also a wealth of memorabilia, including trophies and awards. The whole museum is just an homage to the racing heritage in Phoenix. And, of course, getting close to cars like Lamborghinis and Aston Martins is terrific. The vintage race cars are brightly colored and have that real wow factor, even for non-car enthusiasts.
Reaching the museum is an easy drive to North Phoenix. Allow 30 minutes to drive to the museum from Phoenix city center or just over 2 hours by public transport.
18. Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square
Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square is a stunning local history museum with a really striking exterior. The Victorian home dates back to 1895 and has a dramatic gold roof with turrets, certainly standing out in the Phoenix suburbs. The house museum preserves the history and lifestyle of early colonizers in Phoenix, showcasing what life within the home would have been like for these Phoenix families. The museum runs regular tours of around 60 minutes to let visitors take a closer look at the house’s interior and provide you with more insight into Phoenix’s history.
You’ll have to book a guided tour, as independent exploration is not permitted – this is a positive, as you’ll get way more from the experience with a guide. The museum is slightly off the primary tourist radar but most definitely worth the visit.
19. Papago Park
Visiting Papago Park is an absolute top-tier addition to your must-do things to do in Phoenix. The park covers 1,500 acres in a spectacular inner-city greenspace area. You’ll find everything from Phoenix Zoo to red rock formations, scenic hiking trails, and the classic Hole in the Rock attraction. It is equally bizarre and beautiful that Papago Park is so close to the city center, and regardless of which you think it is, you should take full advantage of it.
Papago Park is free to enter and opens daily. You should carve out a time to visit, mainly because it contains so many attractions Phoenix has to offer.
20. Lake Pleasant Regional Park
The Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a beautiful place to cool off in the Valley of the Sun. It is a hotspot for fishing, swimming, and boating, and basically a haven for avoiding overheating in Phoenix city center. You pay a single entrance fee per vehicle and can easily spend a whole day at Lake Pleasant. If you plan on swimming, visit a designated swimming area. Two swim beaches are available, which are very popular in summer amongst local residents. The park opens extremely early: 5 a.m. from May to October and 6 a.m. from November to April.
To reach Lake Pleasant, it is a 45-minute drive from central Phoenix. It is well worth the drive, though, and since Phoenix is an inland city, you’ll appreciate the promise of freshwater beaches. As a quick side note, you’ll pass the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum on your way, so consider combining the two attractions.
21. Pueblo Grande Museum
Pueblo Grande Museum is now officially named the S’edav Va’aki Museum. It is an open-air museum dedicated to preserving the Hohokam people’s former home. The pre-Columbian site contains the remains of a village and irrigation canals, marking Phoenix’s largest preserved archaeological site. The archaeological site itself dates back over 1,500 years, and it is an incredible feat of both early humanity and archaeological preservation. It is astounding to view the site, and the history of the Hohokam people – also known as the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People – is fascinating to learn about.
S’edav Va’aki Museum has three galleries and a theatre, promising a wealth of information and historical immersion. The archaeological site is then accessed from the S’edav Va’aki Museum as an adjoining onsite attraction, accessible via a short trail. At the actual site, you can view a mixture of ruins and replicated houses to get insight into how the Hohokam people lived. Unsurprisingly, it is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
22. Mystery Castle
The story of Mystery Castle is the most wholesome in Phoenix. A father built the castle for his daughter, but it is far more than the treehouse-style construction you are likely imagining. The Mystery Castle has a grand total of 18 rooms and 13 fireplaces, and it is built out of stone – the ultimate castle for a father’s princess.
The princess in question, Mary Lou Gulley, eventually passed away in 2010 after decades of giving tours of her father’s magical creation and living in the castle full-time. However, the Mystery Castle Foundation continues to run the castle as a tourist attraction in her and her father’s memory. It is a touching Phoenix attraction and a must-visit for anyone who loves a wholesome story.
It is worth noting that the castle was undergoing repairs following extensive vandalism in 2022. You can ring ahead to confirm opening times and construction status.
23. Old Town Scottsdale
Scottsdale is a city just east of Phoenix, and right in its center is the beautiful Old Town Scottsdale neighborhood. This is one of the best day trips from Phoenix and only takes 30 minutes to reach by car or 1.5 hours by public transport. It is absolutely drenched in history, and the old town is entirely pedestrian-friendly and full of museums and beautiful independent restaurants and shops. Next to chaotic inner-city Phoenix, Old Town Scottsdale is just where to go to take a deep breath and reconnect with a quieter pace of life in Arizona.
We love Old Town Scottsdale’s collection of attractions and how easily you can just walk between them. It is worth noting that the ‘quiet pace of life’ also switches up in the evenings when the Old Town becomes a hub of nightlife.
24. Tempe Town Lake
Tempe Town Lake is serene. There’s no denying it. The massive reservoir is set in the nearby city of Tempe. It is famous as a community area of natural beauty within a residential neighborhood. You can take a leisurely walk around the perimeter or go fishing. Tempe Town Lake is a beautiful place to kick back and relax outside the hecticness of Phoenix city center. It is especially popular during sunset and sunrise when the pink sky looks stunning against the city skyline and Mill Avenue Bridge.
Tempe Town Lake is just 20 minutes away from Phoenix by car, so it is a short journey. You can also take two buses and the rail service in just over an hour if you don’t drive or won’t be driving in Phoenix. It is an easy place to reach if you just want some time in nature after spending a while in the busy city.
25. Camelback Mountain
Camelback Mountain is one of the most scenic places near Phoenix. If you can hack an early morning start, you should make a summit climb for sunrise. The peak gets its name from its camel hump appearance, but it is also famous for its beautiful views over the city. There are two trails to choose from if you want to reach the summit: the 2.5-mile Echo Canyon Trail or the 2.6-mile Cholla Trail. Both tracks take 2-3 hours to complete, with Echo Canyon Trail involving more ‘rock climbing’ in its ascent and relying on handrails. At the summit, you are rewarded with 360-degree views of Phoenix and its surrounding views.
Camelback Mountain is a challenging feat and not a hike for beginners. You should feel comfortable with steep climbs and strenuous ascents over exposed rock surfaces. It is convenient to reach from Phoenix, though, taking just 20 minutes by car to reach the trailhead. If you like outdoor adventures, Camelback Mountain is one of the best things to do in Phoenix.
26. Hall of Flame Fire Museum
The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is another niche but highly impactful museum in Phoenix. The museum shows fire engines and history dating from 1725 to 1969 – a substantial period. Knowing this firefighter history in Phoenix is essential, primarily as many firefighters are known as local heroes. It also gets you up to speed on how firefighting technology has changed rapidly over the years. And you can take advantage of fire safety training and programs. The museum runs an adult version, which includes planning and preparation, while children get more age-appropriate fire safety training.
The Hall of Flame Museum is just 20 minutes from the city center by car. It is next to Papago Park, so it is easily combined with a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden or Hole in the Wall. Who knows, maybe you’ll pick up lifesaving skills?
27. Heard Museum
Heard Museum is an art museum entirely dedicated to preserving Native American art. The museum does not just focus on one tribe’s art and heritage, instead aiming to preserve all of the tribes’ artwork and heritage in the US. The beautiful collection is massively important for the preservation of culture and history. If you want to embrace and support indigenous history and endeavors while visiting Phoenix, then the Heard Museum is a brilliant place to start. You can learn about Native American history and admire all the varied artifacts on show.
There are guided tours that you can take around the Heard Museum. After you’ve enjoyed browsing the artifacts and learned more about America’s Native American heritage, there’s a café onsite. You can sit down and grab some refreshments before heading off for your next activity. Heard Museum is a really high-quality and insightful addition to the best things to do in Phoenix.
28. Enchanted Island Amusement Park
The Enchanted Island Amusement Park is the most fun of all these things to do in Phoenix. The theme park is family-friendly to its core, offering many games and rides, including a carousel and splash pad. If you have young children accompanying you when you visit Phoenix, keep the Enchanted Island Amusement Park up your sleeve. There are also seasonal events, like Easter egg hunts, which are a sweet touch and very popular amongst children.
The park is just a 10-minute drive from Phoenix city center, or alternatively, 40 minutes by bus. It is easy to reach and provides really lighthearted, family-friendly fun. If that sounds like what you need, you can just turn up to buy entrance tickets – no online tickets required.
29. Japanese Friendship Garden
The Japanese Friendship Garden is small but mighty. Covering just 3.5 acres, this traditional Japanese garden is one of the most cultural, outdoor spaces and things to do in Phoenix. The garden has a considerable 12-foot waterfall and a beautiful koi pond, and its abundant water features add to its serene atmosphere. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a teahouse and tea garden. You can walk through the Japanese Friendship Garden before heading for a soothing tea ritual experience.
The garden opens Tuesday to Sunday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., and it costs around $10 to enter. It is one of the most budget-friendly outdoor activities in Phoenix. And it is a breeze to get to, located in Downtown Phoenix. For a calming way to start your day, a walk in the Japanese Friendship Garden is a beautiful choice and one of the best things to do in Phoenix.
30. Arizona Science Center
The Arizona Science Center is a brilliant indoor attraction and thing to do in Phoenix. The entry price might seem steep at around $20 per person. However, once you see the number of exhibits you access for that price, it is clear that this is excellent value for money. You can easily spend three or four hours visiting the Arizona Science Center, and the multiple floors and categories of exhibits are really diverse. You can take in everything from a planetarium to an IMAX theater and attend demos or browse exhibits on lasers or even mummies.
The Arizona Science Center is an exciting Phoenix attraction for your itinerary; there’s no doubt that it ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to exhibit categories.
32. Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum is a niche museum in Phoenix. This attraction has musical instruments from approximately 200 countries and has more than 6,800 individual instruments on show. If you love music or even just international culture, the Musical Instrument Museum is one of the best options when it comes to the world-class museums in Phoenix. It is actually frequently ranked as the top Phoenix attraction on TripAdvisor. And there are even specific instruments that you can try and play.
This museum is both engaging and interactive. The vast variety of instruments on display makes it a fascinating place to stop by, and adding a bit of music to your itinerary is a dreamy way to spice up your Phoenix trip. The Musical Instrument Museum is in North Phoenix, so you’ll catch a few buses or drive 30 minutes to reach this attraction.
31. Phoenix Bat Cave
The Phoenix Bat Cave is super cool. The natural phenomenon that this attraction gets its fame is the flock of bats that fly out en masse at dusk. People gather near a footpath and fencing to peer at the bats as they burst out. Over 5,000 Mexican free-tailed bats live under the tunnel – which is manmade rather than actually being a ‘cave’ cave. And you can enjoy the designated bat-watching area while snapping photos, just as long as you stay quiet enough to not distress them. The bats are protected, so don’t do anything to upset them unless you are happy to be met with official backlash from local authorities. Think of them as having celebrity status.
The Phoenix Bat Cave is located just outside of the city center, and it’s best to visit if you have a car. It is free to enjoy and one of the most unique things to do in Phoenix.
33. South Mountain Park and Preserve
South Mountain Park and Preserve is one of the top places to venture if you want some wild space. The park and preserve covers over 16,000 acres, and the dusty, rugged terrain is an aesthetic mix of desert meets mountainous scrubs. For cacti and mountain scenery – plus stunning views of the Phoenix skyline – you really can’t beat South Mountain Park and Preserve. Explore by going horseback riding with the Arizona Horse Company, by walking, or cycling. Either way, allow at least half a day to really get a taste of South Mountain.
For those with accessibility concerns, knowing there’s a road you can drive to reach a viewpoint directly is good. Dobbin’s Lookout is a beautiful place to drive to for sunrise or sunset, and it has expansive views over Phoenix. For easily accessible views, Dobbin’s Lookout is one of the prettiest things to do in Phoenix.
34. Desert Botanical Garden
What is not to love about a Desert Botanical Garden? This botanical garden spreads over 140 acres and has 50,000 plants on show – making it one of the best places to visit to taste the desert in inner-city Phoenix. The garden is connected by a network of beautiful little hiking trails. You can easily spend a couple of hours walking the Desert Botanical Garden’s grounds, and it is a lovely place to visit in the early morning before it gets too hot. It opens at 7 a.m. every day, so why not head down for a pre-breakfast walk and then treat yourself to food at the onsite restaurant or café?
Technically, the Desert Botanical Garden is part of Papago Park. But it is such an incredible place to visit that we had to include it as a standalone attraction. It is easily reached too, taking just 20 minutes by public transport.
Things to Do in Phoenix: FAQs
As you can see, there are so many fun things to do in Phoenix. Before you plan your itinerary, though, check out these top FAQs on visiting Phoenix, Arizona. You want to ensure you get all vital snippets of information that could make or break your trip.
How to Get to Phoenix
The easiest way to get to Phoenix for most visitors is to fly. Phoenix International Airport is exceptionally well-connected to Downtown Phoenix by public transport and just 10 minutes away by car. Phoenix is connected directly to hundreds of global cities and is served by regular American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Southwest Airlines flights.
If you are already in the US, consider reaching Phoenix by rail. While Phoenix is not on the Amtrak lines, it is on the Thruway Connecting Services. This means you can jump on Amtrak connections at Flagstaff or Maricopa, taking advantage of Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, and even New York routes. The options are almost endless. You can also purchase comfortable rail cabins for an extra luxury step– like a hotel on wheels.
Another option to get to Phoenix is, of course, by coach. Greyhound services are top-rated for getting to all major US cities, and Phoenix is no exception. Similarly, you can also choose to road trip to Phoenix if you have extra time. This is ideal if you want to maximize your sightseeing time. You can check out our complete guide on the ultimate Arizona road trip here.
Where to Stay in Phoenix
Where to stay in Phoenix is a great question; many beautiful hotels and neighborhood choices exist. For your first visit to Phoenix, you should aim to stay in Downtown Phoenix or Midtown. This will provide you with the most accessible access to the main attractions in Phoenix.
Surestay Hotel By Western Phoenix Airport is the most budget-friendly accommodation choice for a hotel that rates over 7.0 on Booking.com. It is a little further from the city center, but worth the location sacrifice if you want more comfortable budget accommodation.
Hampton Inn and Suites Phoenix Downtown is a brilliant mid-range choice. It has everything from a fitness center to parking and is located conveniently in the heart of the downtown area.
This luxury apartment is the ideal luxurious base in Phoenix. You get the whole self-catered experience, with all the comforts of your own home, plus a brilliant location in Midtown Phoenix.
Where to Eat in Phoenix
You may not know it, but Arizona’s best-known food is the Apache trout. It is also superb for Mexican cuisine, especially chimichangas – a burrito-style dish. The list of dishes and drinks you should try is a serious challenge to complete, including Route 66 beer, Sonoran hot dogs, and fried bread. You should leave a huge chunk out of your itinerary just to factor in food and drink tasting.
Looking for the best places to eat in Phoenix? Check out our top recommendations.
Carolina’s Mexican Food: Tasty Mexican cuisine where you can try specials like chimichangas.
Fry Bread House: A much-loved restaurant serving dishes based on Native American fry bread.
Wrigley Mansion & Geordie’s: A mansion meets restaurant founded by William Wrigley JR.
Best Time to Visit Phoenix
The best time to visit Phoenix, Arizona, is a hot topic – no pun intended. Because of the intense heat in Phoenix, winter is the peak time to visit, with summer as the low season. This is the reverse of what most people expect peak seasons to look like. People who want to enjoy the desert, outdoor activities, or visiting places like the Wildlife World Zoo head to Phoenix from October to May. While June to September is when most people steer clear, it is ideal for those wanting to avoid the crowds and who prefer indoor (i.e., air-conditioned) attractions anyway.
We’d recommend May or September. These shoulder seasons are the closest you’ll get to a compromise and balance fewer crowds with pretty mild temperatures. It does depend on what things to do in Phoenix you are interested in.
As you can see, Phoenix is pretty special. The capital undoubtedly has some of the best things to do in Arizona. Whether you stop by the Desert Botanical Garden or the Musical Instrument Museum, you’ll have a wonderful time.
Are you traveling to see more of the US after? Here’s where to stay in San Francisco if you love boutique hotels and where to stay in San Diego. There are many fun things to do in Phoenix, but heading off on a road trip or a quick flight to other leading destinations is the perfect way to round off your US trip.