Whether you’re new to Phoenix or you’ve lived here your whole life, there’s always something new and exciting to see and do. And if you do some careful research, you can find some events and activities that are free, too. Because let’s face it — it’s easy to enjoy a leisurely day or an evening out when you have money to spend, but the satisfaction of going out without glancing at your wallet is tough to beat.
Below we cover some of the best free events and exhibits that Phoenix has to offer.
On the first Friday of every month, art galleries in downtown Phoenix open their doors —for free. Galleries, studios, and cultural venues turn into public spaces from 6-10 p.m. and leave you free to explore. It’s the perfect way to spend a warm summer evening with friends, your spouse, or a first date.
First Friday host Artlink also offers a free trolley tour on each First Friday, which makes getting around even easier. The trolleys stop at designated “Park-and-Ride” hubs that are specifically available for this event.
Between the free entertainment and free transportation, this monthly event is fun and community-oriented —and it happens every month!
Scottsdale, Phoenix’s neighbor to the northeast, has your Thursday nights covered: every Thursday of the year, from 7-9 p.m. you get free access to over 100 art galleries in the downtown area during ArtWalk. The Scottsdale ArtWalk also affords you the chance to meet with local artists and fellow art aficionados in the area.
Select evenings are sponsored by select companies and brands, and if you’re lucky enough to attend a sponsored event, you’ll may also be treated to live entertainment and food and drink samples from local food and beverage vendors.
Similarly to First Fridays in Phoenix, there are many free transportation options available at the Scottsdale ArtWalk, including horse-drawn carriage rides, golf carts and trolley rides to ensure everyone can get to and from the event safely.
Drive the Apache Trail
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a drive on the Apache Trail, which offers some of the most stunning natural vistas around. Depending on the route you take, this could either be a short afternoon jaunt or a full day adventure, with plenty of opportunities for scenic pit stops, hiking trails, and picnics along the way.
But the trail isn’t for the faint of heart: you’ll still face plenty of narrow, winding roads with steep drops. A majority of the trail is paved, though, with major improvements like wider lanes and less steep grades to drive.
Our best advice is to do your research ahead of time, choose a small vehicle for your journey, and pick a day with mild weather. Rainy and windy days should be avoided (for obvious reasons), as well as days with scorching temperatures to prevent your vehicle from overheating.
If you have a library card, you’re halfway to getting yourself a Culture Pass. A Culture Pass can be obtained at one of the 17 Phoenix Public Library locations, and it gives you free admission for two people to participating art and cultural institutions in the city. The Phoenix Art Museum, Desert Botanical Garden, and Arizona Science Center are just a few of the participating venues you can visit with a Culture Pass.
Passes are limited to two per month and are available on a first come, first serve basis. Your best chance of getting a pass is to arrive at the library early, and you can also visit the website to see which passes are currently available.
Free Museum Days
If you missed out on obtaining Culture Passes, you could also visit select museums around the city on designated Free Days. Below is an abbreviated list of participating museums:
Arizona Science Center
- Free membership for educators
- Free admission for seniors 62+ the first Sunday of every month
Desert Botanical Garden
- Free admission the second Tuesday of every month (8 a.m.–8 p.m.)
Phoenix Art Museum
- Wednesdays 3-9 p.m.
- Discount Tire Free Family Weekends: 12-5 p.m., every second weekend of the month
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
- Free admission all day Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 5-9 p.m.
Do More for Less
You don’t need to spend money to enjoy a night out with family, friends, or a loved one. Some careful planning and research can help you enjoy your time in Phoenix for little to no cost. And by living local in a luxury Aderra condominium, you’ll have easy access to all of these events, and more! Contact Aderra today to schedule a tour of the property and to find out more about the benefits of living in the desert.