Phoenix sits within the Sonoran Desert, the hottest desert in North American but also the wettest based on its annual rainfall. The combo creates a haven for year-around outdoor activities and things to do in Phoenix. I would suggest if you’re planning on visiting you plan for November through April as the weather is generally between 60-80 degrees. I have to admit, March is probably my favorite time to visit Phoenix. It’s Spring Break. Spring Training. Spring pool season, aka the perfect time to sit at the pool, which is exactly what I did last month when we visited. However, if you are planning on visiting Phoenix during the summer months you’re sure to find some excellent deals at popular resorts and attractions. Regardless of when you visit, there are endless things to do in Phoenix; these are just a few…
Things to Do in Phoenix
Outdoor Activities in Phoenix
1. Want to hike and bike, like maybe 16,500 acres worth and more than 50 miles of trails? Check out South Mountain Park and Preserve, the largest municipal park in North America. You’re bound to find hikes in South Mountain that suit your style. (Hiking is one of my favorite things to do in Phoenix.)
2. Hiking and biking around the area are two great ways to really soak in the desert and see the area. Camelback Mountain, a prominent landmark in Phoenix, summits 2,704 feet above sea level, offers several great hikes – and views.
3. There are guided hike options if you don’t want to go it alone, or if you’re looking to learn more about the desert, its plants and wildlife from a local expert. Some great outfitters are AOA and Hike in Phoenix – not only do they ensure that you’re hiking safely they also provide some interesting tidbits about the desert along the way. They can customize tours at different price points. If you’re staying at a resort, check with the concierge as some of them offer guided hikes from their fitness centers. We did one at the Arizona Grand and it was great to learn about the native plants and local history from a guide. (They also do Twilight Hikes at night with headlamps an flashlights. I can only imagine the incredible star gazing opportunities.)
4. At the Pueblo Grand Museum you can do a short 2/3 mile hike with the kids that takes you through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological village site with a partially excavated platform mound, ballcourt, and replicated prehistoric houses. There are also three galleries to visit while at the Museum. The main gallery displays artifacts of the Hohokam and discusses the Pueblo Grande village site. The children’s hands-on gallery has activities to help kids learn about the science of archaeology.
5. The Usery Mountain Regional Park offers kiddie hikes through their nature center. It is located on the Valley’s east side, taking in 3,648 acres set at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains, adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. Along the most popular feature of the park, the Wind Cave Trail, water seeps from the roof of the alcove to support hanging gardens of Rock Daisy. The Wind Cave is formed at the boundary between the volcanic tuff and granite on Pass Mountain.
Unique Sites to See in Phoenix
6. The Desert Botanical Garden is a must see if you’re visiting Phoenix, it’s home to 140 acres with 21,000 plants, one-third of which are native to the area, including 139 rare. It’s a very unique way to experience the beauty of the desert (and escape to air-conditioning if needed). I suggest you visit in the early evening hours or first thing in the morning. Many of the cacti have flowers that bloom in the cooler hours and they are a sight to see. I never knew the desert could be so colorful!
7. Right outside of Phoenix you can experience the Wild West with a visit to the historic Goldfield Ghost Town – touring an old gold mine, panning for gold, shopping along the main street and witnessing gun fights.
8. Visiting Phoenix in February or March? Fifteen Major League Baseball teams have spring training in the Phoenix area – visitors are welcome to check them out. (This is a busier time of the year to visit Phoenix so make sure to book your hotels in advance!)
9. Phoenix is a sports fan heaven, you can literally catch a game anytime of the year. How? Phoenix is one of 13 US cities with franchise in all four major sports leagues: Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), Arizona Cardinals (NFL) and Arizona Coyotes (NHL).
Golf in Phoenix
10. Did you know there are MORE THAN 200 golf courses in Phoenix? Given the number of courses, their quality and the year around summer-like weather, Phoenix is one of the top golf destinations in the world. A few suggested courses to check out include:
- The Wigwam Golf Resort
- Gold Canyon Golf Resort
- Legacy Golf Resort
- Arizona Grand
- Phoenician Golf Resort
- Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa
- Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Golf Resort
What is your favorite golf course in Phoenix?
Hit the Spa in Phoenix
11. If golf isn’t your thing or if you need to recoup from a long day on the course, hit the spa. Like golf, Phoenix is known for its spas retreats. A few of my favorites include:
- Spa at Sanctuary located on Camelback Mountain Resort. (Ranked in the Top Hotel Spas Overall & Top 5 Hotel Spas, Continental U.S. in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best 2014 Awards)
- Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa at The Wigwam Resort (full review of The Wigwam Resort)
- Golden Door Spa, located inside the Boulders Resort
- Arizona Grand Spa at the Arizona Grand Resort
- Spa Avania located at the Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch