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With great weather year-round and plenty do both outdoors and indoors, Phoenix is a wonderful place to spend a long weekend. It’s a huge city though, so while you can spend 4 days in Phoenix, it may feel like you barely scratch the surface of everything it has to offer.
Before diving right into what to do in Phoenix, we recommend that you rent a car when visiting Phoenix.
It’s nearly essential to have or rent one because the city is so spread out. You could take public transit or Uber/Lyft everywhere, but that would be time-consuming or costly.
Where to Stay in Phoenix
As previously stated, Phoenix is very spread out. The best thing to do when finding a place to do in Phoenix is to pick an area you think you will spend the most time in, or that’s in your travel budget, and go from there.
While deciding where to stay in Phoenix can be overwhelming, the most popular areas are Tempe, Scottsdale, and downtown.
What to Do in Phoenix
Since the Phoenix metro area is very spread out, this Phoenix travel guide is separated into the different areas of the Phoenix valley.
Tempe is a city just outside fo Phoenix where the Arizona State University is. There’s a lot going on here because it’s a college town, has a walkable downtown, and is connected to greater Phoenix by light rail.
Tempe Butte or “A” Mountain
Entering Phoenix, you will spot A Mountain almost immediately as it sticks up right by the edge of downtown and the ASU campus. It’s a short, but steep, hike up to the top. There are great views of Tempe, but remember to bring water as it gets really hot, especially during the middle fo the day.
ASU Art Museum
The ASU Art Museum is a gallery for their Ceramics Research Center. It’s free to enter, but you can leave a donation if you want. While we initially used it as a quick escape from the heat, the museum was really cool and had a lot of different artwork, some of which was available for purchase. ASU is one of the top ceramics schools in the United States.
Tempe Beach Park
Tempe Town Lake is a manmade lake in the Salt River on the edge of Tempe. You can get a kayak, boat, or paddle board to go out on the water, or simply relax in the park.
Papago Park is best known for the Hole in the Rock. There’s a large rock formation with a hole in it where you can sit and look out over Phoenix.
While it is walkable from Tempe, it’s a long hike in the desert. You also can park right in front of it and hike up about 5-10 minutes.
The hike up to Hole in the Rock is not strenuous at all and is a quick, fun, little hike.
Tubing in the Salt River
Although where you pick up your tube and get in the river technically aren’t in Phoenix, it’s included on the list of things to do in Phoenix for a long weekend because it’s still a Phoenix activity.
If you have never been tubing down a river, It’s a fun relaxing thing to do, especially with a group of people. You rent your own tube and cooler (or bring your own), tie it to your friends’ tubes, and coast for the next 5 hours.
Make sure you pack snacks and drinks – water too! Don’t litter! Whatever you bring into the river, bring out!
Roosevelt Row Arts District
Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District is near downtown and full of wonderful murals, fun little shops, and great restaurants and bars. It’s a cool area near downtown Phoenix that’s worth checking out, even if you are just walking through looking at the murals.
Sedona, Arizona is a pretty easy day trip from Phoenix, and if you have a car, that makes it super easy. It’s about a 2-2.5 hour car ride with traffic.
If you are debating about taking a day trip from Phoenix to Sedona, read our post on Is A Day Trip From Phoenix to Sedona Worth It? to find out!
If you’ve decided to go to Sedona, you will probably be doing some day hikes, so make sure you’re all prepared with our Day Hike Packing List.
Devil’s Bridge Hike
The Devil’s Bridge hike in Sedona one of the more popular hikes in the area, and it’s not too strenuous. The only strenuous part is the final ascent up to the Devil’s Bridge.
There are a few different ways you can take to get there, with the longest being a 6 miles round-trip.
Because this is one of the more popular day hikes in Sedona, it will probably be crowded. Go early in the morning or during a non-peak season to avoid crowds. For a point of reference, there was about a 45 minute line of people waiting to walk out onto Devil’s Bridge.
Cathedral Rock Hike
This hike was much more strenuous than the Devil’s Bridge, but it was a shorter distance overall. The views were AWESOME, and it was well worth the rather strenuous climb up in the heat. When you get to the top you can check out some other “trails” that lead you around the rock formation.
Scottsdale is a popular area for people visiting Phoenix with all of its shops, restaurants, and bars. There’s a lot to do in Scottsdale for everyone, which makes it a great place to stop during your long weekend in Phoenix.
Where to Eat and Drink in Phoenix
Pizzeria Bianco has been named the Best Pizza in America. Plenty of people rave about how good the pizza is, like here and here and here.
While we might not be rushing to call it the Best Pizza in America, it was really delicious pizza and a place we’d recommend checking out in Phoenix. There are a few different locations in the greater Phoenix area.
Matt’s Big Breakfast
Matt’s Big Breakfast is in the downtown Phoenix/Roosevelt Row Arts District and serves reasonably priced, high-quality food. All their ingredients are locally sourced and fresh. Order the chilaquiles, and you will not be disappointed. There are a few different locations in the greater Phoenix area.
Cornish Pasty Co
Cornish Pasty Co has absolutely delicious, well, Cornish pasties! There are tons of options on their menu, so there should be something for everyone. They also have a few different locations throughout Phoenix.
Churn Ice Cream
Churn Ice Cream is a great place to stop if you are craving some ice cream in Phoenix. They are known for having a pretzel cone but the pretzel cone. We gave it a try, and it’s an interesting flavor combination with the ice cream.
Valley Bar is a hidden bar tucked away in an alleyway in downtown Phoenix. There was a bouncer at a rather plain door with stairs leading to a basement. Once downstairs, the atmosphere was awesome. They also served strong, inexpensive Old Fashioned drinks. If you’re going out in downtown Phoenix, check this place out!
Loose Leaf Bar
Lose Leaf Bar is in a renovated house in the Roosevelt Row Arts District. There were a number of bars like this in the neighborhood. This one had live band playing, and actually has free live music every day of the year.
Sumomaya is a fantastic restaurant with a Mexican-Asian fusion menu. It’s a little on the pricer side, but was one of the best meals we had in Phoenix.
D’Lite is a healthy to-go restaurants that has began and vegetarian options, plus a drive-thru. They have a ton of yummy, and healthy, options including sandwiches, shakes, and salads. It’s great a for a quick morning breakfast on your way out to Sedona.
Coach House is allegedly Scottsdale’s oldest tavern and dive bar, having been established in 1959. It has a huge front deck making for great outdoor drinking! There are also pretty cheap drinks, which always a great sign for a dive bar.
Phoenix has so much to do all year-round because of its great weather, huge size, and proximity to nature. During your long weekend in Phoenix, you definitely will not run out of things to do in the Valley of the Sun.
Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.
Phoenix really is a cool city to explore! We love all the outdoor activities near the city too!