Any trip to the Southwest isn’t complete without a stop in Phoenix, Arizona. The fifth-largest city in the United States and one of the top tourist destinations, Phoenix is packed with things to do for all ages and interests. With sunshine and warm weather year-round, Phoenix is a great place to visit regardless of the season. Here are five of our favorite things to do near Phoenix. For even more ideas, check out our Arizona Road Map.
Desert Botanical Garden
Home to over 4,000 species of cacti, plants, and trees, the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona teaches visitors about the beauty and life that grows in deserts around the world. Trails cut through 55-acres of the property, allowing you to see displays up-close. Our favorite trail is the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail which features the plants Native Americans in the area once used as food, medicine, and even building supplies. A visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens is a fun way to learn about local history and the importance of our natural surroundings. If you visit on the second Tuesday of the month, admission is complimentary thanks to their Community Day program.
With 12 exhibit galleries and a rotating collection of approximately 44,00 pieces, the Heard Museum is a leader in exhibiting Native American art. Their goal is to allow the artist to share their story and the meaning behind their art so people can better understand the Native American perspective. The museum displays traditional and contemporary art, as well as items with historical or cultural significance. One of the most memorable exhibits is the collection of 1,200 katsina dolls. The carved wooden figures are incredibly detailed and hold an important spiritual value. Before you visit, check the calendar of events on the Heard Museum website. The museum hosts events year-round that invite local Hispanic and Native American artists to share their crafts and interact with visitors.
Goldfield Ghost Town
Goldfield Ghost Town is a 45-minute drive from Phoenix, but well worth the trip. The town was once a thriving gold mine, but like many others, fell into disarray when the mine closed. When you visit today, however, Goldfield is alive and thriving as it was in the 1890s. You can ride the only narrow gauge train still operational in Arizona, pan for gold, or have a drink at the local saloon. Performers even stage old west style gunfights throughout the day. If you enjoy the outdoors, there is also hiking trails, horseback riding lessons, a shooting gallery, zip-lining and even more in the surrounding area.
The Phoenix is the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States. Stretching over 125-acres of land in the Papago Park area, it takes an entire day to see the 1,400 animals living at the zoo. What makes Phoenix Zoo truly remarkable is the number of exhibits that allow you to interact directly with the animals. You can visit monkey-village, the only walk-through squirrel monkey exhibit in the United States, meet the giraffes and feed them a snack, ride a camel, and brush the goats in the petting zoo. With a conservation mentality and a dedication to saving endangered species, the Phoenix Zoo is both educational and fun.
Plan a trip to Phoenix
Thinking of visiting Phoenix? You need our Arizona Road Map.