12 Things To Do In Glendale, Arizona

Last Updated on February 9, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled in the heart of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Glendale is a vibrant city with a rich history and lively culture. From exploring diverse museums and catching sports games at state-of-the-art venues to experiencing the Old West and indulging in delicious cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Glendale.

With warm weather year-round, Glendale provides the perfect playground for outdoor activities. Nature lovers can hike through desert landscapes and admire the native flora and fauna, while adventure seekers can ride horses, hit the links at championship golf courses, or float down the lazy river at Wet ‘n’ Wild Waterpark. Families will love visiting the region’s amusement parks and wildlife habitats.

Glendale also boasts a vibrant arts and entertainment scene. Music lovers can catch live concerts at venues like the Historical Manistee Ranch, while theatergoers can take in Broadway-style productions at the Arrowhead Towne Center. For shopaholics, Glendale offers premium outlets and antique shops bursting with unique finds.

From rich history to family fun to outdoor adventures, Glendale has it all. Here are the top 12 things to do in this southwestern city:

Explore the Musical Instrument Museum

As one of the world’s largest musical instrument museums, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) houses over 15,000 instruments and objects from nearly 200 countries. Permanent exhibits allow you to explore genres and regions around the globe through multimedia displays, while special exhibitions highlight specific artists, topics, and instruments.

Some must-see exhibits at MIM include the Artist Gallery, which pays homage to music legends like Taylor Swift and Carlos Santana; the Experience Gallery, where you can play instruments from Egypt, China, and more; and the Way Out West exhibit, showcasing the sounds of the American West. The museum also hosts live global music performances and family-friendly programs.

With its vast collection, interactive exhibits, and vibrant performing arts calendar, the Musical Instrument Museum hits all the right notes.

Catch a Spring Training Game

As the Cactus League’s largest stadium, the Peoria Sports Complex plays host to both the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners for spring training every March. Catching a spring training game allows you to see professional baseball players up close as they prepare for the MLB regular season.

The Peoria Sports Complex offers 8,000 seats in a beautiful open-air ballpark setting with views of the Estrella Mountains. Fans can watch future baseball superstars take the field and enjoy fun contests like the fan-favorite Cactus League Hot Dog Derby. With tickets starting at just $8, spring training games at the Peoria Sports Complex make for affordable family-friendly entertainment.

Ride Horses at the Scorpion Ranch

Nestled below the White Tank Mountains, Scorpion Ranch provides a taste of the Old West just minutes from downtown Glendale. At this family-owned ranch, you can sign up for one-hour to full-day horseback rides to explore the Sonoran Desert terrain on trails meandering through washes and saguaro cacti. Riding lessons and sunset rides are also available.

Friendly guides will match you with a gentle horse based on your skill level. You’ll ride in small groups so you can chat with fellow riders while seeing gorgeous desert scenery. The ranch even has pony rides for little buckaroos. With its spectacular mountain views and experienced wranglers, Scorpion Ranch is a perfect place to bond with horses in Arizona’s Wild West.

Shop ’til You Drop at Arrowhead Towne Center

As the Southwest’s largest shopping destination, Arrowhead Towne Center features over 200 stores ranging from high-end boutiques to national retailers. Shoppers can browse anchors like Macy’s, Dillard’s, and Nordstrom as well as specialty stores such as Apple, Microsoft, and Pandora. The open-air center also houses a 16-screen movie theater, over 20 diverse restaurants, and attractions like Sky Harbor flights drone arena and Trippy Jump indoor trampoline park.

With 1.3 million square feet of retail space amidst landscaped courtyards, Arrowhead Towne Center provides a one-stop shopper’s paradise. Fashionistas can revamp their wardrobe with the latest styles while techies can gear up with electronics. Families will love exploring the stores before catching a blockbuster movie and having dinner at one of the trendy restaurants.

Hike Quartz Peak Trail

For panoramic views of the Valley of the Sun, head to the Quartz Peak Trail located on the northern edge of Sahuaro Ranch Park. This moderate 3-mile loop climbs 800 feet to the summit of Quartz Peak, rewarding hikers with stunning 360-degree vistas.

The trail meanders through typical Sonoran Desert terrain, with towering saguaros, golden barrels, and lacy ocotillos dotting the landscape. You’ll also enjoy sights of Glendale suburbs giving way to desert wilderness. The exposed peak provides the ideal vantage point to admire sweeping city views alongside rugged mountain silhouettes.

With diverse desert scenery and gorgeous bird’s-eye panoramas, the Quartz Peak Trail is a quintessential Glendale hike. Just remember to carry plenty of water and wear sturdy shoes to traverse the rocky path.

Tour Challenger Space Center Arizona

Whether you dream of space travel or simply enjoy air and space history, Challenger Space Center Arizona offers an educational and inspiring experience. Through hands-on exhibits and immersive simulations, you can explore space travel challenges, walk on Mars, and even dock a space shuttle.

Must-do activities at the center include experiencing 4D space flight on the Astronaut Training Simulator, designing a lunar colony in the certified STEM program, and touching an authentic piece of moon rock. You can also tour a full-sized space shuttle cockpit and communicate with an orbiting astronaut at the Mission Control exhibit.

With programs tailored for all ages and interest levels, the Challenger Space Center brings the wonders of the cosmos down to Earth. From aspiring astronauts to sci-fi fans, visitors of all backgrounds leave feeling connected to outer space.

Tee Off at Wigwam Golf Club

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1965, the Gold Course at Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa has played host to countless professional golf tournaments. Most famously, it hosted the Thunderbirds for the PGA Phoenix Open Tournament for over 50 years. With its emerald fairways set against rugged desert terrain, this championship golf course offers a world-class and challenging 18 holes stretching nearly 7,300 yards.

The Gold Course at Wigwam takes full advantage of the region’s natural elevation changes while keeping the traditional aspects of a classic desert golf layout with beautiful vistas. Strategically placed bunkers, water features, and contoured greens demand accuracy. After you play a round, enjoy a meal with views at Red’s Bar & Grill in the spacious clubhouse.

For an unforgettable game featuring the sophistication of a premier resort course balanced with the charm of traditional golf, tee up at the storied Wigwam Gold.

Take a Foodie Tour of Glendale’s Top Restaurants

From all-American diners to ethnic eateries, Glendale’s dining scene dishes up something for every palate. For an excellent overview of the city’s culinary highlights, Embark on a self-guided tasting tour to savor signature plates at these three must-try restaurants:

Bitzee Mama – Kick off your foodie adventure at this cozy eatery specializing in eclectic comfort food. Their menu takes you on a world tour from papas bravas potatoes to Asian duck tacos. Be sure to try their famous buttermilk fried chicken with truffle honey.

La Piazza al Forno – Next, head to this hip pizzeria to enjoy authentic Neapolitan-style pizza bubbles blistered to perfection in an imported Italian wood-fire oven. Their housemade mozzarella, flavorful sauce, and imported meats top pies that Food Network lists among Arizona’s best.

Upton 46 – Cap off your tour by heading to Upton 46 for New American plates and handcrafted cocktails in a chic, converted 1930s movie theater. Their whole roasted chicken and truffle fries pair nicely with a refreshing cucumber jalapeño margarita or other unique signature libation.

From the comfort classics at Bitzee Mama to perfect pizza at La Piazza and creative novo cuisine at Upton 46, a dedicated food tour lets you nibble your way through Glendale’s tapestry of culinary traditions.

Browse the Shops at Historic Manistee Ranch

For a change of pace from cookie-cutter malls, check out the Shops at Historic Manistee Ranch. This restored barn-turned-marketplace captures the region’s Western heritage through rustic architecture and Old West motifs paired with stalls selling handmade goods.

More than a traditional shopping center, Manistee Ranch also provides a venue for live music and community events. Browse stalls to find Native American jewelry, pottery from local artisans, and Western-inspired home goods. On Friday nights, you can shop while tapping your boot at free concerts playing country and folk on the Hayloft Stage. Special events like craft fairs, car shows and cowboy gatherings occur year-round.

The quaint barn setting and variety of vendors makes treasure hunting at the Shops at Historic Manistee Ranch an authentic experience for supporting small businesses and connecting with Glendale’s cultural roots.

Check Out Catlin Court in Historic Downtown Glendale

Just steps from Glendale’s original downtown strip, Catlin Court offers a pedestrian-only oasis lined with antique stores, boutiques, wine bars and bistros. You can spend hours browsing two floors hosting 20+ shops filled with rare finds. Peruse antique toys, rustic furnishings, Native American artifacts, fine art, and eclectic gifts ranging from jewelry to home goods.

When you need a break from shopping, stop at one of Catlin Court’s wine bars or restaurants with shaded outdoor patios. Enjoy a glass of wine at Merkin Vineyards or craft beer at Ladder copper ale house as you watch the restored vintage neon signs blink to life when evening falls. Thanks to its walkability, charm and variety of shops and eateries, Catlin Court makes for an idyllic afternoon escape.

See a Show at Glendale Arts & Culture Center

As one of Phoenix’s premier performing arts venues, the Glendale Arts & Culture Center houses two state-of-the-art theaters showcasing musicals, plays, children’s shows, concerts and more. Opening in 1998 after renovating a former movie theater, the center features distinctive Southwestern architecture with terracotta tiles and exposed wood beams alongside modern amenities.

The center’s largest theater seats 442 with an orchestra pit and full fly system, allowing for ambitious Broadway-caliber productions. Meanwhile, the smaller 90-seat theater provides an intimate black-box setting for avant-garde and children’s performances. Beyond marquee shows, the Glendale Arts & Culture Center also offers acting and dance classes for youth and adults through their community arts programs.

With its diverse programming, family-friendly creative courses and two versatile theaters, the Glendale Arts & Culture Center spotlights the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

Make a Splash at Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix

When Phoenix temperatures spike, locals head to Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix water park to keep cool in the desert heat. As Arizona’s largest waterpark, Wet ‘n’ Wild features more than 35 rides and attractions spread across lushly landscaped grounds.

Park highlights include world-class waterslides like the steep Freefall Speed Slide plunging nearly 70 feet and high-speed tubes of the Constrictor. For little ones, the park offers a wave pool with gentle swells, a splash area with mini slides, and the lazy river. When you need a break from the water, check out the WaveHouse Restaurant & Beach Club for beach vibes, brews and bites right in the park. You can also attend DJ-fueled Dive In Movies during select summer nights.

With heart-racing slides, mellow floats and family play areas – plus dining, private cabanas and evening entertainment – Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix offers whole days of aquatic fun under the desert sun.

Conclusion

Between sports stadiums and museums, shops and nature escapes – not to mention vibrant arts and diverse dining – Glendale packs plenty of things to do for travelers of all ages and interests. From cowboy adventures in the Old West to cutting edge culture, the city seamlessly blends history with modern attractions.

So whether you want to ride horses through cactus-studded trails or cheer at a spring training game, indulge in eclectic cuisine or rock out to live music, Glendale makes the ideal home base to experience Arizona’s storied past meets cosmopolitan present. With this list of top things to do, you’re ready to explore the very best of what this desert city has to offer.

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