Home tours are good for a lot of things. In one afternoon, you can get some awesome new ideas for home decoration while politely snooping around people's houses and learning the history of the area in an interactive way.
We rounded up the 15 best tours in the Phoenix area (including one that's a bit of an outlier) that will educate and inspire you, whether you're in the market for a new home or just curious about some of the most historic and glamorous neighborhoods.
Midtown Urban Living Tour
The Midtown Urban Living Tour is for the hip Phoenician, the one who rides bikes and loves high-rises that offer spectacular views of those Arizona sunsets. The third annual Urban Living Tour will be held on Saturday, November 7, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and will cost $15 to attend. The self-guided tour will meet at the Regency at 2323 North Central Avenue and then explore seven buildings that haven't been featured previously. So even if you went last year it will be worth checking out again. This year's stops will include the Artisan Lofts on Central, Phoenix Towers, One Lexington, and Chateau on Central, among others. You can buy your ticket on the tour's Eventbrite page, or call 480-292-5083 for more information.
Phoenix Home & Garden Home Tour
When it comes to the Valley's luxury homes and outdoor spaces, Phoenix Home & Garden's tour has the market cornered. The magazine will host its annual Tour of Homes on Sunday, November 8, from noon to 4:30 p.m. For $75, attendees will see some of the most epic gardens and a number of the most beautiful homes in the state. Those interested in an extended experience can pay $150 to add a 9 a.m. brunch and tours of additional homes to their day. Visit Phoenix Home & Garden's website for more information.
Roosevelt Home Tour
The Roosevelt District has truly flourished in the past few years as Roosevelt Row grows into one of the most artistic and active areas in the city. Its history proves it's always been a beautiful area, and you can experience it firsthand at the Roosevelt Home Tour. Luckily, you can still grab tickets to this month's tour of the most iconic homes in the area. On Sunday, November 15, The Historic Roosevelt Neighborhood will conduct a series of guided home tours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Marshall Shore will lead two of the tours, and undoubtedly provide attendees with obscure bits of trivia. There will also be food trucks and a craft fair to occupy you between tours. Tickets are $11 online and $14 if you purchase them at the event. Proceeds go to neighborhood preservation efforts. Visit the tour's website for more information and to purchase tickets.
Sunnyslope Historical Society Home Tour
The 10th annual Sunnyslope Historical Society's Home Tour will take attendants through the town's history by way of bus and home tours. Stops on the this year's round include four Phoenix homes and one Santa Fe-style office building. The home tours are led by the owners themselves, who can share stories of past residents and architectural trivia. Tours will be held at the Sunnyslope Historical Society Museum at 737 East Hatcher Road on Saturday, November 21, and Sunday, November 22, between 9 a.m. and noon. Busses leave every hour, and the tours usually last around two hours each. Tickets are $35, can be purchased onsite, and will benefit the museum. Visit the Historical Society's website for more information.
F.Q. Story Historic District Home Tour
Though the namesake of the F.Q. Story Historic District never actually lived in Arizona, his successful California business ventures extended into the Valley of the Sun and earned him a spot in the history books. Tour Francis Quarles Story's old hood on Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6 with one of the most charitable tours in Phoenix. You can buy your tickets the day of or online for $15, or $14 if you bring a nonperishable canned food with you to donate. Alternatively, if you can spare a few hours to chip in and help prepare the homes for the big tour, you will be rewarded with a free tour ticket. The tour will visit eight to 12 homes built between the 1920s and 1940s and ranging in style from Spanish Colonial Revival to English Tudor to transitional ranch and beyond. The Saturday evening tour will run from 6 to 9 p.m., and the Sunday tour and street festival last from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meet at the corner of 11th Avenue and Portland Street. See the tour's website for more details and specifics.
Willo Home Tour
The Willo Neighborhood is the definition of quaint. Though Willo is the largest historic district in Phoenix, the cottage-style homes look like something out of a storybook and are a nice optical break from the impending cluster of industrial dwellings sprouting up around town. The upcoming Willo Home Tour on Sunday, February 14 will take ticket holders to numerous homes in the area by way of trolley. There will also be a small fair with food and local vendors at the beginning of the tour, which will take place up and down Monte Vista and Holly Roads. Tickets are $15 until midnight on December 31, after which the price will go up. You can purchase tickets and find more information about the tour here.
Coronado Home Tour
Each year, the Coronado District throws a huge community picnic in conjunction with its famed home tour. This year, the neighborhood will celebrate the Country Club Historic District — one of three subdistricts within Coronado — on Sunday, February 28. The stylish homes being featured are located on the blocks between Edgemere Street to 14th Street and Virginia Avenue to Monte Vista Road. Meet at Circle Park at 826 East Windsor Avenue before 11 a.m. to partake in the picnic festivities. The tour will last until about 4 p.m. Tickets are $13. Visit the Coronado Home Tour's website for tickets and more information.
Encanto Palmcroft Home Tour
Anticipation is the key to the Encanto Palmcroft Home Tour. It only happens every two years, but if you like riding on trolleys, local food fairs, and raffles with your home tour, it's definitely worth the wait. The next one will happen on Sunday, March 26, 2017. It costs $20 to attend and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Expect to see plenty of romantic, 18th century English-style homes on this tour. You can never be too ready for these types of things, so remember you'll want to park at Phoenix College and then head over to the block northwest of 7th Avenue and McDowell Road. Visit encantopalmcroft.com for more information.
For the past nine years, Docomomo has worked diligently to bring attention to under-appreciated modern architecture. The organization's annual Tour Day brings participants to historic modern buildings in their city and provide historical context with each one. This past year, more than 50 cities nationwide recognized Docomomo's Tour Day, and the movement shows no sign of slowing down. No word on when the next Docomomo Tour is yet, but we would recommend going the next time it comes around. The most recent tour taught our staff about the hidden history in various office buildings and a downtown synagogue. Visit the organization's tour website for more information and to stay updated on the next Tour Day.
Scottsdale Luxury Home Tour
Even if you can't necessarily afford the homes featured on the Scottsdale Luxury Home Tour right now, going and admiring will still give you a good opportunity to plan for the future. Or you could just go and marvel at how extravagant some of the properties in Scottsdale can get. There's a tour the third Thursday of every month, and for $10 you can enjoy a nice breakfast, see a few homes, and network with Scottsdale's finest realtors and homeowners. Home tourists meet for breakfast at the Ancala Country Club at 11700 East Via Linda Drive at 8:45 a.m., and then begin the tour shortly before 10 a.m. The event wraps up with lunch at the final home. No preregistration is required. Visit the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors website for more information.
Windsor Square Home Tour
Windsor Square is known for being one of the original suburbs here in Phoenix and was recently deemed one of the "10 best big city neighborhoods to live in" by CNN. The Windsor Square Home Tour allows you to see about 12 of the district's 260 homes for $15. It's a self-guided walking tour, so wear comfortable shoes. The next tour will Sunday, April 3 and will last from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets aren't available until December 1, but you can get more information on the tour's website.
Modern Phoenix Home Tour
The Modern Phoenix Home Tour sells out every year, so you may want to bookmark the tour's website to stay ahead of the game. Though 2016's neighborhood has not yet been revealed, the tour looks at some of the mid-century masterpieces across the Valley. Past tours have included the homes of Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins, a house designed by architect Paolo Soleri, and Ryan and Kylie Durkin's home. Tickets are $40 and usually become available in early February.
Mesa Historic Home Tour
The city of Mesa has a diverse and complicated history, and its reflected in the architecture and homes you'll see on the Mesa Historical Society's Home Tour. Past stops have included the Fitch Farm House, the Antique Wedding House, and the Queen of Peace Church. The next tour hasn't been announced yet, but tickets usually cost around $20 and go toward museum upkeep. Find more information at the museum's website or by calling (480) 835-2286.
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Estrella Tour of Homes
Every few months, the Estrella community shows off some of the newest homes in the Goodyear area. It's not for the faint of heart, however. The March tour featured more than 100 homes for guests to see. You'll see houses that vary in design and style on the Estrella Tour, but most will feature mountainous views and ample landscape for those who like to garden. Past tours have been free and open to the public. Check Estrella's blog to keep up on when the next tour is.
Wickenburg Tour of Homes
Wild West buffs can tour the historic homes of one of Arizona's most Western towns on the classic Wickenburg Tour of Homes. On Saturday, November 7, the annual event will tour iconic buildings of the small town that demonstrate just how much its grown. Participants can see bits of the town's history like The Little Red School House, which now hosts musical concerts, and good ol' Henry Wickenburg's home. You can also see the former home of George B. Upton, of the Upton Oil Co., and more on the tour, all for $25. The tour lasts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and meets at the Desert Caballeros Museum. Coffee and a light breakfast are provided. You can find more information and reserve a spot at the museum's website.