Popular things to do
Funny thing about Phoenix. Ask people who live here about the best things to see and do and it almost seems like they’re telling you to go out of town for some of them. Yet, there’s been so much growth over the past few years, that nearby towns have become much a part of the total Phoenix experience. No trip to the “Valley of the Sun” would be complete without taking in as much as you can. And with over 320 days of sun on average every year, you should have many beautiful days to enjoy the now 5th largest city in the U. S., up nearly 20% in population since 2010.
Phoenix offers numerous chances to get outdoors, explore mountain trails, and catch gorgeous desert sunsets. The most famous is probably Camelback Mountain, which you can see from almost every part of town. There are two trails in the area, Echo Canyon and Cholla. Both can be a little difficult, but the commanding views from on top make the effort well worth it.
There are 40 trailheads in all covering 200 miles in and around Phoenix, so make room for your hiking shoes when you pack. Another option would be Piestewa Park Recreational Area. The thing is, there are mountains everywhere around Phoenix. It’s much nicer to take a pass on the hotel exercise room and head outside.
Also outside, there’s the Desert Botanical Garden, with its very informative, ½-mile “Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert” pathway. The Garden covers over 150 acres containing more than 4,000 different species of cacti, succulents, flowers and trees. Close by is the Phoenix Zoo, always a refreshing break in its tropical rain forest habitat. They’re both part of the Papagp Park area. Check out the landmark Hole-in-the-Wall, although it’s a pretty tough climb.
Sooner or later, you’re going to want a break from the sun. Fortunately, this is also a bright spot for the Phoenix visitor. Start with the Heard Museum and its immense collection of Native American art and artifacts, such as a complete Navajo hogan dwelling. In February, there’s the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest. The museum also supports modern Native American artists, so a stop at the Museum Gift Shop offers many authentic, top-quality options for take home memories.
East of downtown is the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park, the only national landmark in Phoenix, where the Hohokam Native American cultural heritage has been preserved in three distinct exhibition galleries.
More traditional inside options would include the Phoenix Art Museum—think Remington, O’Keefe and Parrish—in one of the most visually stimulating buildings in the southwest and OdySea or Sea Life Arizona, for an aquarium dip. Another fun inside experience would be MIM, the Museum of Musical Instruments, with hundreds of examples from around the world, including John Lennon’s piano.
The cowboy culture is still prevalent all over town, but the Old West is truly updated and thriving in Scottsdale. After all, it proudly calls itself the “West’s Most Western Town.” You can get your feet wet, and properly booted, too, in the Heritage Square in Old Town Scottsdale for an afternoon and evening of shopping, dining, ambling, and snacking.
Nearby is Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright that served as a campus for architecture students from around the world. He built it while consulting on the construction of the local Biltmore Hotel (also a nice stop).
And, for more of a hands on cowboy/cowgirl experience, check out the Arizona Cowboy College or McDonald’s Ranch. They’ll have you saddled up, in no time.
This part of town is more than just the campus of Arizona State University (ASU). There’s Tempe Town Lake for kayaking, rowing, sailing, and yes, fishing, along with jogging and picnicking. You’ll be amazed at how many water sports you can enjoy in the middle of the desert.
Outside of the University and student life itself, there’s the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the inverted pyramid structure that is the Tempe City Hall.
Next door Mesa is actually Arizona’s 3rd largest city. It’s restaurants, arts and culture are easily accessible now on the Phoenix light rail system.
Hope you brought your clubs. And perhaps made reservations. The Valley is home to nearly 200 golf courses—5 18-hole, and 3 9-hole courses in the city proper alone. New courses always seem to be popping up, too. Pricing can vary greatly and is often determined by demand. There are numerous online reservation sites. But there’s no way around it, a trip to Phoenix should include a little golf, if possible.
A good place to learn more would be www.phoenix.gov.
Then, of course, there’s Spring Training, featuring 15 major league baseball teams that make up the Cactus League. Even if the season’s over, it’s interesting to see some of the smaller stadiums where the Boys of Summer get warmed up.
After hours Phoenix is a vibrant entertainment scene. Scottsdale and Tempe have their own thriving downtown restaurant and club areas. In Phoenix proper, check out the Roosevelt Row Arts District, the two-block CityScape, and the Crescent Ballroom.
– The Wrigley Mansion, for tours and dinner
– Hall of Flame Firefighters Museum
– Arizona Horse Lovers’ Park
– Arizona sports facilities, Diamonbacks (MLB), Phoenix Suns (NBA), Talking Stick Arena (NHL)
– South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the U. S.
– Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center (when open)
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GO with Us in Phoenix
When you need a ride to or from Phoenix airport or across town, GO with us for transparent fares and fast, reliable service. We provide affordable, convenient, and safe transportation options including private vans, non-stop rides, premium black car service, and shared ride airport shuttle vans.
We offer airport transportation to/from the Phoenix airport, as well as around town transportation.
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