Plan your adventures in the Valley of the Sun with Casago’s guide to the best places to visit in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Read up on some of the finest places to dine, where to indulge in late-night revelry, and which attractions and sightseeing opportunities you won’t want to miss.
Phoenix has nearly everything to offer, with three towns (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe) all practically on top of each other. Each part is known for different things. For example, you’re going to want to shop in Scottsdale, then party in Tempe. Check out the sights in Phoenix, or catch a spring training game in Mesa.
Learn more about the fun and adventurous places to visit in the Phoenix & Scottsdale area.
Phoenix Sights & Landmarks
Natural wonders abound in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. Discover some of the most popular sights and family-friendly attractions that promise to engage and delight.
Desert Botanical Garden
Situated just outside of Scottsdale, the Desert Botanical Garden makes for a peaceful afternoon outing. Visitors are invited to wander the trails at their leisure, learning about the diverse array of desert plant life from around the world. From October through May there are Garden Discovery Stations manned by docents who provide information about mesquite, cacti, agave, and other horticultural topics. Guided tours and behind-the-scene tours are also available. Hours vary by season.
A vacation to Phoenix just isn’t complete without a trip to the local zoo – especially if you’re trying to keep small children entertained. The Phoenix Zoo hosts more than 3,000 animals—many of which are critically endangered in the wild. Enjoy some face time with African lions, baboons, ostriches, giraffes and warthogs, and be sure to visit the Red Barn at Harmony Farm where playful goats are waiting to be fed and petted. Camel rides are one of the most popular activities at the Phoenix Zoo. Children under 3 enter free!
For a day of free outdoor adventure, grab your water bottle and head up to Camelback Mountain, Phoenix’s highest summit. The peak, towering more than 2,700 feet high, promises magnificent views and is well worth the steep 3-hour hike.
Restaurants in Phoenix
The Phoenix-Scottsdale area is a veritable melting pot of cuisine and culture. The restaurant scene boasts a slew of talented chefs who continue to push the envelope with award-winning fare. Whether you are craving elegant Spanish tapas, American classics, Japanese-fusion or authentic Mexican, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Here are three of our top restaurant picks in Phoenix.
The Arrogant Butcher
This upscale establishment, located on Jefferson Street, is a great place to rub elbows with Arizona’s business elite and top politicians. Expect a lively crowd, Happy Hour specials, and hearty portions. The big menu features juicy steaks, charcuterie and cheese platters, seafood dishes, plus a nice wine selection and premium cocktails. Their homemade soft pretzels (served with creamy provolone fondue) are amazing!
The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub
This classic Irish pub in downtown Phoenix is the perfect choice when you want some comfort food accompanied by a tall Guinness. Open for lunch and dinner, the Kettle Black is perhaps best known for their monster burgers and mouthwatering sandwiches, and heaping baskets of fish and chips. There are also salads and savory appetizers like kettle wings, crab cakes, steamed mussels and Philly cheesesteak fries. You’ll find a well-rounded beer and cocktail menu, friendly service and very reasonable prices.
Little Miss BBQ
Barbeque fans recognize the real thing when they taste it, which is why Little Miss BBQ has such a strong following in Phoenix. This cafeteria-style eatery has a distinct retro-vibe and is a favorite among locals for its melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork and brisket. The pork ribs are so tender and flavorful, you’ll forgive the fact that you had to wait in line. This BBQ joint is always busy, but the wait staff are super-friendly and provide water misters to help cool you off during the hotter summer months. Tip: don’t leave without trying their jalapeño cheddar grits and a bite of their smoked pecan pie.
Phoenix and its surroundings boast a vibrant nightlife, with dance clubs, cocktail lounges, pubs, swanky wine bars and other venues to relax and mingle, or enjoy some live music.
For an interactive nightlife experience, head to Gypsy Bar at Cityscape in downtown Phoenix. With more than 10,000 square feet, this lounge offers three separate zones to chill out and have fun: a dance floor, the bar area, and a fully-loaded game lounge with 40 full-size arcade games. Get into the groove on a raised dance floor energized by hazer machines and confetti cannons. Gypsy Bar features GoGo dancers, light shows, top DJ’s and live music. If you want to bowl a few games, Lucky Strike bowling alley is right next door, connected to Gypsy Bar.
The SideBar is one of Phoenix’s trendiest lounges, featuring spectacular views of the downtown skyline, an intimate atmosphere and a full bar with over 250 liquors to engage the senses. If hand-crafted cocktails aren’t your thing, there’s an extensive beer and wine menu as well. They also make wonderful pizzas, flatbreads and warm appetizers. This cocktail lounge has a relaxed upscale vibe, contemporary décor, and makes for a fun place to start the evening.
Located on East Washington Street, this downtown hotspot is the place to go if you like techno/EDM and house music. Bar Smith has two floors, several VIP areas and some of the tastiest artisan cocktails in Phoenix. There’s a rooftop lounge/dance floor that has awesome views of the city, and plenty of soft couches to recline on when you need to rest or just people watch. The dance floors can get a little cramped, but there are nightly drink specials and the DJs can’t be beat.