Best Free Things To Do and See in Greater Phoenix
Drive the Apache Trail
A drive on the Apache Trail is one of the most scenic drives near the Phoenix area. This well-traveled road affords visitors an incredible view of canyons, geologic formations, desert plants and trees, desert and lake views, and wildflowers in season. Best time to do it: when it isn’t raining or very windy, probably not on the hottest days of the year unless you have a lot of confidence in your car’s maintenance and you don’t mind getting out for the scenic stops.
Visit a Museum
We have quite a variety of museums that offer free admission, some of which are free all the time and some that have special days of the week or the month where you are welcome to visit without paying an admission charge.
Best time to do it: all year long. It’s indoors and air conditioned.
Get Wet – Splashing and Swimming
Splash pads and splash parks are popping up all over the metro Phoenix area. With 5 months of summer, it’s no wonder that splash playgrounds are one of the most requested amenities of the various Parks and Recreation Departments around the Valley of the Sun. The public swimming pools usually charge a nominal charge to get in, less than two bucks. Some of these pools have great features, like waves and slides.
Best time to do it: May through September
See Art Galleries and Art Spaces in Downtown Phoenix on First Friday
Open studios tours are a good way to experience art and artists. Every first Friday evening of each month you can take a free self-guided tour of downtown Phoenix galleries, studios and art spaces. Best time to do it: any first Friday of the month when being outdoors in the evening is pleasant enough to walk around.
Stroll the Scottsdale Art Walk
Every Thursday night, every night of the year (except Thanksgiving), for the past 30 years, many of the more than 100 art galleries in downtown Scottsdale have opened their doors to art lovers, art lover wannabes and people watchers during Scottsdale ArtWalk. See the video! Best time to do it: any Thursday (except Thanksgiving) when being outdoors in the evening is pleasant enough to walk around.
Climb Camelback Mountain
Hiking is a popular activity here, and there are plenty of places where you can do it for free. One of them is right in the middle of Phoenix. Surrounded by freeways, and neighborhoods and resorts you will find Camelback Mountain, one of the most popular destinations for a hike in Phoenix. looking for something a bit easier where you can take the kids? Waterfall Trail on the west side of town is my favorite.
Get a Culture Pass
The Culture Pass is available to check out at your library branches in Cave Creek, Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and ASU libraries. Each library has a limited number of passes available. The passes are good for free admission for 2 people to the following venues: Arizona Historical Society, Arizona Museum of Natural History, Arizona Science Center, Cave Creek Museum, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Deer Valley Rock Art Center, Desert Botanical Garden, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Zoo, Pueblo Grande Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Certain restrictions may apply. Best time to do it: check the library in the morning when the expired passes are restocked for checkout.
Hike, Bike or Drive Up South Mountain
South Mountain Park has been mentioned as the largest city park in the world. At nearly 17,000 acres it certainly covers a lot of ground, although it isn’t a park in the sense of grass, and playgrounds, and lakes, and ducks, as one might think. South Mountain Park is a desert mountain preserve.
Take a Tour of PING
I couldn’t find one free golf course in the Phoenix area, but I know about the next best thing! You might not know it by the name Karsten Manufacturing, but PING Golf is the name by which Karsten Manufacturing Corporation is known worldwide. You can take a tour of the manufacturing facility and see how PING golf clubs are made. Best time to do it: Most of the tour is indoors. During the busy season (October through April) they are often booked months in advance. Reservations are required.
Take a Trolley Tour of Downtown Scottsdale
You can take a free guided trolley tour of downtown Scottsdale, Arizona. The Scottsdale Trolley Tour introduces you to downtown Scottsdale districts, history and trivia.
Visit a Riparian Habitat
Several riparian areas are found in the Greater Phoenix area. Aside from their role in helping to maintain ecological balance in an area, they are great places for the public to learn about the area’s environment plants and wildlife, watch birds, picnic and otherwise enjoy nature. These are open to the public at no charge for jogging, walking and self-guided bird-watching. Best time to do it: Anytime it isn’t too hot. Check official web sites for occasional free programs.
- Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert
- Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project in Phoenix
- Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler