Phoenix is a sprawling, metropolitan city lying the middle of the desert. It encompasses nearby towns and cities and the area is known as the “Valley of the Sun”. The temperature is warm all year long making it a popular tourist destination. Phoenix has numerous attractions, museums, art galleries, cultural activities, and restaurants for visitors to explore. The city is home to the NFL team the Arizona Cardinals, and MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and sports are a huge part of the resident’s lives. Phoenix is also known for its many professional golf courses and high-end spa resorts. Some of the most popular attractions include the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden. But if you are vacationing on a budget, then keep reading to discover the best things to do for free in Phoenix, Arizona.
1. Swing by the Arizona Cardinals practice matches
If you are visiting Phoenix from the end of July through mid-August, you can see the Arizona Cardinals practice for free. The Cardinals are Arizona’s NFL team and loved by Phoenix residents. Watching the players practice is a great way to see new players that have been added to the team, as well as your favorite players. The practice sessions take place at the newly renamed State Farm Stadium. Many of the concession booths will be open during practice sessions and parking is free. Check the website for exact times and dates to plan your visit.
Address: 8701 S Hardy Dr, Tempe, AZ 85284
Website: Arizona Cardinals
2. Check out the art galleries in downtown Phoenix on First Friday
First Friday is a street festival dedicated to art. It falls on the first Friday of every month. A portion of the downtown area is closed to traffic and local artists display their work for sale. You will find everything from contemporary art to handmade jewelry. The downtown galleries are also open for visitors to browse through the works on exhibit. Besides the artwork, you can enjoy tasty street food from multiple vendors and dance the night away as musicians play along the sidewalk.
Address: 333 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA
3. Hike the Camelback Mountain
Camelback Mountain got its name as it looks like the head and hump of a camel. It is located just 20 minutes’ from downtown Phoenix. Every year thousands of people make the hike to the top to enjoy the view. You should wear sturdy shoes, especially during spring and summer as rattlesnakes do live amongst the rocks. Choose between two trails, either Echo Canyon or Cholla. Echo Canyon is the shorter climb but the trail is steeper than Cholla.
Address: Phoenix, AZ 85018, USA
4. Enjoy a free concert at Chandler Symphony Orchestra
The Chandler Center for the Arts is home to the Chandler Symphony Orchestra. A group of volunteer musicians comes together to share their love of music with the community. All of their concerts are free, but seating is on a first-come basis. Free concerts are held once a month, usually on Sunday afternoons, and no two performances are the same in any one season.
Chandler Symphony Orchestra
Address: 250 N Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ 85225
Website: Chandler Symphony Orchestra
Opening hours: Sun: 2:30pm - 5:30pm
5. Catch a native musical performance at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall
The Civic Center Mall is not a sprawling shopping center as the name suggests. It is a cultural oasis created in downtown Scottsdale. The main area of the Mall features flowering shrubs and plants with paths for strolling, bubbling fountains and interesting sculptures. Around the mall, you will find the Scottsdale Center for the Arts and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Right outside the Center for the Arts is a grassy amphitheater where you can see the performances of Native Trails. These take place once a week from January through March.
Civic Center Mall
Address: 3939 N Drinkwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Website: Civic Center Mall
Opening hours: 12am - 12am (daily)
6. Visit Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art
Explore the culture of the Native Americans when you visit the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art. The first Friday of every month, from 6 pm to 10 pm, admission is free. Take advantage of the guided tour or explore the various galleries at your leisure. The museum’s collection includes over 40,000 items that showcase the works of the Native Americans in the Southwest and the jewelry made throughout North America. You will find 12 distinct galleries, an outdoor rock sculpture garden, a cafe, and a trading post gift shop.
Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art
Address: 2301 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 5pm; Sun: 11am - 5pm
7. Explore South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park is the largest urban park on the planet. The park encompasses three mountain ranges and over 51 miles (82 km) of trails for biking, hiking, and horse riding. The highest point in the park, Dobbins Lookout may be the most visited part of the park. From here you have an unobstructed view of the valley. Dobbins Lookout is a local favorite on the Fourth of July as you can see all of the fireworks shows put on by almost every city in Maricopa County.
South Mountain Park
Address: 10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042
Website: South Mountain Park
Opening hours: 5am - 7pm (daily)
8. Head to Phoenix Art Museum on a Wednesday
Wednesday’s are “Pay What You Wish” days at the Phoenix Art Museum. The museum houses one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in the Southwest. Besides the permanent collection, that includes pieces from around the world, the museum hosts visiting exhibits, such as “Mexico’s Landscapes” a collection of photographs taken by Mexican photographers. Throughout the year they hold lectures, events, and educational tours. You can also visit the museum for free on the first Friday of the month from 6 pm to 10 pm.
Phoenix Art Museum
Address: 1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Website: Phoenix Art Museum
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)
9. Trace the history of Arizona at Arizona Capitol Museum
Trace the history of Arizona when you visit the Arizona Capitol Museum. Phoenix became the capital of Arizona in 1889 and construction for the new capitol building began that year. You can explore the exhibits through hands-on interactive activities, historical artifacts, and the use of visual technology. The Capitol museum showcases the history of Arizona culture, economics, and political history.
Arizona Capitol Museum
Address: 1700 W Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007
Website: Arizona Capitol Museum
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 4pm; Sat: 10am - 2pm (closed on Sun)
10. Go to a Rookie League Baseball game
Spring training camps for Major and Minor League Baseball are held at numerous stadiums around the Phoenix area. You can see most of your favorite teams play for free. Teams include the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, and the Rangers to name a few. It is a great way to spend an afternoon and the concession stands at all stadiums are open for peanuts, hotdogs, and soft drinks. Spring training camps are hosted by the Arizona League so check their website to see what stadium your favorite team is playing at.
Website: Arizona League
Phoenix on a budget
Family vacation’s don’t have to break the bank. It is possible to have a great trip and experience new places and attractions without spending a dime. This list will help you and the family have a great time when visiting the Valley of the Sun.
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