So you have a layover or are stranded in the Phoenix airport for a while. Yes, you could stay in the airport, eat something and relax with their free wi-fi, or you can head out into the surrounding area and see what Phoenix has to offer.
I won’t lie. I am originally from Los Angeles and never thought much of the Arizona desert. Like most, I believed it to be just hot, and I was totally right! Well the weather can be very hot and extreme during a few months of the year. Be prepared for days in the triple digits from June to September. We have some of the most dramatic sunsets because of our storms, being dry in climate, and from small particles in the air. So have your camera ready.
Watch out for dust storms called "haboobs". They can cause the airport to shut down, as well as other things.
My wife and myself have lived in the Phoenix area for many years. We are lucky to have so many food options and activities that can be done at such a close proximity. The weather is great most of the year with sunny day, which are great for exploring. Since we travel so much, we understand when you have a layover somewhere and want to get out to try what they have to offer.
Lucky for you, the Phoenix airport is in a perfect location with many options for amazing food and activities close by. A little tip for going back through TSA in terminal 4 is to use the B security side, which usually has a shorter line and can take you to all of the American gates as well as some of the Southwest. Try to get out and see some of the Sonoran Desert if you have the time.
Things To Do
- located 3.6 miles from the airport and less than 10 minute drive
- is free and great place to see a Sonoran Cactus and get in a hike that can range from easy to difficult
- open daily 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. for trails and the parking lot closes at sunset
- Dog and family friendly
- Trailheads are: Papago Park and Papago West Park
- Click Here to see a map and trail descriptions
Desert Botanical Gardens
- located 4 miles from the airport and less than a 9 minute drive
- open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- general admission is $24.95 per adult, $16.95 for ages 3-13, and free for children under 2 (you can save $2 per ticket if you purchase them online)
- can upgrade your ticket to also include the 4-D Theater, Safari Cruiser, Camel Ride, Stingray Bay, Giraffe Encounter, and the Endangered Species Carousel
- discount on tickets for Military, Seniors, Students, and AAA
- takes about 3 hours to walk the whole zoo
- located 7.7 miles from the airport and take less than 20 minutes to drive or you can hop on a bus that goes straight down 44th St
- open daily sunrise to sunset
- you can hike either the Echo Canyon Trail, which is steeper, or the Cholla Trail that is longer in length
- you are not allowed to be dropped of at the Cholla trailhead, you must walk up the street, otherwise your driver can be fined
- Camelback has an elevation of 2,704 feet, which makes it perfect for pictures and views of the city
- you can hire a guide to take you up and will cost about $120 for one hiker and another $30 per person after
- Caution: this is a difficult hike and it can be common to see a helicopter rescuing people from this mountain. (My wife, Cam has been rescued off of the mountain) Be warned, it can get very hot and is rocky in places, so take extra water
- located 8.1 miles from the airport and is a 15 minute drive or 45 minutes when taking the light rail (get on at 44th St/Washington St station and take to Central Ave/Encanto Blvd)
- open Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Free on first Fridays of the month, otherwise it is $18 per adult, $13.50 for seniors, $7.50 for students/children and children under 5 as well as American Indians are free
- can take 3-4 hours
Tempe Town Lake
- located 4.4 miles from the airport and will take either 9 minutes if driving and 36 minutes if you take the light rail from 44th St/Washington St station to Mill Ave
- you can rent outdoor gear to go kayaking, paddle boarding, boating or biking
- they also offer opportunities to pay for Segway tours around the lake and fishing
- it is a short walk from Mill Ave where you can find countless restaurants and ice cream shops for the family
Other Things To Consider
Baseball Game at Chase Field
Places To Eat
Angel’s Trumpet Alehouse
- located north of the airport, in Phoenix and is a 10 min uber/lyft drive down 44th St
- open 11 a.m. to Midnight
- Dog friendly patio
- over 25 different local and national beers on tap, which do change
- Food is excellent and voted best bar in Az in 2015
- price range is $9-30
Little Miss BBQ
- located 1 mile from the airport and will take about 5 minutes for a uber/lyft driver
- open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m (or until sold out)
- people line up early, around 10 a.m. but the line dwindles down around 1 p.m.
- the wait can sometimes reach over 2 hours on certain busy days and their parking lot is small, so be prepared
- BBQ is Texas style meat that can be combined with some of their sides
- price range is $11-30
- Worth the wait!
Rúla Búla Irish Pub
- located in Tempe on Mill Ave, near Arizona State University
- you can take the light rail at 44th St & Washington St station going towards Mesa Dr/Main St, which will take you to Mill Ave/3rd St (a 10 min ride)
- open daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
- they have live music towards the evenings and on Wednesdays they have a Pub quiz from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
- price range is $10-30
- they have two locations, one that you can take the light rail to off of 3rd St stop, which will take a good 35 minutes, with the other one being on 20th St and will be around a 20 minute drive
- open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- some of the best pizza in Phoenix and some consider the best in the country
- price range is $15 – 30
Four Peeks Brewery
- located 6.8 miles in Tempe, it will take you 9 minutes to drive or 45 minutes by taking the light rail from 44th St station to Rural/University stop then walk east down 8th street for 10 minutes
- open daily 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
- they offer free tours of the brewery on Saturday’s
- price range $11 – 20
Other Food To Consider
The Mission Modern Latin Cuisine
Matts Big Breakfast
Ra Sushi Bar Restaurant
Rositas fine Mexican Food ~some great cheap Sonoran Mexican food (our favorite)
Have you been to Phoenix? What are some of the foods or things you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments.
Here’s a clip of riding the Skytrain at the airport on one of the very few days we had fog. Enjoy and happy travels.
Phoenix, AZ, USA
My name is Shannon (37) and I grew up in the Los Angeles area, moved to Las Vegas for a few years and finally made my way to Phoenix, Arizona. This was the city, Camilla, lived in and thus, where we ended up living in. Since a child, I have had the pleasure to travel to 44 of the 50 States in the U.S. for summer vacations due to awesome parents who loved to travel.
From these trips, I grew a love of adventure and exploration. This increased to flying to different parts of the world when I met my girlfriend and future wife, Camilla.
With a B.S. in Biology (emphasis on environmental conservation), my wife and I try to travel with ecotourism and the protection of the countries environment being factor when choosing places. In the past I have worked with rescuing marine animals, like Horn Sharks to a juvenile Black Sea Bass from Power Plants to be rehabilitated and released. Another was hiking the hills of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, looking for the Western Grey Squirrel.
We would like to help other traveler's with inspiration and information on how to make unforgettable memories when exploring what the world has to offer. With over a decade of experience traveling, we can offer stories, advice, guides, and more. There is never a trip that doesn't involve some change of plans when you also have Tourette's Syndrome. Makes for a fun conversation or interesting changes of events.
Along with the travel blog, Adventuresofwifesquared.com, I shares as many photographs on Instagram, pins on Pinterest, and vlogs on YouTube. If you ever see us in the world, come say hi!
I live in Phoenix myself. Last year a friend and his mom had a flight canceled at Sky Harbor, and since I work not far from the airport, we met up and had lunch at Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles on S. Central just south of Buckeye. It’s close enough to the airport to merit a mention. They also have a location in Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor, but I prefer the ambiance at the S. Central location.
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