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Top 10 things to do in Phoenix

29 Jan 2020 - Fiona Raleigh

You can find so many fun things to experience in Phoenix, Arizona — its beautiful year-round sunshine, busy social scene and affordable lifestyle attracts students from all over the world.

Phoenix has even been named one of the world’s top 50 best cities (bestcities.org), so whether you’re interested in art and culture, love shopping and eating out, or enjoy hiking, you’ll see that this US city has it all.

With all these exciting activities to choose from, we thought we’d round up the top 10 things to do in Phoenix to help you get started.

Top 10 things to do in Phoenix

  1. Hike in and around the Phoenix area
  2. Try some delicious food
  3. Look at street art on Roosevelt Row
  4. Catch your favorite band in concert
  5. Attend a world-class sporting event
  6. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden
  7. Learn about Native American culture at the Heard Museum
  8. See a Broadway show
  9. Go shopping all around Phoenix
  10. Find your rhythm at the Musical Instrument Museum

 

1. Hike in and around the Phoenix area

Phoenix has so many great hiking opportunities all across the city, which means you can enjoy the outdoors without having to travel far. For example, you can visit Papago Park and enjoy its many hiking trails: if you take the East side trails then you’ll find your way to the famous Hole-in-the-Rock, where you can enjoy a stunning view across the surrounding area (this is especially impressive at sunset).

The view from the Hole-in-the-Rock in Papago Park

South Mountain Park is also an excellent spot to try out different trails. And, if you’re an experienced hiker looking for some amazing city views, you can take a day trip to Camelback Mountain, which is located 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix. It’s named for its summit, which looks like a camel’s hump, and reaches a height of 825 meters. Remember to take lots of water and protect yourself from the sun.

2. Try some delicious food

Phoenix is known for its diverse population, which means that you can try cuisine from all around the world. Whether you’re craving Vietnamese pho, Mexican tacos, Sichuanese hot pot, or even the famous Sonoran hot dog (an Arizona staple), you’re almost guaranteed to find what you’re looking for.

You can also make the most of Phoenix’s international grocery stores and markets, which cater to a variety of cuisines, including Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and more!

Street food in Phoenix

As well as this, there are lots of food trucks serving delicious food on the go, and the city has great local coffee shops where you can meet up with friends, or grab an iced latte on your way to class. Food festivals are very popular too, with events celebrating mac and cheese, vegan food and tacos happening throughout the year.

3. Look at street art in Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row is the artists’ district of downtown Phoenix, and it’s a vibrant part of the city that’s bursting with creativity. You can admire colorful street art as you go between art galleries and studio spaces.

Street art in downtown Phoenix

You can even join the monthly First Friday Art Walk, one of the USA’s biggest self-guided art tours. It’s a great way to meet people who are also interested in art, and see what Phoenix’s artists are creating.

4. Catch your favorite band in concert

As the 5th-largest city in the USA, it should come as no surprise that Phoenix has lots of music venues, both large and small. You can see famous musicians perform at places like the Ak-Chin Pavilion, the city’s outdoor amphitheater, the Gila River Arena and the Marquee Theater, which is right next to ASU’s Tempe campus.

You can also enjoy lots of music festivals that come to the area, including the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, Phoenix Lights, Innings Festival, and various bluegrass festivals.

Or, for something more low-key, you could watch local and national musicians play at the Yucca Tap Room or Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. There’s so much going on, that you could watch live music every night of the week.

5. Attend a world-class sporting event

If you’re a sports fan, then Phoenix is one of the best places to be. The city is home to 5 professional teams: the Arizona Diamondbacks (baseball), Arizona Cardinals (American football), Phoenix Suns (basketball), Phoenix Mercury (basketball), Phoenix Rising (soccer) and Arizona Coyotes (ice hockey).

Sports in Phoenix

If you like golf, then you can watch the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, and for baseball fans, the Cactus League Spring Training takes place in Phoenix, too. And, of course, Arizona State University’s own athletics teams, the Sun Devils, are a huge part of the Phoenix student experience, and you can support them in sports ranging from American football to wrestling.

Listen to ASU students Ben and Emily talk about their favorite things to do in Phoenix on ASU’s official podcast, Inside ASU.

6. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden

Your time in Phoenix wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park. It’s home to 50,000 desert plants, including cactus and agave, and its winding trails lead you through the beautiful flora of the region. With different themes for each of the 5 trails, you can learn a lot about the desert and admire some stunning scenery at the same time.

While you’re in Papago Park, you should save some time to visit Phoenix Zoo – you can spot everything from tigers to monkeys, and it’s a great day out.

Cactus in Arizona

7. Learn about Native American culture at the Heard Museum

The Heard Museum is the best place to appreciate the art and culture of American Indians of the Southwest. Here, you can see traditional and contemporary art in the museum’s 11 fascinating exhibits. All these displays tell the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective and give you a fascinating overview of American Indian art, history and culture.

The museum also hosts the annual Indian Fair and Market in March, which features over 600 Native American artists, and attracts 15,000 visitors.

8. See a Broadway show

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to Broadway in New York City because lots of the hit musicals and plays make a stop in Phoenix when they tour. You can catch a show at the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.

Grady Gammage Auditorium, Phoenix, Arizona

Designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this impressive performing arts center seats over 3,000 people and has hosted huge productions like The Lion KingThe Book of Mormon and Hamilton.

9. Go shopping all around Phoenix

There are so many places to go shopping in Phoenix that you’ll always find what you’re looking for. Whether you’re searching for high-end items or one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, Phoenix has it all. Head to Uptown Plaza in north-central Phoenix for locally owned boutiques, where you can find unique clothing and gifts, and support the local economy as you buy.

Melrose District in central Phoenix is where you need to go for a great vintage-shopping experience. It’s an up-and-coming shopping spot, so few people know about this retro haven, which means you can get there ahead of the crowd. If you study at ASU’s Tempe campus then you’ll be right next to Tempe Marketplace, an outdoor shopping center with stores like Target, H&M and Forever 21.

10. Find your rhythm at the Musical Instrument Museum

With around 7,000 instruments from approximately 200 countries and territories worldwide, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is truly impressive.

You can discover music from different parts of the world, such as Mexican mariachi band instruments and a complete Chinese opera orchestra. There are often performances using the museum’s diverse instruments, so you can hear them being used in context.

You can even play some of the instruments yourself in the Experience Gallery. As well as this, you can see instruments on display in the Artist Gallery that belonged to music legends like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley!

Study in Phoenix at Arizona State University

You can enjoy all the attractions that Phoenix has to offer when you study at Arizona State University. With 4 impressive campuses in and around the metropolitan Phoenix area, there is a place to suit everyone at ASU. Studying in Phoenix is an exciting opportunity for you to experience everything that this lively city has to offer.

If you’re interested in earning an ASU degree, there are many study options open to you. These include undergraduate and graduate degrees, and pathway programs that help you qualify for admission.

Want to find out what you can study at ASU? Use our degree finder below to see what programs are available to you.

 
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