Phoenix is a vibrant and booming city. With a population of 1,660,272 people it is the largest city in the state and the 5th most populous in the country. While large cities tend to be a lot pricier than your typical American town, there are still plenty of things to do in Phoenix for free and have a great time.
Phoenix features a warm and dry climate which is ideal for sun-lovers. Phoenix’s weather makes it the best place to escape the snow and cold temperatures during winter. Furthermore, this metropolitan city features abundant arts, historical neighborhood, beautiful culture as well as dining and shopping areas.
If you are looking for free things to do in Phoenix, it will be best to start from the Valley of the Sun. This is considered to be one of the best places to visit while on a tight budget. In this article, we have compiled for you some of the free things to do in Phoenix along with best restaurants in Phoenix, Arizona.
What to do in Phoenix
Desert Botanical Garden
The desert botanical garden is located in Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona; this garden is known for having the world’s most extensive collection of desert plants. These desert floras feature an array of colorful wilderness flowers, and they have been placed strategically to create a fantastic display that will be delightful to the visitors during spring.
Not only is the desert botanical garden a treat for your eyes, but also it offers exercise for both your mind and body. One of the chief highlights in this garden is the ethnobotanical walking trail that meanders through the ground and is highly informative. This trail explains various essential methods in which flora was integrated into the lives of the Native Americans. You will be able to understand better the importance of plants beyond their stunning beauty. While in the garden, you will feel like you are far from the city despite downtown Phoenix being a few miles away from the garden.
During Community Day (the second Tuesday of every month), admission to the garden is free. Furthermore, children under the age of three and military personnel are admitted free as well. Musical and seasonal festivals are always held in this garden throughout the year. Therefore, it will be best if you check on your calendar before visiting.
Enchanted Island Amusement Park
The enchanted island amusement park is situated in Encanto Park at the heart of central Phoenix. This is one of the oldest and picturesque parks in Phoenix. Despite it being small, this amusement park is best for individuals who are on a tight budget. Furthermore, it is ideal for families with young children. There are amazing features present in this park, including a carousel, nine rides, a C.P. Huntington train, snack bars, and arcade games.
During cold weather, you can go across the Encanto’s fish-filled lagoon on pedal-boats. Additionally, there is a splash zone for you to enjoy during summer. Once you are done with exploring the park, you might consider exploring the ground of Encanto Park. The ground features trails, recreational opportunities, and numerous shady trees that are ideal for picnics.
The best part of this park is that there is no admission fee required making it one of the best things to do in phoenix while on a tight budget. As a visitor, you will only have to pay for your games and individual rides. When in Phoenix, you should consider visiting the enchanted island amusement park along with your family.
Mesa Arts Center
Mesa Arts Center covers an area of 212,755 square feet, making it the largest in the state of Arizona. Completed in spring 2005, Mesa arts center is equipped with four theaters, Mesa Contemporary Arts Galleries, classrooms, workshops as well as several studios and offices. The campus hosts visiting companies that perform arts such as the Sonoran Desert Chorale and the Metropolitan Youth Symphony.
Moreover, they schedule performances of each conceivable variety on each price range from professional symphony orchestras to high school drama club shows. The Mesa Contemporary Arts is a gallery and art museum that was designed to support as well as promote contemporary artists.
Accessing the museum is free; therefore, there is no need for missing Mesa Art Center Store. Here you will be able to see several unique arts from amazing artists. You will not regret visiting the campus; Mesa Arts Center is home to an amazing art museum with a free admission fee.
Phoenix Art Museum
Located right in downtown Phoenix, the Phoenix Art Museum is among the few institutions that are growing by leaps and bounds. This museum is equipped with works that represent; America, Europe, Asia as well as Latin American arts. Moreover, this museum features fashion exhibit as well as Thorne miniature rooms.
There are more than 18,000 works on Asian, American, European, Western American, Latin America, modern as well as contemporary arts; therefore, you should expect to spend plenty of your time exploring this vibrant museum. Usually, significant exhibitions, film screening, and numerous cultural events fill the calendar in this art museum.
Despite it being a world-class art museum, Phoenix Art Museum features a free general admission fee on every Wednesday afternoon. Furthermore, there are several free admissions days every month. Free admission days are;
· Wednesdays- 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
· Every second Sunday of a month- 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
· First Friday of every month- 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park is one of the largest parks in the world and features well-maintained and crisscrossing hiking trails. For an incredible view, drive to Dobbins Lookout Point and view the city from the height of 1200 feet. You can then trek to Happy Valley through a fantastic trail crossing South Mountain Park. This trail features incredible views, especially during springtime, when there are plenty of wildflowers.
You will receive free maps at the entrance; however, glass containers are not permitted on the premises. If you would like to drive all the way to the top, you should arrive before 9 p.m. When visiting during the summer, you should consider bringing an ample supply of water.
South Mountain Park is among the largest municipal parks in the USA. The park features a scenic desert oasis in the south of downtown Phoenix. There are horse rental and horseback riding stables available at the park’s entrance.
Arizona Capitol Museum
Arizona Capitol Museum is housed in a remarkable stone building that served as Arizona’s capitol back in the days. The Arizona Capitol Museum documents the early statehood of the state. The building is crowned with a copper dome along with a 16 ft. Winged victory statue made from zinc. Furthermore, within the structure, several flags document Arizona history, including those that represent Mexico, Spain, as well as the confederacy, congressional chambers, and offices.
World War II enthusiasts can go through USS Arizona display; it offers recollections from survivors, artifacts, and silver services that were specially commissioned. This museum is family-friendly, and it provides an insightful look into the past of the state.
The best part is that there is no admission fee required when accessing the Arizona Capitol Museum. You should not miss paying a visit to USS Arizona when you visit the beautiful city of downtown Phoenix.
Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours
The renovated ghost town of Goldfield is located 21 miles east of Mesa, and it features rustic wooden buildings along with desert landscapes. There are numerous activities you can choose to carry out while in this ghost town, including hiking treks, mine tours as well as panning for gold. Furthermore, there is a museum, a Western specialty shop, and an exhibition for rattlesnakes.
When you need something to refresh you or eat, there are coffee shops, Mammoth Steakhouse, gourmet lunch café, and saloon offering southwestern dining. You can as well have an authentic cowboy experience as you saddle up a horse and riding it through the Superstition Mountains that are spectacular.
You will experience free gunfighter shows and be able to experience the real taste of the Old West. On every Saturday and Sunday, you will be able to enjoy free gunfights from 4 p.m.
Papago is a desert park that is dotted with beautiful red rocks as well as weather-sculpted buttes. It is situated near the Desert Botanical Gardens and Phoenix Zoo on Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale border. There is a network of trains that goes through fishing lagoons, and the ground punctuating the landscape. You can get shelter with Ramadas, who offer amazing places with incredible views.
For maximum safety, the area is patrolled by the rangers. The red stones are situated in North Galvin Parkway and East Van Buren Street in Papago Park. This is among the must-see areas while in Phoenix. You might consider bringing a camera to capture these awesome moments.
At Papago Park, you will have free scenic destinations. Furthermore, it is highly convenient to most of the major attraction sites in Phoenix. You might consider spending your entire day in this part of the city.
Artlink First Fridays
First Fridays is a monthly showcase of the gallery and arts by the community of Phoenix. Individuals are granted a chance to take advantage of spaces where artists design and sell out their skills and designs. The event features some of the best restaurants in Phoenix as well as shops such as Scottsdale Luxx Coffee Shop, and musicians and street performers entertain visitors.
During this event, there is a free shuttle that aids in moving people from one location to the other. Furthermore, there is a diverse crowd that adds more character to the event. Over recent years, the event has grown in popularity, becoming one of the most significant monthly art walk across the United States. Art vendors, along with food trucks, set their shops along Roosevelt Row Arts District; this creates a fantastic atmosphere filled with music, arts, and food.
Despite it being the most significant self-guided art in the USA, Artlink is free of charge. Furthermore, it is incredibly colorful and can be accessed easily via the metro light rail.
Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area
This is one of the most famous hiking trails. The echo canyon recreation area consists of layered sandstone and camelback mountain’s head. While in this area, you should be prepared to catch a glimpse at small animals that live in the Sonoran desert, including lizards, cottontail rabbits, Harris antelope, and snakes. Rattlesnakes are extremely common on this trail.
Some of the native desert plants include barrel, saguaro, pincushion, hedgehog, cholla, jumping cholla, prickly pear cacti, and staghorn. The Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area is said to be the most iconic hiking trail in Phoenix. Furthermore, it is the busiest hiking trail; however, it is best for an individual who is on a tight budget.
Best restaurants in Phoenix
If you are looking for some of the best and pocket-friendly restaurants in Phoenix, then you are in the right place. Below are some of the best restaurants in Phoenix;
· Carolina’s Mexican food
Carolina’s is a famous institution in south Phoenix, and it has been serving Mexican food for decades. They feature some of the hottest, tasty, and top-notch dishes in downtown Phoenix. Consequently, they are well-known for their pocket-friendly prices as well.
· Tacos Chiwas
Tacos Chiwas debuted in the spring of 2016 and has become a favorite local restaurant for the residence of Phoenix. They have specialized in Mexican dishes as well as serving some of the best tacos, tortillas, tripas, and lengua. If you are looking for a restaurant with a well-crafted Chihuahua inspired Mexican cuisine, then Tacos Chiwas will be best for you.
· Cornish Pasty Co
Individuals that love traditional English cuisine, then the Cornish Pasty Co, is an ideal restaurant for you. Without having to jet out of the country, you will be able to enjoy authentic Cornish pasty at highly affordable prices. Furthermore, you will be able to enjoy English cuisine comprising of meats, cheeses, and veggies as well.
As we come to a conclusion, we hope that you will have the chance to visit some of the places mentioned above. If you’re in the area, you’ll quickly find that there’s no shortage of things to do in Phoenix. Take a visit to one of the city’s many museums, go for a stroll in the park or dine at one of the best restaurants in Phoenix. Even if you are on a tight budget and would like to have a fun while in Phoenix, the above places will be ideal for you to visit, and you will have yourself a memorable day.