Explore Phoenix-Scottsdale

Top Things to Do in the Phoenix Area

Whether you’ve always been planning to vacation in the Phoenix area or you’ve been scheduled here on the corporate dime, you can return home a sparkling conversationalist if you visit some of our classic Phoenix attractions.

Some places are stewards of one-of-a-kind specimens, like the Heard Museum or the art venues of the Scottsdale Gallery Association. Others, like Desert Botanical Garden and Butterfly Wonderland, are continual cultivators. Some are prolific producers, like Four Peaks Brewing Company and Queen Creek Olive Mill. Others, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and Penske Racing Museum, are archivists. Some are all about the acquisitions, like the brand-name boutiques of Scottsdale Fashion Square and Scottsdale Quarter. Others, like Papago Park and The Farm at South Mountain, provide contentment in the form of free, fresh-aired atmosphere.

You’ll need lucky timing to see a favorite touring band pass through Crescent Ballroom, scheduled timing to take a lesson at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, and a huge chunk of time to globetrot through the nation-by-nation collections inside Musical Instrument Museum.

Suffice to say: If you have the time, you ought to treat yourself to something fascinating things to do in Phoenix.

Heard Museum

This respected institution began in 1929 with a private collection of American Indian art, and continues to grow. Curated, themed, static and interactive exhibits feature icons, implements, lore, lifestyles and artistic expression from primitive through contemporary.

Butterfly Wonderland

Largest butterfly pavilion in North America. Features things-with-wings gallery within a tropical rainforest setting and 3-D theater. Examinations of ants, honeybees and sea creatures.

Queen Creek Olive Mill

This 30-acre olive grove in the Gila River floodplain south of Phoenix produces extra-virgin and specialty olive oils favored by many resort kitchens and retailed by specialty grocers. Half-hour, limited-capacity tours for a nominal charge; reservations recommended.

Scottsdale Fashion Square

From Neiman Marcus and Dillard’s to Nordstrom and Macys, Scottsdale Fashion Square encloses four city blocks in air conditioning and brand-name experiences. A two-story retail bridge leaps Camelback Road to connect with Nordstrom.

Papago Park

The park’s thoroughfare, Galvin Parkway, is the prettiest route between Scottsdale resorts and the Phoenix airport, lined as it is by acres of Sonoran Desert flora and sandstone buttes; this vehicular visibility doesn’t overwhelm the tranquility, though.

The Farm at South Mountain

Working pecan grove and organic herb/produce farm (Maya’s), two daytime cafes (Morning Glory; Farm Kitchen), a dinner venue (Quiessence), seasonal garden and gift shop (Botanica), and small massage studio (Utopia).

Camelback Mountain

These are strenuous summit hikes, and they forever change hikers’ admiration of the “camel’s back” from anywhere in the Valley. The Cholla trail rises from a neighborhood of mansions near The Phoenician’s golf courses and becomes narrow, steep and rocky in some parts.

Tempe Town Lake

Time spent walking, biking or skating along Tempe Town Lake can feel like a mini-vacation; after all, this is a sparkling waterfront in the Phoenix-area desert.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West ‒ This Smithsonian Affiliate museum and 2017 “Best Western Museum” in the nation (True West magazine) features regularly changing exhibits of Western art, Old West artifacts and historic Native American objects, on loan from some of the world’s foremost collectors and institutio


The foundry and studio of Italian architect Paolo Soleri (1919-2013). Cosanti remains a working windbell foundry, gallery, shop and educational monument to the architect.

Phoenix Art Museum

The largest visual arts museum in the Southwest contains a vast collection of art ranging from 19th-century European works to 21st-century contemporary masterpieces.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)

Modern art, architecture and design works are showcased in a building redesigned by Arizona-based architect Will Bruder. Flagstaff-based artist James Turrell contributed an open-topped sitting space called “Knight Rise” to the museum’s south end. Free Th; closed M.

Scottsdale's Arts District

In Scottsdale's Arts District, view everything from paintings by masters such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Norman Rockwell to sculptures by Dave McGary to original works by locally-based artists.