Located in Phoenix’s west Valley near Avondale and Litchfield Park, Tolleson is a town of nearly 7,000 residents in Arizona’s Maricopa County.
Though it’s surrounded by many ever-expanding municipalities full of new neighborhoods and shopping malls, the old town of Tolleson hasn’t lost individuality and charm.
If you’re not familiar with the southwest, a walk down Tolleson’s streets may make you feel like you’re across the border in Old Mexico, as many of the town’s residents are of Mexican descent, and many of the markets, shops, and restaurants advertise in Spanish, as well as English.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Tolleson.
1. Whoopee Daze Festival
You’ll have to do a little pre-planning if you’d like to enjoy the Whoopee Daze Festival, because it takes place for only 3 days in April.
The event is held at Veterans Park on West Van Buren Street in Tolleson, and includes a festival kick-off parade, carnival rides, arts and crafts vendors, food stalls, and even a softball tournament.
It’s the ultimate family-friendly event, and has live entertainment, and plenty of activities for the little ones like face painting and carnival games.
The festival draws a crowd, and some of the town’s streets are closed, so consider walking if you’re staying close by.
2. Tolleson Parks
Although your trip may not coincide with the aforementioned Whoopee Daze Festival, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Tolleson’s two parks on your trip.
When not hosting events and fairs, Veterans Park is a favorite with locals because it sports covered ramadas with grills, a fancy playground for the little ones, and even a baseball field and amphitheater.
Not too far away, 95th Avenue Park near 95th Avenue and Garfield has a full basketball court, playground and picnic areas with grills as well.
Parks are great places to relax, stretch your legs and meet locals who may be able to give you some insider tips on what to see and do.
3. Corral West Horse Adventures
Located on West Arena Drive in nearby Goodyear, Corral West Horse Adventures is a fun and affordable way to take the family back in time, to when Arizona was full of wild and wide-open spaces.
Whether you’re looking for an amazingly romantic sunset ride, wagon adventure for the whole family, or a cowboy cookout, you’ll find it here.
There are options and prices to fit every wish and budget, and no matter which you choose you can count on memories being made that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Tours include rides through the Estrella Mountain Regional Park in southwest Phoenix.
4. Brass Armadillo Antique Mall
With two locations, both of which are just short drives from Tolleson, Brass Armadillo Antique Malls are great places to get out of the sun, enjoy the AC, and stroll through the endless aisles of art, antiques, and bits of Americana you won’t find anywhere else.
Each mall consists of dozens of individual vendors who bring their own unique collections and flair.
The mall is staffed by the vendors themselves, so they can point you toward what you’re looking for and answer any questions you may have.
Though the malls definitely have a southwestern theme, you can find things from all over the country.
5. Monument Hill
Located just behind Phoenix International Raceway, Monument Hill is a free and scenic vista point from which you can see all the action at the raceway, and learn a little about some important American history too.
The monument was placed to commemorate the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, which ceded large portions of what was then Mexican territory to the United States.
From the hill you’ll also be able to see where the Salt and Gila Rivers converge, and the Estrella Mountain Regional Park, which is someplace you’ll want to check out too.
Other than racing days, you’ll probably have the place to yourself.
6. Goodyear Ballpark
Located in the west valley town of Goodyear, the Goodyear Ballpark is a $100 million dollar facility that serves as the spring training home for major league baseball teams like the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
With enough seats for more than 10,000 lovers of America’s pastime, the park is a great place to catch some cactus league games in the spring.
Though small by big league standards, the still-new facilities will make you feel like it’s the real thing.
During the off season the complex hosts festivals, live entertainment and holiday events like Goodyear’s Star Spangled 4th and a fall festival as well.
7. The Bible Museum
Located on North Litchfield Road in Goodyear, The Bible Museum is a great place to visit for lovers of history, whether you’re a Christian or not.
Just off Interstate 10 at Litchfield Road, the museum is a great place to spend an hour perusing the collection.
If you go during the week, you’ll probably meet the museum’s curator who’s usually there during normal business hours.
The museum is in the Hampton Inn, so it’s open all day, every day, so no matter what time you’re in the area, it’s OK to stop and take a look.
If you’d like to schedule a private presentation for a group smaller than 15, give them a call.
8. Tres Rios Wetlands
Tres Rios, or Three Rivers Wetlands are a little known gem that are a favorite of nature lovers, birdwatchers, and seekers of solitude in Arizona’s west valley.
The park is about 5 miles south of Interstate 10 on South 91st Avenue, and is full of desert wildlife that are drawn to the area’s relatively abundant water, which is scarce or nonexistent in much of the surrounding landscape.
Of particular interest to birdwatchers are the herons, warblers, and waterfowl that congregate here, which are usually viewable without leaving the trails.
Remember if you decide to stray a bit, that the area is home to snakes, scorpions and tarantulas too, so open-toed shoes may not be your best bet.
Some areas require a permit.
9. Glendale Historic District
Glendale’s quaint historic district is one of the west valley’s premier locations for quiet strolls amid historic homes, antique shops, galleries and trendy eateries.
It’s like small town America, tucked into the heart of one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas.
The historic district is big on festivals and fairs too, and is especially known for its Christmas light event called Glendale Glitters, which attracts visitors from far and wide to see the homes and businesses adorned with millions of twinkling lights.
It all kicks-off on Thanksgiving weekend every year, though it hosts many other events throughout the year too.
10. Rosson House at Historic Heritage Square
Located in downtown Phoenix’s oldest residential area, Rosson House at Heritage Square is now a museum, gallery, and visitor center which are all places you should try to visit if you have the time.
Restored to its near-original state, the home was originally built in the late 19th century, and like lots of homes in Phoenix at that time was built in the Victorian style.
Inside you’ll get a glimpse into urban life in territorial Arizona, and will be guided by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable docent.
Admission is by guided tour only, and expect to spend an hour or so inside the house.
11. Phoenix International Raceway
Located on South Avondale Boulevard just a short drive from Tolleson, Phoenix International Raceway, which is now called ISM Raceway, has been Arizona’s NASCAR racing venue for decades.
The track hosts two NASCAR races annually which account for the vast majority of visitors.
The raceway was finished in 1961, but the track and facilities have been updated over the years, and can now seat more than 50,000 spectators.
The raceway is also home to live entertainment and other events throughout the year, and tours of the facility are available too, though the tickets for the NASCAR races are hard to come by.
12. Estrella Star Tower
Located in the scenic Estrella Mountain area in the valley’s southwest, the 50-foot Star Tower is a beautiful spiral structure next to a gently flowing waterfall.
The tower’s top is reachable by stairs, from which you’ll get an elevated and panoramic view of the surrounding Estrella Mountains and Sonoran Desert.
Though it’s beautiful at any time of the day, the view from the tower at sunset is especially remarkable, as the sun dips behind the horizon far over neighboring California.
The tower was built as an iconic monument near the entrance to the Estrella Mountain neighborhood and is free to visit.
13. Peoria Farmers’ Market
Open year-round, the Peoria Farmers’ Market is located on West Northern Avenue in Peoria, in the Park West Shopping Center.
Like most farmers’ markets, it’s full of fresh local produce and dairy products, arts and crafts, delicious baked goods, and coffee.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the market is a great place to pick up Arizona made products you won’t find anywhere else, and you’ll be supporting the community and its entrepreneurs.
It’s the perfect place to get souvenirs and unique gifts like cactus jelly, clover honey and scorpion lollipops for friends and family back home.
14. Audubon Society
Most visitors to Arizona are surprised to find that the state is home to quite a large and diverse group of bird species.
Located on South Central Avenue in Phoenix, The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center is more than 600 acres located in the Salt River area a few miles from Phoenix’s city center.
Due to its desert riparian environment, the park is home to more than 200 species of birds, and draws more than its share of mammals, reptiles, and insects too.
The center is free, and offers more than 10 miles of hiking trails, and offers a variety of exhibits and educational activities, as well as guided tours.
15. Avondale Friendship Park
With all the running around you’ve done in Tolleson, Glendale, and Phoenix, perhaps a little rest and quiet time is in order.
Avondale Friendship Park is in the west valley, just a mile or two from Tolleson, and is home to a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, and has covered picnic spots and a soccer field too.
To beat the heat there’s a splash-pad for kids, a monstrous playground and a barbecue area with built-in grills.
The park is on West Avondale Boulevard, and there are usually soccer games in the evening under the lights that are fun to watch.