July 16, 2024
things to do in phoenix

28 Best Things To Do in Phoenix Arizona 2024

Are you looking for the best things to do in Phoenix, Arizona?
Sun-kissed landscapes, vibrant culture, and endless adventure await in this desert metropolis bathed in sunshine year-round. Phoenix boasts more than just the iconic cacti and dramatic canyons (though those are pretty amazing).

Sunrise paints the red rocks with a breathtaking glow, while renowned museums like the Phoenix Art Museum are brimming with artistic treasures. In Phoenix, you will be offered a variety of activities, each targeting different interests. If you love food, you will find a haven of innovative cuisine.

At the same time, nature lovers can hike Camelback Mountain for stunning cityscapes or kayak on serene lakes. Whether you crave cultural immersion, adrenaline-pumping thrills, or family-friendly fun, Phoenix has everything for you, so pack your sunscreen, lace up your walking shoes, and get ready to discover the beating heart of the Sonoran Desert!

Let’s dive into a treasure trove of the best things to do in Phoenix, Arizona!

1. Salt River

things to do in phoenix
Photo by Terry Brunholtz from Getty Images

Water recreation is out here along the Salt River now. The Salt River starts in the White Mountains. Then it comes down from four different reservoirs, which include the Salt River, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, and Roosevelt Lake. Beyond Saguaro Lake lies the Salt River Recreation Area, a popular spot for water rafting, kayaking, and simply enjoying the water.

You can also spot wild horses, which is perfect for photography enthusiasts. If you’re seeking summer thrills, visiting the Salt River Recreation Area is a must-do at least once or twice. However, be prepared for the hot weather by bringing sunscreen and other sun protection.

2. Horseback Riding

horseback riding
Photo by Zeynep Sude Emek from Pexels

Love horseback riding? Phoenix has you covered! Ride along the scenic Salt River or head north to Cave Creek for a Western adventure. Even the outskirts offer options, with stables in San Tan Valley (Queen Creek Equestrian Center) and New River. You can search on the Internet for prices and what’s available.

3. Papago Park (Best things to do in Phoenix, Arizona)

things to do in phoenix for adults
Photo by Gregory Clifford from Getty Images/iStockphoto

It is literally in the heart of Phoenix Metro. There are areas like the zoo, parks, and a recreational area where you can go hiking up to the hole in the wall (a natural geological formation) and get great views overlooking downtown Phoenix. If you go in the opposite direction, you get good views of Scottsdale.

You might also spot bighorn sheep wandering the area. It is where you’ll find Governor Hunt’s Tomb, a white pyramid enclosed by a fence. But the real star of the show here is the unique red rock sandstone formations. It’s perfect for picnics, and you can even go fishing in the lake—all for free! Free parking is available, but spaces can be limited, especially during the peak seasons (fall and spring).

Consider arriving early or using alternative transportation if you visit during peak season. Be prepared to share this scenic spot with both locals and tourists.

Recommended: Hidden places to visit in Arizona

4. Nightlife

Scottsdale has some of the best nightlife. Scottsdale’s not the only place in Phoenix Metro where you can get the nightlife. This city offers something to everyone, especially young adults.

The Old Town Scott sails a bit more laid back than the Fashion Square area, and Camelback, just east of Scottsdale Road, you’ve got the Dirks Bentley Whiskey Row area, you’ve got the Bottled Blonde, you’ve got the W at Scott’s Hill, which is like a resort with a bar, and then if you go in the other direction across the canal, you have the Fashion Square Mall, which is more of a high-end area in the Scottsdale Waterfront, but, as you walk around here, you see a lot of people out having a good time.

Travel further south towards Indian School Road or Goldwater Boulevard. The area offers a more laid-back, chic restaurant experience, perfect for the older nightlife crowd. This is the best thing for adults and couples to do in Phoenix, Arizona.

5. Tempe Town Lake

things to do for adults in phoenix
Photo by Ron and Patty Thomas from Getty Images/iStockphoto

It is an outdoor activity experience for people who are looking to relax on the weekend, go on a couple’s date, or hang out. They usually do festivals here in the springtime or in the fall, sometimes even in the winter, but certainly not too much is happening in the summer because it’s so hot. Here, you can rent boats, including pedal boats and kayaks.

They also hold fireworks displays here. People do not swim in the lake, so don’t come here expecting to go swimming, it’s just a leisurely place to get on the water.

6. Golfing

It is popular in Phoenix. There are over 200 courses across the valley. If you want the high-end golfing experience, you can go to Scottsdale because they’ve got that up there. Troon offers a premium golfing experience, but green fees at Troon range from $200 to $300, especially during peak season. Weekends tend to be more expensive than weekdays.

For a more affordable option, head to courses in Gilbert or Mesa. Superstition Springs offers summer rates of around $80 per person, including a cart. For those who forget their clubs or travel light, golf club rentals are available for around $65 to $70.

7. Biking Trails

There are many trails across the Phoenix Metro Area. There are some great Phoenix spots for cycling enthusiasts: North Scottsdale along the New River or Cave Creek offers scenic rides. West Phoenix boasts a network of biking trails. And don’t miss the South Valley, where Queen Creek and the canal path provide excellent options for exploring on two wheels.

8. Food

You will be expecting a lot of Mexican food here; they’ve also got a variety of fusion cuisines, like Asian Fusion Sushi; they’ve got Vietnamese restaurants and Chinese Korean food, and even though it’s a desert, it still gets plenty of fresh seafood imported here. Like any other major city in America, it has tons of diversity—literally every cuisine—Indian, Pakistani. I mean, you get every kind of food here in Phoenix.

While fast-food options are plentiful, Phoenix boasts a diverse range of restaurants. Explore the delicious offerings of local eateries and hidden gems for a truly memorable dining experience. Best things for couples and kids to do in Phoenix, Arizona.

9. Arizona Museum of Natural History

museum
From Flickr

A place to ignite your curiosity about dinosaurs for kids. The museum doesn’t just boast an impressive T-Rex statue outside; it also offers a captivating journey into the world of dinosaurs within. You can go online, and the prices will vary, or book a ticket when you reach here, but it is in Mesa. There are many museums across Phoenix Metro for you to explore; this is just one of them.

10. Hiking

There are over 239 scenic trails in the Phoenix area, including the Papago area. There’s Camelback Mountain, probably the most popular; there’s Piet Swap Peak, formerly known as Peak, which is right there next to State Route 51, a popular hike for people in the mornings who are looking to catch a sunrise or a sunset even in the afternoon, but yeah, going all around Phoenix Metro, the Superstition Mountains. There is so much hiking out here; it’s one of the most popular activities in Phoenix, Arizona.

11. City Parks

There are over 180 city parks or flatland parks around Phoenix that you can go to. This one is at East Mark Gilbert’s, which has a lot of parks; there’s also Encanto Park, which is in downtown Phoenix.

One of the popular things to do at these parks is feed the ducks, and going to Gilbert Riparian is a nice thing to do, where they have wild ducks and other wild birds. I highly recommend you go to South Mountain Park and Preserve.

12. Art Galleries

There are many art galleries across Phoenix Metro, in particular in Scottsdale. Frank Lloyd Wright shaped Scottsdale’s art scene, but there is also Native American art that’s popular out there. You can check out the Art One Gallery in Scottsdale.

You could also go to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; there’s a Mesa Art Center, so you’ll find that we do have quite a fascinating display of arts all across the area here in Phoenix, and this is a look here at the Edge Art Gallery here in Scottsdale, so it gives you an idea of what to expect when you’re in one of these galleries.

13. Mystery Castle

things to do with kids in pjoenix
TISHOMIR / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Mystery Castle might be for you. It costs ten dollars for adults and five dollars for children. Created by a father for his princess, this private foundation has strict hours. So, check their availability before your visit, as they’re only open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The last tour starts at 2:40 PM. This is the best thing for kids and adults to do in Phoenix, Arizona.

14. Melrose District

Here’s a fun little area for you to explore while in Phoenix. The Melrose District lies on 7th Avenue between Camelback and Indian School Road. It is about a one-mile stretch of very old-school vintage Phoenix that you can experience. If you’re looking for something to do on the weekend, head out here to Melrose District. It was a car show, but they’ve got a lot of different things going on out here—festivals and activities again, more of a place that’s going to be active in the months from October until about May, then everything slows down because of the heat. This is a thing out here in Arizona.

15. Castle Hot Springs

If you want a natural experience, check out Castle Hot Springs. This area, located north of Lake Pleasant, can be reached by a scenic dirt road. While a helicopter option exists, most visitors enjoy the drive. Castle Hot Springs boasts natural hot springs where you can soak and unwind.

Fun fact: John F. Kennedy even visited here during his recovery from injuries in World War II! Castle Hot Springs reflects the spirit of old Arizona, offering a unique escape. They even grow their food on-site due to the remote location.

16. Sports Games Stadium

Creator: Lance King | Credit: Getty Images

Going to sports games in Arizona is a fun experience. Although it’s fun in other cities, I like Chase Field; it’s a beautiful stadium. It’s getting old; it’s almost 30 years old. Here are the Arizona Cardinals games where they played the Super Bowl. So, if you’re a football, basketball, or hockey fan, you would love to check out these stadiums.

17. Riverview Park

It is a city park on the border with Tempe and Mesa. Sloan Park (where the Chicago Cubs do spring training) is also there. South Scottsdale offers a haven for relaxation at Riverview Park, a scenic city park located on the Salt River. This peaceful green space provides ample space for a stroll or a tranquil afternoon basking in the sunshine.

18. Tortilla Flat

best thing in phoenix, arizoan

Phoenix also has an old western area that you can explore called Tortilla Flat. It is the old Apache Trail. Tortilla Flat offers a great starting point to explore the vast and scenic desert landscapes. It is truly a wilderness in the Tonto National Forest, but Tortilla Flat is a stunning place to hang out.

19. Saguaro Lake

phoenix, arizona
Creator: Brent_1 | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

There are many reservoirs around Phoenix, but this is one of the best things for adults and kids to do in Phoenix, Arizona. You can get out on the water with a jet ski, rent a boat, or even take a narrated cruise in the desert. Bell ticket prices are for general adults, 26 children, and 17; the tour is about an 80 to 90-minute narrated tour.

20. Musical Instrument Museum

One of my favorite museums in Phoenix is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). Admission for adults is twenty dollars, but it’s worth every penny for the experience. Although I’m not a musician and don’t often engage with music, this museum truly impressed me. It’s one of the best museums I’ve visited in Phoenix.

21. Phoenix Art Museum

General admission is free, but there is a separate ticket fee for special exhibitions. This art museum is sizable. While I’ve seen larger ones in cities like Paris, among U.S. museums, it ranks among the top 10 for me.

22. Old Town Scottsdale

things to do in phoenix, arizona
Creator: DenisTangneyJr | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

While we explored Scottsdale’s nightlife earlier, Old Town offers a vibrant atmosphere beyond the nightlife. From shopping and dining to simply relaxing in charming cafés, there’s something for everyone in this historic district. It is a lively place.

23. South Mountain Park and preserve

You can drive up the South Mountain to the towers or go to Dobbins Lookout. So, if you’re looking for a wild drive in South Mountain, it’s 5.5 miles along a curvy road with views and desert scenery. Some people like to do it at night, whereas others prefer it at sunset or even during the daytime. They also have plenty of hiking options here.

24. Arizona Falls

This unique waterfall is a result of the historic Canal System. Initially a 20-foot drop, it has been modernized over time into an attractive architectural feature. You’ll find it along 56th Street in the Arcadia neighborhood.

25. Festivals

There are many of them, especially in the springtime. The Ostrich Festival takes place during spring, and in October, there is a state fair and Country Thunder (a big country music festival) that many people like to go out in Florence. Then you have other experiences like the Renaissance Festival, which also takes place in the spring months.

26. First Friday

First Friday is an event celebrated on the first Friday of every single month. The most popular time to visit downtown is in the summer, mainly because of the weather. But, it’s an art area for local artists to showcase their work, offering the opportunity to purchase unique pieces and directly support these talented artisans. Come out here on the first Friday!

27. Fountain Hills

It is on the outskirts of Phoenix and the other side of the McDowell Mountains. It is a beautiful place to go; there’s a fountain that used to be one of the tallest in the world (or maybe even still is!). They also do fireworks shows and other festivals here.

28. Blue Wash

If you’re looking for an unforgettable hike, you might want to consider going up to North Scottsdale, out by Tonto Hills. It is called the Blue Wash Hike, so check it out if you’re looking for a doozy.

Here is a list of 28 things to do in Phoenix, Arizona, while visiting. If I missed anything on this list, please comment below.

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