Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Phoenix

By Alene Laney · April 27, 2023 · 8 minute read

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting Phoenix

If you’re searching for a warm weather escape, there aren’t many places in the U.S. that can beat the enchanting desert landscape of Phoenix, Arizona. The city also offers an enticing array of parks, museums, and art walks, not to mention excellent dining and entertainment. If you love being outdoors, whether to golf, hike, or catch a baseball game, Phoenix can be a terrific destination.

To help you get the most out of a vacation in Phoenix, read on to learn:

•   When is the best (and worst) time to visit Phoenix

•   What are the best things to do in Phoenix

•   How much it can cost to visit Phoenix

Best Times to Go to Phoenix

Phoenix is known for year-round warm weather, but early spring and late fall can be excellent times to visit. Temperatures range from 53 to 77 degrees in March and 60 to 85 degrees in April. That’s a balmy range if you want to sit and watch baseball spring training, which is in full force. The temperature is just right for golfing, hiking, or visiting local attractions, too. You may also find the city smells like orange blossoms and bougainvillea, further heightening the allure of this Arizona city.

Even if you’re traveling during Phoenix’s well-known “always sunny” weather, it’s still wise to think about travel insurance. This can protect you if the unexpected happens. You may get credit card travel insurance automatically; check with your card issuer for details.

Bad Times to Go to Phoenix

There’s no doubt about it: Phoenix can be unbearably hot in the summer months. The average high temperature is over 100 degrees from June through September. The heat may make you want to stay indoors with the air conditioning cranking, but then you’d miss out on many of the great things a Phoenix vacation has to offer.

However, if you do decide to brave the Phoenix heat for summer travel, you may find lower prices than you would any other time of the year.

Average Cost of a Phoenix Vacation

According to Budget Your Trip, a website that collects and publishes data on real costs from other travelers, the cost of a Phoenix trip for one person for the week is about $1,310. The same trip for two people comes to $2,621.

Some costs you might expect to see include:

•   Average hotel costs for two people per night: $225

•   Average transportation cost per day: $28

•   Average food costs per day: $42 per person

•   Average entertainment costs per day: $32 per person

Of course, savvy travelers can find ways to cut costs. For instance, you can often save money on hotels if you sign up for the accommodation’s member program. Or you might find a discount if you have a Costco, AAA, or AARP membership.

If you’re good with credit card rewards, you may be able to save a substantial amount by redeeming points or miles for your flight or hotel.

You may also be able to redeem credit card rewards if you’re renting a car, which can make exploring all the cool things to do in Phoenix more affordable.

10 Fun Must-Dos in Phoenix

Phoenix is a large metro area located in the Sonoran desert, known for its red cliffs, iconic saguaro cacti, and hummingbirds flitting about. Many of the top things to do in Phoenix are actually located in adjacent cities such as Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa.

Here are some of the highlights of visiting this stunning area in the Southwest, as well as some budget options if you’re wondering how families afford to travel to Phoenix.

1. Visit The Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum gets an enthusiastic round of applause from visitors. With more than 6,000 reviews, travelers give the museum 4.9 out of 5 stars, the highest rating in the Phoenix area. The museum takes a fascinating look at the history and cultures behind musical instruments. Attractions include family-friendly activities, such as the Experience Gallery, where visitors can try out instruments (drums, guitars, harps) from around the world. MIM.org/

Like museums? Check with your hotel’s concierge to see if they have discounts available. If you can’t lower the cost of entry, you might charge the admission fees to your travel credit card or cash back rewards credit card and at least earn some points or cash back to use on future vacations.

Recommended: Where to Find Book Now, Pay Later Vacations

2. The Desert Botanical Garden

If you want to know what makes the desert unique, the Desert Botanical Garden can show you 50,000 reasons. That’s how many varieties of plants you’ll see as you stroll the grounds; you’ll encounter wildflowers, fragrant herbs, and a forest of organ pipe cacti. You might also enjoy a seasonal visit to the Butterfly Pavilion or taking one of the photography, cooking, and gardening classes offered through the Desert Botanical Garden. DGB.org/

Traveling with a pet? Sync up with the garden’s Dog Days so your doggo can join you as you explore the

3. Play Golf

If you’re longing for the manicured green of a golf course surrounded by palm trees and water features, you’ll have more than 200 golf courses in the Phoenix area to choose among. With nary a day below freezing and minimal rain, golf is a popular pastime in the sunny city. The shoulder seasons, in particular, are excellent for enjoying a tee time on the green. VisitPhoenix.com/things-to-do/outdoors/golf/

4. Tour Taliesin West

Lovers of architecture, design, and history may want to head over to American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale (a city adjacent to Phoenix). Taliesin’s architecture is embedded into the desert landscape in unique structures made of desert rocks, concrete, and sand, expressing Lloyd Wright’s pioneering low-slung Prairie Style. Views of the city and Camelback Mountain help visitors see the architect’s vision for immersing organic architecture in the landscape.
FrankLloydWright.org/taliesin-west/

5. Catch a Baseball Game During Spring Training

Fifteen major league baseball teams make Arizona their home during the month of March. There are games every day, sprinkled across 10 smaller stadiums in an energizing, “here comes the summer” atmosphere. Young players try to make a name for themselves, and veteran players prepare for the upcoming baseball season. It’s an exciting way for fans to see MLB stars in an up-close and personal way. VisitArizona.com/experiences/sports/springtraining/

6. Hike a Mountain and Enjoy the Views

A good, brisk hike before the heat hits is one of the best free things to do in Phoenix, not to mention an invigorating way to start the day. You’ll see the desert colors on display and wonder why you don’t move here. There are some urban hikes that end with great views you may want to try.

•   Camelback Mountain. Camelback is a steep hike with rewarding views at the end. It’s an interesting hike, but it’s also unprotected from the sun and very difficult. Hikers should be more experienced and go when temperatures are cooler. ClimbCamelback.com/

•   South Mountain Park and Preserve. South Mountain has more than 50 miles of trails. Panoramic views from Dobbins Lookout can be accessed from hiking trails and by road if you’re not in the mood to hoof it. Phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/south-mountain

•   Papago Park. Papago has easy, level trails perfect for biking and hiking. The short hike up to the fun “Hole-In-The-Rock” has excellent views of the park and the city. Phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/papago-park

7. Stroll Old Town Scottsdale

Downtown Scottsdale is an experience. A stroll down Main Street takes you past galleries, museums, restaurants, boutiques, and bars in a charming, pedestrian-friendly cityscape. A walk through Wonderspaces Arizona is one of the most unique things to do in Phoenix. It’s an immersive and interactive art exhibit with a full bar for end-of-day and evening fun. Arizona.Wonderspaces.com/

8. Explore the Desert Landscape

One of the top things to do in Phoenix includes exploring the desert landscape by horse, Jeep, or ATV. A guided trail ride takes you through the memorable landscape of the Southwest. Tours are highly rated and often top lists of fun things to do in Phoenix.

Recommended: Where to Keep Your Travel Fund

9. Visit a Water Park

To beat the heat, visit one of the many large and feature-rich water parks of Phoenix. You can ride the waves in a 2.5-million gallon wave pool, play bumper cars in the water, ride on spinning-tube and roller-coaster water slides, and float down the lazy rivers. Some of the best water parks around Phoenix include:

•   Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa (Golfland.com/mesa/)

•   Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix (SixFlags.com/phoenix)

•   Oasis Water Park (ArizonaGrandResort.com/oasis-water-park/)

10. Learn Country Western Dancing

If you’re looking for more unique things to do in Phoenix, try country western dancing. There are a number of bars with dance floors; some even have free lessons certain days of the week. Try out your hoedown throwdown moves at:

•   Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row in Scottsdale (DierksWhiskeyRow.com/scottsdale-az/)

•   Rusty Spur Saloon in Scottsdale (RustySpurSaloon.com/)

•   Handlebar J BBQ Restaurant & Bar in Scottsdale (HandlebarJ.com/)

•   Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek (BuffaloChipSaloon.com/)

•   Denim and Diamonds in Mesa (DenimandDiamondsMesaAZ.com/)

•   The Stillery (TheStillery.com/happyvalley)

•   Harold’s Cave Creek Corral in Cave Creek (HaroldsCorral.com/)

The Takeaway

No matter what you decide to do, you’ll likely enjoy your Phoenix vacation (as long as you go before the blazing heat hits). There’s a reason travelers return again and again to this destination. Warm weather, beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities, shopping, and museum-hopping are just a few of the reasons why this Arizona city is such a popular destination.

SoFi Travel is a new service offered exclusively to SoFi members. Earn 2x rewards when booking with your SoFi Mastercard or debit card. Then apply those rewards to your next trip when you book through our travel portal. SoFi makes planning a getaway fast, easy, and convenient — perfect for people on the move.


SoFi, your one-stop shop for travel.

FAQ

What is Phoenix famous for?

Tourists love visiting Phoenix for the warm, sunny weather, the beautiful landscapes to explore, and the exciting city attractions, such as museums and nightlife.

What is the number one attraction in Phoenix?

The Desert Botanical Garden and the Musical Instrument Museum both frequently top ratings and traveler lists for the title of the top attraction in Phoenix.

How can I spend three days in Phoenix?

Do what you love best for three days. Many tourists enjoy spending time outside. Golf courses are ubiquitous, Papago Park and the Desert Botanical Garden are worth a visit, and downtown Scottsdale makes for a fun stroll. Other favorite destinations: Camelback Mountain for a hike, MLB Spring Training, and waterparks.


Photo credit: iStock/Kruck20

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