10 Things to do in Phoenix, AZ
Living in Alberta, Canada, I can really attest to 'seasonal depression'. Those winter months can be sooo long. Luckily, this year I am off work on maternity leave with my new babe and we were both able to tag along on a trip to Phoenix, Arizona with my parents. It was the best way to escape the freezing temps of Alberta and soak up some much needed vitamin D!
If you have a trip to Phoenix coming up, hopefully this post will give you some more ideas to add to your itinerary. If you don't, hopefully it will inspire you plan one!
1. Check out the Art on Roosevelt Row
Roosevelt Row is covered with beautiful murals! Every time you turn a corner you will be greeted with new and impressive art! We walked around for a couple hours taking in as many of the paintings as we could. This area also offers some great photo opportunities for those of you who love a good insta pic! There are also lots of great places to stop for a bite to eat or to have a drink, especially if you visit at night!
2. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden
This is a must-do in Phoenix! It was so much larger than I expected and I was fascinated by all the different kinds of cacti (especially the giant siguaro!). Pro tip: entrance is free (donations are accepted) the second Tuesday of each month! However, it is extremely busy that day so if you are able to make this day, visit either in the early morning or late evening to avoid the crowds!
3. Walk Around Old Scottsdale
Old Scottsdale offers to much to explore just make sure you steer clear of all the cheesy tourist shops (unless that's your thing!). We spent a couple hours walking the streets and admiring the various sculptures and buildings. If you have time, there are also a couple really cool art museums to see in this area!
4. Hike McDowell Preserve
Phoenix is surrounded my mountains. There are tons of 'preserves' that all have trails you can hike and explore. McDowell was definitely my favourite! It has several trails for every different experience level, from a paved nature loop with lots of signs to read about the various cacti in the area to longer more strenuous hikes to the peaks in the back of the park. It's a must for anyone in the area!
5. Drive out to Lost Dutchman State Park
About an hour to the East of Phoenix, just past Apache Junction, is Lost Dutchman State Park. There is a trail (Siphon Trail) you can hike that goes right up to the main mountain peak. We didn't quite make it up, thanks to a meltdown from my babe, but I still enjoyed views I got along the way! While you're out this direction, make sure you also continue on to Tortilla Flat. Tortilla Flat itself is underwhelming, but the drive out there is amazing as is Canyon Lake! We also stopped in at Goldfield which is a ghost town that is free to walk around and explore!
6. Stroll through Papago Park
Papago park is a popular destination mostly known for its walkthrough cave (seen in the rocks in the picture below). There are wide, smooth walking paths with lots of winding trails that you can use to hike up and explore the rocks!
7. Soak Up Some Rays
Honestly one of my favourite things to do was just to enjoy the warm weather by hanging at the pool. If you are traveling to Phoenix, you NEED to book a place that has a pool. We chose a condo through Airbnb that had a shared pool but we almost always had it to ourselves! Pro tip: make sure to check the pool at your place is heated if you are visiting during the winter months! Bonus points if there is also a hot tub!
8. Day Trip to Sedona
You can't visit Phoenix without making the trip up to Sedona. Only 2 hours North, this town boasts the most stunning views of giant red rock mountains. There is no shortage of hiking trails and viewpoints. The photo below was taken at a viewpoint that is just off the road going up to the airport! One thing to note is that Sedona is a very popular tourist destination and because of this it can get crazy busy. It is best to visit during the week instead of the weekend if possible!
9. Eat All the Mexican Food
I loveeeee Mexican food. It was literally all I wanted to eat while in Phoenix. We tried out several different restaurants but honestly my favourite thing I ate were these tacos pictured below that we picked up from a booth at an outdoor market near Roosevelt Row! Also, I was constantly on the hunt for churros (the ones pictured below are from Churroholic in Tempe).
10. Take in the Stunning AZ Sunsets
Almost every night we were treated to gorgeous sunsets that turned the whole sky the prettiest shades of gold and orange and then pink and purple. However, on our last night we headed out specifically to find a good spot to watch the sunset. The picture below is from McDowell preserve that I mentioned earlier!
Since I had my baby with me on this trip (and she was only 4 months old) there were a few activities we skipped. I would've loved to hike Camelback Mountain to take in those stunning views of the city! I would've added a day trip to the Grand Canyon and/or Antelope Canyon. Also, I hit up a Top Golf while there but I would've loved to play a round or two at an actual course. I'm sure we'll be back again one day soon though!
What do you think of this list? Have you done any of these activities? Did I miss something that you love to do in Phoenix? Let me know in the comments below.