Embracing the Chill: Winter Activities in the Phoenix Area Beyond the Golf Course 


While Phoenix is often associated with warm weather and golf courses, the winter season unveils a different side of this vibrant desert city. Beyond the greens, diverse activities await residents and visitors, offering a unique blend of outdoor adventure and cultural exploration. In this guide, we’ll delve into Phoenix’s winter wonderland, showcasing activities beyond the typical golf course experience. 

Unveiling Winter’s Tranquility 

Winter transforms the Sonoran Desert into a haven for hikers. With milder temperatures and clear skies, exploring the numerous trails becomes a refreshing experience. Popular spots like Camelback Mountain and South Mountain Park offer breathtaking views of the desert landscape, making winter the ideal season for an outdoor trek. 

Soaring Above a Desert Canvas 

Experience the beauty of the Phoenix area from a new perspective by taking a hot air balloon ride. Winter’s cool mornings create optimal conditions for these scenic journeys, allowing you to float above the Sonoran Desert as the sun paints the sky with hues of pink and gold. Several companies offer balloon rides with knowledgeable guides to enhance the experience. 

A Holiday Spectacle 

The Desert Botanical Garden transforms into a luminous wonderland during the holiday season. The Las Noches de las Luminarias event features thousands of hand-lit luminaria bags, creating a magical atmosphere. Visitors can stroll through the garden pathways with twinkling lights, enjoying live entertainment and festive treats. 

A Splash of Winter Fun 

While summer tubing is a popular activity, the Salt River remains open during winter, providing a unique cold-weather tubing experience. Bundle up and enjoy a leisurely float down the river, surrounded by the picturesque Sonoran Desert. It’s a refreshing way to embrace the outdoors in a different season. 

 Al Fresco Even in Winter 

Old Town Scottsdale comes alive in winter with its vibrant dining scene. Enjoy the mild temperatures by opting for outdoor seating at one of the many restaurants lining the streets. From cozy cafes to upscale eateries, Old Town offers a culinary journey amidst the charming backdrop of historic architecture. 

A Cultural Escape from the Chill 

Escape the winter chill by exploring the Phoenix Art Museum. The museum offers a cultural retreat featuring a diverse collection of art, from classic to contemporary. Wander through the galleries, attend special exhibitions, and immerse yourself in Phoenix’s artistic richness. 

Mountain Biking Adventures 

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers excellent mountain biking opportunities for adventure enthusiasts. Winter’s cooler temperatures make it an ideal season to explore the preserve’s extensive trail system. From beginner-friendly paths to challenging routes, there’s something for every level of mountain biker. 


Phoenix’s winter season unveils various activities beyond the golf course, inviting residents and visitors to explore the city’s diverse offerings. Whether hiking in the Sonoran Desert, floating down the Salt River, or savoring outdoor dining in Old Town Scottsdale, winter in Phoenix presents a wealth of opportunities to embrace the chill while enjoying the unique charm of this desert oasis. 


What makes winter an ideal time for outdoor activities in the Phoenix area? 

Winter in the Phoenix area brings milder temperatures, creating an inviting environment for various outdoor activities. From hiking to hot air balloon rides, the cooler weather allows residents and visitors to explore the diverse landscapes of the desert with comfort. 

What are some outdoor dining options in Old Town Scottsdale during winter? 

Old Town Scottsdale boasts a vibrant dining scene with numerous restaurants offering outdoor seating. From cozy cafes to upscale eateries, visitors can enjoy al fresco dining in the mild winter temperatures while soaking in the area’s historic charm. 

What can I expect to find at the Phoenix Art Museum during winter? 

The Phoenix Art Museum is a cultural haven with a diverse art collection. Visitors can explore galleries showcasing classic and contemporary art during winter, attend special exhibitions, and enjoy an artistic retreat from the chill.