, is a city of endless possibilities, with a rich history, breathtaking landscapes and a vibrant culture. Whether you’re a new resident or a long-time local, there’s always something new and exciting to discover. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most unique and memorable things to do in Phoenix, from exploring the iconic cactus-filled Sonoran Desert to enjoying the local food scene. Whether you’re looking a , or if you want to learn more about this city, we’ve got you covered. So get ready for an adventure as we take you on a journey through the top attractions and hidden gems that make Phoenix so special.
1. Take a tour of the Castle of Mystery
The Mystery Castle was built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley, a reclusive artist and craftsman who created the castle using salvaged materials and found objects. The castle is full of curious and unexpected details, such as a wishing well made from a converted stove, a chapel with a chandelier made from a bicycle wheel, and a basement that looks like a dungeon. The castle is also surrounded by a beautiful desert garden that features a variety of plants and cacti. Today, the Mystery Castle is open to visitors for guided tours, offering a glimpse into the creative mind of its eccentric creator and a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone with an interest in art, architecture and history.
2. Spend a day at Scottsdale Fashion Square
As the largest mall in Arizona and one of the largest in the Southwest, Scottsdale Fashion Square offers a truly unparalleled shopping experience. This square has everything from luxury designer brands like Chanel and Gucci to popular favorites like Zara and H&M. In addition to its impressive commercial offer. The mall has a vibrant atmosphere and a variety of dining and entertainment options.
“I would have to say my favorite thing to do in Phoenix is spend the day shopping at Scottsdale Fashion Square,” says Jolene Eder, a local body-positive plus-size fashion and beauty blogger from. “Afterward, head over to Steak 44 in the Biltmore area; my fiance and I love their corn crème brûlée because it is surprisingly sweet and delicious.”
3. Check out the Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is a unique and captivating attraction that offers the opportunity to experience the beauty and diversity of the Sonoran Desert. With plant exhibits showcasing various species, the garden provides a stunning backdrop for visitors to explore and discover the incredible flora of this unique ecosystem.
Eric Heywood, a local , encourages an outing to the garden. “Among the myriad of attractions and activities that Phoenix, Arizona has to offer, the Desert Botanical Garden holds a special place in my heart. This unique attraction showcases the beauty and diversity of the desert flora, with more than 50,000 plants spread across five themed trails. What sets this botanical garden apart is its focus on desert plants native to the Sonoran desert and other arid regions of the world. The garden is a paradise for nature lovers and art enthusiasts, frequently hosting outdoor exhibits and installations, combining the beauty of nature with the creativity of human art.”
4. Schedule a photo session in the desert
Taking photos in the desert landscape of Phoenix is a unique and rewarding experience that captures the natural beauty of the American Southwest. The desert provides a stunning backdrop for photographers of all skill levels with its vast expanses of rugged terrain, towering cacti, and spectacular rock formations.
“My favorite thing to do in the Phoenix area is schedule a photo shoot in the desert,” he says. , a local photographer and educator. “There are so many beautiful hiking trails, but I especially love the Gateway Loop in North Scottsdale. I love making memories with the ones I love, capturing the beauty of the desert and having images that will last a lifetime.”
5. Visit the Museum of Musical Instruments
The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is a unique and fascinating attraction that music lovers should not miss. With a collection of over 7,000 instruments from around the world, you can explore the history and diversity of music across cultures and periods. Interactive exhibits and multimedia displays bring the instruments to life, allowing visitors to listen and learn about the music they create. Additionally, the museum hosts regular concerts and performances featuring musicians from around the world, adding to the immersive experience.
6. Dine on the farm in South Mountain
Phoenix is a culinary hub with a diverse and vibrant food scene that offers many unique dining opportunities. With influences from around the world and plenty of fresh, local ingredients, the city’s restaurants and cafes showcase a variety of flavors and styles sure to satisfy any palate.
Shoshana Leon, food blogger from shares: “A unique gem in the middle of the city that offers true farm-to-table food is the . Enjoy breakfast at Morning Glory, a picnic lunch at Farm Kitchen or an intimate upscale dinner at Quiessence. Walk around the farm to see the produce and animals basking in the sun grow, and stop by the Botanica store to shop for garden, patio and kitchen items from local vendors.”
7. Take a ride in a hot air balloon
Taking a hot air balloon ride in Phoenix is an unforgettable experience that offers a unique and breathtaking perspective of the stunning desert landscape. With sweeping views of mountains, canyons, and cactus-filled landscapes, a hot air balloon ride allows visitors to appreciate the region’s natural beauty in a way that’s impossible from the ground. As you cruise leisurely through the air, you’ll enjoy a serene experience away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Additionally, many hot air balloon companies offer sunrise or sunset flights, providing the perfect opportunity to witness the vibrant colors of the desert sky.
8. Explore Papago Park
Papago Park is a 1,200-acre destination located in eastern Phoenix known for its unique rock formations, picturesque landscapes, and diverse recreational opportunities. It offers several hiking trails, including the popular Hole-in-the-Rock trail that takes hikers into a natural opening in the rocks, providing a stunning view of the surroundings. In addition, it has picnic areas, fishing lagoons, bike paths and a golf course.
The famous “Hole-in-the-Rock” formation, a natural sandstone formation estimated to be over 20 million years old, is one of the most iconic spots in the park, offering a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline. Jose Linares, from , shares a local rental car company: “I would suggest visiting the Hole-in-the-Rock trail. It is a short but challenging hike that leads to a natural sandstone formation with a hole in the center. The hole frames a beautiful view of the city and is a popular photo spot.”
9. Catch a show at the Orpheum Theater
He It is a beautiful and historical place located in the heart of . Built in 1929, the theater is a stunning example of Spanish Baroque Revival architecture and has been fully restored to its former glory. The venue hosts a wide range of shows, including concerts, comedy acts, and Broadway productions, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in live entertainment. In addition to its impressive interior and diverse lineup of performances, the Orpheum Theater also offers a great viewing experience, with excellent sight lines and excellent acoustics making it a favorite with performers and audiences alike.
10. Taliesin West Tour
is a unique and historically significant destination in Phoenix, Arizona, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the iconic architecture and vision of Frank Lloyd Wright. The famed American architect’s winter home and studio were built in the early 1930s and served as his personal residence until his death in 1959. Today, Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark, home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture in Taliesin. Visitors can take guided tours of the property to explore the building’s unique and innovative design features, including the use of natural materials, the integration of interior and exterior spaces, and the use of geometric shapes and patterns.
11. Stroll down Grand Avenue
Exploring Grand Avenue in Phoenix is a unique experience that offers visitors a glimpse into the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. The avenue is home to a variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants, as well as several historic buildings and landmarks. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll down the avenue to admire the colorful murals and street art or stop at one of the many local businesses for a bite to eat or browse the eclectic collection of art and antique items for sale. Grand Avenue is also home to several annual events, including the Grand Avenue Festival, which celebrates the arts, music, and culture of the neighborhood. Whether you’re a history buff, art lover, or just looking for a unique and authentic Phoenix experience, a visit to Grand Avenue is definitely worth it.