15 Best Free Things to Do in Phoenix, Az
Welcome to the valley of the sun and now the fifth largest city in America. Whether you’re visiting or somehow ended up here, you will be pleased with the selection of restaurants and things to do. The best thing is that some of it can be free or almost in the food cases.
We have some wonderful weather most of the year, except for those blasted summer months. Make sure to take advantage of all the free events, museums, hikes, and tours that will give you a taste of the Phoenix life.
Want to experience the Sonoran Desert, in the Phoenix area, then this is the place to go. The gorgeous Desert Botanical Gardens is home to thousands of plants, flowers, cactus, and a few animals. It’s literally a living art piece. If you’re one of those that think the desert is ugly then come visit the gardens. It will change your views, especially if you experience the garden around sunset. We have some of the best sunsets without a doubt.
Plan your visit on the second Tuesday of the month to get free admission for the day. Otherwise, admission will range from $9.95 to $24.95. If you have more time and money to spend, then try one of the events they have. Some examples are the flashlight tours, the butterfly exhibit in the spring, and Luminarias in the winter.
2.) Learn Something New At The Heard Museum
The Heard Museum is internationally renowned for their showcase of Southwest Native American culture and art. As you walk through the 11 galleries, you will experience the history of this area through the pottery, jewelry, dolls, paintings, clothes, and metalwork. Normal admission will cost you anywhere from $7.50 to $18. You can experience the museum for free, on the first Friday of the month. Be warned, this offer is not good for the month of March and you can only go from 6 to 10 p.m.
3.) Children's Museum Of Phoenix Is Great For Family's
Have some children and are in need of something to do, then head to the Children’s Museum. On the first Friday of the month, from 5 to 9 p.m. admission is free. Imaginative exhibits help to have your child have fun while engaging their mental and physical capabilities. If you plan on visiting on the other days, then admission will cost you around $14.95.
4.) Arizona's Capital Museum Will Teach You The History
Want to know about the cultural, social, environmental, and political history of Arizona, than the Arizona Capitol Museum will satisfy you. It’s free, but they do take donations and all of it goes to the Museum. They have guided tours that do get booked up in advanced, but you can always do a self guided tour.
5.) Walk Through The Historic Heritage Square
This historic area is great if you have a bit of time. Victorian style houses have been converted into shops, museums, and out of this world eateries. An example, is Pizza Bianco, which has some of the best pizza in America, according to Today Show and many others. Hands down it is our favorite pizza.
This block is use to having events regularly, like the German Festival or the Rainbow Festival for example. Be warned, parking can be difficult when busy. Try taking the Light Rail In instead. It’s cheap, easy to use and will stops right at heritage square.
6.) LGBTQ RainBows Festival & Street Fair
Happen to be in the Phoenix area around the beginning of November? Then make sure to check out the Rainbows Festival & Street Fair. A free event, that celebrates the LGBTQ community in Phoenix. It happens to attract over 25,000 people each year.
7.) Visit The Street Art On Roosevelt Row
Walking through Roosevelt Row (RoRo), you will be treated with murals, art venues, boutiques, and restaurants. On the 1st Friday, the bars and galleries stay open later. You will find a little of everything as you walk about. Make sure to check their website beforehand of any events are going on.
You will want to explore the many food choices, like Angel’s Trumpet Al House which has a great patio along with 31 beers on tap. Another one to try if you want to drink and play arcade vintage games, is the Cobra Arcade Bar. From Thursday to Sunday you want to head here, because you can bring in your own food. Are you curious on where you will acquire your food? Well, just try the different food trucks that are located outside. So many foods to try and so little time.
8.) Tour Four Peaks Brewery
When visiting Phoenix, if you’re planning on drinking, then almost every local will direct you to try one of Four Peaks beers. Honestly, ever since my wife took me to the Eight Street Four Peaks, it’s become hard to pass up a chance at their Peach Ale. With two locations, every Saturday, the tour will take you an hour and ends with trying a few craft beers. Yes, it’s free, but you need to reserve a spot on their website.
9.) Drive The Apache Trail
Okay, so don’t laugh, but me and my wife have driven this trail, but we didn’t plan on it or knew we were at the time. It all started with us wanting to go to our favorite lake, which happened to be Canyon Lake. My wife missed the turn in for the parking and we just decided to keep going. Best decision we made that day!
For those that wish to see the desert landscape more closely and you have a car, then go drive the Apache Trail. Most popular time is in winter. The drive is 42 miles long and will take you to the Roosevelt Dam. Beautiful drive that takes you past a few lakes, the Goldmine Ghost Town, and the Lost Dutchman State Park. Be prepared to spend a good 8 hours or so to do the drive and get back to Phoenix.
10.) Hike Up Camelback Mountain
When visiting Phoenix, if you’re looking for a hike with a great view, then most tell you to hike Camelback Mountain. A very popular hike, you will see the parking lots full on days when the weather is great, so go early or rideshare. The hike is difficult, I won’t lie to you. That doesn’t mean you won’t find kids and people who are hiking in tennis shoes. Locals will also use it for trail running. Plan which side you want to hike, either the Echo Canyon Trail or the Cholla Trail.
What you could also see is someone not heeding warnings and having to get rescued off of the mountain. It’s not a fun experience, trust my wife. In her defense though, she was repelling when an incident occurred, which lead to her being rescued.
11.) Visit Papago Park For Hiking And Biking
Papago Park is home to an urban desert where you can experience the Sonoran Cactus and other plants. There is a wide array of trails to choose from not only for hiking, but you can bike many of them as well.
Home to the famous “Hole-in-the-rock” formation, which is an excellent spot to view the sunsets or the city. Want to know more, then check out my guide to Papago Park. If you have your fur babies with you, then you can walk them on leash through the trails here. Be warned, dogs are not allowed on any trails when temperatures reach over 100ºF.
12.) South Mountain Park & Preserve For Hikes, Bikes And Horses - Oh My
Another place you need to consider is South Mountain Park and Preserve. Over 51 miles of hiking, biking, and horse back riding trails will great you when you arrive. Want another place to view the city or sunsets, then this is your place. Head to Dobbins Lookout for your picturesque spot. Additionally, you can learn about the Sonoran Deserts many plants and animals if you head to the South Mountain Environmental Education Center.
13.) Piestewa Peak (Squaw Peak) Has The Views
Locals and visitors have been coming to Piestewa Peak, or Squaw for the older people in the valley for many years. You can either hike one of the many trails, or try to mountain bike them. The top peak gives amazing views of the city, especially around sunrise or sunset. Just make sure to take a head light and watch out for those snakes.
It is only minutes away from downtown Phoenix and can be accessed off of the 51 freeway. Have a family or kids, then this is the perfect place to take them for a hike.
14.) Tempe "A" Mountain Is A Quick Hike
Want to get in a quick hike with a view of the Tempe (ASU) area, then head up “A” mountain. There is a large “A” in yellow on the top of the mountain. The path is paved up the short hike, which will only take about 15 minutes.
Located right off of Mill Avenue, where you can explore the different restaurants and the frequent events that occur often. At the top, you will be able to see downtown and Tempe town lake. Lastly, since you’re right on Mill Avenue, head over to Tempe Town Lake. You can rent paddle boats if you wish or just enjoy the park and view.
15.) Football Lovers Can Visit The Fiesta Bowl Museum
A popular college football event held in Glendale, Arizona on New Years Day is The Fiesta Bowl. The Ellie and Michael Ziegler Fiesta Bowl Center and Museum has almost over 50 years of memorabilia. It is located in Scottsdale and is always free.
Tip For Getting Around
Phoenix and its surrounding cities are very large and getting around can sometimes can be challenging. Like normal, we do have the public bus system you can use. The better options are to either use a ride share program like Uber or use the Light Rail. The light rail runs for about 20 miles as of now and will cost around $2. It will take you through Tempe (ASU) as well as into downtown Phoenix. Events or games can make the light rail very busy.
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Have you visited Phoenix? Did you enjoy yourself and is there anything you would recommend? Have any other activities or places we should see, let us know in the comments section. From Phoenix? Hi neighbored! Thanks for taking a look at our site and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles and tips.
The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable.