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12 Things to Do in Phoenix to Make Every Penny Count!

12 Things to Do in Phoenix to Make Every Penny Count!

Don’t let the shimmering lights of downtown and the luxury boutiques in Old Town Scottsdale fool you: Phoenix doesn’t have to be an expensive city. In fact, there are numerous affordable activities you can enjoy if you know where to find them.

From scenic hikes to cultural experiences, there’s an array of activities waiting to be explored. This guide highlights cheap things to do in Phoenix, offering budget-friendly options for every traveler.

Whether you’re a local or visiting for the first time, these activities promise memorable moments without draining your wallet.

1. Wander through Japanese Friendship Garden

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


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

Operating Hours: Monday: Closed, Tuesday-Sunday: 9 AM–4 PM

Entry Fee:

  • Adults – $12 / $14 at gate
  • Seniors – $10 / $12 at gate
  • Students – $9 / $11 at gate
  • Military – $9 / $11 at gate
  • Youth (ages 7-17) – $9 / $11 at gate
  • Children (ages 0-6) – Free

The Japanese Friendship Garden – RoHoEn offers a serene escape from the bustling city life. This 3.5-acre garden is meticulously designed with hand-picked rocks, stone footbridges, and traditional Japanese lanterns, creating a peaceful ambiance.

Within the garden, you’ll encounter over 50 varieties of plants, adding to the diversity and beauty of the landscape. The tea garden and tea house provide a cultural experience where visitors can learn about Japanese tea ceremonies.

The Japanese Friendship Garden has four distinct gardens that you can explore–the stroll garden, tea garden, stone garden, and courtyard garden. These gardens allow you to immerse yourself in different aspects of Japanese horticulture and design.

Visiting the Japanese Friendship Garden is a delightful journey that doesn’t break the bank. To make the most of your visit, you may consider purchasing tickets online in advance to benefit from the lower admission rates.

This budget-friendly option ensures you can enjoy the garden’s beauty without spending a fortune. Additionally, taking part in Japanese cultural programs and events held regularly adds value to your experience without adding extra cost.

Pro tip:
You can check the garden’s calendar for special events and cultural programs. These can include tea ceremonies, ikebana (flower arranging) demonstrations, and traditional music performances.

2. Visit the 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–5 PM
  • Saturday:  10 AM–5 PM
  • Sunday:    10 AM–5 PM

Entry Fee:

  • Adults – $28
  • Seniors – $25
  • Students (with valid ID) – $23
  • Youth (6-17) – $18
  • Museum Members, and youth 5 and under – Free
  • Every Wednesday from 3PM – 7PM and on the first Friday of every month – Free

The Phoenix Art Museum is a gem of cultural exploration that won’t break the bank. It has free admission on Wednesdays from 3PM – 7PM and on the first Friday of every month.

It’s an ideal opportunity to delve into the world of art without worrying about entrance fees. On these days, you can take advantage of the museum’s extensive collection, which includes iconic works by renowned artists like Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Their website often lists additional discounts and special events, so keep an eye out for those as well. Phoenix Art Museum ensures there’s something to captivate every visitor, from classical art enthusiasts to those intrigued by cutting-edge contemporary pieces.

It’s the United States’ largest art museum dedicated to visual art. It boasts exhibits that span American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern, and contemporary influences.

With a history dating back to 1959, the Phoenix Art Museum has been a cornerstone of artistic exploration in the southwestern United States. Whether you’re interested in photography, fashion design, or modern art, it has something to delight every visitor.

The museum doesn’t just offer static exhibits; it’s a hub of activity with free events like Family Fundays, where all ages can engage in arts programming. There are also AfterHours on select Fridays for live music, art workshops, food experiences, and more.

Pro tip:
You can take advantage of the guided tours offered by the museum. They provide valuable insights into the artworks and exhibitions, making your visit more enriching and enjoyable.

3. Enjoy Roars & Pours at Phoenix Zoo

Address: 455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008


Contact Details: +1 602-286-3800, [email protected]

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

Entry Fee: Age 21 and over (ID required) – $10

Roars & Pours at Phoenix Zoo is a fantastic option for those looking for affordable fun in Phoenix. If you’re 21 or older, you can enjoy this unique happy hour event at the zoo, where you can sip on craft brews and wines while strolling through select trails.

For just $10 per adult, you gain access to a delightful evening filled with drinks, yard games, live music, and other entertaining activities. The drink prices vary, so you can choose based on your preferences.

You also get the chance to encounter amazing animals like African lions, spotted hyenas, Amur leopards, vultures, and fennec foxes. The Safari Cruiser provides a narrated tour of the zoo’s trails and animals, including African painted dogs, and more.

To satisfy your hunger, Habit’s Charmobile makes an appearance, offering delectable California flame-fresh food available for purchase during the event. These include the classic Charburger, tempura green beans, and veggie burger options.

Pro tip:
Arrive early to avoid the crowds and get a head start on the drinks and entertainment. It can get busy later in the evening, so arriving a bit early ensures you have plenty of time to enjoy everything.

4. Have fun playing at Imagine 3D Mini Golf

Address: 785 W Warner Rd Suite A107, Gilbert, AZ 85233


Contact Details: +1 480-361-8005, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 2–9 PM, Friday & Saturday: 12–10 PM


  • Ages 10+ – $12.95
  • Ages 60+ and Military/Police/Fire/EMTs – $9.95
  • Ages 4-9 – $8.95
  • Ages 3 & Younger – Free

Imagine 3D Mini Golf is a fantastic option for affordable entertainment in Phoenix. This glow-in-the-dark facility offers a unique twist on traditional mini golf, setting itself apart with its immersive 3D experience.

The 18 holes at Imagine 3D Mini Golf are not your average mini-golf course. Each hole is a journey through a fantastical world, complete with hand-painted art murals that bring the surroundings to life.

Whether you choose to use 3D glasses or not, the vibrant colors and intricate designs create an engaging atmosphere. What makes Imagine 3D Mini Golf stand out is its versatility.

You can opt to play with 3D glasses, adding an extra layer of challenge and excitement as you navigate through the visually stunning landscapes. Alternatively, you can enjoy the experience without the glasses and still marvel at the artistic creativity on display.

From dragon caves to sunken pirate ships and mythical creatures like unicorns, every hole at Imagine 3D Mini Golf offers a new adventure. It’s not just a game of mini golf; it’s an immersive journey into a fantasy realm where imagination comes to life.

Pro tip:
Don’t forget to bring a pair of comfortable shoes with good traction. Since it’s glow-in-the-dark and features different textures, having the right footwear can enhance your experience and help you navigate the course smoothly.

5. Discover the Hall of Flame Fire Museum

Address: 6101 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ 85008


Contact Details: +1 602-275-3473, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10 AM–6 PM, Sunday & Monday: Closed

Entry Fee:

  • Adults – $15
  • Aged 62+ years old – $13
  • Aged 6-17 years old – $13
  • Aged 3-5 years old – $9
  • Aged 0-2 years old – Free

The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is a must-visit for anyone seeking affordable and educational activities in Phoenix. Not only does it offer free parking, but also its admission fee starts at under $20, making it a budget-friendly choice.

As you explore the museum, you’ll encounter a vast array of historic exhibits showcasing fully restored fire apparatuses dating back from 1725 to 1969. It’s an immersive experience that brings the history of firefighting to life right before your eyes.

One of the highlights of the Hall of Flame Fire Museum is its extensive collection. It has over a hundred fire trucks, steamers, hand pumpers, and other apparatuses from various eras and locations worldwide.

Additionally, it pays tribute to firefighting heroes through its National Firefighting Hall of Heroes. Here, it honors those who have made significant contributions or sacrifices in the line of duty.

Pro tip:
The museum has interactive areas and a children’s play zone, making it a great educational and entertaining experience for young ones. Plus, they’ll love climbing on the real fire truck!

6. Conquer new heights at The Phoenix Rock Gym

Address: 1353 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85288


Contact Details: +1 480-921-8322, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday: 3–10 PM, Saturday & Sunday: 10 AM–7 PM


  • Day Pass with Gear – $20
  • Day Pass – $15
  • Gear Rental (Shoes, Harness, Carabiner) – $5
  • Day Pass with Gear (Kids Under 12) – $17
  • Day Pass (Kids Under 12) – $12
  • Gear Rental for Kids under 12 (Shoes, Harness, Carabiner) – $5

At The Phoenix Rock Gym, you can conquer new heights with 30-foot high walls and over 17,000 square feet of climbing space. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a complete beginner, this rock climbing gym caters to everyone.

Don’t worry if you’ve never climbed before; The Phoenix Rock Gym provides all the necessary training to ensure you climb safely. They offer rental equipment, so you don’t need to invest in gear if you’re just starting out.

With 56 top-ropes featuring various routes, from easy cruising paths to more challenging overhanging sections, there’s something for climbers of all levels. It also has a large bouldering area, perfect for warm-ups, workouts, or trying out new techniques.

As you step into the vertical world of climbing indoors at The Phoenix Rock Gym, the thrill of scaling walls awaits you. It’s an excellent opportunity to push yourself both physically and mentally while also being budget-friendly.

Pro tip:
You can start with an easy route to warm up before tackling more challenging climbs. It helps to get your body accustomed to the movements and builds confidence.

7. Glide across the rink at Skateland in Mesa

Address: 7 E Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85210


Contact Details: +1 480-833-7775, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   Closed
  • Tuesday:  5:30–8 PM
  • Wednesday: 6–8:30 PM
  • Thursday: 5:30–8 PM, 8:30–11:30 PM
  • Friday:      6–9 PM
  • Saturday: 10 AM–12:30 PM, 1–3:30 PM, 4:30–7 PM, 7:30–10 PM
  • Sunday:    1–3:30 PM, 4:30–7 PM


  • Half Price Night every Wednesday
  • Admission – $5.50
  • Skate rental – $4.50

You can escape the scorching Arizona sun and indulge in roller skating excitement at Skateland. Every first Monday of the month, adults aged 18 and above can join in for Adult Skate Night, offering a unique twist to the traditional roller skating experience.

Throughout the week, Skateland hosts various public skate nights, including the vibrant Glow Skate event held on Fridays. These themed nights add an extra layer of fun and excitement to your skating adventures.

At Skateland, you’ll groove to a mix of classic tunes and contemporary hits. There are specific music genres featured on designated nights such as hip-hop on Saturdays and gospel on Sundays.

In addition to the thrilling skating rink, Skateland offers a 20-game arcade. These provide a welcome break for tired legs and engaging entertainment for those preferring a seated activity.

Adjacent to the skating rink is the Roller Café, serving a variety of kid-friendly favorites like pizza, wings, hot dogs, and cotton candy. You can take advantage of special deals during the week to make your skating experience even more affordable and enjoyable.

Pro tip:
If you’re a beginner, take advantage of the skating lessons offered at Skateland to improve your skills and confidence on wheels.

8. Explore Goldfield Ghost Town

Address: 4650 N Mammoth Mine Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119


Contact Details: +1 480-983-0333, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10 AM–5 PM

Entry Fee:

  • Adults – $12
  • Seniors – $10
  • Children (ages 5-12) – $8
  • Children (4 and under) – Free

Goldfield Ghost Town is located about 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix. The attractions here are not only intriguing but also quite affordable, with most activities ranging from $8 to $12 each, and some even free.

Goldfield, with its roots dating back to 1902, boasts a rich Western history that is unrivaled. Once a bustling city with a population of 20,000, it quickly became the pinnacle of wealth and influence in Nevada during its prime.

Today, Goldfield is a “living ghost town,” home to around 250 residents. It offers visitors a glimpse into the past through meticulously preserved original buildings.

Here, you can try your luck at gold panning or hop on a narrated railroad tour around the town. You can also wander through authentic Old West structures or delve into the depths of a former gold mine on a guided tour.

Amidst the rustic charm of Goldfield, you’ll find quaint establishments like a bakery, saloon, and various merchants. These add to the immersive experience of stepping back in time to the Gold Rush era.

Pro tip:
Before leaving, browse through the gift shops and artisan stalls. You’ll find unique souvenirs, handmade crafts, and local artworks that make for memorable keepsakes or gifts for friends and family.

9. Attend a Yoga Session with Blue Buddha Collective

Address: 423 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257


Contact Details: +1 480-572-1372, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   7 AM–12 PM, 4–8 PM
  • Tuesday:  7 AM–12 PM, 4–8 PM
  • Wednesday: 7 AM–12 PM, 4–8 PM
  • Thursday: 7 AM–12 PM, 4–8 PM
  • Friday:      7 AM–12 PM, 4–7 PM
  • Saturday:  7:30 AM–2:30 PM
  • Sunday:    8 AM–2:30 PM

Pricing: Drop in – $15

Blue Buddha Collective is a unique fusion of a yoga studio and coffee shop, offering an affordable wellness experience. This establishment is the most reasonably priced studio in the Valley of the Sun, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious individuals.

Here, you can explore a range of yoga classes, including infrared and non-heated options, all for just $11 per drop-in session. You may consider their Blacklight Yoga session on Wednesday evenings for a unique and immersive experience.

The studio follows a boutique-style approach, providing an intimate setting for yoga practice. Alongside traditional yoga classes like Hatha Yoga and Kundalini, Blue Buddha offers Empowerflow, Yoga Nidra, Sound Healing, and Yin, among others.

In addition to yoga, they also have a coffee shop and espresso bar. It’s locally renowned for their selection of hot, iced, and blended beverages, protein smoothies, teas, and recovery drinks.

Pro tip:
While Blue Buddha may provide mats, bringing your own yoga mat adds a personal touch and ensures hygiene during your practice.

10. Learn About the Past at the Arizona Museum of Natural History

Address: 53 N Macdonald, Mesa, AZ 85201


Contact Details: +1 480-644-2230, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   Closed
  • Tuesday:  10 AM–5 PM
  • Wednesday: 10 AM–5 PM
  • Thursday: 10 AM–5 PM
  • Friday:      10 AM–5 PM
  • Saturday:  10 AM–5 PM
  • Sunday:    12–5 PM

Entry Fee:

  • Adults – $16
  • Seniors 65+ – $13
  • Students 13+ with ID – $13
  • Children (ages 3-12) – $9
  • Children (ages 2 and under) – Free
  • EBT Card Holders (Must show ID & EBT CARD) – $2

Exploring the Arizona Museum of Natural History is one of the best inexpensive activities you can enjoy in and around Phoenix. This unique museum offers a captivating journey through the natural and cultural history of the Southwest.

One of the highlights of the museum is its massive dinosaur diorama, where you can marvel at lifelike reconstructions of ancient creatures. Additionally, you can step back in time and experience a real territorial jail and pan for gold in the History Courtyard.

The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including the Spanish Southwest, Territorial Arizona, and Arizona’s historic 5 Cs. You’ll also learn about the movies filmed in Arizona and immerse yourself in a western movie experience.

For those looking to extend their visit, there are a variety of coffee shops nearby where you can relax and reflect on your museum experience. Whether you’re exploring solo or with family and friends, it promises an engaging outing without breaking the bank.

Pro tip:
For families with young children, consider picking up a scavenger hunt or activity sheet at the museum’s entrance. These interactive guides can add an extra layer of fun and engagement to your visit.

11. Watch a Film at Taliesin West

Address: 12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259


Contact Details: +1 888-516-0811, [email protected]

Operating Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10 AM–5 PM

Entry Fee:

  • Adults – $15
  • Members – $13.50

*Coming as a group? Buy two film tickets and save $5!*

At Taliesin West, you can experience the magic of cinema in a historic setting. The Friday Night Film series offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in classic films while surrounded by the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright.

You may consider taking advantage of group discounts if you plan to attend with friends or a date. Watching a movie at Taliesin West allows you to enjoy timeless entertainment in a truly iconic space.

Here, film viewings were an integral part of the community’s life, and special rooms were designed specifically for these screenings. You can join in on the tradition by attending screenings of old-Hollywood favorites in the Cabaret Theater.

Keep in mind that access to the program area is included, and seating is general admission. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase concession items like popcorn, candy, soda, beer, and wine to enhance your movie-watching experience.

Pro tip:
Arrive early to soak in the ambiance of Taliesin West before the film begins. The architecture and surroundings are truly captivating.

12. Catch Live Comedy at The Bridge Improv

Address: 937 E Broadway Rd Ste 4, Tempe, AZ 85282


Contact Details: +1 602-460-3303, [email protected]

Operating Hours:

  • Monday:   Closed
  • Tuesday:  Closed
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 6:30–8:30 PM
  • Friday:      6:30–11 PM
  • Saturday:  6:30–11 PM
  • Sunday:    Closed

At The Bridge Improv, you can catch live Mainstage Improv shows every Friday and Saturday for just $10 per adult. Despite the low cost, the quality of comedy is top-notch, making it one of the best entertainment deals in Phoenix.

Tickets are easily accessible through their website, ensuring a hassle-free experience for comedy enthusiasts. The comedy at The Bridge Improv Theater is both clean and clever, suitable for audiences of all ages.

Whether you’re a fan of improv, stand-up, or sketch comedy, they offer various shows, open mics, and classes to cater to different tastes. Its name reflects its philosophy of using improv to promote life skills like listening, collaboration, and positive thinking.

Founded in 2020 by Travis Johnson and David Raftery, The Bridge Improv Theater has quickly become a staple in the local comedy scene. Their mission is to deliver “Clean and Clever Comedy” to the Tempe area and beyond, creating a welcoming space.

Pro tip:
Many improv shows involve audience participation. Don’t be shy to shout out suggestions when prompted – it adds to the fun!
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