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Before I went to Phoenix, I used to think of it as simply a pass-through city on the way to “better” attractions like the Grand Canyon or Sedona. That’s a shame because there are plenty of fun things to do in Phoenix itself. This metropolitan area is an incredible destination for sightDOING: Phoenix offers active travel, soft adventure, and hands-on exploration.
Plan a weekend (or longer!) to Phoenix and I guarantee you won’t be bored.
Things to Do in Phoenix
Ready, Aim Fire: If you’re like me, your flight into Phoenix was likely to be delayed and a general hassle, so burn off that frustration by shooting clays! I’ve never tried skeet shooting, but luckily the center has staff on hand to show you the ropes. By the time you’re done, you’ll be ready for anything.
Test Your Limits: There’s nothing quite like pushing yourself on vacation, and Phoenix’s adventure course will give you that opportunity. With a zipline, ropes course, rappels, and a “leap of faith” free fall, this is not for the faint-hearted.
Dance in the Garden: The Desert Botanical Garden is renowned for its beautiful outdoor exhibits, but on some Friday nights, you can extend your visit into the evening. With live music ranging from Latin to swing bands, you can enjoy the garden in your dancing shoes.
TIP: If you have time, swing into Hole in the Rock for some great views before heading to nearby Desert Botanical Garden.
Complete the Camelback Mountain Challenge: Camelback is the most well-known mountain in the area, and the Echo Canyon Trail is a strenuous climb! The incline along this trail is intense, to say the least, but if you can complete the 1.2 miles to the top, you’ll be rewarded with great views.
TIP: Arrive early in the morning to get a parking space and to avoid Phoenix’s midday heat. Pack plenty of water and carry whatever you can in a backpack so your hands are free for climbing.
Burn Off Your Lunch: After a tough hike, it’s better to keep walking a little and stay stretched out instead of collapsing like you might want to. You’ve earned a big meal, and you’ll get one on the Taste It Tour of Phoenix. Get an insider’s look at favorite restaurants and sample some great meals.
Prove Your Artistry: I am always in awe of glass-blowers, probably because I’ve tried it myself and failed. Spend your evening at a glass-blowing or fusing workshop; if nothing else, you’ll leave with a great appreciation for what it takes to make a “simple” vase or bowl.
Balance…Carefully: When there’s a chance wildlife may be active, head to the Salt River in the morning. There, try stand up paddle boarding, an activity that requires a little balance as you discover this ecosystem and birdwatch. Don’t worry; if you fall in, the water’s warm enough you’ll be okay.
Picnic on Piestewa: Formerly known as “Squaw Peak”, Piestewa is the second-most known mountain in the Phoenix region and it’s much more accessible than Camelback. You can hike if your legs aren’t too sore, or you can simply enjoy a picnic lunch at Phoenix Mountains Park.
TIP: To stretch those legs and clear your mind, add-on a yoga class at Piestewa.
Search for Nocturnal Wildlife: Hop into a hummer and head into the Sonoran Desert at sunset to traverse the terrain and take in your surroundings. Once it’s dark out, look for scorpions, rattlesnakes, desert mice, jack rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, or maybe even a mountain lion!
Hint: For a really cool night out, add on some stargazing in the desert where clear skies can provide great views.
Get a Birds-Eye View: Several operators offer hot air balloon rides in Phoenix. This serene journey is worth the early wake-up call and is a scenic ride like no other. Watch the city wake up from high in the sky and celebrate with a champagne toast when you land.
Head to the Wild West: By either horseback or jeep, you can leave modern Phoenix for the Old West town of Coldwater. When you’re transported back in time, you’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at unique activities like steer roping and tomahawk tossing. Do you have what it takes to be a cowboy?
Cool Off at the Lake: When it gets hot in Phoenix, there’s no reason to retreat to the air conditioning. Grab a jet ski for a ride on Lake Pleasant. As the water splashes around you, you’ll look for bald eagles, get a great view of the Wadell dam, and get your adrenaline racing!
What other fun things to do in Phoenix AZ would you recommend doing? Have you been there yet?