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We’ve explored Phoenix like a magical realm, and here’s our recommended best things to do downtown!

Sometimes, Phoenix may seem like a labyrinth at first glance, like trying to navigate Hogwarts without a Marauder’s Map.

But fear not, fellow adventurer! Today, we’re embarking on a quest to uncover the hidden treasures and epic adventures waiting in downtown Phoenix.

Think of me as your Hermione, armed with knowledge and a knack for finding the best spots in town. From enchanting art galleries to mouth watering eateries and adrenaline-pumping activities, downtown Phoenix is our very own magical realm.

So grab your broomstick—okay, maybe just your walking shoes —and let’s dive into the best things to do in downtown Phoenix!

1. Embrace downtown Phoenix’s artsy side on Roosevelt Row

Address: 147 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85004


Contact Details: +1 602-560-3232, [email protected]

Roosevelt Row demands at least half a day to fully appreciate. For an even richer experience, you can visit during the First Fridays event, when hundreds of artists and thousands of visitors transform the area into Arizona’s largest arts market.

Starting at N 7th St, the iconic Roosevelt mural sets the tone for your exploration. Walking west along Roosevelt Ave., numerous murals unfold, each street revealing new artistic treasures.

Roosevelt Row Community Development Program plays a crucial role in this area’s transformation. Once plagued by abandoned buildings, it now thrives as a hub for local artists and small businesses.

With a decade of effort, the district attracts up to 100,000 new visitors annually. Recognized nationally, Roosevelt Row exemplifies how arts and culture can rejuvenate urban spaces.

A visitor center provides maps for a self-guided tour, and an E-bike rental shop nearby makes it easy to explore the extensive mural routes. Alongside the art, visitors can enjoy delicious food and boutique shops, including a historic flower shop on Fifth Street.

Pro tip:
Don’t miss the annual events and festivals. Roosevelt Row hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including art walks, music festivals, and food fairs. These events bring even more energy and excitement to the area.

2. Uncover masterpieces at Phoenix Art Museum

Address: 1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004


Contact Details: +1 602-257-1880, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   Closed
  • Tuesday:  Closed
  • Wednesday: 10 AM–9 PM
  • Thursday: 10 AM–5 PM
  • Friday:      10 AM–9 PM
  • Saturday:  10 AM–5 PM
  • Sunday:    10 AM–5 PM

Phoenix Art Museum is a cultural gem that houses an extensive collection of art from the Renaissance to the present day. The museum’s reputation as Arizona’s most prestigious cultural institution is well-deserved.

Opened in the late 1950s, the museum features over 19,000 works. These include American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design.

Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the southwestern United States. Over the past 60 years, millions have visited to explore its hundreds of national and international exhibitions.

Beyond the galleries, visitors can also enjoy a range of programs, including films, lectures, and special events. The serene Dorrance Sculpture Garden adds an outdoor dimension to the museum experience.

Pro tip:
Take advantage of the docent-led tours. These tours provide in-depth knowledge and stories about the artwork and the artists, making your visit much more informative and enjoyable.

3. Connect with nature at The Japanese Friendship Garden

Address: 1125 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003


Contact Details: +1 602-274-8700, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   Closed
  • Tuesday:  8 AM–12 PM
  • Wednesday: 8 AM–12 PM
  • Thursday: 8 AM–12 PM
  • Friday:      9 AM–4 PM, 5–7:30 PM
  • Saturday:  8 AM–12 PM, 5–8 PM
  • Sunday:    8 AM–12 PM, 5–8 PM

The Japanese Friendship Garden, created in the 1990s, serves as a serene oasis that honors the enduring bond between Phoenix and its Sister City, Himeji, Japan. Its blend of natural beauty and cultural richness makes it a top destination in Phoenix.

Covering 3.5 acres, the garden offers a peaceful escape with its beautifully maintained landscape. A 12-foot waterfall feeds into streams and a pond filled with over 300 vibrant koi fish.

The garden features over 1,500 tons of hand-picked rock, stone footbridges, and lanterns, along with more than 50 varieties of plants. As you stroll along the paths, the soothing sounds of flowing water and the sight of colorful koi enhance the experience.

A tea house with traditional Japanese architecture adds to the garden’s charm. Monthly cultural programs, events, and exhibits offer a deeper insight into Japanese traditions and practices.

The garden also serves as a venue for various events. It can be rented for corporate gatherings, weddings, and photoshoots, providing a unique and picturesque backdrop.

Pro tip:
Stopping by the gift shop before you leave is a good idea. They have a nice selection of Japanese-themed souvenirs, including tea sets, books, and more, which make great gifts or mementos.

4. Catch a game at the Footprint Center

Address: 201 E Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85004


Contact Details: +1 602-379-7800, [email protected]

Whether seeking an exhilarating sports event or a memorable night of entertainment, Footprint Center provides something for everyone. Located near the CityScape development, it’s home to the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury.

Opening its doors in 1992, Footprint Center has garnered significant recognition, including six nominations for “Arena of the Year” by Pollstar Magazine. The arena’s central location makes it a hub of activity and excitement.

With over two million guests annually, the Footprint Center is a premier destination for sports and entertainment. Fans can enjoy a variety of food and fun in the vibrant downtown Phoenix area.

The venue is incredibly versatile, hosting not only basketball games but also concerts and family shows like Disney On Ice. Its accessible facilities and diverse seating options ensure a great experience for visitors of all ages.

As the proud home of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, the arena also offers an added thrill with its FanDuel sportsbook partnership. This feature allows sports enthusiasts to engage in exciting betting experiences right at the venue.

Pro tip:
Bring a clear bag if you need to carry items into the arena. Footprint Center has a clear bag policy, so this will save you time at security and ensure you don’t have to check any prohibited items.

5. Embark on a guided haunted walking tour

Media: Get Ghosted Phoenix

Location: downtown Phoenix


Contact Details: +1 520-873-9845, [email protected]

Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours

Embarking on a guided haunted walking tour is one of the best things to do in downtown Phoenix. This experience dives into the city’s spooky past, with tales of ghosts and ghouls dating back centuries.

Guests can explore Phoenix’s macabre history while walking its haunted streets, visiting notorious spots, and listening to creepy stories. An experienced guide accompanies you, ensuring the tales are both entertaining and chilling.

These tours meticulously showcase the rich tapestry of Phoenix’s history, intricately intertwined with paranormal mysteries. The use of cutting-edge paranormal equipment like EMF detectors and spirit boxes adds an interactive element.

As you journey through historic downtown Phoenix, numerous haunted locations come alive with ghostly tales and chilling legends. Stops include the Teeter House, known for its elegant Victorian architecture and the lingering presence of its original inhabitants.

Other highlights include Melinda’s Alley, a former red-light district where tragedy and intrigue intertwine. At Hotel San Carlos, the whispers of restless spirits echo through opulent halls, promising a truly unforgettable encounter with the paranormal.

Pro tip:
The guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the history and hauntings. So, engaging with them can provide deeper insights and make the tour more personalized.

6. Discover Science and innovation at the Arizona Science Center

Address: 600 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004


Contact Details: +1 602-716-2000

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10:30 AM–4 PM

Entry Fee:

  • Adult – $29.95
  • Child (3-17) – $19.95
  • Senior (62+) – $27.95

Exploring downtown Phoenix wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Arizona Science Center. Nestled in the scenic Heritage and Science Park, it offers a unique blend of exploration, education, and entertainment for all ages.

Designed by renowned architect Antoine Predock, the Arizona Science Center stands out as a landmark. It houses one of the largest planetariums in the U.S. and features a 3D theater with a five-story tall screen, providing immersive experiences.

The Center boasts over 300 interactive exhibits and displays, covering diverse topics from space flight to creepy crawlies and the science behind bubbles. This variety ensures that there’s something intriguing for everyone to explore.

CREATE at the Arizona Science Center, a neighboring 6,500-square-foot space, offers an art studio and lab combo. Here, visitors can unleash their creativity, test tools, and participate in classes and workshops.

The 140,000-square-foot building features ramps, hallways, galleries, and terraces. The four levels of hands-on exhibits, along with the state-of-the-art planetarium and giant-screen theater, promise an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

Pro tip:
If you’re visiting with kids, taking advantage of the interactive exhibits in the “All About Me” gallery is a must. Kids will love learning about the human body through hands-on activities and fun displays.

7. Watch spectacular performances at the Orpheum Theatre

Address: 203 W Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85003


Contact Details: +1 602-262-6225

Located among the restored historic areas, Orpheum Theatre has undergone a $14 million restoration. It’s a premier venue for a variety of productions, beckoning audiences to experience unforgettable performances in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

Orpheum Theatre was originally constructed in 1927 in the Spanish Revival style of Spanish Baroque architecture by Lescher & Mahoney. Its inclusion on the national register of historic places in 1985 speaks to its cultural significance.

Today, Orpheum Theatre plays host to a diverse range of performances, including Phoenix Opera, concerts, Broadway musicals, and ballet. The theater’s rich history and architectural beauty add a unique ambiance to every show.

Orpheum Theatre is part of a vibrant entertainment district that includes the Phoenix Convention Center and Symphony Hall. Its beaux arts-style architecture and renovated interior make it a standout venue for Broadway shows and musical programs.

Pro tip:
Take advantage of any special events or promotions. Sometimes, the Orpheum Theatre offers backstage tours or meet-and-greet sessions with performers, adding an extra layer of excitement to your experience.

8. Treat yourself to meaty delights at The Arrogant Butcher

Address: 2 E Jefferson St #150, Phoenix, AZ 85004


Contact Details: +1 602-324-8502, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 AM–9 PM, Friday & Saturday: 11 AM–10 PM

Dining at The Arrogant Butcher is undoubtedly a must for a memorable culinary experience in downtown Phoenix. This 7,500-square-foot urban grill is known for its ambitious menu, offering a mix of hits and misses that keep diners intrigued.

The restaurant’s focus on meat is evident in dishes like prime rib and meatloaf. Additionally, their appetizers, such as soft pretzels with provolone fondue and shrimp and sea bass ceviche, are perfect for starting your meal on a delicious note.

At The Arrogant Butcher, you’ll find a well-rounded culinary experience. From seafood and steaks to craft cocktails and draft beer, they cater to a variety of tastes and preferences.

One of the highlights of dining at The Arrogant Butcher is its vibrant atmosphere. It’s a place where sports fans, theater-goers, and even top politicians can come together over great food and drinks.

The bar area is particularly lively, offering a casual yet upscale setting for enjoying a burger and beer. If you’re planning a special event or gathering, The Arrogant Butcher has you covered with its private dining rooms and outdoor patio seating.

Pro tip:
If you’re looking for a more intimate dining experience, you may consider booking one of their private dining rooms. It’s perfect for special occasions or gatherings where you want a more secluded setting.

9. Take a helicopter tour over downtown Phoenix


Contact Details: [email protected]

Duration: 40 minutes

Pricing: $225

Embarking on a helicopter tour over downtown Phoenix is undeniably one of the best experiences you can have in the city. As you soar above the skyline, you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the urban landscape below.

One of the highlights of these helicopter tours is the opportunity to witness downtown Phoenix come alive at night. The cityscape transforms into a dazzling display of lights, creating a magical and vibrant atmosphere.

Before taking off, you’ll start your adventure at the Scottsdale Airpark, where you’ll receive a thorough safety briefing from your FAA-certified pilot. This ensures a smooth and secure flight as you take in the sights from above.

Once in the air, your pilot will guide you through the skies, pointing out notable landmarks along the way. You’ll have the chance to see iconic spots such as the Arizona Biltmore, Chase Field, and Talking Stick Resort, each offering a unique perspective from above.

Don’t forget to bring your camera or smartphone to capture stunning photos of the downtown city skyline and the mesmerizing light shows at Talking Stick Resort. These aerial shots will be cherished memories of your helicopter tour.

Pro tip:
Be mindful of weight restrictions and baggage policies. Helicopter tours have specific weight limits for safety reasons, so pack lightly and follow any guidelines provided by the tour operator.

10. Explore Heritage Square’s historical treasures

Address: 113 N 6th St, Phoenix, AZ 85004


Contact Details: 1 602-258-0048, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   Closed
  • Tuesday:  Closed
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 10 AM–3 PM
  • Friday:      10 AM–2 PM
  • Saturday:  10 AM–3 PM
  • Sunday:    12–3 PM

Heritage Square is a hidden gem that transports visitors to a bygone era of Victorian charm and historical significance. The square is home to a collection of meticulously preserved heritage homes and buildings, each telling a unique story of the city’s past.

One of the standout features of Heritage Square is the opportunity for guided tours of select buildings. These tours provide insights into the craftsmanship and lifestyles of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

At the heart of Heritage Square is the iconic Rosson House Museum, a testament to Queen Anne architecture and period-specific decor. Visitors can marvel at the intricate details of the museum while soaking in the ambiance of a bygone era.

Heritage Square also boasts a vibrant atmosphere with an array of eateries, galleries, a museum store, and a charming coffee bar. It’s the perfect place to unwind, enjoy a leisurely meal, or simply bask in the beauty of the surroundings.

For a full day of exploration, consider combining your visit to Heritage Square with a stop at the nearby Arizona Science Center. Both attractions complement each other perfectly, providing a diverse and enriching experience for visitors of all ages.

Pro tip:
Check if there are any scheduled historical reenactments or events happening in Heritage Square during your visit. They add an extra layer of immersion to the experience.

11. Enjoy drinks at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Address: 1 W Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85003


Contact Details: +1 602-340-1924, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   Closed
  • Tuesday:  4 PM–12 AM
  • Wednesday: 4 PM–12 AM
  • Thursday: 4 PM–12 AM
  • Friday:      4 PM–1 AM
  • Saturday:  4 PM–1 AM
  • Sunday:    Closed

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour is housed within the historic Arizona Prohibition Headquarters, adding a touch of irony to your cocktail experience. Despite its popularity, the ambiance inside is cozy and inviting, perfect for unwinding after a long day.

The extensive cocktail menu at Bitter & Twisted has garnered numerous awards, showcasing their commitment to crafting innovative and delicious drinks. Whether you prefer classic cocktails or adventurous creations, there’s something to suit every palate.

In addition to their impressive cocktail selection, Bitter & Twisted also offers delectable bar bites to complement your drinks. This makes it a complete dining and drinking experience in downtown Phoenix.

The bar’s reputation for excellence extends beyond its drinks. The attentive and knowledgeable staff ensure that each cocktail is expertly crafted, enhancing your overall experience.

While the bar can get busy during peak times, the wait is worth it for the quality of drinks and the lively atmosphere. Meanwhile, consider making a reservation in advance or arriving early to secure a spot at the bar.

Pro tip:
Don’t hesitate to explore their signature cocktail menu. They’re known for their innovative creations, and trying something unique can be a delightful experience.

12. Discover the Musical Wonders at Musical Instrument Museum

Address: 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050


Contact Details: +1 480-478-6000, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 9 AM–5 PM

Visiting the Musical Instrument Museum is a captivating journey through the global soundscape. The museum boasts an impressive collection of over 8,000 instruments from 200 countries, offering a truly immersive experience.

Exploring the museum reveals not just instruments. It also has concert footage, attire worn by famous musicians, and insights into the preservation and restoration of these musical treasures at the Conservation Lab.

The Experience Gallery further enriches the visit by allowing guests to interact with instruments firsthand. Families with children will find the museum particularly engaging, with dedicated areas like the Encore Gallery tailored for younger visitors.

This museum is a celebration of diversity, showcasing the rich cultural heritage and musical traditions from around the world. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about different cultures and their musical expressions in a comprehensive space.

In addition to its exhibits, the museum’s MIM Music Theater hosts concerts, adding a dynamic element to the experience.

Pro tip:
If you’re a musician or music enthusiast, you may consider attending one of the museum’s workshops or classes. They offer hands-on learning experiences and insights into different musical traditions.
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