More and more Americans are looking for Things to do in Phoenix every year.
Why is that?
It’s the warm-yet-dry weather. It’s the breathtaking natural beauty. It’s the burgeoning art scene. It’s the rich history. It’s the beautiful blend of cultural traditions. It’s the daring ethos that pushes you towards adventure.
The best part?
Phoenix, Arizona offers a wide range of entertaining activities that reflect the very best of what this inspiring city has to offer.
We’re going to go through the top 53 fun things to do in Phoenix this 2018.
If you’re in the Valley of the Sun—or taking a visit here soon—this is the Phoenix guide for you. In fact, this guide is so complete, even Phoenix Residents will uncover new stay-cation ideas.
* Please keep in mind this is a guide and not the official prices. All prices are accurate at the time of this post, but be sure to check with each activity provider in case any change has been made since. Also, in the event multiple prices exist, the lowest price has been shown.
Ready? Let’s jump in!
Explore one of the great marvels of the South West:
The Grand Canyon South Rim.
This full day tour involves stunning vistas and a stop at Sedona & a Navajo Trading Post.
The tour involves passing through Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park with a 45-minute helicopter ride and a hike immediately after.
Get the best view of your life with a spectacular helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.
Catch a bird’s eye view with an awe-inspiring hot air balloon tour of Phoenix.
This one-hour flight will sail you gently over the Sonoran Desert for an adventure of a lifetime.
This magical Desert Botanical Garden has a multitude of fun activities like:
Witness the indescribable beauty the desert has to offer.
Does it get any more macho than this?
Riding an ATV through the famous Sonoran Desert, Bradshaw Mountains, and Agua Fria River…
Shooting 9mm handguns, an AR 15 & AK 47 rifle.
Now THAT’s a bold adventure you can’t find elsewhere.
Welcome to Phoenix.
Experience the rugged landscape of the Sonoran Desert with an exhilarating mountain bike tour.
With the help of an expert guide, they can accommodate all skill levels.
You’ll not only have an unforgettable adventure…you’ll learn about the geology, history and flora/fauna of the Sonoran Desert.
Do you have what it takes to step into the bat cave?
Plan it out correctly, and you won’t see a few bats.
You’ll see THOUSANDS!
Looking for a quaint and romantic setting?
Try a twilight steamboat tour.
Enjoy delicious food & drinks and watch the starlit sky as you cruise through Canyon Lake.
Receive what some are calling the best dining experience in Phoenix.
Take a tour through the Mansion and witness its stunning architectural details. A tour guide will explain how it came to be. (And what’s happened since.)
This place is perfect for brunches. Enjoy some bottomless mimosas and a view that’s to die for.
One day, a girl built sandcastles that disappeared with the waves.
She asked her father for a castle in the desert. One, that could never be washed away.
Mystery Castle is that castle.
The girl, Mary Lou, shared her home and gave tours until her death in 2010. Today it is a museum where you can learn interesting details about its construction.
For example, one of the gates comes from a Mexican Jail!
Take a tour through Chase Field—where the Arizona Diamondbacks play Major League Baseball.
Get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes. Learn about the stadium’s unique features like its gigantic dbTV, and its retractable roof.
Come to Chase Field to see how the pros do it.
Pay your respects at this beautiful memorial. It’s in front of the Arizona State Capitol (shown later).
The Wesley Bolin Memorial has multiple dedications.
Here you’ll find the name of every officer who has lost their lives in the line of duty for Arizona. Arizona wouldn’t be where it was if it weren’t for these men & women.
Arizona owes its status to many before it. Especially the Arizona Pioneer Women.
These are the women who risked everything to foster an environment conducive to success. They taught, fed, cared for, and even protected homes from danger.
These were no ordinary women. They were the Arizona Pioneer Women.
In 1915, the Turkish Government began targeting Armenians for execution. They ended up killing 1.5 million out of 2 million Armenians.
An absolutely devastating genocide that is often overlooked by history. But not here.
Want to travel through time to visit Arizona, during the 1800s?
Visiting Heritage Square will do exactly that. Transport yourself to a lively Victorian past.
Learn history. Eat good food, and have a good time.
The National Memorial Cemetery is unique. It uses a landscape that fits with the Arizona climate. It’s neat, clean, and peaceful.
It spans 225 acres and has been around since 1979.
You can encounter two unique memorials like the “Eternal Flame monument, which is pyramidal in shape, and the World War II Submarine Torpedo monument.”
Tovrea Castle is found at the Carraro Heights. It is considered a “Jewel in the Desert”. Why? Because it has fascinated people in the Valley of the Sun for almost a century.
Allow their knowledgeable docents to give you a 2-hour tour.
Just be warned:
You must book AT LEAST 6 months in advance if you want to make a reservation. Walk-ups are almost never accepted due to sell-outs.
Learn about Arizona’s storied transition from territory to statehood. You’ll find out details like why it opted not to be a part of New Mexico, and how it fit with the Treaty with Mexico.
Plus, do you see that attractive architecture?
In a very brief period, this art district has transformed the community. It transformed what was largely an avoided area into the booming part of town.
Just listen to what local resident, Brent C. had to say about this transformation:
“These days, Roosevelt Row is arguably one of the most sought after neighborhoods to live, to work, and to hang out in the valley. Roosevelt Street itself is transforming daily with new housing, new small businesses, and new streetscape improvements to match. Gone are the days of narrow unlit sidewalks, no bike lanes, businesses closing at 5pm, and a shortage of housing options… Further south you’ll find a thriving Saturday public market, tons of restaurant and bar options, coffee shops, theatres, offices, and miscellaneous retail. And of course throughout the entirety of the Roosevelt Row neighborhood, there are the artists and art galleries. “
Come to Roosevelt Row to witness this amazing urban revolution for yourself.
As you’ve learned by now, Phoenix is where bucket lists evaporate. It’s where you do what you’ve always wanted to, your whole life.
This is what Dolphinaris Arizona is perfect for. Here you can interact with dolphins in a dignified environment. The Dolphinaris Foundation uses a portion of every ticket to:
Looking for a dolphin experience, but don’t want to get wet? Try the Land Experience.
Want the most immersive dolphin experience available? Go for the Trainer-for-a-day.
You’ll also get a chance to learn about their diets, anatomy, and behavior by the friendly staff members.
Visit this incredible interactive aquarium in Phoenix for an experience you’ll never forget.
This is a fun zoo for the whole family. Whether your walking by Stingray Bay or Monkey Village, feeding a wallaby or petting a turtle, you are sure to see a wide variety of animals.
Phoenix residents will appreciate the emphasis on desert animal education.
The Phoenix Zoo is the largest privately-owned, non-profit zoo in the US. It was founded by Robert Maytag, from the Maytag appliance empire. It is officially a Phoenix Point of Pride.
OdySea Aquarium provides a wonderful experience to people of all ages.
Here you can come face-to-face with these wonderful sea-creatures:
The OdySea Aquarium is a must for all sea-loving Phoenix vacationers.
Want to experience something you’ve never done before?
Come to the Butterfly Wonderland. Here you can share space with over 5,000 stunningly beautiful butterflies fluttering everywhere.
Don’t be surprised when one lands on your shoulders—or even head!
Talk with their educated staff to learn about a butterfly’s unbelievable journey through metamorphism.
Looking for a jolt of adrenaline? How about some go-kart racing?
Visit K1-Speed Phoenix to try their innovative 100% emissions-free, electric go-karts.
These 20 HP electric engines don’t spew out noxious fumes.
The best part?
You get maximum torque as soon as you push the pedal. Before you know it, you and 11 other drivers will be zipping around at 45 MPH and battling for the top spot.
There are even smaller go-karts just for children (min. height is 4’10”)
On January 13, 2018, Turf Paradise turns 62. For 62 years, Turf Paradise has provided Phoenix residents and visitors a first-class horse race track.
Over 2,000 racehorses call this beautiful stable home. It is the 3rd largest sports attraction in Arizona. For racing buffs, its track length is “length is a seven-furlong infield turf course with a one mile and one-eighth chute.”
Place your bets on Turf Paradise horse races that are shown in 2,000 locations in 40 different countries.
Vee Quiva Location: Google Map Directions
Wild Horse Pass Location: Google Map Directions
Lone Butte Location: Google Map Directions
The Gila River Hotel & Casinos are available in 3 locations in the Phoenix area. Each location is roughly similar to the other. Each enjoys the following:
If you’re feeling lucky, find out just how lucky you are by coming to one of Gila River’s 3 Hotel & Casino locations.
Vee Quiva: User-Reviews
Wild Horse Pass: User-Reviews
Lone Butte: User-Reviews
Looking for a fun team building exercise that’s both challenging and entertaining? Come to the Phoenix Puzzle Room. It’s perfect for families, co-workers or groups of friends.
Try one of the following puzzles:
Need help? No problem. You can ask for three hints. This is a surefire way to share some laughs and have a good time.
(Season available Saturday + Sunday Feb 10, 2018 – Sun Apr 1, 2018)
What is the Renaissance Festival?
Think of it as a medieval amusement park.
Here you can find:
Blast into the past with this family adventure!
Best of all?
You can join the festivity by renting your own costume!
Great food. Amazing shows. Very talented workers who never break character. The Renaissance Festival has it all.
(Available March 9-11 2018)
Bet you’ve never seen an Ostrich Race. Well, that will change soon if you go to 2018’s Ostrich Festival.
But it’s not just an Ostrich Race…
There are all sorts of classic carnival rides like Ferris Wheels, Spinning Coasters, and so much more. Too many to name them all here!
Find more rides here.
There are also other attractions like:
What’s next? How about some sinfully delicious carnival food like elephant ears, funnel cakes, churros, cookies, burgers, cheese fries.
Join the carnival so wonderfully whacky it had to be called the Ostrich Festival.
Available February 15-25, 2018
This Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show dates to 1955. Back then it was one of the finest horse shows around. Today it still rings true.
In fact, it’s grown from 50 to almost 2,000 horses. This attracts some of the top breeders from all over the world.
The Horse Auction prices go well into the millions of dollars.
Even if you are not a big horse fan, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is guaranteed to entertain.
Visit Arizona’s largest collection of exotic and endangered animals.
There are 600 separate species!
The Safari Park is a 15-acre that will transport you to the African Serengeti with over 30 species.
Not only is there that, but there’s an Adventure Land with animals from North, Central and South America.
Ever dreamed of zooming down a professional racetrack? Could you imagine driving, oh let’s say, a 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT® Hellcat?
Are you familiar with its jaw-dropping specs? It’s propelled by a Supercharged 6.2-liter SRT Hellcat HEMI® V8 with 707 horsepower & 650 lb-ft of torque.
Come to the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, and you’ll do just that.
First, choose from over 200 race-ready vehicles. Then speed down the 1.6-mile track on the 60-acre facility created by world champion driver Bob Bondurant.
Bob Bondurant has personally raced with world-class teams like the Ford’s Shelby, and Ferrari Formula One Team.
Over 300,000 graduates have left Bondurant’s school since 1968. He even trained the late famous actor, Paul Newman for his film, Winning!
Are you ready for lots of laughs and jaw-dropping magic that happens RIGHT in front of your face?
Then come to Roland & Susan’s Carnival of Illusion. This vaudeville-esque magic show you will leave you absolutely mesmerized.
The whole drive home, you’ll be wondering “how on Earth did they do that!?”
Also, you’ll want to stay on your toes while you’re at the show. Why? Because they frequently use audience participation!
Unravel the mystery of this amazing magic show!
Enjoy an elegant and classy evening out at the Phoenix Symphony.
Experience the fabulous acoustics this eye-opening venue has.
Just listen to what Timothy from Tempe said to say on Trip Advisor:
“We attended the Rodgers and Hammerstein Revue. It could not have been better, and we frequent Broadway and London shows The orchestra was perfect, the cast as good as it gets.”
If you’re looking for top-of-the-line conductors, venue, orchestra and chorus, you have to see the Phoenix Symphony!
Visit this timeless classic: The Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix
Built in 1929, this gorgeous theatre has just been fully restored to its original beauty. See the ornate details the fantastic Art Deco architecture offers. Listen to the crisp and clear sound quality.
Witness nostalgia at the Orpheum Theatre as you experience the way elegant theatre used to be.
Celebrating 99 years, The Phoenix Theatre has set the standard for quality of set, actors, and shows.
Just look at this raving review one Trip Advisor left:
“Having lived near NYC for years with the opportunity to attend Broadway musicals on a regular basis, I can say Phoenix Theatre can hold its own with the big boys. Talented actors with impressive credentials and even more impressive energy, flawless sound and lighting, excellent musicians and a comfortable, intimate setting combine to create a theatrical experience of the highest caliber.”
Come see the oldest arts organization in Arizona, the Phoenix Theatre.
Ready to let loose and let laughter work its magic?
Then come to Stand Up Live.
Enjoy comedian headliners like:
Enjoy delicious bar-food like nacho’s, chicken wings, spinach dip, & pretzels.
The best part?
This venue is small enough that all seats are good seats. Just to get this out of the way…
There is a2 drink minimum at 15 bucks a pop. But that is pretty much standard practice at comedy clubs, so nothing to alarmed about.
Does “Stand-up Live” not have your favorite comedian playing now? No worries.
Take a 30-minute drive to Tempe Improv! You can find popular comedians like:
Here’s a tip:
Try the shrimp tacos. They’re delicious!
So live life to the fullest with nonstop laughter at the Tempe Improv!
Want to go to a bar, where it’s all about the music?
Then check out the Rhythm Room. Here you can watch live music like jazz, blues, southern rock, and more. You’ll hear a good mix of music for everyone.
This place has good prices, good beer, and friendly bartenders. The best part?
It has a low ceiling, so the acoustics are excellent. Just a reminder, they don’t serve food. But, there are usually some food trucks outside.
They do not serve food; although at some performances there are food trucks outside
Here’s a tip: Show up early. The Rhythm Room gets crowded really fast. Don’t miss this great opportunity for live music!
Like listening to live sessions of classic blues, R&B, soul, and Motown?
Then come to Char’s, the bar with good vibes and live music, every night.
You’ll have some good drinks…
Share some laughs & smiles with a diverse group of friendly folks…
And before you know it, you’ll be dancing with everyone!
Check out Char’s band line up for the month here.
Are you a jazz fan in Phoenix? Then visiting The Nash is a must.
Since 2012 Lewish Nash and Wynton Marshall have done everything possible to honor the great history of jazz, while at the same time innovate it forward.
It’s not just well-seasoned professionals who play jazz here. The Nash encourages amateurs to continue learning with excellent educational programs.
So, come to The Nash to kick back and find out why many are calling The Nash “the best jazz place in Phoenix”.
If you’re really hungry, bring your own mean since they only allow snacks. And don’t worry, they’re totally cool with that. They do serve wine and craft beers though. And they no longer have the BYOB policy anymore.
The #1 thing to do in Phoenix according to Trip Advisor?
Thousands agree it’s The Musical Instrument Museum.
Here you can see, hear over 6,600 musical instruments from over 200 countries and territories. You’ll even learn the development of instruments from each country.
For example, they have a Chinese flute made from a bird’s bone that is over 6,000 years old!
You can even listen to many instruments using the provided headset for each station. Or…
You can go to the experience room and play some instruments yourself.
When you come to the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix, you’ll find proof that music is a universal language.
If you’re interested in Native American culture & history, Heard Museum is the place for you.
This museum has been honoring Native American cultures since 1929. Take a guided tour and see the extensive collection of Southwestern American Indian artifacts.
Not only that, but you’ll also learn about the history of American Indians in the military, and the American government sponsored boarding school movement and more.
Listen to how one Trip Advisor reviewer described the Heard Museum:
“The Heard Museum is an unparalleled experience for visitors and locals alike. First rate special exhibits that never fail to inspire and educate and permanent exhibits that provide a beautiful look at Native American art and culture in a rarified and peaceful environment. “
Expand your understanding of our great Native American Indian cultures at Heard Museum.
Honor the heroes who have died in the line of duty or have been decorated for heroism by visiting the Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum & National Firefighting Hall of Heroes. This museum was established in 1961 by George F. Getz, Jr.
It is the largest firefighting museum in the world, featuring memorabilia and artifacts from many different countries.
You can see restored firefighting instruments dating back from 1725 to 1969.
Show your respects to the men & women who have sacrificed everything for our safety by visiting the Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum in Phoenix.
Kids tend to dread visiting museums. Well, not this one. Want to know which museum to take young children to in Phoenix? Take them to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix!
They’ll absolutely love huge jungle gym and 3-story climbing structure. In fact, there are interactive exhibits for every child age. There’s even a baby-zone.
This is the perfect place to stimulate your child’s imagination. Thinking about visiting?
Listen to what one Trip Advisor said:
“1. Leave the stroller in the car unless you need it for an infant. There are places to park them but any child that can walk will want to be exploring.
Your kids will want to spend hours upon hours here. You’ve been warned =).
Visit the Phoenix Art Museum:
The Largest Art Museum in the Southwestern United States.
For over half a century the Phoenix Art Museum has “provided access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona.”
Here you can find “18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design.”
They also have a great deal of rotating exhibitions so they’re always something new to discover.
Not only will you enjoy the diversity of art, but you’ll find the docent very informative and enthusiastic.
There’s also a photography section showcasing over 80,000 photos by 2,000 photographers like:
Strengthen the human spirit by feeling something at the Phoenix Art Museum.
There are a lot of exhibits at the Arizona Science Center, but everyone agrees:
The Pompeii Exhibition is a MUST-visit.
If you’re looking for a place that’s equally educational for children as it is for adults, the Arizona Science Center should be on your Phoenix to-do list.
Here you’ll find:
Spend a day at the Arizona Science Center and never stop wondering.
Passing through downtown Phoenix?
Then come to the Wells Fargo Museum. Here you can explore the 165-year heritage that Henry Wells and William G. Fargo created in 1852.
These men not only started the Wells Fargo we know today. They also started American Express as well.
You’ll also get a chance to examine the iconic red and gold stagecoach which has become a symbol of Wells Fargo. Railways ended at the Mississippi River at one time. Stagecoaches could travel where no other transportation could.
The best part of the Wells Fargo Museum? It’s 100% free.
Ever wonder what life was like for a family owning a Victorian Mansion in Phoenix in the 1800’s?
Then you have to visit the Rosson House Museum.
Allow their engaging docents to give you a brief 45-minute tour of this mansion and explain the history of the 4 families who owned it.
Learn what life was like during Victorian times in Phoenix by visiting the Rosson House Museum.
Technically, the Dorrance Planetarium is part of the Arizona Science Center(#45)…
But we figured it deserved its own spot on our “Things to do in Phoenix Guide”.
Here’s what we didn’t mention earlier about the Dorrance Planetarium:
Join the over 2 million people who have visited the Dorrance Planetarium.
South Mountain Park: One of the largest municipally run parks in the United States.
Spanning over 16,000 acres, and three mountain ranges, Ma Ha Tauk, Gila, and Guadalupe, South Mountain Park offers 51 miles of awesome trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.
One thing you can be sure about:
There are spectacular views from all around!
Here’s a tip:
Watch the sunset at Dobbins Lookout. You won’t regret it!
Then Papago Park is perfect for you. Travel through an extensive network of Sonoran Desert trails with little elevation with your whole family.
You can take advantage of the low-elevation and sharpen your mountain-biking skills.
One of the best parks in the USA?
According to Forbes, it’s Encanto Park.
It’s easy to see why. This 222-acre park has:
Discover why Forbes calls Encanto Park, one of the best parks in the United States!
Are you up for a challenge?
Then take a strenuous but fun hike to the Piestewa Peak Summit. Just look at that breathtaking view in the picture above!
If you don’t mind an upward hike that lasts about an hour, it’s all yours.
They say a picture is worth a thousand. Find out which thousand you would use by climbing to the top of Piestewa Peak and embracing everything the majestic Sonoran Desert has to offer.
TIP: Don’t forget your hiking boots!
Hole-in-the-Rock trail is not just a great place for a hike. It’s part of American history.
During the 1800’s, the first Mormon pioneers sought new land to escape religious persecution. In an attempt to ‘make’ a shortcut, they began to start expanding a hole in a mountain.
Naturally, that hole today, is called “Hole-in-the-rock”.
You can still visit most of the original trail (about 1/3 is underwater in Lake Powel now). It is officially registered in the National Register of Historic Places.
And as it turns out…
Hole-in-the-Rock is about 5 minutes by car from the Desert Botanical Gardens (#4 on your Things to do in Phoenix List).