15 Completely Free Things to Do in Phoenix

Fun doesn’t have to cost a thing.

Life feels more expensive than ever, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your hopes of having a social life. Phoenix has plenty of no-cost things to do—from breathtaking hiking trails to pay-what-you-can nights at renowned museums and free concerts there’s no shortage of great activities to enjoy while saving your hard-earned cash. To get you started, here’s our top picks for entirely free things to do around the city.

Camelback Mountain
Gray Aletter/Shutterstock

Arizona’s most iconic hike is a must-try for outdoor enthusiasts, offering stunning views of Phoenix and Scottsdale. The mountain has two moderately difficult trails, Echo Canyon which is a steep 1.23-mile hike, and Cholla which is 1.42 miles. Both offer their own challenges while providing a similar look at the Valley’s desert scenery and wildlife.

Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix Art Museum

Visit your local art museum

If you love art, there are plenty of opportunities to see great pieces for free around the Valley. In Tempe, you can visit the ASU Art Museum for free any time. In Scottsdale, you can see cutting edge modern art at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art for free on Thursdays, or every second Saturday of the month. Then, check out the Phoenix Art Museum’s extensive collection for free on Wednesdays and First Fridays.

Desert Botanical Garden
Chris Curtis/Shutterstock

Weekday admission to the Desert Botanical Garden will typically set you back $24.95, but visit on the second Tuesday of the month and entry is free. Stroll through the garden’s 140-acre property to see thousands of desert cacti, flowers, and other native plants for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

Arizona Capitol Museum
Arizona Capitol Museum

Familiarize yourself with Arizona’s history—from its mining roots to its government structure and the USS Arizona—during a free, self-guided tour of the expansive Arizona Capitol Museum, which is open to the public weekdays.

See downtown Phoenix come to life on the first Friday of every month for the First Friday Art Walk, which has become one of the largest of its kind in the country. Galleries are open for visitors, many museums offer free admission, musicians play on the streets, and food trucks are parked and waiting for hungry patrons.

Papago Park
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The iconic Hole in the Rock is the perfect place to watch one of Arizona’s renowned sunsets. Take a short, easy hike up to the rock formation and enjoy the views of the setting sun over the Valley of the Sun for a memorable (and free!) evening out.

Uptown Farmers Market
Uptown Farmers Market

Visit a farmers market

Make your weekly grocery trip more enjoyable by picking up farm fresh produce at one of the Valley’s many farmers markets. They’re spread all across the Phoenix Metro area, so it’s likely there’s one right in your neighborhood, whether you’re in downtown Chandler or Carefree. Our favorite is the Uptown Farmers market, which has a variety of vendors, a vast parking lot, and incredible breakfast burritos courtesy of Sergio’s Kitchen.

There are lots of ways to enjoy Tempe Town Lake, but for a fun and free afternoon we recommend taking the scenic and easy 2.5-mile bike ride around the glimmering, man-made lake to enjoy the public art, views of the city and the vibrant buzz of the nearby college campus.

Scottsdale Public Art
Scottsdale Public Art

While going to a local art museum is great, there’s something thrilling about doing a scavenger hunt around the city to find hidden works of art, and downtown Scottsdale has tons to find. Some, like the giant ‘One-Eyed Jack’ rabbit sculpture, are easy to find, while others, like the Copper Falls sculpture, might take a keen eye to spot.

Desert Ridge Marketplace
Desert Ridge Marketplace

While Desert Ridge Marketplace is known as an outdoor mall with great shopping, its outdoor stage is also a fantastic place to enjoy live music by local artists like Remi Goode and Matt Kahler on select weekend nights.

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
86Eric_Anthony_Mischke 86/Shutterstock

Want to enjoy the beauty of the desert without a grueling hike? Embark from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve’s Gateway Trailhead and take a leisurely, half-mile walk along the Bajada Nature Trail for a quick and free outing.

Penske Racing Museum
Penske Racing Museum

Love racing? Or just want to see some impressive vehicles? Cruise through years of racing history at this museum, which is home to several Indianapolis 500 winning cars, as well as the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship winning car.

Flickr/Joshua Wells Photography

Just an hour from Phoenix’s city center is an architectural gem and the experimental city of Arcosanti. The city, which began construction in the 1970s, was meant to serve as a model of a new kind of city planning with an emphasis on sustainable architecture. Today, you can visit the city for free, and even check out the gift shop, which is known for its bronze bells. For a full (but not entirely free) experience, you can take a tour or even stay the night.

Take a scenic drive to Dobbins Lookout

For one of the best views of downtown Phoenix and its surrounding mountains, take a drive up to Dobbins Lookout. While you’ll want to exit your car once you arrive, this is a case where the (hike free!) journey is almost as enjoyable as the destination with a pleasant drive through South Mountain Park.

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale
Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

Yoga classes can be pricey, so it’s well worth taking advantage of complimentary Monday evening classes at the luxe Mountain Shadows Resort—especially when they’re on the lawn with breathtaking views of Camelback Mountain.

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Jamie Killin is a Phoenix native and Arizona State graduate who specializes in lifestyle and features writing. You can usually find her at the spin studio, a concert, or trying new restaurants across the Valley. Follow her on Instagram.