AAA Travel Tips / Phoenix Off the Beaten Path

Phoenix Off the Beaten Path

AAA/Frank Swanson
By AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson
February 07, 2019
Whether you’re a regular seasonal visitor looking for new things to do or a first-timer trying to avoid the crowds, these lesser-known Phoenix destinations promise unforgettable vacation memories. Enjoy gorgeous city views from a mountain peak, find out what it takes to fight fires or explore how music unites the world’s diverse cultures as you experience Arizona’s Valley of the Sun.
Chase Field, Home of the MLB Arizona Diamond Backs, Phoenix, Arizona
AAA/Frank Swanson
Chase Field
401 E. Jefferson St.
(602) 514-8400
Home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field makes airplane hangers look petite. You can experience its impressive dimensions firsthand during a guided, 75-minute tour that includes a luxury suite, the dugout and the visiting team’s clubhouse. You’ll definitely be impressed by the massive retractable roof and the unusual swimming pool built into the stands in right field. Among the things to see after your tour: the baseball-themed kinetic sculpture outside the stadium. It’s an endlessly watchable, almost hypnotic Rube Goldberg machine filled with bells, gongs and all kinds of crazy contraptions triggered by balls rolling along tracks.
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Antique fire equipment in the Hall of Flame Fire Museum near Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona
AAA/Frank Swanson
Hall of Flame Fire Museum
6101 E. Van Buren St.
(602) 275-3473
For obvious reasons, Phoenix chose the mythical bird rising from flames as its symbol, so what could be more fitting than it being home to one of the nation’s largest museums focused on all things related to firefighting? From hand-operated pumps and horse-drawn hose carriages to dispatching consoles with a lighted map last used by the Phoenix Fire Department in the 1970s, the AAA GEM® Hall of Flame Fire Museum covers a lot of history. And with so many bright, shiny fire trucks, the museum is perfect if you’re looking for fun things to do with kids.
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Displays of instruments and costumes from around the world in the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona
AAA/Frank Swanson
Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E. Mayo Blvd.
(480) 478-6000
What would happen if you took a building the size of a shopping mall and filled it with thousands of drums, lutes, guitars, xylophones, flutes, horns and harps from every nation in the world? Why, you’d have MIM, the AAA GEM Musical Instrument Museum, which treats visitors to a fascinating look at how universal the “universal language” actually is. Drifting from gallery to gallery, looking at instruments ranging from the familiar to the bizarre, can take hours thanks to the scope of MIM’s amazing collection. Even if you never joined your high school’s marching band and can’t carry a tune in a bucket, you’ll definitely want to add MIM to your list of things to do.
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The view from the Piestewa Peak Trail in Phoenix, Arizona
AAA/Frank Swanson
Piestewa Peak
5994 E. Squaw Peak Dr.
(602) 262-6011
Not many major metros can claim to have soaring peaks within their city limits, but Phoenix can. Less trafficked than popular Camelback Mountain, 2,608-foot Piestewa Peak offers more visitor amenities (think parking and bathrooms) than its taller sibling and the views are just as breathtaking. Keep in mind that the hike up can be as literally breathtaking, too. The effort is worth it though, and you’ll want to take plenty of breaks for photos anyway. Be sure to look for your chance to capture a classic shot of a saguaro cactus or two with the Valley of the Sun in the background.
Taliesin West, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Scottsdale near Phoenix, Arizona
AAA/Frank Swanson
Taliesin West
12345 N. Taliesin Dr.
Scottsdale, Arizona
(480) 860-2700
In the mid-1930s, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his third wife, Olgivanna, decided to escape the snows of central Wisconsin for the Phoenix area’s milder winter climate. They established Taliesin West as a seasonal destination for themselves and Wright’s growing number of apprentices. Over the years what started out as a rustic camp expanded into a complex of low-slung modern buildings complemented by gardens, fountains, terraces and walkways. Today AAA GEM Taliesin West serves as an architectural school offering tours lasting between an hour to 3 hours depending on the tour. Among the things to see are the Wrights’ private living quarters, the drafting studio, Music Pavilion and ancient petroglyphs found on the property.
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