The cultural and economic heart of the American Southwest, Phoenix boasts a thriving arts scene and professional sports teams in all four major leagues. The Valley of the Sun is also a hot spot for hikers who want to crisscross rugged trails on Camelback Mountain and track down petroglyphs in the South Mountain Park and Preserve. Whether you’ve been inside or outdoors all day, you’ll want to finish the evening with a hefty torta or a Sonoran hot dog at eclectic Southwestern restaurants around the city. We’ve rounded up some of the top attractions to visit around downtown Phoenix and some of the city’s best excursions, including hiking trails where you can chase down sunset views and spot desert wildlife.
Things to do around downtown Phoenix:
- Art and culture: At the Heard Museum, you can see Southwestern artifacts like Navajo and Zuni jewelry as well as contemporary native works from across North America. A short walk down bustling Central Avenue takes you to the Phoenix Art Museum, which features an international art collection, a sculpture garden, and rotating photography exhibits. Keep walking south to admire the Burton Barr Central Library, where natural light floods into one of America’s best reading rooms.
- Roosevelt Row: Stroll through the vibrant Roosevelt Row Arts District to snap selfies in front of murals, pop into small galleries and gift boutiques, and relax with a drink on the patio at laid-back spots like Bliss ReBAR. The district’s First Friday event features self-guided art walks and an artists’ market, while Third Fridays spotlight gallery exhibitions.
- Professional sports: It’s easy to cheer on Phoenix’s pro sport teams thanks to two stadiums located right downtown. Head to Talking Stick Resort Arena to see the NBA Phoenix Suns and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury teams take the court. If baseball is more your game, catch the Arizona Diamondbacks at nearby Chase Field. For football, head to Glendale to see the Arizona Cardinals play at State Farm Stadium.
- Southwestern and Mexican cuisine: Phoenix’s culinary specialties are as diverse as the city itself. For a taste of the Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine Phoenix is known for, make your way to casual spots like El Güero Canelo to feast on a Sonoran hot dog, which is wrapped in bacon and topped with pinto beans, onions, and tomatoes. Or try gourmet takes on tacos and salads at Taco Guild, a convivial restaurant housed in a former church.
Best hiking trails in and around Phoenix:
- A classic route: Set in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, Camelback Mountain is home to some of the area’s most popular hikes only 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix. Choose between two trails, Echo Canyon and Cholla, which both lead to the summit and panoramic views of the city.
- Easy hikes: Head to Phoenix’s Papago Park for mellow trails that lead through red sandstone formations, including the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock, a popular spot for sunset vistas. Afterward, you can head to the Phoenix Zoo or the Desert Botanical Garden, also located within the park.
- For archaeology lovers: For a close-up encounter with history, view ancient rock carvings known as petroglyphs at Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve or along the trails in South Mountain Park and Preserve. To the northeast, you can hike to the Hohokam hill-forts in Tonto National Forest.
Ready to find your adventure in Phoenix? Check out our area hotels and start planning.