Best Free Things To Do and See in Greater Phoenix

You can spend a great deal of money shopping, attending concerts of big-name performers, going up in hot air balloons, and taking jeep tours.

For some, saving money might be a factor. Even in a metro area as large as Phoenix, there are free community events every month of the year, although they might occur for only one day per year. Here are some great things to do and see that are free (or very cheap).

01 of 17

Drive the Apache Trail

Apache Trail, AZ
Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

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 in the heat for the scenic stops.

02 of 17

Visit a Museum

ASU Art Museum
Kevin Dooley / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There is 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. They are indoors and air conditioned.

03 of 17

Get Wet—Splashing and Swimming

Kids playing at a splash pad
Courtesy of City of Glendale

Splash pads and splash parks are popping up all over the metro Phoenix area. With five 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

04 of 17

Arizona Cardinals Training Camp

Cardinals' players on the field
Broderick Delaney / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

When the Arizona Cardinals have an open practice, you can go watch your favorite players and pro hopefuls go through their paces, take orders from the coaches and, hopefully, dole out a few autographs.
Best time to do it: it only happens for about a month before regular season football starts, in the late summer. Check the schedule for open practice dates.

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05 of 17

See Art Galleries and Art Spaces in Downtown Phoenix on First Friday

Artwork outside for First Friday
© Judy Hedding

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.

06 of 17

Stroll the Scottsdale Art Walk

Oldtown Scottsdale
Richard Cummins / Getty Images
E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA

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.
Best time to do it: any Thursday (except Thanksgiving) when being outdoors in the evening is pleasant enough to walk around.

07 of 17

Climb Camelback Mountain

View from Camelback Mountain
LASZLO ILYES / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ 85018, USA
Stadiums, Sports Attractions & Ski Resorts

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, 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 is a good option.

08 of 17

Hike, Bike, or Drive Up South Mountain

Rider mountain biking along cliff
Thomas Northcut / Getty Images
10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042, USA
+1 602-495-5458

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.

Best time to do it: If you are walking, hiking, or biking, enjoy this park when it isn't too hot. In the summer, that means very early in the morning.

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09 of 17

Go to a Free Concert

Chandler Symphony Orchestra
Courtesy of Chandler Center for the Arts

During the summer, you can enjoy free outdoor concerts in the West Valley.

During the fall and winter, students at Glendale Community College present a variety of ​musical performances with free admission.

At various times all year long, the Chandler Symphony Orchestra presents free concerts indoors.
Best time to do it: any time, but get there early.

10 of 17

Take a Trolley Tour of Downtown Scottsdale

Scottsdale trolley
Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images
7014 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA

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.

Best time to do it: Any time during the year, but make reservations well in advance.

11 of 17

Take a Tour of PING

PING golf
Tim Rue/Corbis via Getty Images

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.

12 of 17

Native Trails

Native Trails in Scottsdale, AZ
© Judy Hedding

Each year representatives of tribal nations of Arizona and the United States, such as the Hopi, Diné, Akimel-Au-Authm, and San Carlos Apache, come together to present musical performances and dances at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall.

Best time to do it: mid-January through end of March

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13 of 17

Wander Among the Motorcycles

motorcycle show AZ
Alexander Nie / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

There are many motorcycle enthusiasts in this area. That makes sense when you consider the fact that you can ride here all year long. There are two free admission events, one in the East Valley and one in the West Valley, where bikers bring their bikes, park them, and let all the rest of us come and admire them. Unlike many of the other free activities, this one takes place in the evening.

14 of 17

Arizona Coyotes Training Camp

Arizona Coyotes players on the ice
Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport

NHL fans can watch open practices and even practice games when the Arizona Coyotes get ready for the start of the season. See the rookies who might be the hockey stars of tomorrow.

Best time to do it: usually in September, before the regular season begins.

15 of 17

Visit a Riparian Habitat

Veterans Oasis Park
Courtesy of Chandler Office of Tourism
2757 E Guadalupe Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234, USA
+1 480-503-6234

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 websites for occasional free programs.

16 of 17

Arizona Rookie League Baseball

Tempe Diablo Stadium
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

If football training camp or hockey training camp are not of interest, you might be a baseball fan. Minor League Baseball runs a rookie league season every year at various of our stadiums around town, usually at the practice fields.

Best time to do it: games are played from mid-June until the end of August.

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17 of 17

Especially For Kids

Waterfall Trail
Jlahorn / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Library programs, skate parks, urban fishing, crafts—if you are always looking for new activities for the little ones you'll want to check this list for ideas. You might not have thought of these before!
Best time to do it: Many of these are indoor activities, so any time is good.

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Best Free Things to Do in Phoenix and Scottsdale