Downtown Phoenix: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Heading to the Valley of the Sun and wondering where to begin your adventure? Make your way to Downtown Phoenix, where the heart of the city beats with vibrant energy and a rich tapestry of culture and history.

Known for its thriving arts scene, this urban hub is home to world-class museums, theaters, and galleries. Discover the beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, where arid landscapes bloom with life, or immerse yourself in the world of science at the Arizona Science Center.

As you explore Downtown Phoenix, you’ll encounter awe-inspiring street art, eclectic eateries, and a lively nightlife scene. Shop until you drop at CityScape Phoenix, and don’t miss Roosevelt Row, a creative district filled with boutiques, cafés, and local artistry.

Whether you’re here to soak up the sun or explore the city’s diverse cultural offerings, Downtown Phoenix has something for everyone to enjoy. Excited to start exploring? Start planning your adventures with this comprehensive guide about what to see and do + where to eat, drink & stay!

Why Treksplorer? Founded in 2011 by Ryan O’Rourke, Treksplorer provides travel recommendations and advice to millions of readers every year. Our content is rooted in our writers’ firsthand experiences, in-depth research, and/or collaborations with other experts and locals. Read more about our editorial policy.

What to see & do

Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Traveling with kids? Visiting the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is a must! This vibrant and interactive space is designed to ignite the imagination of young minds and promises hours of fun for the whole family.

Established in 2008, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix occupies a historic Monroe School building on North 7th Street, bringing together the magic of play and education. Explore three floors of interactive exhibits designed to engage young minds and bodies. From art studios to climbing structures, each space offers a unique adventure in learning.

Dive into a forest made of pool noodles, where you can build, create, and let your imagination run wild. Hop on kid-sized tricycles and pedal through the museum’s unique Pedal Power exhibit, learning about simple machines and physics along the way.

Children's Museum of Phoenix

Unleash your inner artist in the museum’s art studio. Create masterpieces using a variety of materials, and let your creativity soar. Engage in hands-on construction activities, building structures, and experimenting with architecture and engineering concepts.

While outside food isn’t allowed, there’s a café on-site where you can grab a bite. Plan for a mid-visit snack to keep energy levels up.

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Escape the urban bustle and surround yourself in the tranquil beauty of the Japanese Friendship Garden. The garden is a serene retreat that symbolizes the enduring friendship between Phoenix and its sister city, Himeji, Japan. Renowned Japanese landscape architect Mr. Yutaka Kobayashi crafted the garden’s design and elements.

Stroll along the garden’s winding paths and pause at the picturesque koi pond. Colorful koi fish glide gracefully beneath the reflection of towering bamboo and vibrant cherry blossoms. Admire the graceful architecture of the tea house and its surrounding gardens. While the tea house may not always be open, its presence adds an authentic touch to the garden’s ambiance.

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Savor moments of tranquility as you explore the Japanese Friendship Garden’s serene pathways. It’s ideal for mindful walking, meditation, or simply finding solace in nature’s embrace. Keep an eye on the garden’s calendar for cultural events, tea ceremonies, and workshops that provide insights into Japanese traditions and arts.

If you want to witness the spectacular cherry blossoms in full bloom, plan your visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden from late February to early March, when the garden blossoms into life with vibrant pink hues.

Arizona Science Center

Embark on an exciting adventure through the wonders of science, technology, and innovation at the Arizona Science Center. Standing on E. Washington Street, the center is a beacon of knowledge and inspiration and one of the must-see Phoenix museums.

Established in 1980, the Arizona Science Center has evolved into a dynamic hub where science comes alive, offering captivating exhibits, immersive experiences, and educational opportunities for all ages. Immerse yourself in the mysteries of the universe at the center’s state-of-the-art planetarium. From exploring distant galaxies to understanding our solar system, it’s an astronomical journey like no other.

Arizona Science Center

Explore interactive exhibits that span the realms of biology, physics, engineering, and more. Whether you’re dissecting a virtual frog or experimenting with electricity, it’s a playground of scientific discovery. Don’t miss the live science demonstrations and shows that reveal the wonders of chemical reactions, physics principles, and the magic of science.

Check the schedule for fascinating shows about our solar system and beyond at the Dorrance Planetarium.

Chase Field

Catch the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team in action on their home ground at Chase Field. Follow the fans down to East Jefferson Street to the stadium for an unforgettable day of baseball, camaraderie, and the thrill of the game.

Chase Field is renowned for its innovative design and engineering. A retractable roof can transform from an open-air stadium to an indoor arena in minutes. Discover the inner workings of Chase Field with a guided stadium tour.

Chase Field

Explore the dugout, locker rooms, and the swimming pool in the outfield. Known as the ‘Chase Field Pool,’ it’s the place to be for groups and special events! Inside the stadium, you’ll find interactive displays and exhibits that celebrate the Diamondbacks’ achievements and the history of baseball.

Chase Field stadium is adorned with memorabilia and displays celebrating the Arizona Diamondbacks’ achievements and milestones. As you explore the concourses, you’ll find plaques, statues, and exhibits that pay homage to the team’s history, including their World Series victory in 2001.

Surrounding the stadium, the Legends Entertainment District is brimming with restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, making it the perfect pre-game and post-game destination.

CityScape Phoenix

Dive into Downtown Phoenix’s vibrant scene at CityScape Phoenix, a lively destination where dining, entertainment, and culture come together. This dynamic hub of activity in the heart of the city is one of the most popular places to visit in Phoenix for locals and visitors alike.

Explore the shops and boutiques scattered throughout CityScape. From fashion to unique gifts, there’s plenty to discover. Stroll through the district and admire the street art and public sculptures that add character to the area. You’ll find plenty of Instagram-worthy spots.

CityScape Phoenix

CityScape boasts diverse dining options, from gourmet restaurants to casual eateries. You can savor cuisine from around the world, from sushi to barbecue to artisanal pizza. The district has entertainment venues such as Copper Blues Live, which hosts live music performances, and Stand Up Live for comedy shows. Check the calendar for upcoming events.

If you’re an art enthusiast, consider joining a guided art walk or exploring the district’s art installations and appreciating the local creative scene.

Phoenix Symphony Hall

Lose yourself in a world of classical music, enchanting melodies, and world-class performances at Phoenix Symphony Hall. This cultural cornerstone of Arizona’s capital city is celebrated for its exceptional acoustics and hosting a diverse range of musical performances.

Founded in 1972, Phoenix Symphony Hall has been a cornerstone of the city’s cultural scene for decades. Its distinctive architecture and stellar acoustics make it a premier venue for musical performances, from classical symphonies to contemporary concerts.

The hall is home to the Phoenix Symphony, celebrated for its mastery of classical and contemporary compositions. From Beethoven to John Williams, their repertoire is diverse and enthralling.

While classical music is at the heart of Symphony Hall’s repertoire, the venue also hosts various musical genres and performances. From jazz and Broadway to rock and contemporary music, the hall hosts multiple guest artists and performers throughout the year.

Before the performance or during intermission, explore the art galleries and exhibitions within the Symphony Hall featuring local and international artists.

Heritage & Science Park/Historic Heritage Square

Delve into the rich heritage of Phoenix at Historic Heritage Square, where history comes alive amidst a vibrant urban landscape. Home to a collection of beautifully preserved historic buildings that provide a window into the city’s past, the square is a testament to its commitment to preserving its cultural heritage.

Heritage & Science Park/Historic Heritage Square

Historic Heritage Square is part of the Heritage & Science Park, which includes other historic structures and gardens. Explore the Rosson House Museum, a meticulously restored 1895 Queen Anne Victorian mansion. Take a guided tour of this historic gem to gain deeper insights into its history and architectural significance and get a glimpse into the life of early Phoenix residents.

Enjoy leisurely walks through the park, admire the Victorian-era gardens, and appreciate the historic architecture surrounding you.

Arizona Financial Theatre

Embark on a unique journey into economics and finance at the Arizona Financial Theatre. This one-of-a-kind destination sees complex financial concepts take center stage in an accessible and engaging manner.

Located on North Central Avenue, the Arizona Financial Theatre is a modern facility that is pivotal in promoting financial literacy and education in the region. Explore a range of interactive exhibits that break down complex financial topics into easily digestible concepts. From understanding stock markets to exploring the principles of personal finance, these exhibits offer practical knowledge for all ages.

The theatre regularly hosts financial workshops and seminars conducted by experts. These sessions provide in-depth insights into investment strategies, retirement planning, and economic trends.

Engage in hands-on financial simulations that allow you to make decisions and see their impact on various financial scenarios. It’s a fun and enlightening way to learn about economic principles.

Where to eat & drink

Downtown Phoenix is a rising star in the culinary world, offering a diverse range of dining and drinking experiences that cater to every palate. Whether you’re in the mood for classic American comfort food, international flavors, or craft cocktails, this vibrant downtown area has you covered.

Cornish Pasty Co. is a cozy British-inspired pub renowned for its delicious pasties – savory hand pies stuffed with mouthwatering fillings. They serve these delicious pasties – like savory hand pies – stuffed with all sorts of tasty fillings. Try the classic beef and veggie pasty or venture into exciting options like the Mexican pasty. Don’t miss their craft beer selection, which pairs perfectly with these tasty pasties.

Situated in a historic building on Washington Street, Chico Malo is a vibrant spot that combines Mexican street food with a modern twist. Expect a lively atmosphere and a menu featuring tacos, ceviche, and inventive cocktails. The rooftop patio offers fantastic downtown views, making it an ideal spot for sunset. Order the signature Chico Margarita for a refreshing kick!

You’ll find The Arrogant Butcher right across from Talking Stick Resort Arena. It’s a sleek and stylish steakhouse with a twist. While they excel in steaks and chops, they also serve delicious seafood and sandwiches. The contemporary ambiance makes it great for a special night out. Start with the deviled eggs, and you won’t be disappointed.

Restaurant in Downtown

Hanny’s is a blast from the past! Housed in a meticulously restored mid-century department store building, Hanny’s exudes vintage charm. Classy and chic décor create an elegant ambiance, and the stylish rooftop lounge adds to the allure. They fire up wood-fired pizzas, shake up fantastic signature cocktails, and offer a killer wine list.

Head to the Evans Churchill neighborhood to find The Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub. It’s a friendly spot with American comfort food that’s got a little something extra. Burgers, salads, you name it. Plus, they’ve got daily happy hour specials—perfect for grabbing some drinks and bites without breaking the bank.

If you’re near the ASU downtown campus, drop by The Vig Fillmore. It’s a cool sports bar with a massive outdoor patio. Burgers, tacos, and craft cocktails are all on the menu. Whether you’re here to watch a game or just chill, you’ll have a fun time. (And their Vig Bacon Bloody Mary is something special!)

Right on Central Avenue downtown, Phoenix Valley Bar is a trendy spot known for live music, creative cocktails, and a relaxed underground vibe. The bar mixes up some wild cocktails and has small bites to keep you fueled. Keep an eye out for live music and comedy nights. And if you’re feeling adventurous, check out the Rose Room – it’s a hidden gem!

Tucked away in the historic Luhrs Building on Jefferson Street, Bitter & Twisted is an award-winning cocktail joint. They take their cocktails seriously here, crafting some real masterpieces. The place oozes style, making it the perfect spot for a fancy night out. Be sure to try one of their seasonal cocktails. Make a reservation because it gets busy.

Where to stay

As the heart of the city, Downtown is one of the coolest neighborhoods to stay in Phoenix. The area boasts plenty of great accommodations, including many of the city’s top-rated hotels. 

Cambria Hotel Downtown

Cambria Hotel Downtown Phoenix

Right in the heart of the heart, Cambria Hotel Downtown Phoenix is your perfect hub for exploring the city’s vibrant scene. Choose from comfy and chic rooms and suites designed to make your stay cozy and stylish. You’ll love the rooftop pool with its Instagram-worthy city views, the fitness center, and the delicious on-site dining options. Plus, stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi. Check out the rooftop bar for a refreshing drink with panoramic views of Phoenix.

Hyatt Place Phoenix/Downtown

Hyatt Place Phoenix/Downtown

Located within a stone’s throw of the baseball action at Chase Field, Hyatt Place Phoenix/Downtown offers spacious guestrooms with a separate living area, comfy beds, and all the modern conveniences. Get your workout at the 24/7 gym, dip in the outdoor pool, and savor sips at the coffee-to-cocktails bar. Wander to Heritage Square nearby for a dose of Phoenix’s history and make the most of the hotel’s free shuttle service within a three-mile radius.

Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix Downtown

Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix Downtown

Expect cozy guestrooms and roomy suites, all equipped with modern amenities for a comfy stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix Downtown. Rise and shine with a complimentary hot breakfast, cool off in the outdoor pool, stay fit at the gym, and surf the web with free Wi-Fi. The hotel is a short stroll away from attractions like Talking Stick Resort Arena and the Phoenix Art Museum.

AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Downtown

AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Downtown

The AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Downtown is your gateway to all the city’s cultural and entertainment hotspots. The hotel rocks sleek rooms and suites with modern design, top-notch bedding, and all the tech goodies you need. Kickstart your day with a European-style breakfast, unwind at the rooftop pool and bar, hit the gym around the clock, and stay connected with free Wi-Fi. Head up to the rooftop bar for a chic setting and incredible city views, especially at sunset. Perfect for those evening cocktails.

The Westin Phoenix Downtown

The Westin Phoenix Downtown

Elegant guestrooms and suites boast famous Westin Heavenly Beds, contemporary amenities, and scenic city vistas at the Western Phoenix Downtown. Unwind with a dip in the rooftop pool, hit the 24-hour fitness studio, dine in style on-site, and enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi.

Treksplorer

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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