You’ll want to start your stay in the Valley of the Sun with a visit into downtown Phoenix, which is home to some of the city’s finest attractions, including the Phoenix Art Museum, Heritage Square, and Japanese Friendship Garden and the Heard Museum.
Travelers on the quest for a more laid-back escape may indulge in some window shopping at the city’s shopping malls, golf off at its golf courses, rest at a top-rated resort spa or watch a baseball game at Chase Field. Those in search of family-friendly fun things to do are encouraged to stop by the Phoenix Zoo, the Arizona Science Center, the Children’s Museum in Phoenix and the Musical Instrument Museum, which is home to a range of hands-on exhibits appropriate for all ages.
Those who wish to explore the enormous Sonoran Desert area have lots of chances. Self-guided walks up Camelback Mountain, thru the Desert Botanical Garden and inside South Mountain Park and Papago Park (home to the iconic Hole in the Rock) are must-sees.
Outside of the city, there are a multitude of attractions in the Greater Phoenix region. If you’re planning a vacation to Scottsdale, take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter house, Taliesin West, or more kid-friendly must-dos such McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park or OdySea Aquarium. Old Town Scottsdale is a terrific area to visit if you’re traveling sans kids since it’s home to a myriad of one-of-a-kind pubs and eateries.
20 Best Things To Do Phoenix This Weekend
1. Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre botanical garden situated in Papago Park, at 1201 N. Galvin Parkway near Phoenix, central Arizona. Founded by the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society in 1937 and constructed at this location in 1939, the garden today comprises more than 50,000 plants in much more than 4,000 taxa, one-third of which are native to the region, including 379 species, which are uncommon, vulnerable or endangered.
Of great significance are the extensive collections of agave and cactus, notably the Opuntia sub-family. Plants from less harsh climatic conditions are sheltered beneath shadehouses. It focuses on plants suited to arid environments, including an Australian collection, a Baja California collection or a South American collection. Several habitats are represented: a mesquite bosque, semi-desert grassland, or upland chaparral. Desert Botanical Garden has been certified as a Phoenix Point of Pride.
- Address: 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
- Phone: (480) 941-1225
- Plants: 50,000
- Established: 1939
- Species: 4,379
2. Phoenix Zoo
The Phoenix Zoo started in 1962 and is the biggest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the zoo was created by Robert Maytag, a member of the Maytag family, and runs on 125 acres of property in the Papago Park district of Phoenix. It has been recognized as a Phoenix Point of Pride. The zoo has around 1,400 species on exhibit and features 2.5 kilometers of walking pathways. It is separated into four primary themed regions or trails:
The Arizona Trail, the Africa Trail, the Tropics Trail, or the Children’s Trail, which includes a petting zoo. The zoo has been conservation concerned since its start. Soon after it opened it harbored what was assumed to be the final few Arabian oryx, which formed the core of the global herd built for Operation Oryx and finally permitted the return of the species into the wild. It currently contains a refuge to care for animals who are endangered or unwanted.
- Located in: Papago Park
- Address: 455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
- Phone: (602) 286-3800
- Notable animals: Jai (Tiger), Suriya (Tiger), Cookie (Lion), MORE
- Area: 125 acres
- Opened: November 21, 1962
- Number of animals: 3,000
3. Heard Museum
The Heard Museum is a private, n’t yet museum in Phoenix, Arizona, United States, devoted to the promotion of American Indian art. It offers the tales of American Indian people from a first-person viewpoint, as well as displays of traditional and modern art by American Indian artists and artists inspired by American Indian art. The Heard Museum partners with American Indian artists and tribal groups on giving visitors with a different viewpoint regarding the art of Native people, especially those from the Southwest.
The Heard Museum’s purpose is to be “the world’s leading museum for the display, interpretation and promotion of American Indian art, stressing its interaction with wider creative and cultural issues.” The main Phoenix facility of the Heard Museum has been recognized as a Phoenix Point of Pride. The museum maintained the Heard Museum West branch in Surprise that closed in 2009. The museum also operated its Heard Museum North Scottsdale branch near Scottsdale, Arizona, which closed in May 2014.
- Address: 2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Phone: (602) 252-8840
- Founders: Dwight B. Heard, Maie Bartlett Heard
- Founded: 1929
- Architect: Bennie Gonzales
- Tax ID: 86-0107517
- Tax deductibility code: 501(c)(3)
- Function: Museum
4. Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum is the biggest museum for artwork in the southwest United States. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the museum measures 285,000 square feet. It shows worldwide exhibitions with its extensive collection of more than 18,000 pieces of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern & contemporary art, and fashion design. A community center since 1959, it features festivals, live concerts, independent art films and educational events year-round.
It also offers The Hub: The James K. Ballinger Interactive Gallery, an interactive place for children; photographic exhibits via the museum’s association with the Center for Creative Photography; the manicured Sculpture Garden; food and retail. It has been declared a Phoenix Point of Pride.
- Address: 1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Phone: (602) 257-188
5. Chase Field
Chase Field, previously Bank One Ballpark, is indeed a retractable roof stadium in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It’s the home for Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Its opened in 1998, the year the Diamondbacks began as an expansion franchise. Chase Field was the first stadium constructed in the United States with such a retractable roof over a natural-grass playing field.
The park was developed amid a surge of new, baseball-only facilities in the 1990s. Although virtually all of these parks were open-air, this was taken for granted that a domed stadium was a requirement for a major-league franchise to be a sustainable business in the Phoenix region. Phoenix is by far the warmest major city in North America; the average high temperature in baseball’s egular season is 99.1 °F (37.3 °C), with game-time temperatures well over 100 °F (38 °C) are fairly typical throughout the summer.
- Address: 401 E Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Phone: (602) 514-8400
- Capacity: 48,519
- Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
- Opened: March 31, 1998
- Construction started: 1996
6. The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix
The Japanese Friendship Garden is a Japanese walking garden situated in Phoenix, Arizona. The park comprises 3.5 acres and contains a tea garden and tea house. It is a cooperative initiative of the sister cities of Phoenix, Arizona, & Himeji, Japan. The Japanese name is Rohō-en. In 2004 it was selected by the City of Phoenix as one of the Phoenix Points of Pride.
Himeji, Japan became a Phoenix Sister City on November 1976 and is one of Phoenix’s ten Sister Cities throughout the world. Phoenix and Himeji collaborate in corporate, governmental, cultural and educational interactions that promote worldwide goodwill and understanding. The Garden is the common cultural concept of the cities of Phoenix & Himeji. The Japanese Friendship Garden is a 501(c)3 quasi organization in conjunction with the City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department and our Sister City of Himeji, Japan.
- Address: 1125 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003
- Phone: (602) 274-8700
- Area: 3.5 acre
7. Castles N’ Coasters
Castles N’ Coasters is an amusement park and family entertainment center situated in Phoenix, Arizona. The roughly 10-acre park contains four outdoor 18-hole miniature golf courses, many attractions, and an inside video game arcade. The park was created in 1976, and is designed in a Middle-Eastern pattern however various periods are incorporated such as the Wild West-themed miniature golf course & log flume attraction.
Other attractions including a go-kart track, bumper cars, bumper boats, 2 roller coasters named Patriot and Desert Storm, various thrill rides like Magic Carpet, Sea Dragon, Free Fall & Sky Diver drop rides, and a log flume called Splashdown.
- Address: 9445 N Metro Pkwy E, Phoenix, AZ 85051
- Phone: (602) 997-7575
- Opened: 1976
- Water rides: 2
- Area: ~10 acres
8. Hall of Flame Fire Museum
The National Historical Fire Foundation is a museum devoted to the historical preservation of firefighting equipment used over the years across the globe. The museum’s items were originally the private collection by George F. Getz Jr., who inaugurated the first Hall of Flame in Wisconsin in 1961. The collection migrated to Phoenix in 1974, and has since evolved into the world’s biggest historical firefighting museum. The museum features five major display galleries, a video theater, as well as the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, which celebrates U.S. firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty or have been recognized for acts of heroism.
The equipment is arranged as: Exhibit One: Hand & Horse Drawn; Gallery Two: Motorized Apparatus; Gallery 3: Motorized Apparatus; Gallery 4: Motorized Apparatus and a smaller gallery dedicated to Wildland Firefighting. It also features a huge collection of fire department arm patches, fire detection insurance markings, fire helmets, art artifacts and other forms of graphics, as well as a children’s play area. A handful of the collection’s vehicles are transported out of the Museum by volunteer operators for participate in Phoenix-area parades and other events.
9. Footprint Center
Footprint Center is an inter arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Built in the regional population hub of the southwestern United States, this arena opened on June 6, 1992, at the a construction cost of $89 million. It is now the home arena for the Phoenix Suns of a Basketball Association, the Phoenix Tempo of the Women’s National Basketball Association as well as the Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers. The ECHL’s Phoenix RoadRunners previously played there from 2005 until they discontinued operations at the conclusion of the 2008–2009 season. Additionally,
the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Diamondbacks played their first 7-plus seasons in the arena after their arrival in Phoenix on July 1, 1996. Located one block away from Chase Field, home of a Arizona Diamondbacks, the arena is 1 million square feet in area on an 11-acre property. These two major league sports stadiums are half of those utilized by Phoenix area professional teams, the other two being State Farm Stadium & Mullett Arena in the surrounding Phoenix suburbs of Glendale and Tempe. Footprint Center had its second big makeover in its existence.
- Address: 201 E Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Phone: (602) 379-2000
- Capacity: 18,422
- Teams: Phoenix Suns, Arizona Rattlers, Phoenix Mercury
- Owner: Phoenix City Council
- Opened: June 6, 1992
- Architecture firm: Ellerbe Becket
- Renovated: 2003, 2020
10. Arizona Capitol Museum
The Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona, United States, was the final location for Arizona’s Territorial government, until Arizona has become a state in 1912. Initially, the three branches of a new state government occupied the four floors of the statehouse. As the state grew the branches shifted to neighboring buildings and extensions.
The 1901 part of the Capitol is presently preserved as the Arizona Capitol Museum with an emphasis on the history and culture of Arizona. The Arizona State Library, which filled most of the 1938 expansion until July 2017, re-opened in late 2018 as a component of the Arizona Capitol Museum.
- Address: 1700 W. Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85007
- Departments: Cafe Arizona
- Phone: (602) 926-3620
- Founded: 1901
- Architect: James Riely Gordon
- Area: 87,120 ft²
11. Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square
Rosson Home, at 113 North 6th Street at the intersection of Monroe Street in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, is indeed a historic house museum in Heritage Square. It was erected between 1894 and 1895 in the Stick-Eastlake – Queen Anne School of Victorian architecture and was created by San Francisco architect A. P. Petit, his last design before his death.
Named after Dr. Roland Lee Rosson and his wife Flora Murray Rosson, the mansion changed hands multiple times until being bought by the City of Phoenix and restored to its original form. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
- Located in: Heritage & Science Park/Historic Heritage Square
- Address: 113 N 6th St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Phone: (602) 427-0927
- Architectural styles: Victorian architecture, American Queen Anne style, Stick style
- Architects: George Franklin Barber, Alexander P. Petit
- Opened: 1895
- Added to NRHP: June 3, 1971
- NRHP Reference Number: 71000112
12. Arizona Science Center
The Arizona Science Center, at 600 East Washington Street in Phoenix, Arizona, is a science museum situated in Heritage and Science Park. It was created in 1984 as the Arizona Museum of Science and Technology in a downtown storefront,
Its new structure, designed by Antoine Predock, was finished in 1997. Along with daily demonstrations throughout the Center, the Center conducts programs in the Dorrance Planetarium and in a five-story, huge screen IMAX Theater.
- Address: 600 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Phone: (602) 716-2000
- Tax ID: 86-0390558
- President: Guy Labine
- Founded: 1982
- Tax deductibility code: 501(c)(3)
13. OdySea Aquarium
OdySea Aquarium at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale, Arizona, is indeed a marine aquarium, and the biggest aquarium in the Southwest United States.
It stores more than 2,000,000 US gallons of water and covers over 200,000 square feet. There are about 6,000 creatures and 370 different kinds in over 65 displays. The aquarium provides an informative, engaging and enjoyable encounter for people of all ages.
- Located in: Arizona Boardwalk
- Address: 9500 East Vía de Ventura Suite A-100, Scottsdale, AZ 85256
- Phone: (480) 291-8000
- Notable animals: Diego, Nygel, Jersey, Gizmo, Piper, Calypso, MORE
- Opened: September 3, 2016
- Number of animals: 6,000
14. Symphony Hall
Symphony Hall is a multi-purpose performing arts arena, situated at 75 North 2nd Street between North 3rd Street & East Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
Part of Phoenix Civic Plaza, the hall is flanked to the north by the West Building of a Phoenix Convention Center. The Hall is the home of the Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Opera, & Ballet Arizona, and the venue of countless other productions. It was erected from 1969 to 1972 and was designed in Charles Luckman in the Brutalist style. The Hall was rebuilt in 2004.
- Located in: Phoenix Convention Center
- Address: 75 N 2nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
- Phone: (602) 495-1999
- Capacity: 2,312
- Architect: Charles Luckman
- Opened: 1972
- Function: Concert hall
15. St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Basilica
St. Mary’s Basilica – formally The Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – is indeed a church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix situated at 231 North 3rd Street at the intersection of East Monroe Street in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It was constructed from 1902 to 1914 in a blend of the Mission Revival & Spanish Colonial Revival styles, and also was dedicated in 1915. It replaced an older adobe church erected in 1881 when the parish was created.
The parish has been served by the Franciscan Friars since 1895. The existing church was raised to a minor basilica by John Paul II in 1985. The oldest Roman Catholic parish church inside the greater Phoenix region, St. Mary’s was the sole parish in Phoenix until 1924 and is home to Arizona’s greatest stained glass windows collection and a 26 rank pipe organ constructed by the Schantz Organ Company. The structure was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1978 as “St. Mary’s Church”.
- Phone: (602) 354-2100
- Architectural styles: Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, Mission Revival architecture
- Opened: 1902
- Diocese: Diocese of Phoenix
- Area: 13,070 ft²
- Added to NRHP: November 29, 1978
16. Scottsdale Fashion Square
Scottsdale Fashion Square is an elite luxury retail complex situated in the downtown district of Scottsdale, Arizona. It is the biggest shopping mall in Arizona with roughly 2 million square feet of retail space, and ranks among the top 30 largest malls in the US. It has regularly been one of the most lucrative malls in the United States, being named in 2016 as the second highest sales per square foot mall in the nation, and as of 2016, it was placed in the top 25 most visited malls in the country by Travel + Leisure magazine.
The mall is situated on the northwest intersection of Scottsdale Road & Camelback Road in Scottsdale, Arizona, and it has been owned the Westcor, a subsidiary of Macerich, since 2002.
- Address: 7014 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
- Phone: (480) 941-2140
17. State Farm Stadium
State Farm Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium located Glendale, Arizona, United States, west of Phoenix. It is the home of a Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League and also the annual Fiesta Bowl. State Farm Stadium replaced Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe as that of the home of the Cardinals. The stadium is next to Desert Diamond Arena, former home of a Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League. The stadium had hosted the Fiesta Bowl, 2007 through 2011 BCS National Championship Game, 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship, Postseason XLII in 2008,
the Pro Bowl & Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, and will hold Super Bowl LVII in 2023. For soccer, it was one of the venues for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the first semi-final of a 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup as well as the Copa América Centenario on 2016. For basketball, it hosted the NCAA Final Four in 2017, which would be expected to return in 2024. The stadium opened around 2006 as Cardinals Stadium. During that year in September, the University of Phoenix obtained naming rights, renaming the University of Phoenix Stadium, in what was originally a 20-year arrangement.
- Address: 1 Cardinals Dr, Glendale, AZ 85305
- Phone: (623) 433-7101
- Capacity: 63,400
- Team: Arizona Cardinals
- Opened: August 1, 2006
- Owner: Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority
- Architect: Peter Eisenman
- Architecture firm: Populous
18. Desert Diamond Arena
Desert Diamond Venue is an indoor multi-purpose entertainment arena situated in Glendale, Arizona. The amphitheater centers the 223-acre, $1 billion Westgate Entertainment District. Located approximately 12.5 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix, the arena was erected east of Arizona Loop 101 and on the northern side of West Maryland Avenue at the a construction cost of $220 million.
Owned by the City of Glendale and operated by ASM Global, Desert Diamond Arena were home to the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes and today offers concerts and other entertainment events throughout the year. Desert Diamond Arena has a seating capacity od 17,125 for ice hockey, 18,300 in basketball and around 19,000 for musical events. The arena includes 3,075 club seats and 87 premium suites.
- Address: 9400 W Maryland Ave, Glendale, AZ 85305
- Capacity: 18,300
- Opened: December 26, 2003
- Architecture firm: Populous
- Former names: Glendale Arena; (2003–2006); Jobing.com Arena; (2006–2014); Gila River Arena; (2014–2022)
- Owner: City of Glendale
19. Sahuaro Ranch Park
Sahuaro Ranch was created in 1886, by William Henry Bartlett, an native of Illinois. The ranch, situated north of what later became the city of Glendale, Arizona, is rich in figs and other fruit trees, vineyards, and fields of hay.
The ranch has all of its historical buildings restored, and the “Sahuaro Ranch Park” is operated by the Parks and Recreation Department of Glendale. On March 7, 1980 Sahuaro Ranch was included on the National Register of Historical Places.
- Address: 9802 59th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85302
- Departments: Sahuaro Ranch Dog Park
- Phone: (623) 930-2820
- Area: 3.125 mi²
- Opened: 1886
- Added to NRHP: March 7, 1980
20. Westgate Entertainment District
Westgate Entertainment District, originally known as “Westgate City Center” is a mixed-use complex in Glendale, Arizona. Westgate is touted as a super-regional destination for shopping, eating, entertainment, and business offices. Funded by millionaire New York interior designer Ron Elsensohn and anchored by Gila River Arena, the former home of a NHL team Arizona Coyotes, the complex does have 8,000,000 sq ft of retail space and is one of premier entertainment destinations throughout the region,
attracting more than 22 million visitors annually. In 2011, the property fell into foreclosure and returned to lenders. The retail mall was reopened underneath the name Westgate Entertainment District, administered by Vestar Capital Partners, which also administers other assets in the Phoenix region.
- Address: 6770 N Sunset Blvd, Glendale, AZ 85305
- Phone: (480) 387-5678