With more than 325 days of sunshine every year, it's no wonder the glorious weather and desert scenery are considered highlights of a visit to Phoenix. But the city is also a cultural oasis, boasting internationally acclaimed museums, indulgent shopping experiences and fashionable dance clubs. Come and discover the city's mix of Old West roots and cosmopolitan cool.
Once you've booked your Phoenix Stay Alfred travel apartment, start getting excited about your trip with our nine favorite things to do in Phoenix.
Hiking is always a popular Phoenix activity, and although the trails up Camelback are admittedly challenging, but the reward is spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding city and across the desert. Expect steep sections and some scrambling over boulders, and keep an eye out for the desert tortoises, cottontail rabbits and rattlesnakes that live here. The trail is 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix and one of the most popular hikes in the city, so get here early in the morning for a parking spot and the best chance of spotting wildlife.
A highly-praised world class museum dedicated to the history, art and culture of Native American tribes in the Southwest, the Heard Museum has a substantial collection of artwork and artifacts both ancient and modern. There are 11 galleries filled with jewelry, textiles, hand-woven baskets, prehistoric ceramics, and an outstanding collection of Hopi spirit dolls. The museum also has a beautiful outdoor courtyard that features sculptures by Native artists and a cafe. Free guided tours are available throughout the day.
You'll be amazed at the profusion of colorful flowers that bloom in the desert at this carefully cultivated botanical garden which features more than 50,000 plants. The trails and galleries each have a theme – medicinal plants, fragrant flowers, sustainable living – and the flowers and blooming cactus attract monarch butterflies and three different species of hummingbirds. There are daily tours, volunteer Q&As and activity sheets for kids, as well as a patio cafe that does sandwiches and salads with lovely views of the gardens.
Take a trip out to the eastern edge of the city to experience this extraordinary architectural wonder. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taliesin West was the winter home of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, built by Wright and his apprentices in 1937. The building has an organic design and is made of local materials, so that it seems to blend into the foothills of the surrounding McDowell Mountains. Visits are by guided tour only, covering the building, gardens and Wright's private art collection.
This museum really brings science to life with more than 350 hands-on exhibits that let visitors move objects invisibly at the electromagnetic workbench, hear their heartbeat on a bass drum, or lie down on a bed of nails. The state-of-the-art planetarium has frequent laser shows and tours of the solar system, and there are science labs every weekend where you can investigate what an owl had for dinner or prevent the spread of a zombie infection. An ideal Phoenix attraction for families, or just rediscovering your own inner child.
If you're looking for artsy neighborhoods, Phoenix has them by the dozen, but Roosevelt Row is our favorite. An art lover's paradise, this walkable arts district is full of great art galleries, studios and unique street art. A profusion of colorful murals can be found all along the road, so take your time looking at buildings and wandering down side streets. Look out for pop-up galleries, arts festivals and foodie events that take place every month – who can say no to a wine tasting? There are also self-guided tours around the public artworks on the first Friday of every month.
Whether you're traveling with kids or just an animal lover, Phoenix Zoo is sure to delight. The 125-acre site is also part of the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation and the emphasis here is on education, breeding and enrichment. Among the highlights are Galapagos tortoises, Komodo dragons and Sumatran tigers, and the Red Barn petting zoo where you can brush the friendly goats. If staying all day it's worth getting an all-inclusive ticket that includes the narrated Safari Train and exciting 4D Theater.
Heritage Square is one of the oldest parts of Phoenix, with many buildings dating back to the 19th century. The Rosson House Museum and Heritage Gallery provide a fascinating insight into the city's early history, but the main reason to come here is to party. Award-winning restaurants like Pizzeria Bianco and Nobuo at Teeter House offer a truly memorable dining experience, and the square's Prohibition-themed parties will be pleased to serve you a Jazz-era cocktail or three. Check the listings for more fun Phoenix events like séance tours and ice-cream socials.
Whether you're into indie, bluegrass or hip-hop, Crescent Ballroom's eclectic live music program is an unmissable part of downtown Phoenix nightlife. As well as daily concerts, you might also see flamenco dancing, story slams or a masquerade ball. The restaurant serves homey Mexican staples made with exemplary attention to detail, and the friendly bartenders will provide almost any drink you can imagine, including gluten-free beer. Is it painfully hipster or just painfully hip? Come and decide for yourself.