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Tips on What To Do in Phoenix

From mountains to museums, gardens to golf courses, Phoenix is a great city for both sightseeing and relaxing. Whether you're looking to discover the Wild West, the animals that live there, the people who used to live there, or mingle with the people who live there now, Phoenix's attractions cater to many different types of travelers.

  • Three to five days is an optimal amount of time to spend in Phoenix if you want to relax, get outside to hike or golf, and see the main sites like the Heard Museum and Scottsdale. Extra time will allow you to make some interesting side trips to nearby places like Tempe, Arcosanti, and Cave Creek and Carefree." -- Fodor's
  • You'll need a vehicle to get around Phoenix, especially if you plan to explore the Valley of the Sun's diverse attractions scattered around the city." -- Moon Travel Guides

Historic Attractions

Both experts and experienced travelers highly recommend spending some time at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. The park was once home to the Hohokam tribe of Native Americans and now features several exhibition galleries explaining Hohokam culture, as well as ancient ruins of the village itself.

  • To beat the heat, head indoors at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Cultural Park, where the Hohokam village ruins are located, highlighting the Southwest's ancient past." -- Smarter Travel
  • The small museum here displays many of the artifacts that have been dug up at the site. Although these exhibits are actually more interesting than the ruins themselves, some furnished replicas of Hohokam-style houses give a good idea of how the Hohokam lived. The museum sponsors interesting workshops (some just for kids), demonstrations, and tours (including petroglyph hikes)." -- Frommer's

Museums

Phoenix is home to numerous museums showcasing everything from the area's Native American history at the Heard Museum to modern art at the Phoenix Art Museum. Learn about Arizona's underground wealth at the Arizona Mining & Mineral Museum or the pioneer days at the Wells Fargo History Museum. Architecture buffs will discover that it's worth the money to tour Taliesin West, the former home of designer Frank Lloyd Wright. Previous visitors also recommend spending some time in Heritage Square, taking a tour of the Arizona Capitol Museum and exploring the Mystery Castle Museum.

  • Taliesin West  … site can only be seen on guided tours; you can join either an hour-long 'Panorama Tour' ($18) or a ninety-minute 'Insight Tour' ($22), which are offered at regular intervals … The expertise and enthusiasm of the guides makes the experience well worth the price." -- Rough Guides
  • For a more participatory view of these early days, visit the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum, a 90-acre pioneer town where costumed interpreters recreate life in the Arizona Territory of the mid 1800s." -- Travel Channel

Hiking

If you're looking to spend more time outdoors, the Phoenix area has numerous hiking trails, such as the Summit Trail in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and Camelback Mountain. Other popular hiking locales include South Mountain Park and Encanto Park. Experts also recommend exploring the Superstition Mountains, home to the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine, the location of which has been debated since pioneer times. For a unique way to see the desert, experienced travelers recommend booking an AZ Hummer Tour. If you plan on exploring the areas around Phoenix, bring plenty of sunscreen and water to avoid sun and heat stroke. If you're not looking to leave the city, spend the day at the Desert Botanical Garden near the airport, which has showcased desert plant life since 1939.

  • Enjoy the Arizona outdoors with a scenic hike up Echo Canyon Trail on Camelback Mountain. Take an excursion to Goldfield Ghost Town where you can try to unravel the secrets of the Lost Dutchman's Mine. Visit ancient Indian cliff dwellings at the five-story pueblo, Montezuma's Castle or saddle up for a real cowboy experience at Trail Horse Adventures and hit the trail on horseback." -- Travel Channel
  • On the south side of the Superstition Mountains, near the Gold Canyon Resort, a relatively short hike will lead you to a small canyon where ancient petroglyphs cover a rock wall beside several pools of water. Known as Hieroglyphic Canyon, this rock-art site is reached via a 1.1-mile trail up a gentle slope through dense stands of cactus." -- Frommer's
  • The Sonoran Desert is home to an exotic palette of wildlife -- coyotes, javelinas, gila monsters, tarantulas -- don't wander into the wilderness unless you're ready for a meet and greet." -- Sherman's Travel

Golf

Despite its desert landscape, Phoenix is home to several hundred golf courses. However, despite the large number of courses, it is often difficult to get a tee-time, especially during the winter months, so it is best to plan ahead. Previous visitors like Phoenix's Stonecreek Golf Club for a casual game, since the holes vary in difficulty. Another popular course is the Aguila Golf Course, just south of Downtown Phoenix.

  • Arizona has more golf courses per capita than any other state west of the Mississippi River, making it one of the most popular golf destinations in the United States. It's also one of Arizona's major industries, and green fees can run from $35 at a public course to more than $500 at some of Arizona's premier golfing spots." -- Fodor's
  • It can be difficult to get a tee time on any of the more popular courses (especially during the months of Feb, Mar, and Apr). If you're staying at a resort with a course, be sure to make your tee-time reservations at the same time you make your room reservations. If you aren't staying at a resort, you might still be able to play a round on a resort course if you can get a last-minute tee time." -- Frommer's

Spas

For those heading to Phoenix for a bit of rest and relaxation, the city is home to numerous lavish spas waiting to pamper your cares away. Recent visitors strongly recommend a day at the Aji Spa at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa just south of Downtown Phoenix. Other major spas are located north of the downtown area in neighborhoods such as Scottsdale and Carefree.

  • Most resorts open their spas to the public, and for the cost of a body treatment or massage, you can spend the day at the spa taking classes, working out in an exercise room, or lounging by the pool. Barring this indulgence, you can slip into one of the Valley's many day spas and take a stress-reduction break the way other people take a coffee break." -- Frommer's
  • Out Tucson way, check out The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa in a place called Carefree (12 miles from Scottsdale) where you can hit the hiking trails day or night. A 'Moonlight' hike is now on the menu, too. If you need to cool off, the Golden Door Spa has the solution with more body and skincare treatments than spots on a gecko." -- Forbes Traveler

Spectator Sports

Like most major American cities, Phoenix is home to numerous professional sports teams. Although the best-known team is the Arizona Cardinals football team, which plays at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Phoenix also serves as home base for the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, which plays at Chase Field in Downtown Phoenix. The Phoenix Coyotes Hockey team plays at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.

  • For dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans, there's no better place than the Valley of the Sun. Baseball has become nearly a year-round activity in the Phoenix area, beginning with spring training in late February and continuing through the Arizona Fall League championships in mid-November." -- Fodor's
  • To experience a temporary cold snap during Phoenix's not-exactly-frosty winters, either head for the mountains north and east of town or to Jobing.com Arena … to cheer on the town's National Hockey League team, the Phoenix Coyotes."  -- Moon Travel Guides

Attractions for Kids

Parents who have visited Phoenix suggest that those with kids visit the animals at the Phoenix Zoo, participate in hands-on demonstrations at the Arizona Science Center or ride the model railroad at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Kids will also love Phoenix's Wild West theme towns; they can witness a gunfight stunt show at Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass or look for ghosts at The Vulture Mine, which was once Arizona's largest producing gold mine.

  • Most of the year, kids spend morning, noon, and, yes, night, in the Valley’s pools and water parks, a recreational specialty found at many resorts. When the weather is a bit cooler, though, the Phoenix Zoo and the Old West–themed Rawhide Western Town can be fun diversions." -- Moon Travel Guides
  • At the outer edges of the Valley, you'll find a couple of Hollywood-style cow towns that are basically tourist traps, but, hey, if you've got the kids along, you owe it to them to visit at least one of these places." -- Frommer's

Shopping

Shopaholics better get their credit cards ready because Phoenix is littered with both indoor shopping malls and expansive outdoor lifestyle centers. For high-end fashion, explore the Biltmore District, home to the popular Biltmore Fashion Park, which features numerous designer stores. If you're more interested in antiques, Glendale is the place to go. Glendale's Grand Avenue is home to about 80 antiques shops. When it comes to more contemporary purchases, experts also say that only Santa Fe can top Scottsdale for South Western art galleries, most of which can be found in Scottsdale's Main Street Arts and Antiques District.

  • Shopaholics may want to check out the recently remodeled Biltmore Fashion Park, a largely open-air mall that has about 70 high-end shops, including Cartier, Cole Haan and Ralph Lauren." -- New York Times
  • Shoppers who are looking for funky mom-and-pop stores and vintage boutiques should head downtown or to Central Phoenix, which offers some surprisingly affordable retail options." -- Moon Travel Guides

Nightlife

It's not hard to find nightlife in Phoenix, but you may end up driving quite a bit. Downtown Phoenix is home to dozens of bars, but if you're searching for a dance floor, you'll want to head to Scottsdale. Tempe is also teeming with nightlife hotspots, and travel writers recommend taking a stroll down Tempe's Mill Avenue, which features numerous rowdy bars and clubs.

  • You can find listings and reviews in … 'The Rep Entertainment Guide' of the Arizona Republic, or the entertainment weekly Get Out in Thursday's East Valley Tribune ... PHX Downtown … has an extensive calendar for events from art exhibits and poetry readings to professional sports. The local gay scene is covered in Echo Magazine, which you can pick up all over town." -- Fodor's
  • If you've never been in a music video, but always wanted to know what it felt like, make your way to the Sky Lounge … a Latin club with a busy dance floor and very fit people. If rock is preferred, one intriguing place is Alice Cooperstown … named after the shock rocker and Phoenix resident Alice Cooper." -- New York Times
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