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Phoenix, Arizona is one of the greatest cities in the Southwestern United States. You can find arts, culture, entertainment, and world-class dining in every neighborhood. The city encompasses a fusion of cultures with plenty of American Indian and Latinx touches.
Few cities in this part of the country are more iconic than Phoenix. Outside of the metro area, Phoenix also has fantastic places for outdoor recreation and nearby sites that are perfect for exploring the rugged beauty of Arizona.
There are plenty of iconic experiences to have in Phoenix. From catching a Suns game to dining at the Farm at South Mountain, it is impossible to be bored in this quintessential American city. Phoenix has an incredible culture and heritage that everyone should take the time to observe. From dining to viewing petroglyphs, heritage and history are plentiful in Phoenix.
Each neighborhood in historic Phoenix has something unique to offer. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but it should give a solid foundation for anyone looking to explore Phoenix. From sports to spas, Phoenix has something to offer everyone.
- 60 Top Attractions in Phoenix, Arizona
- Museums, Exhibits, & Zoos
- 1. The Phoenix Art Museum
- Nature & Wildlife
- 11. The Desert Botanical Garden
- 12. Camelback Mountain
- 13. Papago Park
- 14. Take a Petroglyph Hike
- 15. Paddle the Salt River
- 16. See a Saguaro Cactus
- 17. The Japanese Friendship Garden
- 18. The South Mountain Park and Preserve
- 19. The Besh-Ba-Gowah Archeological Park
- 20. The Out of Africa Wildlife Park
- 21. Ride a Hot Air Balloon
- Arts, Entertainment, & Nightlife
- 22. Take a Self-Guided Art Walk Along Roosevelt Row
- 23. Watch Live Jazz at the Nash
- 24. See a Show at the Orpheum
- 25. See one (or Many) of the Larger-Than-Life Mural Walls
- 26. Check out the Live Music Scene
- 27. The Yayoi Kusama Firefly Infinity Mirror Room
- 28. The Mystery Castle
- 29. Go to a Summer Pool Party
- 30. Dance on Mill Avenue
- Sports, Recreation, & Gaming
- Restaurants, Food, & Cocktails
- 36. Play Oldschool Games at the Cobra Arcade Bar
- 37. Learn About the Art of the Cocktail at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
- 38. Try Tex Mex Cuisine
- 39. Visit an Independent Cafe
- 40. Indulge in a Rooftop Cocktail
- 41. Chill on One of the Phoenix Restaurant Patios
- 42. Go on a Food Tour
- 43. Visit MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain
- 44. Try American Indian Cuisine
- 45. Hang out at Hanny’s
- 46. Visit a Brewery
- 47. Dine at the Farm at South Mountain
- Shopping & Spas
- City Culture & Tours
60 Top Attractions in Phoenix, Arizona
Our list is composed of nature, wildlife, and recreation spots, to name a few. But let’s start with my personal favorite, which is museums and zoos!
Museums, Exhibits, & Zoos
1. The Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest of its kind in the Southwestern United States. There are a variety of galleries featuring Asian, European, and North & South American cultures.
The artwork here features modern and contemporary pieces, fashion, and photography. Since opening in 1959, the museum has only expanded.
Today, it is not just a museum, the grounds also house a range of partner exhibits. Visitors are welcome to explore PhxArtKids Gallery and the Dorrance Sculpture Garden.
Aside from the museum’s standing galleries, the Phoenix Art Museum hosts a range of rotating galleries. Visitors can view a variety of changes and new exhibits each month. In the past, they have welcomed exhibitions such as desert photography, 1960’s fast fashion, still lifes, and Arizona landscapes.
2. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is an exciting place for kids ages ten and below. It is one of Phoenix’s best family attractions. Not only does it cater to kids, but it also provides an enjoyable experience for their parents and guardians.
Kids can explore a range of hands-on fun while visiting the museum. Some top-rated activities include the Climber, Noodle Forest, and the building room at Building Big.
The museum is a place where children can learn through play. It is far more than a facility for them to build and climb. The interactive activities allow for children to engage their growing minds.
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is also an exciting event venue. They enjoy hosting everything from kids’ parties to corporate events.
Related Read: The Best Time to Visit Arizona
3. The Heard Museum
The Heard Museum is one of the nation’s most significant American Indian artwork and culture exhibitions. It primarily showcases the American Indians native to Arizona and other Southwestern states.
The world-renowned attraction is an excellent place to support American Indian work. It is so popular that the museum even reported welcoming a total of 200,000 guests in 2021. See why it is so excellent for yourself when you visit Phoneix.
The Heard Museum features eleven different galleries showcasing a range of native artwork. Artwork aside, it is a gorgeous property with enough to do to spend an entire day. Visit the lush courtyards and the cantina for a slow lunch or cup of coffee between gallery hopping.
4. The Musical Instrument Museum
Phoenix has plenty of unique attractions. The Musical Instrument Museum was rated the best museum in Phoenix. The museum takes visitors through various world cultures to demonstrate life through sound.
View intriguing instruments, listen to tunes from across the world, and enjoy multimedia experiences. There are plenty of galleries to keep anyone entertained. One of the best is the Experience Gallery. Here, touching the artwork is encouraged. Guests can strum a harp, play drums, and spend time making music with instruments from across the world.
The museum is also host to a range of music memorabilia. View instruments and pieces from artists and bands like Maroon 5, Carlos Santana, and more.
The Musically Instrument Museum Theater is an excellent place for live entertainment after you walk through the museum. The intimate, 300-seat audience welcomes a range of performances throughout the year.
Related Read: 15 Best Hiking Trails in Phoenix, AZ
5. Arizona’s Commemorative Air Force Wing Aviation Museum
Journey outside of Phoenix to Mesa, Arizona for the Arizona Commemorative Airforce Wing Aviation Museum. It is the perfect attraction for aviation buffs and anyone interested in airplane or Air Force technology.
The museum features extensive displays of airplanes and aircraft technology. Some of the most exciting pieces include an operational B-17 aircraft, a B-17G, SNJ, F4 Phantom, and more.
Beyond planes, the museum has plenty of Air Force memorabilia. See historical uniforms, WWII and Vietnam War artifacts, medals, and photographs.
Although not in the city, the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Wing Aviation Museum is incredibly accessible. It is only fifteen miles from Downtown Phoenix and ten from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
6. The SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium
The SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium is the perfect place to have an oceanic experience in a landlocked state like Arizona. It is immersive and fun for the whole family.
Some top exhibits in the SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium include the Colorado River Adventure and Phoenix’s effect on the ocean. The Colorado River Adventure is a unique, hands-on experience.
Guests follow the path of the Colorado River from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez. They can even control the flow of the interactive river exhibit.
Sometimes, it can be difficult for individuals in landlocked states to visualize their effect on sea life. The SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium seeks to change that. Guests are encouraged to check out the exhibit on how landlocked desert states like Arizona can affect the sea, from the products they use to the vehicles they drive.
7. The Phoenix Zoo
The Phoenix Zoo is an impressive showcase of animals from around the world. It also is a conservation area dedicated to preserving the life of rare animals in an environment amenable to their natural habitats.
Featuring over 3,000 animals, the Phoenix Zoo is an excellent place to spend a day. See creatures like Komono Dragons, giraffes, and tigers. The museum encourages safe, up-close animal encounters through viewing areas and overlooks.
The Phoenix Zoo is more than its animals. It also holds lush gardens, cafes, water features, and more. Families are especially encouraged to take up one of the ranger-led programs to learn about the care of animals.
Related Read: 10 Best Waterfalls Near Phoenix
8. The LEGOLAND Discovery Center
The LEGOLAND Discovery Center is an interactive activity for young children and their families. The recommended age for the center is three through ten-year-old kids.
LEGOLAND is a world of creativity and play. Some of the features of the indoor recreation area include a LEGO playground, global and local landmarks constructed from LEGOs, and even a 4D cinema. It is an excellent place to spend the afternoon with LEGO-obsessed kids.
LEGOLAND is in Tempeh, Arizona, about ten miles from Downtown Phoenix.
9. Carnival of Illusion
The Carnival of Illusion seeks to bring all of the joys of an old-school roadshow to life. The unique shows feature old-world magic in the heart of Phoenix and other locations across Arizona.
The Carnival of Illusion takes guests on an immersive experience through magic. With a theme of global magic, they put on a show featuring acts from across the world.
The Carnival of Illusion is the longest-running Arizona theater show in the state’s history. Get tickets and experience the magic for yourself.
10. The Arizona Science Center
The Arizona Science Center is a world-renowned museum in the heart of picturesque Phoenix. The four-story building features a planetarium, hands-on exhibits, a 5-story “giant screen” theater, and more.
The museum’s mission is to provide “exploration, education, and entertainment for all ages.” Exploring the science center allows guests an intimate experience in learning how the world works.
The building itself is also intriguing. Beyond the planetarium and viewing room, the museum is a maze of hallways, ramps, terraces, and exhibits. It is easy to get lost in the magnificence of it all. Spend a day exploring the museum.
Related Read: 18 BEST Water Parks in Phoenix
Nature & Wildlife
11. The Desert Botanical Garden
There is no better place to showcase arid plants from worldwide deserts than in the arid climate of Phoenix, Arizona. The Desert Botanical Garden has a collection of over 50,000 desert plants.
Walk the gardens to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of desert flora. The garden has five different trails, each with a unique theme. The trails provide a chance to learn about conservation, the people of the Sonoran Desert, desert life, and wildflowers.
The gardens also host various events and seasonal exhibits. Visit throughout the year for an ever-changing experience. Take a guided or specialized tour, see a concert, or eat at one of the on-site restaurants.
12. Camelback Mountain
Camelback Mountain is one of Phoenix’s most popular attractions. The hike, located twenty minutes outside of Downtown Phoenix, is one of the best in the area.
Hikers have the choice between two trails up the mountain. Both ascend for 1,420 feet before reaching the peak. Although the hike is strenuous, it is more than worth it. Hikers have panoramic views of Phoenix and the surrounding wildlife from the mountain’s peak.
Camelback Mountain is not an easy hike. Their two trails, Cholla and Echo Canyon, are rated “Extremely Difficult” on AllTrails. In some areas, you even have to rock climb. Be ready for the challenge and come with a level of experience. Each trail takes around two to three hours to complete.
13. Papago Park
Papago Park is an excellent place to go hiking, fishing, or biking. It also provides easy access to the Phoenix Zoo, Papago Golf Course, and Desert Botanical Garden.
The Hole in the Rock Trail is Papago’s most popular hike. The main attraction of the path is a large rock formation with a gaping hole in the center. Visitors are welcome to stand in the rock’s chamber. It is an excellent place for photography and panoramic views.
Another unique attraction in Papago Park is Governor Hunt’s Tomb. This burial place for Arizona’s first Governor, George W.P. Hunt, is a white pyramid atop a hill. Be respectful. To this day, this is Hunt’s final resting place.
14. Take a Petroglyph Hike
Petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings created by Phoenix’s ancestral, American Indian tribes. There are plenty situated around Arizona. Hikers can follow various paths near Phoenix to see Petroglyphs. Some of them are over 7,000 years old.
One of the best hikes to see Petroglyphs can be found in the South Mountain Park and Preserve. Holbert Trail is the best within the park for Petroglyph sightings. It is a difficult hike, so come prepared.
Waterfall Trail is another popular place to see Petroglyphs. This trail is easier and more accessible for all skill levels compared to those in South Mountain Park and Preserve.
15. Paddle the Salt River
The Salt River is an excellent place to see the desert come alive. Plenty of wildlife lives here, from wild Mustang horses to bald eagles. Take to the river and keep an eye out for animals.
Kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding are popular activities on the Salt River. Bring your own or rent one along the banks. 360 Adventures and REI Coop both rent boats and paddleboard gear.
There are many amazing things along the Salt River beyond the wildlife. Stunning rock formations jut out from the water. Red rocks and lush foliage also line the banks. The river shatters any misconception about the desert being a barren landscape.
16. See a Saguaro Cactus
The Saguaro Cactus is one of the most iconic plants in the American Southwest. No trip to Phoenix would be complete without witnessing the magnificent cactus up close. You don’t need to leave the city to see a Saguaro. Plenty grow in each neighborhood and city park.
Saguaros can reach over 50 feet tall and take extremely long to grow. It can take them between 150 to 200 years to reach maturity. It is illegal to damage them for this reason. Adult Saguaros are especially protected.
One of the best places to see Saguaro Cacti is in the Desert Botanical Garden (item 11 on this list). However, be on the lookout across Phoenix. You may see a Saguaro where you least expect to.
17. The Japanese Friendship Garden
The 3.5-acre Japanese Friendship Garden is authentically laid out and close to downtown Phoenix. The grounds also host a Japanese tea house and tea garden. It is an incredibly peaceful place to sip a cup of tea and explore.
The garden is a meticulously designed setting. Over 1,500 tons of hand-arranged rocks, 50 varieties of plants, stone bridges, and intricate lanterns are present.
Water features within the garden add to the tranquility. There is a koi pond, babbling streams, and even a 12-foot waterfall. The Japanese Friendship Garden hosts year-round educational activities and events.
18. The South Mountain Park and Preserve
The 16,000 Acre South Mountain Park and Preserve is a stunning place near Phoenix to take a hike. There are over 58 miles of trails for running, walking, biking, and even horseback riding.
Dobbins Lookout has one of the most spectacular views in the park. The 360-degree panoramic features downtown Phoenix and the surrounding nature. It is a stunning place for photography, a picnic, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the outdoors.
South Mountain also has an Environmental Education Center. Here, visitors are encouraged to learn all about the desert. Some points of interest are educational exhibits on plants, animals, conservation, and natural history.
19. The Besh-Ba-Gowah Archeological Park
The Besh-Ba-Gowah Archeological Park is a stunning vista outside Phoenix in Globe, Arizona.
The Archeological Park features a range of things to do and see. Beyond stunning rockscapes, some of the structures in the park date back nearly 7,000 years to the ancestral natives of the land.
The park encompasses the archeological site, the Salado Indians Museum, ethnobotanical gardens, and even scenes that the park reconstructed to depict life for the Salado Indians.
The ruins are one of the oldest landmarks in Arizona. Be sure to visit while on the way to Phoenix. Few places in the United States have such intact traces of ancient civilizations.
20. The Out of Africa Wildlife Park
The Out of Africa Wildlife Park is an excellent place for an immersive experience with animals and nature. The Park is just 90 minutes North of Phoenix and 30 south of Sedona. It is an excellent day trip or overnight from either of these destinations.
There is plenty to look forward to in the Wildlife Park. Watch a tiger show, go zip-lining, and check out sloth encounters.
21. Ride a Hot Air Balloon
Have you ever dreamt of riding hundreds of feet above the desert in a colorful hot air balloon? Phoenix is the perfect place to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Hot Air Expeditions is one of many companies offering hot air balloon rides near Phoenix, Arizona. At the start of your tour, watch the balloon inflate and transform from a wilted pile of fabric into a giant plume of color.
After the inflation, your hot air balloon pilot steers over the Sonoran Desert. Witness wildlife in action from the sky and check out the gorgeous flora lining the desert floor.
Arts, Entertainment, & Nightlife
22. Take a Self-Guided Art Walk Along Roosevelt Row
📍Map It: First Friday Roosevelt Row
Roosevelt Row is a walkable part of town known for arts and culture. While in town, take a self-guided art walk along Roosevelt Row.
If you don’t want to go alone, join the First Friday Art Walk. On the first Friday of each month, a group of patrons take a leisurly stroll dwn Roosevelt Row.
There are plenty of galleries along Roosevelt Row. To see the artwork, all you need to do is turn a corner. There are murals and installations up and down Roosevelt Row for all to enjoy.
Local artwork is at the forefront in Downton Phoenix. The city commissions mural artists to take on otherwise drab building walls and make them unique. Roosevelt Row has a heavy concentration of these stunning displays. Walk through the district and find your favorite.
23. Watch Live Jazz at the Nash
Phoenix was once a flourishing Jazz scene. Clubs used to line downtown, with music billowing onto the streets at all hours of the night. Today, the Nash is one of the last remaining jazz clubs in the city.
The Nash is an excellent place to watch old-school jazz bands perform. World-renowned jazz artists and bands rotate through the doors and perform for eager patrons. The Nash is an intimate setting. Low lights and a welcoming neon glow greet its visitors.
Settle in for a show at the Nash with a classic cocktail. When you’re here, you’re in for a treat.
24. See a Show at the Orpheum
The Orpheum is a historic event venue in downtown Phoenix with a modern flare. The building underwent millions of dollars worth of renovation work in recent years.
Today, it is an opulent theater that hosts a variety of exciting shows including live musicals and old-fashioned cinema from Hollywood’s gilded age.
When you visit the Orpheum, you are there for more than a show. The venue is a spectacle in itself. With broadway performances and an audience that holds thousands, a show at the Orpheum is a uniquely Phoenix experience.
25. See one (or Many) of the Larger-Than-Life Mural Walls
📍Map It: First Friday Roosevelt Row
The Larger-Than-Life Mural Walls are giant art pieces all over downtown Phoenix. If you take a walk through the city, your chance of seeing at least one is high.
The murals are stunning, but some are more instagrammable than others. The massive “Arizona” mural on Indian School Road is one of the best. It depicts life in the state through the hollowed-out letters that spell “Arizona.”
One of the places to find the biggest concentration of murals is on N. First Street in the Roosevelt Row Arts District. The 1 ½ Street Mural Project is home to a handful of murals painted by various artists.
26. Check out the Live Music Scene
Phoenix is a popular live music and event destination. You can find some exciting venues and performances across the city at all times of the year. See everything from hard rock concerts to soothing blues performances in dive bars and concert halls.
There are plenty of unique places to go in Phoenix for live music. One of the most iconic is the Yucca Tap Room. The Yucca Tap Room has been open for nearly forty years and welcomed many performers over the decades.
Phoenix has an ever-growing crowd of young professionals moving into the city for work and culture. Some hotspots for live music they love include the Crescent Ballroom, the Valley Bar, and the Rebel Lounge.
27. The Yayoi Kusama Firefly Infinity Mirror Room
The Yayoi Kusama Firefly Infinity Mirror Room is one of the longtime installations of the Phoenix Art Museum (item 1 on this list). This room, in particular, is so unique that it needed to be a point of interest on its own.
The Infinity Mirror Room is by artist Yayoi Kasuma. This spectacular piece of art is a reflection of beauty and morbidity. Kasuma describes the piece as “you who are getting obliterated in a dancing swarm of fireflies.”
The art installation is wild, obscure, and gorgeous. Stand in the room and immerse yourself in the pockets of color and light among the darkness.
28. The Mystery Castle
The Mystery Castle is a quirky destination near Phoenix. Visit the castle to escape the Arizona heat and spend some time walking around the rooms and quarters. It is listed on the Arizona Historic Register and even won the Pride of Phoenix Award. It is well worth the hour-long guided tour.
The castle is the product of a man willing to do anything for his child – even build a dream palace. When Bryce Gully’s daughter was young, she asked him to build her a castle. Gully took this whimsical childhood dream to the extreme and did just that.
Gully built the eighteen-room Mystery Castle for his daughter, Mary Lou, right before his death in 1945. Today, visitors can tour the intriguing grounds that he envisioned.
29. Go to a Summer Pool Party
Arizona is sweltering in the summer. With temperatures reaching triple digits, the city needed to devise ways to improvise. Pool parties are now a mainstay in Phoenix. Don’t have a pool? Don’t worry. There are plenty across the metro area.
Various resorts and venues host pool parties with live DJs and other fun surprises every summer. From relaxation to raves, a pool party suits every interest.
Pool parties in Phoenix happen on a weekly and daily basis. One of the top rated is the Liquid Sunshine Pool Party. The Hotel Adeline hosts Liquid Sunshine. It features a live DJ, signature cocktails, a full bar, daybeds, and even bottle service.
30. Dance on Mill Avenue
Phoenix has plenty of exciting nightlife hotspots. The best place to go out at night is on Mill Avenue in Downtown Tempe. Mill Avenue is a vibrant hangout location for young adults. Enjoy happy hour, a meal, and go out on the town.
A heavy concentration of students from Arizona State University hang out here, making the crowd all the more lively. There are plenty of iconic bars and cubs on Mill Avenue. Mill Cue Club, Zuma, Fat Tuesday, and Rodeo Ranch are some of the best.
Sports, Recreation, & Gaming
31. Catch a Game at Footprint Center
Phoenix is a fantastic city for sports fans. Plenty of games happen year-round with local football, baseball, basketball, and soccer teams.
The best place to catch a basketball game is at the Footprint Center. The Footprint Center is the home of the famous Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Rattlers, and the Phoenix Mercury.
Phoenix opened the multi-purpose arena in 1992. It has since been named “Arena of the Year” by Pollstar, among other accolades.
32. Radford Racing School
Ever dream of getting behind the wheel of a racecar? At the Radford Racking School, you have the chance. Come with a group or for individual lessons and learn to race like the world champions.
The Radford Racing Center is the largest racecar training center in North America. They have trained some of the most excellent racecar drivers of all time. You don’t have t be a pro to drive at Radford. They’ll give you a day of lessons if you have a valid driver’s license.
Not quite ready to drive a racecar? The Radford Racing School has a Kart track. Race your friends during this low-stakes event.
33. Tour a Sports Center
Beyond the famous Footprint Center (item 31 on this list), there are plenty of exciting sports centers in and around Phoenix. During the off-season, many offer private and group tours.
Be sure to catch a Diamond Backs or Cayotes game while you’re in town. If they’re not playing, tour the center that they call home. Stand in the heart of the stadium, witness empty stands, and visualize the field from an athlete’s point of view.
34. Go Golfing
There is no shortage of golf courses in and around Phoenix. In fact, there are nearly 200 courses for all skill levels. Choose between unique desert landscapes and lush, green courses. There are plenty of top-rated courses in the area.
Some of the best courses for those looking to put with a desert landscape behind them include Troon North, Boulders Golf Club, and We-Ko-Pa. The Wigwam Golf Club and the Raven Golf Club are the best traditionally landscaped courses. Wigwam even has 54 holes.
35. Bowl at Cham Pang Lanes
Bowling is a popular, leisurely sport in Phoenix. Take your friends to the lanes and enjoy a night of bowling with a twist at Cham Pang Lanes.
Cham Pang Lanes has all of the 1960s flare that comes with an old-school bowling alley and bar. It famously has plenty more to do than bowling. Indulge in chicken, champagne, old-fashioned games, and pool tables.
The atmosphere of Cham Pang Lanes is classy and nostalgic. Party underneath disco balls and go duckpin bowling.
Restaurants, Food, & Cocktails
36. Play Oldschool Games at the Cobra Arcade Bar
Arcade bars are retro hangouts that have been gradually gaining popularity across the nation. The Cobra Arcade Bar in Phoenix is more than a gaming destination. It is a full bar and a popular nightlife site.
Visit the Cobra Arcade Bar with a few quarters and dollar bills on hand. Play all the nostalgic games from the 20th century with a drink while here. It is a step back in time with a modern twist.
Patrons range from Phoenix’s new, young adult residents to Generation X members reminiscing on their childhood. Cobra it is growing in fame and has made a name for itself in the Phoenix bar scene.
37. Learn About the Art of the Cocktail at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Palrour is a new-age drinkery with some of the best cocktails in the city.
It is the perfect place to go if you are still trying to figure out how you like your martini or what your favorite spirit may be. They have a range of classic and inventive drinks to suit every taste.
This cocktail bar is an unpretentious space with great beverages. Chill out in the lounge and sip to your heart’s content.
38. Try Tex Mex Cuisine
The midwest is the inventor of Tex Mex Cuisine. Texas may have been the first to craft this culinary genre, but Arizona claims to have perfected it. Who does it best is a contested debate.
No matter the winner of Tex Mex, it is undeniable that Phoenix has some outstanding restaurants that serve it. Find classics like tacos, margaritas, and new-age fusion foods like Mexican sushi around every block in Phoenix.
Eater released a list of the essential Tex Mex restaurants in Phoenix in 2022. Some of their top picks include Analilia’s Riquezas, Ta’Carbon, and Testal Mexican Kitchen.
39. Visit an Independent Cafe
Phoenix prides itself on being an excellent place to grab a cup of coffee. Some even call Phoenix the coffee capital of the midwest due to their skill in the barista craft.
There are plenty of fantastic locations across the city for an outstanding, hand-crafted espresso beverage or a pastry.
Valley Coffee Company is one of the best cafes in Phoenix. They are famous for “Arizona-grown” beans and delicious light bites. Patrons can grab and go or sit for a while.
Valley Coffee Company also has a full bar serving up wine and spirits. Try their espresso martini.
40. Indulge in a Rooftop Cocktail
Rooftop bars are trendy across Phoenix. In the sweltering summer heat, there is nothing better to do than getting above the city once the sun begins to set.
Plenty of hotels and other buildings open up their rooftop by night. You can find everything from chill cocktail lounges to vibrant nightclubs.
Different Pointe of View atop the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort is one of the best. This bar features sprawling views of the Greater Phoenix Area, craft cocktails, and an expansive wine list. No – it technically is not a rooftop; it is a high terrace. However, with stellar views and rooftop lounges, it deserves all of the notoriety that it receives.
The rooftop bar with some of the best views in Phoenix is From the Rooftop at the Cambria Downtown Phoenix Convention Center. The rooftop has a stunning cityscape view and phenomenal craft cocktails.
41. Chill on One of the Phoenix Restaurant Patios
Plenty of great eateries around the city have extensive patios offering outdoor dining. Some are even dog-friendly.
One of the best restaurant patios in Phoenix is CIBO. CIBO is a chic restaurant with a stunning, tree-draped patio. It is a romantic setting that is perfect for date night.
Another great spot for eating outdoors is the Kai Restaurant at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. This lavish restaurant has an excellent view of the desert landscape. It is more than a restaurant – it is a dining experience. Kai Restaurant is the only Forbes Five-Star restaurant in Arizona and offers a world-class meals.
42. Go on a Food Tour
Phoenix is a food lover’s paradise. Take a food tour if you want to indulge in a complete culinary experience while you’re here. Taste It Tours offers one of the best in the city.
In Phoenix, food is far more than sampling various plates and cuisines. It is an immersive experience into world cultures, cooking, and the people who make it happen.
Taste it Tours offers food walking tours in downtown Phoenix that highlight how our food gets from farms across America to tables in the city. There are plenty of samples on the stroll. Come ready to learn about the food you’re eating and leave with a higher appreciation for dining.
43. Visit MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain
Few places in the country still serve soda like MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain. The longtime Phoenix institution does it the old-fashioned way. The entire restaurant is like entering the year 1929 when the building first opened.
Expect 20th-century nostalgia from this Phoenix staple. Indulge in a classic soda or try out one of their famous floats. Most importantly, bask in the joy that comes from a place so steeped in history.
44. Try American Indian Cuisine
American Indian cuisine has shifted over the centuries. Initially, it encompassed locally grown foods and wild game found in the country. Today, one of the most well-known staple foods in native cuisine is fry bread. Expand your knowledge of American Indian food by visiting an American Indian eatery in Phoenix.
One of the best is the Fry Bread House. Fry Bread house was named a James Beard winner in 2012 for being an American Classic restaurant. The restaurant’s owner is a part of the Tohono O’odham nation and is a phenomenal and inventive chef.
45. Hang out at Hanny’s
Hanny’s is a chic 20th-century lounge and bar in downtown Phoenix. Visiting this quintessential Phoenix establishment should be on any cocktail lover’s Phoenix bucket list.
Part of the draw of Hanny’s comes from its history. This lounge was once a designer men’s clothing store. Brand names like Dior still hang from the walls, showcasing the history of the place.
46. Visit a Brewery
Craft beer is trendy in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. It has been growing in popularity across the entire United States. Try out one (or a few) of Phoenix’s iconic breweries.
One of the best breweries in downtown Phoenix is SanTan Brewing Company. There are a handful of taprooms across the city. They even serve light bar bites.
Another excellent Phoenix brewery is Greenwood Brewing. Greenwood is a woman-owned business in the heart of the city with a fantastic range of brews.
47. Dine at the Farm at South Mountain
In Phoenix, dining is all about quality over quantity. Phoenix restaurants choose the best local ingredients when sourcing their products for dishes. One of the best ways to truly enjoy the culinary scene of Phoenix is to eat locally and try out farm-to-table cuisine.
The quintessential farm-to-table destination in Phoenix is The Farm at South Mountain. The Farm at South Mountain’s mission is to produce sustainable, quality ingredients on site. Three different eateries are at the Farm at South Mountain; Morning Glory Cafe, The Farm Kitchen, and Quiessence. Each one is unique and offers plenty of locally grown indulgences.
Quiessence is the most high-end of the trio. It offers upscale dinner fare with fresh and bright ingredients. You can truly taste the land where the food came from with dishes featuring local produce and meats.
The intimate setting of Quiessence adds to the authenticity of the experience. Eating here is about more than the food – it is a lesson in how food should taste when done right. The ingredients are simple and unpretentious. The cloth draped settings with red brick clay features are simple yet perfectly elevate the environment.
The Farm at South Mountain’s more casual eatery, the Farm Kitchen, offers some of the best picnic food in the nation. Expect sandwiches, salads, and other light bites sourced from the rugged farmland.
While visiting the farm, stroll the gardens where your food is produced. The trails are gorgeous and filled with natural resources that make the Farm at South Mountain’s dining experience sublime.
Shopping & Spas
48. Shop at a Phoenix Boutique
Phoenix is home to hundreds of unique boutiques across the city, selling everything from ceramics to clothing. Shopping local is an excellent way to support the community and get an individual, Phoenix-made item.
One of the best boutiques in Phoenix is the Bunky Boutique. Bunky Boutique sells a range of fashion unique to Phoenix. They also have handbags, jewelry, and other gifts.
Be sure to check out black-owned and native-owned businesses while you’re shopping. The Archwood Exchange and the Black Russian Label are fantastic places to start.
49. Shop at Biltmore Fashion Park
Biltmore Fashion Park is an open-air lifestyle park with fine dining and designer shopping. It is also an expansive greenspace near downtown Phoenix.
Some of the most iconic stores to check out include Saks Fifth Avenue, Lululemon, and Hyde Park Jewelers. Plenty more shops are located here with something for everyone.
50. Relax at Kierland Commons
Kierland Commons is a resort and spa in between Phoenix and Scottsdale. Indulge in one of their great spa treatments and stay at the resort.
Beyond world-class spa treatments, Kierland Commons has fantastic on-site shopping and dining. Some shops to look forward to include Athleta, Michael Kors, Coach, and plenty more.
Kierland Commons has plenty of exciting restaurants, bars, and business parks. There is so much to do here, you could spend an entire week in the commons without visiting nearby Phoenix or Scottsdale.
51. Shop at Arizona Center
Arizona Center is in downtown Phoenix. It is home to fantastic shopping, dining, and open-air attractions such as parks and pathways.
The shopping here is great, but the Arizona Center is also an excellent event venue. Rent out the Grotto, a three-acre oasis of gardens, for weddings and other events.
52. Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market
The farmers market is open daily in Phoenix year-round. From May through September, the hours are 7:30-11:30 am. They get pushed later into the day in October through April and are open from 8 am – 1 pm.
The local farmer’s market features a range of food and items crafted and grown in the greater Phoenix area. Find an array of fresh produce, jams, pottery, and plenty more. Bring a basket and spend the morning supporting local businesses.
53. Get A Desert-Inspired Spa Treatment
Phoenix is known for its spas. Plenty in and around the city offer unique, desert-inspired treatments using locally sourced products and outstanding masseuses.
One of the best desert-inspired spa treatments is at the Joya Spa. The signature massage at Joya features warming essential oils, the “Queen of the night” cactus flower, and Thai stretching. It is truly an indulgent experience.
Another desert-inspired spa treatment is the Sacred Prickly Pear Body Treatment at Aji Spa. This massage features prickly pear red clay used to detoxify the body and create an overall sensation of relaxation.
City Culture & Tours
54. Visit Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix is by far the most famous neighborhood in the city. It features a range of arts, nightlife, dining, and culture that locals and tourists love. Some of the city’s live music and the sporting scene also call downtown Phoenix home. The neighborhood truly has it all.
If you are looking to soak up the culture of Phoenix, there is no better place than downtown. Downtown Phoenix features over 200 restaurants with worldwide cuisines to try out. Downtown is a food lover’s paradise with something to please everyone, from hip craft breweries to upscale fare.
After a meal, head up to one of downtown’s many rooftop lounges and bars (see item 40 on this list for more rooftop bar info).
55. Stroll the Warehouse District
The industrial Warehouse District is an up-and-coming part of Phoenix. With more rugged buildings and a rustic cityscape, there is plenty to do here among the new-age scenery. The Warehouse district has a growing technology industry and attracts a lot of young professionals in this sector.
The warehouses once housing Arizona’s citrus and cotton production are now chic hangouts and apartment buildings. There are also some galleries, nightclubs, and restaurants among the establishments.
There is plenty to do in the Warehouse District from the famous First Friday Art Walk to checking out the sports and concert scene. Phoenix’s Diamondbacks play here at the Footprint Center (item 31 on this list).
56. Check Out Heritage Square
Heritage Square is the original location of the city of Phoenix and has plenty of old-town charm. The rustic feel of the square is a testament to the 19th and 20th centuries. The famous site has many well-preserved points of interest from this period.
The Rosson House Museum is the centerpiece of Heritage Square. This restored victorian home once gave respite to some of the earliest settlers in Phoenix. The arid landscape isn’t always easy to live in, so the house indeed served as an oasis for its residents.
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix (item 2 on this list) is right across the street from Heritage Square and is an excellent place to take kids under ten.
57. Explore the Melrose District
The Melrose District is an expanse taking up one mile of Seventh Avenue in Downtown Phoenix. This micro-district is growing in popularity due to its cute antique shops, cocktail bars, and chic restaurant patios.
The Melrose District is home to one of the best glimpses into mid-century Phoenix. It is also nicknamed the “Gayborhood” of Phoenix due to its heavy concentration of LGBTQ+ residents. Plenty of pride flags fly in this district among various Gay Bars and queer-owned businesses.
Drag shows are top-rated in the Melrose District. Some popular places to see Drag Queens include the Rock, Boycott Bar, and Stacy’s.
The dining scene of Melrose is one of the best in the city, with chic boutique restaurants and fantastic outdoor eateries. Thunderbird Lounge, Restaurant Progress, and Belly are some of the best.
58. Tour the Desert By Jeep
Touring the Desert by Jeep is a quintessential Southwestern experience. Take a day trip to Sedona and see the desert on one of their nationally renowned Pink Jeep Tours. The Pink Jeep Tours accompanies off-road adventurers along millions of years of desert history.
Off Road Jeep Adventures offer another popular Jeep tour near Phoenix. This company takes visitors through the Sonoran Desert in an open-air jeep. Riders go through landscapes ranging from the arid desert to the lush Tonto National Forest.
These experiences offer adventure-seeking individuals a tour through the desert led by expert guides. It is an excellent way to visualize the rugged beauty of Arizona. Experience the flora, fauna, and native history while trekking the desert.
59. Take a Phoenix Segway Tour
Not into Jeep rides? Take a Segway through the Arizona wildlife. Adventure Out West offers visitors the chance to take this two-wheeled scooter through the desert. It is the perfect way to see the rugged ladscape in a non-strenuous way.
Mount your segway and follow expert guides through flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert.
60. Take a Scenic Trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad
The Verde Canyon Railroad is a historic rail system that picks up in Clarkdale, Arizona. Board the luxurious train in first-class cabins, open-air cars, and coach options.
So much of Arizona’s natural beauty is challenging to see. The railroad makes it accessible. Keep your eyes out the window to view a range of plants, flowers, wildlife, and rock formations in the desert.
The railroad runs from Clarksdale to Perkinsville. Travelers have the option of making it a round-trip experience.
Beyond the desert’s flora and fauna, watch for red rock canyon walls, ruins of the ancient Sinagua Native people, and gorgeous cliffsides. The train dips through canyons and tunnels. Immerse yourself in the Arizona wilderness during this safe and enjoyable ride.