15 Best Things to Do in Fountain Hills (AZ)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Located in the northeast portion of the ‘Valley of the Sun,’ Fountain Hills is a decidedly upscale suburb of Phoenix that’s known for its magnificent views, world-class golf, and trendy shopping, dining and art galleries.

It’s also near some beautiful lakes, massive nature preserves, and historical sites too, many of which are in nearby Scottsdale and Cave Creek.

Unless you don’t like being outside in general, the best months to visit are from October to March, when the weather is perfect and there are lots of outdoor activities to choose from.

Below are 15 things to do in Fountain Hills.

1. Visit the Fountain

Fountain HillsSource: Marilyn D. Lambertz / shutterstock
Fountain Hills

If you’re interested in seeing the majestic fountain for which the town is named, then a quick trip to Fountain Park would be a great way to start your adventure.

At maximum height, the fountain’s water reaches nearly 600 feet into the air, which is higher than Yellowstone’s stalwart, Old Faithful.

The fountain does its magic every day from morning until evening, for about 10 or 15 minutes each hour, so if it’s not visible when you arrive, relax and stick around.

The park was completed in the early ‘70s and even has its own disc golf course.

2. Fountain Hills Botanical Gardens

Fountain Hills Botanical GardensSource: Lynda Lehmann / shutterstock
Fountain Hills Botanical Gardens

When most visitors think of Arizona, they don’t associate it with the diverse plants, trees, and wildflowers that inhabit its parched landscape.

Located near Fountain Hills and Kingstree Boulevards, The Fountain Hills Botanical Gardens are free to visit.

The gardens feature many well-marked trails and there are trail maps near the entrance, so you can decide where you want to go without worrying about getting lost.

There’s a small dam near the trail’s end, and the area’s plants attract lots of birds, insects and other desert creepy-crawlies, most of which don’t show themselves – except in the morning and evening.

3. Play a Few Rounds

Scottsdale Golf CourseSource: Tim Murphy / shutterstock
Scottsdale Golf Course

Arizona is one of the United States’ golf epicenters, especially in the winter when much of the country is much too cold and snowy to even think about hitting the links.

With more acclaimed courses per square mile than nearly any place in the world, Fountain Hills and nearby Scottsdale are places every golfer should plan on playing a round or two when in the area.

Though many of the courses are priced out of reach of most golfers in the winter, in the summer, those same courses can be in the $30 – $50 range.

If that’s when you go, just remember to drink plenty of water and rent a cart.

4. Dixie Mine Trail

Dixie Mine TrailSource: David Felten / Facebook
Dixie Mine Trail

Arizona is a virtual mish-mash of hiking trails leading through some of the country’s starkest, driest, and most mesmerizing landscapes.

The Dixie Mine Trail’s entrance is inside a private neighborhood, but once you head out, you’ll quickly be enveloped in nature, with most of the sights and sounds of civilization a distant memory.

Named after the mine near the end of the trail, you’ll be able to peer into the black abyss of the mineshaft, which is covered and inaccessible.

There’s plenty of parking, and restrooms nearby too, and you may see a desert tortoise or two if you get there early enough.

5. Fountain Hills Artist’s Gallery

Fountain Hills Artist’s GallerySource: Fountain Hills Artists Gallery / Facebook
Fountain Hills Artist’s Gallery

Located on East Avenue of the Fountains, Fountain Hills Artist’s Gallery is a co-op which exhibits and sells artwork, most of which is from local and southwest artists.

Whether you’re just browsing, or looking for a one-of-a-kind oil painting for over the fireplace, a size 46 turquoise belt for your Uncle Louis in Boise, or a hand-blown glass vase, you’ll likely find it here.

The gallery also offers art classes as well, many of which are made more fun by the wine you’re allowed and encouraged to bring.

The gallery is right across North Saguaro Boulevard from Fountain Park.

6. Fountain Hills Great Fair

Fountain Hills Great FairSource: Fountain Hills Great Fair / Facebook
Fountain Hills Great Fair

Located on North Saguaro Boulevard in Fountain Hills, the Fountain Hills Great Fair has been going on in one form or another since 1974.

For three days every year, the fair features the work of nearly 500 artists, many of who are from the southwestern United States. Although there’s lots of different subject matter, there’s a distinct southwest theme you’ll immediately notice.

In addition to art, there’s delicious food, jewelry, and clothing.

The fairs are held in November. In case you haven’t experienced it, this is a great time to visit Arizona – that is if you like endlessly sunny days with temperatures in the low 80s.

7. The River of Time Museum

The River Of Time MuseumSource: River of Time Museum - Fountain Hills, Arizona / Facebook
The River Of Time Museum

Designed to enlighten children and adults alike on how the earth’s geology has changed over the years, the River of Time Museum is conveniently located in downtown Fountain Hills and is one of those things you won’t want to miss when you’re in the area.

The Museum is in the same building as the library, which is worth a look too – even if it’s just to soak up the air-conditioning and read a few pages of A Tale of Two Cities.

There’s a negligible admission fee for the museum. If you’re lucky, one of the enthusiastic volunteers will give you a guided tour.

In addition to geology, the museum offers exhibits and artifacts from the Native Americans that have lived in the area for ages.

8. Saguaro Lake

Saguaro LakeSource: Harry Beugelink / shutterstock
Saguaro Lake

With nearly 1,300 acres of surface area, Saguaro Lake is the fourth largest of the lakes that were formed by the damming of the Salt River.

The Lake is inside the Tonto National Forest and is a relatively easy trip from Fountain Hills.

The sheer canyon walls surrounding the lake are magnificent and can be viewed on foot or by boat.

If you prefer a boat tour, they’re available; some include sunset and dinner tours, which are perhaps the most amazing.

The lake is a favorite with local anglers, who come in search of its large and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, and walleye.

9. Lake Overlook Trail

Lake Overlook TrailSource: Mary Hruby / Facebook
Lake Overlook Trail

Another one of the trails that’s easily accessed from downtown Fountain Hills, the Lake Overlook Trail is about a mile and a half long and suitable for pretty much any member of the family.

Due to its gradual elevation change, the view of the town from the trail is amazing – especially when viewed through the fading light of the dimming Arizona sky.

If you’d rather extend your hike, there are other intersecting trails in the area; together, most are not more than three miles long.

It’s easiest to park at Fountain Park and walk across the street to the trailhead.

10. McDowell Mountain Regional Park

McDowell Mountain Regional ParkSource: Lynda Lehmann / shutterstock
McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Located to the east of Arizona Route 101 near the Fort McDowell Indian Reservation, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park consists of nearly 50 miles of trails which are open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

Trails of every length and level of difficulty are available, so finding something to suit the needs of your travel partners won’t be difficult.

Among the most popular for those who aren’t looking to exert too much energy, the North Trail is about three miles long and includes a relatively small change in elevation.

The park is open every day of the year, rain or shine, and there’s no admission fee.

11. Taliesin West

Taliesin WestSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright was an icon of architecture the world over, noted for his bold styling that blended the natural and manmade worlds in ways that most others couldn’t.

Taliesin West was his winter home and studio, and not surprisingly, is the embodiment of his life’s work.

Much of the house was built by hand, with the willing help of many of his students, who relished the chance to work with such a star.

The tours last a little less than two hours and they’re not cheap, but you’ll learn a lot and will probably consider it money well spent.

12. McDowell Sonoran Preserve

McDowell Sonoran PreserveSource: Tom Roche / shutterstock
McDowell Sonoran Preserve

With nearly 31,000 acres of land under management, McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale is the largest urban park of its type in the nation.

Though it is technically an urban park, much of the preserve is far enough away from the annoying sights and sounds of civilization that you’ll feel like you’re further away from it all than you really are.

There are nearly 200 miles of trails which are free to access year-round, and there’s ample parking too.

The Sonoran Desert within the park is home to many animals and a myriad of cacti, most of which have magnificent flowery blooms in the spring.

Check online for a trail map, or pick one up at the visitor’s center before heading out.

13. Pinnacle Peak Park

Pinnacle Peak ParkSource: Ray Redstone / shutterstock
Pinnacle Peak Park

At only 150 acres, Pinnacle Peak Park is notably smaller than many of the area’s other mega-parks, but despite its size, it’s a favorite of locals – who like its trails – and the wildlife, which seems especially prevalent here.

The park is home to coyotes, javelinas, bobcats, deer, and even snakes and Gila monsters.

If you’d like to see some animals in addition to the magnificent mountains and cactus, hit the trails early in the morning or at dusk, when most desert critters are just starting to stir in anticipation of their nocturnal ramblings.

The park is free to access.

14. Historic Cave Creek

Historic Cave CreekSource: tishomir / shutterstock
Historic Cave Creek

Cave Creek’s motto is, ‘Where the Wild West Lives,’ and after a visit to the scenic desert town, you’ll know why.

Sporting museums, great restaurants and lots of historic buildings which have been lovingly restored, Cave Creek is like a step back in time.

On the other side of the coin, however, Cave Creek is home to lots of posh venues too, from chic restaurants to art galleries, where you’ll need to hand over a small fortune for an original oil painting or bronze sculpture.

Cave Creek also hosts many events throughout the year, most of which take place in the winter months when the weather is absolutely perfect.

15. Southwest Wildlife Conservation Area

Southwest Wildlife Conservation AreaSource: Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center / Facebook
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Area

Also in nearby Scottsdale, the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Area is a not-for-profit rehabilitation center that deals primarily in wild animals that have been injured or abandoned.

The aim of the center is to return the rehabilitated animals to their natural habitat, which they’re able to do nearly 70% of the time.

Those that wouldn’t survive in the wild are permanently housed in the center.

Tours by appointment are available. You’ll love the enthusiastic volunteers, cool animals, and well-maintained facilities.

A few of the center’s inhabitants are a leopard, mountain lions, and a Mexican grey wolf.

15 Best Things to Do in Fountain Hills (AZ):

  • Visit the Fountain
  • Fountain Hills Botanical Gardens
  • Play a Few Rounds
  • Dixie Mine Trail
  • Fountain Hills Artist’s Gallery
  • Fountain Hills Great Fair
  • The River of Time Museum
  • Saguaro Lake
  • Lake Overlook Trail
  • McDowell Mountain Regional Park
  • Taliesin West
  • McDowell Sonoran Preserve
  • Pinnacle Peak Park
  • Historic Cave Creek
  • Southwest Wildlife Conservation Area