Phoenix in 48 Hours: 13 Places Not to Miss

Desert landscapes, culture and fine food in the Arizona capital

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You can’t possibly experience all the arts, culture, history, and outdoor adventure that makes Phoenix such a popular destination in a weekend. But, if you only have 48 hours, this itinerary hits some of the highlights.

Day 1 in Phoenix


Start your day at Matt’s Big Breakfast, known for its hearty breakfasts featuring fresh, locally-sourced ingredients like cage-free eggs from Hickman’s Family Farms and sausage from The Pork Shop. Try the eggs with thick-cut bacon or country sausage or the fluffy griddlecakes with real maple syrup.


Visit the world-renowned Heard Museum. Founded in 1929 by Dwight and Maie Heard, the museum rotates a collection of approximately 44,000 Native American artifacts and artwork through its 12 galleries. Much of what’s on display comes from Southwestern tribes, but you’ll also find pieces from those in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and elsewhere.

For a broader art experience, check out the Phoenix Art Museum instead. The museum, which boasts it is the largest art museum in the Southwest, features everything from European classics and contemporary installations to photography and fashion.


Head to Heritage Square for lunch at Pizzeria Bianco, which has been heralded by The New York Times, Food & Wine, and Rachael Ray as the best pizza in country. If you have enough time while waiting, tour the Rosson House, the fully-restored Queen Anne Victorian next door.


Learn about the unique plants and landscapes of the Sonoran Desert at the Desert Botanical Garden. Once a trek out of town, this 140-acree garden showcases more than 21,000 plants, more than one-third of which are native, including roughly 140 rare, threatened, or endangered species.

Or, head next door to the Phoenix Zoo. It’s one of the largest non-profit zoos in the country and home to more than 1,400 animals, including 30 endangered or threated species.

If you want to spend more time in the area, hike along the easy trails in Papago Park or tour the Hall of Flame Fire Museum.


Steaks and ice cold martinis are staples at Durant’s, a Mad Men-era restaurant with red leather booths and dim lighting. You can’t go wrong with beef, of course, but Durant’s also serves fresh seafood and chicken dishes.

Late night:

Not ready for the evening to end? Make your way to Bitter & Twisted. Housed in the building that once served as the state’s Prohibition headquarters, Bitter & Twisted slings some of the best cocktails in the Valley.

Spend the night at the Arizona Biltmore. The resort has a storied past. Frank Lloyd Wright served as a consulting architect in its design, Irvin Berlin penned “White Christmas” while lounging by its pool, and Clark Gable lost his wedding ring on the golf course. Not to mention that the resort can count every president from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush as guests.

Day 2 in Phoenix


Butters Pancakes & Café is worth a short detour this morning for the impressive selection of pancakes that range from traditional to inventive variations like Oreo cookie S’more. You’ll also find omelets and paninis on the menu.


The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in north Phoenix has been recognized as one of the top 20 museums in the United States for a reason. First, it displays 6,500 musical instruments from nearly 200 countries and territories, including those from music legends like John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Plus, most of the displays are enhanced by state-of-the-art audio and video technologies so you can see and hear the instruments being played. If you love music, you could spend the whole day here.


For lunch, stay put. Café Allegro, the award-winning restaurant located inside the MIM, serves a rotating menu of global and regional cuisine featuring fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant is casual and offers vegetarian, vegan, and kid-friendly options.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter school and residence, Taliesin West, is roughly a 20 minute drive from the MIM and something you won’t want to miss. Allot 90 minutes for the Insight Tour, which includes Wright’s living quarters. The website warns that during the summer, indoor building temperatures may exceed 90 degrees, so you may want to postpone the trip until the evening when Taliesin West offers its Night Lights Tour.


Enjoy fine dining on one of the best patios in Phoenix at Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn, once the home of cowboy artist Alonzo “Lon” Megargee. The restaurant serves a garden-to-plate menu with much of the produce used coming from its 1-acre, organic plot behind the kitchen. Lon’s is also known for its extensive wine list and the creative cocktails that flow from its bar, Last Drop at the Hermosa Inn.

Late night:

Raise a glass to your 48 hours in Phoenix at The Wright Bar at the Arizona Biltmore. This isn’t just any hotel bar—it’s where Gene Sulit, a hotel bartender, created the original Tequila Sunrise in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Live piano music plays on most nights.

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