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My Phoenix Bucket List Of Amazing Things To Do

I’ve been lucky enough to go to Phoenix, Ariz., twice now and have explored the surrounding area enough to realize there is a whole lot left to see and things to do in Phoenix. The beautiful desert community is huge and offers abundant opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Read on for some of my Phoenix bucket list items.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hotels.com. This post may contain affiliate links. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Relax poolside

Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak pool
Photo courtesy Visit Phoenix

If there’s one thing that Phoenix hotels have that stands out from the crowd, it’s their fabulous pools. Some resorts have slides or a lazy river (or both!), and many have multiple pools to choose from.

I’m not saying I’d pick my hotel merely based on its pool options, but they may tip the scales in their favor.

Eat good food 

Travel + Leisure recommended Phoenix Ranch Market for authentic Mexican. It seems more like a grocery store with excellent food, which is all right with me.

In Old Towne Scottsdale, we could go to the retro-looking Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor. Word is that the artist behind The Family Circus drew there and used it as a setting in many cartoons. 

On the same note, I want to go to a place that appeals to a foodie and to kids. I read Perch Brewery is such a place, plus they have rescued birds that reside there.

Another of the more interesting options is Organ Stop Pizza, a dinner-only place with music played on a Mighty Wurlitzer (and the musician takes requests). I read that there is also a puppet show and bubbles involved, as well as a long line to get in. If you’ve been, let me know if it’s worth the wait!

Rustler’s Rooste Steakhouse caught my eye because it supposedly had a meal with a view. When I finally visited, I discovered it was a whole dining experience that includes a huge slide down to the dining room. Add it to your to-visit list.

Take a (short) desert hike

Family hiking around the large boulders near Boulders Resort & Spa in Scottsdale
Photo courtesy Visit Phoenix

I’m debating on where an ideal place is to hike – a place that has the least chance of rattlesnake encounters. I’ve read about Camelback Mountain, and how it’s a site synonamous with Phoenix. There’s also an amazing trail through boulders at the Boulders Resort & Spa. The nice thing with Boulders is that you’d be hiking near your hotel accommodations.

If I had more time, I’d definitely add a side trip. Some of the best hikes in Sedona are fairly easy and have gorgeous views!

Tip: If you want a really well-curated desert hike, you don’t have to go far. The Desert Botanical Garden is perfect for that. We took the kids the gardens when they were younger and it was just the right amount of walking in the desert for their little legs.

Walk into art exhibits

Men walking through
Photo courtesy Visit Phoenix

I’d first read about Yayoi Kusama in an article about the age of Instagram in museums, and how her striking work, “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies,” is getting noticed because it’s so, well, Instagrammable. You can see some of an infinity room she’s created permanently at the Phoenix Art Museum.

That’s not the only immersive exhibit in Phoenix to catch my eye. “Submergence” at Wonderspaces is a light installation by Squidsoup. You walk through more than 8,000 points of light.

Tour Tovrea Castle

Photo courtesy Visit Phoenix

Touring Tovrea Castle is something that isn’t a spur of the moment decision. This castle that’s referred to as the “wedding cake” castle is a beauty to see, but tickets for it’s limited weekend tours sell out months in advance.

So, book early if you want to visit.

Touch the exhibits

The Musical Instrument Museum appealed to me, first, by the idea of seeing instruments from around the world. Then I heard about octobass, an 11-foot-tall monster of a stringed instrument, and knew that I had to see one of only seven known examples of the instrument in the world.

Take an African safari

A giraffe sticks its head into a vehicle at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Arizona
Photo courtesy Visit Phoenix

The VIP Behind-the-Scenes tour at Out of Africa Wildlife Park looks like another one of those bucket list experiences you wouldn’t expect to find in Arizona.

I first came to know of this park while browsing through photos and I saw the one pictured here. You don’t get much closer to a giraffe than having one stick its head into your jeep!

An epic bucket list for Phoenix Arizona, with gorgeous places to see and unforgettable experiences to have at least once

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Wednesday 23rd of June 2021

Phoenix local here. I love the list. Can you believe I never knew what that castle was? I assumed it was a church of some kind. I would also suggest early spring for some absolutely gorgeous hiking if we get lucky and have some rain, there's a little more green and flowers that make the reds in the dirt and rock really pop.


Wednesday 23rd of June 2021

Ha! The Phoenix area is huge. It's forgivable not to know all of it.

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