25 Best Things To Do In Glendale (AZ)

Beet lovers will be pleased to hear that Glendale was built on them. Well, not literally, but the building and commercial concentration in 1906 of the Beet Sugar Factory definitely played a big part. Although factory operations only lasted until 1913, it helped play a very relevant role in the increase of settlers to the town. Together with William John Murphy, who had found a way to provide good access into the vicinity by way of railroad and canal (and name the area in the interim), the town of Glendale in Arizona is now home to a population of approximately 227,000, as of 2010. So, let’s go explore the best things to do in Glendale.

1. State Farm Stadium

State Farm StadiumSource: DCornelius / shutterstock
State Farm Stadium

The University of Phoenix is very proud of its stadium, and with very good reason! It is one of a kind, literally, and unlike any other North American stadium, with not only a retractable roof but retractable field as well. All the games are indoors and therefore completely flat as there is no need to allow for rain run off, making for great seating throughout. This marvel of design is primary home to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, with a seating capacity of 72,200 for its loyal fans as well as the vibrant Annual Fiesta Bowl.

2. Be entertained in the Westgate Entertainment District

Westgate Entertainment DistrictSource: Paul McKinnon / shutterstock
Westgate Entertainment District

Westgate Entertainment District can keep you and the family happy and busy all in one go! Besides the gorgeous al fresco setting with its distinctive water aspects, outdoor patios and palm trees, you can find everything here from shops, restaurants and bars to fun outdoor entertainment too, including live music on a Friday and Saturday evening held in the Fountain Park. Convenient as well if you’re here for a game, the Stadium being just a few minutes away!

3. Desert Diamond Arena

Desert Diamond ArenaSource: Keeton Gale / shutterstock
Desert Diamond Arena

This sports and entertainment arena is well known – and loved – for its many advantages, including great signage (very handy for out of towners!), well laid out parking, easy to negotiate seating and friendly, helpful staff. The Arena is used for lacrosse and hockey games and seats up to 17,125 spectators. Just in case you weren’t aware, it is home to the National Hockey League (NHL) team, the Phoenix Coyotes, and was at one time home to the National Lacrosse League (NLL) Arizona Sting team. Sounds to me like a fun opportunity to catch a sporting event for all the family to enjoy, in an awesome location!

4. Drop into Glendale Historic District for some antique shopping

Glendale Historic DistrictSource: Nathan O'Brennan / Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 4.0
Glendale Historic District

There is so much for you and your family to enjoy in the town’s old district. Drop by the historic Old Towne and Catlin Court areas to enjoy a walk through the tree lined well maintained 10 square blocks which are full of antique and gift shops, converted from some of the older historic homes. As you walk past the glowing gaslights you’ll be transported back in time. There are plenty of ethnic eateries to explore too when you want to reenergize yourselves with some delicious food.

5. Thunderbird Conservation Park

Thunderbird Conservation ParkSource: Patrick Lansing / shutterstock
Thunderbird Conservation Park

Living up to its name this 1,185 acre park situated in the Hedgpeth Hills is dedicated to preserving the desert environment, and is named after an early homesteader, Robert Hedgpeth. It’s a perfect attraction for all the family as there are different levels of hiking available, from easy to difficult. If you’re the hardy type, you’ll enjoy climbing to the top from where you’ll be able to view Phoenix, about 30 miles away. There are plenty of opportunities for jogging and bird watching too. Picnic areas and rest rooms are plentiful. Remember to bring water, and hike early morning if you’re planning on doing this during the summer months!

6. Miniature treasures at the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum

Arizona Doll & Toy MuseumSource: Arizona Doll and Toy Museum / Facebook
Arizona Doll & Toy Museum

For doll and toy collectors or simply spectators, a visit to the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum should certainly be on the cards for you and the family. As you wander through the Museum past all the display cases filled with colorful, intricately fashioned dolls and toys, some as old as the 17th century, you’ll be transported back to your childhood, no matter what generation you are! Whether you’re 9 or 90, there will be a toy here for you. Don’t miss the “School Room”, a room reconstructed as part of a school house from days past, as well as the well stocked gift shop filled with dolls, toys and books. The Museum curator is a great fountain of knowledge, too.

7. Let’s play ball – at Camelback Ranch

Camelback RanchSource: Tim Roberts Photography / shutterstock
Camelback Ranch

Arizona State is home to 15 Major League teams who play in the renowned Cactus League every spring, for starters. And if you’re a baseball fan, you probably already know that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox are part of the training mix. Camelback ranch not only offer their fans excellent playing fields and facilities, but is also home to gorgeous manicured grounds, an orange grove and lots of scenic walking trails. There is also a 1,300-foot, 5-acre lake system well stocked with fish that separates the two greats. Enjoy single game, mini plan or full season Spring Training within 118,000 square feet of 13 full baseball fields, three half fields and Major and Minor League clubhouse space.

8. Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve

Deer Valley Petroglyph PreserveSource: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District / Flickr | CC BY-ND
Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve

The Petroglyph Preserve is a great learning experience for all the family. After a short half mile hike next to sign posts detailing the area, you then reach the Preserve itself, and a display of the area’s history together with an in depth, informative explanation and video. Your kids will have the opportunity to discover fascinating items here. Home to over 1500 Native American petroglyphs, there is ample opportunity to explore what happened to the Hohokam people who had lived in the Arizona region so many centuries past, before vanishing for the archaeological records without a trace. The staff and friendly and informative too, and happy to answer any questions.

9. Christmas at Glendale certainly shines at Glendale Glitters

Glendale GlittersSource: Gordon Berezay / shutterstock
Glendale Glitters

Location reviews are not always season specific, but I’m making an exception in this case! If you and your family are visiting Glendale during the Christmas holidays, you are indeed in for a treat! Every Christmas in the Historic Downtown area, 1.5 million lights are put on display throughout sixteen shimmering blocks, making it an awesome show; in fact, this is an award wining festival that was named Critics’ Choice for the Best Kid Event in Arizona in 2012. Not forgetting the hand crafted holiday gifts, shopping, children’s snow field, delicious food and beautifully decorated Christmas tree, this will indeed help make it a holiday to remember, in the shiniest of ways!

10. Drop in to Jimbo’s, where breakfast has never tasted so good!

Scrambled EggsSource: IngridHS / shutterstock
Scrambled Eggs

Bring the kids, relax and watch some football on one of the restaurant’s many TVs and, best of all, enjoy the free breakfast on offer on football Sundays (providing you buy some refreshments while you’re there!). From the outside, Jimbo’s doesn’t look that big but, just like Dr. Who’s Tardis, once you step foot inside you’ll see how much room you have to maneuver!

Friendly waitresses and patrons, and a mouth watering fare of toast, eggs served over easy, scrambled or fried, hash brows, sausages and bacon, make breakfast at Jimbo’s a tasty time for everyone!

11. Xeriscape Botanical Gardens

Xeriscape Botanical GardensSource: Norm Lane / shutterstock
Xeriscape Botanical Gardens

If you’ve ever wanted to know the name of that particular desert plant that’s caught your eye, Xeriscape Botanical Gardens, situated next to the Glendale library, is the perfect place to find out! All the plants in the garden are clearly named, making it an interesting outing for everybody as you learn while you look. There is also an audio tour available that explains a lot, too. And for the kids, plenty of ornately feathered peacocks, cheeky peahens and various other flying residents to keep them amused and interested!

12. For brand names at bargain prices, shop at Tanger Outlets Westgate

Tanger Outlets WestgateSource: JJava Designs / shutterstock
Tanger Outlets Westgate

Not the busiest of outlet malls, but sometimes that’s not such a bad thing as you’ll have more room to quietly take your time hunting for a bargain. And there are usually plenty to be had, too! The mall is nice, clean and modern, and easily accessible with excellent parking. Also, and something to bear in mind, if you’re a AAA/CAA or AARP member, remember to bring your membership card so you can be issued with a free Tanger Coupon Book worth hundreds of dollars in bonus savings. The same, of course, applies to all members of the military.

13. Sahuaro Ranch Park

Sahuaro Ranch ParkSource: Carubery / shutterstock
Sahuaro Ranch Park

One of the most popular of Glendale’s parks where families are able to do a bit of everything! From picnicking under covered Ramadas, playing ball games, playgrounds – including EVOS, a suspended area for ages 5 and older, volleyball courts, soccer fields and even a dog park in which to walk your pooch (the first in the world, by the way!). There are also roaming peacocks and chickens for the little ones’ enjoyment and a fragrant Rose Garden, as well as historic farm family homes to view. And if that wasn’t enough to keep everybody happily occupied, the Aquatics Center is just next door if you fancy a swim or two.

14. Glendale 9 Drive-In Theater

Drive-in TheaterSource: BAZA Production / shutterstock
Drive-in Theater

Take the family to the Drive In Theater for an evening of nostalgia! The Glendale 9 Drive In is one of the few theaters left in the U.S. and a fun chance for the kids to experience an evening sitting “under the stars” while watching a movie or two. And come casual! Dress the kids in their pajamas, carry some home made snacks, relax and enjoy! There is also a snack bar available if you want a bit of variety as well as clean bathrooms and a small playground area.

15. Relax and rejuvenate at Elements Massage

MassageSource: Rido / shutterstock

Perhaps you’ve been rushing around, taking the kids here and there and making sure they’ve been kept busy and amused? If that’s the case, it’s probably time for the adults to award themselves a bit of “me” time! A visit to the Elements Massage is the perfect place to enjoy some pampering. Treatments include hour long massages carried out by their qualified and highly trained massage therapists to help reduce stress and general aches and pains of the day, relief from neck and back pain and a program assisting in increased circulation.

16. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix

Swimming PoolSource: Roman Samborskyi / shutterstock
Swimming Pool

Not only kids will enjoy this water park with its unique, fun attractions. There are a variety of rides available, from kids rides to family rides like the Crazy Cactus Roaring River and thriller rides such as Tornado and Maximum Velocity, with plenty of floats and other water equipment at your disposal. The facilities are clean too, and plenty of nice places to eat and just relax. The park offers both male and female restrooms and changing facilities, cabana rentals, family restrooms, and two tube types available for rent: the Single Rider and the Double Rider. Bet you can’t wait to get wet!

17. Foothills Park

Foothills ParkSource: Norm Lane / shutterstock
Foothills Park

Foothills Park is perfect for the skateboarders of the family as well as having terrific walking and biking paths for those members who aren’t. Tiny family members aren’t forgotten either in the adjacent small park with safe play areas for the little ones. And if the family are in the mood for a picnic, there are a large number of grills and picnic tables available, complete with Ramada. And, for the four legged member of the family there is a dog park featuring grassy areas and even special areas for small dogs as well as an agility course, with plenty of areas offering shade.

18. Tolmachoff Farms

Corn MazeSource: MNStudio / shutterstock
Corn Maze

Pick up a pumpkin at Tolmachoff Farms! Your grandkids will love visiting the Pumpkin Patch and other fun things available for the little ones, from inflatables to slide downs, the corn pit, water trough, petting zoo and plenty of farm animals to see. There is plenty to interest the older members too from tractor rides to a large maze. There is an abundance of fresh produce to purchase year round, such as onions, garlic, corn and tomatoes. Drop in if you’re there at Christmas and pick up a Christmas tree and wreath.

19. Grand Canal Linear Park

Horseback RidingSource: Iancu Cristian / shutterstock
Horseback Riding

This is an unusual park in that it has been laid out in parallel to the Grand Canal, which runs alongside it, so you will find yourself going straight, rather than in circles! In other words, it has made great use of space. The park is roughly three and a half miles of lighted paved trail with lovely landscaping throughout. It is very popular for walkers, bikers as well as horseback riders. It also has a playground that features swings and slides, and the park is fully wheelchair accessible.

20. Glenfair Lanes Bowling and Entertainment

BowlingSource: Aleksandar Karanov / shutterstock

If you’re a league bowler in the family you are going to love Glenfair Lanes, and even if you’re not there is great fun to be had here for all the family. The owners cannot do enough for you and if you are in a league you can receive four free games a week, if you want. There are also monthly and free holiday tournaments for all league bowlers. Or you can purchase a family fun package which gives you two hours of unlimited bowling, a large pitcher of soda and a large cheese pizza, all at a very reasonable price.

21. A comfortable seat everywhere in the house, at AMC Arrowhead 14

Movie TheaterSource: photastic / shutterstock
Movie Theater

This cinema house has had a major work over, and it shows! With its new refurbished seats – now all upholstered in luxurious red leather recliners, with clean and comfortable adjustor controls, you will feel as if you were in the comfort of your own home, or even a hotel! There are touch screen coca cola machines dispensing a variety of flavors, as well as advance seat booking. It is also in a good location, at Arrowhead Mall, so there is time to shop before you stop in for the movie!

22. A Touch of European Café

Kielbasa SausageSource: Lukasz Engel / shutterstock
Kielbasa Sausage

If you’re in the mood for a different type of cuisine, visit A Touch of European Café, which does what it says! This is an authentic Polish restaurant and well known for its delicious and also abundant food! You might be tempted to try the kielbasa sandwich with coleslaw, or be encouraged to sample some soup, to get an idea of their delicious taste. (You can even take one home for later, if you want). The restaurant is a real family affair, with the husband as cook and his wife serving. Finish off a delectable meal with a portion of baklava, and you’ll be arranging your next visit in no time!

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Glendale, Arizona (AZ)
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25 Best Things To Do In Glendale (AZ):

  • State Farm Stadium
  • Be entertained in the Westgate Entertainment District
  • Desert Diamond Arena
  • Drop into Glendale Historic District for some antique shopping
  • Thunderbird Conservation Park
  • Miniature treasures at the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum
  • Let’s play ball - at Camelback Ranch
  • Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve
  • Christmas at Glendale certainly shines at Glendale Glitters
  • Drop in to Jimbo’s, where breakfast has never tasted so good!
  • Xeriscape Botanical Gardens
  • For brand names at bargain prices, shop at Tanger Outlets Westgate
  • Sahuaro Ranch Park
  • Glendale 9 Drive-In Theater
  • Relax and rejuvenate at Elements Massage
  • Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix
  • Foothills Park
  • Tolmachoff Farms
  • Grand Canal Linear Park
  • Glenfair Lanes Bowling and Entertainment
  • A comfortable seat everywhere in the house, at AMC Arrowhead 14
  • A Touch of European Café