26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

From awe-inspiring canyons and red rock formations to the buzzing nightlife scene, there are many exciting things to do in Phoenix.

If you are looking for a fun, exciting trip to the Southwest, Phoenix, AZ is the place to visit. This vibrant city has a wide variety of things to do and see, from outdoor adventures and water sports in the desert surroundings to bustling city life and historical attractions. 

Whether you want to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of canyons and red rock formations or immerse yourself in the buzzing nightlife scene, there are many things to do in Phoenix. With world-class hotels and restaurants, lots of shopping options, and a wealth of cultural activities such as art galleries and museums, there are endless possibilities for things to do when visiting this energetic city. 

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Things to Do in Pheonix, AZ

1. Westgate Entertainment District

Located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona, the Westgate Entertainment District is a popular destination. With dozens of restaurants, shops, and attractions spread over 40 acres of land, there are always new things to explore at Westgate. Some highlights include the NFL Pro Shop, where football fans can stock up on gear from their favorite teams; George Brazil BBQ & Home Cooking, a family-friendly restaurant serving great food and cocktails; the Gila River Arena, which is home to professional hockey team the Arizona Coyotes; and Talking Stick Resort Arena, home to NBA powerhouses the Phoenix Suns. 

Whether you’re looking for a day full of shopping and dining or just some downtime with friends at the local bar, Westgate has a ton to offer. 

2. Phoenix Raceway

Phoenix Raceway is one of the best things to do in Phoenix, AZ. This well-known racetrack was established in 1964 and has become a staple of Arizona’s racing culture. This fast-paced venue attracts visitors from afar with various events throughout the year, from open-wheel races to stock car challenges. 

Some things you can do at this sprawling complex include exploring the various exhibit halls, attending live performances and concerts, and enjoying thrill rides at the onsite amusement park. Whatever your interests may be, Phoenix Raceway has no shortage of excitement. So if you’re looking for things to do in Arizona’s capital city, look no further than this famous racing destination!

3. Hot Air Balloon Ride

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

If you are looking for a truly unforgettable experience, you can’t go wrong with a hot air balloon ride in Phoenix, Arizona. This vibrant desert city is the perfect setting for an aerial adventure, as its rugged desert landscape and clear blue skies provide the ideal backdrop for a scenic flight. Whether you are exploring the city from 800 feet in the air, admiring its sweeping red rock canyons, or simply drifting above expansive cotton fields, a hot air balloon ride in Phoenix will leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

Gardens in Phoenix, AZ

4. Desert Botanical Garden

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the most popular attractions in Phoenix, AZ. With its diverse range of desert flora and unique immersive environment, this botanical garden is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Whether you are seeking to learn more about the plant life that thrives in the harsh desert climate or simply looking for things to do in Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden promises to delight and inspire. Explore on foot or by bike, and experience an endlessly fascinating journey into the diversity and beauty of our planet’s deserts.

5. The Japanese Friendship Garden

With its serene ponds and beautiful gardens, this tranquil spot offers a variety of things to do for visitors of all ages. Whether you are looking for a relaxing place to unwind or an exciting outdoor activity for the whole family, the Japanese Friendship Garden will delight you. Feed the koi or simply stroll through winding pathways and enjoy a little piece of Japan right in the heart of Arizona. So if you find yourself in Phoenix, don’t miss out on what this stunning park offers.

6. Butterfly Wonderland

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

Butterfly Wonderland is one of the region’s most unique and exciting attractions. This state-of-the-art facility houses a sizeable walk-through habitat where visitors can explore a lush rainforest environment filled with hundreds of butterflies worldwide. In addition, Butterfly Wonderland also features an onsite laboratory where scientists conduct groundbreaking research on these delicate creatures, as well as experiential exhibits and educational programming designed to delight and engage adults and children alike. 

Things to Do Outdoors in Phoenix, AZ

7. Camelback Mountain

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

Camelback Mountain is one of Phoenix, AZ’s most popular outdoor attractions. With its soaring heights and panoramic city views, this iconic mountain draws in hikers, climbers, and sightseers from all over. Whether you’re looking for an invigorating hike or a relaxing picnic spot, there are plenty of things to do at Camelback Mountain. 

For adventure seekers, the challenging Echo Canyon Trail offers a strenuous workout with stunning views at the summit. Alternatively, novice hikers can try paths like Cholla or Sunrise Trail for a more moderate trek with equally rewarding views from the top. And for those who simply want to take in the striking desert landscape, Camelback Mountain offers plenty of scenic spots to sit back and admire the view. 

8. Dobbins Lookout

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

Dobbins Lookout offers stunning views of the city and its surrounding landscape, providing a perfect place to take in the area’s beauty. Whether you get some exercise by climbing to the top or simply want to relax and enjoy a leisurely picnic, there are plenty of things to do at Dobbins Lookout. Some highlights include hiking along the trails through the rugged hills and canyons, wandering through golden meadows filled with wildflowers, and birdwatching for rare species like falcons and eagles. 

9. Hole in the Rock

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

Hole in the Rock is one of the most popular tourist attractions. This unique geological feature is a gaping opening in an otherwise smooth rock wall, with dramatic views overlooking the city below. While it can be challenging to reach due to its remote location, visitors can enjoy things like hiking and picnicking once they arrive. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventure or just want to soak up some stunning views, the Hole in the Rock is worth a visit. So if you find yourself in Phoenix, add this iconic landmark to your list of things to do. 

10. South Mountain Park and Preserve

South Mountain Park and Preserve is one of the largest city parks in the United States. With over 51 square miles of hiking trails, natural landscapes, and historic sites, this expansive park offers a wealth of things to do for visitors of all ages. In addition to its many recreational opportunities, this popular park is also home to several historic structures that tell the story of the city’s rich history. 

Museums in Phoenix, AZ

11. Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park

Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the local area. This fascinating archaeological site is home to the Hohokam civilization’s ruins, which date back over 1,000 years. 

You can explore the park’s many intriguing architectural features and see first-hand how people lived in this ancient society. But there is much more to this historical site than just ruins; it is also packed with things to do. For example, visitors can take guided tours, wander along scenic walking paths, and attend special events like film screenings and festivals. 

12. Phoenix Art Museum

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

The Phoenix Art Museum is one of the premier cultural institutions in the city of Phoenix, AZ.. Some highlights include the Samurai Collection, which features exquisitely preserved samurai armor and weaponry from Japan; the Steampunk Gallery, which showcases imaginative creations from the vibrant Steampunk movement; and Concept to Art Spaceship, an interactive installation that allows you to design a space vehicle.

13. Heard Museum

Located in downtown Phoenix, the Heard Museum is one of Arizona’s most iconic cultural institutions. With more than 40,000 pieces of art in its permanent collection, the museum is home to a diverse array of historic and contemporary artifacts from indigenous communities across North America. Whether you are into painting, sculpture, textiles, or jewelry, there is sure to be something to capture your interest at the Heard Museum.

In addition to its world-class collections, the Heard Museum also offers a variety of educational programs and special events throughout the year. From guided tours and artist talks to hands-on workshops for kids and lectures by leading scholars in Native American studies, there is truly something for everyone at this beloved museum.

14. Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ is a must-visit destination for music lovers and enthusiasts. This comprehensive museum houses hundreds of unique instruments from diverse international cultures, from traditional stringed instruments to modern synthesizers.

The museum offers an educational experience with its carefully curated collections and exhibits, and there are also things to do in the surrounding area, such as attending a performance at the concert hall or taking lessons at dedicated instrument workshops. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just a casual listener, the Musical Instrument Museum has something for everyone to enjoy. 

15. Arizona Capitol Museum

The Capitol Museum is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of the state. Opened in 1959, this forward-thinking museum showcases artifacts and exhibits that highlight everything from Arizona’s natural landscape to its rich artistic heritage. Whether you are a long-time resident or just passing through town, there are plenty of things to do at the Capitol Museum. Some highlights include exploring its fascinating collection of regional artwork and observing its impressive architecture and design. Additionally, you can take a guided tour to learn more about the building’s political history and prominent figures.

Things to Do With Kids in Phoenix, AZ

16. Phoenix Zoo

Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Whether you are looking for things to do in the desert city or just want to learn more about the animal inhabitants of the Southwest, this zoo has something for everyone. From lions and giraffes to elephants and monkeys, countless species of animals are on display at the Phoenix Zoo.

In addition, numerous educational programs and interactive exhibits are designed to help visitors better understand these fascinating creatures. So if you’re planning a trip to Phoenix, be sure to put the Phoenix Zoo on your itinerary and discover all this unique attraction has to offer!

17. OdySea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium is one of the top things to do in Phoenix, AZ. This incredible water attraction features many exhibits, from sea turtles and sharks to massive whales and playful dolphins. Whether you are looking for an educational experience or want to marvel at the majesty of these stunning creatures, OdySea Aquarium is the perfect place to visit.

With interactive activities and educational talks from the aquarium’s dedicated staff, there is something for everyone at OdySea Aquarium. So if you are looking for fun with the kids in the sun, stop by this world-class aquarium and explore all it has to offer!

18. Children’s Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is a must-visit destination for families and children of all ages. This world-class museum offers something for everyone with numerous interactive exhibits designed to inspire creativity and learning.

Whether you want to explore the fantastic sights and sounds of Arizona in the state-of-the-art geography and astronomy area, take part in imaginative arts and crafts activities in the multi-purpose studios, or play with brand-new toys in the toy warehouse, there is no shortage of things to do at Phoenix Children’s Museum.

19. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona is a must-visit destination for families visiting Phoenix. This popular attraction features fun activities and exhibits that will keep kids and adults entertained for hours. Some highlights include the Master Builder Academy, where visitors can learn from expert LEGO builders, the Kingdom Quest, a live adventure ride, and MINILAND, which is home to a vast array of miniature LEGO buildings. 

Other things to do at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona include exploring the interactive activity zones, taking part in brick races or challenges with friends, and seeing first-hand how LEGOS are made at Factory Tour. 

20. Enchanted Island Amusement Park

Enchanted Island is the perfect destination if you are looking for a place to spend an afternoon with family and friends or just want to take a break from the heat. With over 15 acres of rides and games, there is something for everyone to enjoy at this renowned amusement park. 

Enchanted Island has everything whether you want to test your skills on some thrilling roller coasters or simply relax as your kids go wild on kiddie rides. Plus, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and other things to do in Phoenix nearby if you need a break from all the excitement. So if you’re looking for a day filled with fun and adventure in one of the most beautiful places in Arizona, make sure to check out Enchanted Island Amusement Park!

21. Hurricane Harbor Phoenix

Whether you’re looking to cool off on hot summer days or seeking fun family-friendly adventures, Hurricane Harbor Phoenix is sure to please. Hurricane Harbor has dozens of rides, slides, and pools for kids and adults. From soaking up the sun on lazy rivers to speeding down thrilling waterslides, this water park has everything you need for a great day out. So if you’re looking for tropical temperatures and a wide range of activities in Phoenix, look no further than Hurricane Harbor. 

22. Castles N’ Coasters

Castles N’ Coasters is one of the top things to do in Phoenix, AZ. This sprawling amusement park is jam-packed with fun and exciting rides and attractions, including classic favorites like roller coasters and Ferris wheels, as well as more modern options like laser tag and glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Whether you’re looking for a thrill or enjoy spending time outdoors, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained at Castles N’ Coasters. So if you’re passing through Phoenix or live in the area, head to this popular local attraction for unforgettable fun!

Parks in Phoenix, AZ

23. Lake Pleasant Regional Park

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

Located in north Phoenix, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the city. From hiking and biking trails to camping spots and sandy beaches, there is something for everyone at Lake Pleasant Park. For those who love to be active, there are plenty of options to explore on land or in the water. People who prefer a more relaxing experience can also take advantage of the picturesque surroundings, with amazing views of the surrounding desert landscape and sparkling blue water as a backdrop. 

24. Papago Park

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

Located just a few miles outside Phoenix, AZ, Papago Park is a popular destination for visitors searching for outdoor activities. With a rich history dating back thousands of years, Papago Park offers plenty of things to see and do, ranging from hiking and camping to picnicking and exploring. Whether a nature lover or an avid adventurer, there’s something for everyone at this beautiful park. Some of the highlights of Papago Park include the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock, the saguaro cactus forest, and the ruins of ancient Hohokam homes. 

25. Encanto Park

26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation

With its beautiful gardens and cool shade structures, Encanto Park is the perfect place to spend a warm day. Whether you want to stroll among the roses and tulips, play a game of frisbee with friends, or simply have a picnic under the trees, Encanto Park is a great place to relax. And kids will love exploring all the attractions and rides in Encanto’s amusement park area. So if you’re looking for things to do in Phoenix on a hot summer afternoon, check out Encanto Park and enjoy all this stunning urban oasis has to offer!

26. Sahuaro Ranch Park

Sahuaro Ranch Park has beautiful desert landscapes, sprawling green meadows, and miles of hiking trails. Whether you are interested in sightseeing, wildlife viewing, or simply enjoying a day outside with friends or family, Sahuaro Ranch Park is a great escapee. Some things to do at the park include hiking through canyons and mesas, taking a stroll around scenic lakes and ponds, and picnicking under shady trees. Another popular activity is biking along the Paseo Bike Trail that winds between Sahuaro Ranch Park and other nearby parks. 

Final Thoughts

Phoenix, AZ is one of the most popular destinations for vacationers in the western United States. With its warm climate and vibrant cultural scene, this thriving metropolis has endless things to do. For those looking to experience the outdoors, Phoenix offers a variety of hiking and biking trails that showcase some of the city’s natural beauty. 

Alternatively, travelers who prefer urban attractions can explore world-class museums or take in a performance at one of the many theaters in downtown Phoenix. In addition, plenty of restaurants serve up local fare alongside global cuisine, ensuring that everyone can find something delicious to enjoy. Whatever your interests or budget, Phoenix is an ideal place to spend your next vacation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
26 Exciting Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ While on Vacation
Alexandrea Sumuel

Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of Wander With Alex, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel easier.