What to do in Phoenix – a good way to get acquainted with the city is to take a guided tour of the area. Guided city tours top our list of what to do in Phoenix if you are new to the area, As you weave through Old Town Scottsdale, the Desert Botanical Garden, the Heard Museum, and other notable attractions scattered throughout the valley, you’ll realize that Phoenix is much more than just sun and desert. There’s a great deal of culture here, both man-made and natural!
Sporting enthusiasts will love the fact that there are opportunities both to participate and spectate. A bumpy Hummer or mountain biking ride is an excellent way to experience the Sonoran Desert first-hand, while admiring the desert wildflowers, cacti, and weeds that characterize huge swaths of the American Southwest. Alternatively, come in February for the Subway Fresh Fit 500, in March for MLB spring training, or in the fall to catch an Arizona Cardinals game. There’s always something active going on! When thinking about what to do in Phoenix, are you enjoy sporting events, Phoenix has you covered!
And no trip to Arizona would be complete without heading to the sights up north. In less than half a day, you can visit the red rocks of Sedona, or the matchless Grand Canyon.
What to do in Phoenix #1
Grand Canyon – In just four hours, you can get from downtown Phoenix to the famed Grand Canyon. There, you can experience the sights and sounds of the breathtaking gorge, which is nearly 300 miles long and a mile deep. There are many ways to experience the Grand Canyon, and each one is unlike the others.
The most “obvious” way to see the canyon is to drive up and sightsee along its rim. The steep red rocks and dramatic cliffs make for truly unforgettable photographs that you’ll want to expand to poster size and frame once you get back home. You can also hike into the Grand Canyon by taking one of its many trails, some of which are quite demanding; or you can hover above it by foot using the glass-bottomed Skywalk at Grand Canyon West.
There are also many tours to show you the area. Catch a tour bus and leave the navigating to someone else. Or hop on a plane or helicopter to see just how phenomenal it looks from a few hundred feet in the air—especially as you fly through the famous 18-mile-wide Dragon Corridor. One last thing you can do to explore the Grand Canyon is head down to the Colorado River. There, you can go whitewater rafting or simply cruise along some of its calmer waters on a boat.
For these reasons, a trip to Grand Canyon tops our list of what to do in Phoenix.
What to do in Phoenix #2
Hot Air Ballooning – Float slowly into the skies on a Phoenix-area hot air balloon ride. There may be no better way to see the Sonoran Desert than from a basket that’s dangling a few hundred feet off the ground. And with year-round ballooning opportunities, there’s no “bad” time of year to visit the Valley of the Sun. On our charts at #2 for what to do in Phoenix is hot air ballooning.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
You’ll get to lift gently off the ground and look down on the sands of the Sonoran Desert during this spectacular hot air balloon flight.
The anticipation builds as the launch crew begins to inflate the balloon. If you’d like, you can lend a helping hand, or you can just wait for the envelope to be filled with air. After about 30 minutes, you can hop into the basket and watch as the distance from your eyes to the ground increases with every passing second. Once you’re in the air, you’ll look down upon rock formations, cacti, and a cast of desert animals like javelinas and coyotes.
There are several companies that can help you tour the skies in a balloon. All of them are led by experienced pilots who will serve as guides to the area, so you’ll definitely come away knowing the lay of the land no matter where you lift off. Additionally, many of the tour companies offer lodging, hotel transfers, breakfast options, and exclusive and/or group flights, so you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for.
What to do in Phoenix #3
Hummer and Jeep Tours – The land around Phoenix makes for some fun and rugged driving. On a Hummer or Jeep tour, you can experience the rush of off-roading across the wild and dusty Sonoran Desert without beating up your own car! When considering what to do in Phoenix, a trip out to the surrounding desert is a must do!
These tours range from one-hour long to a full day, and are staffed with professionals that are extremely familiar with the area. Not only will you not get lost, but you’ll also learn about the terrain you’re navigating, from the boulders that crunch beneath your tires, to the hills you ascend on four wheels, and from the distant mountains to the nearby brush and cacti.
There are a variety of places to see depending on the tour company you choose. You could head east of Phoenix to Four Peaks Trail, home to the charred remains of an old pine forest; or you could head to the foothills of the Superstition Mountains for a bumpy-good time. Or if you’ve got an altitude obsession, then a trip up the El Oso Trail will take you to the highest peak in Maricopa County.
Whatever the scenery or the level of adrenaline you’re seeking, you’re sure to find the perfect tour in the desert of Phoenix!
What to do in Phoenix #4
Phoenix City Guided Tour – Phoenix and its surrounding communities of Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Tempe have so much to offer. On a guided tour, you can leave the hard work of planning to a professional, and ensure that you hit this vacation destination’s many “must see” landmarks. As we already mentioned, if you are new to the area, a city tour should be on your “what to do in Phoenix” list
Among the many places you could find yourself on a tour of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area is Old Town Scottsdale, which offers some of the best in shopping amidst a fun, western atmosphere. You could also explore the famous Frank Lloyd Wright home, Taliesin West, which is characterized by natural light, local desert rocks, and an integration of outdoor and indoor spaces.
Additional sites to visit include South Mountain Park, which at 17 miles long is the largest municipal park in the world; the Desert Botanical Garden, which is decorated with a wide assortment of cacti and indigenous blooming plants; and the Arizona Capitol Museum, which traces the journey of Arizona from wild western territory to statehood.
What to do in Phoenix #5
Visit Sedona – A quick drive up the highway will take you from Phoenix to Sedona, site of some of world’s most dramatic red rocks. Visit for a day, or spend an entire week here—either way, there’s no shortage of trails to hike, natural formations to photograph, and culture to experience. If you have a free day and are looking for what to do in Phoenix, a trip to Sedona is a great option!
Sedona Red Rock Adventure
This tour will take you to Montezuma Castle, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and the shopping district in Sedona. You’ll also go for a 90-minute Jeep ride off in the red rocks for sightseeing like you wouldn’t believe.
Make your way to famous Bell Rock to see the 550-ft.-tall, naturally bell-shaped butte. It’s an easy, two-mile loop hike around the massive rock, and the path provides plentiful opportunities to sit on the cliff’s easily-accessible outcroppings. Alternatively, take a short and steep hike along the base of Cathedral Rock, so-named for its awe-inspiring mountainous spires. As you walk along these trails and others, you may find yourself at a vortex, areas that are regarded as centers of spiritual energy. But always remember: if going it alone isn’t your idea of fun, there are plenty of guided tours that you can take, including ATV, Hummer, Jeep, and hot air balloon rides that’ll have you ripping through or soaring over the crimson terrain below.
If you’re looking for something a bit more cosmopolitan, Sedona’s got that, too. The city is home to dozens of art galleries and enriching events that feature world-renowned painters, sculptors, and other talented individuals. For a more relaxing day, try one of the area’s first-class spas or resorts. And, lastly, for a truly impressive piece of culture, make sure you don’t miss the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic Church that has been built between two massive rocks.