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Things to Do and See in the Phoenix Area

20 Must-See Attractions

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Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ

© Judy Hedding

If you had only one day in Phoenix, what would you do or see? Believe it or not, I get asked this question fairly often. Interesting to ponder, but impossible to answer. There are just too many factors. Will there be children along? Do you like to walk or drive? Is it summer or winter? Do you like museums or shopping? Greater Phoenix has so much to offer. There are so many options -- how do I recommend just one or two attractions or activities?

I have picked out 20 destinations/activities that I think are unique or not to be missed when visiting the Phoenix area. You'd never get these done in even a week, but some attractions will appeal to you more than others. Visiting when it's hot outside? The selections I've marked with a double asterisk (**) are indoor, cool, and comfortable. The others may not be appropriate in summer heat, or only if you are able to visit very early in the morning. They are all suitable for both adults and children, but some may be more kid-oriented than others.

One more thing. These places of interest are not listed in any particular order. It was tough enough to come up with only 20, so please don't make me rank them!

20 Best Things To Do in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Beyond

Heard Museum**
Every major city, and most minor ones, have museums. The Heard Museum is unique, however, not only in the exhibits that are displayed, but the style and grace with which it displays them. I never tire of visiting the Heard Museum, with its more than 32,000 pieces of cultural and fine art. There are permanent exhibits, like the famous Barry Goldwater collection of Kachina Dolls, as well as special exhibit year-round. Some of the special annual events include the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest which is held each February, and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market each March. There's a METRO light rail station nearby.

Take a Photo Tour of the Heard Museum
Video: Heard Museum

Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden has one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. It is one of only 44 botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums. At the Desert Botanical Garden you will find 50 acres of beautiful outdoor exhibits. Home to 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species from around the world, there is no finer place to enjoy desert beauty than the Desert Botanical Garden. The Garden is located in Papago Park in Central Phoenix.

Schedule, Tips, Location, Admission, Photos and Special Events -- Your Guide to Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix
Video: Desert Botanical Garden.

Chase Field and University of Phoenix Stadium**
Chase Field was the first baseball facility in the world to combine a retractable roof, air conditioning, and a natural turf field. Chase Field's retractable roof can be closed in less than 5 minutes! If you are a baseball fan, a visit to this state-of-art facility will be a special treat. If you aren't that interested in going to a Diamondbacks game, or if one isn't scheduled when you'll be in town, you can still see the stadium. Just go to lunch or dinner at Friday's Front Row Sports Grill, open 363 days a year. If the Arizona Diamondbacks are playing that day, you have to call them to buy tickets to eat there. Chase Field is located in downtown Phoenix. There's a METRO light rail station nearby. What? You say it isn't baseball season? On the other side of town, the Arizona Cardinals play NFL football at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. That's also where the Fiesta Bowl is played, as well as the Super Bowl when it is our turn. It is another amazing and unique facility, and, yes, you can take a tour even when it isn't football season.

Guided Tours of Chase Field
Video: Chase Field
Guided Tour of University of Phoenix Stadium
Video: University of Phoenix Stadium

Musical Instrument Museum**
In north Phoenix we have an amazing destination for music lovers, world culture enthusiasts and people who just plan enjoy listening and learning. It's a colorful, and impressively design major collection of musical instruments from all over the world, complete with audio vignettes for your listening pleasure. MIM is a place for all ages. If you'd rather sit in one place and be entertained, MIM also has a concert hall where they present musical performers from around the world. There's not a museum like this one anywhere else, and it's always on my list for visitors to the area. As for locals, you have an advantage, because you can go whenever you please -- it will take a couple of visits to see the whole museum at a reasonable pace.

About MIM
Photos: Musical Instrument Museum

Page 1: Southwest History, Love the Desert, Stadium Tours, Music of the World
Page 2: Hike Up Mountains, Stroll the Galleries, Natural Desert, AZ History
Page 3: FLW Home, Desert Golf, Scenic Drive, Family Castle
Page 4: Art for Today, Biggest City Park, Day Trip to National Monuments, Let's Shop
Page 5: Zoo, Old Western Town, Dainty Bugs and Flying High

Note: Items marked with asterisks are suitable for days when the temperature might be too hot for outside activity.

Readers Respond: Best Places To Go With Kids in Greater Phoenix

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