The city of Phoenix, AZ is so much more than desert, cactus, and roadrunners. This thriving metro is growing and attracting tons of new people every year. There are hundreds of top-rated Phoenix attractions that make this community a fun place to be.
Whether you live in the area, or you’re just visiting, this list of destinations is the perfect way to start catching up with the best things to do in Phoenix.
1. Phoenix Zoo
Among the top Phoenix attractions for families, the Phoenix Zoo is ranked among the biggest non-profit zoos in the entire United States. Their location is home to more than 3,000 animals spanning over 400 different species. Many of the animals are considered threatened or endangered species.
When you visit this popular destination, you’ll have access to four different parts of the zoo: the Arizona Trail, the Discovery Trail, the Tropics Trail, and the Africa Trail. Each one offers a close-up look at wildlife that will captivate your attention.
Some of the most fun animals to see include giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, eagles, otters, wolves, insects, snakes, and so many others.
Only 1 mile north of the zoo, you’ll find the gorgeous Desert Botanical Garden. As one of the best places to visit, the garden attracts over 450,000 guests every year. If you want to see what makes the Sonoran Desert so special and beautiful, this is a place you won’t want to miss.
The Desert Botanical Garden shows off over 50,000 unique plants. Among them, you’ll have the chance to look at more than 485 rare and endangered plant species. You can walk along the brick trails as you take in the beauty of this one-of-a-kind attraction in Phoenix.
Once you’ve finished walking through the gardens, you can enjoy a delicious meal at Gertrude’s, a fun New American-style restaurant.
Located in the city of Glendale, the Westgate Entertainment District is about 14 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix. This hugely popular destination is home to a variety of fun activities for people of all ages.
First and foremost, Westgate is the location of State Farm Stadium, the home of the Arizona Cardinals NFL football team. Local fans can catch their favorite team during football season or attend other major events like Monster Jam, auto shows, and much more.
Whether you’re headed to the area for date night or a day out with the family, there are plenty of fun things to do. You can catch a movie at AMC Theatres, play arcade games and enjoy great food at Dave & Buster’s, or have a good laugh at Stir Crazy Comedy Club.
The district also features a long list of top-rated restaurants including places like Buffalo Wild Wings, Yard House, The Lola, Hot N Juicy Crawfish, Johnny Rockets, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and beyond.
With rotating exhibits and full-time collections, the Phoenix Art Museum is a fun attraction you can visit again and again. The museum has seasonal events and exhibits that offer intriguing pieces that will pique a variety of interests.
The destination also holds over 20,000 objections within its own permanent collection. These items cover a wide range of subject including fashion, contemporary art, photography, and more. You’ll find Asian art, European art, Latin American art, as well as Western American art pieces.
Home to more than 30,000 animals, the Odysea Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Arizona with over 2 million gallons of water. It is a multi-level facility located at the Arizona Boardwalk that features some of the most unique sea life you’ll ever get the chance to see in person.
The aquarium has penguins, stingrays, turtles, otters, sharks, and thousands of other fish. Often considered among the top attractions in Phoenix for families, you and your family will love visiting this exciting destination.
Also found at the Arizona Boardwalk, Butterfly Wonderland is exactly what you’d expect it to be and more. When you enter the conservatory, you’ll be surrounded by a beautiful green setting scattered with flowers and thousands of butterflies, covering over 70 different species.
You can view the fascinating emergence gallery, where you’ll be within inches of the live chrysalis as they release gorgeous, young butterflies.
Not only butterflies call this fun Phoenix attraction home. The wonderland also hosts a variety of rainforest reptiles such as snakes, water dragons, frogs, crocodiles, geckos, and more.
Considered by many to be the best casino in the state, Casino Arizona at Talking Stick Resort is the place to be if you’re a fan of gaming action. The beloved Phoenix attract offers visitors over 900 slot machines, bingo, Keno, and table games like Blackjack, poker, and more.
The resort also features delicious places to eat, high-end hotel rooms, and two championship golf courses. If you’re ever in the mood to catch a show, you can see concerts, comedy shows, magic acts, and more.
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is so much more than just a bunch of random instruments hanging on the wall. This popular place to visit in Phoenix has musical galleries and always hosts regular concerts within its 300-seat theater. Over 200 musicians and other artists play here each year.
The museum’s galleries include geographic collections, artist collections, mechanical music collections, a STEM library, a conservation lab, and an experience gallery. When people visit MIM, they can enjoy wandering through the various exhibits, attending a concert, or taking part in an event. The museum regularly hosts classes, training, STEM courses, children’s events, and more.
9. Papago Park
Experience the desert oasis of Papago Park and see the true beauty Phoenix has to offer. The park has trails on both the west and east sides, giving you the chance to go for a hike around the red butte formations. One of the best views is available at a place lovingly known as the Hole in the Rock. From there you can see a view of the surrounding area including a look at Governor Hunt’s Tomb, a tall white pyramid where Arizona’s first governor is buried.
Papago Park is the larger area that includes the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Garden, baseball fields, the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting, and the Papago Golf Course.
If you head downtown, one of the highest-rated Phoenix attractions you’ll find is the Arizona Science Center. This community hub is a beloved place to visit for adults and children alike as it offers a large number of things to do. The center boasts over 300 hands-on exhibits and rotating live demonstrations.
One of the best parts of the Arizona Science Center is the amazing Dorrance Planetarium, where you can experience laser shows or feel like you're floating around in outer space. From there, you can watch incredible documentaries and more in the Irene P. Flinn Giant Screen Theater. The five-story IMAX(R) theater features shows about space, the ocean, wildlife, and beyond.
The opportunities at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix feel endless as you look at the list of exhibits, experiences, and events the venue offers. Among the most reputable attractions in Phoenix for kids, they have something for every child to enjoy.
The long list of exhibits and activities at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix includes:
Pit Stop racetrack
The Children’s Garden
The Grand Ballroom
12. Hurricane Harbor
When it’s time to cool off from the Arizona desert heat, Hurricane Harbor is the perfect place for a refreshing dip. Spanning a 35-acre area, this large water park has fun activities for both kids and adults.
Home to multiple “top 10” attractions, Hurricane Harber has over 30 water slides, rides, and other fun things to do. Splash down the Anaconda slide, drop down into the Tornado, drift along the Adventure River, or enjoy the thrill of the Bahama Blaster.
Located off the I-17 and Dunlap Ave, Castles N’ Coasters has been up-and-running since 1976. The 10-acre theme park features a variety of rides and attractions including their two-loop rollercoaster, Desert Storm
Other activities visitors to the park will enjoy are bumper boats, the SkyWire obstacle course, an arcade with over 150 games, an 18-hole mini golf course, the Splashdown water ride, and the freefall Sky Diver ride.
For lovers of the outdoors, the South Mountain Park and Preserve has a wealth of fun things to do among its three mountain ranges: the Gila, Guadalupe, and Ma Ha Tauk. The preserve covers over 16,000 acres of land and stands among the largest municipal parks in the entire country.
It’s a great Phoenix attraction for hiking with more than 50 miles of trails to explore. People often visit the park to enjoy mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, or simply enjoying a picnic with the desert landscape as a backdrop.
15. Phoenix Raceway
Built in Avondale in 1964, racing fans will love the high-octane events offered at the acclaimed Phoenix Raceway. Only a short distance from Phoenix, this raceway features a one-mile, low-banked tri-oval track. The venue hosts two NASCAR races per year, one of which is the final championship.
Additional events at the raceway include other races, concerts, air shows, and more. You can even take the chance to get behind the wheel yourself in one of their NASCAR racing experiences.
Map of Phoenix Attractions
Which of These Places to Visit in Phoenix Will You Go First?
People living in Phoenix and visitors to the area love the many attractions Phoenix has to offer. The only difficulty is deciding where you want to go first. This list gives you a good idea of what to expect from this great city.
Get more great info about Phoenix and the surrounding areas by checking out the Nexstar Homes blog!