Things to do in Phoenix

Things to do in Phoenix
Photo credit Jen Hubbell

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.

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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.

A photo posted by Andi Fisher (@andi_fisher) on

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.

Spring Training

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.

A photo posted by Andi Fisher (@andi_fisher) on

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.

Taliesin West

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.

7 Things to do in Phoenix - Visiting-Taliesin-West
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.

Butterfly World

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.

A photo posted by Andi Fisher (@andi_fisher) on

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!

Pima Air Space Museum-TWA

Located in Tucson, this museum is totally worth the trip!

Tombstone

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.

Tombstone-Arizona-Hitching-Post

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.

Apache Trail

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.

A photo posted by Andi Fisher (@andi_fisher) on

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?

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24 Comments

  1. I am really looking forward to properly visiting Arizona soon, maybe next year if not this summer, and I’ll be sure to spend some time in Phoenix. The botanical garden and definitely Taliesin West are places I know I will enjoy!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      January 28, 2016

      @Jenna, I do not recommend a summertime visit – it is HOT. Over 100! But other than that, there are quite a lot of things to do.

      Reply
  2. Katie @ Domestiphobia
    January 27, 2016

    I’ve only been to Phoenix once, in July, and I just remember it being HOT. I need to give it another chance! Just maybe not in the middle of summer. 😉

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      January 28, 2016

      @Katie, concur, do not visit in the summer! Jan-March is nice. November and December were nice as well.

      Reply
  3. Michele
    January 30, 2016

    The Desert Botanical Gardens and the Butterfly Zoo are 2 places I would love to see if I ever get to that area. I would love to see Superstition Mountain as well–but maybe not driving up it!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2016

      @Michele, that drive is pretty exciting!

      Reply
  4. Heather Johnson
    January 30, 2016

    I have never been to the area, but I will keep these places in mind if I ever get out that way. The botanical garden looks really great. My family would really enjoy it.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2016

      @Heather, they are all really great for families!

      Reply
  5. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)
    January 30, 2016

    I was there for a layover recently, but would LOVE to go and explore Phoenix one of these days.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2016

      @Robin, yes you definitely need to go back and explore!

      Reply
  6. JULIE STINE
    January 30, 2016

    THANKS FOR THE TIPS ANDI. I’LL BE IN SURPRISE THE LAST TWO WEEKS OF FEB. SORRY YOU WILL BE GONE, I WOULD LOVE TO CATCH UP. I WANT TO GO TO TALISMAN AND SEE THE SF GIANTS. THE LAST WEEK IN FEB THERE ARE INTRA SQUAD GAMES WHERE YOU CAN WATCH THE PLAYERS UP CLOSE. I’D ALSO LIKE TO GO TO WHERE THEY MAKE THE COSANTI BELLS IN PARADISE VALLEY.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2016

      @Julie, we will miss each other! I love intersquad games, they are fun – hope you enjoy it! I have never heard of Cosanti Bells, I will have to look that up.

      Reply
  7. MyTeenGuide
    January 31, 2016

    I would love to see the Butterfly Zoo and the botanical gardens if I ever go to Phoenix. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 1, 2016

      @MyTeenGuide, they are great spots for families!

      Reply
  8. Amanda McMahon
    February 1, 2016

    I lived in Phoenix for 5 years – we tried some of these. I am sad I didn’t see any professional games while I was there (sports-wise)

    Reply
  9. Murissa
    February 2, 2016

    Tombstone would be something my fiancé and I are interested in. It’s one of our favourite movies and time in North American History.
    PS. I’ve decided to go to San Francisco for my bachelorette party. It’ll be 3 nights there with 4 friends including my mom. Any good dinner ideas? Have you ever eaten at Chez Panisse? Is it too far to go from San Francisco for a dinner? Love to hear your thoughts!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      February 2, 2016

      @Murissa, Chez Panisse is definitely an exceptional dining experience, but I have not been since they rebuilt after their fire. It is quite a hike from the city especially if you do their 5:30 city – traffic is terrible at that time, if you do the later seating it could be okay. In the city there are a ton of options – Statebird Provisions, Rich Table – but I can give you more specifics based on your needs – do you need mostly vegetarian, vegan? Seafood or other cultural cuisine. Drop me an email and I can give you more ideas.

      Reply
  10. CourtneyLynne
    February 2, 2016

    The whole phoenix area is pretty sweet!!! It’s been afew years since I’ve made a trip out there! Need to fix that!

    Reply
  11. […] really enjoyed our visit to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix so decided to check out the Tucson Botanical Garden to see what it was like. Plus we read that they […]

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  12. […] that you are all packed and ready to go, I’ve got a few suggestions for your trip to Phoenix.  And if you make it further out to Tucson, I’ve got you covered there as […]

    Reply
  13. […] a long day of golfing, rooting for your team during spring training, hiking, or visiting any of my favorite spots, than returning to a hotel that feels like […]

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  14. […] annual food festival held at the Desert Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite spots in Phoenix (and a spot I recommend you visit). It was well organized and we enjoyed ourselves, our favorite bite was from the Fat Ox, a great […]

    Reply
  15. […] Here are 7 things to do in Phoenix. […]

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  16. Catherine @ To & Fro Fam
    October 12, 2019

    Can’t wait to explore Phoenix with my family! Great ideas for things to do in Phoenix.

    Reply

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