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The best attractions in Phoenix that everyone should see

Consult our guide to the best attractions in Phoenix to experience the city like only a true local would
Phoenix Zoo
Photograph: Shutterstock Phoenix Zoo
By Masada Siegel |
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There are plenty of reasons why Phoenix is considered one of the best bachelor party destinations in the country and a must-visit for all sorts of travelers. Boasting hundreds of beautiful, sunny days per year, there is no other city as conducive to outdoor activities, al fresco dining (make sure to visit one of the best Mexican restaurants in the U.S. and indulge in delicious cold treats at one of the best ice cream shops in America while in town) and plain, old sightseeing as this one. While it is easy to get swept up in the city’s glory and spend money just about anywhere, tourists and locals alike would benefit from a handy little guide listing all of the city’s must-visit spots. So, here it is, a list of the best attractions in Phoenix—ideal for any kind of visitor.

Best attractions in Phoenix

1
Phoenician Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/The Phoenician

Phoenician Hotel

icon-location-pin Monterey Arcadia

One of the first luxury resorts in town, the Phoenician is a gem that has been visited by past Presidents, famous performers and professional athletes. It boasts spectacular views, both casual and fine dining culinary delights and incredibly comfortable room. The space has undergone a major transformation that is set to continue into 2018 and will ultimately yield a three-story spa with a rooftop pool and a new athletic club. Attention to detail is what makes this resort special. While on the property, see the Jokake Inn, a private home from the 1900s now used for special events. Don’t miss out on the meditation and yoga classes on offer.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/The Phoenician

2
Musical Instrument Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ed U.
Museums, Musical instruments

Musical Instrument Museum

icon-location-pin Paradise Valley

The Musical Instruments Museums displays over 6,000 objects and is the world’s only global instrument museum, representing 200 of the world’s countries and territories. An award-winning Smithsonian Affiliate, it uses state-of-the-art technology to allow guests to see the instruments, hear their sounds and watch them being played in their original contexts. Founded in 2010 by Robert Ulrich, the CEO emeritus of Target Corporations, the venue displays many instruments on loan from current musicians. Expect contraptions used by John Lennon, Carlos Santana and Taylor Swift.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ed U.

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3
T. Cook's
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Rochelle M.

T. Cook's

icon-location-pin Camlback Corridor

T. Cook’s, an iconic Mediterranean restaurant, is the centerpiece of the Royal Palms Resort and Spa. The resort was once a 65-acre private property owned by Delos Cooke, a New York-based financier who moved to Phoenix with his wife in need of warmer weather. The restaurant is warm and inviting, making guests feel immediately at home, yet very sophisticated at the same time and serving exceptional food. Established in 1997, the restaurant’s offerings are made with plenty of fresh ingredients imported from Spain, France and Northern Italy.  

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Rochelle M.

4
Doughbird
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Doughbird
Restaurants, Pizza

Doughbird

icon-location-pin Camelback East

Doughbird is a new concept restaurant created by Arizona restauranteur Sam Fox. Its menu includes a variety of homemade pizzas prepared in wood-burning ovens. Located in a 5500-square foot bright and open space, the creative culinary mashup serves classic comfort foods and a thought-out drink menu. Patrons can try over a dozen pizzas adorned with creative toppings—think Brussels sprouts, charred corn and shishito peppers. Or order one (or all) of the four slow-roasted rotisserie options with unique sauces, like chipotle barbeque or jalapeño pesto. The gluten free pizza is excellent and the dessert is definitely worth the calories.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Rochelle M.

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5
Roaring Fork
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Dan F.
Restaurants

Roaring Fork

icon-location-pin Monterey Arcadia

Roaring Fork is known for its flavorful cuisine, cooked in wood fire and an open flame grill. Created over two decades ago by Guy and Larry Restaurants Inc., it is still owned by the duo (Guy Villavaso is from Arizona). Given its excellent happy hour deals and overall low price point, the space is always packed. With choice like the Huckleberry frozen margarita and the guava mojito, the drink menu is uniquely exciting.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Dan F.

6
Butterfly Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ann G.
Things to do

Butterfly Wonderland

Leave the Arizona desert behind when you walk into the largest indoor butterfly pavilion in the U.S. Thousands of floaty creatures from all over the world take over the conservatory, which boasts rainforest temperatures, flowing waterfalls, tropical plants and a large Koi pond. Guests may also visit the emergence gallery, home to butterflies in various states of life—many even undergoing metamorphosis. Also stop by the fresh quarter aquariums on premise, filled with exotic fish a honeybee colony.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ann G.

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7
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Bekah S.
Things to do

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

icon-location-pin Resort Corridor

About a million people visit the 30-acre McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park each year. The perfect destination for a day spent with young kids, visitors have fun aboard the vintage Allan Herschell carousel and the mini train with three steam locomotives, two diesel and one electric engine. Go see the 10,000-square-foot model railroad building where trains zip by and don’t miss the museum, which houses the Roald Amundsen Pullman car, best known for being used by every president from Herbert Hoover through Dwight Eisenhower.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Bekah S.

8
Phoenix Zoo
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions

Phoenix Zoo

icon-location-pin Minnesota Court

The Phoenix Zoo first opened its gates in 1962. Founded by Robert E. Maytag, the grandson of the founder of the Maytag appliance company, it’s the largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the United States and is home to over 3,000 animals. Get close to nature with interactive exhibits like the monkey village, where you can walk into an open area filled with squirrel monkeys that scamper through bushes and trees just inches away. Ride on a camel if you dare or take a guided tour.

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9
Desert Botanical Garden
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions

Desert Botanical Garden

icon-location-pin Minnesota Court

Founded in 1939, the Desert Botanical Garden boasts the world's biggest outdoor desert plant collection. A beautiful place to discover desert flora and fauna, it was created to protect, research and conserve the various organisms. Visitors can check out five thematic trails featuring towering cacti, alluring succulents and colorful wildflowers. Wildlife abounds in the garden, from the butterfly exhibit hosted yearly to hummingbirds and the occasional snake slithering by.

10
Camelback Mountain
Photograph: Shutterstock
Attractions

Camelback Mountain

icon-location-pin Cinco Soles

Camelback Mountain is smack in the middle of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, within the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon recreation area. The mountain owes its name to its silhouette, which looks like a camel’s back when seen from a distance. Visiting hikers have two options, a challenging trail and an easier, yet longer, one. Opt for the steep Echo Canyon trail, the front side of the 2,704-feet mountain, or the Cholla trail, which winds around the area. Just don’t forget to brings lots of water with you.

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