Known as the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, Arizona, boasts sunny skies, warm weather, and endless attractions and activities. Whether you’re traveling with a significant other, family, or friends, you’ll find plenty to fill a long weekend or a weeklong getaway. Plan your perfect Phoenix itinerary, find the ideal place to stay, and get familiar with the Valley of the Sun.

Top Things to Do in Phoenix

With so much to do in Phoenix, you’ll want to hit the ground running the moment the sun peeks over the McDowell Mountains. Be sure to wear some comfortable walking shoes, slather on the sunscreen, and pack a few layers, since mornings and evenings can get chilly in the desert. Here’s how to plan an action-packed day in Phoenix.

Early Morning: Fill Up on a Hearty Breakfast

Start the day on the right foot by sitting down to a filling breakfast. With locations in Scottsdale and on the north side of Phoenix, Scramble is a great pick no matter where you’re staying. This breakfast-focused spot opens bright and early, and the menu features both healthy choices like breakfast wraps and omelets to heavier options like eggs Benedict and breakfast burritos. Feel like treating yourself? Order a Brizza, a breakfast pizza with toppings like smoked Gouda and bacon or chorizo and Jack cheese. Scramble even offers vegan and gluten-free items, so everyone can start the day right.

Matt’s Big Breakfast also boasts a few locations around the Phoenix metro area, so you’ll never be far from all-day breakfast. Go savory with an egg and bacon breakfast sandwich or a cheese omelet, or satisfy your sweet tooth with some griddlecakes or a Belgian waffle.

Camelback Mountain
Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe featuring Camelback Mountain in the background.

Morning: Experience Phoenix’s Beautiful Surroundings

After fueling up for the day, it’s time to get outside and soak up the sunshine. The Valley of the Sun is home to numerous outdoor destinations, so choose one or two that work best for your fitness level and interests.

You can’t go far in Phoenix without catching a glimpse of Camelback Mountain, and if you’re up for a challenge, you can climb to the summit of this distinctively shaped mountain. Summit Trail is the shortest route to the top of the 2,700-foot peak, but it’s also remarkably steep. If you need an easier way route to the top, try the Cholla Trail, which leads hikers up a gradual incline on the east side of the mountain. Be sure to bring water, since you’ll definitely work up a sweat on the way up.

If a less strenuous morning is more your speed, head to the Desert Botanical Gardens, situated on the east side of the city between Scottsdale and Tempe. This gorgeous spot opens bright and early every day of the week, and you can easily spend hours wandering among the cacti, succulents, and desert plants. Don’t miss the fine art glass that’s interspersed among the desert flora, adding beautiful pops of color throughout.

Midmorning: Visit an Architectural Masterpiece

Just north of the Desert Botanical Gardens, you won’t want to miss a trip to Taliesin West, the winter home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The property spans 600 acres at the foot of the McDowell Mountains and includes the architect’s home, along with studios and apartments for students.

Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark and open to the public. Sign up for a one-hour tour to see the main highlights or stick around for the three-hour tour to peek behind the scenes. Taliesin West even offers evening tours, so if you’re a devoted Frank Lloyd Wright fan, you’ll want to plan for a return visit.

Taliesin West
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in North Scottsdale.

Noon: Grab a Bite to Eat

For lunch, head back toward central Phoenix, where you can choose from snazzy sandwich joints, poke spots, and much more. Stop by a branch of the ever-popular Even Stevens, which features classic sandwiches like Reubens and grilled cheeses, along with lighter options like salads and banh mi sandwiches.

Kick back and relax at Doughbird, a brand spot that serves up all kinds of comfort food. Share a pizza with your group, order a pastrami sandwich all for yourself, or try the signature rotisserie chicken. With dessert options like an Elvis-inspired peanut butter parfait and a peach streusel pie, you’re definitely going to want to save room for dessert, too.

Want to ditch the bread? Dig into a poke bowl at one of Phoenix’s hottest new lunch joints, Ahipoki Bowl. Here, you can build your own healthy bowl packed with fresh fish, steamed rice, and your choice of spicy sauces.

Afternoon: Explore a Museum or Two

When you’re ready to hit the road again, zero in on one of Phoenix’s best museums or make a short stop at two. If you play an instrument or enjoy music, you won’t want to miss the Musical Instrument Museum, which is frequently rated one of the city’s top attractions. Here, you’ll see over 6,500 musical instruments from around the world, with many arranged by region so you can follow the musical path around the globe. See a special exhibit to see how music and visual art play off one another or catch one of the museum’s performances.

Make your way to the Heard Museum, one of the nation’s top American Indian art museums. Browse the museum’s permanent collection, view the temporary exhibitions, and immerse yourself in American Indian culture. Time your visit right and you may even be able to attend a talk or another special event.

Nearby, the Phoenix Art Museum displays one of the best comprehensive art collections in the Southwest. You can see a little of everything here, from Renaissance-era paintings to modern art by Frida Kahlo. If you’re visiting on a Wednesday, keep in mind that you might want to save this for a little later in the afternoon, when you can visit for free.

If contemporary art is more up your alley, take a self-guided tour of some of the most brightly colored murals and street art in town. You’ll find bold examples on artsy Roosevelt Row, in downtown Phoenix, and several other spots throughout the metro area.

Scottsdale golf course
Scottsdale Silverado Golf Club along the Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale.

Late Afternoon: Catch a Game or Play a Round of Golf

The Valley of the Sun is known for its top-notch golf courses, and whether you’re an amateur or a pro, you’ll definitely want to reserve a tee time. Troon North Golf Club is a local favorite, and you’ll see why as you play each hole surrounded by mountains, cacti, and gorgeous desert landscapes. Also in Scottsdale, Grayhawk Golf Club boasts challenging holes and beautiful greens.

If you’re visiting in the spring, join in the Spring Training fever and catch a game. Fifteen Major League Baseball teams join the Cactus League every spring, where they play practice and exhibition games all across the Phoenix area. Grab tickets to see the Chicago Cubs, the Oakland A’s, or the Kansas City Royals get ready for the upcoming MLB season under the warm Arizona sun.

Old Town Scottsdale
Old Adobe Mission in Old Town Scottsdale.

Evening: Enjoy Happy Hour

Toast to a fun-filled day at one of the Phoenix area’s best cocktail bars. Go for a classic rum cocktail with a contemporary twist at Rum Bar, a sultry spot that pours everything from rum flights to tiki cocktails to mojitos.

At Ostrich, you’ll experience a taste of history mixed with some of the best craft cocktails in the Valley of the Sun. You’ll find tons of historical drinks on the menu, from the French 75 to the Aviation Cocktail to Tommy’s Margarita.

Try one of Phoenix’s most highly rated cocktails at Okra, a Southern spot in the heart of downtown Phoenix. This spot specializes in small-batch bourbons, and the talented bartenders expertly mix them with herbs and housemade bitters to make mint juleps and a range of signature drinks.

Dinnertime: Treat Yourself to a Great Meal

The Phoenix area has no shortage of great food options, so you’ll find something to please every palate and make your night special. If you’re planning a casual night out, try Barnone, which houses not one but two restaurants, along with a micro-winery and a craft brewery in nearby Gilbert. Also in Gilbert, try Nico Heirloom Kitchen, which serves up seasonal Italian dishes with a West Coast flavor.

For an intimate meal, reserve a table for two at Sel in Old Town Scottsdale. Settle in for the tasting menu, which includes four courses of French-inspired dishes made with seasonal and local ingredients.

In Phoenix, the new Barrio Café Gran Reserve offers the hottest Mexican-inspired chef’s menu in town. Each course is designed to surprise and delight, and this new spot even offers an expansive wine list. Also in Central Phoenix, Binkley’s invites diners to embark on a dining journey that leads diners through a moving multicourse tasting menu.

Late Night: Take in a Performance

Whether you love music, dance, or theater, you can choose from a wide range of shows in Phoenix. Ballet Phoenix puts on awe-inspiring performances with stunning stage designs, while the Phoenix Symphony Hall hosts classical music concerts and pop nights. Head east to the Mesa Arts Center for jazzy concerts, go to the Arizona Theatre Company for top-notch theater, and see off-Broadway shows at the Orpheum Theater, right in the heart of Central Phoenix.

Orpheum Theater
Orpheum Theater in Downtown Phoenix.

Where to Stay in Phoenix

From high-end hotels to funky hostels to unique rentals, you can take your pick from numerous accommodation options in Phoenix. Take a look at some of the city’s best options and find the perfect place to stay.

Top Hotels

If you’re looking to splurge, you’re in the right place. Both Phoenix and neighboring Scottsdale are home to numerous high-end hotels that offer beautifully designed rooms and luxurious experiences. Book a spacious room at the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale and enjoy stunning views of the namesake natural wonder, along with a relaxing spa treatment after your hike up the mountain. Looking for a hotel that doubles as a contemporary design hotspot? Book your stay at the Andaz Scottsdale, which partners with the Cattle Track Arts Compound to bring the area’s best art to this boutique hotel.

In Phoenix, treat yourself to a luxurious getaway at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa, situated in a Spanish colonial mansion that dates back to 1929. You’ll love the stately rooms and the beautiful views of Camelback Mountain. Want to go even fancier? Check out the Arizona Biltmore, regarded as Phoenix’s top hotel. It also dates back to 1929 and boasts modernist architecture along with eight swimming pools, multiple restaurants, and a setting in one of the city’s most upscale areas.

Best Hostel

If you’d rather save your vacation budget for experiences and dining, staying at a hostel can help you save. The top hostel in Phoenix offers more than just budget-friendly accommodations, though. Book a bed at the Phoenix Hostel & Cultural Center, and you’ll have the chance to stay at a dynamic community space that hosts artists from around the globe. Get a cozy night’s sleep in a dorm-style bed, and wake up to art shows, performances, and cultural programming at this unique hostel.

Coolest Private Rentals

Get a feel for what it’s like to call Phoenix your home by booking one of the city’s many private rentals. Not only are these convenient for families traveling together and groups that need some extra space, but they also let you settle in and enjoy your neighborhood of choice.

Book a swanky new apartment in Phoenix’s Central Corridor, where you can walk, bike, or take public transit to any number of restaurants or attractions within minutes. The city’s public market and the popular Lola Coffee are just down the street, no matter where you stay in this neighborhood.

Experience Phoenix at its most creative in the Roosevelt Row Arts District, where you could even score an apartment located above an art gallery. This neighborhood is known for its warehouse chic appeal and hipster vibe, with everything from murals to cultural events to galleries where you won’t want to miss a single exhibit.

Right next door to Phoenix, Downtown Scottsdale offers a more compact city center area that’s just minutes from Scottsdale’s Old Town Arts District, Scottsdale Fashion Square and other high-end shopping areas, as well as your choice of restaurants. This area even offers a free shuttle during daytime hours, so you can cut down on the miles you put on your rental car.

If you tend to plan your trips around dining and drinking, Scottsdale’s SouthBridge neighborhood is a great pick. Try some of the hippest Mexican cuisine in town at Barrio Queen, get kitschy at Cowboy Ciao, or indulge in some delicious vegetarian fare at FnB. When you’re ready for a drink, choose from thousands of bottles at Kazimierz Wine Bar or sip a craft cocktail at Casablanca Lounge.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport with Downtown Phoenix in the background.

How to Get to and From Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Getting to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is easy. Take a look at the best ways to get to the airport and plan your route.

Car Rentals

Phoenix is a car-friendly city, and renting or dropping off a vehicle at the airport is easy. You’ll find every major rental company at Sky Harbor’s rental car center, so you can earn loyalty points with your go-to company or treat yourself to a luxury vehicle from Silvercar. Central Phoenix is just 15 minutes from Sky Harbor, so driving is a breeze.

Taxis, Shuttles, and Ride Hailing Options

If you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, rest assured you’ll still have plenty of options, no matter what time your flight lands. Sky Harbor is home to several conveniently located taxi stands, so you can hop in a taxi as soon as you’ve picked up your bags.

Major ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft operate directly from Sky Harbor. Follow the instructions in your app to find the nearest ride hailing pickup zone outside of Terminals 2, 3, or 4.

If you’re traveling with a group or if you simply don’t want to have to worry about making travel arrangements when you land, Super Shuttle is a smart option. Reserve your Super Shuttle ride ahead of time, and you’ll find it waiting for you when you land.

Public Transit

Sky Harbor also offers several public transit options to connect you to Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. Take Valley Metro Bus 13 directly to Sky Harbor Terminal 2 or take one of several bus routes that connect to the PHX Sky Train, which transports you to Terminals 3 and 4.

Since the Sky Train links to the Valley Metro Rail, you can connect to countless destinations in the greater Phoenix metro area. Many of the routes run from 4 or 5 a.m. until late at night, so you can take advantage of this inexpensive and convenient option most times of day.

Whether you can’t wait to breathe in the fresh desert air or you’d rather soak in the many cultural options in Phoenix, Arizona’s capital city has plenty to offer. Plan and book your Phoenix getaway on GoDoTrip and make sure you don’t miss a thing.