6 Free Things to Do in PhoenixBy Mark Jackson
We know: When you’re traveling, you’re not looking to splurge 24/7. But you also don’t want to skimp out on the fun. Thankfully, Phoenix, Arizona, has unlimited answers to this dilemma.
The city is blessed with about 300 days of sunny weather a year, allowing you endless opportunity to get out and explore the many free outdoor activities, and the local culture scene offers up chances to admire world-renowned art.
To help flesh out your itinerary with activities that won’t even crack the bank, here’s a go-to list of free things to do in the Phoenix area. As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Connect with the Local Art Scene
Downtown Phoenix is having a renaissance, not unlike other urban areas across the U.S. Typically, the first Friday evening of every month brings together the art community of Roosevelt Row to show off the very best on what the creative types have been working on (check the monthly event’s status on the ArtLink website).
There are scores of galleries that vary in theme, like the Revival Art Collective which features 2,000 sq. feet of gallery space, including dozens of artist studios and creative spaces featuring the work of local creatives.
Learn About the Local Flora
The Desert Botanical Garden is free every second Tuesday of the month, with miles of hiking trails and outdoor art installations to fill an entire day.
There are more than 21,000 plants in the garden, including 1,350 types of cacti. One can experience the plants of deserts other than Phoenix’s Sonoran desert, like plants sourced from Australia and South America.
One of the best times to visit is during the fall, when monarch butterflies use the garden as a stopover to, and from, Mexico.
Check Out a Museum
A favorite museum in the Valley is the Phoenix Art Museum, which offers “Pay-What-You-Wish” Wednesdays, every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
One huge secret? The museum is home to one of acclaimed Japanese artist’s Yayoi Kusama’s famous “Infinity Rooms,” a dark, mirrored space that mimics what it would be like to walk in the night sky.
Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway
A visit out West simply begs for a road trip, and the Red Rock Scenic Byway is arguably one of the easiest and most photogenic routes near Phoenix.
You’ll wind your way past colorful rock formations — including the much-loved Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, as well as desert landscapes and the pinyon pine-covered Coconino National Forest.
Get an Aerial View of the City
Hiking is a major attraction in Phoenix, and in neighboring Scottsdale you’ll find Camelback Mountain. This 2,706-foot high peak dominates the skyline, and the ultra-steep 1.14-mile Echo Canyon trail leads up to the top. If you’re visiting around Christmas time, don’t miss Camelback Santa, who gives out candy canes near his tree.
Elsewhere, you’ll find South Mountain Park which sprawls across 16,000 acres and consists of three mountain ranges: the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe. You’ll find more than 50 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.
To find the park’s most epic viewpoint, make your way to Dobbins Lookout. At 2,330 feet, it’s the highest point in the park accessible to the public, and offers sweeping views overlooking Phoenix and the valley beyond. Not up for a hike? You can also reach the lookout by car.
Take a Stroll Through History in Heritage Square
Get a dose of Phoenix’s Victorian past on a walk through Heritage Square, the oldest remaining residential block in the city. The square dates back to the 1800s, and features the Rosson House Museum, a restored 1895 Queen Anne Victorian house museum which interprets the history of Phoenix. The house can be explored on a guided tour; check the Rosson House Museum website for the latest schedule.
This article was published through a partnership with Visit the USA, inspiring travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities.