The Musical Instrument Museum

Tucked away in North Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is home to a collection of over 15,000 musical instruments and artifacts from nearly 200 countries around the world. This impressive museum spans 200,000 square feet with exhibits dedicated to genres from every corner of the globe. The sounds of music envelop visitors in each geographical exhibit. Hear banjos and fiddles in the American gallery or Javanese gamelan orchestra music in the Asian exhibits. The museum also hosts special events like live global music performances, so check their event calendar for one-of-a-kind concerts. For music lovers, the MIM is an under-the-radar gem with fascinating exhibits and interactive elements. Don’t miss the Experience Gallery where you can play African drums, strum a Portuguese guitar, join a Brazilian samba band, and more hands-on musical fun.

Address: 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85050
Phone: (480) 478-6000

The Heard Museum

The Heard Museum is a top place to experience Native American arts and culture in Phoenix. With over 40,000 artifacts, this museum showcases the work of indigenous artists from tribes across the Southwest. Visitors can explore 12 galleries displaying Hopi kachina dolls, Navajo textiles, Pueblo pottery, and jewelry. Beyond the vast collection, the Heard Museum hosts festivals like the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest and the Guild Indian Fair & Market. These celebrations featureNative American dancers, artists, and chefs gathering to keep traditions alive. For an in-depth look at the culture and artistic heritage of native tribes in Arizona and beyond, schedule a visit to this hidden Phoenix gem. Your group can book a guided tour or explore the Heard Museum at your own pace.

Address: 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone: (602) 252-8840

Japanese Friendship Garden

Built as a gift from Japan in the 1990s, the Japanese Friendship Garden in Margaret T. Hance Park provides a serene oasis in downtown Phoenix. This 3.5-acre landscape creates the aesthetic of a classic Japanese garden with water features, bonsai trees, and stone footpaths weaving through manicured grounds. Follow the path to see highlights like the Tea Garden Gazebo, clear ponds filled with koi fish, and the authentic tea house building straight from Japan. Check their schedule for rotating exhibits of ikebana and bonsai arts. The garden also hosts events like meditative walks, tea ceremonies, and classes in origami or calligraphy. Enjoy the calm scenery and from the garden and keep an eye out for local wildlife like ducks, herons, and hummingbirds. Your group can relax by the ponds or get some steps on the winding trails. Then refuel with a healthy lunch at the garden’s casual Teahouse Café.

Address: 1125 N. 3rd Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003
Phone: (602) 274-8700

The Arizona Science Center

The Arizona Science Center is packed with 400 hands-on exhibits to spark every learner’s curiosity. With interactive science displays and live demonstrations, this downtown museum provides engaging STEM experiences for all ages. Get a front-row seat for exciting science shows at the Dorrance Planetarium and Irene P. Flinn Theater. Exhibits let you experiment with physics concepts like electricity, light, and motion for a minds-on science lesson. Don’t miss the large-scale exhibits like theiertosaurus fossil, a giant keelboat replica, and a retired Boeing Blackbird spy plane mounted on the ceiling. After exploring the center’s inventive exhibits, your group can relax at the on-site café. With tickets under $20 per person, the Arizona Science Center is an affordable hidden gem for your science-loving crew.

Address: 600 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone: (602) 716-2000

Pueblo Grande Museum

Discover the archaeology and history of the Hohokam—the native people who lived along the Salt River Valley over 1,000 years ago. Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park provides a look into the ancient Hohokam civilization that once thrived in the Phoenix area. Outdoor trails wind through the park’s preserved archaeological site with replicas of a Hohokam village and ballcourt. Inside, the museum displays artifacts and offers exhibits detailing the agriculture, architecture, and culture of this early civilization. Visitors can try weaving cloth on a traditional Hohokam loom or grinding mesquite beans with a metate like the Hohokam people. With guided walking tours, hands-on activities, and engaging exhibits, the Pueblo Grande Museum shares the captivating history of Arizona’s first inhabitants. It’s an educational experience your group won’t find anywhere else in Phoenix.

Address: 4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034
Phone: (602) 495-0901

Desert Botanical Garden

Stretching across 50 acres, the Desert Botanical Garden is one of the world’s largest collections of arid-land plants. With over 50,000 plants, this garden displays cacti, succulents, and desert flora from around the globe. Seasonal wildflower blooms explode with color in the spring and early summer. Walking trails wind through outdoor exhibits with plants grouped by region like the Sonoran Desert or Baja California. The garden also features art installations, spring butterfly releases, and live music events. Don’t miss the Desert Wildflower trail lined with native wildflowers and cacti. For a walk wrapped in the beauty of the desert, schedule an early morning or sunset visit when the temperatures are cooler. Groups can book a specialized tour focusing on desert ecology, edible plants, or the garden’s waterfall rock formations. Treat your nature enthusiasts to a day at this oasis in the heart of Phoenix.

Address: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008
Phone: (480) 481-8188

Mystery Castle

Built in the 1930s, Mystery Castle is an unusual historic home you have to see to believe. Local Arizona native Boyce Luther Gulley constructed this 18-room, castle-like house using found objects like railroad ties, telephone poles, car parts, and adobe. The rooms feature eclectic decor, including antique furniture, Southwestern art, and Old West memorabilia. Climb narrow staircases to explore the castle’s surprising nooks, crannies, and secret passages. Outdoors, walk the gardens displaying folk art sculptures assembled from items like wagon wheels and even animal skulls. For a unique experience, schedule your visit in time for a guided tour offered Thursday through Sunday. After, your group can enjoy picnicking on the grounds of this hidden historic house in South Phoenix.

Address: 800 E. Mineral Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85042
Phone: (602) 268-1581

The Farm at South Mountain

Nestled at the base of South Mountain Park, The Farm at South Mountain offers a picturesque escape right in Phoenix. This agritourism destination features gardens, farm animals, restaurants, and fresh produce. Pick fruits and veggies straight from the vine in the U-Pick Garden, then grab a bite at the market café or upscale Quiessence Restaurant. Stock up on homemade jams and fresh baked goods at the Farm Stand. Don’t miss the picturesque flower garden blooming with roses, wildflowers, and annuals. Kids will love visiting the critters in the petting zoo, fishing for catfish, and riding a pony. With so much to see and do just minutes from downtown Phoenix, The Farm at South Mountain is a gem for a group outing or family daytrip.

Address: 6106 S. 32nd St., Phoenix, AZ 85042
Phone: (602) 268-1581

Renaissance Festival

For two months each spring, the Arizona Renaissance Festival brings medieval times to life in Apache Junction. This lively fair transports visitors back to a 16th-century English village with nonstop entertainment, rides, and food fit for a king or queen.Catch live shows like sword fights, jousting tournaments, comedy acts, and wizard duels. Browse shops selling handmade leather goods, blown glasswork, and medieval costumes. Munch  on giant roasted turkey legs, meat pies, and pastries while roaming the shaded village lanes. Kids and kids-at-heart will love riding a camel, climbing the rock wall, or going down the giant slide. Plan your visit for a designated themed weekend, such as Time Travelers or Pirate Adventure, for extra costumes and activities. With free parking and tickets around $30 per person, the Arizona Renaissance Festival makes the perfect adventurous spring outing for all ages.

Address: 12601 E. US Highway 60, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118
Phone: (520) 463-2600

Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve

This city-owned park protects one of the largest collections of Native American petroglyphs in the Southwest. Across 46 acres, the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve displays over 1,500 rock carvings created by indigenous people between 900 to 1500 AD. Follow marked trails to view petroglyph panels depicting animals, human figures, and geometric designs. Learn about the possible meanings of these symbolic etchings on guided tours from the on-site Visitor Center. For panoramic city views, make the short hike to a spot known as Picture Canyon. Admission to the preserve is free, making this an affordable hidden gem for Phoenix sightseeing. Your group can marvel at these anthropological artworks tucked away in the Sonoran Desert.

Address: 3711 W. Deer Valley Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85308
Phone: (623) 582-8007

Christown Spectrum Mall

For an 80s and 90s time warp, don’t miss the Christown Spectrum Mall. Built originally as an outdoor mall in 1961, Christown became an enclosed shopping center after renovations in the 1980s. Today, it remains nearly unchanged as a vintage slice of American consumerism. Retro décor like neon geometric floor tiling and bright paint choices abound inside. An ice skating rink that was later converted to a food court still has the original Winter Wonderland mural spanning its walls. Old school retailers like Sam Goody and Sears keep shopper flowing through the halls. The mall still buzzes with activities like kids’ music and magic shows, pet adoption events, karate classes, and senior social hours. For your Gen X crew, pop into Christown Spectrum Mall to sip an Orange Julius, share memories, and take some fun ironic photos.

Address: 1703 W Bethany Home Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85015
Phone: (602) 249-2423

The Corner: A Country Music Experience

This quirky museum shares the story of country music in Arizona and beyond. At The Corner, exhibits display vintage instruments, costumes, and memorabilia from legendary musicians like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton. See Taylor Swift’s sequined dress or Johnny Cash’s guitar on rotating display. Visitors can even record a song in the vintage recording studio on-site. Don’t miss the 1960s tour bus, saloon stage, and Western music memorabilia shop. You can tap your toes to live country music and rockabilly shows held on weekends. For country fans visiting Phoenix, The Corner offers intriguing exhibits and rare artifacts you won’t find elsewhere. Between the museum exhibits and live music, it’s a fun hidden experience for your cowboy boots-wearing crew.

Address: 3402 W. Dunlap Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85051
Phone: (602) 271-8010

Organ Stop Pizza

The Organ Stop Pizza is home to the world’s largest Wurlitzer pipe organ. While enjoying pizza and pasta, visitors are serenaded by a concert from this massive musical instrument originally built in 1927. With 4,530 pipes ranging from the size of a pinky finger to 32 feet tall, this organ is a rare marvel to see and hear. Daily concerts happen every hour, playing hits from Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and more. Come early to get a seat near the epic organ. For an evening of family fun, bring your crew to delight in the music and magic of this massive pipe organ inside a humble neighborhood pizza joint. It’s an unexpected evening unlike anywhere else in Phoenix.