The Getaway
25 Top Things To Do In Phoenix

The "Valley of the Sun" is best known for its year-round sunshine and desert landscape, but if you're open to exploration, more awaits beneath the surface. Whether you're visiting for recreation or rejuvenation, the city is brimming with adventures, large and small. From a vibrant creative scene with Southwestern flair to a thriving wellness industry, mouth-watering cuisine, and a craft brew culture that's growing by the day, Arizona's state capitol is worth considering for your next adventure.


01 Check out the Desert Botanical Garden

Created in 1931, Desert Botanical Garden sits inside Papago Park and is home to a wealth of events, displays, and activities. During the winter, the desert comes alive with a light and music display during the evening hours in the garden. Concerts and talks are also regularly featured, as well as a handicap-accessible trail that brings you close to desert wildflowers, cacti, and other flora. The garden is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday - Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday - Saturday.


02 Tour First Friday art walks

In downtown Phoenix, Roosevelt Row hosts a showcase of local art every Friday that's not to be missed. On the first Friday of every month, you can participate in one of the country's largest self-guided art walks, with free event shuttles running throughout the city. If you're there at a different time, don't worry — the third Friday of every month sees exhibition openings in dozens of local galleries, while live performances, artist spotlights, and other events are on every Friday, as are the Roosevelt Row markets.


03 Walk the Japanese Friendship Garden

Designed and built by architect Nozomu Okita in partnership with Phoenix's sister city, Himeji, the Japanese Friendship Garden is a traditional Japanese stroll garden located right in the city's heart. Sitting on 3.5 acres of land, the garden features 1500 tons of hand-picked rock and more than 50 varieties of plants, a 12-foot waterfall, lanterns, streams, walking paths, and a massive Koi pond housing over 300 Koi fish. Visitors can also join a traditional tea ceremony in the Japanese Tea House, which is open once per month.


04 Rent a boat or kayak in Tempe

Tempe town lake at night Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

The best place to rent a boat or kayak near Phoenix is right in Tempe. Beautiful and centrally located, Tempe Town Lake features a 2-mile stretch of water perfect for paddling. Visitors can hire kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, outriggers, rowing boats, stand-up paddleboards, or even go sailing on the lake. If you're looking for more adventure, how about going a bit further afield and taking a kayaking trip on the beautiful Lower Salt River?



05 Shop the Uptown Farmers' Market

Are you going to be looking for fresh produce and other food items? You should look no further than the number one rated farmers' market in the Phoenix area, Uptown Farmers' Market. It has everything local farms have to offer, and it also has farmers who will chop, dice, and prepare food and vegetables the way you want after you purchase them for use later. The market is open on Wednesday from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m, and closed in the summer.


06 Peruse the Chandler Museum

The Chandler Museum is located in the Pueblo revival-styled McCullough-Price House and is home to artifacts and exhibits detailing the early years of the Phoenix area. Research and archive facilities are located in the house. On the grounds, there is a Tumbleweed Ranch that teaches about agriculture in the desert. There is an old farmhouse built in 1917, an old-style grocery store, and old farm equipment. The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1-5 p.m.


07 Have a pint at Wren House Brewing

After a day of hiking and visiting sites, you can head over to the Wren House Brewing Company. Wren House is the locals' favorite craft beer brewing facility, and it makes different styles of beers and ales depending on the season.


08 Go golfing

A male golfer gets ready to hit a drive on a beautiful desert golf hole. Phoenix, Arizona. The Valley of the Sun is one of the world's "hottest" golf destinations. Here a fit and healthy male golfer in his 40s drives a ball off the tee on a course in mid-winter. Turf conditions are perfect as the rough, or brown grass, is dormant. ImagineGolf / Getty Images

One of the greatest draws to Phoenix is the golf courses. There are almost 200 courses in the area, from local municipal ones to prestigious ones like TPC Scottsdale, which hosts the USPGA's Phoenix Open. You can play on greens lined with pine trees or on ones that seemingly take you away from everything as you head out into the desert. Most courses are only open during daylight hours, but some are lit so you can play at night.


09 Hike Piestewa Peak Summit Trail

Piestewa Peak is one of the best spots to go hiking to get a good view of the Valley of the Sun. The peak rises to 2,608 feet above the base of the valley and is surrounded by diverse landscapes and valleys. The views are remarkable, and there are six trailheads located around the base where you can gain entry. For an unforgettable experience, consider taking a guided 2-hour sunset or sunrise hike at Piestewa Peak. This unique tour offers excellent views of Phoenix, insights into the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert, and a great workout. Whether you go at it alone or part of a tour, the trails are open every day from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.


10 Pig out at Little Miss BBQ

According to many locals, one of the best places to go out to eat is Little Miss BBQ. The restaurant serves sandwiches piled high with meat covered with its famous barbecue sauce as well as sausages, briskets, pastrami, and more. Little Miss BBQ has two locations. This location closes early if they sell out what they had prepared for the day, so always plan to arrive well before 4.


11 Get a little high at the Arizona Balloon Classic

One of the biggest festivals in the Phoenix area is the Arizona Balloon Classic. The festival draws spectators and balloonists to the Phoenix area for one weekend each year in January. Families and spectators get to walk around the balloons on the field before they lift up to get a close look at them and take pictures.


12 See the valley from Camelback Mountain

This image is taken while climbing to the top of Camelback Mountain in Arizona. The rocky terrain overlooks Scottsdale. Landscape scenery is speckled with cactus and small shrubs. The sky is blue with hot sunshine. Image taken in April. Image can be used as a leadership analogy of achieving success with determination through challenging experiences. Reuben Schulz / Getty Images

The best view of Phoenix can be had by climbing the trails at Camelback Mountain between Phoenix and Paradise Valley. Two trails will lead you up to the peak: a steep, rugged trail called Echo Canyon and a less strenuous trail called Cholla. For a unique adventure, try a Camelback Mountain e-bike & hike tour, which combines the excitement of e-biking with the thrill of hiking the Cholla Trail. The courses are over a mile long (1.14 and 1.4 miles, respectively). The trails are open from sunrise to sunset, offering breathtaking views along the way.


13 When is the best time to visit?

25 Top Things To Do In Phoenix Downtown skyscrapers with palm trees and greenery in Phoenix, Arizona during sunset.

The best time to visit Phoenix is when the snowbirds come down from the north between November and April. The temperatures in Valley of the Sun range from highs in the 60s to the low 80s during this time. Blue skies and mild temperatures make the winter season here a perfect time to visit, so you can hike, golf, dine, and stroll outside to see everything the city and desert areas have to offer without dealing with the heat of summer.


14 Take a ride at the KOLI Equestrian Center

The KOLI Equestrian Center, located in the Gila River Indian Community Reservation near downtown Phoenix, provides family-friendly horseback rides for riders of all experience levels. All trial rides are designated as "walking" rides to keep things gentle for beginners, while more experienced riders can book a private session that allows them to go at a more challenging pace. All riders will experience breathtaking scenery and a chance to get up close and personal with wild horses. KOLI Equestrian Center also offers hay wagon rides, carriage rides, cattle drives, and special events.


15 Learn about First Nations at the Pueblo Grande Museum

Located on a 1500-year-old archaeological site belonging to the Hohokam culture, the Pueblo Grande Museum represents Phoenix's largest preserved archaeological site. An accessible trail takes visitors through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological village site, while the museum's three galleries include a permanent display of artifacts of the Hohokam, a rotating display of exhibits on archaeology, southwest cultures, and Arizona history, and a children's gallery featuring fun, hands-on experiences.


16 You don't need kids to visit the Phoenix Zoo

With over 3,000 animals encompassing 400 species, the Phoenix Zoo is a family-friendly oasis for animal lovers. Its mission is to conserve spaces that help animals survive and thrive in the wild, so you'll find the residents in carefully reconstructed habitats. For a more immersive experience, explore themed routes such as the Arizona Trail, which emulates the state's distinct flora and fauna, from the saguaro cactus to the mountain lion.


17 Explore more First Nations heritage at the Heard Museum

Celebrate the American Indian experience through the comprehensive cultural collections on display at the Heard Museum. From Navajo textiles to Southwestern ceramics and modern installations, Native peoples take center stage in engaging exhibitions comprising over 40,000 objects. Throughout these permanent and traveling displays, you'll explore the Native American story from prehistory through the present day.


18 Spend a day at South Mountain Park and Preserve

Encompassing 16,000 acres and three mountain ranges, South Mountain Park and Preserve is the place to take in panoramic views. Wind your way through 50+ miles of scenic trails that vary by difficulty and elevation, whether you're traveling by foot or by horseback. For a truly memorable experience, take a 2-hour guided sunrise or sunset hike at South Mountain. These hikes offer panoramic views of the city while teaching you about the local flora, fauna, and geology. Lookouts provide unobstructed views of the entire valley, so you can capture striking photos of the Gila, Guadalupe, and Ma Ha Tauk mountains while getting a workout in. Beware, treacherous drop-offs and blind corners are prevalent throughout the park, so whether you're driving, hiking, biking, or riding, observe extreme caution.


19 Make time to visit the Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum has earned its place as Phoenix's #1 attraction. Inside, you'll find a diverse collection featuring over 8,000 instruments representing 200+ cultures. A truly immersive experience, many displays offer hands-on interaction so you can feel like you're traveling the globe through music. Not only can you see some of the most rare, ornate and unique instruments out there, but you can hear and touch them as well. Stop by the 300-seat Music Theater to catch a show from today's top artists; over 200 perform here annually.


20 Catch a baseball game at Chase Field

Cheer your heart out at an Arizona Diamondbacks game, where you'll enjoy an entertainment experience complete with ballpark hot dogs, ice-cold beer, and enough fan fervor to last a lifetime. Not only is Chase Field the sports scene's beating heart, but it plays host to some of today's most popular musicians and recording artists.


21 Connect with your inner architect at Taliesin West

This UNESCO World Heritage site was first established in 1937 by iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright and still delights visitors to this day. Situated at the base of the McDowell Mountains, this handcrafted wonder forges an intimate connection with the surrounding desert. It's constructed from large rocks bound with a sturdy mixture of cement and sand, with redwood beams, canvas roofing, terraces, walkways, pools, and gardens. Explore it all through an array of interesting experiences, such as a Sunsets & Sips Happy Hour Program or in-depth guided tours at dark.


22 Get your smart on at the Arizona Science Center

Stop by the Arizona Science Center for a hands-on experience like no other, with four levels of exhibit space to keep you engaged all afternoon. Explore the constellations above in stimulating shows at one of the largest planetariums in the U.S., or catch ocean documentaries with state-of-the-art sound in the giant screen five-story theater. CREATE Makerspace is a 6,500-acre hub where you can try your hand at coding, cutting, painting, sewing, hammering, and making using both cutting-edge equipment and traditional tools. Hit a high note in Good Vibrations: Where Science Gets Loud, or journey through the human body in All About Me.


23 Get ready for a night to remember at the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra

Arizona's largest performing arts group is ready to catch your attention. The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra has earned dozens of accolades over the years, including an ECHO Award. Enjoy a night to remember at one of their powerful performances, such as Latin Fire, a lively celebration of Latin America that'll have you dancing along. In Passion and Power, relive the legendary Don Juan while soaking in Beethoven's 7th symphony. New and exciting performances are scheduled year-round, so do your research and schedule a sophisticated night out.


24 Spend the morning hiking Papago Park

Recreation lovers can run wild in Papago Park, a 1,500-acre urban desert preserve brimming with history and hiking trails. It has played a vital role in the city's history, including housing a fish hatchery during the Great Depression and a POW camp during WWII. Situated within walking distance from downtown, this oasis is a great way to squeeze nature into your day. For a unique experience, join a guided hike and yoga session at Papago Park. This combination allows you to explore the beautiful Sonoran Desert trails and conclude with a rejuvenating outdoor yoga class. There are trails for every skill level, including the legendary Hole-in-the-Rock route, where you'll discover eye-catching flora and fauna as you wind your way through striking red butte formations.


25 Take your time inside the Phoenix Art Museum

With over 20,000 works spanning nine collecting areas, the Phoenix Art Museum is an aesthete's paradise. Discover exquisite works from around the world, including an Asian collection that spans over 1,000 years of history. View over 1,000 Latin American pieces from the Spanish Colonial era through the present day, or step into the European art gallery to find masterpieces from the world's top names. View a one-of-a-kind fashion design collection featuring over 6,000 objects spanning 500 years, or stop by a celebrated photography display.

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