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Phoenix Forward magazine

5 things to do in Phoenix during graduation

The University’s National Commencement is June 7–8 in Phoenix and, while the spotlight is on your academic accomplishment, you can turn your visit into a vacation by setting aside time to see the sights. So whether you’re coming to the Valley for the first time — or the 10th — here are five things to do that can help make your visit more memorable:

Accessible by light rail, the Phoenix Art Museum is the largest museum for visual art in the Southwest. More than 17,000 art works are on display — including pieces from Rembrandt, Diego Rivera and Ansel Adams — as is photography, fashion design and a landscaped sculpture garden. The museum also hosts year-round lecture and movie programs, live performances and an interactive space for children.

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Hours:
10 am – 9 pm (Wed)
10 am – 5 pm (Thu–Sat)
Noon – 5 pm (Sun)

Tickets:
$15 (adults); $12 (65+)
$6 (children 6–17)
$10 (students with ID)
Note: June 7th is “First Friday,” and admission to the museum is complimentary.

From ancestral artifacts to contemporary works, the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix strives to share a sensitive and accurate portrayal of the cultures of Native American tribes in the Southwest — past, present and future. Don’t miss the evocative “Indian School Days” exhibition, or the impressive katsina doll collection, donated by one-time presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Three galleries also feature hands-on crafts, while the trading post-style gift shop is a destination for admirers of Native American jewelry and pottery.

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Hours:
9:30 am – 5 pm (Mon–Sat)
11 am – 5 pm (Sun)

Tickets:
$18 (adults)
$13.50 (65+)
$7.50 (children 6–12 and students with ID)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school is a living tribute to the legendary architect’s passion for blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor environments. The 75-year-old desert masterpiece, located in northeast Scottsdale, spans 600 acres and features living quarters, artists’ studios and theaters — all linked by terraces, gardens and walkways that appear to blend into the rugged Sonoran Desert. It continues to serve as an active educational space for artists and architects today.

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Hours:
9 am – 4 pm (open until 9:30 pm on Fridays for evening tours)

Tickets:
Prices range from $24 to $60.
Reservations suggested: 888.516.0811 or at Zerve.

In just a few hours at this museum in north Phoenix, visitors can explore the globe with exhibits that celebrate musical cultures from nearly 200 countries and territories. Outfitted with wireless headsets, guests approach each “hot spot” and are instantly transported by the sights and sounds of a region’s indigenous instruments.

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Hours:
9 am – 5 pm (open until 9 pm on Thursdays)

Tickets:
$18 (adults)
$14 (teens 13–19)
$10 (children 4–12)

One of only 24 botanical gardens accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Desert Botanical Garden (located just east of downtown Phoenix) spans 145 acres of outdoor exhibits and features 52 rare Southwestern plant species. Go early in the morning to avoid the scorching sun — but don’t forget sunscreen, a hat and water — or visit at sunset. Need more entertainment for kids? The Phoenix Zoo is right next door.

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Hours:
7 am – 8 pm

Tickets:
$18 (adults); $15 (60+)
$10 (children 12–18 and students with ID)
$8 (children 3–12).
Note: On Friday, June 7th at 7:30 pm, the Sonoran Jazz band will be playing, and tickets are $22; children under 21 are not permitted.

Photos: Trevor Thompson

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