The Getaway
There's Something for Everyone in Downtown Phoenix

Phoenix is a growing urban metropolis that rises out of the desert. A rich blend of frontier history and modern flair, the city is one of the foremost centers of art and culture in the American Southwest. If contemporary art and night clubs are your thing, or if you'd love to learn about local history and the universe, it's hard to imagine a better place in this corner of the world than Phoenix.

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01 Take a tour of Tovrea Castle

The historic Tovrea Castle in Phoenix, Arizona. It is one of the city's Points of Pride.

The Tovrea Castle is one of the most peculiar and iconic destinations you can find in Phoenix. Once a luxury resort, it's now become part of the Arizona parks system. Despite being located in the heart of the city, its frontier charm remains thanks to forty-four acres of preserved desert that surround it. The castle stands at the tallest point of the hilly area, ringed by cactuses and oblivious to the passage of time.

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02 Learn about Arizona’s most infamous people at the Valley Bar

How many political drinking games have you played? You might want to take a shot every time you hear an odd story about a notorious Arizonian, but that’d be too much liquor at this peculiar bar. You can get your fill of cocktails and learn about the state's politics at the Rose Room, where the Valley Bar plies several cocktails named for infamous Arizona personalities.

people talking and toasting in a pub with the beers

03 Fly over Downtown in a helicopter

If you head over to the Falcon Field Airport, you can book a helicopter ride all around Phoenix. You can run out into the deserts and valleys that ring the city, but one of the best views you can take is over the city. As the sun sets, experience a breathtaking view of Phoenix that changes ever so subtly each minute that the sun sinks beyond the horizon.

A helicopter preparing for takeoff 1001nights / Getty Images

04 Learn at the Arizona Science Center

The Arizona Science Center is one of the most compelling, interactive learning experiences in the United States. It’s home to over 350 permanent exhibits, including the innovative Darrance Planetarium. It’s one of the largest, most technologically advanced planetariums found anywhere in the country, and over two million visitors have enjoyed this exhibit since it opened in 1997.

A captivating image of space cemagraphics / Getty Images

05 Marvel at the Mystery Castle

Tourists visit the Mystery Castle in Phoenix on November 30, 2013. The castle was built in the 1930s and 40s by Boyce Gully for his daughter.

The Mystery Castle is a touching, heartwarming monument of a father’s devotion to his daughter, even in the face of the unimaginable. Diagnosed with a terminal disease, Boyce Luther Gully left his regular life behind to spend all the time he could with his daughter, Mary Lou. He used local sandstone and other building materials he could find to build her a castle that stands tall over half a century later. After her dad's passing, Mary Lou happily received visitors and gave tours, which the Mystery Castle Foundation continues to provide in her memory.

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06 Take a companion to the Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden might be the most peaceful place in downtown Phoenix. It’s over three acres large, and it’s overflowing with lush greenery and beautiful, Japanese-style garden ornaments. The garden is filled with long, winding trails that beg to be explored. It’s a great destination year-round, as it’s home to many events that promote and educate visitors about Japanese culture.

Tranquil secluded Japanese Garden with pond

07 Enjoy a performance at the Orpheum Theater

The historic Orpheum Theatre located on West Adams Street in the downtown area was opened in 1929 and restored and reopened in 1997.

Visiting the gorgeous Orpheum Theater is a must if you love theater and history. It once held vaudeville shows as part of the nation-spanning Orpheum Theatre network. Today, it operates as a gorgeous vintage theater. It has comfortable, spacious seating, and the lines and crowds rarely grow long enough to be as much as an inconvenience.

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08 Party at the Gypsy Bar

The Gypsy Bar is a beloved local bar in Phoenix. Come for live music, and stay for the live art shows. Part of the unique appeal of the bar is that it embraces painting, dance, and other performance arts. You can also unwind after a busy day at their bowling alley, or just lay back and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere.

A friendly, relaxed bar Predrag Vuckovic / Getty Images

09 Explore Indigenous culture at the Heard Museum

View of the Heard Museum, a private, not-for-profit museum dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art in the Sonora Desert near Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Heard Museum is one of the finest displays of Native American culture anywhere in the United States. The rich selection of objects and indigenous artwork is enough reason to come, but that’s not even close to everything this museum has to offer. It also hosts live educative performances as well as live music shows that play most weekends.

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10 Walk Roosevelt Row, the bohemian heart of the Phoenix Art Scene

Roosevelt Row is the most vibrant destination in Phoenix. This street will treat you to views of gorgeous graffiti murals and all sorts of contemporary art. During the First Friday art shows, numerous vendors will put up all sorts of art displays all along the street. It's worth planning your trip around the occasion; if you visit during a First Friday, taking a self-guided walking tour among the displays and exhibits should be a high priority.

A stunning graffiti mural dorian2013 / Getty Images

11 Discover the treasures at the Phoenix Art Museum

As the sun beams down on the heart of the city, the Phoenix Art Museum stands as a beacon of culture and history. Inside, visitors are greeted by an awe-inspiring collection that spans the gamut from contemporary marvels to age-old classics. It's not just a museum; it's a journey through time, where every corridor and gallery tells a story of artistic evolution. Whether you're an art aficionado or a curious traveler, the museum's doors open to a world where imagination knows no bounds.

Phoenix, Arizona: Phoenix art museum DreamArt123 / Shutterstock.com

12 Engage in playful learning at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

In a city that blends the modern with the historical, the Children's Museum of Phoenix emerges as a playground for the mind. This is where interactive exhibits invite little hands and curious minds to explore, create, and learn. From climbing structures that reach towards the skies to puzzles that intrigue and educate, the museum is a testament to the joy of discovery. It's a place where children lead the way, learning through play in a setting that's as fun as it is educational.

13 Savor local flavors at the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market

Nestled in the urban landscape of Phoenix, the Downtown Farmers Market is a treasure trove of local produce, artisan crafts, and vibrant community spirit. Every Saturday morning, the air fills with the scents of fresh fruits, vegetables, and baked goods, drawing a lively crowd of locals and visitors alike. It's a place to meet the farmers and creators who shape the taste and texture of the city, offering a slice of local life that's as flavorful as it is heartfelt.

14 Catch a headline act at The Van Buren

The Van Buren's marquee lights twinkle like stars, guiding music lovers to a venue where history meets the present in a symphony of sound. Once an auto dealership, this iconic space now hosts a mix of events, from electrifying concerts to themed dance nights. The walls, steeped in stories, echo with the melodies of the past and the rhythms of today, making each performance not just a show but an experience woven into the fabric of Phoenix's musical legacy.

15 Step back in time at The Rosson House Museum

Exterior view of the Rosson House Museum at Phoenix, Arizona

Amid the bustling streets of modern Phoenix, The Rosson House Museum stands as a portal to the past. This impeccably restored 1895 Queen Anne Victorian house invites visitors to step into the shoes of Phoenix's early residents. Each room, filled with authentic furnishings and artifacts, tells tales of everyday life in the city's pioneer days. A visit here is not just a tour; it's a time travel experience that offers a glimpse into the rich historical tapestry of Phoenix.

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