Phoenix is the capital of the south-western U.S. state of Arizona.
Known for its year-round sun and warm temperatures, it anchors a sprawling, metropolitan area known as the Valley of the Sun.
It’s surrounded by desert and arid mountain ranges and is happy to live up to its name for eight or nine months of the year.
There are so many exciting things to do in Phoenix, Arizona, from visiting engaging museums, seeing impressive and unique architecture, and learning about the beauty of the Phoenix desert.
With many hiking trails and walking opportunities in the many mountains and parks.
This large modern city offers a wide variety of activities involving nature, and loads of family-friendly things to do both indoors and outdoors.
1. Phoenix Zoo
The Phoenix Zoo is located in Papago Park.
For over half a century, the Phoenix Zoo has welcomed guests from around the world.
The zoo is home to over 3,000 animals, with diverse species ranging from Sumatran tigers and Bornean orangutans to Komodo dragons and American alligators.
The Phoenix Zoo is divided into four main trails: the Africa Trail, Arizona Trail, Tropics Trail, and Children’s Trail.
There are also up-close animal experiences like Stingray Bay, Giraffe Encounter, and Monkey Village.
You can also enjoy the Safari Cruiser, 4-D Theater, Endangered Species Carousel, and 125 acres of natural habitats.
Take younger kids to the Red Barn petting zoo where they can get some face time with the animals.
There are several cafés and snack bars, although you can bring your own food to enjoy at a picnic table along the zoo trails.
The Phoenix Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas.
Address: Phoenix Zoo, 455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
2. Camelback Mountain
Camelback Mountain is located in Echo Canyon Park approximately halfway between Scottsdale and the Phoenix Mountains Preserve.
Soaring more 2,700 feet in elevation, Camelback mountain summit offers spectacular views of Phoenix and Scottsdale.
This is a very popular area for hiking and the summit can be reached via two hiking trails, the Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail.
Trails are open from sunrise to sunset or around 7 p.m. and entry is free.
Address: Camelback Mountain, 5700 N Echo Canyon, Phoenix, AZ 85321
3. Arizona Science Center
Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center provides exploration, education and entertainment for all ages.
Visitors can discover the world of science, history, and imagination at Arizona Science Center.
With more than 95,000 square feet of learning space spread across a multi-storied facility, visitors can enjoy over 300 hands-on permanent exhibits.
Events and attractions including the Dorrance Planetarium, and The W.O.N.D.E.R. Centre, giving audiences and guests the chance to create memorable experiences.
The Arizona Science Center offers astronomy lessons, interactive insights into the force of gravity and training courses on the human body.
This is one of the most high-tech museums in the country.
The Arizona Science Center is a hands-on museum that parents and children can enjoy side by side.
Address: Arizona Science Centre, 600 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
4. Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre botanical garden located in Papago Park, Phoenix Arizona.
It is home to thousands of species of cacti, trees, plants and flowers from all around the world.
The Desert Botanical Garden also hosts numerous events, including culinary demonstrations and outdoor concerts.
Visitors can walk the tranquil paths and trails through the garden, with 5 different trails to follow.
They range from desert trails with mountain scenes to others featuring fragranced wildflowers, others will teach you all about how desert plants have been used for food and medicine.
Apart from the trails, there are also specialized tours, special events, seasonal exhibits, concerts and great family activities, so be sure to check out what’s on when you’re visiting.
And if you’re feeling hungry, Gertrude’s Restaurant, nestled inside the Desert Botanical Garden, offers fresh food focusing on ingredients directly from growers in Arizona and the surrounding region.
The Desert Botanical Garden also has a well stocked gift shop with items ranging from souvenirs, stationery, posters and prints, and food, such as different types of honey.
Address: Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
5. Papago Park
Just minutes from downtown Phoenix, Arizona, Papago Park offers exceptional hiking trails and a wide array of recreational facilities.
Comprised primarily of sandstone, the range is known for its massive buttes that rise and fall throughout the park.
The trails that interlace the area are generally easy treks, with smooth footing and low elevations make it a popular place for running and mountain biking.
Additionally, the park boasts an archery range, orienteering course, Papago Ponds fishing lagoon, the Hall of Flame Museum and Papago Park Complex.
Step away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a moment of calm from inside the Hole in the Rock at Papago Park.
Address: Papago Park, 625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
6. Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum is one of America’s premier art galleries.
Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, Arizona, the Phoenix Art Museum has provided access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona for nearly 60 years.
In addition to an annual calendar of exhibitions, Phoenix Art Museum’s permanent collections are drawn from more than 19,000 works of American, Asian, European, modern and contemporary art.
Visitors can also enjoy photography exhibitions.
The exhibitions and collections are presented for all ages although children aged 13 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
The Phoenix Art Museum also contains a restaurant called Palette that is family-friendly offering a locally and seasonally focused menu and bar.
There is also a well stocked Gift Shop.
Address: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
7. Enchanted Island Amusement Park
Enchanted Island Amusement Park is located in the heart of central Phoenix’s Encanto Park.
One of the city’s oldest and most picturesque parks has kid friendly attractions.
This small amusement park has 9 rides for kids as well as a variety of attractions and snack bars, that will keep them entertained across the day.
Full of fun things, this park is a great escape for families with young children.
Address: Enchanted Island Amusement Park, 1202 W Encanto Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85007
8. South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park is about 1/2 hour drive from downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
At over 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park and Preserve is one of the largest municipal parks in the country.
A maze of well-maintained hiking trails criss-cross the park and in springtime the terrain is knee-deep with wildflowers.
Free maps are available at the entrance, and from the South Mountain Environmental Education Centre you can hike, bike and ride more than 51 miles of trails, or follow the road to the top of the mountain for spectacular views.
Address: South Mountain Park and Preserve, 10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042
9. Goldfield Ghost Town
One of the most fun things to do in Phoenix is a visit to the Goldfield Ghost Town.
It is located only an hour by road from Phoenix Arizona and a few miles northeast of Apache Junction.
When the mine closed, the town died a slow death and was vacated around 1926.
Visitors can enjoy a stroll down Main Street seeing many of the old buildings.
You can also tour the historic gold mine, ride a narrow gauge train, visit the Goldfield Museum and enjoy other fun activities.
There is also an old west gun fight performed by the famous Goldfield Gunfighters.
Spend a fun filled day here, rich in wild west history.
Address: Goldfield Ghost Town, 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
10. Heard Museum
One of the best of Phoenix museums, the Heard museum is the oldest private museum in Arizona.
The Heard Museum is a national historic landmark having been founded in 1929.
There is a strong Native American history in Phoenix, Arizona, and this great museum showcases so much about the history of the area.
The Heard Museum has a massive collection with more than 40,000 pieces of Native American Indian art.
When you visit the Heard Museum, you’ll get access to 12 exhibition galleries.
There is also outdoor sculpture gardens and a contemporary art gallery.
Take advantage of the free guided tours while you’re there and make sure you grab a bite to eat at the excellent café.
The museum gift shop sells authentic American Indian art, jewellery, pottery, sculpture, and weavings, also many books relating to American Indian cultures.
Address: Heard Museum, 2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
11. Japanese Friendship Garden
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Arizona is an authentic 3.5 acre Japanese Stroll Garden with tea garden and tea house.
This tranquil and beautiful setting features more than 1,500 tons of rock formations, stone footbridges, lanterns and more than 50 varieties of plants.
As you stroll the paths, you will enjoy flowing streams, a 12-foot waterfall, and a Koi pond with over 300 colourful Koi fish.
If you are seeking a break from the desert landscape, this is a peaceful place to enjoy.
Address: Japanese Friendship Garden, 1125 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003
12. Musical Instrument Museum
One of the best things to do in Phoenix if you have an interest in music.
The Musical Instrument Museum brings instruments to life in such an interesting way.
This Arizona museum is located about 20 miles north of the downtown area of Phoenix and invites visitors to check out its collection of more than 6,000 instruments from around the world.
On the first floor of the museum, visitors can see instruments, concert footage, clothing of renowned musicians and more.
You can see how instruments are preserved and restored in the Conservation Lab before actually playing instruments in the Experience Gallery.
Address: Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050
13. Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park
Pueblo Grande Museum is located on a 1,500 year old archaeological site.
The site was once inhabited by the Ancestral Sonoran Desert people and is archaeologically referred to as the Hohokam culture.
Located just minutes from downtown Phoenix, Arizona, the site features the ruins of an ancient village, which approximately 1,000 Sonoran Desert people once called home.
Walk among what’s left of houses, storage facilities, play areas and cemeteries on a short, accessible trail.
You can also view artefacts found during the site’s excavation at the small on-site museum.
Address: Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park, 4619 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034
14. Hall of Flame Fire Museum
The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is located across Van Buren from the Phoenix Zoo, and next door to Phoenix Municipal ASU Baseball Stadium.
Part firefighter tribute and part historical collection, this museum has a multitude of exhibits from 1725 to the current day.
This Arizona museum has a wide array of fire-fighting apparatus like old fire engines and hydrants.
The museum sponsors the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, which honours firefighters who have died in the line of duty or who have been decorated for heroism.
The Hall also includes a gallery dedicated to the history of wildland firefighting in the United States, and a children’s play area.
The kids area is set up with interactive exhibits for little visitors.
In addition to the safety house, it has a play area where kids can dress up like firefighters, climb a fire pole and sit in a toy fire chief’s buggy.
Address: Hall of Flame Fire Museum, 6101 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ 85008
15. Old Town Scottsdale
Although the towns of Phoenix and Scottsdale share a border that’s more than 10 miles long, their downtowns are about 12 miles apart, with a drive of 20-30 minutes.
It is worth visiting Old Town Scottsdale, which is known for its characteristic buildings and fun things to explore.
You’ll find a unique collection of shops, restaurants, live music venues and nightclubs, as well as public street art installations, museums and historic neighborhoods.
There are also themed souvenir shops and a free 60-minute self-guided walking tour of Old Town Scottsdale.
This involves printing off the Historic Old Town Walking Tour map which guides you to 15 historical locations in Old Town Scottsdale.
One of Scottsdale’s most famous activities is Butterfly Wonderland, which has a beautiful glass atrium that serves as a tropical rainforest habitat for all sorts of butterflies.
There is also the Penske Racing museum that showcases numerous cars used in winning races and trophies over the years.
The Penske Racing museum has over 9,000 square feet across two floors showcasing memorabilia that is sure to excite and entice car enthusiasts.
Address: Old Town Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Can you visit the Grand Canyon from Phoenix?
Phoenix is considered by many to be an excellent strategic point to visit some of Arizona’s beautiful natural landscapes such as the Grand Canyon.
The south rim of Grand Canyon National Park is a 3.5-hour drive from Phoenix.
How many zoos does Phoenix have?
There are two great zoos in Phoenix, Arizona, the Wildlife World Zoo and The Phoenix Zoo.
The Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park has Arizona’s largest collection of exotic and endangered animals.
Where Is Tempe Town Lake, and what can you do there?
The Tempe Town Lake is located along the Salt River.
It’s a hub of waterfront activity from the city of Tempe and the surrounding city of Phoenix.
Tempe Town Lake provides a recreational haven for kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, rowing, walking, fishing and picnicking.
What is the Phoenix Children’s Museum?
The Phoenix Children’s Museum is an exciting wonderland full of fun things for kids ages 10 and under.
Interactive exhibits include a climbing area made of recycled items, called Noodle Forest that provides a sensory adventure.
This children’s museum has 14 galleries full of fun, and interesting displays that are designed to engage growing minds.
Are tours offered of Frank Lloyd Wright winter home?
Taliesin West is a national historic landmark, a World Heritage site, and home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
Taliesin West was architect Frank Lloyd Wright winter home and studio in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation offers public tours and is located in the hills outside Scottsdale, Phoenix, Arizona.