Discover 21 fun things to do in Phoenix

Discover 21 fun things to do in Phoenix

Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks/Getty Images

By Copper Courier Staff

June 13, 2024

Phoenix, the vibrant capital of Arizona, is a hub of cultural, recreational, and historical attractions. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the city is never short on things to do. From outdoor adventures to artistic explorations, here are 21 must-do activities in Phoenix.

Outdoor Adventures

1. Hike Camelback Mountain

Camelback Mountain is a popular hiking destination offering stunning panoramic views of the city. The challenging trails are perfect for avid hikers looking for a rewarding experience. With an elevation of 2,704 feet, Camelback Mountain is an intense hike or climb that offers incredible views of the Phoenix Valley. 

2. Explore the Desert Botanical Garden

Immerse yourself in the unique flora of the Sonoran Desert at the Desert Botanical Garden. The garden features over 50,000 plant displays and seasonal events. At the Desert Botanical Garden, guests can see and learn about the countless plant and animal species native to Arizona and enjoy a number of activities, such as stargazing and desert landscaping.

3. Visit Papago Park

Papago Park offers scenic hiking trails, fishing lagoons, and picnic spots. Don’t miss the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock formation for a perfect photo opportunity. 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, and desert plants. 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.

Papago Park offers exceptional hiking and a wide array of recreational facilities. The park is also home to the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden. You can make your visit to Papago Park a day filled with activities. 

4. Enjoy South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S., offering over 50 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. In 2024, Smith Mountain Park celebrates its 100 year old birthday, commemorating the City of Phoenix’s purchase of 13,000 acres of land for $17,000. 

Today, with over 16,000 acres, Smith Mountain Park consists of three mountain ranges: the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe. You can hike, horseback ride, and mountain bike through the mountains and trails. 

Cultural Experiences

5. Discover the Heard Museum

The Heard Museum is dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art. With exhibits of both traditional and contemporary creations, this museum celebrates American Indian art. Home to a collection of Indigenous art and history with a mix of traditional and contemporary art, this Phoenix fixture also has an exhibition dedicated to the history of Indian Boarding Schools, where Indigenous children were forcibly assimilated into white American culture. 

6. Visit the Phoenix Art Museum

The Phoenix Art Museum houses an impressive collection of art from around the world, including contemporary, modern, and Latin American works. Located in the Central Corridor of a bustling, desert metropolis, Phoenix Art Museum has opened doors to world-class exhibitions, its comprehensive collections, and meaningful moments of learning and connection for 60 years

7. Explore the Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum features a vast collection of instruments from every corner of the globe. Interactive exhibits allow you to experience the sounds and stories of music. The Musical Instrument Museum was founded in 2010 by Bob Ulrich, the former CEO of Target. The museum has over 7,500 instruments from over 200 countries and territories. The MIM is in north Phoenix, just off Loop 101 and west of Mayo Clinic. The MIM also hosts concerts in its theater with 300 seats.

8. Wander Through Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row is a vibrant arts district known for its street art, galleries, and trendy eateries. It’s a great place to experience local art and culture. On the first Friday of every month, you can experience an art walk and other special events. Roosevelt Row is best known for its street art, so put on your walking shoes and get ready for a nice meal followed by a stroll through the street’s galleries. 

9. Visit the Arizona Science Center

The Arizona Science Center offers hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater. It’s a fun and educational destination for visitors of all ages. Founded in 1984, the Arizona Science Center has over 140,000 square feet of exhibits and galleries that feature the human body, forces of nature, and physics. 

Historical Sites

10. Tour the Heard Pueblo Grande Museum

The Pueblo Grande Museum is an archaeological site that showcases the ancient Hohokam culture. Explore the ruins and learn about early desert inhabitants at the Pueblo Grand Site and visit the prehistoric irrigation canals that harken to a different time.

11. Visit Heritage Square

Heritage Square is a historic block in downtown Phoenix featuring beautifully restored buildings from the late 1800s. It’s a charming spot to learn about the city’s past. Exploring Heritage Square is like traveling back in time. If you want to see what the original town of Phoenix looked like, this last remaining residential block from that old town offers you the opportunity to do just that.

The Rosson House Museum is a great starting point. With historically accurate furniture and household items—including an original Queen Anne-style wooden staircase and parquet floors—the museum offers an authentic look at life in Phoenix back in the day. Once you’re done exploring the museum, check out some of the other historic homes and the Memorial Rose Garden, then refuel at one of the nearby restaurants. 

12. Explore the Arizona Capitol Museum

The Arizona Capitol Museum offers insights into the state’s political history. Tour the historic statehouse and see exhibits on Arizona’s governance. The Arizona Capitol Museum, located in vibrant downtown Phoenix, is a unique museum that offers a fascinating journey through the state’s political and cultural evolution. As you step through its doors, you’re greeted by a world where history comes alive, inviting you to explore Arizona’s rich heritage through a wealth of exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. Visiting the Arizona Capitol Museum provides a unique opportunity to connect with Arizona’s past all for free.

Family-Friendly Activities

13. Visit the Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo is home to over 1,400 animals and offers interactive exhibits and educational programs. It’s a fun day out for families and animal lovers. After exploring Papago Park, you can wander over to the Phoenix Zoo and encounter over 3,000 animals from 400 species. 

14. Explore the Children’s Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix offers hands-on exhibits and activities designed to engage young minds. It’s a great place for children to learn and play. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix was designed for kids 10 and under. There’s over 48,000 square feet of space and over 300 play experiences across three floors. Exhibits touch on gardening, climbing, making art, reading, building, and making music among other things. The museum hosts a summer camp that is open for kids ages 5-8 where they can interact with exhibits and participate in hands-on activities. Check out the calendar for a list of daily events and activities. Admission is free from 5 to 9 p.m. every first Friday of the month.

16. Enjoy Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland features a large indoor rainforest environment filled with thousands of butterflies. Interactive exhibits and a 3D theater enhance the experience. This interactive butterfly habitat is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the world of butterflies and other rainforest creatures. 

Unique Attractions

17. Explore the Phoenix Mountains Preserve

The Phoenix Mountains Preserve offers a variety of trails for hiking and mountain biking. Enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife of the desert. The Preserves are the perfect place to escape away from the city while also experiencing the beauty of nature. You can see views from Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain. 

18. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Experience the beauty of the desert from above with a hot air balloon ride. Sunrise and sunset flights offer breathtaking views of the landscape. You can experience the best view of Phoenix from up above, and you’ll encounter the Sonoran Desert for new heights. You can choose between a sunrise or sunset tour, so you’ll definitely want to plan accordingly if you’re not an early riser!

19. Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a tranquil oasis in the city, featuring traditional Japanese landscaping, koi ponds, and tea ceremonies. These include places such as the Japanese Friendship Garden located right in the heart of downtown Phoenix. The Japanese Friendship Garden is a 3.5-acre park with a tea house, tea garden, lanterns, and more. 

Sports and Recreation

20. Catch a Game at Chase Field

Home to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field offers an exciting baseball experience. Don’t miss a chance to catch a game during the MLB season. Baseball fans will not want to miss the chance to experience Chase Field and watch the Diamondbacks score a home run.

21. Relax at Lake Pleasant Regional Park

Lake Pleasant Regional Park offers boating, fishing, and water sports. It’s a great destination for outdoor recreation and relaxation. The area straddles the Maricopa and Yavapai county border, and it’s a major hub for those wanting to get outdoors just north of Phoenix. If you’re into camping, horseback riding, or hiking, you’ll definitely find place to do it at the Lake Pleasant Regio

Phoenix is a city brimming with diverse activities and attractions. Whether you’re exploring the great outdoors, delving into cultural experiences, or enjoying family-friendly fun, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Read more: What are the best affordable vacation spots in Arizona?

 

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CATEGORIES: THINGS TO DO
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