Phoenix is known as an ideal spot to soak up the sun, play a round of golf, or get pampered at the spa. But if unique attractions are more to your liking, there are several options available. Here are our favorite five unique and affordable must-sees during your next Phoenix area vacation.
Phoenix’s Mystery Castle was created as a love letter from a father to his little girl. As a child growing up in the 1930s, Mary Lou Gulley begged her dad, Boyce Gulley, to build her a castle that wouldn’t wash away like sandcastles in the ocean. She suggested that the desert would be the ideal location, and Gulley went about creating the Mystery Castle, which boasts 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, parapets, and many other nooks and crannies to explore. Unfortunately, Gulley died before the family could move in, but Mary Lou did eventually live in the castle, giving tours until her death in 2010. Today, visitors can tour the unique castle from October through May.
Pro Tip: Be sure to bring cash, as credit cards are not accepted.
The Heard Museum spotlights the history and culture of American Indians through traditional and contemporary art.
The permanent collection boasts over 40,000 pieces of fine art and objects, including Hopi katsina dolls, Navajo and Zuni jewelry, Navajo textiles, and Southwestern ceramics from prehistory to the present.
Pro Tip: Take advantage of free admission the first Friday of the month from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., except for March.
Arizona Science Center
If you’re looking for a fun and educational escape for the kids, head to the Arizona Science Center in Downtown Phoenix. There are four levels of hands-on exhibits designed to spark creativity and an interest in science at an early age.
The Dorrance Planetarium, one of the largest in the country, offers several daily showings that highlight the wonders of the sky.
Pro Tip: Many school groups visit in the morning, so plan to go after 1 p.m.
Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum features more than 19,000 objects in nine focus areas including American and Western American art, Latin American art, fashion design, photography, and more.
The fashion collection is one of the most unique in the world, with more than 6,000 items depicting 500 years of fashion history.
Pro Tip: “Pay What You Wish” on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Or enjoy free admission on the first Friday of the month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) contains over 8,000 instruments from more than 200 countries and features special exhibits and concerts throughout the year. Sections popular with kids include the Experience Gallery, where you can try out a host of instruments, and the Mechanical Music Gallery, which features instruments that play themselves.
Pro Tip: The museum’s Café Allegro is known for its menu of globally inspired fare featuring local ingredients.
Info Source: Vistana
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Mystery Castle – Wikipedia by Lockley via Public Domain
Heard Museum – Wikipedia by Yassie – License CC BY-SA 3.0
Arizona Science Center – Wikidata by Kirs10 – License CC0
Phoenix Art Museum – Wikipedia by Kirs10 – Licence Public Domain
Musical Instrument Museum – Visit Arizona