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5 Great Things to Do In & Near Phoenix That Don’t Involve Golf

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March is prime time for trips to the Phoenix – Scottsdale area of Arizona. Families, couples, singles – everyone wants a dose of sunshine.

But what can you do if you’re not into playing  golf on one of the more than 200 golf courses that dot the area?

Plenty!!

Here’s my list of five great things to do if and near Phoenix or Scottsdale that don’t involve golf – or tennis for that matter.

Hiking

  • The hiking is excellent in and around Phoenix. Try the popular Piestewa Peak hike (formerly Squaw Peak) – an outdoor version of the Stairmaster. The most popular route is the Summit Trail – which takes you roughly 1.2 miles to the top. But it gets busy – very BUSY. The other option is the Circumference Trail. It’s 3.5 miles long and doesn’t see nearly the traffic of the Summit Trail.
  • Another classic hike is the one up Camelback Mountain. You can choose the 2.2 mile Echo Canyon Route or the 2.8 mile Cholla Lane route. Be prepared for some steep hiking – but you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of Phoenix.
"Aerial view of Camelback Mountain"

Aerial view of Camelback Mountain

  • Head out of town to the Superstition Mountains. There are lots of trails to choose from, and a choice of access points. Try one of the trails out of Lost Dutchmen State Park, just 40 miles east of Phoenix.

Botanical Gardens

  • Look for over 50,000 plants in the Desert Botanical Gardens. Spring is a particularly beautiful time to visit with many plants coming into bloom. There’s also a “Music in the Garden” series on Friday nights from early March through until June, though you can’t bring the kids.

Drive the Apache Trail

  • I discovered this remarkable drive on my recent visit to Phoenix.  Jaw dropping scenery begins at the Theodore Roosevelt Dam, at the junction of Highway 88 and 188, and ends just outside of Apache Junction, though you could continue all the way to Globe. The Apache Trail is mostly a dirt road, often narrow, and not a place you want to be caught with an RV. In fact they’re prohibited. Take water and a lunch – though you can get something to eat in Tortilla Flats – and plan on lots of stops so you can really enjoy the scenery.
"Beautiful scenery along the Apache Trail"

Beautiful scenery along the Apache Trail

Visit Museums

  • The Phoenix Art Museum, a world class museum, boasts over 18,000 works of art from many genres including American, Asian, European, Western American and Modern. They have also, along with the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, have established a photography exhibit with over 80,000 photographs representing 2,000 photographers.
  • The Heard Museum is the place to go if you are interested in American Indian art and history. Exhibits change frequently.
  • The Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, a National Historic Landmark, is a prehistoric Hohokam Indian village site that was occupied between 100 and 1450 AD. The ruin is located at 4619 East Washington Street in Phoenix. You’ll need to pay a fee before you walk the self guided trail to the ruins.

 Architecture Tours

  • Take an architecture tour of Taliesin West in Scottsdale – Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio and architectural campus. Or visit The Hotel Valley Ho – one of the best known mid century hotels in the US. Other area tours will educate you about sustainable architecture in the southwest or designing with solar. If you have time, an interesting place to visit is Cosanti, the gallery, studio and residence of Paolo Soleri, out in Paradise Valley. You’ll find bronze and ceramics windbells and depending on the time of year, you might be able to watch a bell being poured.
Of course you van always enjoy wonderful spa treatments, excellent shopping and fine dining in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
But is there something else you think every visitor to Phoenix or Scottsdale should enjoy? Or is there a restaurant worth trying??
Leigh McAdam

HikeBikeTravel

Photo credit: Camelback Mountain

Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

More posts by Hike Bike Travel

Join the discussion 28 Comments

  • Great list…although as a golfer, I have all the reason I need to visit:)

    • @D.J.You get the best of all worlds then. When I wrote this blog I was thinking of the people that come to Phoenix on a business trip but don’t know that there’s so much to do aside from golf. I was also thinking of families on spring breaks who might be staying at resorts but still wanted to get out and see the area. Hopefully I’ve given people a few new ideas.

  • Great list…although as a golfer, I have all the reason I need to visit:)

    • @D.J.You get the best of all worlds then. When I wrote this blog I was thinking of the people that come to Phoenix on a business trip but don’t know that there’s so much to do aside from golf. I was also thinking of families on spring breaks who might be staying at resorts but still wanted to get out and see the area. Hopefully I’ve given people a few new ideas.

  • jade says:

    Haha- love the title of this post! I think I would really enjoy all the hiking and walking around the area.

  • jade says:

    Haha- love the title of this post! I think I would really enjoy all the hiking and walking around the area.

  • David says:

    Great ideas! Love that picture of the Apache Trail! Another great thing to do now that is it warming up is go stand up paddle boarding! People can get paddle boarding lessons and rent equipment in the Pleasant Harbor Marina.

  • David says:

    Great ideas! Love that picture of the Apache Trail! Another great thing to do now that is it warming up is go stand up paddle boarding! People can get paddle boarding lessons and rent equipment in the Pleasant Harbor Marina.

  • Sabrina says:

    Ooooh, I want sun! And the idea of spending an evening in a Botanical Garden with music is really, really great!

  • Sabrina says:

    Ooooh, I want sun! And the idea of spending an evening in a Botanical Garden with music is really, really great!

  • I lived in Arizona for 7 years and never hiked Camelback. All the talk of how steep it was scared me ;)

  • I lived in Arizona for 7 years and never hiked Camelback. All the talk of how steep it was scared me ;)

  • Wonderful suggestions. It’s funny that so many people do think that Phoenix = golf period. Not true as you’ve shown. Love the view of Camelback Mountain — it’s one of my favorite sights there.

  • Wonderful suggestions. It’s funny that so many people do think that Phoenix = golf period. Not true as you’ve shown. Love the view of Camelback Mountain — it’s one of my favorite sights there.

  • Pauline says:

    Hi! OMG! I’ve been looking for an article like this one forever, I’m traveling to Arizona and staying there for a while..
    This all look like great options!

    Is downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale fun? I heard about first Friday in downtown Phoenix is it worth it??

    Plus I haven’t been to the Scottsdale Quarter I heard there’s a ton of cool stores and restaurants.

    I’ll make my reservation in Scottsdale next week. I’m looking for a place that I can walk to bars or restaurants.

    Thanks for shearing.

  • Pauline says:

    Hi! OMG! I’ve been looking for an article like this one forever, I’m traveling to Arizona and staying there for a while..
    This all look like great options!

    Is downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale fun? I heard about first Friday in downtown Phoenix is it worth it??

    Plus I haven’t been to the Scottsdale Quarter I heard there’s a ton of cool stores and restaurants.

    I’ll make my reservation in Scottsdale next week. I’m looking for a place that I can walk to bars or restaurants.

    Thanks for shearing.

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