Things to do in Phoenix, Arizona
Saquaro Cactus, red spires of rock and endless expanses of desert are probably what first come to mind when you think of Arizona and believe me there is definitely all of that. Phoenix on the other hand is a large bustling metropolis and is in fact the 4th biggest city in the U.S., but don’t let the size of this giant scare you off. You see Phoenix does have it’s own beauty and plenty of fun can be had, even in just a few days and I’m going to try to cover a few of the attractions that we ourselves have partaken in. Enjoy Things to do in Phoenix, Arizona.
Things to do
This incredible desert park with it’s mind blowing rock formations and several beautiful oasis is definitely well worth a visit. The oasis contain many types of birds, ducks, fish and is actually stocked with Rainbow Trout, Large-mouth Bass, Sunfish, Channel Catfish, Tilapia and Carp for your fishing pleasure.
A whopping 1496 acres, this park contains many trails and takes you through beautiful landscapes with many different types of cactus (including Saguaro) as well as plenty of desert wildlife. Within the park is also a Desert Botanical Garden, The Phoenix Zoo, a museum and Hunt’s Tomb, which is a pyramid containing George W.P. Hunt (Arizona's 1st governor). Built in 1931 to entomb his wife and then himself after his death in 1934. Their daughter and his wife's family are also buried there.
This park is excellent for hiking, but visitors can also drive through a fair amount of the park in their cars. While on your way to Papago Park you will see the incredible red sandstone mountains from miles away. Upon getting closer you will notice how many caves these mountains have, one in particular named Hole-in the Rock. This is probably the most popular spot in the park and is a very short hike to the top. Once at the top you will have a great panoramic view of the park. The Hohokam people a now-extinct Native American tribe that once lived in the Phoenix area used the openings at Hole-in-the-Rock to track the solstice using the sun.
A nice little slice of the wild west mixed with the modern comforts of present day. Scottsdale is the perfect place to take a Saturday stroll, or roll if you happen to be using one of the shared motorized scooters that lay scattered around town. That’s right, for a small fee you can hop on one of these neat contraptions and cruise all over town.
Neat little souvenir shops and restaurants in historic old western style buildings line the streets of downtown Scottsdale. Foods of many different types can be enjoyed while your at the farmer’s market.
An article in The New York Times described downtown Scottsdale as "a desert version of “Miami’s South Beach" and as having "plenty of late night partying and a buzzing hotel scene." Its famous slogan is "The West's Most Western Town."
This mountains namesake perfectly describes it’s imposing features and can be seen from many miles away. The mostly flat area around Phoenix gives this mountain a ominous look and one can only imagine what the original explorers of this area must have thought when first laying their eyes on the rock behemoth. The discovery of a cave on the north side of the mountain found that the Hohokam Peoples used the site for worship purposes but they mysteriously vanished from the area in the 14th century before the arrival of Europeans.
Hiking to the top is not considered easy by most hikers and caution should be taken when ascending this beastly rock. The mountain claims lives on a regular basis and rescues on the trail are fairly common.
The trail is pretty busy, so if peace and tranquility is what you’re after, I suggest finding a different hike. That being said, the view at the top of the summit is breathtaking and well worth the hard work it takes to get there.
South Mountain Park
One of the largest urban parks in the world, South Mountain Park in Phoenix is an incredible desert landscape where one can witness the beauty of the Arizona desert in all of it’s glory. With many hiking trails and lookouts this mountain park provides visitors with some of the best views of Phoenix and it’s surrounding areas. Dobbins Lookout in particular has an expansive view and there is a really neat rock house at the top.
There is parking lots at the bottom of the park, so you can hike up the mountain or you can skip the hiking all together and drive up the winding road along steep edges all the way to the top.
Phoenix is a nice city and is quite spread out so congestion isn’t too much of an issue, but traffic jams do happen of course, especially in cities with 5 million people. Having been to Phoenix several times now, I feel like I have been there done that and that’s not to say Phoenix isn’t worth visiting, because it definitely is. I guess what I’m getting at is if big cities are your thing then you might just love Phoenix. My suggestion would be to spend around 5-7 days there, conquer all the beautiful hikes and day trips, then take off into the desert somewhere a little bit quieter for some peace, solitude and sunshine.