10 Best Attractions in Phoenix: Exploring the Valley's Greatest Landmarks and Attractions

What to do during your next stay in Phoenix? Here we round up some of the best places in Phoenix to experience this vibrant desert metropolis. 

Explore the natural beauty of the desert at the Desert Botanical Gardens, one of the city's indisputable gems. There's no better place to learn more about the desert than by exploring the trails at this star attraction.

If you still have energy after that, head next door to the Phoenix Zoo, a treat for both children and parents. The zoo offers interactive exhibits such as the Giraffe Encounter, camel rides, and a petting zoo.

Although Phoenix is a young city, you'll want to make time to explore the city's small but vibrant historic quarter, known as Heritage Square. The city block is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and makes for an easy, pedestrian friendly walk in the heart o bustling downtown.

Of course, you can't leave Phoenix without experiencing for yourself one of the Valley's famous desert sunsets. Although it can be difficult to secure parking and its a steep climb, it's worth making a trip to the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation area. The local landmark offers sweeping views of the Valley. 

A more accessible (but no less beautiful) place to watch the sunset is South Mountain Regional Park. Make the drive up the mountain to popular Dobbins Lookout point for unforgettable panoramic views of the city.

Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve (formerly Deer Valley Art Rock Center)

On a 47-acre site north of Phoenix, Indians from throughout the Southwest carved more than 1500 petroglyphs, or rock etchings, along an ancient trade route. Between 500 and 5000 years old, these pictographs have an unknown meaning but may relate...  Read More

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park

This museum and its adjacent park are built on the site of 1500-year-old Hohokam Indian ruins. Exhibits showcase lifestyles of the Hohokam and of other Southwestern tribes, and visitors learn about Phoenix's cultural heritage through displays of...  Read More

Housed in a dramatic building next to the city's historic Heritage Square, the Science Center offers well over 300 interactive exhibits. A giant-screen IMAX theater shows educational films, and the planetarium boasts one of the largest domes in...  Read More

Plan to spend a day with the animals, over 1200 of them (including many endangered species), in this expansive park. The animals live in spacious enclosures, similar to the habitats they would have if they were in the wild. in addition, visitors...  Read More

Historic Heritage Square is a part of Heritage & Science Park, which also includes the Arizona Science Center and the Phoenix Museum of History. Since it contains several Victorian homes from Phoenix's original settlement, the city block is...  Read More

One of the most popular hiking trails in the valley is the Echo Canyon trail at Camelback Mountain. The Echo Canyon Recreation Area is made up of layered sandstone and comprises the "head" of Camelback Mountain. Prepare to catch of glimpse at...  Read More

A maze of well-maintained hiking trails crisscrosses one of the largest municipal parks in the world. For a spectacular view, drive to Dobbins Lookout Point and gaze at the city from 1200 feet. Then, trek to Happy Valley via a trail through...  Read More

Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art

The well-regarded, world-famous Heard Museum is one of the world's leading repositories of Native American art. It also features works by contemporary Southwestern artists, craft demonstrations, amphitheater performances, a caf--, and a gift...  Read More

Phoenix Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum

Another institution growing by leaps and bounds, this museum's scope is indisputably international with works representing American, Asian, European and Latin American art. The museum also features exhibits on fashion and the Thorne miniature...  Read More

Located in Papago Park, this garden features one of the world's largest collections of desert flora. A vast array of colorful wildflowers has been strategically placed to create a spectacular display and delight visitors in the springtime. Not...  Read More


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega has lived in the Arizona desert since she was a teenager. She works as a writer and editor in Phoenix with her four dogs and two cats.

She received her MFA in Creative...  More About Patricia

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