Love visiting museums but don’t love expensive museum ticket prices? You don’t have to become a member to enjoy the stunning museums Phoenix offers. Many of Phoenix’s best museums are free or offer free museum days to the public, and Phoenix Living on the Cheap has the scoop on the best, free museum days you can’t miss.
One thing many people appreciate about visiting or living in a larger metropolitan area like Phoenix is the easy access to culture, like our many museums. Sometimes, though, daily life comes along and it seems hard to find time to get out and experience it.
Let these free opportunities (and some great low priced admissions) tempt you to venture out and see some of the amazing art, history, and architecture the Valley has to offer. There are museums and exhibits that will appeal to adults and kids alike.
If you’re not sure how to get around or want to avoid paying for parking, also check out this helpful information. Also, scroll to the bottom of the page for a quick look at the locations of the venues and the events listed.
After your museum visit, here are some ideas to help you experience the outdoors and get out some energy.
Did we miss a museum? Leave a note in the comments or on our Facebook page to let everyone know about more free museum days.
- Open weekdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“You have the right to remain silent…” Did you know the Miranda rights statement you hear on almost every cop show was based on a case that started here in Phoenix? It’s true – find out more at this unique museum, which features Phoenix’s law enforcement history over the past 130 years, starting from 1881 until the ent day, with historical photography, equipment, and stories that bring them to life.
The Phoenix Police Museum is an exciting way to look into the history of Phoenix policing up until the modern day. Kids will particularly enjoy the exhibits offered at the Phoenix Police Museum, and parents will love the price.
Pro tip: The museum offers one-half off parking at the 305 Parking Garage on Jefferson for museum visitors. Just ask for your coupon at the end of your visit.
For more information, exhibits, and hours, please click here.
- Open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Love living life on two wheels? Here in Phoenix for Bike Week? Or maybe you and your family just think motorcycles are fascinating. This is the place for you. Over 3,000 square feet of classic two-wheeled history, with 37 different motorcycle manufacturers, this museum is a must-see for all motorcycle enthusiasts. Make your plans to visit this collection of over 130 rare machines, featuring rare models from AJS, BMW, BSA, Triumph, Zundapp, Indian and more.
- Open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Closed on state holidays; hours subject to change)
Want to learn about Arizona, how it became a state, and more? The Arizona Capitol Museum in downtown Phoenix uses a balance of technology, hands-on activities, historical artifacts, and public programs to help visitors learn about cultural, political and social history.
The Capital Museum is a four-floor treasure trove of information on Arizona, where you can learn all about Arizona’s 5 C’s and more. The museum has more than 20 exhibition areas and also hosts speakers’ series and events for the public.
FREE Admission for active-duty military and children under 2, or $25 for a family, $10 for adults, and $5 for children 2 to 12
- Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (closed in the summer)
The Arizona Railway Museum is technically not in Phoenix (it’s in Chandler) but is such an exciting place to visit, especially for kids interested in trains, we had to mention it. Another thing to note? The Railway Museum is closed in the summer because it’s too hot. They are wise.
FREE Admission on First Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m.
The museum reports that space for Free First Friday is very limited and guests will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Your kids will love the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, a wondrous place of imagination, inspiration, creativity, and fun. It has three floors of interactive fun for the whole family, although it’s designed especially for children from birth to age 10. Note that for your family’s safety, adults are not allowed in the museum without children.
For more information, exhibits and location, please click here.
- Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
This gallery and gift shop right downtown showcases the talent of Latin American artists. Visitors say, “This little out of the way gallery is worth the hunt – everything Mexico is there in all its splendor.”
- Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
You’ll have to venture a bit east of Phoenix to visit this gorgeous museum in Tempe. With interesting architecture described as a “magic mountain” and an “oasis,” the museum features three floors of year-round exhibitions that rotate seasonally and an award-winning store. It was named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America magazine.
Intimidated by finding parking around ASU? Don’t be – FREE parking is also available, in front of the ASU Art Museum in ASU Lot 9, located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street. Visitors using museum spaces must sign in at the front desk in the lobby of the ASU Art Museum.
FREE admission the second Tuesday of each month, and FREE admission for active-duty military with ID.
Reservations are required for the free museum day on the second Tuesday. Look for Community Day tickets on the website. (Advance tickets are also required for general admission.)
- Hours vary by season.
A jewel in the desert, the Desert Botanical Garden isn’t an indoor museum, but a treat to visit, nonetheless. Looking to impress out-of-state visitors? Take them to the DBG and leave them speechless. Even better, save money every second Tuesday of the month with free admission to the Garden.
For location, hours, exhibits, and information, please click here.
FREE Admission on the first Friday of each month, 3 to 9 p.m.
Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesdays, 3 to 9 p.m.
- Open hours vary but click here for more information
Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Southwestern United States. It features regularly changing exhibits and permanent galleries drawn from more than 19,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. Visitors also enjoy photography exhibitions through the museum’s landmark partnership with the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona.
As the museum’s first and longest-running community-access program providing free general admission and programming for all ages and interests, the Museum’s Wednesday complimentary-admission program, now known as Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday, has welcomed nearly 1 million people to the museum over the past two decades. Note there is an admission cost for special engagement exhibits.
- Open always (it’s in the airport)
Didn’t think you would find a museum in an airport, did you? Well, Phoenix has three airport museum exhibits – all completely free and open to the public. The art exhibits rotate, so it’s worth it to visit regularly if you live in the Valley.
Past exhibits have included Native American artwork and pottery. This is a can’t miss, and, with a free Sky Train available to shuttle you from downtown Phoenix to the airport, there’s no reason to miss these beautiful exhibits.
For more information, hours, and exhibits, please click here.
FREE for guests under 18 with ID
FREE admission the second Saturday of every month with timed entry.
Pay-What-You-Wish on Thursdays of every month
- Open hours vary but click here for more information.
While also not in Phoenix, no museum round-up would be complete without a mention of Scottsdale’s SMoCA. SMoCA is situated on a twenty-one acre, beautifully landscaped park in the middle of downtown Scottsdale, and presents the best of contemporary art, architecture, and design from around the world and from around the corner. Exhibits rotate continually so that a visitor will always experience the most current works of art that represent the thinking of the best and the brightest.
FREE Admission during First Fridays, from 4 to 8 p.m. except in March.
- Open hours vary but click here for more information
The Heard Museum has more than 130,000 square feet of galleries, classrooms and performance space. It is known worldwide for its exhibitions and programs celebrating Native artists, and for its Shop, which provides the opportunity to purchase museum-quality, authentic American Indian artworks.
The Orpheum Theater, orginally opened in 1929, located in Downtown Phoenix is offering FREE historic guided tours on one Tuesday a month.
The fully restored Orpheum Theater at 203 West Adams Street, Phoenix, 85003 boasts a full line-up of performances and movies. The building’s original Spanish-style architecture and ornate, but regal decor add to its nostalgic ambiance. The Orpheum, including its orginal Wurlitzer organ, can be experienced, not only during performances, but during a FREE Guided Tour of the theater given by the Friends of the Orpheum Theater.
Tours are given once a month on various Tuesdays. Here’s the Guided Tour schedule. Dates will be continually added to this site. According to the Friends of the Orpheum Theater, even if the tour on the site is listed as “sold out,” walk-ups are always welcome.
Are there any free Phoenix museums (or free museum days) we missed? Please share in the comments or on our Facebook page.