Get to know the local art scene as you explore Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row. (Photo: Wendy Rose Gould)
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 not only blessed with about 300 days of sunny weather a year, allowing you endless opportunity to get out and explore the many free outdoor activities, but 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.
Connect with the Local Art Scene
Downtown Phoenix is having a renaissance, not unlike other urban areas across the U.S. Here, the first Friday of every month brings together the art community of Roosevelt Row from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. to show off the very best on what the creative types have been working on. There are 19 galleries that vary in theme, like the Revive Art Collective which features 900 sq. feet of gallery space, and four tattoo parlors, as well as dozens of artist studios and creative spaces that are open during this time.
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 home to 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 is free Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 9 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. Understandably, these rooms receive hours-long lines in places like Los Angeles and New York. Not so here in Phoenix — you’ll get the room all to yourself. How’s that for perks?
Get an Aerial View of the City
Hiking is a major attraction in Phoenix, and in neighboring Scottsdale (really, it feels like its all the same city) is Camelback Mountain. This 2,706-foot high peak dominates the skyline, and an 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.
Grab a Tube and Hit the Water
Summer is hot in Phoenix, and we Phoenicians take any opportunity to cool off. Driving over to the Salt River and spending the day on an inner tube is one of the best ways we can think of to enjoy the sun May through September. And Salt River Tubing is the best place to start if you’re looking to get wet.
This article was published through a partnership with Visit the USA, inspiring travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities.
Where to Stay:
- JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa
- MOXY Phoenix Tempe
- Phoenix Marriott Tempe at The Buttes
- The Camby, Autograph Collection
- Scottsdale Marriott Suites Old Town
- Courtyard Scottsdale Old Town
- Marriott’s Canyon Villas
- JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
- Courtyard Phoenix Camelback
- AC Hotel Phoenix Tempe/Downtown