21 Things to Do

1. SO SWEET

Imagine a store where every aisle is the candy aisle. That’s Sweeties Candy of Arizona in Chandler. From nostalgic treats to today’s best, this 13,000-square-foot shop allows you to be a kid in a candy store once again. In Glendale, get a peek at how some of your favorite candy is made at Cerreta Candy Company. Take a tour of this family-owned confectionery, or enjoy your own chocolate experience by decorating a chocolate pizza.

2. MEET THE WILDLIFE

Phoenix Zoo’s 125 acres are home to more than 3,000 animals, including lions, giraffes, and elephants. Encounter land and aquatic animals from all over the globe at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park in Litchfield Park. Experience safari tours, a tiger show, zip lining, and more at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde. For sea-creature encounters, complete with ocean tunnels for underwater viewing, head to Scottsdale’s OdySea Aquarium or Sea Life Arizona Aquarium in Tempe.

3. YOUR BEST HAND

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 Hotels & Casinos, with 3 locations throughout Greater Phoenix; and Desert Diamond West Valley Casino in Glendale.

4. SECRET CANYON

Escape from civilization for a spell and unplug. Just a 2-hour drive from the heart of Phoenix puts you into the lush Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness. To disconnect even further, only 50 permits are given each day to enter the preserve, minimizing human encounters while maximizing wildlife sightings. Outside the canyon’s western entrance with the comforts—but not stresses—of home, Aravaipa Farms Orchard and Inn provides an ideal base camp for weekend getaways. 

5. IT’S MINE!

Dig into Arizona’s rich history with mining experiences. At Goldfield Ghost Town in the Superstition Mountains, go underground and back in time on a guided tour of the Mammoth Gold Mine. At Scottsdale’s Four Peaks Mining Co., kids can don a hard hat and search for ore and minerals in an interactive mining experience. You can also pick up beautiful handcrafted jewelry—some made with Arizona gems. Mesa’s Arizona Museum of Natural History explores Arizona history, including prospecting for gold and silver in the Lost Dutchman Mine. Examine artifacts and equipment used in the 1800s.

Experience the Grand Canyon Skywalk at Grand Canyon West.

6. WALK ON AIR

Make the drive north to Arizona’s own natural wonder—the Grand Canyon. For a new perspective on the majestic site, head to the West Rim, home of Grand Canyon West and the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a U-shaped glass-bottom bridge providing unobstructed views of the canyon floor 4,000 feet below. It’s the next best thing to having wings.

7. UP, UP & AWAY

If you don’t have 80 days to go around the world, how about a couple of hours to glide over Greater Phoenix? Hot air balloons are a fun way to view the terrain. To drift away on a desert breeze, contact Rainbow Ryders or Hot Air Expeditions. Or fly and feast on a Float Balloon Tour, which pairs a balloon flight with regional Arizona cuisine.

8. ART WALKS

Tour art galleries and museums throughout the metro area. Stroll Old Town Scottsdale during the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk, Thurs. 7–9 p.m., with live entertainment and artist appearances. First Fridays lets you tour Downtown Phoenix galleries once a month, 6–10 p.m., with free trolley transportation between locations. On the 3rd Fri. of every month, 6–10 p.m., enjoy the Downtown Chandler Art Walk. Explore the shops, restaurants, and galleries along Mesa’s Main Street on 2nd Friday Night Out every month, 6–10 p.m.

9. BRING THE PUP

No matter your pet’s style, Greater Phoenix has pet-friendly choices for you. Is Fido active? Try Gilbert’s 17-acre Cosmo Dog Park, with agility structures and a swimming lake with a dock. Have a pampered pooch? Wag your way to Oh My Dog! Boutique Hotel & Spa in Scottsdale for high-fashion grooming, treats, and a lounge for four-legged guests. For the out-on-the-town dog, all 3 locations of O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery offer dog treats and leash tie-ups at their patio tables.

The Garden mural, Downtown Phoenix (Photo by Donoyazzi/Instagram.)

10. STREET ART

The creative spirit roams freely through the streets of Greater Phoenix as murals and commissioned outdoor works move beyond museum walls to find life on the exteriors of buildings. Outside Barrio Café in Phoenix, the walls serve as a concrete canvas for paintings that tell the stories of Latino culture in Arizona. In Scottsdale, artists Ernest Roberts and Tim Medina celebrate the state’s Wild West roots with a mural of American cowgirls on the exterior wall of Fashion by Robert Black boutique. In Downtown Phoenix, tour Roosevelt Row to view emerging street talent. 

11. IN THE SPIRIT

Arizona Distilling Co. shares the Grand Canyon State with the world one sip at a time. This distillery’s handcrafted spirits include Copper City Bourbon, Desert Durum Wheat Whiskey, and Commerce Gin. Tours and tastings are available. From whiskey to gin to sweet apple pie liquor—made from one of the partner’s family recipes—CaskWerks Distilling Co. has something for all imbibers. The tasting room is open Thurs.–Sat. The handcrafted whiskey, rum, and gin at Adventurous Stills are just some of the spirits made in hand-built copper stills. Try a sample at one of their weekend tours or tastings.

12. DUDE RANCHES

Put on a 10-gallon hat and point your horseless carriage toward any of several dude and guest ranches in Arizona. Here is a sampling to get you started: Rancho de los Caballeros and Flying E Ranch, both in Wickenburg; Don Donnelly’s D-Spur Ranch & Riding Stables, Gold Canyon; and MacDonald’s Ranch in Scottsdale.

13. OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

For everything you’ll need to romp through the desert, check out 360 Adventures, which offers guided tours and equipment rentals. Arizona Outback Adventures and Arizona Scenic Tours both specialize in guided tours statewide. If you’re looking for a fun tour of the attractions in Phoenix and Scottsdale—both indoors and out—look no further than Across Arizona Tours.

14. ICE SKATING

Whether the weather is balmy or blazing, you can always enjoy ice skating. Lace up for public skating at rinks around the Greater Phoenix area. Try the seasonal rinks at CitySkate at CityScape in Phoenix or Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale. For year-round icy fun, head to Ice Den in Scottsdale or Chandler or AZ Ice in Phoenix, Gilbert, or Peoria.

15. COMEDY ACTS

Greater Phoenix has its share of brick walls and more than enough jokesters to stand in front of them. Included in the area’s comedy roster is Jester’Z Improv Comedy at Mesa Riverview. In Scottsdale, check out The Comedy Spot Comedy Club. Head to Downtown Phoenix to see local and national acts at Stand Up Live. Tempe Improv Comedy Theatre has been attracting national headliners and emerging talent since 1988. In Phoenix, Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy features national and international comedians. 

16. SHOP FOR ANTIQUES

Whether you’re browsing English teapots, cast-iron stoves, or rolltop desks, antiquing in Greater Phoenix offers something for everyone. In Scottsdale, visit Antique Trove. Here, you’ll find everything from Victorian jewelry to mid-century furniture. For fun treasure hunting with dining on the side, head to MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain in Central Phoenix. Downtown Glendale—Arizona’s antiques capital—offers myriad shops for perusing. Contact the Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau for information. 

17. RIDE THE RAILS

If you still wave at the engineer when a train rumbles by, you’ll be pleased to know you can get a railroad fix in Greater Phoenix. The train at Scottsdale’s McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park makes a loop around the park, and rides cost only $3. At the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, see a display of freight, passenger, and dining cars, plus a 1950 Baldwin diesel locomotive. Or make the beautiful drive north for a trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad, a scenic train ride that weaves its way through the lush Verde Valley. The Grand Canyon Railway departs daily from Williams, transporting passengers to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

18. LIVE MUSIC

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 hosts to the latest and greatest acts. To see national bands in a casual atmosphere, check out Tempe’s Marquee Theatre. And at Copper Blues in Downtown Phoenix, the yummy gastropub fare almost steals the spotlight from the national acts that grace the stage.

19. PICACHO PEAK

Site of the westernmost Civil War battle, this landmark is now one of Southern Arizona’s hot spots for spring wildflower viewing and year-round hiking. The 3,374-foot-high peak interrupts the flat expanse of scrub desert between Phoenix and Tucson, beckoning travelers to stop for a spell. Visit the state park for information on history, camping, and trails: Climb 1,500 feet up Hunter Trail on the north side or Sunset Vista Trail on the south to reach the summit.

20. WRIGHT SITES

Now a National Historic Landmark, the original structure of Taliesin West was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as his winter retreat. It’s now the home of his architectural firm and school. Tours are available year-round. The ASU Gammage auditorium, a circular structure with 2 pedestrian bridges on the Arizona State University Tempe campus, is one of the last major buildings designed by Wright. Superb acoustics enhance concerts and Broadway musicals.

21. SEGWAY TOURS

For an anything-but-ordinary way to explore the Greater Phoenix landscape, hop on a Segway. Segway of Scottsdale’s Tempe Town Lake Discovery Tour traverses 4 miles of paths that circle the lake, and the Old Town Scottsdale Tour highlights the waterfront, Civic Center Park, and Main Street. Venture off road and amid the saguaros on an Adventures Out West Segway tour through the beautiful Sonoran Desert east of Scottsdale.

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