If there were one thing that Phoenix has, it would be endless sunshine. Phoenix is Arizona’s capital, and it’s also one of the most populous in the nation. It’s a city that’s surrounded by some of the most stunning mountain views, and the sunsets here are some of the best. While the cost of living in Phoenix may be just at average, it doesn’t hurt to check out affordable things to do in the city, especially since Phoenix has a ton of attractions that are free. If you’re looking for ways to spend your days in Phoenix without spending your dollars, here are 20 awesome free things to do.
Hiking is almost a given due to Phoenix’s location. According to 10best.com, the Valley of the Sun offers plenty of places. You can explore several recreation areas and parks for a walk, and you can hike according to your comfort level. South Mountain Park will offer you incredible views of the city. On the other hand, Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area will give you a ton of trails to choose from that’s sure to raise your heart rate a bit and get you sweating.
2. Enchanted Island Amusement Park
Exploring parks in Phoenix is great because you’re almost always guaranteed a nice day out. At the center of Encanto Park is Enchanted Island. It’s the perfect getaway for the family, and the entrance fee happens to be totally free. You’d only have to pay for the rides that you want to go on, but you certainly don’t have to go on rides if you’re not up for it. The park itself is just a great place to hang out in and a good place to walk around or people watch.
3. Desert Botanical Garden
There are a lot of botanical gardens out there, but there’s something about Phoenix’s garden that’s quite unique. The flora in the area is different from the nation, so you can guarantee you’ll see something unique here. In fact, Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden is one of the largest collections of desert flora in the entire world. If that’s not impressive enough, a short walk through the garden should convince you right away. It’s a good place to relax, unwind, and to get some fresh desert air. Make sure you go on the second Tuesday of every month because that’s when the museum is free.
4. Heard Museum
The Native American culture is an important part of the Phoenix cultural makeup. It just so happens that the city has one of the best collections of Native American art in the world. VisitPhoenix.com details the free days when you can enjoy and learn more about the Native American and Southwestern cultures in Phoenix. That would be every first Friday evening of every month and every fourth Sunday from June to September. Make sure to look into the works of contemporary Southwestern artists as well while you’re there.
5. Arizona Capitol Museum
If you’re into historical and educational information, the Arizona Capitol Museum is an absolute must-see. The stone building alone is quite impressive, and the copper dome is like the cherry on the top. This copper dome is representative of the state’s official metal, and it’s quite a sight from the inside as well as from the outside. There are plenty more information you can pick up from the Capitol Museum, and it’s amazing that it’s all for free.
6. Downtown Phoenix
There’s certainly nothing like being at the city center, where everything is as vibrant as the bright Phoenix sun. Downtown Phoenix has characteristics of most downtown areas—only with a touch of Southwestern flair. The weekdays in Downtown Phoenix are teeming with free activities from rooftop yoga to trivia nights. If you happen to be in the area for First Fridays, you can enjoy the usual art walk that happens every first Friday of the month. You can even bring home free souvenirs from the art walk. It’s a great place to hang out, grab food, or just kill time.
7. Apache Trail
If the sun is getting a little too warm for your taste, a little drive might do you good. According to Trippsavvy.com, the Apache Trail is one of Phoenix’s most scenic drives, and we couldn’t agree anymore. The fact that it’s free year-round is also a plus. You’ll see canyons, lakes, deserts, wildflowers, and more while you’re on the trail. Just make sure to avoid the trail during inclement weather—including when it’s just extremely hot outside. Not all cars would be able to handle the heat out there.
8. Free concerts
What could be better than free music? If you’re in Phoenix, you have access to free concerts year-round. The Chandler Symphony Orchestra offers free indoor concerts at various locations throughout Phoenix all year long. During the summer time, you’ll have more musical options as various outdoor concerts happen throughout the Western Valley. But allow us to give you a tip. If you plan on going to a free concert, make sure you get there with ample time to pick good seats because they go pretty quickly.
9. Papago Park
There are plenty of things to do in Papago Park, including an attraction we’ve already mentioned—Desert Botanical Garden. Papago warrants its own section, however, because the park features so many activities and attractions apart from the garden. You’ll find a fishing lagoon there, an exercise course, archery range, and softball fields. The Papago Park also features a golf course and the Phoenix Zoo. In addition, you can also watch the Oakland A’s do their spring training here. The park has an 8,000-seat training facility dedicated just for that purpose.
10. Pueblo Grande Museum
One of the best ways to learn and understand more about the Native American culture and influences in Phoenix is to immerse in it completely. The Pueblo Grande museum is actually a place where you can explore 1,000-year old ruins of a Native American village. Everything in this place pays tribute to the group of inhabitants that lived in the area so many years ago. There’s a small admission fee, but children under the age of 6 are free. The museum is also free to museum members and to all children 17 and under on Sundays.
11. Historic Heritage Square
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the Historic Heritage Square in Phoenix. The Heritage Square is simply a city block that features home from Phoenix’s original settlement. You’ll see plenty of gorgeous Victorian homes to admire, and you can even tour one of the best and most prominent homes in the area. Rosson House will give you an amazing insight into life when the house was built—1894-1895. Take a leisurely stroll around the square, and make sure to visit the square at night as well for a completely different view.
12. Cardinals Training Camp
Football fans can surely enjoy this free attraction. While it’s only available during the summer months, the University of Phoenix stadium is open to the public for the Arizona Cardinals spring training. You can find their training schedule and pick which games you’d like to see, or you can see them all. The best part of everything is the fact that admission and parking are both free. It’s great news if you love football, but if you aren’t sure about football yet, the Cardinals Training Camp is a great place to decide.
13. Goldfield Ghost Town
Have you ever wondered what it must’ve been like during the gold rush era? You might answer a few questions if you visit the Goldfield Ghost Town. This attraction is an actual ghost town from that time. You can see tons of historic buildings, and some of them open up to serve as stores and/or bakeries during certain periods in the week. Exploring the ghost town is free, but you might have to pay to visit some of the attractions along Main Street. According to their website, you can even see authentic gunfighter presentations here, and those are free to watch as well.
14. ASU Art Museum
This museum offers three floors worth of contemporary art. And if that isn’t enough, the museum is housed at Arizona State University. So if you’re done exploring the museum, you can always explore the university grounds. The ASU Art Museum presents works from regional artists, and the exhibits are constantly rotating. If after your walk around the museum you happen to itch for some spending, you can certainly do so at the museum store. That store is award winning after all.
15. Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Most cities have a children’s museum, and most of them are amazing even for adults. The Children’s Museum is packed with interactive exhibits that are both fun and informative. Some of these exhibits include Block Mania, Art Studio, Noodle Forest, The Grand Ballroom, and much more. Whether you’ve got a kid or you’re a kid at heart, you’ll definitely find something here to enjoy. It’s a good thing that the museum is free every first Friday evening of the month, from 5pm to 6pm.
16. Arizona Military Museum
There are plenty of things to see at the Arizona Military Museum, but according to Vacationidea.com, the museum building in itself is quite a significant part of Arizona’s military history. Built back in 1936, the building itself was made out of raw adobe during the depression era. Up until World War II, the building served as one of the National Guard’s arsenals. After that, the building served as a POW camp maintenance shop. Today, the Arizona National Guard Historical Society is running the museum.
17. Wells Fargo History Museum
You might say that this is just another one of the many museums you can find in Arizona, but it’s truly one of a kind. There aren’t many banking museums out there, and Wells Fargo just happens to be one of the oldest financial establishments in the nation. You can see how telegraphs work and visit the western-theme exhibit form N.C. Wyeth. While it may not take up too much of your time, the Wells Fargo History museum is definitely worth the pit stop. The museum is open during banking hours, and you can make a bet that it’s free to explore around.
18. Phoenix Farmers’ Market
Farmers’ markets are always great because they’re free and open to the public majority of the time. What’s also great is that you can definitely spend your money here but only to buy things that you like or need. According to this article, the Phoenix Farmers’ Market is great for shopping for local fruits and vegetables, raw and organic honey, and more. It’s also a great place for a stroll or a round of people watching. The market sets up at different locations all over the city, so all you might have to do is just keep an eye out.
19. St. Mary’s Basilica
This church is the oldest Catholic parish in all of Phoenix, and it’s certainly one of the prettiest. Built in 1924, St. Mary’s Basilica doesn’t look too old. It’s well maintained, and it’s also open to the public. The church even offers self-guided tours. It’s a great place for some quiet time and meditation; but also, the basilica is a stark contrast to everything else that we’ve mentioned here. The building has a lot of southwestern architectural influences, and it’s definitely a beautiful place to visit.
20. PING Factory
If you’re in Phoenix, you can take a tour of the factory where PING golf clubs are made. Karsten Manufacturing Corporation’s factory happens to be located right in Phoenix and they offer tours for the public. It’s another informative adventure, but don’t worry. It’s fun and interactive as well. Make sure to check for availability because the tours get filled pretty quickly, especially during the summer months. It’s a great way to stay indoors if you want to avoid the bright Phoenix sun.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker