Now that I am a Zonie it’s time for me to become an expert on all the things to do in Phoenix. It is the 5th largest city in the United States, but it is very spread out! For your reference, the spots I am sharing are located all over the greater Phoenix area including Scottsdale (about 30 minutes away) and Tucson (about 90 minutes away) plus lots of things in between.
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden has 140 acres of grounds and exhibits to explore. When we went, there was a Chihuly installation with beautiful glasswork throughout the garden, it was phenomenal.
There is a rotation of new artists every few months, so return visits to the gardens certainly won’t be boring. There are plenty of walks, and very nice restaurant and lots of events continually happening in this park located in Papago Park, a 1200 acre desert park for hiking.
If you are a fan of any kind of sport, they have a professional team in the Phoenix area. But what drives the heart and soul of most people during the month of March is spring training! From Mesa to Peoria, Surprise to Salt River and everywhere else in between, there are 15 professional baseball teams at play in the Cactus League.
Cheaper tickets, closer access to the players, I love spring training. Even my I-am-not-sure-about-this-sport French husband enjoyed himself far more at spring training than at an Oakland A’s game at the Coliseum.
It was so enlightening to visit the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright. The organic architecture of Taliesin West, located in Scottsdale, was so different than what I’ve seen with commissioned work like the Guggenheim in New York. The tour and tour staff is phenomenal.
The docents shared tons of information and anecdotes about Mr. Wright’s life and work. You can sit on furniture, touch walls, feel textures and be immersed in the world of this brilliant architect.
I am not a huge fan of animal parks, something about them makes me sad. I did have an amazing visit doing the Backstage Pass at the San Diego Zoo, but I generally don’t seek out zoos – even though Phoenix is supposed to have a pretty good one. But I could not resist a visit to Butterfly World in Scottsdale.
An interactive museum slash zoo, it is a really fun and informative place. We decided to watch the monarch butterfly movie and left the session armed with knowledge about the death-defying feats these butterflies go through every year for their migration and what I/we/people can do to help.
Then, of course, there is the butterfly area where you can walk around and get up close to hundreds of butterflies – that was pretty cool!
Pima Air and Space Museum (boneyards)
Mr. Misadventures and I are airplane geeks. We like all things airplane, space and military/aviation history. So our trip to the largest private air and space museum was super exciting to us. Sprinkle in the fact that you can get up close and even climb over many of the over 300+ airplanes, and Pima Air & Space Museum tops our lists of favorite museums in the world!
Located in Tucson, this museum is totally worth the trip!
Also near Tucson, you can find the Old West still alive and well in Tombstone! This cowboy town is the real deal with gunfights, saloons and lots of historical buildings to visit.
Not to be missed is the cemetery just outside of town, its fascinating to see the history, and sometimes hysterical names, of Tombstone’s former residents.
About 30 minutes out from Phoenix you will find a really great scenic drive. Apache Trail has something for everyone. For those who aren’t fans of cliff-hugging turns and unpaved roads, there are visits to Goldfield Ghost Town, a smaller version of Tombstone, but a cool cowboy slash old gold mining town nonetheless; a nice view of Canyon Lake; and Tortilla Flat, a great spot to eat a freshly charred burger and enjoy the country jams of the band the plays there daily.
For those of you who like white-knuckle driving, just after you continue past Tortilla Flat (if you can, from the photo above you can see that it closes when there is a lot of rain) the road turns into an unpaved route taking you to Roosevelt Dam and beyond.
No matter how far on the trail you go, you will get gorgeous views of Superstition Mountain. When Mr. Misadventures and I return to Arizona in March, we are going to spending a lot more time on this road, along with getting to several spring training games!
Here are lots more suggestions for things to do in Phoenix from the travelers on AFAR.
How about you? Do you have a suggestion for something to do in the Phoenix area?
More [greater] Phoenix Stories
- Visiting in the summertime, here are things to do in Phoenix in the summer.
- Get your cowboy on! There are rodeos all year round!
- Check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, Taliesin West.
- Best tamales in Phoenix, yum!
- Cool down with the best ice cream in Phoenix.
- I don’t have kids but there is a lot of good stuff on Travel Mama’s Scottsdale with Kids guide
- Have an insanely fun weekend in Tempe!
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