New arrivals in Phoenix will find that the city has a wide range of lifestyle offerings to keep residents entertained. Whether an individual is an art or history buff, an avid foodie, or an outdoor enthusiast who is in Phoenix for the good weather, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Valley of the Sun.
Arts and culture in Phoenix
It may come as a surprise to those who are unfamiliar with Phoenix, but the city has a rich arts and culture scene which attracts creative minds from across the valley. New arrivals will have a whole host of galleries and museums to explore throughout the city. A stroll through the Arts District in the Phoenix suburb of Roosevelt provides a great opportunity to take in street art. The First Friday Art Walk in downtown Phoenix is a monthly event where the city comes to life as residents come out in their droves to access special art and photography exhibits.
Eating out in Phoenix
Phoenix is said to be a foodie oasis in the Arizona Desert. Local chefs have become champions of sustainability and work tirelessly to promote the use of fresh local produce. Restaurants in Phoenix have become truly innovative in recent years fusing diverse cuisine to create fresh twists on American classics.
The culinary scene in Phoenix is constantly evolving but residents are sure to find an eclectic range of international food offerings here. From Korean bao buns and Mexican tacos to slow-cooked BBQ ribs and wood-fired pizza, there are endless options.
Nightlife in Phoenix
Sure, it’s not quite Vegas but new residents will find that Phoenix is a fun place to be when the sun goes down. From ale houses and dive bars to rooftop cocktail bars and sophisticated nightclubs, Phoenix has an exciting bevy of nightlife venues.
There are several nightlife hubs in Phoenix and the surrounding area. Downtown Phoenix is the obvious choice, but it tends to be geared towards visitors rather than locals. The Roosevelt Row Arts District with its laid-back vibe is the popular gathering spot among the Bohemian crowd who are drawn to the great live music on offer. Old town Scottsdale is home to a high density of bars and clubs, while downtown Tempe is also a top choice for revellers.
Sports and outdoor activities in Phoenix
With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, there is no excuse not to get outdoors in Phoenix. Hikers, bikers, climbers and general outdoor enthusiasts will be in their element playing outside in the Sonoran Desert. The Valley of the Sun is home to dozens of parks and reserves, both in and around the city, that offer trails galore. From taking a leisurely wander around the red rock buttes of Papago Park to taking on the unforgettably rewarding climb up to the top of the iconic Camelback Mountain, new Phoenix residents will find outdoor activities to suit all fitness levels.
For those who prefer to watch sport rather than take part, there is plenty of action taking place on Phoenix’s sports calendar. New arrivals should check out Phoenix’s local NFL team Arizona Cardinals play at least once. Basketball fans can see the Phoenix Suns in action at the Talking Stick Arena.
See and do in Phoenix
New arrivals will be pleased to learn that there is plenty to see and do in this desert city. We list a few of those below.
Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest in the Southwest, hosting multiple national and international exhibitions alongside the museum’s permanent collection, which has grown to contain over 17,000 artefacts. In addition to historic pieces, the museum also provides a platform for contemporary artists and photographers.
Arizona Science Center
An architectural masterpiece, this landmark is set on the beautiful grounds of Heritage and Science Park. It's home to a collection of galleries, and terraces provide an environment for learning. Hands-on exhibits, a modern planetarium and a 5-storey giant-screen theatre make for a really engaging and interactive experience.
Musical Instrument Museum
For something out of the ordinary, visit the world’s only museum dedicated to musical instruments, located in downtown Phoenix. The MIM houses 6,000 musical instruments from across the globe. Through interactive exhibits, visitors can explore foreign cultures through music.
Phoenix Zoo is the largest non-profit zoo in the US. Set across 125 acres, the zoo is home to over 1,400 animals and contains miles of walking trails. Conservation lies at the heart of the zoo’s mission, and it famously played a significant role in the reintroduction of the once almost extinct Arabian Oryx back into the wild.
The Grand Canyon
An attraction that needs no introduction. Although, strictly speaking, the Grand Canyon is a four-hour drive from downtown Phoenix, it remains a popular daytrip or weekend getaway for local residents. Carved by the path of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is a staggering sight.
What's on in Phoenix
Blessed with great weather all year round, ‘The Valley of the Sun’ is the perfect place for a whole host of outdoor events. Newcomers to Phoenix will find that the array of fairs and festivals that take place in and around the city definitely keep life interesting.
Arizona Balloon Classic (January)
Thousands of spectators head to Phoenix each January to see a colourful bouquet of hot air balloons take to the East Valley skies. This three-day festival sees a number of teams showcase their aerial talents through stunning glowing balloon shows in the early evening, morning balloon launches and a fun-filled balloon race.
Taco fans unite for the annual festival of this traditional Mexican snack. Festival goers delight in sampling endless varieties of the humble delicacy from over thirty of the region’s top taquerias. With live entertainment, mariachi bands and folkloric dancers, it's a fantastic cultural experience.
Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon (January)
There is no better way for an expat to get acquainted with their new home than running through its streets. Not a runner? Well, there is a bike tour too. Those who prefer to watch from the sidelines won’t be disappointed either, and with bands along the course there is no shortage of entertainment.
Lost Dutchman Days (March)
There is nothing that conjures up the image of the Wild West more than a rodeo, and this hugely popular annual carnival draws in over 30,000 visitors who come to get a glimpse of high-octane livestock-riding. This three-day extravaganza also features rodeo dances and live music performances.
Arizona State Fair (October)
A tradition that dates back to 1905, one of the top annual events in Phoenix is the Arizona State Fair. Attracting over a million people each year, visitors are treated to live performances by local musicians, rodeos, food stalls and various art exhibits. The kids will also certainly be in their element with all the fairground rides to keep them busy.
►Our Areas and Suburbs of Phoenix page provides useful insight into recommended neighbourhoods for new arrivals
Are you an expat living in Phoenix?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Phoenix. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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