15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Phoenix

Written by Sofia Jones
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

When it comes to vibrant city life in Arizona, Downtown Phoenix stands out from the desert landscape. As I explored this energetic neighborhood, spanning over a hundred blocks, I couldn’t help but feel the pulsating energy that permeates its streets.

Downtown Phoenix is a place that has left an indelible mark on songwriters’ hearts and has served as a backdrop for numerous films. While dinosaurs may have roamed the area in the distant past, Downtown Phoenix is far from stuck in the Jurassic age. It offers a plethora of exciting activities and attractions that cater to all tastes and interests.

One of the highlights of Downtown Phoenix is its thriving nightlife scene. From trendy bars to bustling clubs, the city comes alive after dark, offering endless entertainment options for those seeking a memorable night out. The vibrant atmosphere and diverse range of venues ensure that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Sports enthusiasts will find themselves in paradise in Downtown Phoenix. The area boasts world-class sports facilities that cater to various disciplines. Whether it’s catching a basketball game at the Talking Stick Resort Arena or cheering on the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, sports fans will be in their element.

Retail therapy is also a must in Downtown Phoenix, with an array of first-class retail outlets offering everything from high-end fashion to unique local finds. Strolling along the streets, I discovered stylish boutiques, art galleries, and specialty stores that catered to my every desire. It’s a shopper’s paradise that promises a delightful experience for anyone seeking to indulge in some retail therapy.

Art and culture thrive in Downtown Phoenix, with an abundance of museums and galleries to explore. From the Phoenix Art Museum, showcasing diverse collections from around the world, to the Heard Museum, dedicated to Native American art and culture, there is no shortage of artistic inspiration to be found.

Step into this vibrant cityscape, embrace the lively energy, and explore the endless possibilities that Downtown Phoenix has to offer.

1. Downtown Helicopter Flight

Downtown PhoenixSource: Tim Roberts Photography / shutterstock
Downtown Phoenix

Get ready for an exhilarating adventure as you soar above the magnificent skyline of Downtown Phoenix on a thrilling twenty-minute helicopter flight. The journey begins at Falcon Field Airport, located just outside the city.

As the helicopter lifted off, the world below transformed into a mesmerizing panorama. The flight took us over the expansive Valley of the Sun, revealing the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding desert landscape. I marveled at the vastness and serenity of the desert, a stark contrast to the bustling cityscape that awaited.

Gradually, the scenery shifted, and I watched in awe as the arid expanse gave way to a sprawling urban sprawl. The helicopter gracefully circled above Downtown Phoenix, offering me a bird’s-eye view of the city’s iconic landmarks and architectural marvels. The sight was nothing short of spectacular.

If you’re seeking an adventure that combines adrenaline, beauty, and unforgettable sights, a helicopter flight over Downtown Phoenix is an absolute must. Allow yourself to be captivated by the awe-inspiring views, immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant energy, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Don’t forget your sunglasses and camera, for you’ll want to capture every breathtaking moment of this extraordinary aerial journey.

2. CityScape

CityScape PhoenixSource: facebook.com
CityScape Phoenix

CityScape is my favorite spot in Downtown Phoenix. It’s a vibrant and trendy hub that spans three blocks, offering a wide array of shops, eateries, bars, and clubs. When I want to immerse myself in the true downtown vibe, CityScape is where I head, especially in the late afternoon and evening.

As a Downtowner, I love gathering at CityScape to take advantage of the fantastic daily happy hour offerings. Whether it’s savoring delicious bites on the terrace of the Blue Hound or engaging in a friendly game of ten pin bowling at the Lucky Strike, the outdoor experience is always delightful. On some evenings, I indulge in watching an open-air movie in the lively plaza, or I opt for a scrumptious dinner at one of the many restaurants before embarking on a thrilling night at the Gypsy Bar.

Speaking of the Gypsy Bar, let me tell you about this incredible nightclub. It’s a must-visit venue at CityScape, offering a captivating ambiance and an electric atmosphere.

3. Arizona Science Center

Arizona Science Center, PhoenixSource: Robert Byrd / shutterstock
Arizona Science Center

When I was in Downtown Phoenix, one of my go-to places is the Arizona Science Center. It’s located in the Heritage and Science Park on Washington Street, and it’s an interactive museum that never fails to captivate me.

As soon as I stepped inside, I was greeted by over three hundred and fifty exhibitions, each offering a unique and engaging experience. I love delving into the world of renewable energy and discovering how solar power is harnessed and utilized. Another favorite of mine is the Immersion Theater, where I was able to have a surreal encounter with nature and truly feel immersed in its beauty. And let’s not forget about the secrets of Morse code communication—I’m always amazed by the ingenuity behind it.

What sets the Arizona Science Center apart is not just its exhibitions but also its additional features. They have a fantastic two-hundred and fifty seat planetarium where I can gaze up at the stars and explore the wonders of the universe. Additionally, they have Fab Labs where visiting scientific specialists presented lectures and workshops, allowing me to learn and engage with cutting-edge research.

4. The Teapot

The TeapotSource: facebook.com
The Teapot

When I wanted to treat myself to some cozy comforts right in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, I headed to a delightful rural-style cottage on 5th Avenue. This charming coffee shop is housed in a meticulously restored early 1900s building that wouldn’t look out of place in the picturesque countryside of Britain.

As soon as I stepped inside, I was welcomed by the aroma of freshly brewed tea and the sight of mouthwatering scones adorned with cream and jam. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a leisurely afternoon on the lush lawn, savoring the classic combination of tea and scones. If I’m in the mood for something a bit more indulgent, I couldn’t resist pairing a creamy latte with a slice of homemade chocolate cake that practically oozes with cream.

To my surprise and delight, the menu also features traditional English savories that transport me straight to the British Isles. From quiches and sausage rolls to pork pies, I can’t help but appreciate the authenticity and attention to detail in every bite.

It’s truly remarkable to find a slice of Britain amidst the towering skyscrapers of Downtown Phoenix. And trust me, you don’t want to miss out on trying their homemade lemonade—it’s the perfect refreshing drink to complement the cozy atmosphere.

5. Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row Mural, PhoenixSource: Nagel Photography / shutterstock
Roosevelt Row Mural

As an art enthusiast in Downtown Phoenix, I found myself drawn to the vibrant community of Roosevelt Row. This is where the creative souls of the city come together, and the atmosphere is undeniably hip and bohemian. What truly sets this place apart are the fascinating and unconventional art galleries that line the streets.

As I strolled through Roosevelt Row, I was constantly surrounded by artistic expressions that ignite my imagination. Colorful murals adorn the walls of the buildings, transforming them into captivating canvases. The streets themselves are adorned with vibrant sculptures, each one adding its own touch of whimsy and charm.

One of my favorite experiences is capturing a moment beneath the functional Shadow Play sculptures. These unique installations not only engage the senses but also invite interaction. After snapping a photo, I often find myself taking a moment to sit on one of the thoughtfully designed geometrical benches. From there, I can ponder the mesmerizing patterns of shadows cast by the overhead canopy. It’s a serene and contemplative experience that adds another layer of depth to the art-filled surroundings.

If you happen to visit Downtown Phoenix on the first Friday of the month, make sure to stop by the First Friday A.R.T.S Market. This open-air market is a hub of creativity, featuring local artisans selling their unique wares. The air is filled with live music, and there are plenty of pop-up eateries to sample from. The atmosphere is infused with that fantastic bohemian energy that makes Roosevelt Row truly special.

6. Heritage Square

Heritage Square, PhoenixSource: Sarunyu L / shutterstock
Heritage Square

Whenever I wanted to take a step back in time and explore the essence of Victorian-era Downtown Phoenix, I found myself wandering through Heritage Square. This charming square is lined with buildings dating back to the late 1800s, allowing me to truly immerse myself in the atmosphere of the past.

One of the standout attractions in Heritage Square is the Rosson House, a stunning museum that resembles a Gothic work of art. Its architecture is so captivating that it wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie. As I stepped inside, I was immediately transported to the Victorian era. The rooms are meticulously furnished to reflect the style and aesthetics of that time. Walking through the house, I can’t help but feel as if the residents have just stepped outside, leaving behind flickering candelabras on the dining table. It’s an enchanting and, admittedly, slightly spooky experience.

Within the square, there is another gem called The Bungalow. Here, I was able indulge my love for all things Victorian by purchasing replica jewelry in the style of Downtown Abbey, as well as exploring a variety of handicrafts and homemade wooden toys. It’s a treasure trove for anyone with an appreciation for the intricate beauty of the Victorian era.

When hunger strikes, Heritage Square has a plethora of dining options to satisfy any craving. From a cozy British pub serving up traditional fare to a pizzeria offering a taste of Italy, and even a restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine, there’s something for everyone’s palate. It’s a delightful blend of culinary experiences that adds to the overall charm of the square.

7. Lustre Rooftop Bar

Lustre Rooftop BarSource: facebook.com
Lustre Rooftop Bar

When it comes to the trendiest spots in Downtown Phoenix, the Lustre Rooftop Bar takes the crown. This place may be located in a city founded during the Victorian era, but it’s anything but antiquated. In fact, it’s the epitome of coolness in DT Phoenix—literally.

I was immediately charmed by the Lustre’s chic and sophisticated vibe as I stroll onto its rooftop. The centerpiece of this remarkable installation is an impressive rooftop swimming pool that instantly sets the scene for an unforgettable experience. From Monday to Friday, they offer poolside happy hours, creating the perfect atmosphere to unwind and enjoy the breathtaking views of Downtown Phoenix. But the excitement doesn’t stop there—this place knows how to throw incredible pool parties both day and night, making it the ultimate destination for fun and entertainment.

To truly elevate the experience, I recommend booking a VIP cabana. These luxurious retreats can accommodate up to six people and come complete with food and drinks included. It’s the ultimate indulgence and provides a private haven to relax and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. If a cabana isn’t your style, you can still enjoy the sun-soaked bliss by lounging on one of the comfortable sunbeds. Just make sure to dress in your very best beachwear—jeans are a no-go in this stylish setting. Don’t forget your sunscreen and towel either, as you’ll want to soak up the sun and make the most of your time at this remarkable rooftop bar.

8. Orpheum Theater

Orpheum Theater, PhoenixSource: Visitor7 / Wikimedia
Orpheum Theater

Whenever I’m in Downtown Phoenix, I make it a point to visit the magnificent Orpheum Theater. This historic gem, located on Adams Street, is housed in a stunning 1920s building that exudes timeless charm.

Stepping inside the theater, I was immediately struck by its grandeur and elegance. With over one thousand three hundred seats, it’s a spacious venue that hosts a range of captivating performances, from Broadway productions to ballet and opera. The Orpheum Theater is the go-to place for experiencing the magic of live performances.

What makes the Orpheum even more fascinating is its rich history. Over the years, this versatile space has served various purposes, from hosting vaudeville presentations to being a cinema house. Thanks to careful restoration, the theater has been returned to its original glory. The Baroque building features elaborate external wall friezes that capture the eye, while detailed frescos around the stage transport audiences to a world of artistic splendor.

9. Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden, Phoenix, ArizonaSource: Richard L. Paul / shutterstock
Japanese Friendship Garden

Whenever I need a serene escape in Downtown Phoenix, I find solace in the Japanese Friendship Garden. Nestled within the Margaret T Hance Park, this enchanting garden is a hidden oasis of tranquility on 3rd Avenue.

As I entered the Japanese Friendship Garden, I was immediately greeted by a sense of calm and beauty. Spanning three and a half acres, this oasis features peaceful lakes adorned with cascading waterfalls and graceful fountains. The winding pathways are lined with a symphony of flowering trees and shrubs, creating a picturesque setting that is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Each step I take brings a sense of peace and rejuvenation.

The garden, known as Ro Ho En, is a tribute to Himeji, Phoenix’s twin city in Japan. It serves as a symbol of friendship and cultural exchange between the two cities. Within the garden, there is a captivating Musoan tea house where once a month, the serene atmosphere comes alive with traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. It’s a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the art of tea and experience a taste of Japanese culture.

Throughout the year, the Japanese Friendship Garden also hosts various exhibitions that celebrate Japanese art and culture. These exhibitions provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan’s rich heritage. It’s a testament to the garden’s commitment to fostering cultural connections and sharing the beauty of Japanese traditions with the community.

10. Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art MuseumSource: BondRocketImages / shutterstock
Phoenix Art Museum

As an art enthusiast in Downtown Phoenix, I am continually inspired by the Phoenix Art Museum on Central Avenue. This cultural institution embodies the vibrant artistic spirit that thrives in our city.

From the moment I stepped inside, I was immersed in a world of creativity and beauty. With nearly three hundred thousand square feet of exhibition space, the museum offers a vast canvas to showcase an extensive range of artworks. Spanning from the Renaissance period to the modern day, the collections encompass all genres of the visual arts, providing a comprehensive exploration of artistic expression throughout history.

The museum’s permanent collections are a true treasure trove, housing over eighteen thousand remarkable works of art. I was particularly drawn to the rare fashion pieces and captivating photographs that grace the halls. Each piece tells a story, inviting me to delve into different eras and perspectives. It’s a testament to the museum’s dedication to preserving and celebrating artistic heritage.

In addition to its permanent collections, the Phoenix Art Museum hosts regular temporary exhibitions that delve into various themes. These special exhibits provide fresh perspectives and introduce me to new artistic voices. It’s a testament to the museum’s commitment to offering dynamic and diverse experiences for visitors.

11. Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Phoenix
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

When it comes to crafting extraordinary cocktails, there’s no place quite like The Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour. This renowned establishment not only creates exceptional drinks but has also earned numerous awards for their innovative mixology. Stepping into the parlour, I was instantly transported to a world of old-world charm, where classic decor and ambiance blend seamlessly with a contemporary approach to cocktails. The attention to detail is remarkable, even extending to the handcrafted ice cubes that grace each drink. It’s a testament to the dedication and passion that fuels their craft.

Securing a table at The Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour is no easy feat. With its popularity, it’s best to book in advance or arrive early to secure a spot. Within minutes of opening, the place is often packed to the brim, and you may even find yourself on a waiting list, eagerly anticipating entry into this coveted space.

Once inside, the experience is simply extraordinary. The menu offers an array of tantalizing options, from the vibrant and alluring Porn Star Martini to the timeless perfection of an Old Fashioned. Each sip is a revelation, expertly crafted to deliver a burst of flavors and a sensory delight that lingers on the palate. The bartenders at The Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour are true masters of their craft, ensuring that every drink is a masterpiece in its own right.

12. Compass Arizona Grill

Compass Arizona Grill, PhoenixSource: www.hyatt.com
Compass Arizona Grill, Phoenix

When it comes to unforgettable dining experiences in Downtown Phoenix, the Compass Arizona Grill stands out from the crowd. Not only does it offer first-class cuisine, but it boasts a unique feature that sets it apart not just in our city but throughout the entire state of Arizona.

Situated on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on North Second Street, this extraordinary restaurant revolves a full three hundred and sixty degrees. As I step into the sleek and elegant dining space, I am immediately captivated by the breathtaking views that unfold before me. From my vantage point, I can watch the vibrant pulse of Downtown Phoenix twenty-four floors below, as the cityscape gracefully moves and shifts.

But the culinary delights at Compass Arizona Grill are equally impressive. The menu showcases a tantalizing array of American southwest dishes, each crafted with precision and care. From the succulent Flat Iron steak to the flavorful Gold Canyon ribeye and the bold flavors of the Chipotle-braised beef, every bite is a celebration of the region’s rich culinary heritage. The combination of exceptional cuisine and ever-changing panoramic views creates a dining experience that is nothing short of extraordinary.

As I savor each delectable dish, I find myself immersed in a unique blend of flavors, sights, and sensations. The revolving motion of the restaurant adds an element of excitement and novelty to the meal, making it an experience unlike any other. With every turn, I discover new perspectives of the cityscape, enhancing the already memorable culinary journey.

The Compass Arizona Grill is more than just a restaurant; it’s a destination that combines culinary excellence with unparalleled views. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking an unforgettable dining experience, this revolving gem atop the Hyatt Regency Hotel is sure to leave a lasting impression. So come, indulge your senses, and let the Compass Arizona Grill take you on a gastronomic adventure through the heart of Downtown Phoenix.

13. Chase Field

Chase Field, PhoenixSource: MSgt. Raheem Moore / Wikimedia
Chase Field, Phoenix

As a sports enthusiast in Downtown Phoenix, one of my favorite pastimes is catching a Major League baseball game at Chase Field. Joining the enthusiastic crowd of forty-nine thousand spectators, I eagerly cheer on our home team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, as they swing for the fences.

Located on East Jefferson Avenue in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, Chase Field has been the epicenter of baseball excitement since its construction in the late 1990s. Notably, it was the first ballpark to feature a retractable roof, allowing us to enjoy the game rain or shine. The moment I step into the stadium, I can feel the electric atmosphere that fills the air, anticipation building for the thrilling moments that lie ahead.

Chase Field is not only a haven for baseball enthusiasts but also a versatile venue that hosts concerts and large public events. Its expansive layout ensures that there is something for everyone. Alongside the game, I explored numerous food and drink concessions, treating myself to an array of delicious options while immersing myself in the festive ambiance of the stadium.

Attending a game at Chase Field is a testament to the vibrant sports culture that permeates Downtown Phoenix. The cheers, the crack of the bat, and the collective excitement of the crowd create an experience that is truly unforgettable. Whether I’m a die-hard baseball fan or simply seeking an exhilarating outing, Chase Field offers the perfect setting to immerse myself in the thrill of the game.

14. Gypsy Bar

Gypsy Bar, PhoenixSource: facebook.com
Gypsy Bar, Phoenix

When it comes to ending a night in Downtown Phoenix on a high note, there’s no better place to be than the Gypsy Bar. As I stepped onto the dance floor, I felt the pulsating energy in the air, ready to ignite the night. With an adults-only policy and an atmosphere that screams “party, party, party,” this is where the fun truly begins.

Nestled within the vibrant entertainment and retail complex of CityScape, the Gypsy Bar spans an impressive ten thousand square feet. The moment I entered, I was greeted by a long island bar, offering an array of libations to fuel the night ahead. For those seeking an elevated experience, bottle service and VIP options are also available, ensuring that every moment is imbued with a touch of luxury.

The heart of the Gypsy Bar lies on the dance floor, where I can let loose and showcase my best moves. The talented DJs, experts in their craft, skillfully mix tracks, seamlessly blending beats, and creating a musical experience that keeps me dancing from start to finish. The mesmerizing light shows that illuminate the venue further enhance the electric atmosphere, immersing me in a world of vibrant colors and pulsating rhythms.

But the Gypsy Bar offers more than just a dance floor. Go-go dancers add an extra level of excitement, captivating the crowd with their electrifying performances. For those looking to take a break from the dancing, a room filled with video games provides an entertaining diversion, allowing me to test my skills and indulge in some playful competition.

And let’s not forget about the food. The Gypsy Bar understands that dancing can work up an appetite, and they have you covered. With their menu of delectable offerings, I was able to refuel and satisfy my cravings without missing a beat. It’s the perfect blend of entertainment and culinary delights, creating an experience that caters to all my senses.

15. Her Secret Is Patience

Her Secret Is Patience, PhoenixSource: Michael | Ruiz / Flickr
Her Secret Is Patience

There’s an awe-inspiring public artwork in Downtown Phoenix that simply cannot be missed—the breathtaking sculpture known as “Her Secret Is Patience.” As I ventured into Civic Space Park, my gaze is immediately drawn skyward to behold this magnificent creation.

Hovering one hundred feet above the ground, the sculpture takes the form of a mesmerizing coil of metal threads, gracefully twisting and turning with each passing breeze. During the day, the sculpture casts captivating shadows, adding a touch of whimsy to the surrounding landscape. But it’s when the sun sets and darkness descends upon the city that Her Secret Is Patience truly comes alive.

As if by magic, the sculpture illuminates the night sky with an ethereal display of undulating rainbow colors. The vibrant hues cascade through the metal threads, creating a visual spectacle that seems almost otherworldly. With each shimmering glow, it’s as if the sculpture has transformed into an otherworldly being, captivating all who behold its radiant presence.

Her Secret Is Patience is not merely a static artwork; it’s an experience that transcends the boundaries of the tangible. Just like the essence of Downtown Phoenix itself, this sculpture beckons us to immerse ourselves fully in its ethereal beauty. To witness its graceful twists and turns, to feel the shadows dance around us, and to be mesmerized by the kaleidoscope of colors that light up the night sky.

In the heart of Civic Space Park, Her Secret Is Patience stands as a testament to the artistic spirit that thrives in Downtown Phoenix. It’s a symbol of the city’s vibrant energy and its willingness to embrace the unconventional. To truly understand and appreciate the allure of this magnificent sculpture, one must experience it firsthand. It’s an invitation to step into a world of wonder, where imagination knows no bounds.

15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Phoenix:

  • Downtown Helicopter Flight
  • CityScape
  • Arizona Science Center
  • The Teapot
  • Roosevelt Row
  • Heritage Square
  • Lustre Rooftop Bar
  • Orpheum Theater
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
  • Compass Arizona Grill
  • Chase Field
  • Gypsy Bar
  • Her Secret Is Patience