What is the first thing that crosses your mind when you think about Phoenix? The desert? Hot sun? Anything else? Yes, it gets quite hot here, but if you are moving to Phoenix, then you better get used to it. And is there a better way to do so than exploring some of the best things to do in Phoenix?
We’ve curated a list of nineteen things you can do in America’s fifth-most populous city, which is more than enough to keep you busy during your free time. Or at least until you become a true local. One thing is sure if you have decided to move to the Arizona capital – prepare to have loads of fun in the sun, and don’t forget to put on your sun cream.
Jump in on a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Desert
If you are new in town and you are still scouting for the best neighborhoods in Phoenix, you can also explore them from above, while enjoying the magnificent sunrise or sunset over the Sonoran desert. Moving to the suburbs never seemed so tempting, right? Hot air balloon rides are on the top of the must-see list for many people, so if you haven’t tried it before, this is the perfect place to do that. The balloon goes up to six hundred feet, offering stunning views of the Valley, but also of one particularly interesting neighborhood to watch from above, the Deer Valley.
Dinner Under the Desert Stars
All that dry desert air and heat can make you hungry. This place might not be famous as a heaven for foodies, but you are certainly not going to stay hungry here. If you want to know what are the best restaurants in Phoenix, check out the ones under the stars. Long tables and fairy lights are a part of unique events organized by Cloth & Flame. They pick a different spot every time and serve delicious multi-course meals, so if you want to try something like that, book your place in advance.
Visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art for One-of-a-Kind Experience
Contemporary artist James Turrel is known for his ambient and light installations, and Scottsdale Museum is one of only 14 places where they are open to the public. The skyspace called Knight Rise frames and captures the ever-changing light from the desert’s sky, and is there a better time to visit it than during the sunrise or sunset? Probably not. It is really cool if you are into contemporary and minimalist art that’s also instagrammable.
Art Walks on Every First Friday of the Month
You don’t have to be into art to do this: these events are a part of the city’s tradition, and they have been going on for twenty years. If you appreciate art and you’re living in Phoenix, this is something you can do pretty much every month because the exhibitions rotate, and you can always see something new and keep up with the vivid art scene. These events can gather even up to one hundred people, so if you are moving to a new city alone, this is an excellent opportunity to meet someone new.
Take a Tour Around the Heard Museum
If you want to find out more about native Arizona tribes, you should visit the Heard Museum, where you can find one of the top collections of American Indian art. Here you will find anything from textiles, jewelry, pottery, to ritual items that tell the story about the history of this country.
Outdoor Activities: There’s No Better Place to Play Golf
Did you know that there are 200 hundred golf courses in the Metropolitan area of PHX? Well, when you have 300 sunny days per year, we guess this is the perfect place to do that. Favorite courses? Desert ones, of course. Try playing through the romantic desert landscapes with cactuses at some of the famous courses such as We-Ko-Pa or Troon North.
Have You Heard About Goat Yoga?
If golf is not your cup of tea when it comes to sports and outdoor activities, here is something extraordinary. There are a lot of unique things to do in Arizona, and goat yoga certainly ranks high on that list. This unexpected mix combines yoga and petting animals, and it has been a massive trend here since it debuted at a farmhouse in Gilbert. It is a fun event, expect that a goat will try to climb on your back and that you won’t be doing much proper yoga because you will be laughing a lot.
In Touch With Nature: Exploring the Desert Botanical Garden
A great place to spend the day with your family is this stunning botanical garden, unlike any other you have ever seen. Located at the northern end of Papago Park, this botanical garden has a collection of desert species from all over the world, from Australia to California. It is a unique setting and definitely a must-see for anyone who comes to Arizona.
Spend a Day at the Papago Park Phoenix Zoo
Here is another family-friendly place where you can spend some quality time. Due to the specific climate of this area, this zoo only hosts species that feel comfortable in such a hot environment. Here you will find many animals that are native to the Sonoran Desert, such as coyotes, cougars, bobcats, etc. There’s also a 4D theater, so it’s really a place where you can spend an entire day and take a tour around the whole park.
Adrenalin Rush: Those Who Are Adventurous Can Try Flying Trapeze
If Y.O.L.O. is your life motto, then this is something you do not want to miss. The luxurious Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale offers you the opportunity to channel your inner acrobat and dare to try something new. Anyone older than four is more than welcome to put their skill to the test. A one-hour session with a professional instructor is enough to go through some basics and learn a few moves.
Go On a Rollercoaster Ride of Your Life at Castles N’ Coasters
This family amusement park spreads over 10 acres and offers fun for all generations. It was built during the 70s, and it is still popular among the locals, as well as tourists. There are two roller coasters, four miniature golf courses, a video game arcade, go-kart track, bumper cars and bumper boats, a 40-meter high drop tower, and many other thrilling activities. Rides we highly recommend are Sea Dragon and Magic Carpet.
Exploration Time: Go on a Grand Canyon Day Tour
When one of the most amazing wonders of nature in the US is so close to you, it is a shame not to see it. Besides, on your road to the Grand Canyon, you’ll be driving on the iconic Route 66 and passing through the town of Williams, before you reach the south rim of the Canyon. You can book a group tour, or if you have prepared your car for shipping, get behind the wheel and drive there yourself.
Visit a Ghost Town
Located on the historic Apache Trail, Goldfeld used to be a mining town, established in 1893, when gold still existed in the surrounding mountains. It was reconstructed in a way to depict the Old West style. It is a bit touristy, but still worth taking a tour if you are into exploring Arizona’s wild west. You can visit many shops, historic buildings, a gold mine, and there’s also a museum.
Shopping and Dining: Visit a Local Cafe
You don’t have to go far to find a good cup of coffee here, but if you are in the mood to find just the right one for you, we have a few recommendations:
- Peixoto Coffee – this place offers a variety of Brazilian coffee beans, happy hour from 3 PM to midnight, and the option to create your own sweet drink from loads of bases and toppings.
- Jobot Coffee & Bar – this small industrial cafe in the Artist’s District is open 24 hours during the weekend and uses locally roasted beans. Besides coffee, they are known for their crepes and tacos.
- Bergies Coffee Roast House – Bergies is located in the historic Heritage District in Gilbert, and it is super cozy, perfect for those who enjoy vintage patio style and great coffee.
Where to Spend Your Money
If shopping is your kind of workout, here you can find anything, from thrift shops to some high-end brands. Biltmore Fashion Park will take your breath (and money) away, while if you are looking for bargains, you can check out Tanger Outlets. Or the open-air Phoenix Premium Outlets complex where there is a play area for kids and many other amenities.
Landmarks and Historic Locations: Go on a Tour Around Cerreta Candy Factory
Who does not dream of visiting an actual candy factory? It can be a fun event for both kids and adults because the Cerreta Candy Factory offers chocolate tasting, decorating, and even the option of making your own custom chocolate bar. This family-owned company is a local pride, and it is located in downtown Glendale. The half-hour tour around the factory is free, while for a small fee you can enjoy some extras that we mentioned. Even if you do not have a sweet tooth, this is a sight worth visiting.
Explore Orpheum Theater
After indulging in sweets, it’s time to do something for the soul. Orpheum theater is an intricate building that will undoubtedly catch your attention when exploring the city online – it is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Built in the Spanish Baroque style, this theater is the place where you can watch ballet, live comedy shows, musicals, family shows, and many more.
Visit Famous Movie Locations Around Downtown
If you are a fan of movies, you will certainly be glad to hear that many of them were filmed in your new home – in downtown Phoenix. From Transamerica of 2005 to War of the Worlds (1953), and Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), streets around downtown such as Monroe Street and Central Avenue are a great place to test your movie knowledge.
One of the Best Things to Do in Phoenix for Yourself is Going to the Spa
Sometimes, moving is difficult. We all dream about stress-free moving, but it seems impossible to avoid making some moving mistakes when there’s so much to do. Therefore, once you settle in, you need to treat yourself to something nice.
This place has been famous for its spas since the 19th century, and you just have to take advantage of the fact that there are now basically in your backyard. Spend a few hours or even days pampering yourselves and trying out various massages. We recommend checking out:
- The Phoenician Spa
- Camelback Inn
- Spa Avania
- Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort
- The Sanctuary Spa
Unique Things to Do In Phoenix Are Waiting For You
If you are wondering how you’re going to afford to try all of the things we listed here – don’t worry. Some of them are free and keep in mind that the cost of living in Phoenix is more than affordable. Food, restaurants, city tours, etc. all that you can experience here comes at a reasonable cost. And the best part is – there is something for everyone, from leisure to family activities, and they are not all gathered in one spot but rather spread all over the metropolitan area.
If this desert gem seems like a place where you could put down roots, consider hiring professional moving services to transport your household from whatever part of the US you are presently living. The Arizona capital is waiting to be discovered – you just have to make the first move.