The front range of the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix, USA

Things to do in  Phoenix

Wanderlust and desert dust

It’s no question why Phoenix is called the Valley of the Sun, with temperatures reaching up to 119°F (48.3°C). However, the city’s year-round warmth, along with its size, draws in visitors every year. Some of the best things to do in Phoenix include attractions like the Desert Botanical Garden, the Phoenix Art Museum, and major-league baseball games at Chase Field. Day trips to Grand Canyon National Park, Red Rock State Park, Petrified Forest National Park, and Tombstone serve as a nice break from the chaos of a hugely populated area.

Top 15 attractions in Phoenix

Camelback Mountain

Visible throughout most of Phoenix, Camelback Mountain rises 2,704 feet (824 meters) above the Sonoran Desert. The red sandstone formation gets its name from its resemblance to a resting camel, and it’s one of the metro area’s most popular spots for hiking, rock climbing, and other outdoor adventures.More

Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale ranks among the Southwest’s top retail destinations, particularly for shoppers looking for Southwestern and Native American art and jewelry. The area is also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the West, and the Scottsdale Historical Museum.More

Apache Trail

Originally built as a copper trade route, the Apache Trail now guides travelers past steep desert mountains, cliff dwellings, lake shores, eroded canyons, and old mining towns. This scenic road winds 120 miles (193 kilometers) through Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, from the outskirts of Phoenix to the vast Theodore Roosevelt Lake.More

Montezuma Castle National Monument

One of the most well-preserved ruins in North America, the 1,000-year-old Montezuma Castle was once home to ancient farmers known as the Sinagua Indians. Although the majestic ruins were given a “castle” title, they were actually a multi-family cliff dwelling. In 1906, the site was declared one of the United States’ first national monuments.More

Desert Botanical Gardens

Make your way to Phoenix’s Papago Park to find one of the largest and most unique collections of desert plant life in the world. Stretching over 140 acres (57 hectares), the Desert Botanical Garden is home to hundreds of rare and endangered plant species from around the globe.More

Sonoran Desert

Get away from it all in the breathtaking Sonoran Desert, a 100,000-square-mile (260,000-square-kilometer) region that spans Arizona, California, and parts of Mexico. Though it’s the hottest of four deserts in North America, its two rainy seasons sustain unique animals and plants, including the only remaining jaguar population in the United States.More

Tonto National Forest

From pine-clad valleys to lakeside beaches; rocky mountain canyons to cacti-dotted desert—the Tonto National Forest boasts a diversity of natural landscapes to tempt any adventurer. Stretching over 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares and reaching altitudes of up to 7,900 feet (2,408 meters, it’s the largest national forest in Arizona.More

Phoenix Zoo

Founded by Robert E. Maytag in 1962, the Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the United States—home to some 3,000 animals living across 125 acres (51 hectares) of naturalistic exhibit space. Thirty of the zoo’s resident species are considered endangered or threatened.More

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

If there’s a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts near Phoenix, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve might be it. Just beyond the city limits to the northeast, the preserve comprises more than 30,000 acres (12,140 hectares) of protected Sonoran Desert habitat around the McDowell Mountains, with trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.More

Superstition Mountains

Surrounded by the cacti-dotted valleys of the Sonoran Desert, the jagged peaks and sheer cliffs of the Superstition Mountains are one of Arizona’s most photographed natural wonders. Hugging the southern borders of the Tonto National Forest and reaching heights of 6,266 ft (1,910 meters, the mountains are a firm favorite among hikers and rock climbers.More

Scottsdale Fashion Square

Featuring some of the area’s top boutiques and shops, Scottsdale Fashion Square is Arizona’s largest shopping destination with miles of more than 250 stores, 40 of which cannot can be found elsewhere in the state. A range of different retailers can be found, including luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co., Prada, Neiman Marcus, Jimmy Choo, Burberry and Nordstrom.The three-story mall features unique architecture, a food court, wine bar, several restaurants, and movie theater. There is also a free playground area for toddlers. The experience is highly stylized and mostly indoors, with an abundance of large windows letting in natural light. An onsite concierge can help with amenities, services, and transportation options, including a free trolley that runs throughout. There are also seasonal events held inside at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. It is one of the thirty largest shopping malls in the country.More

Mission San Xavier del Bac

With its snow-white adobe bell towers and ornate facade rising out of the cacti-studded Sonoran Desert, Mission San Xavier del Bac embodies its nickname—the “White Dove of the Desert.” Founded by Jesuit missionaries in 1626, it’s among the oldest Catholic sites in the US, renowned for its unique architecture and rich iconography.More

South Mountain Park

One of the largest urban parks on the planet, South Mountain Park straddles a swath of south Phoenix from South Mountain Village to Ahwatukee Foothills Village. A local point of pride, the park and desert nature preserve has popular hiking, biking, and horseback trails. Inside the park, visitors will find multiple lookouts, the Mystery Castle stone mansion, and an environmental education center.More

Tuzigoot National Monument

One of the largest pueblos built by the pre-Columbian Sinagua people, the Tuzigoot National Monument crowns a desert ridge above the Verde Valley. Less known than Montezuma Castle, a similar monument built by the Northern Sinagua, Tuzigoot holds some of the largest ruins in the area, highlighted by petroglyphs and pithouses once accessed via ladders through doors cut into the roofs.More

Heritage Square

Occupying one of the oldest residential areas in Phoenix, Heritage Square comprises 10 fully restored Victorian buildings dating back to the original townsite in the 19th and 20th centuries. Visitors can tour house museums, dine at award-winning restaurants, or even catch a ballgame at Chase Field next door.More

Top activities in Phoenix

Grand Canyon with Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon Van Tour
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Centipede Tour - Guided Arizona Desert Tour by ATV
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Centipede Tour - Guided Arizona Desert Tour by UTV
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Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride in Phoenix with Breakfast
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3-Hour ATV and Shooting Combo
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3-Hour ATV and Shooting Combo

Small-Group or Private Grand Canyon with Sedona Tour from Phoenix
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Small-Group or Private Grand Canyon with Sedona Tour from Phoenix

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Sedona with Jerome and Montezuma Castle One-Day Van Tour
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Tombstone Day Trip from Phoenix
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Morning Hot Air Balloon Flight Over Phoenix
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Canyon & Cliffside Kayaking on Saguaro Lake
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Self-Guided Centipede Desert UTV Rental
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Afternoon Hot Air Balloon Flight Over Phoenix
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Stunning Sunrise or Sunset Guided Hiking Adventure in the Sonoran Desert
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Self-Guided Centipede Desert ATV Rental
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All about Phoenix

When to visit

If you’re looking for some fun in the sun, the best time to visit Phoenix is from November to April when temperatures are pleasantly warm and you can make the most of the city’s outdoor attractions. But if you’re looking to beat the crowds and explore Phoenix on a budget, consider visiting on either side of summer, in May or October, when hotel rates are lower and the heat isn’t at its peak. Summer can be unbearable with temperatures over 100°F (38°C).

Getting around

While the city’s buses are very affordable, they tend to stick to the main traffic arteries. For travelers, the Valley Metro Rail is a more convenient and sustainable option, with the light rail system stopping at key destinations like the Phoenix Art Museum and Arizona Science Center. However, if you’re looking for a more independent choice, you can pedal your way through the city’s downtown area on a bike. There is a bike-share program with stations in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, and Scottsdale.

Traveler tips

The city is surrounded by incredible mountains and hiking trails, so hiking shoes and outdoor gear are essential. To beat the afternoon heat, try leaving early in the morning to hike either Camelback Mountain or North Mountain, not far from the city center. If you still want incredible panoramas without the sweat, you can drive to Dobbins Lookout in South Mountain Park and Preserve, the highest point you can drive to in the area.

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People Also Ask

What is Phoenix known for?

Phoenix is known for its year-round sunny weather, expansive desert landscapes, and baseball spring training headquarters. A hub for outdoor enthusiasts, Phoenix makes a great base for exploring the Sonoran Desert and landmarks like Camelback Mountain. Culture seekers can get their fill at Heritage Square or nearby Scottsdale.

What to do when it's hot in Phoenix?

When temps rise past the triple digits in Phoenix, stay cool at some of the city’s indoor attractions, like the Arizona Science Center or Phoenix Art Museum. Take the kids to the SEA LIFE® Aquarium or LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, or head to nearby Scottsdale for air-conditioned shopping at Fashion Square mall.

Is Phoenix worth visiting?

Yes. Phoenix is a popular destination for outdoor adventurers and visitors seeking refuge from cold winter climates, though summers can be scorching. It's at the doorstep of the Sonoran Desert and Tonto National Forest for easy access to hiking, mountain biking, and ATV tours.

What is there to do in Phoenix for a day?

If you have just one day in Phoenix, explore local history at the Arizona Capitol Museum, or enjoy a meal in style at historic estates like the Wrigley Mansion and Arizona Biltmore. Get outdoors with a hike up Camelback Mountain or along the scenic Apache Trail in the Superstition Mountains.

What activities do people do in Arizona?

Wide-open desert landscapes like the Sonoran Desert and Monument Valley make Arizona a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, scenic drives, and ATV tours. A rim walk along the Grand Canyon is a must for first-time visitors, while stylish Sedona and Scottsdale are havens for shopping, dining, and wellness.

What is the number 1 attraction in Arizona?

Drawing more than 6 million visitors annually, the Grand Canyon is Arizona's top attraction. Carved over millions of years by the Colorado River, this natural wonder is a staggering gorge that runs a mile (1.6 km) deep into the desert’s sandstone bluffs.

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