From natural wonders to creative manmade venues, these places prove that the Phoenix metro area knows how to take a great photo.
Blue skies, cactus, iconic architecture: They’re what photography dreams are made of. Add in gorgeous desert landscapes, trendy eateries, stylish hotels, and a diverse and creative arts community, and you end up with a city filled with must-see attractions and locations.
Whether you’re looking for the best places to take romantic engagement portraits or you simply want some scenic travel shots to share on social media, metro Phoenix is chock-full of photo-ready spots. While we couldn’t list all of them, we’ve selected nine of the most Instagrammable sites that will help you take your social media game to the next level.
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Nothing says Arizona more than the Sonoran Desert’s native plants, and nowhere in the Valley can you find a better display of them than at Desert Botanical Garden. Wander meandering trails lined with clusters of prickly cacti, lush succulents and seasonal blooms. Temporary art exhibits complement the verdant fauna. In addition to the holiday lights and sparkling luminarias on display until the end of the year, now through May 2023 the garden is filled with large rainbow-hued sculptures by German-French artist Rotraut. One of the most popular photography spots is on the Desert Discovery Loop Trail near the Webster Center, where towering cardons—one reaching upwards of 35 feet—line the path.
Trailheads: 625 and 626 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
A popular photoshoot location, the stunning desert landscape that surrounds Desert Botanical Garden, is a designated “Phoenix Point of Pride, landmarks and attractions selected by residents that represent the city’s best features. Located in Phoenix and Tempe, the nearly 1,500-acre municipal park offers undulating red sandstone formations, blue lagoons framed by towering palm trees, miles of hiking and biking trails, desert plants, and the Phoenix Zoo. Take a short 10-minute hike up to the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock, a scenic opening in the sandstone buttes, where you’ll find picture-perfect panoramas of the park, the lake and southeast Phoenix. The viewpoint is especially popular for taking in sunrises and sunset.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
7374 E. 2nd Street, Scottsdale
Located in Old Town Scottsdale and featuring a minimalist design by award-winning architect Will Bruder, this museum celebrates modern and contemporary art with photo-worthy exhibits, such as the immersive light installation by Phillip K Smith III that runs through August 2023. But for that true social media “wow” moment, check out Knight Rise, an enigmatic Skyspace by renowned Arizona artist James Turrell. The circular forms of the space, its built-in bench and ceiling opening, along with the light and shadows that it casts, create a dramatic selfie backdrop.
7014 E. Camelback Road, Suite 2252, Scottsdale
Tired of traipsing around town looking for the perfect photo backdrop? This museum brings the creativity to you. More than 20 ever-changing themed rooms, photo booths and standalone walls, including seasonal scenes, ball pits, monochromatic settings, neon signage, and more, are just begging to posted online. Guests are encouraged to take selfies or to bring a professional photographer to capture the experience. Selfie WRLD is even pet-friendly, so Fido also can have his moment in the spotlight.
12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale
Frank Lloyd Wright designed some of the world’s most photographed buildings, and his winter home in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains is no exception. Whether you’re looking for the clean lines and distinct styling of Wright’s structures to add to your architecture account or an eye-catching background for a selfie that will grab attention, you’ll find it here. Personal photography is allowed inside and out, and some of our favorite spots include living room with its Wright-designed furnishings, the sun-drenched drafting studio, the Cabaret Theater with its imposing desert masonry walls, and the large triangular reflecting pool.
2806 N. 16th Street, Phoenix
In recent years, downtown Phoenix has become a veritable outdoor art museum, with talented artists taking over walls and buildings and transforming them with colorful and sometimes thought-provoking murals showcasing desert flora, birds, Day of the Dead figures, abstract images, musical icons and much more. But the OG mural destination can be found on the streets surrounding Barrio Café. Established in 2002 by James Beard Award-nominated chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, the Calle Diez Y Seis Project was established to celebrate Mexican American culture and art. Don’t miss the colorful “Bienvenidos a Phoenix” mural that served as a backdrop for President Joe Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’s recent visit to the Valley. For a complete map of Valley murals, visit phoenixmurals.com.
Hotel Valley Ho
6850 E. Main Street, Scottsdale
The Valley is full of luxurious and stylish accommodations, but this midcentury hideaway has become a popular destination for Influencers from around the world. Designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and first opened in 1956, the hotel retains a fun retro vibe. Take a selfie in front of the “It’s Always Sunny in Scottsdale” mural at the OH Pool or share with your following the colorful Mad Men-esque interior design and guest rooms. And any Valley Ho stay must include a shot of the monthly Show Stopper Shake at the hotel’s Café Zuzu. These over-the-top sweet treats, piled high with ice cream, candies, cookies and more are guaranteed to garner lots of likes.
Lost Dutchman State Park
6109 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction
Located about 45 minutes west of downtown Phoenix, the distinctive peaks of the Superstition Mountains are one of the Arizona’s most beautiful and easily accessible natural settings. The photo opps here are never-ending: Imagine walking along the trails in your favorite flowy dress and sunhat, with the jagged rock formations in the background. In spring, the landscape erupts in a blanket of colorful wildflower and cactus blooms. The park also is home to a variety of birds and wildlife. If you’re lucky, you may even spot an elusive gila monster soaking up the sun. On your way to the park, stop at the Elvis Memorial Chapel and add #elvispresley to your post.
The Sky’s the Limit
Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co.
715 E. Covey Lane, Phoenix
Why pick just one spot, when you can soar over some of the Valley’s most scenic sights, including Deer Valley, Lake Pleasant and the saguaro-dotted Sonoran Desert wilderness. A number of balloon tour companies operate in Arizona, but one of the top providers is Rainbow Ryders, which offers tours year-round. You’ll soar above the landscape for 45 minutes to an hour, with plenty of opportunities for selfies and scenic photography. With 360-degree views, this IG-worthy bucket list activity is not to be missed.
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