From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
When you’re gazing around the community of Glendale, Arizona, it’s hard to believe that just 150 years ago, you would have seen nothing here but empty desert. Today, this town is a thriving part of the greater Phoenix metro, providing residential areas as well as shops, restaurants, green spaces and more.
In this article, we’ve put together some of our favorite places to explore in Glendale, with lots of can’t-miss options for adventurers of all types.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Although Glendale is a part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, and thus filled with some incredible urban adventures to partake in, it’s also nearby to some wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities and green spaces. Here are some state and national parks in the Glendale, AZ area to add to your itinerary.
Just 40 miles east of Phoenix, Lost Dutchman State Park is a popular spot offering visitors more than 320 acres of Arizona countryside to explore, ranging from cactus-speckled sand dunes to views of the Superstition Mountains. And don’t worry: no Dutchmen were actually lost here (that we know of!). Rather, the park is named after a legendary lost gold mine in Old West lore.
Although a little further from Glendale than some of the other state parks mentioned here, Picacho Peak State Park is well worth the drive. Along with its namesake mountain — which sits more than 3,300 feet above sea level at its summit — the park is also home to sweeping desert landscapes that are famous for their wildflower blooms.
If you head north toward Flagstaff (which we’ll talk more about at the end of this guide), make sure you take the time to stop off at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, which is located almost exactly halfway between the two. Along with its namesake arch, this stretch of preserved land also boasts some other incredible and unique Arizona desert geological features, as well as flowering fruit trees and more.
Consisting of more than 22,000 acres of saguaro-dotted wilderness, White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a great place for hiking, picnicking, and enjoying an epic Arizona sunset — all just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Glendale. Campgrounds as well as day-use facilities are available, including barbecue grills, restrooms with showers, and more.
At more than 665,000 acres, the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is enormous — and home to an enormous diversity of wild animal and plant life that’s hard to find anywhere else. Look closely for signs of badgers, foxes, ground squirrels, pocket mice, and kangaroo rats… but even if you don’t get lucky enough to see any of these critters, you’ll doubtless enjoy the prickly pear, cholla, hedgehog, pincushion, and barrel cacti, as well as the cereus, which only blooms at night.
While there are a plethora of incredible natural spaces to explore within an easy drive of Glendale, you don’t have to go far at all to find some incredible outdoor spaces to get familiar with on foot. Here are some of the best hiking trails in Glendale.
Thunderbird Conservation Park is a nearby greenspace that’s popular for Glendale getaways, and the Coach Whip, Ridgeline, and Sunrise Loop is a favorite. Running just over two miles and seeing a little more than 400 feet in elevation gain, this is a moderate hike that’s perfect for getting a bit of a sweat going, but nothing too tough — and it rewards adventurers with stunning views of the valley.
Another popular option inside Thunderbird Conservation Park, Cholla Loop runs closer to three and a half miles and sees a little more than 500 feet of elevation gain, so it’s similar to, but perhaps a little tougher than, the loop outlined above. Also considered “moderate” in level and accessible year-round, this trail is punctuated by saguaro cactus and other local flora!
The Deem Hills Circumference Trail runs the circumference of the Deem Hills Recreation Area, winding a little more than five and a half miles through the desert landscape. Seeing about 780 feet in elevation gain, this trail is considered moderate and is definitely tougher in the hotter months; no matter when you visit, be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection!
Although “mountain” is in its name, don’t be fooled: the Stoney Mountain Loop is actually one of the easiest trails on our list! Running about three miles and seeing about 300 feet in elevation gain, this trail is good for beginners looking to get their feet under them… while also experiencing some beautiful and iconic local views.
An urban trail offering a lengthy, but relatively flat, expanse for walking and biking, the Glendale Canal trail measures a little more than eight miles altogether and meanders along the waterfront. Dogs are also welcome to use this trail, but owners should be careful to keep them leashed at all times!
With all there is to see and do in Glendale, you’re going to need to take a break for a meal (or six!). Here are some of the best restaurants in Glendale, whether you’re after Italian, Mexican, sushi, or something else entirely.
Sometimes, nothing satisfies quite like a delicious (and generously portioned) Italian meal. Cucina Tagliani is a Glendale go-to for pizza, pasta, and other Tuscan favorites… not to mention some delicious and notable wines to wash it all down with. Better yet, it’s all offered in an unpretentious, comfortable atmosphere, so you can sit back, relax, and truly enjoy your experience.
Offering southern-style breakfasts and lunches including a range of vegetarian and vegan options, Kiss the Cook is a great spot to stop whether you’re after an omelette, a burger, or even just a slice of its famous oreo cheesecake.
In Arizona, there’s no shortage of incredible Mexican restaurants to choose from — and Glendale is no exception to that rule. But if you’re looking for the cream of the crop in this town, Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant is hard to beat. Offering, amongst other delightful options, a half-pound tamale (yes, you read that right), this place is sure to leave you satisfied!
With a wide array of curries, chef specials, and more, Tandoori Times 2 Indian Bistro is the Glendale go-to when you’re in the mood for something warm and comforting. Offering many varieties of naan as well as a full menu of vegetarian options, there’s sure to be something on the menu to satisfy every palate.
Arizona may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some delicious fish! Sakana Sushi and Grill is one of the best Asian restaurants in Glendale, serving up sushi (of course, as its name implies), as well as other delicious Japanese favorites such as teriyaki, ramen and more. The restaurant also offers sushi classes, which help you learn to roll up your own eats!
True to its name, Naked serves its meats naked for you to sauce up however you like. Whether you’re into North Carolina vinegar, South Carolina mustard, or traditional sweet sauce, at Naked, you’re the master of your barbecue destiny. Chopped brisket reigns supreme, so make sure to get some on your plate.
They’ve got something for everyone here, whether you’re looking for a classic Chicago dog, a bánh mì dog, or even a pepperoni pizza dog. I’m partial to the Macho Nacho, topped with bacon, nacho cheese, pickled jalapeño, and spicy Doritos. Oh, and don’t forget to get a liege waffle for dessert!
Though their oven wasn't made in Italy, Humble Pie still churns out amazing fire-cooked pizzas. (They also have a full bar ready to make you one of their delicious signature cocktails.) The meatball pizza is a winner for sure, but the egg pizza topped with prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, and a fresh-cracked egg is one of their signatures. Make sure to grab an order of fries to snack on while you wait – they're to die for!
Wondering what else there is to do in Glendale? Plenty! Here are some of our top activities for families, singles, couples, and more.
If you’ve got kids, you’re in luck: Glendale is a great place to raise a family, and there’s plenty of fun family-friendly stuff to do in the area. Here are just a couple of suggestions.
Kids of all ages, genders and backgrounds are fascinated by motor transport — as are lots of adults, for that matter! The Martin Auto Museum brings the history of the road to life, allowing visitors to check out a wide range of motor vehicles that have called the highway home over the years.
According to some, we’re all born scientists — it’s just that some of us lose our curiosity along the way. Stoke the “what happens when…” fires in both your kids and yourself by visiting the Arizona Science Center, which is filled with tons of interactive and educational exhibits that will bring the wonders of the universe into the spotlight.
While there’s no shortage of things to do in Glendale during the daytime, you might be wondering… what about at night? From those looking for things for couples to do in Glendale for date night to families willing to let the kids stay up a little past bedtime, here are some great after-hours options in town.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a movie on the big, silver screen — as it was originally meant to be seen. Add to that experience the chance to do so in the privacy and comfort of your own vehicle, and well… we can’t think of too many better date-night activities! The West Wind Drive-In Glendale screens both new releases and old favorites, and offers variety of discounts for families and kids throughout the week, too!
No one can argue that the desert isn’t beautiful — and if you don’t look up, you’re missing half of the spectacle! The Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory helps visitors get familiar with the stunning desert night sky, speckled as it is with stars and stories, offering the chance to view the universe through a high-powered telescope. Private viewings are also available by reservation, and special events are held throughout the year.
As cool as it is to get out on the town, if you’re not careful, it can get expensive! Here are some of our top activity options in Glendale for those looking to get the biggest bang for their buck.
Actually comprised of two neighborhoods — Historic Caitlin Court and Old Towne — Historic Downtown Glendale is every local’s favorite spot for shopping antiques, enjoying ethnic cuisines, or simply people watching. While you certainly could spend a pretty penny in this lively shopping district, wandering is totally free! You could also scout for deals; sometimes, a bargain buy is even more satisfying.
Comprising 140 acres of beautifully manicured landscapes, displaying both local flora and specimens from further afield, the Desert Botanical Garden is a fun and rewarding place to soak up some Arizona sun. General admission ranges from about $15 to $30, but an affordable membership allows you to get in all year round without paying anything extra. Plus, kids under three are FREE.
Okay, it might be a little bit creepy… but that’s part of the charm, no? The Arizona Doll & Toy Museum offers displays of both vintage and modern playthings, including an authentic 1912 schoolroom set up to look like class is in session. Admission is $5 for adults and only $1 for children.
It’s true: there are some exciting things to do in Glendale that don’t cost a single cent. Here are some places to explore in Glendale that won’t have you reaching for your wallet.
There’s no shortage of green and outdoor spaces in the Phoenix metro, and Murphy Park is a Glendale gem. Along with offering opportunities for leisurely walks, picnicking, and other outdoor recreation, this area is also home to a public library and commonly used for events and gatherings.
Another beloved Glendale park to visit, Sahuaro Ranch Park offers outdoor space peppered with a range of useful facilities, such as a walking/jogging track, fitness center, playgrounds and more. The park also boasts historic ranch buildings which give visitors a view into what life was like here in past decades.
Is it time to treat yourself? There are some excellent day spas and salons in Glendale that will leave you looking and feeling like a million bucks. Here are our favorites.
You’ll feel your stress melt away and be replaced by sweet, sweet relaxation when you visit Beauty Secrets Day Spa and partake in one of their many lovely spa services. From facials and skin care to spray tanning, chemical peels, microneedling, permanent makeup and eyelash extensions, this place gives you the little bit of extra oomph you need to bring your look to the next level.
Offering not one, but two premier salon locations in Glendale, Bloom Salon is a beloved and popular option for those seeking haircuts, color, styling and more. They use only the highest-quality shampoos, conditioners and products, and are dedicated to cutting-edge style and custom looks.
Along with their namesake massage therapy services, Massage Green Spa - Arrowhead also offers facials and skincare using natural ingredients as well as infrared sauna sessions. Ahhhhh.
Staying in shape will help you conquer whatever the world can throw at you. Here are the best places to get your sweat on in Glendale.
A fitness center focused on transformation and strengthening, the Arrowhead Fit Body Bootcamp is a program devoted to helping clients meet their goals in a friendly, welcoming environment. Using high-intensity interval training coupled with strength workouts in a group setting, you’ll feel both rejuvenated and surrounded by friends here.
At Kula Yoga, yoga is for everybody — and any body, literally. With a range of challenging, yet soothing practices, including everything from slow flow and yin to amped-up cardio-focused yoga, this place is sure to help you find your groove and get grounded on your mat.
Nestled just north of Glendale in the community of Arrowhead Ranch, True Hot Yoga offers a heated version of a classic practice that has helped people get in shape and both mentally and physically strengthened for years. New students can benefit from special introductory pricing, and everyone benefits from excellent, motivated, and friendly teachers!
While there’s plenty to keep you busy in Glendale for a lifetime, there’s also so much to see and do in the surrounding areas! Here are some of our top suggestions.
A little under two hours south of Glendale and the surrounding Phoenix metro, the city of Tucson awaits, filled with all sorts of things to see, do, eat and experience. From hiking to relaxing with some tacos and tequila, this town is a great place to get a change of pace… and also next door neighbors to Saguaro National Park, which is well worth visiting. You can find our full Tucson guide here.
Okay, okay — Grand Canyon National Park may be super touristy, but everyone who calls Arizona home should visit at least once. We recommend calling Flagstaff home base while you’re there; this college town has plenty to offer in the way of restaurants, shops, and cute coffee shops. We also have a Flagstaff guide, here!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Glendale that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Glendale? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.