Free Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ

May 13, 2022

Planning a trip to the valley of the sun?

Phoenix is known for its year-round warmth and sunshine, its high-end spa resorts, Jack Niklaus-designed golf courses, various nightclubs, and a positively pleasing number of free things to do. It's a hotbed of entertainment, family activities, and sizzling outdoor experiences. 

However, packing in all Phoenix offers while keeping an eye on your wallet can be tricky. Follow along with our guide to discover ways to have free fun in Phoenix without burning through your budget.

Indulge in Phoenix’s Thriving Art and Culture

Phoenix’s art district boasts unique galleries, exquisite craftsmanship, and culture. From contemporary to colorful, seeking out street art is an activity that’s pleasant and enjoyable on its own. 

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Make your way to Roosevelt Row, located in downtown Phoenix. While you stroll, you’ll experience the city’s finest art galleries, restaurants, bars, and boutiques. 

This neighborhood also includes First Friday Art Walk. Every first Friday of the month, it’s the nation’s largest self-guided art walk. You can look forward to experiencing more than 70 art galleries, venues, and other artworks during the art walk.  

Prefer something a little quieter? You can still enjoy Phoenix’s art and culture through the following museums offering free admission:

colorful mural at Roosevelt Row Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, USA

photo credit: Roosevelt Row CDC via Facebook

Arizona Capitol Museum 

The Arizona Capitol Museum showcases the city’s vibrant cultural heritage through the perfect balance of technology, hands-on activities, historical artifacts, and educational programs. 

Although most of its visitors are students, locals and tourists will enjoy all the museum has to offer. Check out exhibits that tell the history of the state. 

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Then explore the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, home to more than thirty memorials. Located next to a well-designed landscape park that’s less crowded, you can pay your respects in peace. 

Finally, stroll around the Capitol’s vicinity along its beautifully-designed walkways. Parking is free at the Capitol, and you can check out galleries of the House and Senate buildings nearby. 

aerial view of exterior of Arizona Capitol Museum with gathering of group of people in Arizona, USA

photo credit: Arizona Capitol Museum via Facebook

Phoenix Art Museum

For the past 60 years, the Phoenix Art Museum has offered the community exceptional art and cultural events. 

To provide free access to the local community, the museum has its Circles of Support which include Museum members and valued philanthropic partners. 

If you’re a US military veteran or active-duty personnel, you can see and experience special exhibitions for free during general admission hours and voluntary donation times. 

Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesdays

Considered the longest-running community-access program. General admission is free, but special exhibitions require a ticket. This program is offered every Wednesday from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

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First Fridays

Every First Friday from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM, the museum is filled with great art, live music, dance performances, art-making activities, and many more. 

Of course, general admission is free, but there is a fee if you want to see and experience special exhibitions.

Artlink First Friday Trolley

The Phoenix Art Museum is also one of the five stops of Artlink First Friday Trolley. Every month, Artlink hosts community-based art events, including complimentary trolley tours. 

The tour will stop at well-known art districts like Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row/Central Arts, and Warehouse/Downtown districts. 

In addition, tourists can enjoy galleries and wine bars at Oasis on Grand, nightlife spots and cafes at 15th and Grand Avenues, and lively dining and entertainment at Cityscape. 

Ollie the Trolley

photo credit: Artlink Phoenix via Facebook

Heard Museum 

Want to delve deeper into American-Indian culture? Embracing and exploring their history and milestones through art. Then, take time to visit the Heard Museum on North Central Avenue. 

Offering 12 exhibition galleries and free guided tours, this is a can’t miss for history buffs.

Visitors can also enjoy its outdoor sculptures and grab a cup of coffee at The Courtyard Cafe, which offers Southwest-inspired meals, wine, and beer. Those with American-Indian heritage (adult or child) can enter the museum for free as long as they show their tribal ID.

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Children under five years old can also enter for free. Heard Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Exploring Phoenix

Capture the best view of Phoenix’s sweeping vistas (especially during sunset) after hiking on one of many endless trails that suit every traveler’s fitness level. 

For an easy outdoor adventure, head to Papago Park. A Phoenix Point of Pride. 

Fun Fact: Hunt’s Tomb, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located in Papago Park. It’s a white pyramid-shaped tomb of Arizona’s first governor, George W.P. Hunt, along with his wife and daughter. 

Papago Park is also home to miles of trails, the Phoenix Zoo, and more. Aside from hiking, you can also pack up some food and drinks for an amazing picnic with friends, family, or your partner, as the park provides picnic tables for your convenience and comfort. 


photo credit: Sergei Sushchik via Unsplash

Searching out that prime spot for the perfect picnic? Hole in the Rock! 

It’s an easy 7-minute hike—once you reach the top as it has the most majestic view of the vast Phoenix desert and mountain ranges. Many people wait until sunset to fully experience Papago Park in all its beauty.

Looking for something more strenuous? 

Try Camelback Mountain via the Echo Canyon Trail. Thanks to its challenging uneven terrain, this popular hiking trail is 2.5 miles long and takes about two hours to complete. Prepare to earn some serious bragging rights if you’re able to beat that time! 

Another must-visit Phoenix Point of Pride is South Mountain Park. With about 17,000 acres of land, it’s the largest municipal park in the United States. 

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This desert mountain preserve has no entrance fee and provides gated roadways, parking areas, and restrooms open from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM. 

Desert Botanical Garden 

The Desert Botanical Garden holds Community Day with free admission on the second Tuesday of every month. 

Located amidst the red rocks of the Papago Buttes, the garden spans 140 acres of Southern Arizona landscape filled with desert plants and is open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. 

cacti and plants in the desert with mountains in background at sunset with clouds at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, USA

photo credit: Desert Botanical Garden via Facebook

Arizona State University (ASU)

A university campus doubling as a tourist spot? Yes, please! You can discover hidden gems in Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus. 

For the science-lover, the Gallery of Scientific Exploration holds interactive exhibits designed for discovery and is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays.

Looking to gaze at the sunset or sunrise? The “Air Apparent,” designed by James Turrell, frames the sky using LED lights to ‘enhance color perception during sunrise and sunset.’ This public art was installed in 2012; it is made of steel and is a specifically proportioned chamber. It has an opening in the ceiling that will give you a stellar and spectacular view every time you look up.

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Craving a quiet moment? Indulge in serenity surrounded by lush green grass and hanging white flowers from every nook. Take time to enjoy the ambiance, especially as the sun sets. 

Head to the Southwest corner of Dixie Gammage Hall, walk down a ramp and go through a short tunnel. You’ll be met with lush greeneries and a courtyard with benches for some book-reading. It even has a fireplace! 


photo credit: Walter Martin via Unsplash

You can enjoy and explore many things in Phoenix for absolutely no cost, from museums with free admissions to strolling around Phoenix’s art and culture scene. Checking out the hidden gems of this beautiful city will enchant you! 

Whether hiking up Camelback mountain, immersing yourself in art and culture on Roosevelt Row, or embracing the beauty of nature under the optimized view of the sky一Phoenix has it all and won’t disappoint. 

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To plan a complete Arizona sojourn, check out Tripster for great lodging and discounts on activities and experiences in the Grand Canyon state.

Have You Been to Phoenix?

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