Phoenix Has A Bunch Of Hidden Gems, Here Are The Ones That Don't Cost A Thing
Forget FOMO, these gems are FREE.
Looking to explore Phoenix but need to see the sites on a budget? Have a yearning to cycle through the city without looking and feeling like a super tourist? Don't worry, we've got your back. You'll be able to safely skip FOMO and ride into the sunset with our free activities you can enjoy.
Whether you are seeking budget-friendly activities in the winter, spring, summer or fall, Arizona truly has something to offer everyone. Looking for rich culture and entertainment? Consider it done. Do you want to experience epic waterfalls and breathtaking hikes? Done. Even if you find yourself in Arizona in the summer, repeat after us, "It's a dry heat."
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy these Phoenix-based hidden gems (plus the fact that they won't cost you a thing!)
Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
The Phoenix Art Museum isn't for your grandparents anymore. In fact, there are some of the absolute best exhibits out right now, including Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist and Yayoi Kusama’s You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies. Don't just take my word for it, go see for yourself and have your mind blown by the sheer enormity these two exhibits bring. Even better news? They offer pay-what-you-wish admission every Wednesday from 3 PM to 9 PM.
Don't forget your Canon and an extra charger for your phone, you'll be busy snapping all night long.
Road Runner Farmers Market, 3502 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032
You don't have to buy anything to enjoy the Road Runner Farmers Market in Phoenix, but you will be encouraged to taste, smell, and enjoy all of the delicious items each vendor has sprawled out like a rainbow of temptation. Bring your pooch, hang out in the shade, and talk with fellow crunchy Phoenicians about their local favorites. Look away from the sweet, raw, locally sourced, and ethically harvested honey until payday!
Live Music at Desert Ridge Marketplace, 21001 N Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050
Desert Ridge hosts live music most Friday and Saturday nights. This is one of the best free spots to bring a date and listen to tunes under the stars. If you feel like adding some à la carte items to your date, grab a margarita and new age Mexican food at Modern Margarita and enjoy people watching until the wee hours. You can even catch free flicks during Movies in The Courtyard.
The Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
If you have a long flowy dress that's just screaming for a debut in a garden full of dreamy succulents and trees, snap away at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Every second Tuesday of the month, enjoy free admission from 7 AM to 8 PM.
Biltmore Fashion Park, 2502 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Who says you need a fat wallet or a sugar daddy to enjoy a day of shopping? For a good time, dress in your finest threads, head down to Biltmore Fashion Center, and enjoy some window shopping at some of the most upscale shops you can find in the valley of the sun. When you get bored, simply find the nearest shaded bench and picture your life of glamor and glitz under the open skyline the mall provides.
Her Secret is Patience, 444 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
This Phoenix art installation was originally adapted from the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, "Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience," and is elegantly displayed in the Phoenix Civic Space Park. The installation was designed by Janet Echelman and took a massive team of architects, designers, engineers, and fabricators to create the masterpiece that stands today.
Hike Camelback Mountain, 5700 N Echo Canyon, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Camelback Mountain is an iconic hiking spot thousands of Phoenicians enjoy on the daily, because when you have year-round sunny skies, why not? It's easy to get to, just make sure you keep a watchful eye for no-tow zones in neighborhoods. Designated parking is right off the street and near the closest trailhead. Camelback has a range of peaks and valleys great for intermediate to expert hikers. Bring lots of water and enjoy some selfie-worthy shots from the top.
Roosevelt Row or Bust, 333 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Feeling artsy? Head down to Roosevelt Row Art District and browse the local shops, check out the entertainment, and enjoy the perfect moment for a selfie with the interactive and wall art beautifully scattered throughout the district. The theme of Roosevelt Row is walkable art, and you'll find a lot of it here!
There are frequent Pride parades, live music shows, and street entertainment. Although, you might just have as much fun sitting and enjoying the colorful ambiance the area offers. Don't forget to hashtag your selfies for chances to win freebies from some select shops!
The Culture Pass, 1221 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
All major cities in the valley offer a culture pass for library cardholders to see some of the best and most visited sites for free. Get cultured at locations like the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Phoenix Zoo, and more with your Culture Pass in hand. Visit the Phoenix library's website to learn more about where and when you can grab one of your own.
The Mystery Castle, 800 Mineral Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85042
Built by a true man of mystery, Boyce Luther Gulley abandoned his wife and family and built this unique castle over the course of 15 years. He used a combination of goat's milk, cement, mortar, adobe, salvaged metal parts like railroad tracks, poles, car parts, and, well, whatever else he could get his hands on. His story isn't exactly a fairy tale, but this hidden gem isn't one you want to miss.
Live Your Best Lake Life, 14011 N Bush Hwy, Mesa, AZ 85215
Hang all day and escape the heat at Saguaro Lakejust outside the Phoenix boundary. Bring your suit for swimming, or call up your friend who has a boat and wakeboard, kneeboard, innertube, and water ski. If you hike around the lake, keep your eye open for wild horses and eagles in the area!
Brews and Books, Changing Hands - 300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix 85013
If you're a bookworm looking to find a free book club to call your own, hit up Changing Hands Phoenix. Their once-a-month meetups allows you and other literary enthusiasts to nerd out on the book of the month while drinking beer, wine, and coffee at the First Draft Book Bar.
Tovrea Castle, 5025 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ 85008
If you live in Phoenix or have visited Phoenix sometime between today and 1930, you've probably asked yourself, "What is that castle thing?" right off the 202 and the 143. You've probably driven by it a million times, yet here you are, still wondering what in god's name this thing is.
Well, here's the skinny: This man-made beauty is Tovrea Castle and was built in 14 months by Italian immigrant Alessio Carraro and his son, between 1928 and 1930. It's a historic building that has withstood the test of time. Walk around for free or schedule a super rare tour and see it all. Who knew Arizona had so many castles?
Dip, splash, and play in the cool waters at Fossil Creek. Don't drive six hours north to enjoy waterfalls and gorgeous scenery! Simply grab the GoPro, swimsuits, a group of great friends, and spend an entire day diving, splashing, and having fun at this hidden gem.
Phoenix Art Murals,
Talk a walk through downtown Phoenix and see some of the best street art in the southwest. Not only will you find heritage-based wall art, you'll run along some of the most delicate and colorful art pieces plastered on taco shops, retail stores, coffee shops, and local businesses. You just have to know where to look.
Tempe Town Lake, 620 N Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281
Okay, so Tempe Town Lake isn't technically Phoenix, but it's super close! There are endless activities to partake in, from BBQ pits and laying on the lawn to going when there's free live music. Bring your paddleboard and enjoy the day on the lake without spending a dime.
First Friday Art Walk,
Feeling a little hipster? Well, grab your fedora and Birkenstocks and head down to First Friday Art Walk where you'll find free art vendors and open art exhibits for your browsing pleasure. Some of the best up-and-coming artists are down on Central Avenue on the first friday of every month.
Downtown Phoenix is alive with music, entertainment, murals, and so much more. Just stroll along and you'll be sure to find some cool, free activities.
A lake, a small walk, and a hole in a rock perfect for a romantic photo are what await you at Papago Park. Not only is the walk a breeze, but you can also explore the area for free all day, any day. Don't forget to stop by the lake and watch the sunset from a shaded cabana.
For all the astronomy lovers out there, we've definitely got the place for you! The Phoenix Astronomical Society has teamed up with Paradise Valley Community College at Black Mountain to host free monthly star parties for the public. Team up with experts to connect the stars and find the constellations that guide our days.
Rock 'n' Roll Car Show, 8800-9199 E Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Fast cars, fast food, and free admission - that's what you'll get at the Rock 'n Roll Car Show at Talking Stick. Walk around and see some of the best, rarest, and most beautiful cars here in Arizona! Stay all day or cruise around for an hour.
Disclaimer: We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.