Spring in the Greater Phoenix area is the most-anticipated time of year. While we’re disappointed that many of our signature events have been cancelled in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our top priority is the safety of our locals and visitors alike.
As social distancing becomes our new course of action, we’ve compiled a list of places in Greater Phoenix where you can still experience the beauty of this season, without encountering crowds.
Please note that some times/days experience higher traffic at these locations. The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and Arizona State Parks and Trails and are following the National Recreation and Park Association's lead in monitoring the situation and taking the recommended precautions to provide a safe experience for visitors.
Before heading out, please be advised of the following recommendations:
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Wash your hands before you go and carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol with you.
- Avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
- Maintain a six-foot distance from others while on the trail. If the trail is too crowded, try a different location.
- Prepare for limited access to buildings and group areas.
If you're sick of being home all day, here's a few intra-city road trips, where you can travel from Point A to Point Beautiful … and be back in time for dinner.
The Apache Trail is legendary because it was once considered the most treacherous stretch of highway in the country. Today, the well-traveled road still requires some adept driving—the speed limit is 15 mph—but the narrow and tight turns deliver jaw-dropping portals to canyons, cliff dwellings, jutting rock formations, sparking blue lakes and dense desert flora.
This is an easy scenic drive in downtown Phoenix. All you have to do is get your car to Central Avenue—the road that serves as the city’s east-west dividing line—and head south. Central Avenue ends at South Mountain Park, a 16,000-acre municipal recreational facility that is free to the public. After you pass through the park’s main entrance gate, Central Avenue becomes Summit Road, which leads to Dobbins Lookout.
Sitting atop a knoll overlooking the famed Arizona Biltmore resort, Wrigley Mansion was built in 1932 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. The mansion—which fuses Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean styles—is perched high enough to give visitors a tree-skimming, panoramic snapshot of the city below.
With local restaurants closing dining rooms and ramping up drive-thru, to-go and delivery service, diners might feel confined to returning home to enjoy the flavors of their favorite local businesses. But it's spring, and the outdoors are calling. We suggest a picnic!
Situated in the heart of Central Phoenix, Steele Indian School Park boasts acres of green grass and ramadas for picnicking. After dining, check out the massive bird-shaped lake (bring your breadcrumbs for the ducks), take a walk around the Circle of Life cistern in the middle of the park for a lesson on Phoenix Indian School’s history, or hit the north side of the park, which features a playground, two half-court basketball courts and sand volleyball courts.
300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix
Named in honor of the city's first female mayor, Margaret T. Hance Park is a 32-acre multiuse recreation space is located in the heart of downtown. While this urban oasis is best known for playing host to some of the city’s most-popular festivals, this spring it’s also the perfect place to enjoy the spring sun, fresh air and city views. Bring your blanket to take advantage of the ample grassy space or scout out a covered area with tables. Before you leave, follow the paths that connect the playground and dog parks to other surrounding cultural attractions.
67 W. Culver St., Phoenix
Encanto Park has been named one of America’s Best City Parks by Forbes, and with good reason. At 222-acres of lush, activity-ready desert, this park features a palm tree-lined lagoon, two ramadas, pedal boat rentals, a giant play structure, basketball, volleyball and tennis courts as well as a swimming pool – all with the midtown skyline in the background. Also located here is Enchanted Island Amusement Park (visit the website for current hours of operation), which features carnival-style rides, the C.P. Huntington Train and a splash pad.
2605 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix
This 120-acre park is at the center of Gilbert and a landmark in the growing town. Here picnickers will find two lakes, a skate park, sand volleyball courts, tennis and basketball courts, softball and soccer fields, batting cages, several playgrounds and ample room for the kids to run around. Don’t miss the antique carousel, mini Ferris wheel and Freestone Railroad’s miniature train that circles the park all weekend long.
1045 E Juniper Road, Gilbert
As the historical central park for Tempe since the 1920s, Tempe Town Lake a 25-acre park that offers almost all the water recreation activities we love – kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and a variety of boat rentals – right in the city. The park itself is home to a splash playground, a 5.7-mile walking and biking loop (bike and scooter rentals, too), volleyball courts, fishing, picnic tables and grassy areas – all set before the picture-perfect body of water.
Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe
With more than 200 miles of trails, leading to iconic vistas, the Greater Phoenix area is the perfect place to soak up the spring vibes – and also find solitude – on a hike.
The Sonoran Preserve, in North Phoenix, comprises more than 9,600 acres, and 36 miles of trails can be accessed via three trailheads – Desert Vista, Desert Hills and Apache Wash. Trails in the southern area of the preserve range from the easy Bobcat Trail to the difficult summit of Dixie Mountain. In the northern area, Apache Vista and Ridgeback Overlook, the first two summits of Phoenix's famed Seven Summit Challenge, offer overlooks and miles of connecting trails to explore.
Just minutes from downtown is Papago Park, home to red rock buttes looped with trails, including a take an accessible, paved pathway and an interpretive nature trail to learn about desert flora and fauna. To maintain social distancing protocol, the main parking lot for Hole in the Rock will be closed and access by hikers to Hole in the Rock will be limited. However, other parking lots within Papago Park will be open, as will other trails and access points. Please note, neighboring Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix Zoo are not open to the public at this time.
625 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Boasting 50 miles of trails through 16,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert, this municipal park is perfectly suited for outdoor adventure just minutes from the city. The skyline views and Sonoran Desert flora aren't the park's only perks. Keep a lookout for ancient petroglyphs carved into the rocks (we've got details in this blog post on petroglyphs in Phoenix). Please note that vehicle access on Summit Road will be controlled to resolve overcrowding at Dobbins Lookout.
Main entrance: 10211 S. Central Ave, Phoenix
Nearly 30,000 acres makes this the largest regional park in Maricopa County, most of which is made up of the rugged and beautiful White Tank Mountains. About 40 miles west of downtown Phoenix, this range is deeply serrated with ridges and canyons that rise sharply from its base to peak at over 4,000 feet. Here, hikers will find approximately 25 miles of excellent shared-use trails. Please note that Waterfall Trail is currently closed.
20304 W. White Tank Mountain Road, Waddell
602-506-2930 ext. 5
Greater Phoenix and surrounding area is home to six lakes that offer year-round recreation and relaxation. In spring, however, moderate temps, wildflowers and a variety of desert critters up the ante on any lake experience. If you’re up for a short drive, these beautiful bodies of water await you. Please note that some restaurants, rental operations and visitor centers may be closed to the public for the time being. For the latest information, visit each lake's official website.
Located just 45 miles from downtown Phoenix, Bartlett Lake is the second-largest lake in the Tonto National Forest. Bartlett Dam was constructed in 1939 and the area has since become known for its spectacular vistas of the surrounding mountains and the Sonoran Desert plant life. Check out trails around the lake, including Bartlett Reservoir Trail, a 4.5-mile out and back trek, and Jojoba Trail, a 2.7-mile loop, here. Please note: Riverside Campground, Rattlesnake Cove day use site, SB Cove day use and shoreline camping sites, Yellow Cliffs boating site, and Bartlett Flats shoreline camping site are currently closed.
20808 E. Bartlett Dam Road, Rio Verde
Nestled in the scenic Tonto National Forest and surrounded by towering canyon walls and Four Peaks in the distance, Saguaro Lake is a beautiful spot for spending a day on the water. Located 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix, Saguaro Lake beckons thrill-seeking as well as leisurely explorers. The Butcher Jones Trail skirts the edge of the lake and winds in and out of the many coves. Suitable for all skill levels, the trail is a total of four miles in and back. Please note: Pobrecito boat staging site, Butcher Jones day use site, and Saguaro Del Norte boating and day use site are currently closed.
14011 N. Bush Highway, Mesa
Located in the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest, Canyon Lake is 50 miles east of Phoenix. Like other lakes in the region, the 950-acre lake is a great place for a variety of watersports in addition to camping and hiking. Three recreation sites, Acacia Site, Palo Verde Recreation Site and Boulder Creek Recreation Site, are open year-round and offer easy lake access. The entire family (including your pets) will enjoy the large grass area, a beach area, shady ramadas and a swimming-only section of the lake. Boat rentals are available and the lake has a popular day-use campground, which fills up fast (reservations recommended). Please note: Tortilla Campground, Laguna boating site, Boulder day use site, Palo Verde boating and day use site, and Acacia day use site are currently closed.
16802 N.E. Highway 88, Tortilla Flat
Greater Phoenix is known as one of the top destinations for golf. Which means there's a wide variety of courses to choose from right in our backyard. Thanks to the implementation of new safety precautions, locals can still get out of the house and get some exercise while enjoying a round or two amid serene desert landscapes.
Please note: Arizona golf courses are operating in accordance with the CDC's guidelines for social distancing. This may mean various changes to dining options, beverage carts, pro shop access and golf cart protocols. Please verify details with your respective course before arriving.
This perfect golf destination, home to the O’odham Course and the The Piipaash Course, offers uninterrupted desert panoramas with spectacular vistas of the distant mountains, reflecting cherished rural seclusion. Talking Stick Golf Club has implemented the following practices to provide guests and staff the safest environment possible:
Each group should have one person check in all players to limit the amount of people in the golf shop. Because staff will not be loading/unloading bags, sanitized carts will be staged at the bag drop for guests to load their bags. The carts will then be moved to the usual staging area for guests to retrieve their bags and begin their round.
Golfers are encouraged to leave the flagsticks in the cup on all greens when putting and advised against using the rakes after hitting a shot from a bunker (use your feet to smooth the sand).
While dining service at Wildhorse Grille has been temporarily suspended, to-go orders from a limited menu are available from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Beverage cart service is available with additional sandwich and wrap offerings. Talking Stick Cardholders are invited to make a selection from the beverage cart in place of items from the grille.
9998 Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale
Awarded Four Stars by Golf Digest, Arizona Grand Golf Course at Arizona Grand Resort & Spa blends traditional links with ultimate desert golf, suitable for players of all skill levels. The course, which open to resort guests and the general public, plays to a par 71 with an overall yardage of more than 6,300 yards. Lush semitropical landscaping and an abundance of water highlight the front nine, while the back nine offers a stark contrast and gives golfers a true desert-style experience.
The Arizona Grand Golf Course is open and inviting guests to choose from a range of tee times for a day of fresh air and perfect spring weather with weekday golf rates from $39 and weekend golf rates (Friday-Sunday) from $45.
Current safety precautions at the course include the practice of social distancing by all golf associates, regular sanitizing of golf carts, and gloves and Lysol wipes for golfers (available while supplies last). Additionally, sand bottles and rakes have been removed, pins are now to be left in the hole at all times and sponges have been placed in each hole to elevate the ball height to reduce contact with the pin and cup.
8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway, Phoenix
Featuring lush greens entwined by carefully preserved Sonoran Desert Terrain, this championship 18-hole Troon course combines spectacular scenery with challenging play. Lookout Mountain Golf Club has been home to the nationally televised NBC Skills Challenge and the Arizona Senior Classic. If you are looking to fine tune your game, our professional staff is available for individual lessons and group instruction.
With 4, It’s Yours – Foursome Special: Grab three friends, to being paired up with someone you don’t know, and fill all four spots in a tee time. $75 plus tax per person; valid anytime, seven days a week.
Arizona Residents Weekday Promotion: Receive 20% off the best available rate for any weekday round (Monday through Friday). Online booking required, use promo code LOCAL.
OWL Card Promotion: The OWL Card is a calendar year offer that allows golfers to book seven days in advance at discounted, static rates. In addition, golfers receive one free round for every five paid rounds. Purchase an OWL Card ($99) before April 19 and receive a voucher for $99 worth of merchandise from the golf shop.
11111 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club is home to two award-winning golf courses: The Saguaro Course, ranked as the No. 1 public golf course in Arizona, and The Cholla course, ranked as the No. 7 public golf course in Arizona. Golfers are invited to experience both and save with the Summer We-Ko-Pass. On sale now, the pass is available for $75 plus tax and offers up to 50% off green fees and unlimited rounds for passholders and up to three guests; four-day booking window (through Sept. 30); one free round with every five paid passholder rounds; 20% off non-sale merchandise; and a complimentary We-Ko-Pa logo cap.
Additionally, the club has extended a special rate ($89 plus tax) to current and future We-Ko-Pass holders through May 3, 2020, which is 25% off the normal early summer rate.
18200 E. Toh Vee Circle, Fort McDowell
Hailed by locals as the "best kept secret in Chandler," Springfield Golf Resort offers 18 holes of golf on its exquisite executive golf course. As the highest-rated short course in Arizona over the past year, according to Golf Advisor, this course is easy enough for a beginner, but offers enough challenge for even the most seasoned veteran.
Pre-pay and save up to 20%: In addition to reducing the number of tee times, Springfield is asking golfers to pay in advance to help ensure proper social distancing on the course. In exchange for helping keep golfers safe, golfers will received 20% off rates when booking online before 2 p.m.
1200 E. St. Andrews Blvd. Chandler