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Fun Things to do in Phoenix AZ

Winter is prime time for trips to the Phoenix – Scottsdale area of Arizona. Families, couples, singles – everyone wants a dose of sunshine. And they all want to be doing interesting things. Fortunately there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Phoenix or the surrounding area.

5 fun things to do in Phoenix
Goat yoga just outside of Phoenix

Fun things to do in Phoenix and the surrounding area that should keep you busy for days.

Of course there is also golf on more than 200 courses which I’m sure is fun for many of you but I can’t figure out the appeal of the sport. Ditto tennis.

Hiking in the Phoenix area

The hiking is excellent in and around Phoenix. Try the popular Piestewa Peak hike (formerly Squaw Peak) – an outdoor version of the Stairmaster.

The most popular route is the Summit Trail – which takes you roughly 1.2 miles to the top. But it gets busy – very BUSY. The other option is the Circumference Trail. It’s 3.5 miles long and doesn’t see nearly the traffic of the Summit Trail.

Another classic hike is the one up Camelback Mountain. You can choose the 2.2 mile Echo Canyon Route or the 2.8 mile Cholla Lane route. Be prepared for some steep hiking – but you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of Phoenix.

Head out of town to the Superstition Mountains. There are lots of trails to choose from, and a choice of access points. Try one of the trails out of Lost Dutchmen State Park, just 40 miles east of Phoenix.

Read: 10 of the Very Best Hikes in Arizona

https://hikebiketravel.com/29088/hiking-camelback-mountain-scottsdale-arizona/
Hiking on Camelback Mountain
You can some sense of how busy the Cholla Trail can get from this photo
You can some sense of how busy the Cholla Trail can get from this photo
Beautiful landscape entering the Superstition Mountains
Beautiful landscape entering the Superstition Mountains

Visit the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix

Look for over 50,000 plants in the Desert Botanical Gardens. Spring is a particularly beautiful time to visit with many plants coming into bloom. There’s also a “Music in the Garden” series on Friday nights from early March through until June, though you can’t bring the kids.

Drive the Apache Trail

I discovered this remarkable drive on a recent visit to Phoenix. Jaw dropping scenery begins at the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, at the junction of Highway 88 and 188, and ends just outside of Apache Junction, though you could continue all the way to Globe.

The Apache Trail is mostly a dirt road, often narrow, and not a place you want to be caught with an RV. In fact they’re prohibited. Take water and a lunch – though you can get something to eat in Tortilla Flats – and plan on lots of stops so you can really enjoy the scenery.

Another fun thing to do is to take the Dolly Steamboat and enjoy a 90 minute boat ride on the inner waterways of the “junior Grand Canyon.”

The Apache Trail in Arizona
Stunning Apache Lake
5 fun things to do in Phoenix 
Scenery you’ll enjoy on Canyon Lake if you take a boat tour

Visit Museums in Phoenix

The Phoenix Art Museum, a world class museum, boasts over 18,000 works of art from many genres including American, Asian, European, Western American and Modern. They, along with the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, have established a photography exhibit with over 80,000 photographs representing 2,000 photographers.

The Heard Museum is the place to go if you are interested in American Indian art and history. Exhibits change frequently.

The Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, a National Historic Landmark, is a prehistoric Hohokam Indian village site that was occupied between 100 and 1450 AD. The ruin is located at 4619 East Washington Street in Phoenix. You’ll need to pay a fee before you walk the self guided trail to the ruins.

Architecture Tours in Scottsdale

Take an architecture tour of Taliesin West in Scottsdale – Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio and architectural campus. Or visit The Hotel Valley Ho – one of the best known mid century hotels in the US.

Other area tours will educate you about sustainable architecture in the southwest or designing with solar. If you have time, an interesting place to visit is Cosanti, the gallery, studio and residence of Paolo Soleri, out in Paradise Valley. You’ll find bronze and ceramics windbells and depending on the time of year, you might be able to watch a bell being poured.

5 Great Things to Do In & Near Phoenix That Don't Involve Golf
The view from Frank Lloyd Wright’s House – Taliesin West in Scottsdale

Spas, shopping and dining in Phoenix

If you want to be pampered in Phoenix and that is your idea of fun then you’re in luck. Most of the fine hotels have onsite spas where you could spend the whole day. 
 
If you’re into shopping the Biltmore Fashion Park is one of the top places to go. And excellent dining choices abound in both Phoenix and Scottsdale. Check out Pizzeria Bianco (maybe even catch sight of a celebrity), The Stand for burgers, fires and shakes, Little Miss BBQ, Rito’s Mexican Food and Red Thai. 

Goat yoga anyone?

An addition to the Phoenix scene that is a big hit is goat yoga – with more information here. 

Goat yoga classes sell out quickly. Expect to see upwards of 100 people in a giant circle around the partners – Sarah Williams of Desert Paddleboards and April Gould, owner of the goats. When the yoga  gets underway everyone is spread with room to go through some traditional yoga moves.

But after 15 minutes the goats take over and the thread of the class is lost. It doesn’t seem to bother anybody – as long as they get a photo of themselves with a goat on their back.

5 fun things to do in Phoenix
Hopefully you won’t have a goat that pees on you

Go glamping at Schnepf Farms

Wondered what it’s like to stay in a kitted out Airstream? Check out Schnepf Farms – a working peach orchard with a big U-Pick garden. It’s a cool thing to do for a night. Be sure to order the strawberry breakfast pancakes for the morning.

The Airstream comes with a shower and toilet, a small kitchen, a sitting area and a bed – all in a retro style.

Stay in kitted out Airstreams when you stay at Schnepf Farms
Stay in kitted out Airstreams when you stay at Schnepf Farms
Our very comfortable room in the Airstream at Schnepf Farms
Our very comfortable room in the Airstream at Schnepf Farms

More things to do in Arizona

What other fun things to do in Phoenix would you recommend?

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Fun things to do in Phoenix

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 23 Comments

    1. @D.J.You get the best of all worlds then. When I wrote this blog I was thinking of the people that come to Phoenix on a business trip but don’t know that there’s so much to do aside from golf. I was also thinking of families on spring breaks who might be staying at resorts but still wanted to get out and see the area. Hopefully I’ve given people a few new ideas.

  1. Great ideas! Love that picture of the Apache Trail! Another great thing to do now that is it warming up is go stand up paddle boarding! People can get paddle boarding lessons and rent equipment in the Pleasant Harbor Marina.

  2. Ooooh, I want sun! And the idea of spending an evening in a Botanical Garden with music is really, really great!

  3. I lived in Arizona for 7 years and never hiked Camelback. All the talk of how steep it was scared me 😉

  4. I lived in Arizona for 7 years and never hiked Camelback. All the talk of how steep it was scared me 😉

  5. Wonderful suggestions. It’s funny that so many people do think that Phoenix = golf period. Not true as you’ve shown. Love the view of Camelback Mountain — it’s one of my favorite sights there.

  6. Wonderful suggestions. It’s funny that so many people do think that Phoenix = golf period. Not true as you’ve shown. Love the view of Camelback Mountain — it’s one of my favorite sights there.

  7. Hi! OMG! I’ve been looking for an article like this one forever, I’m traveling to Arizona and staying there for a while..
    This all look like great options!

    Is downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale fun? I heard about first Friday in downtown Phoenix is it worth it??

    Plus I haven’t been to the Scottsdale Quarter I heard there’s a ton of cool stores and restaurants.

    I’ll make my reservation in Scottsdale next week. I’m looking for a place that I can walk to bars or restaurants.

    Thanks for shearing.

    1. @Pauline I don’t actually know about Friday in downtown Phoenix. But I can tell you that Scottsdale is full of wonderful shops & restaurants though many are very expensive.

  8. Hi! OMG! I’ve been looking for an article like this one forever, I’m traveling to Arizona and staying there for a while..
    This all look like great options!

    Is downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale fun? I heard about first Friday in downtown Phoenix is it worth it??

    Plus I haven’t been to the Scottsdale Quarter I heard there’s a ton of cool stores and restaurants.

    I’ll make my reservation in Scottsdale next week. I’m looking for a place that I can walk to bars or restaurants.

    Thanks for shearing.

  9. I enjoyed the list, those are all fun things to do in Arizona! Taking a hot air balloon ride was my favorite, and I would highly recommend. With so many beautiful views Arizona has to offer, Firebird Balloons takes you up and away so you can see them from above. It’s probably the place with the best views. They also offer private rides which makes the experience much more personal. Check them out at firebirdballoons.com.

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