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Looking for an ultimate Phoenix itinerary for 3 days? Scroll down to discover the best things to do and explore with this 3 days in Phoenix itinerary.
Phoenix is just not a city in the desert but it is a heaven in the desert. You would only know it once you visit it. The frolic nightlife in Phoenix, the changing colors of the sky, the gorgeous sunsets, sunrises and starry nights when the land turns to gold with a touch of moonlight. There is never enough time to experience it at its best. But to make sure you have it all, here is a 3 days in Phoenix itinerary planned for you so you don’t miss anything when you hit this paradise.
Phoenix Itinerary : 3 Days In Phoenix
Day 1 : Hot Air Balloon Ride, Explore The Papago Park
Morning (Sunrise) : Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the first things you must strike off your Phoenix itinerary is riding a hot air balloon over the unreal looking deserted landscapes of Arizona. This is the experience you would not want to miss at any cost. The hot air balloon rides, just before the sunrise would be an experience you would never forget. The lavender skies with traces of orange as the sunrises on the deserted land beneath you. Once you find yourself between two forces, the sky and the earth, the feeling would be divine.
Once you land down after your hot air balloon ride, you will be served a champagne toast and presented a flight certificate to celebrate the once in a lifetime experience you just had. Waking up early for this experience would be totally worth it.
This activity of hot air balloon ride would end until 8 AM. If you did like, you can head back to your hotel to freshen up, have a quick breakfast and get ready for the next activity.
Morning – Evening
Visit The Papago Park
The Papago Park is home to the world class Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Garden, Hole in the Rock (a natural formation) and various hiking and biking trails. Exploring Papago Park with the perception of hiking is a different experience altogether. You can take an accessible, paved pathway, as well as a series of trails around the big and small butte. You can try the 2.3-mile Double Butte Loop for a full adventure experience of the park.
Apart from the zoo and the botanical garden, there is a golf course where you can enjoy some snacks and practice your hand at golf. You can easily spend your entire day at this park indulging in all the activities it has to offer.
Up Close Encounters With Wildlife At Phoenix Zoo
Nature exploration is the prime objective for many people when they step out during vacation. If you have similar plans then Phoenix Zoo could be your heaven. The display of flora and fauna in this zoo is astounding and mind-blowing. The zoo was established in 1962 and has been a non-profit organization since then. You would witness leopards, different kinds of deer, mountain lion, jaguar, giraffe, African lion, grey wolf, golden eagle, sloth, orangutan etc.
You would be amazed after meeting the creatures that share the same planet with you and noticing how beautifully magnificent they are. The lost bird project, the tiger projects and others that are running in the zoo would also make you aware of the endangered and rare species surviving the planet.
- Opening Hours : 7 AM to 1 PM daily
Get Amazed By The Beauty Of The Desert Botanical Garden
Want to explore the beauty of the desert in perfect amalgamation with a human touch, then you must spend an evening or late starry nights at the Desert Botanical Garden. It is another absolutely unmissable thing to do in your Phoenix itinerary. Though it is a part of Papago Park, it is designed to be very different from that. You will find cactus and different desert flowers here during the day. But the nights mainly consist of romantic starry meetups, paper lantern-lit ways and sometimes camping strangers.
If you are visiting the place in winter, this place is known as a haven for romantics and is suggested as a must-visit in Phoenix.
- Opening Hours : Saturday to Monday & Thursday – Friday : 7 AM to 9 PM | Tuesday & Wednesday : 7 AM to 8 PM
Gertrude’s is one of the best places to dine in while you are in Phoenix. This restaurant is located in the Desert Botanical Garden. Make sure you stop here for a delicious and flavorful meal. To avoid the waiting time at Gertrude’s, it is highly recommended to make a reservation in advance.
Day 2 : Visit The Museums, Farmer’s Market, Encanto Park & Downtown Phoenix
Morning – Afternoon
The Musical Instrument Museum
No one in the world hates music. Though we can have different tastes in music we can all agree that music has the power to not only entertain us but heal us in different ways. So, the Musical Instrument Museum would be one fine place to begin your day with. The beauty of the museum is not simply in the collection of all the musical instruments from around the world but is also in the architecture built by the museum.
The pink sandstone walls that are huge and almost round in shape at parts give it a look as if it is a perfect stage to organize an orchestrated performance anytime. It can leave you aghast with its design and collection.
- Opening Hours : 9 AM to 5 PM daily
The Phoenix Art Museum
Once you are on a journey to jump into the world of art, your next destination should be the famous Phoenix Art Museum which has over 20000 pieces of contemporary art and design that are mind-bending. Some honorable mentions at the museum are the mirror room, the Japanese post-war photographs and samples of Fast Fashion of the 1960s.
By now you must have an idea about how different this museum is from any other museum in entire America. Apart from that, there is a souvenir shop, a wining and dining place where you can sit and enjoy your refreshments and a conference hall to attend different intellectual seminars and interviews.
- Opening Hours : Thursday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM | Wednesday – 10 AM to 9 PM | Closed on Monday & Tuesday
Shop Fresh Produce From Farmers Market
If you like shopping for organic fruits, vegetables, flowers and other organic things then Phoenix Farmers market would be a blessing for you. Local trucks unload all their luggage straight from the farms to the market and hence you get the real taste of everything. Food items are not the only thing that you are going to find here. Local shops, small businesses, jewelry, pottery, and interior decoration items are other goods that you can shop here.
You can buy a souvenir or simply add something regional to your wardrobe, it would thank you later. There are three Farmers markets organized in Phoenix, and you can visit any of them based on the location closest to where you are staying. There is Downtown Phoenix Farmers market, Uptown farmers market and Roadrunner Park Farmers Market. They operate only on Saturdays.
If you are not keen on visiting the Farmer’s Market, you can move ahead and visit Encanto Park as per this Phoenix itinerary. It is located just a mile away from the Phoenix Art Museum.
Spend A Delightful Time At The Enchanted Island and Encanto Park
Enchanted Island and Encanto Park may seem like a place for kids to visit. But it is equally fun and exciting for the adults. The different rides, surprises, the food available there and the way the park has been designed are sure to bring out your inner child. You can spend a leisurely afternoon here in the park. The park area has been spread over 7.5 acres, so you can have a corner by yourself to spend your afternoon.
Regional artists perform here and you can never know about the different kinds of colorful performances and cultural exhibits that you can witness here. Party Organization facilities are also available here if you are planning for something big.
- Opening Hours : The Encanto Park remains open from 5:30 AM to 11 PM daily. Enchanted Island is an amusement park located in Encanto Park. The amusement park remains open from 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
Evening : Explore Downtown Phoenix
When Bruno Mars sang “…cause uptown funk don’t give it to you…”, he must have meant the fun and excitement of visiting downtown Phoenix. This is the place where the community and everything that the city has to offer would come to life. Hence, this would be the best place to end your second day in the city. Several restaurants, community-organized meetups, live music performances and bars have a hub here. If you are visiting the place during the festive season, then you are in for a treat.
The parties, the lighting and the decorations make you feel fascinated in this part of the town. Some places need their mention as they are the most popular ones here. The Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlor is there to quench your thirst. Bar Smith, Gypsy Bar and Cityscape are also exciting places to party at in Downtown Phoenix.
Day 3 : See The Gorgeous Parks, Go Hiking, End Your Day In Old Town Scottsdale
Morning – Afternoon
Hiking Day: Visit the parks and have fun
The last day is planned for the adventure seekers and for those who are in for some adrenaline rush. But if you are not in for any of such things, you would also love to visit the parks listed below.
South Mountain Park and Preserve
South Mountain Park has three mountain trails namely the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe that make the park suitable for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. There are other spaces for a picnic, or barbecue and other picnic shelters. They allow alcohol and blast music as much as you want. The hike of South Mountain Park is 3.8 miles. Given the weather, you would love to spend some time in its vicinity. The South Mountain Park is also one of the largest city parks in the United States, and with the ample amount of activities there it certainly is a must visit in Phoenix.
- Opening Hours : 5 AM to 7 PM daily
North Mountain Park
North Mountain Park has a comparatively harder trail than any other park trail around Phoenix. The sharp turns around the mountains are for the experienced ones only. Though several other trails are available. You can choose your trail and path as per the time and the difficulty level of the trails.
- Opening Hours : 5 AM to 7 PM daily
Wander Around The Old Town Scottsdale
The historic streets of Old Town Scottsdale are a must visit if you are in Phoenix. The streets are lined up with cute cafes, restaurants, breweries, galleries and stores. You can also spot many art installations and relax at the greenspaces in the vicinity. Get on a retro party bus or a Segway tour to see the best of Old Town Scottsdale in a more enjoyable way.
Phoenix Itinerary FAQs
Where To Stay For 3 Days In Phoenix?
Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the United States. Though it has a lot to see and do, not all the neighborhoods have much to offer to travelers. The best place to stay in Phoenix is the downtown area. It is the prime location and close to many attractions of the city. There are many restaurants, art galleries, cultural sites, museums and upscale nightlife spots in Downtown Phoenix. Public transport too is easily accessible from this area.
Here are some of our best recommendations for your stay in Phoenix;
Budget (Below $100) : SureStay Hotel By Best Western is the best affordable stay option in Downtown Phoenix. They also provide 24 hour free shuttle service to and from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for their guests. The rooms are comfortable, clean, spacious and well fitted with all modern amenities. Plus the hotel also features an outdoor pool and spa. Click here to book this hotel or to check its availability.
Mid Range ($100 – $150) : Cambria Hotel is a stylish and beautiful looking hotel to stay in Phoenix. The amalgamation of contemporary decor and modern lightings cannot be found anywhere else in the city. The rooms are bright, cozy and very well equipped. It has the best views of the city from its rooms. Click here to book this hotel or to check its availability.
Luxury ($150+) : The Renaissance Hotel is a wonderful option for a luxurious stay in Downtown Phoenix. The hotel features a rooftop swimming pool, bistro style cafe, vibrant interiors, modern rooms, urban style bar and restaurant. It houses a Starbucks coffee shop too. The hotel is located in the heart of Downtown Phoenix and a short walking distance away from attractions like the Phoenix Symphony Hall, Arizona Science Center and Phoenix Museum of History. Click here to book this hotel or to check its availability.
How To Get Around In Phoenix?
The best way to get around Phoenix is by rental car or cabs. You can also hire a cab via apps such as Uber and Lyft.
There is public transport available in Phoenix, but it does not necessarily drop you at the main attraction you would want to visit. You will probably have to walk a significant distance from the station to the attraction. This during the summer heat is very uncomfortable.
Essentials To Pack For Your Phoenix Trip
Make sure you carry the things below for a pleasant and comfortable trip to Phoenix.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and sunhat
- Insulated Water Bottle
- Lip Balm
- Lightweight Day pack – This one from Osprey is perfect and easy on shoulders.
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Steripen – Your mini water purification system
- Bug Repellent
- Lightweight hiking shoes
We hope that our 3 days in Phoenix itinerary will help you in exploring everything this desert city of Arizona has to offer.