Exploring Phoenix On a Budget: 10 Best Free Things to Do in Phoenix



Looking for free things to do during your Phoenix visit? The Valley of the Sun is a great place to explore on a budget.

Start your explorations at South Mountain Park, where steep hairpin turns and steady rising elevation leads you to Dobbin's Lookout, a popular overlook offering incredible views of the whole city. This is a great and scenic attractions that doesn't require any spending. 

Hiking enthusiasts will want to pay a visit to Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area, a well-tread system of hiking trails that are challenging but well worth the sweat – the views from up top are simply incredible.

If you're traveling with a history buff, a stop at the Arizona Capitol Museum is mandatory. This obscure gem is housed in the stone building that was once the state capitol. Some of the museum's most fascinating exhibits include artifacts from the USS Arizona, a 16-foot zinc Winged Victory statue, and works by Lon Megargee, Arizona's famed cowboy artist.

One of Phoenix's top cultural attractions is the Phoenix Art Museum. You can check out the museum for free every Wednesday evening during the voluntary donation period, which runs from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Finally, for a taste of the Old West, head to Goldfield Ghost Town, located just east of town on the site of an old town and gold mine operation. During the winter and spring high season, enjoy free gunfighter shows on Saturdays and Sundays. 




Enchanted Island is located in the heart of central Phoenix's Encanto Park, one of the city's oldest and most picturesque parks. This small amusement park offers the perfect budget-friendly escape for families with young children. The park...  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


Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours


Located 21 miles east of Mesa, this renovated ghost town is complete with rustic wooden buildings and desert landscapes. Choose from a wealth of activities while you're there, including mine tours, hiking treks, and panning for gold. A specialty...  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




Completed in the spring of 2005, the Mesa Arts Center is the largest in the state at 212,755 square feet. The campus has four theaters, the Mesa Contemporary Arts galleries, and numerous studios, workshops, offices and classrooms. The center...  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




This monthly showcase of Phoenix's gallery and art communities grants folks the chance to browse spaces where artists create and sell their works. The event also involves local restaurants and shops, and visitors are regaled by street performers...  Read More


Arizona Capitol Museum


Housed in an impressive stone building that once served as the state capitol, this museum documents Arizona's time as a territory and its early statehood. The structure itself is crowned with a copper dome and a 16-foot, zinc Winged Victory...  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


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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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