There are two sure things in Phoenix, Arizona—sunshine and plenty of fun things to do. The Valley of the Sun has everything from professional sports and museums to excellent restaurants and a vivid nightlife.
21 Best Things to Do in Phoenix in 2023
Phoenix has plenty of fun activities all year long. If you’re planning to visit Phoenix or move there, add these fun activities to your to-do list.
Daytime or night, winter, spring, summer, or fall, you’ll find fun in Phoenix. Among our picks for the most fun things to do in Phoenix are these activities, sights, and experiences.
1. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
Phoenix and its desert vistas are a hiker’s paradise. Walk up Camelback Mountain in the heart of the city, or drive to the Superstition Mountains where saguaro cacti and breathtaking rock formations will make short and long hikes a memorable experience.
You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to take some of these treks, so give them a try. Since Phoenix is along the Salt and Gila rivers and has several lakes, water sports are available.
Go kayaking on Saguaro Lake or in the Lower Salt River. Desert exploring by tours makes Phoenix even more memorable. Take an ATV tour of Phoenix’s desert outskirts to rev up the excitement level.
Jeep tours are a more relaxing way to see the Sonoran Desert’s beauty. If the incredible flora of Arizona is more your speed, stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden of Phoenix.
Wildflowers, the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, and conservation lessons are part of the garden experience, and special events are held throughout the year. Luminaries light the desert trails during the holiday season.
2. Roam Downtown Phoenix
As Arizona’s capital city, Phoenix has a thriving downtown area. Home to more than 200 restaurants, the Phoenix Convention Center, and Arizona State’s downtown campus.
Filled with neighborhoods, each with its own character, downtown Phoenix offers a vivid experience. Downtown is also the home of the Arizona State Capitol, which dates back to 1901 and has plenty of history.
Also, check out downtown’s colorful murals, maybe during a Friday Art Walk. Don’t drive around downtown. Wear comfortable shoes and stroll, or take the Valley Metro Light Rail. You’ll see more of what downtown Phoenix has to offer.
3. Go to a Sporting Event
Home to the Phoenix Suns basketball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, and the Arizona Cardinals football team, plus the Arizona State University Sun Devils collegiate teams, Phoenix is a sports lover’s haven.
Because of Arizona’s pleasant spring weather, plenty of professional baseball teams hold spring training in Phoenix. Hockey in the desert? The Arizona Coyotes NHL team is based in Phoenix. Phoenix Rising FC, a professional soccer team, plays there, too.
Super Bowl LVII, set for Feb. 12, 2023, will be in State Farm Stadium in the Phoenix metro area city of Glendale, the home stadium of the Arizona Cardinals. Famed for its golf courses, Phoenix has plenty of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour tournaments, too.
4. Visit the Phoenix Zoo
Talk to the animals at the Phoenix Zoo. A 2020 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice, the Phoenix Zoo includes giraffe encounters, an Arizona Trail with animals native to the state, an Africa Trail, and a Tropics Trail.
Get up close and personal with stingrays and camels, and visit the Monkey Village. One of America’s best zoos, the Phoenix Zoo could keep you busy most of the day, so plan to eat lunch or spend a long afternoon there.
For younger visitors, there are farm animals at the Red Barn, a playground with a treehouse, two splash pads, and a carousel. Plan to stay all day, as the Phoenix Zoo will keep kids and grown-ups fascinated for hours.
Read Next: Best Zoos in the U.S. in 2023
5. Immerse Yourself in Arts and Culture
The cultural center of the Southwest, Phoenix offers an oasis of visual and performing arts. Ballet Arizona, the Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Theatre Company, and Arizona Opera bring a wealth of performances to the city.
Phoenix, as a rising metropolitan area in the U.S., also attracts touring companies of Broadway shows and world-class musical performances. Take a look around Phoenix, and you’ll find art everywhere.
Murals, galleries, events, and showings at the Phoenix Art Museum make Phoenix an art Mecca. The city’s art museum includes works by Claude Monet and Frida Kahlo, among other masters.
The cultural offerings of Phoenix rival those of New York, Los Angeles, and the capital cities of Europe. Best of all, traveling to Phoenix is less expensive than crossing the country or the Atlantic Ocean.
6. It’s All Fun and Games
With its blistering summer heat, Phoenix doesn’t have amusement parks as you might see in California or Florida. The city does have plenty of water parks for summer splashing, though.
Oasis Water Park at Arizona Grand Resort was named by The Travel Channel as one of America’s top 10 water parks. Tower Pool and Water Park at The Wigwam has a 25-foot tower with water slides, an oasis pool for relaxing, and lawn games.
Great Wolf Lodge Scottdale offers family fun, and River Ranch Water Park offers something for all ages. Get out of the water and above it all in a Phoenix balloon tour, or ride into the desert on an ATV tour.
There’s also miniature golf and Top Golf for fun and games. Speaking of games, you don’t have to drive to Las Vegas to get casino action.
Phoenix has Casino Arizona, Wild Horse Pass Casino, and Vee Quiva Resort and Casino, each with thousands of square feet of gaming as well as live entertainment and all the amenities you’d expect from a world-class casino.
7. Exploring the City
The Melrose District, a 1-mile stretch between Indian School and Camelback roads, has some of the city’s best galleries, antique shops, and restaurants. Also known as “The Curve” for its winding nature, the stretch has a midcentury architecture that gives Phoenix visitors a nostalgic feeling.
There’s also Old Town Scottsdale, which has so many restaurants, bars, and other attractions that it warranted its own listing. Phoenix’s unique districts and neighborhoods offer new worlds to explore, even for those who call Phoenix home.
8. Ahhh … Spas
If self-care is part of your vacation plans, Phoenix and its spas and resorts will leave you relaxed and refreshed. These spas aren’t just in the desert – they’re inspired by it.
Treatments available at Phoenix spas include desert botanicals such as prickly pear, Queen of the Night cactus flower that only blooms one night a year, and sage. Turquoise stone massages and wraps are also on the list of spa services in the city.
Adding a spa treatment or two to your Phoenix vacation will relax any muscles that are sore from hiking, exploring the city, or playing golf. Any of these treatments will make your Phoenix trip more relaxing.
9. Play a Round of Golf
You’ll see plenty of golf bags by suitcases at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. Visitors to the Valley of the Sun are often avid golfers. While Phoenix is home to multiple professional
golf tournaments for men and women, visitors can also play 18 holes in the Arizona sunshine.
The greater Phoenix area boasts more than 200 golf courses, including The Phoenician Golf Club, Whirlwind Golf Club at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, and Kierland Golf Club at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa. The city of Phoenix has eight affordable municipal golf courses, too.
A round of golf in Phoenix is surprisingly affordable. Make sure to plan for the 19th hole and enjoy refreshments with friends while discussing your game and planning your next activity in Phoenix.
10. Four-Star Dining
Phoenix, being just a few hours north of the Mexican border, has a spicy selection of Mexican food, but that’s just the start. Tapas and wine to barbecue, soul food to sushi, Phoenix restaurants have it all.
The Valley of the Sun may not be where you’d think about having a hot cup of coffee, but Phoenix locals do love their java. Cartel is a local coffee connection, and if you’re hot, you can order like Phoenix residents and ask for iced coffee.
Desert dwellers also enjoy patio dining, especially in the fall and spring in Phoenix. Restaurants in the city often include seating for al fresco dining. Patio seating in the evening will take advantage of cool breezes after sunset.
The best advice for dining in Phoenix is to eat local. Try restaurants that are only available in Phoenix, and sample Phoenix flavors. Prickly pear margarita, anyone?
11. Light up the Night
Live music abounds in Phoenix, as do distilleries, taprooms, bars, dance clubs, drag shows, and nightclubs. Phoenix’s nightlife is as hot as the sun, and its bars and clubs are eclectic and electric. Dance the night away, or sip a craft cocktail with friends.
People in Phoenix play by night as well as by day. Best of all, the dress code is usually casual and comfortable. Phoenix’s nightlife is as relaxed as the city’s laid-back lifestyle.
12. Cheers to Old Town Scottsdale
Only in Old Town Scottsdale will you find a restaurant with 100 different varieties of tequila. Whether you want to go tequila tasting, sample fare from street tacos to steaks, or just stroll along the streets, Old Town Scottsdale is a great spot to take in the flavor of Phoenix.
The stretch is home to bits of history such as the Little Red Schoolhouse and the Rusty Spur Saloon as well as a plethora of restaurants, bars, distilleries, and taprooms.
While you’re there, stop in some of the unique boutiques and shops. Fun during the day or night, Old Town Scottsdale is a must during your Phoenix vacation or stay-cation.
Read Next: The Best & Worst Time to Visit Scottsdale
13. Celebrate Salsa
With Phoenix’s Hispanic heritage, it’s no surprise that its restaurants have house-made salsas that are among the best in America. Go salsa-tasting in some of the many Mexican restaurants in the city.
If you’d rather hit the dance floor, Phoenix also has dance studios specializing in salsa dancing lessons and plenty of clubs to try out your new dance steps.
14. That’s How We Roll
Many parts of Phoenix are walkable, but if you’d rather roll, there are Segway tours of Phoenix and the Scottsdale area as well as Red Rock Run Jeep tours of Phoenix and Sedona. You can also rev up your Phoenix visit with self-guided ATV tours.
While we’re on the subject of rolls, don’t leave Phoenix without sampling the sushi. The desert city may not seem like a place where sushi would be popular, but Phoenix has quite a selection of sushi restaurants.
15. Get Down on the Farm
The Phoenix metro area has a rich agricultural history. In Gilbert, The Farm at Agritopia brings the process of growing and harvesting healthy food to visitors, offering classes, U-picks, seasonal events, and restaurants. The Farm at Agritopia is also home to Barnone, a collection of shops and eateries inside an old barn.
16. Brewing Fun in Phoenix
With its plentiful sunshine and warm days, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Arizona has plenty of craft breweries. Beer fans visiting the 48th state often make a brewery tour of Arizona including stops in the Phoenix metro area including Tempe, Gilbert, and Scottsdale.
Craft brewers in the metro area of Phoenix include Arizona Wilderness Brewing in Gilbert, Bad Water Brewing and Sonoran Brewing in Scottsdale, and OHSO Eatery and Nanobrewery in Phoenix, among others.
Phoenix has a great selection of taprooms, breweries for touring, and brewpubs. What could be better than enjoying a cheeseburger and a cold draft craft beer?
17. Head to the Arizona State Fair
If you’re in Phoenix in October, the Arizona State Fair is a must. Rides, performances, and that famous fair food make the Arizona State Fair one of Phoenix’s best autumn events. Since 1905, the annual fair has drawn a plethora of visitors to the Phoenix area.
18. Christmas in the Desert
Visiting Phoenix during the holiday season means you will be in town for all sorts of Christmas events and light displays.
Do your Christmas shopping in Phoenix and Scottsdale, then take in sights such as the luminaries lighting the Desert Botanical Garden during Las Noches de Luminarias or the light display at the Phoenix Zoo.
December can bring out some of the best weather in Arizona. Temperate days make for holiday hiking and golf as well as celebrations, concerts, and tours. You might even need a sweater for evening events.
19. Shop ’til You Drop
Speaking of shopping, Phoenix is a shopper’s paradise. Farmer’s markets and local boutiques abound, and the Valley of the Sun is also home to loads of shopping malls. Among the largest is Scottsdale’s Fashion Square Mall with more than 240 specialty stores.
Haute couture, jewelry, art, antiques, souvenirs, and local wares – they’re all available in Phoenix. Check out Uptown Plaza, Phoenix Premium Outlets, Outlets at Anthem, and Biltmore Fashion Park while you’re in the city. Retail therapy can be a fun part of your Phoenix trip.
20. Phoenix’s Museum Musts
Phoenix’s museums are must-see destinations. Visitors to the Musical Instrument Museum can experience music and more than 4,300 musical instruments.
There’s Taliesin West, a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and the Heard Museum showcases the traditions and cultures of more than 20 Native American tribes. The Phoenix Art Museum has the Southwest’s most extensive art collection.
The museum can be a bargain on Wednesdays and Sundays. Visitors can see the museum’s standing collections for free Wednesdays from 3 to 9 p.m. and on the second Sunday of the month from noon to 5 p.m.
Check out the Arizona Science Center for Dorrance Planetarium and more than 350 hands-on attractions and exhibits focusing on the sciences.
21. Just Kidding Around
Families with children find Phoenix to be full of fun. While in town, stop by the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. There children can climb, cozy up with a story in the Book Loft, create in an art studio, and ride cars that look like pencils and toothpaste tubes.
Encanto Park has the Enchanted Island Amusement Park for kids ages 1 to 10, complete with a train, a carousel that dates to 1948, and the Splash Zone. Visit the Great Arizona Puppet Theater for a show, or stop by the city’s many museums and their kid-friendly events.
Things to Consider
When you’re planning your Arizona vacation in Phoenix, there are several factors to consider. Among them are these:
What Do You Want to Do?
First, are you going alone or with family and friends? You’ll need to consider the wants and interests of everyone to have the most fun. Knowing what you and your group want to do is your first step toward planning a perfect Phoenix vacation or stay-cation.
Season of the Year
Some Phoenix activities are better in fall and spring, while others call for warmer weather. Arizona has seasonal events ranging from festivals to sporting events, so the season you’re planning to visit Phoenix can influence activities you can enjoy there.
Once you know where you want to visit, check websites to make sure your favorite Arizona team has a home game during your stay or the museum you want to visit is open when you want to go. Some special events and festivals are only held on certain dates.
What to Pack
Are you traveling to Phoenix in the summer? Understand it will be hot and pack accordingly. Winter in the desert can be cool, so you might need a jacket even during the daytime. Dressing in casual layers can be a great idea since you can add or remove layers depending on the temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
You may still have questions about things to do in Phoenix. These FAQs may give you more insight into the sights of this exciting southwestern metropolis.
Where is Phoenix, Arizona?
Located in the south-central area of Arizona in the American Southwest, Phoenix is about halfway between Tucson to the southeast and the northern Arizona city of Flagstaff. Phoenix is about 180 miles from the Mexican border at Nogales.
What is the Population of Phoenix?
Phoenix has a population of more than 1.6 million, according to the 2020 Census. The city has seen its population grow more than 11 percent in the past decade and is the fifth most populous city in the United States. It’s one of only two state capitals in the U.S. with more than 1 million residents.
Is It Easy to Travel to Phoenix?
Phoenix boasts Sky Harbor International Airport, making travel by air easy. Arizona also has eight Amtrak stations in the state, including one in Phoenix.
Train travel is slower than flying, but it allows travelers to see the sights along their way to Phoenix. If you’re driving, I-10 runs right through Phoenix, and the city isn’t far from states including Texas, Utah, and New Mexico.
How Warm Is Phoenix?
The average annual temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, is 73.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall and winter days have milder temperatures, but during the summer, Phoenix regularly has high temperatures over 100 degrees.
Does it Rain in Phoenix?
Phoenix is known for dry weather. The city gets about 10.2 inches of rain per year, so you probably won’t need rain boots and an umbrella. When it does rain there, though, it can be torrential. The monsoon season in Phoenix runs from mid-June to late September.
So, What Are the Best Things to Do in Phoenix?
Ask 1,000 people what the best things to do in Phoenix are, and you might get 1,000 answers. That’s because the Valley of the Sun offers so many fun things to do.
Phoenix has everything but snow and ice, so if you’re planning to come to Arizona for business or pleasure, make time for some of these fun activities.