THINGS TO DO IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX-
Infused with Southwest urban culture, Downtown Phoenix is the central business district of the City of Phoenix, Arizona, United States. Downtown Phoenix spans approximately 2-3 square miles. Three out of the five tallest skyscrapers in Arizona are in Downtown Phoenix.
It is known for having clean, wide streets lined with tall, modern buildings. At night, the stylist lighting lights up the whole district. It offers a scene to all types of visitors. Sports lovers can enjoy various teams like the Phoenix Suns playing basketball, Diamondbacks playing baseball, and others can enjoy their time off at the Herberger Theatre Center, Symphony Hall, and other art galleries – all within walking distance. Visitors also find it easy to go for getaway to Tempe for nightlife by taking the light rail and shopping along Mill Avenue.
Looking for fun things to do in Downtown Phoenix? Here’s a list of a bunch of stuff for you to do when in Phoenix.
Is It Safe To Walk Around Downtown Phoenix?
Downtown Phoenix has a Walk Score of 85. This makes the bustling streets of the downtown most walkable area in the city.
Apart from being a place that has offices and formal departments of the Government, it is also an entertainment district that has restaurants, bars, art galleries and much more within walking distance from almost anywhere in the neighborhood. So, yes, it is safe to walk around downtown Phoenix, given that you follow little universal safety measures of your own.
ARIZONA SCIENCE CENTER-
The Arizona Science Center is a science museum of Heritage and Science Park and is located in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. The center boasts a collection of more than 350 permanent hand-on exhibits that visitors can see for an interactive experience, and critically acclaimed travelling museums from time to time.
Arizona Science Center also features Dorrance planetarium and a 5-story IMAX theater and Planetarium. The center also provides special educational programs and science activities for visitors of all ages including, summer science camp, Adult’s Night Out, thematic events, Stroller Science preschool programs, and the Science on Wheels outreach program.
Arizona Science Center has Fab Labs where visiting scientific specialists present lectures and workshops. Spend your day here by getting to know about nature, the human body, Morse code, and other interesting things in the world.
PHOENIX ART MUSEUM-
The Phoenix Art Museum (PAM) is the largest museum for visual art in the Southwestern United States. It is one of the top favorite things to do in Downtown Phoenix. This museum is located on Central Avenue of downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It is home to a comprehensive collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American art ranging from the Renaissance years to the present.
The Phoenix Art Museum also displays international art galleries, exhibitions, festivals, live performances, independent art films screenings and educational programs time to time. In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the museum has also started offering various virtual programs like guided tours, meditations featuring artwork and free mindfulness sessions. Find a schedule of all the Phoenix Art Museum’s events right here.
Visitors can explore various galleries centered around children, adults, modern and contemporary art, fashion design, photography, and sculpture garden; and dining and shopping places; and a research library here. The Lemon Art research library is the largest specialized fine arts library in the region. It is free of charge during public hours.
It has been designated a Phoenix Point of Pride.
JAPANESE FRIENDSHIP GARDEN OF PHOENIX-
The Japanese Friendship Garden, part of the Margaret T Hance Park, is a public park on 3rd Avenue in Downtown Phoenix.
The garden is a 3.5 acres idyllic oasis of 1,500 tons of hand picked rock that lines lakes, waterfalls, stream beds and fountains, and picturesque trails lined with flowering trees and shrubs. The garden also features more than, stone footbridges, lanterns, a Koi pond with over 300 Koi fish and more than 50 varieties of plants.
One of the main attractions at the Japanese Friendship Garden is a tea garden and the Musoan Japanese Tea House where monthly Japanese tea ceremonies take place. It is a joint project of the sister cities of Phoenix, AZ, and Himeji, Japan. The Japanese name is Rohō-en.
CityScape Phoenix is a high-rise mixed-use development in Downtown Phoenix consisting of residential, retail, office, hotel, shopping, dining and entertainment components. It spans over three city blocks and is located between Washington and Jefferson streets. Visitors spend hours while exploring this place. It’s the place to be late in the afternoon and evening. The CitySkate Outdoor Mixed includes places such as shops, eateries, bars, and clubs, pub, comedy club, bowling alley and various restaurants.
It is a convenient place for visitors to stay as it is within walking distance to attractions like Talking Stick Resort Arena, Chase Field, Comerica Theatre, the Orpheum Theatre and the Phoenix Convention Center.
CityScape has major events marked in its calendar throughout the year in its buzzing entertainment and retail complex. From late November through early January, it hosts a holiday ice skating rink called Cityskate and nightly light shows from 7 to 10PM.
Visitors can get together with Phoenix’s locals to enjoy the daily happy hour offerings outside on the terrace of the Blue Hound, play a game of ten pin bowling at the Lucky Strike, or eat dinner in one of the numerous restaurants before hitting any of the clubs to enjoy the nightlife. The famous Gypsy Bar is an adults-only nightclub that features open-air movies, parties, DJs and dance floor, a long island bar and VIP service.
ROOSEVELT ROW ARTS DISTRICT-
Popular as the darling of Central Phoenix’s art lovers, Roosevelt Row Arts District is an emerging, hip and Bohemian area which is full of interesting and unconventional art galleries and studios showcasing artists’ talents. The buildings of the neighborhood are decorated with murals and colorful sculptures line the pedestrian friendly streets.
On the first Fridays of the month, the largest monthly art walk in the U.S, the First Friday’s art walk is hosted here. Make sure that you stop by at the First Friday A.R.T.S Market which is an open-air market where visitors can explore local artisans and their wares while enjoying live music, food, and the hip Bohemian atmosphere.
Blink art gallery, Eye lounge, Modified Arts, gallery Suhu etc. are few galleries that exhibit emerging and established local and international artists. Various events (virtual, included) fests and workshops keep happening in the community, get to know more about it here.
The Roosevelt Row also features restaurants, cafes, pubs, and quirky shops. Make sure that you don’t miss out on visiting The Nash and Filmbar. The Nash is a jazz music venue in downtown Phoenix which hosts live jazz music a few nights every week. Filmbar is a microcinema (70 seats) and lounge for the 21 and older population, showing mostly independent and foreign movies and also serves over 30 craft beers and 15 wines.
HERITAGE SQUARE, PHOENIX-
A part of Heritage & Science Park, historic Heritage Square known for being a location that contains several Victorian homes from Phoenix’s original settlement. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a great location for enjoying a self guided walk. Various guided tours of the area are also available.
The top attraction of Heritage Square is Rosson House. One of the most well known homes in town, Rosson House is a historic house museum made of fired brick and wood instead of adobe bricks. It has Victorian architecture and features Asian moon gate, Italianate hooded windows, and a French octagonal turret.
The Heritage Square hosts various interesting programs, events, exhibits etc. It also is used as one of the best venues for functions in the city.
Heritage Square is also home to some of the city’s most popular dining places with great menus, including Pizzeria Bianco, the Rose and Crown Pub and Nobuo at Teeter House, a traditional Japanese teahouse and restaurant. It also has a shopping place.
Visit to one of America’s great baseball fields. Chase Field is a baseball park located in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona. It is the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the city’s Major League Baseball franchise. Chase Field is the central space for the downtown Phoenix sports scene with over 48,000 seating capacity. Attending a Diamondbacks game at the field is a unique and exciting experience.
The stadium also hosts occasional concerts, WWE matches and international soccer games. Even if you don’t like baseball, Chase Field is an engineering marvel.
Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix is a 1364 seater historic, 1920’s building on Adams Street. It is the place to go to see a Broadway production show, ballet or opera performance, or even beauty pageant contests. The space has had a varied life and been used for everything from vaudeville presentations to a cinema house.
It was restored to bring back the original Spanish Baroque style architecture of the theater back to life. The building features intricate murals and moldings. After restoration, it became home of the new Phoenix Opera. To enjoy this historic piece of architecture, make sure to take a walk around the theater even if you don’t want to see a show here.
ARIZONA CAPITOL MUSEUM-
The 1901 portion of the Capitol is now the Arizona Capitol Museum. The design is optimized for the desert climate of Arizona. It is centered around the history and culture of Arizona. Museum hosts changing exhibits, events, and programs that focus on the evolution of Arizona from Territory to State.
The museum houses over 20 exhibits featuring historical artifacts from Arizona. The museum also has a memorial to the USS Arizona. Where visitors can pay their respects to the victims of Pearl Harbor. One of the two 19,585-lb anchors of the Arizona is displayed.
DOWNTOWN PHOENIX HELICOPTER RIDE-
One of the most exciting things to do in Phoenix, all the adrenaline junkies who want to see Phoenix Downtown’s stunning skyline while flying then helicopter rides available at the Falcon Field Airport will show you the way. Board on a twenty-minute helicopter flight to take off for the photo worthy ride of your life.
People get to fly over the Valley of the Sun and experience the change of landscape from desert to city settlement as the flight circles above Downtown. Various companies like Western Sky Helicopters provide different packages and deals.
If you take the rides available at the dusk, then not only you’ll enjoy a stunning view but you’ll also get to see a beautiful sunset and bird’s eye view of Downtown’s night cityscape.
Downtown Phoenix social and nightlife has been given a new life after the emergence of new nightclubs, lounges, and other late night attractions in the past decade. Downtown Phoenix nightlife attracts both young and old, urban-dwellers and suburbanites, locals and visitors. Bar Smith, Gypsy Bar, Crescent Ballroom are some of the biggest attractions of nightlife here.
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour is situated in a historic building. This parlour is known to serve mouth-watering handcrafted cocktails from fruit- and herb-infused spirits. It has comfy seating and an intimate ambiance.
PLACES TO EAT AND SHOP AT-
The Phoenix downtown area is not very shopper friendly. Shopping options here are CityScape Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market, The Churchill at Roosevelt Row, Hidden Track Bottle Shop.
Farmers market open year-round on Saturdays (8 AM to Noon) and Thursdays (5 PM to 9PM). Here fresh produce, prepared food, and food trucks are available. Hidden Track Bottle Shop is a boutique wine store in downtown Phoenix. It also offers wine (tasted and selected by owners), beer, chocolate, pasta, and snacks.
This area has plenty of dining options with a menu and budget range of your choice, and even with live music. Alice Cooper’s Town and Majerle’s Sports Grill are sports bars and restaurants. Harumi Sushi, The Breadfruit, The Duce, The Teapot etc. are few of the more popular ones. The Compass Arizona Grill is the restaurant that not only serves delicious food but also revolves through three-hundred and sixty degrees to give you the bustling view of downtown below from the top floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Check out their menu here.
Downtown also has numerous coffee houses like Lola Coffee, Lux, Fair Trade etc. Click here the menu of other dining and drinking places in Downtown Phoenix.
What Are The Free Things To Do In Downtown Phoenix?
Few things that we have mentioned above are free to explore here. Apart from that, visitors and locals like to explore and find out more about the historic neighborhood of the downtown. These neighborhoods have architecture styles ranging from Victorian to mid-century modern architecture. Some of the well-known neighborhoods include Coronado, Encanto-Palmcroft, FQ Story, Willo and Woodlea.
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