Centrally located in southern Arizona, Phoenix is an urban center that offers easy access to exciting activities and several state parks. Spend your days soaking up the local culture, seeing stunning works of art, and eating amazing food at noteworthy restaurants. Book a stay at a Phoenix vacation rental in the downtown area, or opt for a trendy condo or family home in one the city’s quiet neighborhoods. With so much to see and do in Phoenix, check out this handy guide of the top 15 activities.
1. Go Wild at the Phoenix Zoo
With more than 1,200 animals, the Phoenix Zoo is the largest private zoo in the United States. Take a walk through Monkey Village, and watch in awe as squirrel monkeys wander by in this open exhibit. Little ones love petting and brushing the goats at the Red Barn and feeding the giraffes at the Giraffe Encounter.
2. Learn More About Music at the Musical Instrument Museum
In the heat of a summer day, enjoy the cool air and even cooler exhibits at the Musical Instrument Museum. Find more than 6,000 instruments on display from all the corners of the world. Stop by the Conservation Lab to see how the museum curators preserve instruments. Check the schedule to see if there’s a live music concert to see.
3. Relax With a Day at the Golden Door Spa
Feel all your stress leaving your body with a massage from the Golden Door Spa. This full-service spa provides a variety of services. Keep your skin in shape with a sugar scrub, or put your best foot forward with a pedicure. The friendly staff takes care of your needs from the moment you arrive until you leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
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4. Learn a Little Something at the Arizona Science Center
Families love a visit to the Arizona Science Center with its hands-on and interactive exhibits, covering topics such as electricity and weather patterns. One of the highlights of your visit is a trip to the planetarium to learn more about the solar system, universe, and cosmos. Check the schedule to ensure you don’t miss story time.
5. Hike Camelback Mountain
As the highest peak in Phoenix, Camelback Mountain sees a lot of visitors and hikers looking for amazing views for miles in any direction. There’s an easy mile and a half trail, the Cholla Trail, on the east side of the mountain, or challenge yourself with a steep hike to the top. Stop by Arizona Hiking Shack for any gear you need.
6. Learn Some Native American History at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park
Explore the ruins of an ancient Hohokam village at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park. It’s your chance to take a look at the past and how Native Americans survived and thrived in this stark landscape. Learn more about the mystery of the 1,000 villagers who disappeared from this location in 1450 A.D., and formulate your own solution.
7. Gaze at Great Works of Art at the Phoenix Art Museum
Inside a contemporary building, find more than 17,000 works of art housed at the Phoenix Art Museum. The artwork inside spans centuries, starting in the Renaissance. Enjoy the works of modern artists, including Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The museum offers a variety of programs geared for the younger members of the family, so check the schedule.
8. Hit the Links at the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club
Bring your golf clubs and store them at your vacation rental so you can spend a day at the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club. This club is a favorite among many celebrities and golfing greats. Featuring not one but two 18-hole PGA Championship courses, this club offers a challenge. Enjoy a drink or meal back at the club house after your game.
9. Watch a Game at Chase Field
If the Arizona Diamondbacks are playing while you’re in town, head over to Chase Field to catch a game in person. During off-season and the regular season, you can take a tour of the stadium during the day. See the dugouts and locker rooms as the guide shows you around.
10. Gaze at the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West
Frank Lloyd Wright built Taliesin West at the base of the McDowell Mountains to use as a winter home and created a school to teach others his stunning and naturalistic approach to architecture. Take a guided tour of the property, and learn more about the work and life of this amazing artist.
11. Learn More About the Native Americans at the Heard Museum
The Heard Museum explores the life and cultural of Arizona’s first occupants, the Native Americans. Featuring pre-Colombian and contemporary art, this museum has something for everyone in your family. Take advantage of the special events and lecture series if there’s one during your visit. Enjoy a spicy meal at the Courtyard Cafe when you feel your energy begin to wane.
12. View the Local Plants and Flowers at the Desert Botanical Garden
View the thousands of cacti, trees, and flowers from around the world that not only survive but thrive in the hot, arid desert environment at the Desert Botanical Garden. Take one of the created walks, such as the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert and the Desert Wildflower trails. When you need a little refreshment, enjoy lunch at Gertrude’s, with its farm-to-table menu.
13. Rent Kayaks From Fort McDowell Adventures
Find the nearby Salt River, and explore with a kayak rental from Fort McDowell Adventures. While you paddle down the water, keep a look out for the wild horses that make their homes on the public lands that surround the river.
14. Hit the Streets of Downtown Phoenix for First Fridays
In downtown Phoenix, the streets come alive on the first Friday of each month for First Fridays. Soak up the festival atmosphere as you check out the local art scene, and dine out of one of the city’s finest food trucks, including Flyin’ Hawaiian and Bites Donuts. Many of these events include live music, so wear your favorite dance shoes.
15. Tour the Tovrea Castle
Start your tour of the Tovrea Castle with a tram ride through the gorgeous desert gardens. Your tour guide walks you through the home and the basement area while explaining the history of the home and the family that once lived there.
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