Downtown Phoenix is the nexus of commerce, culture, and art in the metropolitan area. In recent years, this district has been reenergized with the construction of several mix-use commercial buildings, including CityScape, the central hub of the neighborhood. While it looks modern with its skyscrapers and contemporary structures, the area is also home to many historic buildings featuring a wide range of architectural styles, from Italian Gothic to Art Deco. Downtown Phoenix is home to plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, theaters, museums, and sports arenas, just a few of the reasons it topped our list of best places to live in Arizona. Now, let’s get you better acquainted with the neighborhood.
Valley Metro is the main provider of public transportation services in the Phoenix area. It has a wide range of bus, light rail, and local shuttle services serving the metro area, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, and other areas. Its bus routes cover many major roads in downtown Phoenix, running at intervals of 30 minutes or less on weekdays and up to 60 minutes on weekends.
The light rail system serves downtown Phoenix, central Phoenix, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and the nearby cities of Tempe and Mesa. Operating at intervals of 15 or 20 minutes, it departs from Central Phoenix Spectrum Mall, goes south through downtown Phoenix, and stops in Mesa, passing all major sports venues and important spots.
Driving in and around downtown Phoenix is easy. Designed around a grid system, most roads in this district are numbered based on how far they are from the city center. The downtown area is only 8 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 14 minutes from Phoenix Zoo, 20 minutes from Scottsdale, and 22 minutes from Mesa.
Where to Eat in Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix is home to many highly acclaimed restaurants offering a wide variety of culinary experiences, making the neighborhood a popular destination among foodies. Below are some of the most popular restaurants in downtown Phoenix.
- Chico Malo: Located in CityScape, this inventive Mexican restaurant is known for its modern decor, creative menu, bold flavors, and craft cocktails. Many locals go there on weekends to try its delicious brunch dishes, such as the drunken French toast, shrimp ceviche, and skirt steak with poached eggs.
- Phoenix Public Market Café: If you aren’t in the mood to cook, head down to Phoenix Public Market Café for some tasty and nutritious takeout food. This café features a health-focused menu that includes crisp salads, hearty sandwiches, wood-fired dishes, and fresh-baked pastries.
- SoSoBa: Open until 2 a.m. every day, SoSoBa in Roosevelt Row is one of the best restaurants in downtown Phoenix to have a late-night meal. Besides slurping up delectable ramen, you can also try one of the restaurant’s shareable plates, such as drunken pork gyozas or kimchi tostadas.
- Fair Trade Café: Fair Trade Café serves shade-grown, organic coffee that meets fair trade standards, as well as artisan-crafted sandwiches and in-house baked goods. It features a relaxed setting that’s ideal for studying or working remotely and a rotating art gallery showcasing the works of local artists.
Where to Drink
Other than great restaurants, Downtown Phoenix also has numerous bars, pubs, and lounges to quench your thirst and keep you entertained. The following is a list of the best bars and pubs in the neighborhood.
- Lost Leaf: Located in a house built in the 1920s, Lost Leaf is a popular dive bar that features live music and an underground art gallery. It’s a great place to hang out with a drink in the beer garden and get to know the neighborhood’s artsy side.
- Lustre Rooftop Bar: Lustre Rooftop Bar in Hotel Palomar serves local beers, craft cocktails, and creative American-inspired food. Relax in a tranquil poolside setting while enjoying local music and spectacular city views.
- SideBar: SideBar offers a wide selection of specialty cocktails made with freshly squeezed juices and house-made simple syrup. Its comfortable and intimate environment makes it the perfect place to have a few drinks with your date.
What to Do in Downtown Phoenix
From shopping to visiting museums, Downtown Phoenix has virtually endless activities for people of all ages. Below is a list of some of the best things to do in Downtown Phoenix. Plus, downtown Phoenix is centrally-located to many great getaway destinations in Arizona.
- Frances: Boutique offering chic women’s clothes, shoes, accessories, and handmade gifts.
- Antique Sugar: Large vintage shop that carries men and women’s clothes and accessories from different eras.
- Phoenix General: Polished boutique featuring a curated selection of clothing and locally sourced home products and gifts.
- Orpheum Theatre: Historic theater that hosts Phoenix Opera performances, Broadway musicals, concerts, and special events.
- Filmbar: Offers indie, cult-classic, and foreign movies in one room and beer and wine in another.
- Herberger Theater Center: Performing arts venue home to six resident theater companies and hosts over 40 different performances annually.
- Downtown Phoenix Farmers’ Market: Open on Wednesdays and seasonally on weekends, this market features a wide selection of vegetables, fruits, and baked goods from local farmers and food makers.
- Uptown Farmers’ Market: An indoor and outdoor gathering of more than 100 vendors selling fresh produce and handmade food on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Verde Park: A city park featuring basketball courts, volleyball courts, a playground, recreation center, and BBQ pits.
- Civic Space Park: Open, grassy park with sustainable elements and a large contemporary sculpture.
- Margaret T. Hance Park: Home to the Irish Cultural Center and Japanese Friendship Garden, as well as a playground and picnic area.
- Arizona Science Center: A four-story science center that features hands-on exhibits, live demos, IMAX theater, and a planetarium.
- Children’s Museum of Phoenix: A large museum with more than 300 interactive play areas for toddlers and children up to 10.
- Phoenix Art Museum: A museum with an extensive collection of acclaimed artwork spanning from the Renaissance era to the present. It’s one of the city’s hidden gems.
- Chase Field: Home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, this multi-purpose venue also holds other events throughout the year.
With its extensive amenities, vibrant culture, and abundance of attractions and activities, Downtown Phoenix is definitely a great place to live. Search thousands of Phoenix apartments for rent on Zumper and find your new home.