Editor’s note: Phoenix Valley Guide’s “21 Things to Do” are listed in no particular order. All information given here was accurate at press time. You may want to phone for confirmation prior to visiting these attractions.
Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, as locals call it, features a rotating calendar of national and international acts. In Downtown Phoenix, Crescent Ballroom plays host to the latest and greatest acts. To see national bands in a casual atmosphere, check out Tempe’s Marquee Theatre. Acoustic shows in an intimate performance space take place at The Listening Room in Central Phoenix. And at Copper Blues in Downtown Phoenix, the yummy gastropub fare almost steals the spotlight from the national acts that grace the stage.
If you’ve visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale, perhaps it’s time to see it again in a whole new light—during the night tours of the renowned architect’s Arizona school and former winter home. During the 2-hour Night Lights tours, the buildings are illuminated from within, giving the already dramatic structures a lantern-like glow. Tours run every Fri. night, starting around sunset. The cost is $35 per person, and reservations are required.
Grab that change jar for a rendezvous with Lady Luck at a number of casinos statewide. Take a chance at Casino Arizona or Talking Stick Resort, both on Scottsdale’s eastern border; Gila River Casinos, with 3 locations throughout Greater Phoenix; Apache Gold Casino Resort, 60 miles east of Mesa; and Fort McDowell Casino near Fountain Hills.
No need to go to Holland to find great Gouda—there is plenty here in Greater Phoenix. Phoenix’s Duck and Decanter offers domestic and imported cheeses along with gift baskets. Gift of Cheese in Surprise specializes in party platters for every occasion. Phoenix’s Helton Brewery pairs craft beers with a selection of 8–10 cheeses, ranging from a nutty gouda from Holland to a tangy local goat cheese.
Greater Phoenix is a pup-friendly place. Bring your four-legged companion to “yappy hour” at 32 Shea in North Phoenix. All 3 locations of O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery have dog treats and leash tie-ups at outdoor tables. The indoor/outdoor set-up at Luci’s at the Orchard in Central Phoenix is perfect for pups. Dogs love breakfast on the patio at Scramble in Phoenix and Scottsdale, and picnics at The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix.
Family-friendly Let it Roll Bowl in Phoenix showcases “cosmic” bowling. Lucky Strike in Downtown Phoenix offers a cosmopolitan take on the game. There’s mini-bowling at Octane Raceway in Scottsdale. Dave & Busters does it right with bowling, arcade games, and more at several Greater Phoenix locations, as does Main Event Entertainment in Avondale and Tempe. AMF Bowling offers multiple locations throughout the metro area, plus weekly game specials.
Lose yourself among the thousands of blooms at Sahuaro Ranch Park’s rose garden in Glendale. Valley Garden Center in Phoenix features an acre of rosebushes as well as a 100-year-old mesquite tree. And things look downright rosy at the Mesa Community College Rose Garden, with a field of more than 9,000 blooming rosebushes that has been called the largest rose garden in the Southwest. Blooms are at their peak in Mar./Apr. and Oct./Nov.
See if you have what it takes to compete in the world of high-performance racing. Beginning auto racers can take a spin at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler. The school offers classes on everything from Grand Prix speed to highway safety.
Thanks to the popular national trend, silent reading parties are popping up all over Greater Phoenix. Think of it as happy hour for introverts. Grab a book, show up during the “party” time, and settle in for an evening of reading in companionable silence with complete strangers. Check out the Silent Book Club hosted by Bunky Boutique and Changing Hands, held the fourth Monday of each month at Changing Hands Bookstore in Central Phoenix. There’s also the Second Wednesday Silent Reading Club at Grand Central Coffee Company in Downtown Phoenix. Happy reading!
Diversity is woven into the DNA of Greater Phoenix. The modern LGBTQ traveler feels at home at the area’s retail, dining, and nightlife districts, while nationally recognized events, such as April’s Phoenix Pride Parade & Festival, strengthen the community. For more LGBTQ-friendly events and things to do throughout Greater Phoenix, visit Pride Guide Arizona.
The Heard Museum, in Central Phoenix, displays an internationally famous Collection of artifacts and art—basketry, pottery, textiles, katsinas, and jewelry—from Southwestern American Indian tribes. It also offers numerous festivals, performances, and workshops.
Celebrate the thrill of the open road with a stop at the Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson Museum in Scottsdale. See 2-wheeled wonders dating as far back as 1903 to as recent as the 21st century. Boasting a collection of more than 100 restored motorcycles, including bikes from more than 30 manufacturers, this museum is a 40-year-old institution in the motorcycle world. To visit the museum, stop by on Fri. evenings—the free tour kicks off at 5 p.m. with Buddy himself.
For all things arts and culture, stop by the Tempe Center for the Arts on the bank of Tempe Town Lake. The center features a 600-seat theater to showcase plays, orchestral and dance performances, musicals, concerts, and lectures. The center also boasts a 3,500-square-foot art gallery with curated, traveling, and juried exhibitions.
You’d have to be very lucky to find the Lost Dutchman Mine—the legendary hiding place of Jacob Waltz’s gold. Waltz was a German prospector who, according to legend, hid a treasure in the Superstition Mountains but fell ill and died, taking his secret to the grave. However, clues to the hidden mine’s location were left behind, and generations of gold seekers have followed. Learn more about Waltz and the area at the Superstition Mountain Museum, northeast of Apache Junction on the scenic Apache Trail.
Today’s chuckwagon fare is a far cry from the meals whipped up by old-time trail cooks—and thank goodness! In addition to the food, many places offer entertainment ranging from shoot-outs to cowboy music. Among local favorites are Rockin’ R Ranch in Mesa and Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse in Chandler. Head north 90 minutes to Cottonwood to check out Blazin’ M Ranch.
For everything you’ll need to romp through the desert, check out Hike in Phoenix, which offers guided tours and equipment rentals. Arizona Outback Adventures specializes in guided tours statewide. If all you need is a mode of transportation, you can rent your choice of off-road vehicles at Sedona Off-Road Center in Sedona. And if you’d prefer that someone else do the planning, contact Arizona Scenic Tours.
Already known as “America’s Friendliest Airport,” Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport just might also take the title of “America’s Tastiest Airport.” Flying foodies should flock to Terminal 4, where acclaimed local restaurants have opened smaller versions of their beloved eateries. Indulge in wood-fired pizza, authentic dishes of central Mexico, organic sweet treats, and more at places like Barrio Café, Four Peaks Brewery, and Matt’s Big Breakfast.
Get the kids involved in some of the nation’s best children’s theater. The Phoenix area has many professional theater companies that produce plays and offer workshops for children. Try Childsplay in Tempe, East Valley Children’s Theatre in Mesa, Phoenix’s Great Arizona Puppet Theater, Phoenix’s Valley Youth Theatre, or Phoenix Theatre’s Little Theatre.
Spend $10 at BoxLunch, a store selling pop-culture merchandise at 2 area locations, and you’ll help provide a meal via Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks. At The Joy Bus Diner in Phoenix, 100% of the proceeds go to The Joy Bus, a charity delivering chef-crafted meals to cancer patients. In Central Phoenix, Practical Art partners with restaurants to collect their recyclables, which are exchanged for money for the gallery’s artist-grant fund. HopDoddy Burger Bar’s 2 area locations partner with Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Foundation, a local charity that helps at-risk youth. The Refuge Café in Central Phoenix donates a portion of its proceeds to various nonprofits throughout Greater Phoenix.
You could spend a whole day at Downtown Phoenix’s Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center. The center’s art gallery, Galeria 147, features works by veteran and up-and-coming Latino, Chicano, and indigenous artists. And the eclectic and vibrant gift shop, La Tiendita—offering local artwork, crafts, and gifts—shouldn’t be missed.
Trek through 1 billion years of history and see how the Greater Phoenix area’s earliest residents lived (and we’re not talking about just the 2-legged kind). The Arizona Museum of Natural History exhibits showcase American Indian and Western cultures, as well as the casts of skeletons from 20 prehistoric species displayed in the Dinosaur Hall.Discover more things to do by following us on Facebook