Spring in Phoenix means plenty of time to spend outdoors. However, many of the most-popular indoor attractions throughout Greater Phoenix are also now open, with new social distancing and capacity guidelines in place. And, if you're not quite ready to take the whole family out and about just yet, we also have activities you can experience from the comfort of your own vehicle.
We know what it feels like to be stuck at home, too, and there's a lot to consider ahead of your next outing, so here are some of our favorites (including links to new safety precautions) to help you decide which experiences make your to-do list.
Things To Do Outdoors
Stroll the winding paths of this 140-acre venue that showcases the world's finest collection of arid plants — from towering saguaros to delicate blooms — from deserts of the world, all in one unique, outdoor setting. The garden has more than 50,000 desert plants on display throughout five thematic trails that illustrate such topics as conservation, desert living, desert wildflowers and plants and people of the Sonoran Desert. Please note: Advance ticket reservations for the garden is required. Be sure to read the current safety measures before making your reservation.
Spring Events Include:
Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Tucked away on the edge of downtown sits a 3.5-acre oasis. Named Ro Ho En — Ro is Japanese for heron, Ho means Phoenix bird, and En is garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix is a joint project of the City of Phoenix and our Sister City Himeji, Japan.
Part of the garden’s vision is to provide a place of beauty and tranquility as an escape from the everyday pressures of life, for meditation and relaxation and to enrich and restore the body, mind and spirit. Stroll the grounds on a self-guided tour. Check out the unique landscaping, waterfalls, Koi ponds and tea house (closed until further notice). Please note: the garden is not accepting tour requests at this time. Before your visit, please refer to the garden’s guidelines here.
Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.
1125 N. Third Ave., Phoenix
Pueblo Grande Museum is an archaeological site once inhabited by the Hohokam culture, just east of downtown Phoenix, next to Sky Harbor International Airport. It's a National Historic Landmark and Phoenix Point of Pride accessible by the Sky Train and the Valley Metro Rail. Part of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department since 1929, it's the largest preserved archaeological site in Phoenix. Though the indoor galleries are closed, there is a fully accessible 2/3 mile trail that takes you through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological site with a platform mound, ball court, and replicated houses. Before you visit, see the museum's safety precautions here.
Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix
Nestled against the beautiful Mingus Mountains in the Verde Valley sits a wildlife park entirely different than any typical zoo or animal park. Here, you'll experience the splendor of the animal kingdom closer than you ever thought possible, blending the spirit of Africa with the harmony of nature. Whether it's the exciting shows like Tiger Splash and Predator Feed, or an immersive safari tour that will have you surrounded by free-roaming African plains animals, or whether it's a hands-on, close encounter with the wiliest critters, there's something for everyone here.
Daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3505 W. State Route 260, Camp Verde
Local farmers markets remain key players in Phoenix's farm-to-table movement. Thanks to year-round sunshine and growing seasons, residents and visitors can shop for farm-fresh goods any time of year. And, just in time for fall, we’re highlighting the best farmers markets in Phoenix for safely picking up local fruits and veggies, bread, coffee beans, cheeses, treats, and a wide variety of other locally made products.
Hours: Most markets operate on Saturday mornings (with a few exceptions).
Phoenix has no shortage of amazing vistas and summits — and they're almost all located right in the city. The outdoor enthusiasts around here will tell you Phoenix is a mecca for urban hiking. “Urban” doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing views, or the sense of losing yourself in sublime wilderness: It just means no matter where you are in Greater Phoenix, you’re guaranteed to be a short drive from a great trail.
Blooming cactuses and wildflowers reveal why the Sonoran Desert is among the lushest deserts in the world, and the best time to see these blooms is in March and April. Find the best places to catch some color during wildflower season. Put on your hiking shoes and get ready for a beautiful display of color from the desert this spring.
No matter where you're looking to go, there is definitely going to be a campground nearby. Maricopa County is home to six regional park campgrounds. Additionally, Arizona offers six national forests, 31 state parks and more than 12 million acres of public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for your next overnight in nature. So whip out the tents, get the chocolates, marshmallows and graham crackers for s'mores, and check out our picks for the best places to camp near Phoenix.
Up, up and away! Check one off the bucket list with as you soar over the Sonoran Desert in the basket of a hot air balloon with Hot Air Expeditions or Rainbow Ryders. This gentle ride offers a bird’s-eye view of coyote and jackrabbit paths, and looks out over the mountains that surround the city from breathtaking heights. Check each operator's cleaning practices/procedures and seasonal coupons via the links above.
Hours: Sunrise flights available year-round; sunset flights available November through February/March.
Locations vary by operator.
The water still may be a bit chilly for some, but that doesn't mean you can't take out some kayaks or boats for a day at one of the several lakes near Greater Phoenix. There are several tour operators and rental spots, including Arizona Rafting, Arizona's Salt River Tubing & Recreation, AZ Boat Rentals and Tours, REI Co-Op Experiences, and Riverbound Sports Paddle Co.
Things To Do Indoors
Since it opened in 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has become the largest art museum in the southwestern United States providing access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona. In the last fifty years millions have visited the museum to view the over four hundred national and international exhibitions it has hosted. These are shown alongside Phoenix Art Museum's collection that has grown to over seventeen thousand objects of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, photography, and fashion design.
Spring Events Include:
Joseph Cornell: Things Unseen | Through June 27
Clay and Bamboo: Japanese Ceramics and Flower Baskets | Through April 4
Colors of Sky and Clouds: Chinese Blue-and-White Porcelain | Through April 4
Emily Eden: Portraits of the Princes and Peoples of India | Through April 4
Guru Nanak: 550th Birth Anniversary of Sikhism’s Founder | Through April 4
Seeking Immortality: Ancient Artifacts | Through April 4
Ansel Adams: Performing the Print | June 6
Sublime Landscapes | Through June 10
[Re]purposed | Through June 27
Sweet Land of Funk | Through June 27
Ann Morton: A Violet Protest and the 2019 Friends of Contemporary Art Artists’ Grants Recipients | March 10 - September 5
American Abstraction During the Thirties and Forties | Through June 2, 2022
Still Life: Ordinary Pleasures | Through September 15, 2022
You Are in Cowboy Country | Through February 10, 2023
Hours: Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Explore interactive galleries and immersive exhibits showcasing more than 8,000 instruments from more than 200 world countries across the globe, as well as collectibles from legendary musicians. Engage in the sensory nature of music and how it affects our emotions through state-of-the-art, interactive media that takes visitors on a journey to hear their sounds, and observe them being played in their original contexts. Check out the MIM’s safety precautions here.
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix
Home to one of the most extensive collections of American Indian art in the U.S., the Heard Museum features some 40,000 fine artworks and cultural artifacts, with a focus on tribes of the Southwest. Explore traditional and contemporary works — from Hopi katsina dolls and Navajo and Zuni jewelry to Navajo textiles and Southwestern ceramics from prehistory to the present — throughout spacious exhibit galleries, a contemporary art gallery, the outdoor sculpture gardens, trading post-style shopping and more. Know before you go: museums updates and safety precautions.
Spring Events Include:
Leon Polk Smith: Hiding in Plain Sight | Through May 31, 2021
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Nestled in the Heritage and Science Park, the Arizona Science Center is a unique landmark designed by renowned architect Antoine Predock. The combination of ramps, hallways, galleries and terraces in this 140,000-square-foot building creates an intriguing environment of investigation and discovery. The Center contains four levels of exciting “hands-on” exhibits, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and a 5-story high giant-screen theater. Please note: Advance ticket reservations are required. Be sure to read the current safety measures before making your reservation.
Spring Events Include:
Astronaut Exhibition | Through May 31, 2021
Hours: Wednesday through Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
600 E. Washington St., Phoenix
America’s largest butterfly pavilion entertains, educates and enchants visitors of all ages on the wonders of one of Mother Nature’s most beloved creatures. This state-of-the-art facility includes the conservatory, where 3,000 butterflies fly freely; Butterfly Emergence Gallery; Tropical Waters of the World exhibit, with a stingray and shark observation pool; Honey Bee Extravaganza; Spineless Giants and Rainforest Reptile exhibit; a 3D theater (reduced showtimes); Butterfly Treasures Gift Shop and a Café (limited offerings). Find out how Butterfly Wonderland is keeping guests safe and what to expect on your visit here.
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale
As the largest aquarium in Arizona, OdySea is home to more than 2 million gallons of water — featuring 370 species — and 65 exhibits, including the world’s only Russian Sturgeon touch exhibit, two stingray touch exhibits and a tide touch pool (some touch exhibits may be closed temporarily). This family friendly, under-the-sea experience also includes interactive activities: SeaTREK underwater walking adventure, walk-about Animal Ambassadors and Q & A sessions with animal care specialists. And don't miss Pip, Polly, and the rest of the African black-footed penguin squad at Penguin Point.
Advance online reservations (30-minute time slots) are strongly recommended. Find our what else the aquarium is doing to provide a safe environment here. OdySea Aquarium is located at Arizona Boardwalk, which is also home to Pangea: Land of the Dinosaurs and more.
Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale
This evolving art show features extraordinary installations from around the world in a casual and safe, 16,000-square foot venue. Wonderspaces partners with artists to deliver experiences to new audiences through touring shows, including the 13 immersive, interactive and conversation-provoking works currently on display in a socially-distanced environment. Guests will want to have their camera/phone ready for the one-of-a-kind photo ops throughout these current exhibits, which include Experiment 2.C, Into The Breath, Rainbow Rooms, Erupture and more. Please note: Individual artwork rotates in every few months, creating an ever-evolving, year-round show. Check out Wonderspaces health and cleanliness protocols here.
Hours: Advance tickets are for entry at a specific date and time. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as they please during operating hours (the average time spent at the show is 90 minutes).
7014 E. Camelback Road, #584, Scottsdale
Take a journey back in time, and experience an evening of chivalry, revelry, sport and pageantry inside a magnificent 11th century-style castle. Queen Maria Isabella welcomes you to dine with her and her royal court. Always a generous host, she has commanded her royal chefs to cook her favorite meal just for you. Feast on a sumptuous four-course banquet, while medieval Spain comes to life before your eyes. Cheer on your brave knight in a spectacular tournament performance — including majestic horses, authentic jousting and a live sword fight — and may the best knight win. Limited guest capacity will ensure you're a sword's length away from others at all times, and advance purchase is recommended. Take a look at the castle's reopening plan and guest guidelines here.
Hours: Most shows take place at 4 or 7 p.m. on selects dates (castle opens 75 mins prior to showtime).
9051 E. Via De Ventura, Scottsdale
Bring your pack to Great Wolf Lodge, a family friendly resort that's home to an 85,000-square-foot indoor water park (heated to 84 degrees year-round), as well as Diamond Drop, a high-speed, four-person waterslide that offers serpentine curves and high-bank thrills. In addition to the water fun, the 27,000 square-foot family entertainment center offers a rock-climbing wall, a ropes course, mini golf, a mining experience, arcade and more. Book a night in a themed suite and access the water park, daily events, and more — and be sure to read the lodge’s Paw Pledge here and find out what measures are in place to keep your pack safe.
Hours: The waterpark is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
7333 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale
Things To Do By Vehicle
If you're up for a drive on the wild side, and maybe some cooler temps among the Ponderosa pines, Bearizona is where it's at. About 170 miles north of Phoenix, this wildlife park invites guests to observe North American animals — including Black bears, elk, wolves, bison — in their natural environment along a scenic, 3-mile drive. Visitors are also welcome to stroll along winding forest walkways for an up-close look at the antics of bobcats, bear cubs, javelinas and more at Fort Bearizona. The park's COVID-19 updates can be viewed here.
Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
1500 E. Route 66, Williams