There’s something unique about Phoenix. The climate attracts visitors year round. It’s always sunny and dry.
With an abundance of hiking opportunities and the natural beauty of the desert, Phoenix is truly an outdoor enthusiast and nature lover’s dream. However, one probably wouldn’t realize there is much more to this city than what “landscape” meets the eye.
Phoenix is abundant in culture, art, history and some pretty interesting attractions. While I love this city for its southwestern vibe and delicious Mexican food, there’s much more to Phoenix than that!
So, let me take you on a tour of noteworthy places to visit in Phoenix that are beautiful, quirky and eccentric.
Below, you’ll find my top picks for 11 beautiful and interesting places to see when in Phoenix, Arizona.
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Who would ever guess you’d find a castle in Arizona, let alone in the middle of the desert?
Built in 1928, The Tovrea Castle was originally intended to be a hotel. It later became a private residence, and today it’s a mysterious historic landmark in Phoenix that is now part of the Phoenix parks system.
You can purchase tickets to tour the castle and learn about its history with its roots tied to three different families.
You might hear it referred to as “The Wedding Cake Castle,” and it is obvious to see why! The three stories and yellowish complexion resemble that of a traditional buttercream wedding cake… Mmm mm!
Fun fact: there’s not only one, but two castle sites to see in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Mystery Castle was built in the 1930s as a gift from a father to his daughter. The story is the father and daughter were building sand castles on the beach and the daughter told her father to build a big strong castle she could live in one day. The father, who later passed away of Tuberculosis, built her a castle where his daughter lived until she passed away in 2010.
Today, it is another unique tourist site in Phoenix. It is quite whimsical with more than 15 rooms, multiple fireplaces, a dungeon and even a wedding chapel… Although maybe a wedding chapel in the Tovrea Castle would have been more fitting given its nickname, don’t you think?
Arizona Science Center
If you’re not into the mystical castle theme and want to dive into something more logical and practical, the Arizona Science Center is the place to go in Phoenix.
It is actually one of our nation’s premier science and educational centers, with displays about everything from electricity and sound to outer space and weather patterns.
I love science museums that offer hands-on exhibits, and here you get over 350 interactive exhibits to choose from, making it well worth the admission fee.
Fun for both kids and adults, the Arizona Science Center is a perfect place to escape the outdoor heat if you plan on visiting Phoenix during the hotter months!
Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest museum for visual art in the southwest of the United States.
I came here once during one of my trips for work. There are so many different styles of art to enjoy here, with really beautiful and extensive exhibits. It’s easy to spend hours touring the museum, whether with a guide or on your own. The European art section is probably my favorite and the fashion exhibit is pretty neat!
This is definitely one of the top places to visit in Phoenix for art lovers.
PRO TIP: If you go on Wednesdays, it’s free admission.
As a flight attendant, I love to travel, and I am always intrigued to learn about different cultures. The Heard Museum is a great place to go in Phoenix that showcases Native American Art and culture in the United States, showcasing both real life stories and art from first hand accounts.
The Heard Museum has one of the largest collections of Native American artifacts and works in the country. It’s well worth the $18 admission fee, especially if you tag along on one of the free guided tours.
I highly recommend coming here for an enjoyable day out for fun and education on your next trip to Phoenix.
Her Secret is Patience
It’s not art you will find in a museum, but rather a piece of art that doubles as a popular Phoenix tourist attraction.
Named after a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, Her Secret is Patience is a unique art sculpture located downtown in the Civic Space Center. Designed by artist Janet Echelman, the sculpture is made up of steel cables and twine netting, depicting the movement of the wind.
Its shape is modelled after Arizona’s cumulous clouds, with colors that change. This is definitely one of the most aesthetically places to visit in Phoenix, and perfect if you’re looking for something a little different.
Roosevelt Row Art District
I wasn’t kidding when I mentioned Phoenix is huge on the art scene. Roosevelt Row, also known as “RoRo” is a must see site in Phoenix and one of the best known art districts in the United States.
It’s a hip urban art community home to trendy galleries, restaurants, and bars. Everywhere you turn, you see colorful murals, sculptures and artwork.
If you like shopping, there are boutiques and small businesses selling locally made goods. On a warmer sunny day, I recommend stopping in Wilderness Brewing Co. for a cold beverage or a cold fashioned – it’s a twist on the classic cocktail ‘old fashioned’, but with the flavor of coffee.
If you’re looking for more of a laid back vibe, this is one of the best places to go in Phoenix.
FilmBar is an independent movie theater and art house. It’s a small and intimate venue showing many local indie and classic films. What makes this place so unique is they have a fully stocked bar for patrons.
Wine glasses and beer bottles fit in the cup holders in the seats! It’s different from your typical night out on the town and a cute spot for a date or to hang with friends!
Japanese Friendship Garden
When speaking of beautiful places in Phoenix, I couldn’t leave out the city’s Japanese Friendship Garden. It’s a joint project between the City of Phoenix and its sister city Himeji, Japan.
Stepping foot into the Japanese Friendship Garden feels like you’ve transported right to Japan! And ok, I may have never been to Japan, but here you will at least forget you are in the middle of the desert.
With lush greenery, a Koi pond with over 300 koi fish, lanterns, a waterfall, and a tea house, the Japanese Friendship Garden is a truly peaceful place to go in Phoenix that provides a nice change of scenery from the desert landscape.
Fun fact: All the decorative items in the garden are actually gifts from the city of Himeji.
Goldfield Ghost Town
Goldfield Ghost Town is another fun place to visit in Phoenix.
The town used to be bustling back in the 1890’s when gold was first struck in the nearby Superstition Mountains. People flocked to the area and a town developed. Back then, it had all the typical Wild West amenities. Think – a general store, a post office, a blacksmith shop, and a brewery.
And while the town became abandoned when the mine closed, a private investor bought the land, and today, it is a top tourist attraction in Phoenix that takes you back in time to the Wild West.
You can tour the mine, stroll through the main street, or ride horses! If you get hungry, be sure to try the famous Mammoth Burger at the Mammoth Steakhouse and Saloon!
BONUS: Hiking Phoenix’s Mountain Parks
One of my favorite things to do when I visit Phoenix is to go on a hike. There are ample opportunities to take a hike (literally) around the area. The nature in Phoenix is so beautiful with the local cacti and wildflowers that line the trails. It’s an easy way to get in exercise and a change of pace from hitting the gym if you are a fitness junkie like me.
There is nothing more rewarding than taking in the views from the top after you’ve climbed a mountain. Some of the hikes I recommend in the Phoenix area are Piestawa Peak Park, Camelback Mountain and Superstition Park! All offer incredible breathtaking views of Phoenix.
Each mountain park has multiple trails ranging from easier to more difficult hikes depending on your preference and skill level, meaning you’ll be able to fit a perfect fit no matter what.
Did we miss any of your favorite places to visit in Phoenix Arizona?
Let us know in the comments if there are any places in Phoenix that we should add to our list!