When you first started to imagine an Arizona vacation in the capital city of our state, what did you imagine it would be like? Were you picturing cactus growing in the yards of your very comfortable Paseo Homes sanctuaries, morning horseback rides through the desert as the sun rose over the mountains, and spending nights watching professional basketball, baseball, hockey, or football? While all those things could very possibly come true, visitors are often surprised that Phoenix is quite a metropolitan city, offering a vibrant art and culture lifestyle, filled with live theater, sophisticated museums, and fine dining, and today, we at Paseo Homes have created this ultimate guide to Phoenix arts and culture in our Southwestern home town, providing a peek into a vacation that offers many sides of wonderful.

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Discover the art and culture scene in Phoenix

Something Different

The beauty of Phoenix is represented in many ways. Whether it’s the sun setting the sky on fire with the mountains appearing as shadows that break up the light, or the historic buildings of the downtown area—including the Maricopa County Old Courthouse, built in 1928 and still in use today—these are just a couple of things you should explore during your Arizona adventures, but first, we want to introduce you to the murals that grace the front of many of the buildings in Phoenix.

Prince Tribute, Painted by Maggie Keene

This mural is one of the newer ones in the Phoenix area but is one that is already gaining attention with residents and visitors alike. The purple backdrop (as if it would be any other color) offers multiple portraits of Prince, so realistic looking it almost makes you forget he is no longer with us. Using two automotive mirrors as the lenses of his sunglasses is a quirky and cool touch, giving the mural a 3D appeal.

Majerle’s Sport’s Grill, Painted by Jake Early and Quinn Murphy, 24 N 2nd Street

Majerle’s is a local sports bar owned by one of our hometown heroes, former Phoenix Suns player Dan Majerle, and the televisions inside are wonderful, the food is fantastic, but it is the colorful mural painted on the side of the restaurant that will grab your attention. This abstract design represents the beauty of our Southwestern city, featuring the sun, the Phoenix skyline, and the buttes and mountains that make up our landscape, painted with vibrant, neon colors that stand out against our cerulean skies.

The Rebel Lounge Arizona Mural, 2303 E Indian School Road

We are always looking for a great selfie background and this mural that spells out the word Arizona is a popular one for tourists. Each letter was painted by a different artist, offering a vibrant peek into the landscape that we love so well and making a perfect postcard of your Phoenix visit. The Rebel Lounge is also a live music venue where new bands come to play, making it the perfect lead into our next set of cultural activities, the entertainment venues of the region.

Live music performed by a band

All the Town Is a Stage

The live performance stages of Phoenix provide some of the biggest talents in the nation and these spots listed below will ensure that your adventures will be entertaining ones.

The Orpheum Theater, 203 W Adams Street 

History and talent collide at the Orpheum Theater. Beginning its life as a Vaudeville theater in 1929, it went through many incarnations over the nearly 100 years it has been in business, including a movie theater, a Broadway theater, even a Hispanic cultural centerpiece. Falling into disrepair, it was bought by the city in 1984 and would spend its next 12 years being brought back to life and is today a thriving entertainment venue showing the best plays, comedy, and musical acts.

Celebrity Theater, 440 N 32nd Street

The music is always playing at the Celebrity Theater, offering a revolving stage where some of the world’s top performers have sung for their supper for over 60 years. Bruce Springsteen, BB King, the Grateful Dead—all have graced this unique stage that is the focal point of an intimately sized theater in which there are no bad seats, at least not for long. The stage slowly rotates throughout whatever performance you are watching, and while there may be a portion of the show where you are facing the backside of the performers, the parts where you are close to the front row will bring you joy.

The Phoenix Theater Company, 1825 N Central Avenue

The Phoenix Theater Company is a local theater company that got its start in the 1920s and is one of the oldest continually operating theaters in the West. Our local talent is stunningly good and when you are sitting in the seats of this theater, losing yourself in the magic on the stage, your arts and culture visit to Phoenix will make you feel as if you have stepped into the theater on Broadway.

Painting inside a museum

The Museum Life

Can it really be considered a cultural tour of Phoenix if you don’t spend some time exploring the museums that make up an important part of our urban landscape? Discover the beauty of art, the fascinating tidbits of history, and the interesting part of the political landscape with visits to museums that cover all those topics and so much more.

Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N Central Avenue

There are over 20,000 pieces of art encompassing nine permanent collections in the Phoenix Art Museum, and although you would have to move into the museum and live there for at least a dozen years, you can get a comprehensive peek at the exhibits and collections in just one visit. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and open at 10 every other day, Ticket costs range from free (museum members and kids 5 and under) to $28 for adults.

Rosson House Museum, 113 N 6th Street

The history of Phoenix is a long and colorful one. The Rosson House Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the Victorian portion of that history, with the home having been built in 1895. Located in Heritage Square, a segment of land that wasn’t just the original townsite of Phoenix but was the territories of the O’Odham and Piipaash peoples. Today, this brick Victorian with painted gables is closed on Wednesdays, offering tours at various times throughout the day with admission costs ranging from free to $15.

Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E Mayo Boulevard

This unique museum is much loved by musicians, offering a collection of over 15,000 musical instruments from all over the world. Offering concerts, educational opportunities, and an interactive Experience Gallery that your littles will be thrilled to play in, this museum is a wonderful option for travelers with young children. Open every day from 9AM until 5PM, tickets range from free to $20 and special exhibits or concerts will cost extra.

People enjoying an art gallery

Funky and Wild

The Roosevelt Row Arts District is perhaps one of our favorite parts of living in this desert town. Offering a row of shops, restaurants, and art galleries, it is epicenter of our cultural activities, offering fun events such as First Fridays, street shows, and every February since 2004, the Erotic Poetry & Music Festivus that is hosted by one of the first galleries we will be discussing below. First, though, if you want to learn a little more about this fantastic artistic center, a visit to the Roosevelt Row Welcome Center, located at 918 N 2nd Street, will tell you everything you need to know.

Alwun House Foundation, 1204 E Roosevelt Street 

The centerpiece of the Roosevelt Row Arts District is not a shy and retiring space; rather, it is a vibrant bungalow, painted in bold colors that ensure you won’t accidentally drive by without seeing it. Built in 1912, the Alwun House Foundation bungalow is always on the hunt for new artists, offering two stories of paintings, sculptures, and a variety of artistic genres guaranteed to catch your eye. The garden of Alwun House often features special events including live musical performances and poetry readings, and if your Phoenix visit is for a destination wedding, you may be interested in learning that they rent out the gardens for private events, including weddings. Open Tuesday through Friday, noon until 6PM, admission is generally free but special events will often cost something to see.

Onyx Art Gallery, 1346 W Roosevelt Street Suite A

Offering a sophisticated vibe, Onyx Art Gallery is a relatively new addition to the Arts District, opening its doors back in 2016 when its owner moved from the windy city to the Valley of the Sun. Specializing in live music and visual arts, they also feature a book club, Haus of Soul X Onyx Art Book Club, that celebrates authors from all genres and meets on a regular basis. Open 2-6 Wednesday through Friday, admittance is free, but like the Alwun house, special events may require entrance fees.

Modified Arts, 407 E Roosevelt Street

Featuring contemporary photography, sculptures, paintings, and multimedia exhibits, one of their previous exhibits, Everyday MEMEing, offered a perfect example of their funky and exciting shows. Open on Fridays and Saturdays, this spacious gallery is always featuring something exciting and new. Admission is free, but special events may cost extra.

A sculpture in a museum

A Tour of Sculptures

As you spend your days exploring not just the arts and culture side of Phoenix, but all the different activities that make our desert city one of the most popular ones in the west, you may notice that we really love our sculptures and the ones listed below are some of our favorites.

Release the Fear Sculpture by Artist Robert John Miley, 116 W Roosevelt Street 

This first sculpture is of a figure that rises out of a melted pile of confiscated weapons. Packing a powerful message, this antigun violence sculpture will certainly give you something to think and talk about.

Dance Sculpture by Artist John Waddell, 222 E Monroe Street

It’s only natural that the Dance sculpture, which is actually three female nudes, dances gracefully in front of the Herberger Center for the Arts. We didn’t mention the Herberger Center earlier, but it is another performing arts venue in which some of the world’s greatest performers have appeared.

Her Secret is Patience by Artist Janet Echelman, 424 N Central Avenue 

Located in Civic Space Park, Her Secret is Patience is a 145-foot-tall aerial sculpture made from galvanized steel and cables, giving the appearance of dancing in the sky as it lights up and changes colors—colors that were chosen by the artist to provide a relief of sorts from the desert heat, appearing cooler in the summer months.

A busy festival

Shouldn’t Miss Festivals 

Phoenix Festival of the Arts, Hance Park 

Featuring the works of over 150 artists and musicians, the Phoenix Festival of the Arts has been held every December for over a decade. Also offering food and beverage trucks, it is a popular winter event for residents and our favorite Paseo Homes guests. 

Downtown Glendale Arts & Culture Fest

Although it is not in Phoenix proper, the downtown Glendale Arts & Culture Fest, held at the Civic Center Plaza in Glendale, is a celebration of the works of over 100 artists and musicians while also bringing an interactive arts experience to attendees. This annual event is held in March and will also feature food trucks so that no one has to go hungry while checking out the art and performances that will be the centerpiece of the event.

 Tempe Festival of the Arts, 1 W Rio Salado Parkway, December and March

Also located outside Phoenix city limits, the Tempe Festival of the Arts has been a winter and spring tradition for over 50 years and is actually one of the oldest festivals in the Southwest. Artists and musicians from all over the country set up displays, a Kid’s Block allows the younger generation to have a good time, and of course, food and beverage trucks add the perfect finishing touch!

A living room inside one of our Phoenix vacation rentals

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A Little Luxury

Your sophisticated peek into the cultural side of Phoenix will be all that much more comfortable, simply because you chose the luxury of our Paseo Homes for your Arizona vacation home rental. Contact us to reserve your favorite Phoenix vacation rental today!