Winter in Phoenix means cool weather, and plenty of time to spend outdoors. But if you're not quite ready to take the whole family out and about just yet, we also have several activities you can experience from the comfort of your own vehicle.
There's a lot to consider ahead of your next outing, so here are some of our favorites to help you decide which experiences make your to-do list.
FestivalsBack to Top of List
Artists from all over the country will descend to downtown Tempe for this year’s fall Tempe Festival of the Arts. This festival keeps it simple and will only feature its 300 artists and a wide array of food vendors. Over the 10-block footprint, this open-air and socially distant event gives the community an opportunity to connect to great art, enjoy our vibrant downtown area, and indulge their appetites with great snacks, cuisines, and more.
This is one of the industry’s top Off-Road & UTV EXPO’s. 100's of leading industry companies showcasing only the best in Off-Road, UTV, Overland, and Motorcycle products and services.
FuelFest blends the enthusiast’s passion for the automotive world with live music, racing, VIP access, and art showcases giving fans the most premier car show, race day, and music festival experiences all at once.
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
Shop over 100 artists booths with traditional and non-traditional Native American art including jewelry, pottery, paintings, textiles. Stop by the Ki:Him area and make arts and crafts along with our featured artists. Sit and enjoy traditional music and dance performances. Support the aspiring artists at the Young Artist Market. Tour Pueblo Grande Museum, the Mound, and the reconstructed dwellings on the campus. Fry bread, Navajo tacos, cactus chili and burgers will be available at the food trucks.
The Asian Festival is a celebration of diversity that presents experiences that deepen our knowledge and understanding of Asian culture, traditions and heritage and enhancing unity through arts and culture, including rich, colorful Asian culture, performances, arts and crafts, food and tradition.
Mesa Asian District
The Home & Garden Show features 950 vendor booths, local experts and inspiration all in one place for one weekend only.
The Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival features more than 155 juried fine artisans from throughout the United States and abroad. Artists will participate displaying paintings in oil, watercolor, pastel, acrylic, and ink; impressive small, medium and life-sized sculptures, sparkling hand blown glass, clay, metal, stone, wood, bronze, one-of-kind handcrafted jewelry, beautiful photography and much more. This festival also combines fine art and fine craft with an elaborate collection of domestic and imported wines for tasting.
Widely regarded as a barometer of the collector car industry, the auctions have evolved over the years into world-class automotive lifestyle events where thousands of the world’s most sought-after, unique and valuable automobiles cross the block in front of a global audience — in person and on live national and international television.
WestWorld of Scottsdale
A curated and judged exhibition of the world's finest collector cars, the Arizona Concours d'Elegance is a celebration of automotive design, supporting the arts and local artists.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
The sky will be filled with colorful hot-air balloons to participate in thrilling “Hare & Hound” races from the grassy fields of the Goodyear Ballpark for a spectacular sight of mass and color.
Enjoy this not-to-be missed companion animal adopt-a-thon and fun celebration of furry best friends. Check out fantastic pet products and services, yummy eats, vet tips, music, auction prizes and much more. Bring your friendly dog.
Steele Indian School Park
Thunderbird Artists, producer of award-winning fine art and wine festivals, lines the banks of the Scottsdale Waterfront with the greatest selection of juried fine arts, fine wines, delectable chocolates and musicians in the Southwest for the Waterfront Fine Art & Wine Festival.
Since its start in 1953, the Parada del Sol has grown to be one of the world's longest horse-drawn parades and boasts more than 100 entries, including floats, bands and individual riders.
Old Town Scottsdale
This festival features more than 100 world-class artists, 15 of the region's best wineries pouring more than 150 different wines, dozens of dining options, and live musical entertainment.
Feb. 3 - March 31
Don't miss raucous revelry at the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival. The Arizona Renaissance Festival is a medieval amusement park, a 16-stage theater, a 50-acre circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament and a feast — all rolled into one non-stop, day-long family adventure.
Annually sporting the largest crowds on the PGA Tour, the Waste Management Phoenix Open has gained legendary status for being unlike any other golf tournament. If you are visiting for the first time, hole 16 is a must-see. With stadium seating and lively crowds, the fan experience at this hole more comparable to a Phoenix Suns game than a traditional PGA Tournament. Get all the info you need with our handy guide on the WM Phoenix Open.
Scottsdale Tournament Players Club (TPC Scottsdale)
The largest event of its kind in the world, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is held at WestWorld and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators. In addition to exciting competitions, gala parties, educational seminars, family-focused events, and an international cuisine court, the event features more than 300 vendor booths, offering everything from lavish jewelry, clothing and works of art.
WestWorld of Scottsdale
Patrons love strolling throughout spectacular paintings, bronzes, glass, stone, copper, clay sculptures, photography and jewelry.
Located in the heart of Litchfield Park's historic district, the legendary Wigwam Resort will host the Annual Wigwam Fine Art Festival, an extraordinary three day celebration of the arts. Discover the Southwest's most accomplished Fine Artists and Craftsmen exhibiting in a stunning outdoor gallery on the majestic front lawn of the legendary Resort.
The Arizona Gay Rodeo, an IGRA-sanctioned rodeo, is a traditional rodeo event that also includes camp drag events, vendors, food, full-service bars, drag performances, dancing, rodeo royalty, games and more – all in a festival-style atmosphere.
Corona Ranch and Rodeo Grounds
Top American Indian and Canadian First Nations hoop dancers will compete at the Heard Museum for the prestigious World Champion title and cash prizes. At this two-day competition, men and women compete on an equal field.
This visual three-day extravaganza in downtown Phoenix includes dramatic and documentary features, short films and multimedia installations. We also host filmmaker table readings, panel discussions, and live music events all over downtown Phoenix.
Innings Festival is a two-day event that will feature rock, pop and country performances, culinary demos, as well as curated food vendors, fun family activations and appearances by professional baseball players. This year's festival features Green Day, Eddie Vedder, Randy Johnson and more.
Tempe Beach Park
OutdoorsBack to Top of List
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.
Winter Events include:
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).
Featuring over 3,000 animals, including Bornean orangutans, Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, Komodo dragons, Masai giraffes and many more, the Phoenix Zoo has been a Phoenix mainstay since 1962. Alongside animals, there are outdoor cafés, shops, lush gardens, water landscapes and exciting up-close animal encounters like Stingray Bay, Giraffe Encounter and Monkey Village.
Winter Events include:
Art on the Wild Side
Wildlights for Wildlife 2023
Sensory Friendly ZooLights
S'edav Va'aki 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.
Winter Events include:
Home to Arizona's largest collection of exotic animals with 600 different species, visitors can feed giraffes, parrots and stingrays, see wildlife on the Log Flume ride, African Safari Train, Australian Boat Ride, Wildlife Skyride, or exotic Merry-Go-Round.
Open since 1929, Boyce Thompson Arboretum is one the best spots to explore desert plants. About an hour outside of Phoenix, it is the oldest and largest botanical garden in the state, with more than 2,600 species of plants from across the world.
Open your mind to awe and wonder under the famously dark skies of Flagstaff, Arizona, the world's first International Dark Sky City. Look up from anywhere in the city to see more stars than you can count. For the best views, head to Mars Hill and the grounds of 125-year-old Lowell Observatory. This is where Pluto was discovered in 1930, an event you can relive during one of the observatory's many guided tours. On clear nights, gaze at the moon, planets or deep-sky objects through the giant Clark refractor, built in 1896.
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.
Whether you're in the mood to explore the Sonoran Desert on an ATV, mountain bike, segway, or horse, you'll find what you're looking for. There are plenty of tour guides to show you the most beautiful areas in our state — including some of the spots with cooler temps.
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.
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).
IndoorsBack to Top of List
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 invites you to explore four levels of exciting “hands-on” exhibits, a state-of-the-art planetarium and a five-story, giant-screen theater.
Winter Events include:
POP! The Science of Bubbles
Home to one of the most extensive collections of American Indian art in the United States, 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 textiles to Navajo and Zuni jewelry and Southwestern ceramics from prehistory to the present — throughout spacious exhibit galleries, a contemporary art gallery, the outdoor sculpture gardens, trading post-style shop and more.
Winter Events include:
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. MIM is holding socially distanced concerts now as well, so check out our concerts calendar. 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 the sounds and observe instruments being played in their original contexts.
Winter Events include:
Acoustic America: Iconic Guitars, Mandolins, and Banjos
’Tis the Season: Holidays at MIM
Since it opened in 1959, Phoenix Art Museum has become the largest art museum in the southwestern U.S., providing access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona. In the past 50 years, millions have visited the museum to view the more than 400 national and international exhibitions it has hosted. These are shown alongside Phoenix Art Museum's collection that has grown to over 17,000 objects of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, photography and fashion design.
Winter Events Include:
America’s largest butterfly pavilion entertains, educates and enchants visitors of all ages with 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).
Winter Events include:
Christmas in the Rainforest
iFLY, the world’s largest indoor skydiving operation, delivers the dream of flight to adventure seekers of all ages and abilities. Experience the sensation of skydiving in a safe, comfortable and fun environment – without having to jump out of an airplane. With the help of iFLY certified flight instructors, you'll experience the sensation of free fall — creating conditions that allows you to fly on a smooth cushion of air — and check true human flight off the bucket list.
Mavrix is an entertainment destination featuring 22 bowling lanes, 85 arcade games, a state-of-the-art laser tag arena, billiards, dozens of 4K televisions, and a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar that features a chef-curated menu, local beers and craft cocktails.
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.
If you have a need for speed, Octane Raceway is home to the only full-time indoor/outdoor track in the U.S. So, prepare to put your pedal to the metal and reach 45+ mph on the kart track. But pump the breaks for Velocity VR, mini-bowling, arcade and Brickyard Bar & Grill.
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.
Winter Events include:
Winter Waterland® at OdySea Aquarium
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. You'll want to have your camera/phone ready for the one-of-a-kind photo ops throughout these current exhibits. Please note: Individual artwork rotates in every few months, creating an ever-evolving, year-round show.
Dozens of hands-on creative activities and a full day of fun awaits your entire family in Chandler, just a short drive away from Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. Bigger, brighter and bolder than ever, the colorful adventures of Crayola Experience help kids (and adults) explore art and technology, express their creativity and experience color in a whole new way.
LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is where families with children ages 3 to 10 can enjoy a world of creativity, color and building fun in the ultimate indoor LEGO playground. With features that include global and local landmarks made from over a million LEGO bricks in MINILAND® to fun and exciting LEGO themed rides: Kingdom Quest and Merlin's Apprentice. Watch as your favorite LEGO characters come to life in the 4D Cinema. Then get hands-on with the thousands of LEGO bricks in themed build-and-play areas where kids' imaginations can run wild with endless possibilities.
Discover thousands of amazing creatures and walk through the 360-degree ocean tunnel. SEA LIFE Arizona is built for kids with child-level viewing bubbles and an interactive scavenger hunt.
By VehicleBack to Top of List
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.
These intra-city road trips allow you to travel from point A to point Beautiful, and you don't ever have to leave your air-conditioned car. Some of the best scenic drives in Arizona are right here, including Dobbins Lookout, the Apache Trail and Wrigley Mansion.