What to Do After Dark in Phoenix

See a different side of the city with these fun nighttime activities in Phoenix.

An Pham/Visit Phoenix
Photo courtesy of An Pham/Visit Phoenix

Phoenix is known for a lot of things. Namely, our abundant sunshiney environment. And sure, there’s absolutely no lack of things to do under the cover of the blazing daytime sun. But, a lot of the things that make Phoenix so remarkable (art, outdoors, you name it!) are even more fun when the sun goes down.

An Pham/Visit Phoenix
Photo courtesy of An Pham/Visit Phoenix

Get acquainted with the local arts scene

Downtown Phoenix
Regarded as one of the largest, self-guided art walks in the nation, First Friday brings out big crowds to Phoenix’s arts districts. Art galleries, artist studios, collectives, museums, community spaces, and shops located throughout Roosevelt Row, Historic Grand Avenue, Calle 16, the Warehouse District, and the Central Arts District all show out for the monthly arts-centric event. For even more art, check out Third Fridays.

Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department
Photo courtesy of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department

Switch on your headlamp for an urban hike under the stars

The Phoenix Metro has hundreds of trails to explore. And that’s a lot of ground to cover. There’s only so many hours in a day, after all. And if you’re more night owl than early bird, sunrise start probably isn’t in your vernacular. So, gear up and explore your city’s urban trails after dark. Recreation hotspots like South Mountain Park Preserve, Lost Dutchman State Park, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Piestewa Peak, Papago Park, and Usery Mountain Regional Park all offer prime after-dark hiking ops as well as programming like ranger-led moonlight hikes, wildlife walks, and more.

Meet the plant-based community at Vegan Social

Downtown Phoenix
Whether you’re vegan curious or entirely plant-based, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter something new and delicious at the next Vegan Social. The outdoor, night market-style pop-up features dozens of the city’s top vegan-friendly and plant-based vendors each month for a night of good eats and solid hangs. Bring your friends. And your appetite.

Pemberton PHX
Photo courtesy of Pemberton PHX

Eat, drink, dance, and shop around Pemberton PHX

Downtown Phoenix
Take a choose your own adventure approach to your next night out at Pemberton PHX, Downtown Phoenix’s trendy indoor-outdoor hangout, where you can indulge your cravings for food truck noshes like saucy pasta, fish tacos, or ice cream and belly-up to mobile cocktail carts for tropical drinks or fine wines. Pemberton is a hub for the arts and regularly hosts dance nights, live music performances, and other artsy events. And, the spot is home to a number of indie businesses and shops where you can pick up everything from vintage threads to curated crystals and bespoke jewelry.

Flint by Baltaire
Photo courtesy of Flint by Baltaire

Take your night out to new heights at a rooftop lounge

Have your drinks, and views, too. If you’re looking to take your evening out on the town to the next level, quite literally, make your way to a rooftop bar. Begin your ascent at Pedal Haus Downtown, Don Woods’ Say When, Sotol Modern Cocktail Kitchen, Upstairs at Flint, From the Rooftop at Cambria Hotel Downtown, Floor 13 Rooftop Bar, Skysill Rooftop Lounge at The Westin Tempe, Outrider Rooftop Lounge at Canopy by Hilton Scottsdale, or Alibi Rooftop Lounge at Canopy by Hilton Downtown Tempe for unparalleled views of the twinkly nighttime skyline and boozy libations.

Phoenix Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum

Explore the exhibits, galleries, and installations at the Phoenix Art Museum

Central Phoenix
Each Wednesday from 3 pm to 9 pm the Phoenix Art Museum drops general admission. It’s called Pay What You Wish Wednesday. And just like the title implies, you pay what you want for entry. Experience the museum’s permanent, mind-bending mirror room, You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies, and other notable art collections. And, don’t miss the museum’s special exhibitions.

Watch your favorite comedian bring down the house

Sure, Netflix has an insurmountable sum of binge worthy comedy specials. But it's much more fun to see your favorite comedian live than from the sofa at home. So, pull on some pants and secure tickets to a show at Tempe Improv, Stand Up Live, or CB Live. Other local comedy haunts like House of Comedy and Stir Crazy Comedy Club are worth checking out, too.

The Churchill
Photo courtesy of The Churchill

Order drinks, nosh on pizza, and hang out with your neighbors at The Churchill

Downtown Phoenix
This ultra trendy community space made entirely of shipping containers is ideal for those indecisive friend groups who can’t settle on one place. The Churchill has an expansive communal-style courtyard with no shortage of seating and a lineup of ostensibly endless food and bev options to choose from. Roll up to So Far, So Good or the The Brill Line for drinks. And order food from Freak Bros Pizza, Stoop Kid, Foxy Fruit Bowls, or Provecho to fuel your night.

Sing like nobody's watching at a karaoke bar

Warm up those vocal chords, troubadours and songsters. Whether you want to put on a big show and sing for the entire bar or if you’d rather flaunt your stuff in a private karaoke room, bring your best baritone to Kobalt, Geisha A Go Go, The Grapevine,KTV Karaoke Cafe, Gypsy’s Roadhouse414 Pub & Pizza and sing your little heart out.

Peter Speyer Walter Where?House
Photo courtesy of Peter Speyer

Experience art, music, and community at Walter Where?House

Phoenix’s Walter Where?House oozes cool. The self-proclaimed house of fun knows how to throw a party—think laser light shows, loud music, and art cars. The community-space draws in crowds for its lively atmosphere, late night kitchen, happy hour, live music, and all-around good vibes.

Crush craft beer and read mystery novels at First Draft

Grab your favorite book and pull up a seat… at the bar. Changing Hands Bookstore’s First Draft Book Bar is basically the stuff of any literary junkies’ or logophiles’ dream. The buzzy book spot has happy hour every single day of the week. And, First Draft Book Bar regularly hosts events like author appearances, classes, and workshops, including crash courses on storytelling and how to write poems.

An Pham/Visit Phoenix
Photo courtesy of An Pham/Visit Phoenix

Play for a high score, and bragging rights, at an arcade hotspot

Phoenix is seemingly experiencing an arcade bar renaissance. Netflix’s Stranger Things hit us all with a strong shot of nostalgia and now we're flocking to the glow of the iconic arcade bar to reminisce in all those throwback vibes. So, pocket your tokens and hit the arcade bar circuit, Electric Bat Arcade, Linger Longer Lounge, Cobra Arcade Bar, Stardust Pinbar, Social Hall, The Hot Chick, Lucky’s Indoor Outdoor, The Little Woody, and Cham Pang Lanes are all solid spots to play for 8-bit glory.

Channel your inner Attenborough and go bat-watching on the Arizona Canal

Every year thousands of bats migrate to Phoenix. Storms of these tiny mammals have been returning to the Arizona Canal area and the Phoenix Tunnel since the 1990s. But to see them, you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time. The bats arrive as early as March and stay as late as October. But your best bet for bat watching is the summer season, from June through August. Like clockwork, the colonies put on a spectacular sunset show as they emerge and take flight into the night.

The Captain’s Cabin
Photo courtesy of The Captain’s Cabin

Savor fancy cocktails inside a hidden speakeasy

Enjoying cocktails in dark, hidden places is objectively more appealing than drinking in a regular bar. And, there are a number of super-secret drinking dens and underground basement bars around the city that provide the opportunity to do just that, including Rough Rider,Valley Bar, Pigtails Downtown, Merc Bar, The Captain’s Cabin, The Ostrich, Melinda's Alley, and The White Rabbit. Now you just have to go out and find them.

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Lauren Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller and content creator. Her work has been featured in local travel guides and national publications. Follow her on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.