After having lived in a place for a while, it's easy to get caught up in routine and forget about exploring the places that make our cities destinations.
Putting on your tourist cap should be fun. And that's why we've gathered up our 10 favorite tourist attractions in (and around) Phoenix that are fun for visitors — and locals, too.
See also: 13 Favorite Places to See Art in Phoenix
A small but charming eye-catcher off the Loop 202, Tovrea Castle has puzzled residents and tourists alike. The little-known history of the landmark dates back to 1930 when Alessio Carraro came to Arizona and completed his project of developing a resort and housing subdivision just east of Phoenix. The cake-like structure that is seen now was part of Carraro's hotel. It became the home of Edward Ambrose Tovrea and his wife Della, whom Carraro sold the property to only two years after finishing the project. The castle is open for tours Friday through Sunday in the mornings, and prices range from $10 to $15. Book your tour at www.tovreacastletours.com.
Heard offers insight on Native American culture through exhibits that display anything from Hopi Katsinas, Native American cuisines, and pottery to looks at lifestyle and history through art, videos, and other multimedia. The museum also hosts various events throughout the year. Along with free, regular guided tours, Heard throws festivals and events that celebrate Native American culture, varying in ticket price or often free. Within walking distance from the Phoenix Art Museum, the two can be paired together for the perfect one-day museum "hop." Admission is $18 for adults, $13.50 for seniors, $7.50 for students and children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger. For more information, visit www.heard.org.
Phoenix Art Museum might just put your artistic senses into overload. The museum houses American, Asian, European, Latin American, and Western American art, as well modern and contemporary art and fashion design. So there's a fair chance that something, if not everything, will catch your eye. With all there is to take in, you might work up an appetite that can be tended to at the museum's in-house restaurant, Palette. Admission is free on Wednesdays from 3 to 9 p.m. and First Fridays from 6 to 10 p.m. Otherwise, admission is less than $20 and free for children younger than 5. For more information, visit www.phxart.org.
All tourist attractions aside, Arizona offers one of the most varied ranges of landscapes, from deserts and canyons to mountain ranges and forests. Thanks to beautiful sunsets and enjoyable moderate weather during the off-summer months, a hike has to be in order when visiting Arizona. Camelback Mountain offers trails for the more experienced hiker. The popular Cholla and Echo Canyon trails require a some hard work with shade-less stretches, steep climbs, and sections of boulders. Although the Echo trails are not pet-friendly, dogs are allowed on the Cholla trail as long as they are leashed.
Priding itself as "The World's Only Global Musical Instrument Museum," visitors can go to the MIM for events, exhibits, workshops, or concerts and find something for any age or any member of the family. General admission to the museum, which is located off of Mayo and Tatum boulevards, is $18 for adults, $14 for those 13 to 19, $10 for 4- to 12-year-olds, and free for children under 3. Guided tours, which are free with admission, must be booked in advance and can be booked at mim.org. Groups can also take self-guided tours to learn about music in different geographical locations, the mechanics of instruments, styles and sounds of different artists, and touch, play, and hear a variety of instruments at their own pace.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright came to Arizona in 1937 to build his winter home, personal studio, and school in North Scottsdale at the foot of the McDowell Mountains. The space is open for public tours everyday and available to rent out for private events. Taliesin West also hosts summer camps and classes in architecture and art. For more information, visit www.franklloydwright.org.
There's no better place than the 140 acres of the Desert Botanical Garden to explore and take in the natural wonders of the desert. As the garden works to conserve the gems that are our desert plants, the trails and exhibits educate visitors on the biology, significance, and beauty of desert flora. The garden offers activities for people of all ages, including gardening classes, audio tours, art installations, and butterfly exhibits at various points throughout the year. General admission is $22 for adults, $10 for children, $12 for students, and $20 for seniors. Tickets can be purchased at www.dbg.org.
Located in Paradise Valley, Cosanti showcases the vision of artist, architect, and philosopher Paolo Soleri. Soleri and his students began building Cosanti using experimental architecture and designs that reflect a philosophy of living resourcefully, frugally, and anti-materialistically. The buildings, which serve as studios, were built using imaginative architecture that integrates the structures with the earth. Walking through Cosanti puts the visitors in a completely different kind of society that Soleri and his staff envisioned and realized with Cosanti.
Locals understand the need to stay indoors during our merciless summers, but explaining to our visitors that pools just aren't refreshing when they exceed 85 degrees can be a little hard. Lucky for summer visitors, fun can still be had by going tubing along the Salt River at the Salt River Recreation Area. Open from April through August, visitors can dedicate a day to floating down a typically 70-degree river where they can do nothing but chit-chat, drink (note that there's no glass allowed), and work on their tan for $17 per person. The price includes a tube and shuttle service to and from the entrance points. Just don't forget your sunblock.
Located on Third Avenue a little bit off of Roosevelt Street, the Japanese Friendship Garden offers insight into Japanese culture while providing an environment to relax in. The area features a strolling path, tea house, a section of stonework, and a courtyard. Visitors can also walk along a flowing stream and a waterfall to the pond that's home to more than 300 koi fish. Phoenix partnered with its Japanese sister city, Himeji, to create this oasis that represents the bond between the two cities and countries. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students and children. The garden is closed on Mondays. Find more information at www.japanesefriendshipgarden.org.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.