Phoenix is famous for its beautiful desert scenery, and a diverse choice of things to see and do. Visit the city’s art, history and science museums, taste delicious cuisine, have a fun date, explore free attractions, and go on a scenic hike.

Music lovers can head to the Musical Instrument Museum and view Elvis Presley’s and John Lennon’s instruments. Fun things to do in Phoenix for families include the Phoenix Zoo, the Arizona Science Center and the Children's Museum of Phoenix.

1. Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum
© Phoenix Art Museum

Founded in 1959, the Phoenix Art Museum has been a favorite institution of modern art and learning for over 55 years, and it is the largest art museum in the Southwestern United States today. The museum houses a variety of permanent collections that span several different genres, including American, Asian, European, and Latin American art, as well as traveling fashion and photography exhibitions.

The museums presents a range of vibrant festivals and live performances, educational programs, and art films throughout the year that aim to enlighten, inspire, and stimulate an interest in the arts. One of the top Phoenix attractions, the museum also houses an interactive children’s gallery for future artists. Relax in the beautifully landscaped Dorrance Sculpture Garden, dine at the Museum's fine dining restaurant Palette, or shop at the Modern Museum Store.

1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ, Phone: 602-257-1880

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2. Musical Instrument Museum

Musical Instrument Museum
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The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is the world’s only global musical instrument museum, and it features an impressive collection of more than 15,000 musical instruments and artifacts from around the world. Instruments are displayed in high-end displays that are enhanced by state-of-the-art audio and video technologies, allowing visitors to hear and observe the instruments being played in their original contexts.

If you are looking for best things to do in Phoenix for music lovers, this is a great place to visit. Visitors can view instruments from iconic musicians such as Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Carlos Santana in the Artists Gallery, as well as multiple displays showcasing different types of ethnic, folk, and tribal music. The Museum also features an interactive “Experience Gallery,” where visitors can play a variety of instruments from around the world and experience the magic of music for themselves.

4725 East Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, AZ, Phone: 480-478-6000

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3. Phoenix Zoo

Phoenix Zoo
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Home to roaring Sumatran tigers, awe-inspiring Asian elephants, and towering Savannah giraffes, the Phoenix Zoo is one of the city’s most popular attractions. One of the nation’s largest privately owned zoos, the animal park features over 1,400 animals, including more than 30 different endangered species from around the world. The zoo also has a number of breeding programs for various species.

Fascinating habitats and exhibits include the Africa Trail, which boasts African wild dogs, African lions, white rhino, and Arabian Oryx and the Tropics Trail, which is packed with Asian elephants, giant tortoises, iguanas and ring-tailed lemurs. Enjoy daily animals encounters in the Monkey Village or the Red Barn, get soaked at the Leapin’ Lagoon, or experience the wild in 4-D at the state-of-the-art theater. More info

455 North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-286-3800

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4. Heard Museum

Heard Museum
© Heard Museum

Founded in 1929 by Dwight and Maie Heard, the Heard Museum is one of the top Phoenix tourist attractions and aims to educate and promote greater understanding of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, particularly American Indian tribes and other cultures of the Southwest. In order to accomplish this goal, the museum exhibits focus on their arts, heritage, and way of life.

The Museum uses their extensive range of unrivaled collections, innovative programs, world-class exhibitions, and vibrant festivals to respectfully and accurately portray Native arts and cultures and showcase personal perspectives of this ancient and historical culture. A visit to the Heard Museum includes a journey through 12 exhibition galleries, a beautifully manicured outdoor sculpture garden, a contemporary art gallery, and trading-post style shopping store, a lively café, and free guided tours.

2301 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-252-8840, (website link)

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5. Arizona Science Center

Arizona Science Center
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Located in downtown Phoenix in the Heritage and Science Park, the Arizona Science Center is a world-renowned center and institution of learning that emphasizes exploration, innovation, and collaboration of the sciences. Established in 1980, the Center has grown to become one of the city’s most popular attractions, welcoming over half a million guests annually. The Center features a variety of hands-on and interactive exhibits, displays, and exploratory experiences spread over 164,000 square feet of space.

The Center appeals to visitors of all ages, and the fantastic to-the-moon and beyond presentation in the Dorrance Planetarium is particularly popular. If you are wondering what to do in Phoenix with kids, this is a great place to visit. The Center also offers a range of educational and community outreach programs, classes and camps, fields trips, and immersive shows in the 5-story state-of-the-art IMAX theater.

600 E. Washington St, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-716-2000

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6. Taste it Tours

Taste it Tours
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Taste It Tours ventures to some of the city’s best culinary establishments and introduce visitors to the local food scene on a neighborhood level, giving them a chance to try some of the best bites in town. Owned and run by local Scottsdalian Jessica Combest, each tour visits 4-5 hidden gems that highlight the Downtown Phoenix and Old Town Scottsdale’s favorite culinary hotspots, revealing the city as a food mecca in the eyes of locals and visitors alike.

Tours also delve into the heritage of the city, showcasing its rich history and beautiful architecture, as well as the finest culinary and cultural establishments. Expert guides will ensure you feel right at home. Tours include signature cocktail (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) pairings in the regular price of the ticket, plenty of tasty food samplings, and unique culinary insights (480-274-3569).

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7. Chase Field Private Tours

Chase Field Private Tours
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Home to Arizona's first Major League Baseball team and 2001 World Champions, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field is an impressive sports stadium with a unique retractable roof that hosts a variety of major sporting and other large-scale events. Covering 1,300,000 square feet with six different levels, the field can be configured to accommodate a range of sports other than baseball, including football, soccer, and basketball.

The best way to really get to know this incredible structure is by taking a private guided tour, which includes the following highlights – the Rotunda with World Series Trophy, the pool in right-center field, the picnic pavilion and private suites, the Press Box, a visit to field-level, the dugout and the batting tunnel, and the visitor’s clubhouse. Tours are offered year-round and last approximately 45 minutes. Browse our romantic weekend getaways in Arizona guide for more ideas.

401 E Jefferson St, Phoenix, Arizona

8. Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ: The Vig

Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ: The Vig
© The Vig

The Vig has an inviting outdoor patio, a modern bar and lounge accompanied by a full kitchen. The restaurant serves a menu of New American cuisine along with a comprehensive list of cocktails and beers and substantial wine list.

The Vig also offers an array of entertainment from large-screen televisions showing the latest games to bocce on the outdoor bocce ball court and live music of all genres throughout the week.

Fillmore: 606 N. 4th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003, Phone: 602-254-2242

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9. Children's Museum of Phoenix

Children's Museum of Phoenix
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The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is a fun-filled wonderland of imagination, inspiration, and creativity for children up to the age of 10. The Museum is filled with over 300 interactive, hands-on, touch-and-tell and exploratory exhibits, displays, and other experiences. These exhibits are spread over three floors and 48,000 square feet of space in the historic Monroe School Building in downtown Phoenix.

Designed to arouse curiosity, engage minds and muscles, and encourage discovery, the museum boasts a variety of exhibits, some of which include “Art Studio- Creative Expression,” “Book Loft,” “Building Big,” and “Desert Delights.” The museum also offers a diverse range of educational programs and classes that cover areas from math and science to yoga and art.

215 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-253-0501, (website link)

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10. Little Miss BBQ, Phoenix, Arizona

Little Miss BBQ, Phoenix, Arizona
© Little Miss BBQ

Little Miss BBQ is a quirky eatery with a retro vibe that specializes in Central Texas-style barbecue, smoked meat dishes, and traditional sides. Smoked and slow-cooked over Arizona oak and pecan wood and served meat market-style, freshly grilled meats and homemade sausages are weighed and brought out on butcher paper with pickles, onions, and homemade white bread.

Meats on the menu include brisket, pork spare ribs and pulled pork, turkey breast, pastrami, and house made sausage, with sides of jalapeño cheddar grits, potato salad, coleslaw, and beans adding the finishing touch.

4301 E. University Dr., Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-437-1177, (website link)

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11. Phoenix Symphony

Phoenix Symphony
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Founded in 1947 as a part-time orchestra for the city of Phoenix, the Phoenix Symphony has since grown into Arizona's largest performing arts organization and singular full-time symphony orchestra. With the aim of sharing, educating, and inspiring through the joy of music, the Symphony offers high quality music experiences in the form of seasonal concerts, shows, and fundraising events. If you are looking for things to do in Phoenix today, check the Phoenix Symphony performance schedule. Some of their most popular event include Parties of Note and the Savor the Symphony Women's Luncheon.

The Symphony also offers a variety of educational programs to develop skills and encourage participation in musical events, ranging from Symphony Hall field trips to school-based concerts, as well as family-focused concerts and cross-cultural community projects with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

One North First Street, Suite 200, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-495-1999

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12. Southern Rail Restaurant

Southern Rail Restaurant
© Southern Rail Restaurant

Influenced by the rich history of America’s railroad system, Southern Rail Restaurant prides itself on its classic Southern cuisine infused with regional flavors from the coastal Carolinas of “low-country,” an excellent wine and beverage program, and warm and welcoming hospitality.

Housed in a modern mixed-use community space at the Newton, the go-to spot for reading, eating, gathering, and shopping of locals and visitors alike. If you are looking for unique date night ideas in Phoenix, this is a great restaurant to try. The menu offers a gastronomical journey through the South with slow-smoke barbecue and fresh seafood dishes, and vibrant Cajun and Creole influences are evident throughout the menu. The cuisine is accompanied by an excellent selection of local wines, craft beers, and boutique spirits, and guests are served in a laid-back, relaxed environment.

300 W Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-200-0085

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13. S'edav Va'aki Museum

S'edav Va'aki Museum
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S'edav Va'aki Museum is an ancient archeological site situated in downtown Phoenix near the Sky Harbor International Airport. A product of the Hohokam culture, the site is the largest preserved archeological site in the city and is a National Historic Landmark and Phoenix Point of Pride. Also located on the 1,500-year-old archeological site is S'edav Va'aki Museum, which features a variety of galleries that showcase items and artifacts from the prehistoric Hohokam archeological village site.

The museum also houses exhibits that present various facets of archeology, southwest cultures, and Arizona history and has an interactive gallery for children to learn about the science of archeology. If you are looking for things to do in Phoenix with kids, this is a great place to visit. The site and museum are accessible by the Sky Train and the Light Rail.

4619 E. Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-495-0901

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14. Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ: Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlor

Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ: Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlor
© Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlor

Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Parlor is a stylish cocktail lounge and eatery located in the historic Luhrs Building, which once served as the former prohibition headquarters of Arizona. Boasting a relaxed and welcoming ambiance, this popular gathering place offers a globally inspired collection of handcrafted cocktails, independent spirits, bitters, and tonics, as well as an outstanding selection of fine wines and craft beers.

The eclectic, evolving menu features small plates and bar food, while a late-night menu offers the perfect solution for post-party cravings – think southern-fried chicken and betelnut pork belly served with thick-cut potato chips and thick salsa verde.

1 West Jefferson, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 602-340-1924, (website link)

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15. Penske Racing Museum

Penske Racing Museum
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The Penske Racing Museum is dedicated to displaying the history of automobile racing and is home to an outstanding collection of cars, trophies, and racing memorabilia chronicling the career of the Penske Racing dynasty. Boasting over 40 years of racing experience and over 300 major race wins, including 15 Indianapolis 500-mile race victories, Penske Racing is a world-renowned name in the sport, and the museum offers a behind-the-scenes look at the brand’s rise to fame.

Located in the Scottsdale 101 Auto Collection, the museum features a variety of racing-related objects, including replicas of cars that won major races, including the 1963 Riverside 250 and 2009 Indy 500. The museum also has a boutique store where racing merchandise and memorabilia can be purchased and a casual café.

7125 E Chauncey Ln, Phoenix, Arizona, Phone: 480-538-4444

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16. Things to Do Near Me Today: Camelback Mountain

Things to Do Near Me Today: Camelback Mountain
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Situated in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area between Arcadia, Phoenix, and the town of Paradise Valley, Camelback Mountain is popular recreation destination for hiking and rock climbing. Named for its shape, which resembles the hump and head of a kneeling camel, the mountain is home to a diverse range of fauna and flora, including rabbits, snakes, lizards, and a variety of birds. The mountain boasts two popular hiking trails that lead to the summit, as well as much other smaller hiking, mountain biking, and walking trails that can be enjoyed during the summer months.

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17. The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix
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The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, named Rohoen, is a joint project between the city of Phoenix and its sister city in Japan, Himeji. It was first proposed by Matsuji Totani, then mayor of Himeji, in 1987 and was fully completed in 1996. Today, visitors can come to experience a serene Japanese garden in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Phoenix and to see visiting exhibits and showcases like those of Japanese pottery, Bonsai Trees, and traditional arts from Kyoto, Japan. Additionally, guests can participate in lectures and workshops by Kyoto artisans, craftsmen, sake makers, and more, as well as enjoy traditional tea ceremonies at the Musoan Tea House within the gardens.

1125 N. 3rd Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85003; Phone: 602-274-8700, (website link)

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18. Enchanted Island Amusement Park

Enchanted Island Amusement Park
© Enchanted Island Amusement Park

Get enchanted by all the incredible rides and attractions at the Enchanted Island Amusement Park. One of the go-to family-friendly amusement centers in Phoenix, Enchanted Island will deliver on fun experiences whether you want to go flying, dropping, spinning, rolling, or driving. First time visitors ought to tour the grounds care of the C.P. Huntington Train before heading off to experience all the rides the park has to offer. Adventurous visitors should definitely check out rides like the Parachute Tower or Red Baron, while some of the go-to kid friendly rides include the Encanto Carousel and Bumper Boats. Beyond the rides, Enchanted Island Amusement Park is also great for company outings, with some pretty challenging team building activities, as well as field trips for large groups of youngsters.

1202 W. Encanto Boulevard, Phoenix, Arizona 85007; Phone: 602-254-1200, (website link)

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19. Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ: Encanto Park

Things to Do in Phoenix, AZ: Encanto Park
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Explore 222 acres of thriving greenery within the oasis known as Encanto Park. Nestled in the very heart of the city, Encanto Park is busy and popular. It’s not just the location that makes this place popular though, it’s also the many fun and enticing amenities that the park has to offer. Encanto Park is home to not just one, but two golf courses – a 9-hole and 18-hole golf course. It features a sports complex, a public pool, and recreational opportunities through its clubhouse and boathouse, fishing pier, and boat rentals as well. To top it all off, Encanto Park is home to Enchanted Island, one of the most popular amusement parks in the city that is perfect for families looking to enjoy a day of thrills and games.

2605 N. 15th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85007; Phone: 602-261-8991

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20. Margaret T. Hance Park

Margaret T. Hance Park
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Featuring 32 acres of greenspace in the center of Phoenix’s downtown area, Margaret T. Hance Park is home to several of the city’s most visited and beloved attractions. The park was named after Phoenix’s first female mayor, Margaret T. Hance, and is the place to visit for travelers who want to see and experience iconic destinations like the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Phoenix Center for the Arts. The McClelland Irish Library, Irish Cultural Center, and the Burr Barr Phoenix Central Library are also located in Margaret T. Hance Park. One of the most famous attractions in the park is The Winship House, which was built in 1919, and later renovated in 2013. It is a beacon of an Arts and Crafts Movement home in the city with its natural red brick façade and unique wood-shingled roof.

67 W. Culver Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85003; Phone: 602-534-2406

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21. Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square

Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square
© Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square

Travel back in time to Phoenix’s Victorian past at the Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square. As the crowning jewel of Heritage Square, the Rosson House Museum is a world-class destination with fantastic exhibits on the area’s history. Heritage Square itself dates to the 1800s and is situated in the traditional homelands of the Piipaash and O’odham peoples. Today, guests can learn all about the history of the area's first inhabitants as well as experience through exhibits what life must have been like back in the Victorian era through the Rosson House Museum. Guests can book public tours as well as guided photography tours of the area to maximize their experience.

113 N. Sixth Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85004; Phone: 602-699-5994

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22. Steele Indian School Park

Steele Indian School Park
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When it comes to special events in the city of Phoenix, the Steele Indian School Park immediately comes to mind. This 72-acre green space is the go-to park for many, if not most, of the city’s public events and festivals, and for good reason. With mature shade trees, soft green grass to lounge on, and flanked by a historic setting, it’s the quintessential park to be at to enjoy outdoor events. When the Steele Indian School Park isn’t hosting events, it’s being enjoyed by guests for its dog park and recreational fishing opportunities. It’s also home to the Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center, the Memorial Hall, and Large Ramada Reservations.

300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85012; Phone: 602-534-4810

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23. South Mountain Park Preserve

South Mountain Park Preserve
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Largely regarded as a Phoenix Point of Pride, the South Mountain Park Preserve isn’t just remarkably beautiful, it’s also the country’s largest municipal park and one of the largest urban parks in the entire world. The park has over 16,000 acres to its name as well as mile upon mile of multi-use trails, with even more still being developed. Guests to the park can enjoy all of the usual recreational activities available to outdoorsy adventurers including horseback riding, camping, and trails from easy to extremely difficult. Some of the must-see sites at the South Mountain Park Preserve include the Hohokam Rock Art and various plaques dedicated to the park’s history and education about the endemic wildlife in the area.

10919 S. Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85042; Phone: 602-495-5458

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24. Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting

Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting
© Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting

The Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting is a unique attraction in Phoenix. It is one of the several attractions that visitors can access when they visit Papago Park and pays homage to the firefighting history of the city. The Hall of Flame features nearly an acre of exhibits which includes more than a hundred fully restored firefighting apparatuses from between 1725 to 2004. While the museum’s permanent collection is composed primarily of artifacts from American firefighting, guests will also find a few apparatuses from around the world including countries such as Austria, Japan, and France. One of the Hall of Flame’s highlights is the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, which commemorates brave men and women who gave their lives to protect the community from fires.

6101 E. Van Buren Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85008; Phone: 602-275-3473, (website link)

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Castles N’ Coasters

Walking into Castles N’ Coasters is the official signal to let the fun begin for you and your family! After all, this huge amusement park has all kinds of thrill-seeking attractions to fit every guest and a ton of other activities to enjoy, too. Hop on one of twenty incredible rides like Desert Storm, the park’s two-loop roller coaster, or Splashdown, a water ride with some huge drops and thrills. Looking to feel like you’ve left your stomach mid-air? Try the Sky Diver! If a slower, more mellow ride is more your speed, Castles N’ Coasters has got you covered. Visitors to the park shouldn’t miss out on four 18-hole mini golf courses either, as well as over 150 arcade and pinball games just waiting to be played.

9445 N. Metro Parkway East, Phoenix, Arizona 85051; Phone: 602-997-7575

Attraction Spotlight: Penske Racing Museum

For car enthusiasts, especially those with a love of racing and the Penske company, the racing museum in scenic Phoenix, Arizona is a must visit. Visitors can see many original, race winners as well as replica cars and trophies from some of the nation and the world’s most competitive races.

History

In 2002, the Penske Racing Museum was opened. Located in a complex with car dealerships, these two stories, over 9000 square foot facility highlights over 20 automobiles along with a variety of other memorabilia from the Penske team. While some of the displays rotate in and out of public display, the focus is on Indy 500 and NASCAR related exhibits. There are also a few F1 related cars and memorabilia pieces, as well as an occasional sports car racing display. Admission is free to the museum.

Permanent Exhibits

The greatest draw at the racing museum are the cars on display, allowing guests to glance at a piece of history.

Originals:

March 86C - The car that Al Unser Senior won the Indy 500 with in 1987 is a big lure at the museum, featuring a 700-brake horsepower engine. Yellow and attention stealing, the March 86C labeled with the number 25 once reached just over 223 mph.

Dodge Charger - 2005 was the last year that Rusty Wallace competed in the Nextel Cup, and the Dodge Charger that he drove, with 800 brake horsepower, is on display, still painted with the “Last Call” painting scheme that was chosen for the NASCAR event.

Penske PC-6 - The Indy 500 was won by Rick Mears in 1979 with this beauty. Red on the top, blue on the bottom, and labeled with the number 9, this car with its 800-brake horsepower Ford engine was also driven once by Mario Andretti.

March 84C - Another yellow stunner, the March 84C was driven to the win in the 1984 Indy 500 by Rick Mears. It was his second victory. The car wears the number 6.

Hurst/Olds Cutlass - This 1972 vintage car was the pace car at the Indy 500 the same year it was introduced. Although it only features 300 brake horsepower, its allure is in its design and exterior.

Porsche IROC - In the 1973 inaugural IROC road race, this car was driven to victory by Mark Donohue. Topping out at 316 brake horsepower, the Porsche RSR is a must see for any automobile enthusiast.

Replicas:

McLaren M16B - The replica of the car that sped Mark Donohue to victory at the Indy 500 in 1972 is on display, displaying the 850-brake horsepower engine that brought Penske Racing its very first win there.

Penske PC-9B - Bobby Unser drove the real version of this 600-brake horsepower replica to the win in the 1981 Indy 500, which was the 3rd Penske Racing victory there.

In addition to the vehicles and replica vehicles on display, there is also a multiple of racing trophies and other memorabilia for guests to peruse at their leisure.

Special Events

The racing museum is available for rental for special events. Hosting anything from casual events like birthday parties to more elaborate affairs like weddings, receptions or holiday parties, the museum will work with guests to plan their perfect event. The second floor also has a collapsible glass wall that can be taken down to allow for both indoor and outdoor space for the event, as long as the weather cooperates. Food and beverage options, as well as test climbs in the onsite Land Rover experience, are all offered at an additional charge. Contact the museum for more information.

The racing museum also offers several benefits throughout the year to help support charities - like Mission: Able (a charity helping paralyzed veterans). They also play host to the Cars and Coffee gathering of car enthusiasts, which happens on Saturdays throughout the year. Check the website or their Facebook page for additional and up to date information.

Shopping and Dining

Located on the second floor of the museum is The Boutique, selling different souvenir options to commemorate a visit. Visitors can purchase a die cast car, books on automobiles and racing, and a variety of apparel for all ages. There are also car parts, some of them signed, as well as Penske related gifts.

For visitors who get hungry during their visit, check out Turn 4 Cafe for breakfast as well as lunch choices sure to satisfy any appetite.

Penske Racing Museum, 7125 East Chauncey Lane, Phoenix, AZ, 85054, Phone: 480-538-4444