18 Best Things To Do In Phoenix & Scottsdale

Phoenix has always been a hot spot for snow-birds and travelers due to the year-round warmth, multitude of activities and significantly cheaper prices than its California neighbor. 

Phoenix is arguably a top 3 place to live in the USA just based on quality of life and cost-efficiency. Thus, if you haven’t visited or need a new city to move to then this is the spot.

Whatever you are interested in Phoenix probably offers it and below is a list of just some of what Phoenix has for you. I didn’t rank these options due to each one being unique to what you like to do.

With that said, they are ordered more for what I like and I feel is more popular to the masses.


Phoenix is a hiking mecca with some great options within city limits as well as some of the most stunning hikes and waterfalls within a couple hours. See here for for best hikes within 2 hours of phoenix.

If you have never been here you may think of the Phoenix area as flat desert but it is surrounded in mountains, lakes and waterfalls with some of the most beautiful colors in the USA. If you are looking for that perfect instagram picture to show how outdoorsy you are then this is your spot.

Events & Festivals

Due to the year-round warm weather Phoenix is a staple for major events that you have to see once in your life. There are some of the USA’s best sporting events, music festivals and food/drinking festivals and a plethora of venues offering any event you are looking for.

Venues to checkout schedule include Talking Stick Resort Arena, Ak-Chin Pavilion, Chase Field, State Farm Arena, Comerica Theatre, Gila River Arena, Marquee Theatre, Celebrity Theatre, Crescent Ballroom and The Van Buren.

For top festivals and events in Phoenix click here.

Get Country

You may not know that Arizona was the gateway to the Wild West! With countless country bars like the more original Denim & Diamonds, or modern Whiskey Row or the best bar in Phoenix, Buffalo Chip Saloon, you are sure to have a great country time!

If you are into country then the Chip in Cave Creek is the best time. You can watch bull-riding, be outside, by the fire pits, eat s’mores or BBQ and do some dancing inside.

The Chip can be a great dinner and pre-game spot as well, head up there from 7-10 and then head back down to Old Town. They have a BBQ buffet dinner up there, which is solid and it’s indoor/outdoor making it a great space for AZ. 

Friday night is when they have the amateur and pro bull riding making them the days to go. If you want to ride you need to call the Monday week of to reserve a spot.

If you want a classier meal while up in Cave Creek you have to checkout Tonto Bar & Grill.

I would say Tonto is middle to upscale but very laid back and has an absolutely gorgeous patio with amazing sunset views along the golf course. Not to mention Tonto has a great menu and all of their food is amazing.

Photo courtesy of tontobarandgrill.com

There is also the amazing Country Thunder festival in April, which you should definitely checkout for a full day!

There is a 25% chance there is a really good country concert in town when you are too. Phoenix has at least one legit country concert a month. Whatever you’re looking for in the country realm, Phoenix has it!

Gateway to Sedona

Hopefully you don’t need this site to tell you about getting to Sedona but if you do then let’s do this. You can visit Sedona for an amazing day trip or spend the weekend.

Whatever you do, get up there. People kept telling me “Oh you need to go to Sedona” and I was like “ya okay, on my way… nope” but it truly is a one in a million place to visit so don’t wait!

Here are best things to do in sedona, the top hikes, must dos and donts and top romantic couples weekend.

Nightlife & Day Partying

Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tempe are nightlife hubs with arguably some of the best night and day partying in the nation.
For a list of the top Phoenix bars click here or top Phoenix restaurants click here.

While people may know all about Old Town and Mill Ave there are tons of other options littered throughout Phoenix like the growing uptown area.

Throughout Phoenix you can find upscale lounges, dive bars, pool parties, sports bars, nightclubs live music, speakeasies and any other party you are looking for.

Lakes Waterfalls & Rivers

Not enough people do lake things here and this needs to end. Phoenix is surrounded by a ton of large beautiful lakes just 30 minutes from town.

On top of that there are tons of gorgeous waterfalls and rivers through the valley for relaxing days by the water.

For great waterfall & swimming hole hikes near Phoenix click here.

Lake Pleasant is enormous and offers all water activities you need including renting a boat and it’s only 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix.

Saguaro Lake has all water activities and some great hiking. Canyon Lake is extremely picturesque, rents boats has hiking and camping. Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake are also a couple great options.

Gateway to Mexico?

Not many people know that you are just a few hours away from the ocean, crystal clear water, cheap tacos and $1 beers. I would absolutely go here over San Diego given the choice and it is much closer to Phoenix as well.

Rocky Point or Puerto Penasco is extremely underrated as long as you take it for what it’s worth. Being well travelled I was being told that this place wasn’t that great, was trashy etc etc… however I think it is awesome!

Sure it isn’t the Mayan Riviera but it has everything you need for a little Mexican get away and is extremely safe.


If you are in town to relax or maybe for a bachelorette party then a stop by one of the world class spas is a necessity. The warm weather and mountainous settings of Phoenix make it a great place to relax by the pool and get some R&R.

Favorite spas include the luxurious Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, Joya Spa at the Montelucia Resort, Center For Well-Being At The Phoenician, Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa or Revive at JW Marriott Desert Ridge.


This goes without saying but Phoenix is a golfers paradise.

Some say Palm Springs is a bit of a rival but I say no chance. There are a plethora of more world class courses and regular courses throughout Phoenix. Not to mention Arizona is cheaper than California and there is a lot more to do in Phoenix when taking a break from the links.


Phoenix is a great spot for foodies whether you want festivals or eclectic restaurants. Phoenix is home to multiple amazing food festivals and is becoming a culinary hotspot with multiple unique restaurants opening throughout the valley.

It also goes without saying that with a 33% Hispanic population that there is some amazing Mexican Food to be had.

For list of top Phoenix restaurants click here.


Phoenix is one of the best sports cities with every major professional sports team, major golf tournaments, NASCAR, Spring Training and habitually hosts March Madness and Super Bowls.

This is arguably the best spot on earth for a sports weekend to take in multiple games, enjoy some sun and add top-class nightlife.

Tube the salt river

salt river tubing

A bit of a local secret… aside from the giant billboards on the highways… this place gets passed over by tourists but should be a mandatory stop.

In the heat of the summer nothing beats hopping in a tube with some cold drinks, friends and talking a 3 or 5 hour trip down a little river with mini rapids from time to time.


I tell everyone this but Phoenix has a top 3 mall in North America. Scottsdale Fashion Square is possibly the best mall in the USA with everything from high-end brands to stores for every style and budget.

Further north is the outdoor Scottsdale Quarter, which is a great place to grab a bite to eat, see an iPic movie and of course shop.

Biltmore Fashion Park and Chandler Fashion Center also are up there as both have their cache.

Biltmore is another nice outdoor mall with lots of unique restaurants and Chandler is a family and children paradise, there’s a passenger train that goes through the mall!

First Friday & Downtown Events

Photo courtesy of @bokeh.of.flores

First Friday sneaks in here as it is a local favorite. It is a street festival for families and date nights where you can enjoy a night of walking around, street performers, art, shopping and some next level people watching.

The event continues to grow yearly and it is definitely something to checkout for a couple of hours, grab some food or even a drink from the many bars along Roosevelt Row.

On top of First Friday there is always something outdoors like skating rinks, food events, craft fairs etc going on in downtown Phoenix to enjoy passing some time.

Nature & Wildlife Parks

Phoenix is home to some great options to see nature in all its glory… just don’t hop any barriers to take pictures of the jaguars.

Depending your scene stop into the any of these great options such as Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo, OdySea Aquarium, Sea Life or the very unique and interesting Out of Africa Wildlife Park.

Talking Stick Resort & Top Golf

While it’s not Vegas, Talking Stick Resort is the best casino in Phoenix.

Talking stick is also nice as it comes with a nice pool that throws summer pool parties and it has Top Golf located around the corner of which they offer shuttles to. Furthermore, just up the road is the OdySea Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland and Salt River Fields home to Spring Training games.

Museums & Galleries

As with any major city Phoenix offers some great museum options.

Some outstanding options are the Instagram friendly Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, the amazing Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Desert Botanical Garden and the Arizona Science Center.

Day Trip To The Grand Canyon

I put this in here but it’s dumb, you don’t need me to tell you to go to the Grand Canyon…


Hola! I’m Fraser & this site is a guide to help you reach your goals, travel the world and create amazing food in between. Get inspiration for travel, recipes & to follow your dreams.

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3 thoughts on “18 Best Things To Do In Phoenix & Scottsdale”

  1. You are right! Phoenix, Arizona, offers many things, from excellent restaurants to picturesque and stunning landmarks to comforting spas. There are a lot of bars here as well, so those who love nightlife will never run out of options. I’ve been to Chip in Cave Creek, and this is one of the best bars you shouldn’t miss. But I’ve never tried their spas. We love living here – you never run out of things to explore!

  2. Thanks for sharing this fantastic guide, and I’ll definitely keep it handy for my future trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale. It’s clear that the region has so much to offer behind its metaphorical “zaun,” just waiting to be explored.

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