15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Phoenix

Arizona may be a state well known for the Grand Canyon, Cathedral Rock, and its extensive desert regions, but there is nothing dry and dusty about Downtown Phoenix. The downtown neighborhood covers a hundred blocks which positively vibrate with life.

Phoenix is a city which has inspired songwriters to put pen to paper and many movie directors to shoot their films on Downtown’s streets. While it’s a certain fact that dinosaurs once roamed the area, Downtown Phoenix hasn’t been left in the Jurassic age when it comes to things to do.

Downtown Phoenix has exciting nightlife, superb sports facilities, first-class retail outlets as well as museums and art galleries galore. What’s the best thing to do in Downtown Phoenix? Check out these fifteen and guaranteed, you’ll want to do them all.

1. Downtown Helicopter Flight

Downtown Phoenix

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Downtown Phoenix

Soar over Downtown Phoenix’s stunning skyline on a twenty-minute helicopter flight. Board the helicopter at the Falcon Field Airport, just outside of the city, strap yourself in and don your headphones before taking off for the ride of your life.

Fly over the Valley of the Sun, then watch as the landscape changes from desert to urban spread as the flight circles above Downtown. Time your ride for dusk, and you’ll catch not only the sunset but the mesmerizing kaleidoscope of Downtown Phoenix lighting up for the night.

Take sunglasses and don’t forget your camera. You’ll want a hundred photos of those views.

2. CityScape

CityScape Phoenix

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CityScape Phoenix

CityScape is a vibrant and trendy nucleus in Downtown Phoenix which covers three blocks and is full of shops, eateries, bars, and clubs. It’s the place to be late afternoon and evening to feel the real DT vibe.

Downtowner’s get together at CityScape to enjoy the daily happy hour offerings outside on the terrace of the Blue Hound or while playing a game of ten pin bowling at the Lucky Strike. To watch an open-air movie in the plaza or eat dinner in one of the numerous restaurants before hitting the club scene at the Gypsy Bar.

You can read about the amazing nightclub, the Gypsy Bar, a little further on.

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3. Arizona Science Center

Arizona Science Center, Phoenix

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Arizona Science Center

The Arizona Science Center is an interactive museum in Downtown Phoenix’s Heritage and Science Park on Washington Street.

Explore the center’s three-hundred and fifty plus exhibitions to discover how solar energy is harvested and used, have a surreal experience with nature in the Immersion Theater or find out the secrets of Morse code communication.

The Arizona Science Center has a two-hundred fifty seat planetarium plus Fab Labs where visiting scientific specialist present lectures and workshops. It’s a fascinating place to visit.

4. The Teapot

The Teapot

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The Teapot

Indulge in some home comforts in a rural-style cottage in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. Located on Dt’s 5th Avenue, this quaint coffee shop is housed in a fully restored early 1900’s building which wouldn’t be out of place in the British countryside.

Take tea and scones with cream and jam on the lawn or a latte with a slice of homemade chocolate cake oozing with cream. There are traditional English savories like quiche, sausage rolls, and pork pies on the menu too.

Who would ever think it was possible to find a little bit of Britain amid the skyscrapers of Downtown Phoenix? Don’t miss out on trying the homemade lemonade.

5. Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row Mural, Phoenix

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Roosevelt Row Mural

Roosevelt Row is where the artful community of Downtown Phoenix congregate. It’s hip, Bohemian and full of interesting and unconventional art galleries. Murals decorate the walls of the buildings, and colorful sculptures adorn the streets.

Snap a photo under one of the functional Shadow Play sculptures, then take a seat on one of the geometrical benches to ponder on the pattern of shadows cast by the canopy overhead. If your visit to Downtown Phoenix coincides with the first Friday of the month, stop off at the First Friday A.R.T.S Market an open-air market where local artisans sell their wares, there’s live music, plenty of pop-up eateries and more of that fantastic Bohemian atmosphere.

6. Heritage Square

Heritage Square, Phoenix

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Heritage Square

Walk around Heritage Square to discover what Downtown Phoenix was like in Victorian times. Lining the square are buildings dating back to the late 1800’s. The Rosson House, which is a museum, is a Gothic work of art which wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.

Inside the museum, the rooms are furnished in keeping with the Victorian era. There are even candelabras on the dining table which give the impression the residents are still living and have just stepped outside. Yes, it is more than slightly spooky.

On the Square, there is also The Bungalow where it’s possible to purchase replica Victorian jewelry – Downtown Abbey-style, handicrafts, and homemade wooden toys. There are several restaurants too including a British pub, a pizzeria and one which specializes in Japanese cuisine.

7. Lustre Rooftop Bar

Lustre Rooftop Bar

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Lustre Rooftop Bar

Downtown Phoenix may have been founded during the Victorian era, but there is nothing remotely antiquated about the Lustre Rooftop Bar. This is one of the coolest places to hang out in DT Phoenix – literally.

The Lustre is a swanky and very modern installation with an impressive rooftop swimming pool, which has poolside happy hours from Monday through to Friday and throws amazing pool parties both day and night – all with tremendous views of Downtown Phoenix.

Book a VIP cabana, they hold up to six people and come with food and drink included or just lounge on a sunbed. Dress in your very best beachwear, no jeans allowed and don’t forget your sun lotion and towel. This is one bar you’ll never want to leave.

8. Orpheum Theater

Orpheum Theater

Housed in a historic, 1920’s building on Adams Street in Downtown Phoenix, the Orpheum Theater is the place to go to catch a Broadway production, ballet or opera performance.

The one thousand three-hundred plus seater venue has had a varied life and been used for everything from vaudeville presentations to a cinema house. Now restored to its original glory, the Baroque building has elaborate external wall friezes and detailed frescos around the stage.

The theater is an absolute work of art inside and out and worth stopping by to see even if you don’t want to take in a show.

9. Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

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Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden is part of the Margaret T Hance Park, a public park, green space and event venue on 3rd Avenue in Downtown Phoenix.

The Japanese Friendship Garden itself is a three and a half acre tranquil oasis of lakes with cascading waterfalls and fountains with winding pathways lined with flowering trees and shrubs which are perfect for a chill-out stroll. The garden or Ro Ho En honors Phoenix’s twin city in Japan, Himeji.

The Garden’s hold once monthly Japanese tea ceremonies at the Musoan tea house on the grounds as well as various other exhibitions throughout the year connected with Japanese art and culture.

10. Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum

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Phoenix Art Museum

Art is an integral part of life in Downtown Phoenix, and the Phoenix Art Museum on Central Avenue demonstrates that to the full.

The installation has almost three-hundred thousand square feet of exhibition space and displays works from the Renaissance period right through to modern day in all genres of the visual arts.

The permanent collections contain over eighteen thousand works of art including rare fashion pieces and photographs. There are also regular temporary exhibitions on varied themes.

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11. Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, Phoenix

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

The Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour don’t just make great cocktails; they make award-winning cocktails. The parlour has an old-world décor and atmosphere, but a completely modern take on mixology. Even the ice-cubes they use in the drinks are handcrafted. Now that’s dedication to your profession.

Book a table at this bar on West Jefferson or get there early, this bar is usually full to overflowing five minutes after its opened, even then, you may still find yourself on the waiting list to get in.

Go for a Porn Star Martini or a simple Old Fashioned. You won’t be disappointed.

12. Compass Arizona Grill

Compass Arizona Grill, Phoenix

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Compass Arizona Grill, Phoenix

Apart from being a first class restaurant, the Compass Arizona Grill has one outstanding feature which makes it unique not just in Downtown Phoenix but in the whole state of Arizona.

The restaurant, located on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on North Second Street, revolves through three-hundred and sixty degrees.

Watch Downtown Phoenix pass by twenty-four floors below while dining on American southwest dishes like Flat Iron steak, Gold Canyon ribeye or Chipotle-braised beef. It’ll be a tasty experience.

13. Chase Field

Chase Field, Phoenix

Take in a Major League baseball game at Chase Field and cheer along with the other forty-nine thousand spectators as the home team, the Arizona Diamondbacks hit the ball out the field.

Chase Field, on Downtown Phoenix’s East Jefferson Avenue, has been hosting games since its construction in the late 1990’s when it was the first ballpark to be built with a retractable roof.

The venue is also used for concerts and large public events and has numerous food and drink concessions.

14. Gypsy Bar

Gypsy Bar, Phoenix

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Gypsy Bar, Phoenix

For a vivacious finale to a night out in Downtown Phoenix, hit the dance floor at the Gypsy Bar. Yes, it’s adults only, and the theme is party, party, party.

The ten-thousand square foot nightclub, in the buzzing entertainment and retail complex CityScape, has a long island bar, bottle, and VIP service. A dance floor where you can boogie your best moves to music played by DJ’s who are expert mixers and know how to scratch, scribble and stutter. There are go-go dancers, a room full of video games and impressive light shows throughout the night. It all adds up to make this a venue you just can’t miss.

If you dance up an appetite, don’t worry, they serve food too.

15. Her Secret Is Patience

Her Secret Is Patience

There is one public artwork in Downtown Phoenix, you can’t leave the city without seeing, and that’s the sky-high sculpture Her Secret Is Patience.

Floating one hundred feet above the ground in Downtown’s Civic Space Park, the coil of metal threads twists and turns in the breeze casting shadows during the day. At night, it’s a veritable spectacular of undulating rainbow colors which light up the sky like an invading alien being.

Her Secret Is Patience, just like Downtown Phoenix, has to be experienced to be believed.

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Phoenix, Arizona (AZ)
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15 Best Things to Do in Downtown Phoenix:

Downtown Phoenix