15 Landmarks in Phoenix, Arizona, You Must See

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A city skyline and trees on a sunny day
The year-long sunny weather in Phoenix, Arizona, is perfect for exploring

Phoenix is a vibrant and bustling city with a lot to offer. From natural landmarks like the South Mountain Park and Preserve to more cultural spots like the Phoenix Art Museum, there's something for everyone in "The Valley of the Sun."

However, with so many choices, narrowing down what deserves a spot in the top 15 must-see landmarks in your itinerary can be difficult. Whether you're planning a trip or want to learn more about this lively state capital, keep reading. By the end of this article, you'll know a little more about the 15 landmarks in Phoenix, Arizona, you must see.

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15 Phoenix, Arizona, Landmarks

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Phoenix Landmarks Map

A map of Phoenix landmarks. Use the map to explore all of the points of interest.

Phoenix Landmarks Map

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A brick building with many windows and a hanging bell in the middle of the garden
The Arizona Capitol Museum building was previously the seat of the state's government

Arizona Capitol Museum

The Arizona Capitol Museum is one of the most famous Phoenix landmarks and today is an educational center dedicated to learning about the state's history and culture. It was previously the seat of the state's government until all the governing offices were moved elsewhere in 1974.

However, just because the capitol building is no longer the beating heart of Arizona's legislation doesn't mean its importance has decreased. The same year it stopped serving as a governing office, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Phoenix Zoo

Who would have thought you could see exotic animals from around the world in a desert state like Arizona? Well, it's true! From elephants to coyotes, over 3,000 different animal species can be found at the Phoenix Zoo in Maricopa County.

It's also one of the largest non-profit zoos in the country, with most of its funding going toward the zoo's species conservation endeavors. It's a great place to visit any time of year, and ticketed educational and entertainment events are occasionally hosted on the property as fundraisers.

☂️ Visit the Phoenix Zoo with an experience

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Blue painted letters on the wall of a building saying "Van Buren"
The Van Buren is a popular concert venue in downtown Phoenix

The Van Buren

When it comes to Phoenix landmarks, the Van Buren is one of the newest. This music venue has only been open since 2017, but it's becoming a veritable landmark for the city. The platform doesn't cater only to a specific genre, so all music fans can enjoy themselves at shows.

Artists like Dua Lipa, Kacey Musgraves, and Sting have performed here. Taking in a concert at the Van Buren is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Phoenix for music lovers.

Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum

Since 1969, the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum has hosted guests at its historical Phoenix buildings. From an authentic Ashurst Cabin and the childhood home of the state's first senator to a town cemetery, the museum combines original and replicated buildings to recreate the life of the first Arizonans.

In the 1950s, many of the oldest buildings in the state were demolished to make way for new developments. The Pioneer Arizona Foundation was formed to preserve history, and the 90 acres of land the buildings were built on were purchased.

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A building with a large sandy area in front
S'edav Va'aki Museum is one of many must-see landmarks in Phoenix, Arizona

S'edav Va'aki Museum

S'edav Va'aki Museum, previously known as Pueblo Grande Museum Archaeological Park, is one of Arizona's most significant archaeological sites and is one of the best representations of the civilizations that once lived there. The park comprises a few main structures dating back to the pre-Colombian era.

The ruins consist of the remains of a ritual ball court, a canal system, and a constructed platform mound. In addition, a building dedicated to showcasing other minor artifacts found in the area opened in the park in 1964.

Children's Museum of Phoenix

If you're traveling to Phoenix with young children, make sure to plan a day to visit the Children's Museum of Phoenix. This center is a favorite among locals and tourists thanks to its 300 interactive exhibits that let children learn while playing and having fun.

Many of the museum's experiences are meant to help children express their creativity and become interested in diverse fields like biology, theater, and music. Just keep in mind that many of these exhibits are designed primarily for children ten and under

Rolling desert with a power line in the distance
South Mountain Park and Preserve is the perfect place to go hiking

South Mountain Park and Preserve

With over 50 miles of hiking trails, South Mountain Park and Preserve is a popular natural landmark in Phoenix with locals and visitors. Since the park covers over 16,000 acres of land, there's plenty of room or visitors to roam.

As a result of its popularity and beauty, it's estimated that over two million people visit the park annually. Additionally, it was named one of the 33 landmarks that make up the Phoenix Points of Pride.

☂️ Join a tour to see South Mountain Park and Preserve

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Once you learn the Phoenix, Arizona, fact that the city has a population of nearly two million people, it's normal to want to find a place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

That's where the Japanese Friendship Garden comes into play. It's the fruit of a collaboration between Arizona's capital and its sister city, Himeji, Japan. Architects from Japan even made 60 trips between the cities to ensure the garden was built authentically.

Initially, only part of the garden was open to the public, but by 2002, the entire three-and-a-half-acre site was finished, complete with a tea garden and tea house. You can stroll the garden and enjoy its 12-foot waterfall, koi ponds, and over 50 different types of plants native to Japan.

A Victorian house with a tall tower
Rosson House is located in the historical Heritage Square District

Rosson House Museum

History buffs can glimpse 19th-century life in the Phoenix area by exploring Rosson House. The house's origin dates back to 1895, and even the newer parts of the home have been restored to their original Queen Anne Victorian style.

Interestingly, the museum attracts ghost hunters and lovers of the paranormal because the building's caretaker died on the grounds in the 1980s. Since then, rumors that his ghost still roams the halls have surrounded the property.

☂️ Visit Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square on a tour

Phoenix Art Museum

If you're looking for Phoenix, Arizona, landmarks that showcase the city's cultural side, look no further than the Phoenix Art Museum. With nine permanent collections and over 18,000 pieces, it's one of the most acclaimed art collections in the country.

The museum doesn't just display local or US art; you can find pieces from across the world, from Asian artworks to Latin American works. It's such a popular spot that people book it as a wedding venue!

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Signage saying "MIM, Musical Instrument Museum 4725" with a building at the back
The Musical Instrument Museum has a collection of over 15,000 musical instruments

Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum is one of the most underrated sites in Phoenix, but it's still gained a large following in the music world. It might surprise you that it's the largest museum of its kind in the world.

This museum of music history has an impressive collection of 15,000 instruments acquired from over 200 countries worldwide. It also houses a 300-seat theater that regularly hosts concerts from the classical to the rock genres.

Desert Botanical Garden

Within Papago Park, you'll find one of the most beautiful Phoenix, Arizona, monuments. The Desert Botanical Garden spans 140 acres and is home to thousands of plants native to Arizona's desert climate.

Rather than keeping the plants in greenhouses, the garden is arranged into multiple trails to allow you to meander and explore at your own pace. However, while the garden is worth visiting no matter when you come to the area, March is the best time to visit Phoenix if you want to see the flowers in bloom.

Papago Park is one of the best natural landmarks in Phoenix, Arizona
Papago Park has many unique geological formations and eight hiking trails

Papago Park

Without Papago Park, no list of Phoenix, AZ, landmarks would be complete. Shared with the city of Tempe, the park stretches out over 1,500 acres, most of which fall within Phoenix's territory.

The park is a notable spot for outdoor lovers because of its numerous geological features and eight hiking trails. It's home to the famous Hole-in-the-Rock formation, a series of openings formed in a sandstone hill over time. There are also many picnic areas, and the park is dog-friendly.

North Central Avenue

North Central Avenue is the most famous street in Arizona's capital. It was the city's geographic center at one time and is the location of some of the most historic buildings in Phoenix.

In 1960, Phoenix built its first skyscrapers. Standing at just under 350 feet, the Phoenix Corporate Center quickly became the tallest building in the state. Soon after, multiple other high-rises were built, symbolizing Phoenix's rapid growth.

Today, North Central Avenue runs through the bustling heart of Phoenix and is a protected neighborhood with numerous businesses representing the state's culture and history.

Tall skyscrapers with a tree in front under a clear blue sky
Downtown Phoenix is home to many attractions, like museums

Downtown Phoenix

If you're interested in historical places in Phoenix, Arizona, you must visit the city's downtown area. With its roots dating back to the mid-1800s, it's the most historic part of the Phoenix metro area.

Downtown Phoenix is also the area's cultural hub and where you'll find some of Arizona's best music venues and museums and the best culinary experiences the city has to offer, thanks to its 200 restaurants. The area is well connected to the rest of the city via its railway system, so you can get around easily.

☂️ Join a tour to see Downtown Phoenix

In Summary

There's always something to see and do in a city with as much history and diversity as Phoenix. History lovers can spend days exploring the city's downtown area, while outdoor activity enthusiasts can explore parks and botanical gardens.

Hopefully, this article has helped you learn more about the city's famous sites, enabling you to whittle down your list of must-see Phoenix landmarks and have the best possible trip to "The Valley of the Sun."

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Gabrielle loves all things travel and culture. She is originally from the USA, but she has lived in Italy for over a decade. She's always ready to pack her bags, grab her passport, and head out on an adventure!

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