Phoenix Art Museum / First Friday Trolley Pick-Up
1625 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Calling all art enthusiasts! First Friday gives Phoenicians a chance to explore Downtown and local artists. Run by Artlink, the walking tour takes you throughout several neighborhoods in Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown. Free Shuttle buses originate from the
Phoenix Art Museum
and take participants on one of three loops: North (Uptown and Midtown), East (Roosevelt Row/Downtown), or West (Historic Roosevelt/Grand Ave/Downtown). The Shuttle stops in multiple areas along each route and runs from 6-10pm. There's so much to see, you can only complete one loop each First Friday. Along each loop, you'll find local retail and art galleries open late for the public, and in transition parking lots in between venues are booths with more artists, food tucks, and musicians. If you are out past 10pm and miss the shuttle back to the Art Museum, you can take the light rail or walk back (it's really not far).
The history behind First Friday dates back to the late 1980's. In 1988, a Bond election funded the Central Library, Arizona Science Center, and and Phoenix Museum of History. At that time, the building of America West Arena (now US Airways Center) displaced artists from their studios when they cleared the ground for the Arena. Those artists moved to Jackson St, and an annual Art Detour was founded to introduce visitors to their new locations. In the 90's, the annual event was reorganized into the First Friday Event similar that it is today. Since the late 90's, the event has grown from 13 participants to over 100 artists.
The jewelry vendors range from hair bows to and skull rings to really cool clock pendent necklaces and unique handmade bracelets. The wall art goes from skulls and naked women to some truly amazing portraits and landscapes. Along the route, you'll find open cafes and food trucks - if you pass by the
Sweet Republic Food Truck,
make sure to stop and get some of their tasty frozen treats, their storefront is nationally acclaimed! The
Short Leash Truck
also has a big following and is a must-try if you even kinda like hot dogs!
A Few Tips:
*The crowd gets younger as the night goes on.
*The most popular loop on the route is the East loop that takes you to Roosevelt Row.
*There are volunteers at the shuttle stops with maps of the route, but you don't really need one, you can just follow the crowds and noise.
*There are food vendors/trucks along the way, and several restaurants stay open so leave room for snacks as part of the experience!
*Wear comfy shoes, there's a lot on walking!
*And if you love something a vendor has, you might not make it back to the booth by the end of the night, so think hard before passing it up. There's a bracelet and necklace I wish I'd bought in the moment!
Want to discover more free things to do in phoenix other than First Friday? Click here!