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What To Do In The Phoenix Area

I can't believe I have put this off for so long. I'll blame it on a busy life and preferring to do research for my upcoming long European trip. I will be arriving in Phoenix this Friday (2/21) with my husband and two brothers for some Spring Training games. We're staying in Mesa, as the games we are going to take place there. We have games planned for Saturday and Sunday afternoons and we fly home Tuesday morning. That gives us Friday and Saturday mornings, late afternoons and evenings plus Monday and Tuesday morning to find other things to do. I'm open to any and all suggestions. One of my brothers has Down syndrome and has limited energy, so I don't think hiking is an option. We will have a car.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.

Posted by
2225 posts

Hi Andrea, my mom lives there so I have been many times. I absolutely love the Musical Instrument museum there! Also, we recently went to the Frank Lloyd Wright UNESCO site, which was interesting.

I have heard, but haven’t been, that the aquarium is good.

Posted by
1165 posts

Hi Andrea!
Does AAA still offer travel guides? That might help to let you know what's in the area.
Also, there is always the good old Phoenix area visitors bureau. They likely have a website.
Have fun!
SharYn

Posted by
1684 posts

Do you have Monday free? You can drive to Sedona for red rock formations and shopping. On the way up, Montezuma’s Castle (Hohokam ruins) is worth a stop.

Your brother might like Hall of Flames. It’s a fire engine museum near the Phoenix Zoo. Heard Museum in Phoenix has one of the best Native American artifact and art exhibits in the country.

The weather’s turning to poo-poo for the weekend so bring a rain coat.

Posted by
846 posts

A morning drive from Apache Junction to Tortilla Flat in the Tonto National Forest might be pleasant. It’s beautiful and will give you nice views and opportunities to do a little walking. The road is under repair in some places and is closed past Tortilla Flat so you have to turn around and head back. If you go in the morning traffic won’t be bad.

A morning or afternoon in Cave Creek could be nice. A bit of western feel, good bbq at Bryan’s BBQ, http://bryansbarbecue.com/, and a nice bakery/cafe at Divine Bakery a couple of doors down the street.

Edit: I just noticed you’re from Sacramento. So Cave Creek is smaller than Old Sacramento and somewhat kitschy like Old Sac and not as well planned. But the food is better. :-)

Posted by
3356 posts

The only time we EVER go to Phoenix is for spring training games.

We have taken day trips to Flagstaff, Sedona, and even the Grand Canyon. The last one of course is a very long day but well worth it.

Posted by
1331 posts

If you are interested in the Southwest Indian culture the Heard Museum can not be beat.

Posted by
1787 posts

And a plus at the Botanical Garden is Gertrude's restaurant. You could plan to have dinner there, and see portions of the garden before and after dinner.

EDITED to add: Make reservations for Gertrude's!

Posted by
8894 posts

Thanks for all your great suggestions! I went by AAA today and picked up a tour book. A little background - this trip is for my brother. He gets to choose what we do. I went with all my siblings in 2006 to Germany, where we had a reunion with our cousins who grew up there. Rob has Down syndrome. I wasn't sure how he would do outside of his comfort zone, but we discovered he loves to travel. In 2010 another brother and I took him to NYC for his 40th birthday. In 2015 the other brother took Rob to Seattle for his 45th birthday. He wanted to do spring training for his big 5-0. Every birthday trip has involved a baseball game. I'll make suggestions to him about things he may want to do. The ultimate choices are his. The Grand Canyon would be great (Rob is the only one of us that hasn't been there), but it's probably a bit too far away. I'm sure we will find some things to do that will make him happy.

Thanks again for all your quick responses. Keep the suggestions coming!

Edited to add: Thanks horsewoofie for your your suggestion of Hall of Flames. My husband is a recently retired firefighter and would probably quite enjoy that.

Posted by
1801 posts

Hall of Flames s good. Musical Instrument Museum is fantastic, but I think it would be too much for your brother. For a nice drive, the road to Payson is one of my favorites

Posted by
1266 posts

Do you have the Cubs tickets already? They’re very popular and will sell out.

Posted by
8894 posts

We have A’s at Cubs tickets for Saturday and Giants at A’s for Sunday. Rain is forecast for Saturday, so I’m hoping the game doesn’t get rained out. I have no idea if refunds are given if that happens.

Posted by
14 posts

In addition to the ideas already provided, you might want to check out Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale. It's in an entertainment complex that also has an aquarium, some kind of dinosaur exhibit, and some other things. (I've only seen the butterfly exhibit- it wasn't cheap but it was a decent way to spend a rainy morning.)

Posted by
8034 posts

The Heard Museum is exceptional, a Native American Art treasure trove. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West should also be seen.
Hope the traffic isn’t too bad for you.

Posted by
691 posts

Andrea,

This sounds like a great trip and I am sure your time will be busy with the games. I go to the Phoenix area every couple of years and here are some of my favorite places to visit (and yes I actually go back to many of them);

  • Tallesin West has been recommended by some of the other posters. It is both a working architectural school, prior home of Frank Lloyd Wright, and an interesting place to visit even for non-architeture buffs. Since you have evenings available, I would recommend the night tour, here is the link. https://franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west/tickets-tours/. On the night tour, you visit the same sites you will during the day, but you also get to see some of the innovations and use of nature incorporated in the landscape. I have taken a number of the Tallesin tours (big Frank Lloyd Wright fan) and this is my favorite. For my friends that are not architecture buffs, this is the one that I recommend.
  • Heard Museum: https://heard.org/. One of the best native American Museums in the country. Check out the site for events that are happening when you are there this weekend. The great thing about the Museum is that you can stay as long as you want. This is really close to downtown, so you can then wander over for a bite to eat.
  • I know this isn't a tourist site, but Pizzeria has been voted a number of time as the best Pizza in the US for a reason. They have multiple locations and I it is worth the visit, especially if you like pizza. http://www.pizzeriabianco.com/. There is one in downtown Phoenix you can try if you go to the Heard. My favorite there is a tie between the Margherita and the Rosa.

Sandy

Posted by
17 posts

Hi, It's probably too late for you to see this post, but I was just there visiting and we went by the Wesley Bolin Memorial Park in Downtown Phoenix off Washington Street near the courthouse. Free. No one else there. The anchor, signal mast, and guns off the USS Arizona are there. Also other displays in memory of fallen soldiers and firefighters. On another day we drove to an artist installation called Arcosanti where they make and fire ceramic bells that are used on giant wind chimes. Free. Old Town Scottsdale is fun to walk around. There are a couple of museums. We went in the Scottsdale Museum of the West on an earlier trip. They have some good displays of old guns, badges, etc.

Posted by
1787 posts

I just read in AAA magazine that Pizzeria Bianco often has a two-hour waiting line.

Posted by
8894 posts

Thanks all for your suggestions. Yesterday was our first full day. We had a 1:05 p.m. baseball game scheduled, but due to rain it was postponed until 6:10 p.m. We decided to check out the Musical Instrument Museum. Apparently everyone else did the same. The line was extremely long to buy tickets, costing $20 per person. Having experienced museums with my brother before (Met in NYC, Getty in LA, plus I heard about the experience my other brothers had with him at the Louvre) we determined that it wasn't worth spending $80 to spend maybe an hour at most there. We did look around the best we could without going past the ticketed area. Today we went to an afternoon baseball game and now we are back at our rented condo so he can rest up before dinner. Tomorrow we are going to another baseball game at 1:05 p.m., and maybe he will be up for something before or after. We go home Tuesday. I am generally a pretty go, go, go person when I travel, so I just have to remind myself that this isn't my trip. I've been to a few of your suggested places when I was here some years ago, and we may come back another time. Your suggestions were not in vain. Eventually I will get to these interesting places. Thanks again!

Posted by
691 posts

Andrea,

Glad you are having a good trip. Glad the ideas helped you consider your options. The most important thing is not seeing everything, but enjoying the experiences you have time to enjoy.

Sandy

Posted by
1801 posts

An UNrecommend for the Heard Museum. I found it incredibly boring except for the Kachina collection. Sorry to say that since my neighbor worked there for years.

Posted by
8034 posts

The Heard boring? Not to us or the many friends we have taken up there from Tucson.It and Taliesen West are where we stop en route to Sedona.

Posted by
1808 posts

Hi Andrea, I believe Phoenix is well known for its many spas, so check prices.