Easy Experiences in Phoenix and Scottsdale

Adventures Don't Have to be Extreme to Be Enjoyable

You can enjoy a visit to the Valley of the Sun even if you never go skydiving, zip lining, auto racing, or climb a mountain. If you are looking for a unique desert experience while you are visiting the area, or you have relatives visiting that want to spend the day exploring, you are sure to find the perfect escapade — or maybe two or three! 

These attractions are specifically geared toward those people who are not interested in extreme activities but can walk or stand for a while. Many are wheelchair accessible, as well. They appear here in no particular order.

More Phoenix Area Activities and Attractions for All Kinds of People

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Desert Gardens

A cactus in the desert botanical garden

TripSavvy / Claire Cohen

Located in Phoenix in Papago Park, near the Phoenix Zoo (see below), is our botanical garden. The desert wildflowers won't be in bloom in the winter, but it is still a gorgeous place for people who want to learn about the desert environment, and who enjoy walking on a beautiful day in Phoenix. See a video about visiting Desert Botanical Garden.

Another popular desert garden is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. East of Phoenix near the Superstition Mountains, this Arizona State Park is more spread out than the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and captures the natural beauty of the desert.

North of Phoenix is Carefree, Arizona you can take a much shorter walk through Carefree Desert Gardens to get your fill of cactus plants and flowers. It's free.

In the heart of Phoenix, near downtown, there is another unique garden, but it isn't about desert flora. The Japanese Friendship Garden also conducts authentic tea ceremonies for guests. Make your reservations well in advance for that special experience.

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Meet the Dolphins

Swim with Dolphins at Dolphinaris Arizona
Judy Hedding

Meet and greet a bottlenose dolphin at Dolphinaris Arizona in Scottsdale. A land option is available if you don't want to get wet. In any case, you'll learn about these magnificent creatures and have a unique experience in the desert.

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Tour the PING Golf Factory


Judy Hedding

Make your reservations well in advance for this popular free factory tour. PING Golf calls Phoenix home, and a limited number of people each week are offered a free tour. The target audience here is golf lovers and people who are interested in detail about the company and the technical aspects of golf club manufacture. Not so much entertaining as it is informative, this tour requires you to be in your feet for a couple of hours.

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Take a Boat Ride on Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake and Mill Avenue Bridge
Richard Cummins / Getty

You don't have to be in the greatest shape, but most of the watercraft you can rent here require pedaling or paddling. If you don't want to spend hours driving back and forth to one of our central Arizona lakes, Tempe Town Lake is right on the Valley Metro Rail line. There are also small motorized boats for fishing. No water skiing or swimming is permitted here.

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Play Golf

© Judy Hedding

If a golfer is visiting you, your job is an easy one. There are hundreds of public golf courses in Arizona, and many of them are right here in the Phoenix area. Desert golf might be different than what you are used to! The rates will be somewhere between $50 and $275 for a round of golf during the winter months!

If it's too hot or too cold or too wet or too tiring to get out on the course today, try the climate-controlled Topgolf locations in Scottsdale and Gilbert. Topgolf isn't just a driving range where you can hit a hundred balls. It's also a place where a group of friends or family can play target golf in friendly competition utilizing user-friendly technology. This isn't simulation — you'll hit real golf balls with real clubs but you don't have to deal with weather, walking a course, or hitting out of a bunker! All levels of golfers will have fun.

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Take a Boat Tour

Judy Hedding

A ride on Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake is a casual way to enjoy to enjoy the desert scenery. Combine that with one of the most scenic drives in Arizona, the Apache Trail, and you'll easily spend the entire day. Be aware: driving the Apache Trail is not for the squeamish!

On Saguaro Lake, near Mesa, the Desert Belle Boat Tour is another relaxing way to see desert beauty and hear about the history of the area.

Both boat tour are suitable for all ages.

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Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West

Taliesin West

TripSavvy / Claire Cohen

A few miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona in Scottsdale there is a living memorial to a great American architect. Nestled in the foothills of the rugged McDowell Mountains and surrounded by the spectacular Sonoran Desert lays a sprawling complex called Taliesin West, designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Several different tours are available, but the Insight Tour is the most popular. All the tours involve walking or standing.

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Scottsdale Trolley Tour

Scottsdale Trolley Tour
Judy Hedding

Make your reservations well in advance to get on the Scottsdale Trolley and take a guided tour of downtown Scottsdale. History, cultural information, shopping tips, public art — your tour guide will highlight the best of Scottsdale and answer any questions you might have.

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Musical Instrument Museum

Judy Hedding

"MIM" is a one-of-a-kind experience in North Phoenix; there's nothing like it elsewhere in the U.S. Whether you are an accomplished musician, or you simply enjoy your tunes, this museum provides insight into the history and importance of thousands of instruments, arranged into geographical subsets. Plenty of walking here, but you can rest and have lunch in the cafe. I've never met anyone who could see the whole place in one day.

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Mystery Castle

Judy Hedding

What is it? Is it really a mystery? Is it really a castle? Take a guided tour of this unique place in South Phoenix. Find out who built it, how it was built, why it was built and what makes it so special. It's near South Mountain, so after your tour you might want to take a short drive up the mountain for some scenic Valley views.

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See the Animals

Close up of a butterfly at Butterfly Wonderland

TripSavvy / Claire Cohen

The Phoenix Zoo is the premier place in the Phoenix area to enjoy animals of all kinds, with a special emphasis on desert creatures.

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium and Safari Park is located in the West Valley. It's a bit more rustic than the Phoenix Zoo, and specializes in exotic and endangered animals.

Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale won't involve as much walking and is indoors. The butterfly atrium is climate-controlled (but humid). Learn about the butterfly migration, and then stroll through the atrium at your leisure to meet your new butterfly friends.

In the same complex as Butterfly Wonderland, you'll find OdySea Aquarium, one of the largest indoor aquariums in the Southwest.

And, if sea creatures fascinate you, another aquarium in Tempe, SeaLife Arizona, will also satisfy.

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Try Your Luck at the Casino

Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino
Judy Hedding

There are casinos convenient to all parts of town. While all have slots, of course, not all have bingo rooms or poker tournaments. Even if you don't gamble, local casinos are great places to  enjoy the game on TV, listen to free entertainment in the lounge, or attend a show. From chips and a hot dog to lobster and filet mignon, you can always find a variety of dining choices at a casino. Good luck!

Festivals, Events, Concerts and More

There are a variety of activities suitable for all ages every single month. Attend baseball games, hockey games, NBA and WNBA basketball games, arena football games, soccer games, Spring Training, PGA and LPGA golf tournaments, car shows, dog shows, plays, art fairs, holiday activities...the list goes on and on. Check the monthly calendars for the big events, and then check the concert calendars to see which performers are appearing locally.