From breathtaking hiking trails to artsy hidden gems, here’s the perfect weekend in Phoenix itinerary to plan an incredible getaway.
With its desert landscapes, vibrant art scene and incredible hiking trails, Phoenix is a Southwestern gem that makes the perfect weekend getaway.
Phoenix has nearly year-round sunshine, golf courses and luxurious resorts that make it a popular winter getaway for snowbirds from colder climes.
It also boasts the historic art districts, museums and Mexican and Native influences that are must-sees for culture lovers.
I’ve called Phoenix home for over a decade and it keeps surprising me with each visit.
And it’s really booming these days. Phoenix has come such a long way from the cowboy cliches and retirement centers it was known for in the 90s.
These days Phoenix has bustling art galleries, downtown eateries and a great foodie scene from street tacos to fine dining.
So where do you begin your perfect Phoenix weekend getaway?
Here’s my ultimate local’s guide to the best Phoenix has to offer.
It’s based on my years of experience living in the city – and it’s grouped by location for easy sightseeing:
Weekend in Phoenix itinerary
day 1: artsy Scottsdale and desert gardens
MORNING: Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix | On Google Maps | Tickets: $20
Start your day at the Musical Instrument Museum and its fascinating collection of 15,000 instruments from some 200 countries.
From folk and tribal music to exhibits on Elvis Presley and Taylor Swift, this sweeping museum is ranked as Phoenix’s #1 attraction.
Exhibits for each country include videos of local musicians playing the instruments – and GPS-activated headphones you get on arrival to hear their performances. It’s an amazing full sensory experience.
Don’t miss the Experience Gallery where you can touch and play an array of instruments yourself. Grab a Peruvian harp or a gong to create some unique sounds from around the world.
Finish your visit with a snack at the delicious Cafe Allegro. And stop by the gift shop for some unique Phoenix souvenirs.
AFTERNOON: Taliesin West
12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale | On Google Maps | Tickets: $39-49
This architectural masterpiece was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio in the Sonoran desert. And it’s a stunning example of his brand of modern organic architecture.
Today the former home of the master architect is open for tours as a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And it’s an absolute must-see for any architecture and arts lover.
The home blends seamlessly into the rugged landscape. And it showcases Frank Lloyd Wright’s concept of architecture in balance with the local environment.
Insider’s tip: Don’t miss the incredible gift shop filled with unique items – from Art Deco inspired throws and jewelry to lasercut wood lanterns.
Inside Taliesin West is filled with mid-century furniture, gorgeous art and ingenious design that offers surprising twists around every corner. You’ll definitely leave feeling inspired.
Take a self-guided audio tour (1 hour) or join a more in-depth guided tour with an expert guide (1 hour and a half), which I’d recommend.
LATE AFTERNOON: Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix | On Google Maps | Tickets: $30
This 140-acre botanical garden features 50,000 different plants – including native and endangered plants from around the world.
You’ll be amazed at how much can bloom and thrive in the desert.
Wander the grounds to explore indigenous plants and Arizona’s stunning variety of cacti.
And don’t miss the Butterfly Pavilion and its thousands of live butterflies in a 3,200-square-foot open air enclosure.
EVENING: Papago Park (optional)
625 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix | On Google Maps | Free
Catch the sunset at Papago Park at its famous Hole in the Rock, just next door to the Desert Botanical Garden.
The Hole in the Rock is one of the best spots in Phoenix to catch the sunset. And it offers sweeping views of the desert landscapes and downtown.
Visit at golden hour when the otherworldly red butte formations take on a magical glow that’s perfect for landscape photographers. Crowds always gather at the spot in anticipation of that moment.
The hike to the Hole in the Rock is pretty easy.
But remember that the park closes daily at 7 pm so plan about an hour for your visit.
LATE EVENING: Old Town Scottsdale
On Google Maps | Free
Finish off your day with dinner in Old Town Scottsdale and give your sightseeing feet a break with a leisurely meal at one of old town’s cozy eateries.
Old Town Scottsdale is a charming cluster of tree-lined streets filled with boutiques, restaurants and galleries – all with a Southwestern flair.
Before dinner, browse through cowboy boots, turquoise Native American jewelry, Mexican blankets and prickly pear jam in this Old West-themed district.
And don’t miss the fine art galleries with works from an array of local artists.
End your day with dinner at one of Scottsdale’s lively local restaurants.
- Salty Senorita (above) for Mexican classics and some great margaritas in a colorful setting with a large, lively patio.
- The Sugar Bowl (opened in 1958) for an authentic 1950s soda fountain and a nearly unchanged menu of American favorites like meat loaf and tuna melts .
- Grimaldi’s for their legendary pizza, charming outdoor patio, a full bar and a main dining room where you can watch the chefs toss the dough.
Weekend in Phoenix itinerary day 2: desert hikes and downtown
MORNING: Camelback Mountain
5150 N Invergordon Rd, Paradise Valley | On Google Maps | Free
Start your day early with a morning hike at Camelback Mountain and its iconic silhouette that towers over the city.
Get there early to score some parking, beat the crowds and avoid that hot Arizona sun.
Take the Echo Canyon Trail for a more intensive hike that includes some steep mountain faces. The 2.5-mile out and back hike rewards you with glorious views over the city.
Or opt for the milder Cholla Trail that’s accessible for hikers of all levels. This trail is around 2.6 miles out and back with a more gradual incline.
AFTERNOON: Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix | On Google Maps | Tickets: $23
The Phoenix Art Museum has a three-floor collection of masterpieces including Monet and Delacroix.
And there’s some great cutting-edge modern art along with indigenous, Mexican and Southwestern influences.
If you think Arizona’s landscapes are picturesque, you’ll love the museum’s vibrant collection of paintings of Native Americans, cowboys and classic scenes of the Southwest.
The art here dates from the early 19th century to the 21st century.
It’s an eclectic collection from John Mix Stanley’s classic realist landscapes to Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s bronze statues of Native Americans.
And don’t miss the Firefly Infinity Mirror Room, a maze of LED lights in an enormous room lined with wall-to-wall mirrors.
The room offers a surreal experience as you’re fully immersed in a floating galaxy that seems limitless.
LATE AFTERNOON: Heritage Square
113 N 6th St, Phoenix | On Google Maps | Free
Head to this charming historic square lined with Victorian homes that form the last remaining block of the original town of Phoenix.
Dating to the late 1800s, Heritage Square includes a slew of restaurants and quaint shops that tell the story of Arizona life before statehood.
Don’t miss the 1895 Rosson House (aka Mayoral House) for an authentic look at the daily life of the era.
The house is complete with period furniture and household items. And it still boasts its original parquet wood floors, kitchen sink and Queen Anne-style wooden staircase.
Browse the Victorian gift shop and finish with lunch at award-winning Pizzeria Bianco.
EVENING: Roosevelt Row
918 N 2nd St, Phoenix | On Google Maps | Free
Roosevelt Row was once a run-down and shady part of downtown Phoenix. But it’s been born again as a walkable artsy district full of colorful murals and quirky galleries.
The locals call this historic neighborhood RoRo. And you can’t miss this part of Phoenix for bustling eateries, art galleries, hip boutiques and lively bars.
Take a stroll and you’ll uncover some great street art and murals too.
Insider’s tip: If you’re in town, don’t miss the First Friday Monthly Art Walk for a great intro to the district.
Phoenix is a vibrant city with a lot to offer from artsy districts to rugged hiking trails. It’s the perfect destination for a sunny Southwest getaway.
Spend a weekend exploring Phoenix’s iconic museums and breathtaking trails and you’ll fall in love with this desert gem.
I would love to hear from you. What’s your weekend in Phoenix itinerary?