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The 20 Best Things to do in Glendale, AZ for First Timers

Glendale, Arizona

Located just west of Phoenix in the Northwest part of the Valley of the Sun is the city of Glendale. Although it doesn't get quite as much attention as its more famous neighbor, it still boasts a ton of things to do and see. Whether you want to take a hike in the desert, enjoy some wild and wet fun at a water pack, enjoy a relaxing day at the park, or enjoy a night of music and entertainment at a cabaret show, there's a little something for everyone here. If you're planning your first visit to the city, here's our pick of the 20 best things to do in Glendale, AZ for first timers.

Enjoy a movie night at the Arrowhead Towne Centre

20. Enjoy a movie night at the Arrowhead Towne Centre

The Arrowhead Towne Centre has served as the entertainment center of Glendale since it opened in 1993. Spread over two floors, the mall boasts around 200 retailers in total, including a good selection of department stores and national chains, along with a food court filled with cafes and restaurants. Its also home to a multi-room AMC Movie Theater, making it the perfect place to head for an evening of popcorn, movies, and family-friendly fun.

Glendale Glitters

19. Get in the Christmas spirit at Glendale Glitters

As soon as the holiday season kicks in, Historic Downtown Glendale transforms into a winter wonderland. As notes, over 1.6 million multi-colored LED lights are festooned around the district, attracting thousands of visitors each year. On top of enjoying the lights, you can pay a visit to Santa, buy some handcrafted holiday gifts, check out the children's winter wonderland and petting zoo, and indulge in some festive treats from the food stalls. There are also rides, block parties, family-oriented activities, and much more besides. The festivities kick off on the Friday after Thanksgiving and keep going all the way through to the second week of January.

Tanger Outlets Westgate

18. Shop till you drop at Tanger Outlets Westgate

If you're looking for big-name brands at bargain prices, be sure to check out Tanger Outlets Westgate while you're in Glendale. There's always a bargain to be had, whether it's shoes, bags, clothing, or home decor. If you're a member of the military or a AAA/CAA or AARP member, bring along your membership card/ ID to benefit from a free Tanger Coupon Book worth hundreds of dollars in discounts.

Arizona Doll & Toy Museum

17. Check out the miniature treasures at the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum

If you want to visit a museum of a very different kind to the usual, take the advice of and pay a visit to the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum. With a vast array of exhibits dating from the 1700s all the way through to the 1980s, it's a fascinating place to spend a few hours. The reconstructed old schoolroom is particularly memorable.

Camelback Ranch

16. Watch a baseball game at Camelback Ranch

If you're a big baseball fan, be sure to pay a visit to Camelback Ranch during your time in Glendale. As well as serving as the official Spring Training grounds for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox, it's also home to the Arizona Fall League. If you've got plenty of time on your hands, it's worth signing up for the Adult Baseball Camp, a week-long summer camp led by professional players, trainers, and coaches.

Cerreta Candy Company

15. Indulge your sweet tooth at the Cerreta Candy Company

if you've ever wanted to find out more about how your favorites candies are made, don't miss a visit to Cerreta Candy Company. Located in Historic Downtown Glendale, this family-owned candy factory and store was the first candy store to start wrapping soft candies and the first to swap waxed paper for cellophane. These days, it offers visitors the chance to learn all about the candy-making process via a tour of its factory. Tours take place twice per day, Monday through Friday. Be sure to stop by the store before you leave to stock up on sweet treats for your journey home.

University of Phoenix Stadium

14. Tour the University of Phoenix Stadium

As Trip 101 says, if you love all things to do with sports, especially football, be sure to make time for a visit to the University of Phoenix Stadium. Home to the Arizona Cardinals, the Fiesta Bowl, and the Bowl Championship Series, it's an unbeatable destination for sports fans. Featuring a retractable roof, seating for over 72000 people, and a real grass field (the first of its kind in the US), it's an impressive sight. Even if you're not lucky enough to be in town for a game, it's still worth booking a tour of the stadium.

Gila River Arena

13. Catch a show at the Gila River Arena

The Gila River Arena is a multi-use stadium that serves as the home of Arizona's National Hockey League team, the Arizona Coyotes. Outside of the hockey season, it's a great place to catch a show or concert. Just a small sample of the big names that have headlined there in the past include Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Celine Dion, Cher, Panic! at the Disco, Sam Smith, and Tool. Regardless of what style of music you're into, you're going to be well and truly entertained.

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

12. Take a hike in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park

If you're into hiking, the White Tank Mountain Regional Park has your name written all over it. Located just a little outside the city, the park boasts around 30,000 acres of desert landscape and mountains. Crisscrossed across it is 21 miles of hiking and biking trails. The trails offer varying amounts of challenge, making the park as ideal for fitness freaks as for couch potatoes. If you're looking for a trail the whole family can enjoy, check out the Waterfall Trail - easy enough to be traversed by all ages and fitness levels, it ends at the Petroglyph Plaza, an intriguing place that boasts cave-style drawings dating back between 500 and 900 CE.

Explore the Westgate Entertainment District

11. Explore the Westgate Entertainment District

If shopping's your thing, be sure to check out the Westgate Entertainment District. Recommended by The Crazy Tourist as one of Glendale's top attractions, it's got enough shops, movie theaters, restaurants, and bars to keep boredom well and truly at bay. It also hosts regular events like Westgate Bike Night, Westgate Hot Rod Night, Westgate Wednesdays, and the Fireworks Fest for the Fourth of July, guaranteeing plenty of fun for you and all the family.


10. Check out the animal displays at Cabela's

Cabela's isn't like any other store in the world. Half retailer, half tourist attraction, it boasts a huge selection of sporting goods, along with an aquarium, a fudge store, an indoor archery test display, a restaurant, and, at the back, what appears to be half of the Natural History Museum. If you're in need of some handmade lures, camping equipment, survival gear. or anything else related to the outdoor lifestyle, this is the place to head. Even if you're not, go there anyway - the hundreds of professionally mounted animals (including elephants, rhinos, polar bears, moose, rhinos, birds, deer, elk, and more besides) are worth the trip alone.

Glendale Chocolate Affaire

9. Tuck into some treats at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire

If your visit to Glendale happens to fall in February, you're in luck. Held in the lead-up to Valentine's Day each year, the Glendale Chocolate Affaire is a hugely popular event that celebrates everything there is to love about chocolate. Expect live music, kids' activities, scores of specialty chocolate vendors (along with a good handful of traditional food vendors too), live demonstrations, competitions, and, of course, plenty of free samples to keep your sweet tooth happy.

Thunderbird Park

8. Explore Thunderbird Park

Glendale only has one mountain preserve to its name, but it's a goodie. Located about a mile north of State Route Loop 101 on 59th Avenue, Thunderbird Park consists of around 1,000 acres of pristine desert landscape. Biking trails and jogging trails are peppered throughout the area, making it perfect for adventurers looking to burn off some steam. if you want to experience the beauty of the park without exhausting yourself in the process, try renting a horse and exploring it on horseback instead - you'll see just as much, but you won't be left with aching muscles at the end of it.

Wet N’ Wild Water Park

7. Take the kids to Wet N’ Wild Water Park

When the temperature starts to rise, there's no better place to cool off than Wet N’ Wild Water Park. With family rides like the Crazy Cactus Roaring River, thrilling attractions like Tornado and Maximum Velocity, and a smorgasbord of other wet and wild activities to enjoy, it promises a fun-packed day for all the family.

Foothills Park

6. Visit Foothills Park

Foothills Park is one of the most popular recreation sights in Glendale, and for very good reason. There are some great hiking paths to explore, dozens of biking paths to enjoy, skateboarding ramps, a playground for little ones, grills, picnic tables, an agility course for dogs, and plenty of grassy areas to kick back and relax. If you're looking for the kind of place the entire family can enjoy, it's ideal.

Shout Bar

5. Enjoy a night out at the Shout Bar

If you're in the mood for some music, comedy, and top-notch entertainment, call in a babysitter for the night and head for the Shout Bar. Each night, the Dueling Pianos cabaret show entertains the crowds with some 50's rock and roll and laugh out loud standup. Combined with a lively atmosphere and some great food, it's a hugely enjoyable place to spend an evening.

Tolmachoff Farms

4. Pick a pumpkin at Tolmachoff Farms

Tolmachoff Farms is a must-visit for families. There's a ton of fun activities and attractions to enjoy, including a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, farm animals, tractor rides, a maze, a corn pit, slides, and more besides. It's also a great place to stock up your pantry with fresh produce like tomatoes, corn, garlic, onions, and, of course, pumpkins.

Glendale Xeriscape Botanical Garden

3. Visit the Glendale Xeriscape Botanical Garden

If you're into horticulture, don't miss Glendale Xeriscape Botanical Garden. Widely considered to be one of the best demonstration gardens in the state, the gardens boast over 400 varieties of desert plants spread over 4 acres of grounds next to the Glendale library. Each plant is clearly named, making it as much a learning experience as it is a feast for the eyes. As you wander around, keep your eyes peeled for the colorful peacocks, peahens, and other birds that roam the land. Tours are free of charge. To add to the experience, it's worth checking out a listening wand from the library to learn more about what you'll see during your visit.

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium & Safari Park

2. Check out the animals at the Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium & Safari Park

According to, Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium & Safari Park displays Arizona’s largest collection of exotic animals. Visitors can expect to see white tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, giraffes, monkeys, kangaroos, sharks, penguins, stingrays, and over 6,000 other exotic species. Besides the animals, there's no end of things to see and do, including taking a log flume through the aquarium, hopping aboard the African safari train, floating down the river on the Australian boat, and taking a ride on the kid’s exotic animal carousel.

Historic Sahuaro Ranch

1. Step into the past at the Historic Sahuaro Ranch

Sahuaro Ranch is the oldest ranch in the Valley of the Sun. Located just a little north of downtown, the 17-acre property, which was founded in 1886 by William Henry Barlett, offers daily tours of the main house on Fridays and Saturdays in June and July and on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from September through May. During the tour, you'll get to learn all about what Arizona ranch life was like from the late 1800s through to the 1930s. Once you've finished admiring the house, be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy the grounds, which boast ball games, playgrounds, a dog park, volleyball courts, a soccer field, and a wonderfully fragrant rose garden. Keep your eyes peeled for the peacocks that call the park home.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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