Art

The Best Places to Take Selfies in Metro Phoenix

Haley Hinds took this photo with a Grand Canyon landscape inside Sky Harbor Airport.
Haley Hinds took this photo with a Grand Canyon landscape inside Sky Harbor Airport. Haley Hinds
click to enlarge Haley Hinds took this photo with a Grand Canyon landscape inside Sky Harbor Airport. - HALEY HINDS
Haley Hinds took this photo with a Grand Canyon landscape inside Sky Harbor Airport.
Haley Hinds

If you’re eager to freshen up your social media feeds, we’ve got some great selfie backdrops to help you get started. Remember to social distance and wear masks while you’re out and about, and check ticket requirements for various venues before you show up and start snapping.


Roosevelt Row

Murals abound in Roosevelt Row, giving you plenty of choices for fresh selfie backdrops, from JB Snyder’s colorful geometric designs outside the Linear Apartments to Brian Boner’s black-and-white birds in flight on the monOrchid building. Nighttime options include two illuminated artworks at The Pemberton, a giant dress form and an archway of wooden pallets, created by artists with Phoenix-based Spectacle.


click to enlarge Lauren Warren headed straight for the Wind installation at Desert Botanical Garden. - LAUREN WARREN
Lauren Warren headed straight for the Wind installation at Desert Botanical Garden.
Lauren Warren

Desert Botanical Garden

Your selfie options at Desert Botanical Garden begin with a circular canopy of intertwined twigs that sits just off the parking lot, and continue on the walkway towards the entrance, where you can pose in front of towering yellow plant forms created by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. Watch for architectural elements like metal archways, blooming plants (especially in April), and temporary art installations from creatives like Waterlily Pond Studio.


Art Museums

Obvious choices at Phoenix Art Museum include Sui Jianguo’s red, caged dinosaur called Jurassic Age, which sits on the lawn outside the museum entrance. At Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, you can snap yourself with an El Mac mural painted on a two-story elevator shaft. ASU Art Museum in Tempe and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art have great architectural elements, plus outdoor artworks that make great selfie backdrops — from a massive pair of stone cowboy boots to a curved space opening to the sky. At the Musical Instrument Museum, you can take a selfie with instruments and artifacts that reflect your global geographic roots. Nix the selfie stick if you’re taking photos inside museums, because keeping the art safe is a top priority.


click to enlarge Haley Hinds mirrored the look of Donald Lipski's aviator glasses artwork for this selfie. - HALEY HINDS
Haley Hinds mirrored the look of Donald Lipski's aviator glasses artwork for this selfie.
Haley Hinds

Sky Harbor Airport

You’ll find an impressive assortment of selfie-friendly art at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, including a 30-foot-wide pair of reflective aviator sunglasses by Donald Lipski that really shine when you take a selfie sporting your own shades. They’re located at the East arrivals areas on Level 4 in Terminal 3, where you’ll also find Merrill Mahaffey’s piece called Grand Canyon-The Ultimate Landscape.


Hiking Trails

When in doubt, let nature be your backdrop. Popular selfie spots around the Valley include Camelback Mountain, where your background can be the vast expanse of Phoenix below you. Or head to Hole in the Rock at Papago Park, where you can impress your followers with geological formations in lovely desert hues. Walking pathways at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, which stretches along five miles of the Salt River in South Phoenix, you’ll find photo backdrops from concrete stanchions to lush pockets of water.


click to enlarge Having some selfie fun with John Randall Nelson's One-Eyed Jack in Old Town Scottsdale. - BRIAN PASSEY
Having some selfie fun with John Randall Nelson's One-Eyed Jack in Old Town Scottsdale.
Brian Passey

Public Art Hubs

Several Valley cities have downtown areas filled with public artworks that make great selfie backdrops. Look for maps of public art installations on websites for Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Or head to areas like Mill Avenue in Tempe or Old Town in Scottsdale if you prefer to just kick around and stumble on cool selfie spots. Great selfie options in Scottsdale include a giant jackrabbit called One-Eyed Jack, Robert Indiana’s red LOVE sculpture, and the suspended Sunburst sculpture at ASU SkySong.


Grand Avenue

For photos on the funky side, make your way to a strip of Grand Avenue between Seventh and 15th Avenues, where your choices include murals in myriad styles and street art made with recycled materials suspended from tree branches in front of the Bragg’s Pie Factory building. You can photograph yourself with Maggie Keane’s purple Prince mural, an animal mural by Rebecca Green called The Painted Desert, or murals by other artists including Tato Caraveo and Luster Kaboom.


click to enlarge Try taking a few selfies with favorite artworks on the Valley Metro Artsline. - VALLEY METRO
Try taking a few selfies with favorite artworks on the Valley Metro Artsline.
Valley Metro

Light Rail Stations

You’ll discover dozens of creative photo backdrops when you travel the Valley Metro light rail line, where public artworks abound. You’ll find a large stone sphere wrapped in quotes by renowned thinkers at University Drive and Rural Road in Tempe, and a conical metal tower of faces at Center and Main streets in Mesa. If you prefer artworks illuminated at night, check out the bridge with multicolored LED lights located at Tempe Town Lake. There’s an interactive Artsline map on the Valley Metro website.


click to enlarge Selfie options at Wonderspaces include Ian Brill's Plume. - CHARLES DARR
Selfie options at Wonderspaces include Ian Brill's Plume.
Charles Darr

Wonderspaces

Wonderspaces Arizona at Scottsdale Fashion Square is home to a changing selection of art installations with an Instagram-friendly vibe. Typically, you’ll have a dozen or so artworks to choose from. The current lineup includes a pair of giant plastic shopping bags (Thank You for Shopping Here by Reed van Brunschot), a colorful canopy (Plume by Ian Brill), and a room with furnishings and walls made from bright strands of yarn (Rainbow Room by Pierre le Riche).
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble