Glendale may only be the fourth biggest city in Arizona, but it’s one of the most exciting tourist destinations within the state. Whether you happen to be passing through, taking a day trip, or coming to stay for a week or more, you’ll never run out of things to do.
Narrowing the list down to just a handful of possibilities is easily the toughest part of writing this guide, in fact! Now, we have to admit that “the best things to do” is highly subjective.
Someone else idea of fun might be your worst nightmare. Don’t worry, though — we’ve got you covered no matter what you’re into in and around downtown Glendale.
Table of Contents
Things to do in Glendale, Arizona
1. Glendale Historic District
Address: Glendale Avenue and 58th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85301
Two neighborhoods, each with a distinct character, make up Glendale’s historic district. With its white picket fences and welcoming atmosphere, Catlin Court is famous for the little eateries and specialty shops in charming mid-century bungalows. The Old Towne is home to more tourist attractions, including the quaint gaslights that give it such a cozy feel.
If you’ve heard that Glendale, AZ is one of the best places to go shopping in the entire country, you probably think that’s because of Westgate Entertainment District. Not true! (Or at least not entirely.) The Historic District offers an experience you won’t find anywhere else, especially if you love antiques.
The best thing? Glendale Historic District has a 10-block pedestrian zone that you can easily cover in an afternoon (though you may want to come back the next day, of course). It’s a must-see destination, whether you’re visiting Glendale solo, with kids in tow, or with a group that includes older folks who don’t want to walk too far.
What else is there to do besides eating, shopping, and taking in the sights? Well, that depends on when you’re visiting — but rest assured that Glendale’s Historic District organizes interesting events throughout the year.
2. State Farm Stadium
Address: 1 Cardinals Dr, Glendale, AZ 85305, USA
Sports lovers can’t skip State Farm Stadium, home to the Arizona Cardinals. This unique stadium, which has 72,200 seats, hosts the annual NCAA Fiesta Bowl — and is gearing up to host its third Superbowl. (Yes, that means things are about to get busy.)
State Farm Stadium, previously known as the University of Phoenix Stadium, is more than sacred ground to sports fans, though. Anyone who loves architectural marvels or craves new experiences simply has to check it out. State Farm Stadium was the first stadium in the United States to have a retractable roof — but even the field is retractable.
Catch a game in the multi-purpose stadium if you get a chance, or enjoy one of the public tours. State Farm Stadium has easy parking and is fully accessible to wheelchair users. The one thing you have to be aware of is that State Farm Stadium has a clear bag policy.
That’s basically exactly what it sounds like — you have to literally be transparent about the belongings you bring — but it’s still a good idea to check the rules on its website before you visit.
3. Sahuaro Ranch Park
Address: 9802 59th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85302, USA
Its amazing parks are one of the things that make Glendale, AZ so great to visit — but nothing can beat Sahuaro Ranch Park. You might come for the historic ranch buildings, the picnic grounds, the citrus and palm trees (yes, you can pick your own fruit when it’s in season), the sports grounds, or even the peacocks, but you’ll probably get more than you bargained for.
Sahuaro Ranch Park hosts intriguing events you won’t get anywhere else all the time. They include movies by moonlight and an antique engine and tractor show.
All in all, Sahuaro Ranch Park is one of Glendale’s must-visit spots — great for romantic getaways and for families with young kids. Thanks to the wonderful dog park, even your trusted canine will have a great time.
Keep in mind that you can tour the Guest House, but only if you make an appointment. The park itself is open to the public from 6 am to 10 pm every day.
4. Brelby Theater Company
Address: 7154 N 58th Dr, Glendale, AZ 85301, USA
Brelby Theater Company is a small experimental community theater that puts on a fantastic performance. If you’d love to catch a show, you can do that while you’re visiting Glendale’s Historic District — Brelby Theater Company is located in the Catlin Court section. Enjoy a nice dinner in one of the district’s charming eateries, and catch a show after!
Brelby Theater Company only has 16 members, but it cooperates with visiting artists all the time. There’s no telling what the theater will offer when you visit, but you can always expect the unexpected from this eccentric company!
5. Westgate Entertainment District
Address: 6770 N Sunset Blvd, Glendale, AZ 85305, USA
Westgate describes itself as “the district of fun.” While it’s perfectly accurate, that blurb really doesn’t do Westgate Entertainment District justice. You’d be better off doing a quick Google Image search because, in this case, a picture really is worth a thousand words. (It becomes easier to fill in the blanks when you hear that Westgate Entertainment District has 8,000,000 feet of retail space!)
Food and drink-wise, you can quite literally take your pick. Buffalo wings, boba, Mexican food, Dave & Buster’s, Korean food, classic burgers, cajun? Whatever you want, Westgate Entertainment District has it.
You could just walk around and see what strikes your fancy, but you may have a better chance of having a great time at Westgate Entertainment District if you plan ahead. Here’s a glimpse of the unique entertainment Westgate offers to help you out:
- AMC Cinema
- Free outdoor fitness classes
- As You Wish Pottery — an all-inclusive pottery-making experience for kids
- The Escape Westgate escape room
- The LumberjAxes axe throwing bar
- Chicken N Pickle — an indoor and outdoor entertainment center offering pickleball and other games, as well as excellent food
Besides a rich nightlife and a wide variety of fun activities for kids and adults, Westgate Entertainment District has a calendar packed full of special events. Check it out before you head for Glendale, AZ, because you might have a chance to go to a comedy club, see live music, see the hot rod club in action, or go to an open mic!
See Related: Best Grand Canyon Bus Tours From Las Vegas
6. Desert Diamond Arena
Address: 9400 W Maryland Ave, Glendale, AZ 85305, USA
The Desert Diamond Arena (formerly known as the Gila River Arena) is home to the Phoenix Coyotes, a National Hockey League team, but lacrosse games are also hosted there, along with concerts. Folks who are up for a long day might be able to watch a game or attend a concert there after strolling through the Westgate Entertainment District because the two are conveniently situated right next to each other.
Unlike State Farm Stadium, Desert Diamond Arena isn’t really a location you’d want to tour just for the sake of it — make sure you check the event calendar if you are hoping to swing by.
7. Arizona Scenic Tours
Address: Glendale, Arizona
Arizona undeniably offers some of the most amazing natural sights in the United States. The city of Glendale has plenty to see, of course, but people who will be staying for a while may want to broaden their horizons. No matter whether you’re staying in Glendale, AZ or venturing further, Arizona Scenic Tours offers customized guided tours for big and small groups. Drinks and photos are included in the deal!
Are you looking forward to visiting any of the sites on this list, but are you afraid you’ll miss out on the best parts by strolling around on your own? You’d have a point, especially when it comes to Suhuaro Ranch Park and Glendale’s Historic District. Arizona Scenic Tours is a great option in that case. Led by locals, they’ll make sure you make the most of your trip and that you’ll capture those memories on film!
8. Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve
Address: 3711 W Deer Valley Dr, Glendale, AZ 85308, USA
Anyone who loves art, nature, and archaeology can’t leave Glendale, AZ without a visit to the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. The cacti and wildlife you’ll be able to spot across the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve park are probably enough to wow you if you’re from the east coast, but the incredible petroglyphs are, without a doubt, the main attraction.
Petroglyphs are primitive images and artwork carved into stone, and you’ll be able to see more than 1,500 different ones at Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. These petroglyphs, displayed on boulders, span numerous different cultures and time periods.
The most recent ones are only 500 years old, while the earliest ones predate the Egyptian pyramids! Expect the experience to be less “art gallery” and more “hiking trail,” and bring your walking boots!
The petroglyphs are a must-see, but they’re far from the only reason to come to Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. Visitors who would love to get a taste of the local wildlife should consider taking a Life in the Desert tour at Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. Best done during the spring, these tours may bring you face-to-face with one of Arizona’s 14 unique species of hummingbirds.
Are you planning a trip to the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve? It’s best to visit between 8 am and 12 pm because the visitor center is open between those hours. It’s air-conditioned, and you may just be dying for a climate-controlled space by the end of your hike. (Plus, you’ll learn about the fascinating history of the cultures that left their marks on the local landscape.)
Check the preserve’s schedule if you’d like to have the chance to visit during one of its many special events.
9. Cerreta Candy Co
Address: 5345 W Glendale Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301, USA
The Cerreta Candy Company is one of Glendale’s many claims to fame. You won’t just be able to sample Cerreta’s chocolates, roasted nuts, taffy, and candy, though — you can even take a tour of the Cerreta Candy Company! Guided tours are available every weekday from 10 am to 2 pm.
The Cerreta Candy Co is a trip you simply have to include in your itinerary if you’re visiting Glendale, AZ, with kids who can’t wait to see a real-life version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (minus the weird parts) — but it’s not too shabby for couples enjoying a fun and romantic experience, either!
Is a guided tour of the factory with a chocolate-tasting experience simply not exciting enough for you? You could also upgrade to one of the VIP experiences. Those involve getting to make your very own chocolate or taffy, and there’s something new every season!
10. Desert Diamond West Valley Casino
Address: 9431 W Northern Ave, Glendale, AZ 85305, USA
Visitors who want to try their luck in Glendale, AZ, will have a great time at Desert Diamond West Valley Casino. This sprawling casino offers a variety of table games, including blackjack tables, baccarat, and roulette, as well as slots. When you need a break from gambling, Desert Diamond West Valley Casino has excellent dining options and two bars.
You may just be able to squeeze a complimentary hotel room out of the casino, but if you’re not staying longer than a few hours, Desert Diamond West Valley Casino has ample parking space.
11. Arizona Doll and Toy Museum
Address: 5847 West Myrtle Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301, USA
Avid doll collectors and families with young children can’t miss out on the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum while visiting Glendale, AZ. Located in the heart of historic downtown Glendale (in a quaint 1912 schoolroom), the museum familiarizes you with history through the eyes of dolls and toys.
You can count on the museum’s friendly and knowledgeable staff to bring the experience to life for you. If vintage dolls and American Girl dolls creep you out (it happens more often than you’d think), don’t worry — the Arizona Doll and Toy Museum also displays old GI Joe action figures and Star Wars figures, among many other toys and games.
If nothing else, pop into the Arizona Toy and Doll Museum while you’re strolling through the Historic District. It’s worth the experience, even if you don’t have kids and aren’t sure about dolls.
12. Thunderbird Conservation Park
Address: 22800 N 59th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85310, USA
You can’t appreciate how beautiful Arizona really is without taking the time to visit as many of Glendale’s parks as you can — and while you have more than a few great choices, Thunderbird Conservation Park is dedicated to preserving the desert and its unique plants and wildlife.
If you’re not afraid of the heat, you can look forward to 20 miles of exciting trails — on foot or on a mountain bike! You can even take the opportunity to go horseback riding if you like. Thunderbird Conservation Park is an amazing bird-watching spot, a wonderful chance to immerse yourself in a natural xeriscape, and it offers excellent picnicking sites to boot. That makes Thunderbird Conservation a great place to visit, whether you’re hoping for an active day out or a relaxed experience.
The city of Glendale owns Thunderbird Conservation Park (as of 1956), and visitors are kindly asked to be mindful of the park’s purpose. As its natural beauty draws more and more visitors, the risk of damage to this beautiful environment is becoming a very real threat to the local wildlife. Don’t litter — and never, ever start fires.
13. West Wind Drive-In
Address: 5650 N 55th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301, USA
Over 4,000 drive-in theaters were dotted across the US in the 1950s and ‘60s, during the golden age of this uniquely American phenomenon. Many started closing as early as the 1970s, when television became more exciting, and the VHS made its entry. Today, it’s very hard to find a permanent drive-in theater anywhere. About 300 remain in the United States.
West Wind Drive-In is the last remaining permanent drive-in in Glendale, AZ, and visiting it offers you a chance to experience something few people still can. Even this drive-in, which is proudly family-owned, has had to keep up with the times, though. The concept may literally be “very last century,” but West Wind Drive-In offers modern digital projectors and excellent sound quality.
Check the drive-in’s website to discover what movies are currently playing or see whether any special events are on the menu — in addition to a cinematic experience, West Wind Drive-In sometimes offers exciting summertime concerts.
As a nice bonus, West Wind Drive-In will probably be the cheapest thing you do in Glendale, AZ — tickets cost no more than a few dollars, though (surprisingly) the theater doesn’t welcome pets.
14. Heroes Regional Park
Address: 83RD Ave And Bethany Home Rd. Glendale, AZ 85303
“Oh, no, not another park!” we can almost hear folks who don’t enjoy hiking or nature all that much think to themselves. Heroes Regional Park isn’t what you expect it to be if you’re not familiar with Glendale. Think of it more as an all-inclusive recreational paradise than a park.
This brand-new creation offers everything that anybody who needs more adventure can get excited about. Yes, there are (pretty amazing) playgrounds for kids, a splash park for anyone who wants to cool off, picnic ramadas, and basketball courts. But there’s also an archery range, a wonderful lake with great fishing opportunities, and an X court for skaters and bikers.
Visitors to Glendale, AZ, should know that Heroes Regional Park is always open — but not all of the amenities are available year-round. The splash park only operates during the summer, for example. Still, you’ll find something active to do at Heroes Regional Park, no matter when you’re taking a trip to Glendale!
15. The 500 Gold Club
Address: 4707 W Pinnacle Peak Rd, Glendale, AZ 85310, USA
Are you a regular golfer, or do you have no idea what you’re doing but have always wanted to try golf? There’s no time like the present and no view quite as gorgeous as the Phoenix mountains. The 500 Gold Club offers a wonderfully-relaxing 18-hole, par-72 golf course with a chance to spot some local wildlife.
This golf course is suitable for anyone from absolute beginners to skilled players, and the 500 Gold Club offers GPS-equipped golf carts to make it easy to find your way around. Come to the 500 Gold Club for a relaxing day outside and to take in the stunning views.
Making the Best of Your Trip to Glendale, AZ: Some Final Tips
Not everything is everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll find at least a few things you’d love to do in Glendale on this list. You may not have time to see and do everything if you’re just passing through and you don’t have more than a few days.
In that case, prioritize a trip to historic downtown Glendale to enjoy the good food, and unique shops, and pop into some boutique museums. Check out Glendale’s pride and glory, the State Farm Stadium — even if you’re not into sports, it’s quite the sight.
You could also add these things to your list of things to do in Glendale and the great Phoenix area:
- Tolmachoff Farms — a farm experience where you get to pick produce, pet animals, and ride ponies. Perfect for families!
- Xeriscape Botanical Gardens — cacti, cacti, and more cacti (as well as some trees). Some of these cacti are taller than you!
- Tanger Outlets Westgate — for bargain shopping!
- Glenfair Lanes — a fun bowling experience.
- Foothills Recreation and Aquatics Center — for swimming and other kinds of aquatic fun during the summer.
- Grand Canal Linear Park — a park along the Grand Canal, perfect for exploring and horse-riding.
As you plan your trip, remember to leave some space for spontaneous fun! Glendale is best enjoyed at a slower pace that really allows you to take in the sights and experience everything the city offers.
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