Best things to do in metro Phoenix this spring

Congratulations — you’re in Arizona during our most beautiful season, and there are so many things to do at your fingertips.

Whether you’re visiting Phoenix for spring break or are a local who’s looking for something to do over the weekend, there are plenty of places to check out, from wildflower-spotted hikes to food and music festivals to scenic rooftop restaurants. Up for a weekend road trip? Find your new favorite bottle of wine in Arizona’s newest official wine region or go on a brewery crawl in Flagstaff.

Here’s our guide to what you can do in metro Phoenix and across Arizona this spring.

3 things to do outdoors

Lace up your boots and hit the trail: Prime flower season and prime hiking season coincide in metro Phoenix and we love it. These five easy hikes are doable for most people (one of them does have some uphill to challenge you a bit) and it’s likely you’ll spot flowers, water and maybe even some wild burros, depending on which trek you choose. 

Best day hikes in metro Phoenix: Try these trails from barrier-free to ultra challenging

Refresh your spirit at a botanical garden: When you need to disconnect from your devices for a moment, metro Phoenix has a wealth of public gardens where you can escape the sights and sounds of the urban environment — even while you’re in the heart of it. This roundup of favorite botanical gardens in and near Phoenix will help you plan a getaway during the peak of spring blooming season.

Arizona’s iconic saguaro: How fast they grow, how big they get and can you cut one?

Chihuly in the Desert: Dale Chihuly’s colorful glass sculptures are on display outdoors at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale. You can see them at both locations through June 19.  Advance reservations are required at both sites. The exhibit at Desert Botanical Garden is self-guided. Taliesin West is offering a 90-minute guided tour called “In a New Light: Chihuly in the Desert.” Here’s how to see Chihuly’s glass art.

All the arts: First Fridays, murals, plays 

Enjoy a new mural from Sentrock: Joseph “Sentrock” Perez’s newest Phoenix mural is at 13th Street and Camelback Road, behind Just Blaze, a graffiti arts supply store and smoke shop. In street-art style, it features two cartoon characters, a man and a woman, standing side by side holding hands. The man wears a bird mask, a signature Sentrock artistic stamp. Check out Sentrock’s newest Phoenix mural.

Street art: Murals celebrate Flagstaff’s Black, Latino and Indigenous heritage

Spring is prime time for First Fridays: Art lovers and those looking for a fun evening out in Phoenix can stroll Roosevelt Row, listen to street music throughout downtown or head into a gallery or museum of their choosing. Some museums, including the Phoenix Art Museum, the Phoenix Children’s Museum and the Heard Museum, offer free admission on First Fridays. Here’s your ultimate guide to First Fridays in downtown Phoenix.

Find a new favorite art museum or gallery: Art lovers have a lot to choose from this time of year. Highlights include “Treasures” at the Musical Instrument Museum, “Legacy of Ceylon: Art and Photography of Sri Lanka” at the Phoenix Art Museum and “Beverly McIver: Full Circle” at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Be Here are the top art exhibits in metro Phoenix this spring.

The play is the thing: Metro Phoenix stages have a variety of options for theater lovers this spring. Southwest Shakespeare Company features “The Tempest” in March while Phoenix Theatre Company showcases “Singin’ in the Rain.” In Peoria, TheaterWorks offers “The Superhero Ultraferno: After Dark.” Those looking for something a little different can check out “Sheepdog” at Straycat Theater. In April look for “The Other Mozart” at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Here are some of Phoenix’s top plays and musicals this spring.

Music and food festivals

Spring food festivals are back: From French fries to pizza, craft beer to hard seltzer, all kinds of celebrations of food and drink are returning to the metro Phoenix this spring. Here’s your guide to all the spring festivities.

Rock out at a music festival: Festival season is in full swing by early March, when M3F (formerly known as McDowell Mountain Music Festival) returns to Hance Park in downtown Phoenix. Other spring festivals include Crush Arizona, Body Language and, of course, Country Thunder. Our guide to Arizona music festivals in 2022.

Restaurants, bars and farmers markets

Eat and drink al fresco: Sit under the stars, in the shade or somewhere in between at a multitude of bar and restaurant patios across the Valley where you can enjoy mild weather and fresh air. Here are 15 great restaurant and bar patios for outdoor dining around metro Phoenix.

A pasta bucket list: Try these 10 unique pasta dishes around metro Phoenix

To the roof! Make the most of mild spring evenings with a stiff drink and the kind of views you’ll only find at rooftop bars. From draft beer bars to creative cocktail lounges, there’s a rooftop bar for every vibe in the Valley. Here are a few of our favorites for  grabbing a drink with a bird’s-eye view.

Dueling rooftops: These swanky Temple rooftop cocktail bars are best at sunset

Take a taco tour: With its colorful murals and eclectic selection of Mexican restaurants and raspados shops, the urban strip known as Calle 16 — a 2-mile stretch on 16th Street roughly between Thomas Road and Van Buren Street — is one of the most diverse and walkable neighborhoods in the Phoenix area. Here’s a guide to the smoky carne asada, Yucatan-style slow roasted pork and unique puffy tacos you should try along the way

Beyond tacos: I ate at every Mexican restaurant in this Glendale plaza. Here’s a guide

Seasonal shopping: It’s your last chance to get your farm fresh produce and all-things-local fix before the summer hits. Most metro Phoenix farmers markets are open weekly or monthly from fall through spring, so enjoy the last few weekends of artisan shopping, food trucks and activities. Here’s your guide to all the farmers markets in Metro Phoenix, from Uptown to Old Town.

6 easy day trips and weekend getaways

Head out to see the desert bloom: Taking an Arizona wildflower hike or scenic drive is a beloved springtime tradition. Doesn’t matter if it’s a superbloom year with poppies galore or a more laid-back display of perennials such as brittlebush and desert marigold, spending a day looking at the flowers will make you happy. Here’s where to see the best wildflowers in Arizona this spring.

Arizona wildflowers: Here are the Arizona wildflowers you’re most likely to spot

Take a ride back to the Old West: For an easy day trip from Phoenix, drive out the Apache Trail to Tortilla Flat. This historic former stagecoach stop offers a scenic escape from the city and an authentic taste of the Old West. With food, live music, vintage buildings and of course the famous prickly pear gelato, it’s easy to see why Tortilla Flat is a fun place to spend an afternoon. Here are the best things to do in Tortilla Flat.

Exclusive: ‘We are curators of history’: New owners preserving Tortilla Flat’s heritage

Enjoy the change of seasons with a Flagstaff brewery crawl: Snow melting and spring wildflowers starting to take taking over the hillsides and meadows are one reason to make the trek north, but the local craft beer scene is just about as compelling. Most of Flagstaff’s breweries can be found on the picturesque streets of historic downtown within walking distance of one another. We tried them all. Here’s a guide to all the breweries in downtown Flagstaff.

Spend a weekend in Tucson: Our Best of Tucson guide will lead you to the best Mexican restaurants, cool historic neighborhoods and lots of ways to enjoy the scenic drive up Mount Lemmon. Plus, learn about Ranger Freddy, Saguaro National Park’s Instagram star, and why he wants people to love the Sonoran Desert as much as he does.

Arizona ghost towns: 5 former boomtowns worth the drive. Here’s how to see them

Explore one of Arizona’s oldest communities: Enjoy a history lesson, a gentle hike, a shop till you drop outing and an art appreciation class all wrapped up in one scenic road trip when you travel to the small southern Arizona hamlet of Tubac. Here’s a roundup or shopping, restaurants and things to do in Tubac

Explore Arizona’s newest wine region: In November 2021, the Verde Valley officially joined Willcox and Sonoita as a recognized American Viticultural Area. The 700-square-mile area shows off Arizona’s geographic range from the Verde River to the Black Hills. The volcanic soil and diversity of elevations make it an ideal place to grow wine grapes,  and the enterprising vineyards of the Verde Valley are going beyond Old World techniques to create distinctive bottles. Winemakers aren’t the only ones shaking things up in the region. Artisan food producers are opening there too. Here’s your culinary travel guide to what to eat and drink on your next trip to the Verde Valley.

Reach the entertainment editor at [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter at @weldonjohnson.

Reach the food, dining and nightlife editor at [email protected]. Follow her @hungryfi on Twitter and Instagram.

Reach the Arizona travel and events editor at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @JillHikes.

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