12 Things To Do in Surprise, Arizona

Surprise is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona with a population of over 130,000 residents. Located just outside Phoenix, it has experienced rapid growth over the past few decades as people seek affordable housing while still having access to big city amenities.

Surprise lives up to its name in the number of great attractions and activities available for visitors and locals alike. From outdoor recreation to shopping and dining, there are many fun things to experience in this sunny southwestern city. Keep reading for twelve can’t miss activities to enjoy during your time in Surprise, Arizona.

Hike White Tank Mountain Regional Park

Spanning over 29,000 acres with nearly 60 miles of trails, White Tank Mountain Regional Park offers superb hiking among the rugged peaks and valleys of the White Tank Mountains. The diverse terrain provides everything from flat desert scrub to steep mountain slopes.

Popular trails include the 2 .5 mile Waterfall Trail which leads to a small waterfall flowing after heavy rains and the moderate 3 mile Ford Canyon Trail through a picturesque canyon. With majestic saguaro cacti dotting the landscape and panoramic views from high elevations, White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Bike Surprise’s Pathways

Surprise boasts an impressive 100+ miles of shared use pathways ideal for walking, running and bicycling through the community. Much of the Surprise pathway system runs parallel to washes and canals providing natural scenery to enjoy along the way.

Popular routes are the 1.5 mile path following the Surprise Farms drainage way allowing pedestrians and cyclists safe passage under Bell Road. As well as the shaded 1 mile trail bordering Oakmont Wash through Falcon Park and across Grand Avenue. Bring your own bike or rent one from Arizona Party Bike Rentals delivering right to your location.

Practice Golf Swings at The Retreat Center

Golf lovers visiting Surprise will want to check out The Retreat Center, which offers a lighted driving range, chipping greens and putting greens. Hone your swing at one of 60 hitting bays on the expansive driving range.

Each 400 square foot tee box area comes equipped with unlimited golf balls. Unwind after practicing in the Mountain View Grill & Bar overlooking the course. The Retreat Center provides an ideal facility to perfect your game next time you’re teeing off in Arizona.

See the Works of Local Artists at West Valley Arts Gallery

Operating as a nonprofit collective, the West Valley Arts Gallery in Old Town Surprise exhibits works from over 35 local artists. Featuring paintings, photography, jewelry, glasswork, ceramics and more, it spotlights talented creators from across the West Valley.

Managed and staffed by member artists, the gallery offers fine art from various veteran and emerging artists. West Valley Arts Gallery also hosts receptions on Friday nights allowing visitors to meet and connect with exhibiting artists during their openings. Don’t miss the opportunity to take home one-of-a-kind art pieces directly from regional craftspeople.

Catch a Comedy Show at Stir Crazy Comedy Club

For laughs and live entertainment check out Stir Crazy Comedy Club located on Bell Road. The intimate venue hosts comedic sets over weekends with national headlining acts and local comics performing. Previous notable comedians coming through Stir Crazy include Carlos Mencia from “Mind of Mencia” and Gilbert Gottfried of Aladdin’s voice fame.

Stir Crazy also features karaoke nights and open mic sessions for amateurs wanting to test their skills. Enjoy appetizers, cocktails or soft drinks while watching professionals and aspiring entertainers alike take the spotlight at Surprise’s favorite comedy hotspot.

Tour the Surprise Heritage & Cultural Center

To learn about area history, art and culture make your way to the Surprise Heritage & Cultural Center situated on the Original Town Site. The museum houses rotating exhibits related to Surprise and the Southwest. Galleries include Early Settlers, Pioneer Living, 20th Century, and Art which demonstrates the city’s agricultural beginnings. Kids can enjoy interactive displays in the children’s workshop.

Don’t miss the Surprise Royalty Exhibit recognizing the city’s annual Miss Surprise pageant running since the 1950s. With old farming equipment dotting gardens outside and permanent installations recounting the region’s past indoors, the Surprise Heritage & Cultural Center makes for an educational visit.

Trendy Boutiques in Old Towne Surprise

The Old Towne Surprise district along Main Street offers a fittingly quaint downtown area to meander and shop local. Along the brick-lined sidewalks are a variety of boutiques, antique stores, salons and galleries waiting to be discovered in the small business community.

Favorites include old-fashioned candy store Sweet Emotions and women’s clothing retailer Buttons ‘N’ Bolts Boutique stocking affordable fashions. Take home a regional souvenir from Arrowhead Gallery selling Native American jewelry, sand paintings, kachina dolls and more. From boutique browsing to patios for relaxing, historic Old Towne Surprise has small town charm.

Unique Shops at AZ Renaissance Festival

During the annual Arizona Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace visitors can peruse wares from over 200 quality artisans and craft vendors. Wandering entertainers like jousters, musicians and dancers add to the lively 16th century European village atmosphere. Shop for medieval period-style clothing, leather goods, candles, hats, glasswork and handcrafted jewelry.

Watch demonstrations by blacksmiths forging tools and feasting gear over fires. And sample tasty turkey legs or sweet pastries from the plethora of food options fitting the theme. Occurring every February through early April, the Arizona Renaissance Festival offers a uniquely themed retail adventure found nowhere else in Surprise.

Discount Shopping at Phoenix Premium Outlets

Just a short drive from Surprise sits Phoenix Premium Outlets, Arizona’s largest outlet shopping destination. The expansive complex holds big name brands including Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade New York and many more.

Shop previous season’s fashions from high end designers at discounted prices with savings up to 65 percent off. Spend the afternoon discovering deals across over 180 outlet stores. Fuel up at one of the on site eateries before hitting another round of retailers. Phoenix Premium Outlets makes checking things off your wish list a bargain friendly endeavor.

Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix Water Park

When Arizona’s hot weather hits, Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix water park provides the perfect place to cool down and get soaked. Sprawling over 30 acres are dozens of waterslides, pools and rides to entertain visitors of all ages. Race down multistory slides like Bomb Bay or tackle extreme rides like The Black Hole and Cliffhanger looping upside down.

Let kids splash away at Fort Rampage interactive play structure with over 80 features. Lounge along a lazy river or lounge poolside after working up an appetite. Then grab classic amusement park fare like funnel cakes, ice cream and pizza to refuel for more adventures at one of the Southwest’s best water parks.

Games and Go-Karts at Surprise Family Fun Center

The aptly named Surprise Family Fun Center offers no shortage of activities for all-ages entertainment. An expansive arcade housing over 90 games caters to kids and kids at heart looking to win tickets for prizes. Adults can play pool or catch the game on big screen TVs at the sports bar.

Outside is a 14 acre park with go-karts, mini golf, batting cages, bumper boats and rock climbing. So whether you want to race friends around the track or practice your swing at virtual baseball, Surprise Family Fun Center is equipped for hours of amusement.

Dinosaur and Dragon Stroll at the RAWhide Event Center

Unique to the city of Surprise is the RAWhide Event Center, part baseball stadium, part themed entertainment venue. Around Christmas RAWhide puts on the Dinosaur and Dragon Stroll transporting patrons to the land of dinosaurs and medieval times. Magnificently decorated grounds allow visitors to view over 50 dinosaurs from babies to a giant Brontosaurus named “Bronty”.

Plus a dozen animated dragons breathing fire and flapping their wings. Other activities include amusement rides, train tours, crafts, archery and Knight School where kids are trained in combat by a wizard. Occurring select dates each December, the Dinosaur and Dragon Stroll makes for a magically prehistoric holiday outing.


With endless sunshine, outdoor pursuits, arts and culture, shopping destinations and family attractions, Surprise, Arizona offers visitors plenty of things to do year-round. Hike desert mountains, explore historic downtowns, splash in water parks or tour a dinosaur landscape. At night catch live comedy or dine out at an eclectic restaurant after a day of memories made.

Ideally situated near bustling Phoenix, the appropriately named city will truly surprise you with amenities rivaling much larger southwestern cities. So next time you’re seeking adventure in Arizona, make sure to spend some time discovering the activities abounding in the city of Surprise.

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