We originally published our 14 Things To Do In 2014 back in January but as Downtown continues to evolve and add new events and businesses we thought it’d be a good time to give the list a quick refresh. Now get out there and experience your city.
(Note: Some of these annual events have passed but mark your calendars for next year!)
Phoenix Comicon (NOW thru Sunday)
Whether you’re a Trekkie (or Trekker), a huge Dr. Who fan or a member of the resurgent My Little Pony fan base, there’s something at Phoenix Comicon for you. Tons of exhibits and celebrity appearances, sure, but even for the most casual pop culturist it’s truly a spectacle to behold. And you don’t even need a ticket to be a part of the cosplay action. Third Street will be activated all weekend long with DJs, roller derby, Friday’s Zombie Walk and bands, plus many Downtown businesses are getting in on the action; Lustre Rooftop Garden has a bat signal, Tilted Kilt has themed drinks and Copper Blues is giving away $500 in prizes to the best hero/villain costumes. Read more here. 70,000 geeks can’t be wrong.
Downtown’s first and only graduate-level cocktail lounge is open and thriving in the historic Luhrs Building. And it is awesome. Don’t be intimidated by the handbook-sized menu. There’s a helpful info graphic in the back to help you pick a cocktail based on how adventurous you’re feeling.
Ride a Grid Bike Share bike
Though the bike share launch was a bit delayed, 500 stations are still set for installation this fall. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the launch of bike share, making us even more anxious to take one of the green beauties out for a ride around Downtown Phoenix.
Artlink’s Art Detour (March 8 & 9)
This annual celebration of arts in and around Downtown Phoenix will return for a weekend full of arts-related tours, exhibits and activities. Coinciding with March First Friday, Artlink’s 26th annual Art Detour is the perfect opportunity to visit galleries and artists’ studios, learn about public art and murals from the people who know them best—artists—and more. Shuttles transport attendees from one neighborhood to another, including favorite arts hubs Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue.
Camp out at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival (March 28-30)
Break out the camping gear and head to Downtown Phoenix for three days of tunes and fun at MMMF. Campgrounds will be set up in the middle of the Roosevelt Row Arts District, so you can keep the fun going all weekend long at numerous bars, restaurants and more located nearby.
Surfing On Central (COMING SOON)
We don’t have ocean access but thanks to FlowRider (the wave pool, not the rapper) Downtowners can shred waves in a safe, controlled and shark-free environment. Take a private lesson or just a few turns. You can even rent the FlowRider for a birthday party. Surfing on Central will be fully operation soon and will run through Labor Day. There’s even a surf shop at Chloe’s. If you’ve seen Point Break 150 times this your chance to be Johnny Utah.
Overindulge yourself at the Roosevelt Row Pie Social
Simply put, this may be one of the most ingenious ideas ever devised. Coming up on its fifth year, Pie Social has become a community favorite for its ability to bring everyone together in the name of sugar and pie love. Last year, attendees gathered in a public park to sample creations from “celebrity chefs” and community members alike, and worked off all that pie goodness with square dancing to local tunes by Pick & Holler.
Fridays in the Park at Civic Space Park
Every First and Third Friday of the month until May, something new and exciting is going on at Civic Space Park. From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., you can find live music, performances or spoken word on the outdoor stage, walk through the Artlink gallery inside the A.E. England building, watch a movie on the lawn, or dine from a local food truck.
Take a spin around the CityScape ice skating rink (Dec.-Jan.)
Make it a holiday you won’t forget with a visit to the CityScape ice skating rink in the heart of the Urban Core. Located right on Central Avenue, the rink is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit with friends, family and loved ones. Plus there’s really nothing like ice skating outdoors surrounded by city lights, and a bright and shining tree. Skating ends Jan. 13 but will be back starting Thanksgiving weekend.
Take a class at Phoenix Center for the Arts
This hub of arts and culture has become a community staple of creativity in Downtown Phoenix—and for good reason. The Center offers an array of interesting classes. Photography, metal work, mosaics, dance, writing—you name it they’ve got it. The arts aren’t just for the kids anymore either, you can check out their list of adult classes here.
Zombie Walk (October 25)
Going on its sixth year, Zombie Walk, hosted by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, draws thousands of people from across the Valley to the Urban Core for a night of ghoulish fun. The night begins with music, vendors, activities and street eats inside Heritage & Science Park, then watch as thousands of zombified Phoenicians walk (or limp) the streets of Downtown Phoenix.
Grand Avenue Festival
With recent street enhancements made and more to come, lower Grand Avenue is becoming a popular cultural destination. And nothing highlights the vibrancy of the neighborhood better than the Grand Avenue Festival. It’s a celebration of arts, culture, history and adaptive re-use with small businesses and art spaces hosting special events, activities and tours throughout the day.
See a show at the Orpheum Theater
The history of the Orpheum Theater alone is reason enough to see a show there. The space has a long history in Phoenix—once serving as a venue for Vaudeville acts—and since its $14-million restoration has become a beautiful space for an array of concerts, musicals, plays and more. So be sure to check their website often for a list of upcoming shows and events.
Downward dog in the park with the Community Yoga Project
Chill out park-side at this free Ashtanga-style yoga class that takes place every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Civic Space Park. Brought to you by Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA, the beautiful park scenery makes the perfect backdrop for a yoga session. So grab a mat, a friend and start your weekends off right this year.
Photos by (from top to bottom) Studio 616, Brenda Eden, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Dan Raustadt