One day in Phoenix allows you to enjoy the area’s entertainment among downtown skyscrapers, and get out into nature. With its close proximity to Scottsdale and a desert oasis less than one hour from the city, there’s no reason to simply look at nature from afar. Here’s how to make the most of Phoenix in one day.
Rise before dawn for a scenic hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert. Flying high above the Valley of the Sun affords postcard-worthy views, and then celebrate upon landing with a Champagne breakfast. Adventurous visitors seeking more speed can take an ATV ride, which gets you closer to desert canyons, creeks, and cacti. Alternatively, sneak in bird watching and wildlife viewing on a river rafting trip; the Lower Salt River offers easy access, and the whole family can enjoy its lazy Class I “rapids.” Whichever excursion you choose, a morning tour increases your chances of spotting Arizona’s native fauna.
Spending time in Scottsdale is a must, and there are myriad ways to experience it. Explore the numerous eateries, shops, and art galleries on foot or by food trolley; zip around on a 2-wheeled electric Segway through Old Town; or combine your sightseeing with a tour of Phoenix highlights such as the majestic Arizona Biltmore and Arizona State Capitol. Alternatively, ride off-road into the desert aboard a 4x4 vehicle. With a guide to lead the way, tours offer commentary on points of interest and often provide hotel pickup and drop-off to make getting to each destination easy.
The shimmering city lights and desert sunsets from Phoenix are not to be missed. Party-types can book a people-powered party bike that lets passengers drink up in downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale with stops at bars and drink specials. To admire the city skyline from above, take to the skies on an aerial tour that includes sunset views over Camelback. The cliffs and canyons of Tonto National Forest—just two hours away—are teeming with wildlife such as bighorn sheep. Or, complete your day with a scenic boat trip across Saguaro Lake.