The top 10 places to visit in Arizona, from ghost towns to the Grand Canyon

Janet  Gyenes

Sep 12, 2023 • 9 min read

A man giving a woman a piggyback as they both laugh in Arizona

Arizona has some of the most incredible hikes available in the US © PeopleImages / Getty Images

Travelers are drawn to Arizona by the blinding desert sunshine, but the Grand Canyon state has so much more to offer. Under these flawless blue skies, everything you can imagine to entice, entertain and enthrall is up for grabs.

There are outdoor thrills and indoor indulgences, encounters with history and hip modern quarters, wilderness escapes and tourist-packed ski resorts. Arizona's diversity spans everything from big city living to empty spaces that are perfect for quiet contemplation.

Along with desert cities that exude a hint of the Old West, Arizona has atmospheric ghost towns and natural wonders aplenty, including the Grand Canyon and the world’s largest pine forest (where you can also ski). Here's our pick of the ten best places to visit in Arizona.

1. The Grand Canyon

Best place for jaw-dropping views

Unsurprisingly, the Grand Canyon is Arizona’s most famous sight. It’s colossal and spectacular and draws huge crowds in summer , which might dissuade first-timers or those seeking a quiet escape. However, it's somewhere that lives up to the hype. People think of this massive canyon system carved by the Colorado River as a single park, but there are actually four separate areas you can visit. 

Grand Canyon National Park is divided into the South Rim (open year-round) and the North Rim (closed from mid-October to mid-May), and these two zones are 210 miles apart. Along with mesmerizing views and hiking trails, the busier South Rim has a free shuttle service, a geology museum and some good on-site accommodations. Reaching 8000ft in elevation, the North Rim delivers more outsize panoramas and has milder weather and fewer people on the trails, contributing to a more relaxing atmosphere.

The Grand Canyon’s West and East rims are also worth exploring, but these areas fall outside the national park. The Grand Canyon West tourism area on the Hualapai Indian Reservation is famed for its glass-bottomed Skywalk, looming 70ft out over the canyon rim, while the East Rim is quieter and ideal for peaceful hiking.

Planning tip: To see the best of the East Rim, check out the Little Colorado River Gorge in Navajo Tribal Park , about 11 miles from Cameron. There’s a $5 fee to access two stunning overlooks and you’ll need a $12 backcountry permit to hike the trails but solitude is practically guaranteed. 

Jerome, Arizona ghost town mine windmill wild western

2. Verde Valley

Best place for wine trails and historic towns

Central Arizona’s Verde Valley is an underrated spot, characterized by prehistoric ruins, outpost towns, abundant wildlife and a wine trail that snakes around rivers and mountains. To get a sense of its rugged beauty, follow the 30-mile road that winds through the valley, starting in atmospheric Jerome, once hailed as the "wickedest town in the West." Built by a mining magnate in the 19th century, this once-notorious outpost is today considered a ghost town although it still has around 500 residents. 

Jerome's Cleopatra Hill once delivered payloads of gold, silver and copper for eager miners, but the town today is a mix of eclectic restaurants, artists' studios and offbeat boutiques, all set inside Victorian buildings that look poised to tumble into the valley below. In the fertile land below Jerome are the similarly historic towns of Clarkdale, Cornville and Cottonwood – home to Dead Horse Ranch State Park , a peaceful spot for outdoor recreation. 

Planning tip: On a trip to the Verde Valley, you can also swing by Tuzigoot National Monument and Montezuma Castle National Monument , where you can see the remains of pueblos (villages) built by the Sinagua people in around 1050 CE.

3. Horseshoe Bend

Best place for photo opportunities

What marks out this 270-degree bend in the Colorado River from all the other twists and turns along this mighty watercourse? Maybe it’s the way the dark blue waters of Horseshoe Bend reflect the towering sandstone walls that surround it, leaving you humbled by the thought of the massive forces of nature that shaped this region near Page, Arizona.

The overlook in Glen Canyon Recreation Area is the best place to snap a classic Horseshoe Bend photo, but a more enriching way to experience the canyon’s immensity is on a raft. Guided rafting tours head downriver to Horseshoe Bend and stop at a swimming beach with ancient Puebloan petroglyphs.

4. Monument Valley

Best place to learn about Indigenous culture

To explore Arizona’s Indigenous culture amid 1000ft sandstone towers, make a beeline for Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park . You’ll immediately recognize the landscape’s monoliths; they've been starring in movies and TV Westerns since the 1930s.

The outcrops are called se’Bii’Ndzisgaii in the Navajo language, and the best way to fully appreciate this sacred land is to travel with a local guide who will add context to the experience as you walk in the shadow of buttes such as East Mitten and West Mitten. 

Planning tip: Sunrise and sunset are the best times to photograph the towering buttes of Monument Valley. For sublime sunset photos, stake out a spot by the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park visitor center or the View Hotel .

A mural in the Roosevelt Arts District promoting Phoenix, Arizona

Best place for art and architecture

As Arizona’s capital, Phoenix is arguably the best place to fuel your appetite for art and architecture in Arizona. Frank Lloyd Wright, the father of modern American architecture, left his fingerprints all over the city. Start the tour at Taliesin West , Wright’s desert laboratory and a National Historic Landmark. In 2019, the house was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage site list (along with seven of his other major works) for its cultural significance. To delve deeper into Wright’s oeuvre, visit the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa ; the building was designed by Albert Chase McArthur, with Wright acting as a consultant for four months in 1928.

The Phoenix Art Museum is another top venue featuring work by both big-name and emerging artists. In its permanent collection is one of Yayoi Kusama’s wildly popular infinity mirror rooms, entitled, You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies . From the art museum, it’s just three blocks to Roosevelt Row , where you can admire the murals that made Phoenix’s street art scene rightly famous. 

Best place for historic sites and hipster vibes

Home to half a million people, Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city, and it beautifully blends urban comforts with outdoor endeavors. Although it’s smack in the middle of the Sonoran Desert – fringing Saguaro National Park with its ancient, eight-ton cactuses – Tucson defies the desert city tropes. A short drive from downtown along the Sky Island Scenic Byway, 9000ft Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains, and the southernmost spot in the continental US where you can go skiing. 

Downtown Tucson is a mix of historic sights and hipster vibes. The Turquoise Trail is a self-guided walking route linking 22 historic landmarks. Nearby, Fourth Avenue celebrates Tucson's heritage with youthful energy; its murals, tattoo shops and vintage boutiques are frequented by students from The University of Arizona.

Planning tip: Tucson scores bonus points for sustainability thanks to the Sun Link Streetcar and The Loop , a 131-mile car-free pathway for cyclists, runners and walkers. You can rent a bike from Tucson Bike Rentals on The Loop.

A man standing on the Devil's Bridge rock formation near Sedona

Best place for spirituality and wellness

Although it's technically a city, Sedona feels more like a glamorous village and it's surrounded by natural splendor. Wherever you wander, you’ll be greeted by imposing red-rock formations and 5000ft monoliths such as Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock – said to be focal points for natural energy fields known as vortexes.

Modern-day Sedona has evolved from an outpost of ranches and apple orchards to a popular hub for spirituality, wellness and – reputedly – UFO sightings, and this land is also sacred to a number of Indigenous groups. It’s also a great stop for art buffs and outdoor enthusiasts , with more than 80 galleries and 400 miles of trails zigzagging along Oak Creek through stands of prickly pear cactuses and ponderosa pines. 

8. Flagstaff

Best place for stargazing

Perched at 7000ft, Flagstaff offers the best of the city and the mountains. Situated in the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest, “Flag” is home to Northern Arizona University, which contributes to the city's youthful vibe. The streets are awash with coffee houses and craft beer establishments, which you can explore on the Flagstaff Brewery Trail . 

To connect with the great outdoors, head to the Arizona Snowbowl , a four-season playground in Flagstaff’s backyard with 40 ski runs and three terrain parks. Chairlifts go up to 11,500ft, offering dizzying views of Sedona’s red rocks, the rim of the Grand Canyon and fields of cinder cones as you ride up the western slope of 12,637ft Mount Humphreys. 

Flagstaff is also a leading destination for astrotourism. In 1930, astronomers at Lowell Observatory discovered Pluto, and all the American astronauts who walked on the moon were trained in Flagstaff. Decades later, Flagstaff became the word’s first international dark sky city , and many visitors are drawn here specifically by the start-gazing opportunities.

Planning tip: Flagstaff is a great base for exploring Arizona. Meteor Crater is just 42 miles away, and you can also easily access Grand Canyon National Park, Walnut Canyon National Monument , Sunset Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument by car.

Meteor Crater against clear blue sky in Arizona

9. Meteor Crater

Best place for ancient history

Arizona has more than its share of superlative sites, and Meteor Crater near Winslow is one for the ages. This massive depression, almost a mile wide and 550ft deep, is considered the best-preserved meteorite impact site in the world. The site has a fascinating backstory; it was created some 50,000 years ago when a monstrous iron-nickel meteorite smashed into the ground at 26,000 mph, leaving a perfect impact crater. You can learn more about the site at the visitor center and 4D theater. 

10. Grand Canyon Caverns 

Best place for a quirky Route 66 stop

There are many stretches of Route 66 that visitors can explore in Arizona, but we recommend making a stop at the wild and sometimes weird Grand Canyon Caverns . Located in Peach Springs, this idiosyncratic site is composed of an inn, a four-table restaurant and the largest dry cavern in the US, situated 210ft down in the underbelly of the Grand Canyon.

Fitting this outpost's oddball history, local woodcutter Walter Peck accidentally discovered the caves in 1927 after falling off his horse while heading to a poker game. Today, you can explore them yourself on a series of tours, including a ghost walk.

Planning tip: Arizona lays claim to 401 miles of Route 66, making this a great base for short road trips on this historic route. Essential stops include Holbrook (home to the Wigwam Motel ), Winslow (immortalized by The Eagles in the song Take it Easy ) and Williams, starting point for the Grand Canyon Railway .

This article was first published Sep 14, 2021 and updated Sep 12, 2023.

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Full Suitcase Travel Blog

26 Amazing Places to See in Arizona (+ Map & How to Visit)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: May 2, 2024

26 Amazing Places to See in Arizona (+ Map & How to Visit)

Best known as the Grand Canyon State , Arizona is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes in the USA. But there is so much more to see and do in Arizona beyond its world-famous landmark!

If you are planning a trip and want to visit the best places in Arizona, but also explore a bit deeper , this article is for you! In this guide, we share all the must-see landmarks and sights of Arizona, but also some other cool places that will make your trip so much more special.

In addition to our own tips and recommendations, we also asked our fellow travel writers for suggestions, their personal favorite places in Arizona that they recommend the most. This guide includes a good mix of the most beautiful nature destinations and stunning sceneries, historic landmarks, best cities and towns, Route 66 attractions, quirky places where you can still find the ‘Old West’ feel, and so much more.

While this is in no way a complete guide to all the best places to visit in Arizona (you’d need a few long trips for that!), it covers all the musts and places that are worth visiting the most . In addition, we also include some lesser-known places for those who are looking to escape the crowds, explore deeper, or get just a bit off the beaten path. Find out!

TIP: To give you a better idea of where all these landmarks and attractions are located and to help you plan your trip, we created a MAP indicating all the best places in Arizona mentioned in this guide. You can find it at the end of this article.

Most beautiful places to visit in Arizona USA

Good to know: We tried to sort this list from the most popular, nicest places in Arizona to the somewhat lesser-known ones further below. But the reality is that there are just too many amazing destinations and points of interest to be able to differentiate (and everyone has different interests and expectations anyway).

So while we start with the ‘musts’, I highly recommend that you scroll down through the entire list before you decide where to go in Arizona and what interests you the most.

Keep in mind that some of these places require more time while others can easily be seen as a short stop when passing by. So by reading beyond the main Arizona attractions, you might find some amazing gems that will make your trip so much more special.

Our map at the end of this article will also help you ‘group’ the places together so that you can make the most of your time when sightseeing in Arizona. Take a look!

Without further ado, here are some of the very best places to visit in Arizona:

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona’s most famous landmark, Grand Canyon needs no introduction. This impressive natural wonder is not just #1 among the must-see places in Arizona, but also one of the most popular national parks in the United States attracting millions of visitors every year. I really couldn’t start this list with any other place…

Grand Canyon National Park is huge and you can spend several days and even weeks exploring everything it has to offer. But you can see some of the magnificent scenery even if you only have a couple of hours, which explains Grand Canyon’s popularity as one of the top day trips from Las Vegas .

Depending on your travel itinerary, the season when you visit, and how much time you have, there are three main areas you can visit at the Grand Canyon – South Rim, North Rim, or Grand Canyon West.

South Rim is the best-known and the most popular place attracting the biggest majority of Grand Canyon visitors. Here, you’ll find some of the most impressive viewpoints, stunning hikes, and also great facilities including the best Grand Canyon hotels , restaurants, various visitor centers, popular attractions like the Grand Canyon IMAX movie experience , and bucket-list activities such as helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon .

If there’s one area you visit at the Grand Canyon, South Rim is the place to be! This is also the best place to visit if you are planning a winter trip to Grand Canyon .

LEARN MORE: How to see the best of the Grand Canyon in one day & How to avoid long queues at Grand Canyon south entrance

Grand Canyon West is best known for the glass-bottomed Skywalk touring high above the canyon. The panoramic views are amazing and it’s a very special experience to be able to walk above the canyon.

This part of the Grand Canyon is also home to the Hualapai Indian tribe, so you can also learn more about their culture or pick up some Native American souvenirs.

Grand Canyon North Rim also offers great views and is well worth a visit, but the road to get there is usually only open from around mid-May to October-early November.

If you are visiting Arizona during the summer season and have some time to explore the Grand Canyon deeper, you may want to include this side of the canyon in your itinerary as well. In that case, don’t miss the Kaibab National Forest as well.

Arizona best places - Grand Canyon

Sedona also deserves a top spot on this list of the very best places to see in Arizona! This area is best known for its stunning scenery and impressive red rocks that will take your breath away. The landscapes here are phenomenal! The area around Sedona is also famous for its energy vortex sites.

Some of the must-see places in Sedona include Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock . Also, Boynton Canyon and Airport Mesa are not to be missed. If you hike, don’t miss the popular Devil’s Bridge Trail , and if you’re visiting with kids in the warm season, be sure to go for a swim at the natural pools of the nearby Slide Rock State Park .

In the town itself, don’t miss the Chapel of the Holy Cross , with its modernistic architecture and even more unique location perched between the red rocks overlooking the area. Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village is a nice place for local art, shops, and restaurants.

TIP: One of the most popular ways to explore the scenery around Sedona is by joining jeep tours . These 4×4 tours bring you to some amazing locations that you’d never be able to see otherwise.

How much time to spend. It’s possible to see the most popular sights of Sedona in just one day. Therefore, many first-time visitors simply visit Sedona as a day trip from Phoenix, Grand Canyon, or from Flagstaff. However, there’s plenty to see and do, so you can easily fill 3-5 days here as well. Here you can find a suggested 1-day itinerary for Sedona .

LEARN MORE: Best things to do in Sedona

Top places to visit in Arizona - Sedona

3. Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon with its ‘flowing’ colorful sandstone walls is an impressive natural wonder and one of the most picturesque places in Arizona! There is not one, but several slot canyons here that all have been carved by fast-flowing flash flood waters and sandstone erosion. At the moment, you can easily visit three of them: Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, and Canyon X.

The most famous slot canyons are the Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon . Both parts of the canyon are equally beautiful, but the Upper Antelope canyon is more popular because it’s easy to visit for everyone, whereas the Lower Antelope canyon involves some stairs and ladders (but is also quieter and it’s much cheaper too).

Located on the Navajo ground, a visit to any of the slot canyons is only possible with a local tour guide. If you want to be sure that you can go inside, you really should reserve a tour in advance . In high season, it’s a must and tours sell out long upfront, but also in the lower season, you never know if there will be any walk-in spots left when you arrive. Here you can reserve Lower Antelope Canyon tickets and here – tickets for the Upper Antelope Canyon .

Good to know: Antelope Canyon photography tours have been suspended a few years ago. You can still bring your camera or a smartphone, but tripods aren’t allowed anymore. Also, selfie sticks or bags (of any size) are not allowed inside the canyon.

Because the Antelope canyons are so well-known and have become so popular, some people now opt to visit private and secluded Antelope Canyon X instead (also here, you have to reserve in advance !).

Alternatively, check out the beautiful Buckskin Gulch , the longest slot canyon in the world. This canyon is located in Utah, just at the border of Arizona, and requires quite a strenuous hike. Here, you can find more info and a tour that visits Buckskin Gulch , and here is a popular private tour that can bring you to this beautiful place as well.

TIP: If you drive all the way to Page, AZ, in order to visit these slot canyons, be sure not to miss the famous Horseshoe Bend as well. More info below. You can also find more details in our suggested 2-day itinerary for Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend .

Antelope Canyon is a must see in Arizona

4. Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is another extremely popular place to visit in Arizona. This U-shaped turn in the Colorado River with 1,000-foot sheer rock drops has become extremely popular in the last decade, mostly due to the jaw-dropping images that probably everyone has seen on social media at one time or another.

A visit to Horseshoe Bend is easy and doesn’t require much preparation and that’s also one of the reasons for its popularity. The hike from the car parking to the viewing area is just 0.6 miles (less than 1 km) and takes about 15 minutes one way. In addition, you can walk a bit further to the right along the rim – the views are nice and it tends to be quieter than at the main viewpoint.

Good to know: There’s a small entrance fee – at the moment of writing, $10 per car, and your National Park Pass isn’t valid here. Also, bring water, wear comfy shoes, and be careful around the edge!

You can visit Horseshoe Bend in about one hour, but to really get the most out of your visit, plan on spending two hours. The earlier mentioned Antelope Canyon is also just nearby, so most people visit these two places together.

TIP: For a different perspective, you can also opt for a helicopter tour over the Horseshoe Bend and the surrounding area. In addition, you also fly over Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam – the views are amazing! If you are looking for an even more special experience and a longer flight, take a look at this helicopter tour that also includes a landing on Tower Butte .

Best places in Arizona - Horseshoe Bend

No list of the best things to do in Arizona would be complete without mentioning its capital city, Phoenix . The “Valley of the Sun,” as Phoenix is affectionately known, gets over 300 days of sun a year. It’s rare to see a cloudy or rainy day outside of the summer monsoons. During that time, temperatures can hit 110°F (43°C) and above, so you’ll want to enjoy your fun indoors.

For the rest of the year, Phoenix is known for its gorgeous weather and outdoor activities. Hike the many trails in and around the city. Camelback Mountain , Piestewa Peak Park , and South Mountain are favorites.

Learn how beautiful the desert can be at the Desert Botanical Garden . The colors may be muted, but you’ll find a beautiful tapestry in the desert that’s different from most of the country. If you need a break from the desert, check out the Japanese Friendship Garden or the Farm at South Mountain .

Phoenix is a foodie’s paradise and there are lots of restaurants offering all kinds of food. Many have outdoor seating or large patio windows that open wide so you can enjoy the gorgeous weather for much of the year.

If you visit during the hottest summer months, there are plenty of fun indoor activities that you can enjoy in Phoenix. Check out the city’s world-class museums such as the exceptional Musical Instrument Museum and the Heard Museum , which showcases southeastern Native American art.

Good to know: Phoenix is a resort town and hosts thousands of conferences annually. So if you visit in the summer, you can get some amazing hotel and spa deals . Locals love it for staycations and tourists can enjoy the best of Phoenix spa life at a markedly reduced cost.

There’s a lot to do in Phoenix no matter what time of year you visit. Plan to spend a few days so that you can see all of the top sights in and around the city.

TIP: If you are looking for something special to do in Arizona, check out hot-air balloon tours . It’s one of the most unique experiences in Phoenix and an amazing way to see some of the stunning scenery.

Recommended by a Phoenix local, Sam from My Flying Leap .

LEARN MORE: Phoenix itinerary recommendations for any trip

Places to visit in Arizona - Phoenix city

6. Havasu Falls

Located in a remote desert canyon in Northern Arizona, Havasu Falls cascades 80-feet over a red sandstone cliff into a beautiful turquoise blue swimming hole. It’s a truly magical oasis in the middle of the desert. And when you see pictures of this stunning waterfall, you’ll understand why it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Arizona.

But to reach this paradise requires preparation and fitness. Havasu Falls is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation and it’s a 10-mile trek from the nearest road. You’ll need to hike through a dusty canyon in the hot Arizona sun carrying all of your food and camping supplies. You’ll also need to plan well in advance. Only a limited number of camping permits (or lodge stays) are available for each day and most are purchased the moment they become available on February 1st of each year.

The Havasu Falls trailhead is located 67.5 miles Northeast of Peach Springs, AZ. From the parking lot, it’s a 1.5-mile descent to the bottom of the canyon via several switchbacks. Continuing on, the trail is mostly flat with a gradual descent, but you’ll need to watch out for loose rocks and gravel. It’s best to start your hike in the early morning to avoid walking in the heat of the day. It’s a total of 10 miles each way to reach Havasu Falls: 8 miles to the Havasupai Village and an additional 2 miles to the base of the falls. Here you can find more practical information for visiting Havasu Falls .

It’s quite a challenging hike, but once you reach Havasu Falls, you’ll know that the reward was worth the effort. The waterfall and canyon are both absolutely breathtaking. Plus Havasu Falls is not the only beautiful waterfall in the canyon. If you continue your trek downstream, you’ll find Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls . And if you’re up for an even longer hike you can follow Havasu Canyon all the way down to the confluence with the Colorado River at the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Good to know: You need at least two days to visit Havasu Falls and all visits require a reservation . If you stay at the lodge, you can reserve for one night/ two days, whereas if you camp, you can only book three nights/ four days.

Recommended by Nick from Wandering Wheatleys.

Havasu Falls is one of the best places to see in Arizona

7. Monument Valley

The iconic Monument Valley is another must-see in Arizona! You probably have seen images of this red-sand desert with towering sandstone buttes in various movies and commercials, but it’s even more impressive in reality!

Located in the northeastern corner of Arizona, along the Utah border, Monument Valley is quite far from most other landmarks in Arizona, but it’s definitely worth a trip in its own right. It’s also about halfway between the Grand Canyon and Moab area in Utah where you’ll find the famous Arches National Park and also Canyonlands National Park . So whether you are only visiting the best places in Arizona, or are making a bigger trip in the Southwest, it’s well worth coming here.

You can see some great views of Monument Valley while simply driving on Interstate 163. However, if you want to explore deeper and get closer to the rock formations, you should visit the Monument Valley Tribal Park . An entrance here requires a permit and you can only visit during daytime hours (and need to pay for a pass).

The main activity here is driving the 15-mile Scenic Drive that takes you through the area and close to the majestic buttes. Some of them are as high as 1,000 ft above the ground – a very impressive sight and plenty of great photo opportunities.

However, the roads here are in a really bad state and many people opt for one of the many 4×4 tours or horseback riding tours instead . Not only do you learn quite a bit about the area by going with a local guide, but many of these tours also bring you to some nice places beyond the scenic loop which you wouldn’t get to see on your own.

Monument Valley USA

TIP: This tour is one of the best price-quality Monument Valley tours that include backcountry access. It also visits a local Navajo Hogan where you can watch a Navajo Rug Weaving demonstration and traditional musical performance by your local guide. You can also find this same tour on Viator , but it’s usually a bit more expensive. You can also opt for a very similar tour in the evening and enjoy the amazing colors of Monument Valley at sunset.

Good to know: Most of the tours do not include an entrance fee to the Monument Valley Tribal Park, so you need to pay for that separately.

How much time to spend. If you are simply passing by on the highway, Monument Valley can be just a quick photo stop. If you opt to visit the Monument Valley Tribal Park and drive the scenic loop, count at least 1.5-2 hours. If you go on a tour, most of them take about 2-4 hours. For a truly unique visit, you can opt for this 2-day overnight tour . It’s an amazing experience, as long as you know what to expect.

Where to stay. Most people visit Monument Valley for a day from Flagstaff, Page, or other bigger towns in Arizona or en route to/from Utah or Colorado. There’s a hotel at the visitor center itself. Nearby, you can also find Goulding’s Lodge , which also has a pool. Alternatively, there are several hotels in Kayenta , about 25 miles/ 30 minutes southwest of Monument Valley.

TIP: The beautiful Church Rock Valley (featured photo at the top of this article) can be found along Hwy 160, 10 min drive east of Kayenta.

LEARN MORE: Monument Valley Scenic Drive

Monument Valley as seen from the main road

8. Scottsdale

If you look at Arizona on a map, you might wonder why Scottsdale is getting called out on its own in this list. Isn’t it just a suburb of Phoenix, you ask? Well no, Scottsdale is actually a separate city of over 250,000 people that is distinctly unique in the state.

Scottsdale has long been a desert getaway for the rich and famous. Today, it offers a delightful mix of art galleries, great restaurants, historic mid-century hotels, dreamy spas, and all the desert landscapes you expect to find in Arizona.

On your first trip to Scottsdale, the must-dos include exploring the shops, galleries, and public art in Old Town Scottsdale, drinking wine along the city’s Urban Wine Trail, visiting a museum like the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SmoCA) or Wonderspaces, and touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home of Taliesin West. Also Scottsdale’s classy spas and golf courses are not to be missed.

If you love the outdoors, you’ll also want to be sure to visit the McDowell Sonoran Preserve , a 30,500-acre nature preserve where you can see impressive saguaro cacti up close.

How much time to spend. You can see all the highlights in Scottsdale in about three days (here’s an itinerary for 3 days in Scottsdale ), though a longer trip would be even better if you want to spend extra time relaxing poolside or at the spa.

Since Scottsdale is just next to Phoenix, Tempe, and many other nice places mentioned in this article, we recommend that you take a look at this Phoenix – Scottsdale travel guide and itinerary for more information on how to plan your trip.

Good to know: Scottsdale Old Town is easy to get around on foot, but rideshares are plentiful and affordable, too. Furthermore, parking is free almost everywhere.

Recommended by Amanda of A Dangerous Business Travel Blog

McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale Arizona

Tucson should be at the top of any list of places to visit in Arizona! The city is one of the most culturally rich in the state, the food is great, and there are lots of fun things to do in town and nearby. What you have the opportunity to visit nowadays, has been molded by native groups, Spanish missionaries, Mexican ranchers, California gold rushers, and many others.

Start your visit downtown and walk through the historic and modern areas of Tucson , or join this popular historic bike tour . Check out the Historic Pima County Courthouse, Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, Museum of Art, and Arizona Historical Society. Congress Street and 4th Avenue are booming with restaurants, breweries, murals, public works of art, and artisan studios. Tucson’s cuisine shines like a bright beacon.

In 2017, the city was declared a “ City of Gastronomy ” by UNESCO. You can spend days eating Sonoran hot dogs, chimichangas, tamales, and steak fingers.

Colorful street in Tucson Arizona

A visit to the San Xavier del Bac Mission (located about 10 miles from downtown) is also a must! Besides, the city is surrounded by national parks, mountain parks, natural areas, and other spaces ideal for outdoor activities.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will be spoiled with choice. A list of places to check out includes the Tucscon Botanical Gardens, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park (see further below), Tucson Mountain Park, Sabino Canyon, and Santa Catalina Natural Area.

In addition to the city itself, there are several interesting day trip options from the city. These include Tubac, Tumacacori, Sonoita, Kartchner Caverns, Sonora Desert, Bisbee, and Tombstone.

How much time to spend. It is recommended to spend at least 3 full days in Tucson: one day dedicated to the city, one day to take advantage of the outdoor opportunities, and another day for a day trip to places like Tombstone (see further below). If you do not want to rush through the attractions, you can easily allocate 5 to 7 days to the area. Depending on your travel style, you can either stay in Tucson and make it your base for the area or you can just stop here for a day or two as part of a road trip visiting some of the best places in Arizona.

Good to know: Remember Tucson has dry desert weather and the best time to visit is from October to May. Also, keep in mind temperatures in the area can vary greatly, so wear layers.

Recommended by Ruth from Tanama Tales .

San Xavier del Bac Mission near Tucson Arizona

10. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument: The Wave, White Pocket & More

If you just can’t get enough of the unique landscapes of Arizona, consider visiting Vermillion Cliffs National Monument as well! This is a huge nature reserve in Northern Arizona, at the border with Utah, and it’s jam-packed with many incredible natural features.

You can see some of the area by driving Highway 89A. However, the majority of the most beautiful scenery requires a high clearance 4×4 vehicle, is not simple to reach or find, and is not something most travelers will easily be able to visit. This is one of those remote places where you won’t find any tourism infrastructure, only unspoiled wilderness with the most amazing landscapes of slot canyons, mesas, and buttes…

The most famous natural landmark of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is The Wave , located in Coyote Buttes. This is one of the places that you can only visit if you get extremely lucky with their lottery-based permit system . Only 12 groups (max. 48 people) are allowed to visit here per day, so you can imagine that the chances are very slim (and you have to try 4 months in advance).

The Wave is one of the most unique places to visit in Arizona

However, don’t despair if you don’t have a 4×4 or can’t get to see The Wave. There are several other amazing places at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument that you can easily visit with organized tours.

One such place is White Pocket – a unique rock formation in a stunning, remote area. You can visit here with this highly-rated private day tour .

Another area that can be visited with a tour is Buckskin Gulch (already mentioned as an alternative to Antelope Canyon higher above). There are several tours that visit this slot canyon .

If you have a very good 4×4, you might be able to get to the White Pocket, Buckskin Gulch, and other places in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument on your own. But you really have to travel well prepared! Also, this is probably not the best place to explore on your own in summer because it gets terribly hot. No matter how you visit – on your own or with a guide – be sure to carry plenty of drinking water with you!

White Pocket at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona

11. Lake Powell & Page

Lake Powell is a huge man-made reservoir on the Colorado River in Northern Arizona and southern Utah. Located just near Page, AZ (where you can also visit previously mentioned landmarks like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend), the lake is also a major vacation spot in the area, attracting a couple of million tourists a year.

There is a lot to see and do in Page and around Lake Powell. If you are here on vacation, you can rent boats , go jet-skiing , try flyboarding , or join various tours on the lake. If you are mostly interested in sightseeing, in addition to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend , you can easily see Glen Canyon Dam and Wahweap Overlook . There are also some nice scenic trails in this area – check out the Hanging Gardens , a 1-mile hike north of Page.

As already mentioned in the Horseshoe Bend section above, there are also amazing air tours in this area. One of the best price-quality options is this highly-rated tour by a small airplane . You can enjoy spectacular aerial views of Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and Glen Canyon.

How much time to spend. This highly depends on what you are planning to see and do in this area. You can see all the ‘musts’ in just half a day to a day, but you can also spend a week here and never get bored.

Lake Powell aerial view from an airplane

12. Hoover Dam

Located at the Arizona – Nevada state border, Hoover Dam is one of the top landmarks of Arizona (and yes, that of Nevada too)! There’s even a sign at the dam showing where the two states split. It’s a unique chance to stand in Nevada and Arizona at the same time and also a great photo opportunity. So this list (and your trip to the area) wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Hoover Dam as one of the best places to see in Arizona.

Hoover Dam is a man-made wonder and once you see how huge it is, it will take your breath away. Built almost a hundred years ago, in the 1930s, it was the tallest dam in the world at that time. At the Visitor Center, you can learn more about its history, see models and exhibits, and you can also take a tour inside .

However, most people don’t visit inside and simply enjoy the views of the dam and the surroundings from various viewpoints. It all really depends on how much time you have and what other places you are planning to see nearby.

TIP: On a short visit, don’t miss a view from the Mike O’Callaghan Memorial Bridge. This is the best place to take in the immense size of the dam. Also check out the views from the Hoover Dam itself (there’s a pedestrian footpath next to the road)!

Hoover Dam at the border of Arizona and Nevada

13. Saguaro National Park

There’s no more iconic symbol of the state of Arizona than the towering Saguaro cactus, and there’s no better place to see them than in Saguaro National Park near Tucson. There are nearly two million Saguaro cacti in the park!

Saguaro National Park is spread across two divisions, one to the east of downtown Tucson and the other to the west. You can spend anywhere between a half-day and two full days exploring Saguaro NP.

For those who are truly in a rush through their trip to Arizona, it’s possible to explore the west side of Saguaro National Park (formally known as the Tucson Mountain Division) on a day trip from Phoenix, as the drive is just over 90 minutes. But if you want to explore both sides of the park to the fullest, it’s best to stay in Tucson and combine a visit here with several other best places and landmarks in Arizona mentioned in this guide.

Both sides of Saguaro National Park are excellent for families visiting with young children or visitors with limited mobility. There are loop drives through some of the Park’s most scenic areas. The Valley View Overlook trail (west) and Cactus Forest Trail (east) offer short, relatively flat walks that put visitors up close with many different species and shapes of cacti and also offer great wildlife viewing opportunities. Here you can find more info for visiting Saguaro National Park .

TIP: For a stunning desert sunset, visit the west side late in the day – the return half of the loop drive faces west as the sun sets through the dense cactus groves. The park has no formal closing time so there’s no need to rush (though the entire mountain range is extremely dark).

Recommended by Melissa from The Family Voyage.

Saguaro National Park is one of the nicest places to see in Arizona

14. Montezuma Castle National Monument

Located next to the main road between Phoenix and Flagstaff, just south of Sedona, Montezuma Castle National Monument is one of the easy-to-visit places in Arizona. If you find yourself in this area, don’t just pass by!

Montezuma Castle is a large 12th-century cliff dwelling that was built and used by the Sinagua people. The main structure of the cliff dwelling is a 5-story building that has twenty rooms. In all honesty, it looks more like a huge apartment building rather than a castle. Nevertheless, it’s very impressive and well worth a visit.

Access inside isn’t allowed, but you can easily admire this unique structure by walking the short paved trail around it. This is a very enjoyable attraction for the whole family and it only takes 15-30 minutes to visit. So Montezuma Castle National Monument isn’t really a destination in itself, but a very nice stop if you are passing by.

If you have more time, you can also visit Montezuma Well . This is an archeological site about 10 miles from Montezuma Castle, a 20-minute drive a bit off the main road. But since you can reconnect to the main highway from there, it’s actually not such a big detour.

Good to know: The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 AM to 5 PM, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. The entrance fee is somewhat steep at 10 USD per adult, but kids 15 and under are free, and the pass includes both places. If you have the annual National Parks pass ( America the Beautiful Pass ), it’s also valid here.

Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona

15. Tombstone

When you visit the “Old West”, you have so many historical sites, ghost towns, and other attractions to choose from that it can be hard to know which ones are truly worth the time and money. A visit to Tombstone in southern Arizona, however, is sure to be a universal favorite. If you are looking for a fun and exciting taste of the Wild West, you’ll definitely find it in Tombstone, AZ . For us, this is one of the must-see places in Arizona!

The whole town has committed to recreating the history and feel of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the nostalgia of the American Old West .

Walking down E. Allen Street, a dusty dirt road in the town center, is quite an experience in and of itself. Gunslingers tip their hats as they walk quietly by in the glaring sun while the horsedrawn coach rattles off from the old Wells Fargo Stagecoach depot. Suddenly, the locals are scrambling to hide behind barrels and peeking over saloon doors. A gunfighter is making his way down the middle of the road, guns in hand, looking for a fight… Everyone knows what comes next. It’s cheesy, yes, but it’s great fun and perfectly recreated.

Of course, there’s more to see and do in Tombstone! Once the sheriff has taken down the outlaw, it’s time to go underground at the silver mine or discover the real story at the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. You can also learn more about the history of the area at the Tombstone Courthouse History Museum . And be sure to take a Tombstone Historical Trolley Tour – it’s a great way to get the current scoop on life in town. Another must-see is the gunfight show at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park .

How much time to spend. Most people will spend 4-5 hours in Tombstone, more than enough to make it a solid day trip from the nearby Tucson or even from Phoenix . However, if you decide to stay here for a night, you can opt for even more fun activities in the evening. For instance, you can join a spooky ghost and murders tour through town or the family-friendly dead men’s tales ghost tour . There are several nice hotels in Tombstone , and staying here will surely add to the ultimate Old West experience.

Recommended by Jim Vail at Roving Vails .

Tombstone is one of the nicest historic towns to visit in Arizona

16. Canyon de Chelly National Monument

The Grand Canyon may be the most popular canyon in the state of Arizona, and there’s definitely a good reason for that. But if you want to get off the tourist path in Arizona, Canyon de Chelly is incredibly stunning and equally worth seeing. If you are looking to experience the best of Arizona, don’t miss this lesser-known gem!

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located in a remote area of northeastern Arizona on Native American lands. You can drive around the rim for easy access to the stunning views inside the canyon. Take advantage of the many pullouts and take your time to enjoy the scenery. Canyon de Chelly is painted in an exquisite palate of reds, golds, and browns but with a lush green canyon floor.

Good to know: While you can visit some places on your own, you are required to hire a local guide to enter most of the canyon. But it’s worth doing to get to learn about life in the area and in the tribe. Your guide will take you for a drive into the canyon and you can hike the many trails. Stop at the visitor center for a list of guides and recommendations for your visit or check out the official website for more information.

There are also a couple of trails you can hike on your own. One leads you to the White House ruin , which is incredible to see. Or, you can hike the Sliding House Overlook trail to see a cliff dwelling high up on the canyon wall. It’s so interesting to see these different types of dwellings.

One of the most spectacular views in Canyon de Chelly is looking out on the Spider Rock spire . Its brilliant red is striking against the green patchwork of color and will remain etched in your mind long after your visit.

TIP: While you can enjoy some of the best that Canyon de Chelly has to offer in just a day, plan for at least a couple of days in this peaceful area. It’s a real gem – you won’t be disappointed! There are a couple of hotels in Chinle , just at the entrance of the park.

Recommended by Arizona local Sam from My Flying Leap .

Best places in Arizona - Canyon de Chelly National Monument

17. Flagstaff

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Arizona, Flagstaff should be high on your list! Often overlooked for nearby Sedona and the Grand Canyon, there are actually many great things to do in Flagstaff that make it worthy of a stop on your Arizona trip.

Flagstaff is best known for being along Arizona’s stretch of Route 66 . The famous “Mother Road” goes right through the heart of downtown! If you’ve never been on Route 66 before, you’ll enjoy the chance to see the famous sign and snap a photo with this iconic piece of Americana.

Flagstaff has a very different landscape than a lot of Arizona because it’s at a high altitude. The town sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, and you can even go skiing in the winter just outside of town! No matter when you visit, be sure to take the Snowbowl Scenic Chairlift up to the Arizona Snowbowl atop Agassiz Peak, the second-highest mountain in Arizona at 12,356 feet. Another unique landscape spot is nearby Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument , with its lava tubes and volcanic landscape.

Flagstaff also holds the distinction of being the world’s first “International Dark Sky City” – an honor normally only bestowed on smaller towns and national parks. It has its own observatory, the Lowell Observatory , which is where Pluto was discovered! It is a National Historic Landmark and you can take tours of the observatory if you book in advance.

Another fun thing to do in Flagstaff is checking out the thriving brewery culture. There are a number of great breweries which are brewing up creative new craft beer and serving them up with some delicious pub food! Mother Road Brewing Company (named for Route 66) is one of the best of the bunch. They specialize in ales (IPAs, double IPAs, tripels, brown ales, pale ales, etc.) and everything is fantastic.

Recommended by Allison from Eternal Arrival .

Flagstaff Arizona

18. Williams & Bearizona Wildlife Park

Williams, Arizona may not be on your radar as a great travel destination in Arizona because it is foreshadowed by bigger cities and so many amazing National and State Parks in the state. But you will be wrong to dismiss it from your travel plans because it has many interesting attractions!

Just as many towns in this area, Williams is located right on the famous Route 66 . So also here, you can visit various Route 66 attractions: old buildings, gift shops, and Route 66 Gas Station Museum.

One of the main attractions not to miss in Williams is a scenic train ride to Grand Canyon on the Grand Canyon Railway . You board the train in town in the morning and travel about 2 hours to the South Rim at the Grand Canyon National Park.

You can ride in glass dome cars and enjoy the amazing scenery, and you have a few hours of free time to explore the South Rim. It’s possible to stay in the park longer, but most people just do this as a day trip and return back to Williams by train in the afternoon.

Grand Canyon Railway in Williams Arizona

One of the absolute must-sees in Williams is Bearizona Wildlife Park , a drive-thru wildlife and safari park dedicated to the wildlife of Arizona. The uniqueness of Bearizona is in its layout: animals are not kept in small enclosures but allowed to roam free and tourists can drive around their habitats in their vehicles.

This gives you an opportunity for close encounters with such magnificent animals as bison, bear, and wolf. It is an amazing experience when a wolf just walks by your car or two bears fight an arm’s length from you, with only a car window in between!

There are also ‘walk-through’ exhibits where you can observe smaller animals such a beaver, porcupine, red fox, and many others. In addition to its exhibits, Bearizona also organizes live animal presentations, the most popular of which is the birds of prey show. This is such a great place to visit in Arizona for everyone, and an absolute must for families!

Good to know: Bearizona is open daily, all year round. It’s cheaper to visit on weekdays than on the weekends. For more info, please see their website .

Recommended by Tatiana from Family Road Trip Guru .

Bearizona Wildlife Park in Williams Arizona

19. Sunset Crater Volcano & Wupatki National Monuments

There are two more interesting places to check out in Arizona – Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument. They are both located just near Flagstaff and don’t require much time, so you can easily add them to your Arizona road trip itinerary if you have a couple of hours to spare in this area.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is centered around a cinder cone dormant volcano that has erupted about 1,000 years ago (1025 AD). Needless to say, a volcano is a surprising sight to see in Arizona!

The Lava Flow Trail is one of the best trails to hike as it takes you through the Bonito Lava Flow and numerous volcanic features while walking at the base of Sunset Crater Volcano. The trail is an easy 1 mi (1.6 km) round-trip hike. Hikers can view a lava tube and other lava features. A stop at the Visitor Center provides additional information as well as the Junior Rangers program.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Arizona

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument connects to Wupatki National Monument by loop road about 10 miles away.

Less than 800 years ago, Wupatiki was the tallest, largest, and most influential pueblo around. Between 85-100 people lived here, and several thousand more lived within a day’s walk.

There are several short hikes around the pueblo sites. There is also a Visitor Center offering a Junior Rangers program and other information about the site and its history.

TIP: Visit these parks early or late afternoon as there is no shade. If you arrive early enough, you may spot pronghorns in the fields near the Wupatki National Monument entrance.

Recommended by Nicole from AffordableFamilyTravel .

Wupatki National Monument in Arizona

20. Petrified Forest National Park

The Petrified Forest National Park located between two major roads – Hwy 40 and Hwy 180 – in eastern Arizona is an incredible place to visit if you enjoy the great outdoors and some adventure. This park is unlike any other place in Arizona, with unique colorful landscapes, 200 million-year-old petrified tree trunks, fossils, and petroglyphs.

Be sure to visit the Rainbow Forest Museum which is easily accessible via Highway 180. The museum is small but very informative and will tell you all you need to know about the natural history of the area. The Petrified Forest National Park is also a fantastic place to go hiking and exploring. The Blue Mesa Trail is highly recommended as it’s one of the most scenic trails in the park and the loop is only 1 mile (1.6 km). Painted Desert Rim Trail is another really nice and short hike of similar length.

It’s definitely possible to see the park in one day and you can drive to many places of interest or enjoy one or two short hikes. Since accommodation nearby is limited, most tourists only visit here for a couple of hours or a day. However, if you want to truly enjoy the beauty of this park, you can also stay here for two or three nights and you’ll find plenty to see and do.

Good to know: Campsites are only accessible on foot and there is no RV camping permitted. To camp, you need to obtain a free permit from the Rainbow Forest Museum. This is definitely an adventure and only suitable for experienced campers and hikers. Alternatively, the best town to stay nearby is Holbrook, AZ , where you’ll find several hotels, shops, and restaurants. It’s about 20 miles/25 minutes drive from either entrance to the park. The entrance fee is 25$ per vehicle, or you can also use your annual national parks pass.

Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel .

Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona

21. Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument has three of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in Arizona. You can spend an hour, a morning, or even two or three days here depending on what you want to see. But no matter how much time you have, it’s well worth a visit!

The most popular (and easiest) way to experience the monument is to hike the self-guided Sandal Trail . The 1.3-mile out-and-back paved trail passes through areas of pine and junipers to an overlook where there is a great view of the Betatakin cliff dwelling 0.25 miles away across the canyon. To do this hike, you will need about an hour or two, including the time to enjoy seeing the dwelling.

If you have more time, it’s also possible to take a backcountry hike to see the dwellings up close. Guided hikes/ tours to see Betatakin typically take 3-5 hours. They include either a 3-mile or 5-mile steep, strenuous hike, plus time at the dwelling. They are normally offered twice a day mid-May to mid-September. You can sign up for these at the Visitor Center on the same day. For more information, see the official site of the National Park Service .

For the more adventurous (and fitter), there is also a very strenuous 17-mile roundtrip backcountry self-guided hike to the Keet Siel dwelling . This can be done in one day or with an overnight camping stop. If you plan to hike Keet Siel, you need to make a reservation and then attend a mandatory orientation in the afternoon on the day before your hike.

TIP: You can do the Betatakin hike in the morning, then attend the Keet Siel orientation when you return and then hike to Keet Siel the next day. That way, you get to see both cliff dwellings in two days (or three if you opt for overnight camping). There is also a campground near the Visitor Center and a few hotels in Kayenta , about 30 minutes drive.

Recommended by James Ian from Parks Collecting .

Betatakin Cliff Dwelling Navajo National Monument in Arizona

22. Lower Salt River & Wild Horses

Winding through the arid Tonto National Forest, the Lower Salt River is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The best way to explore this scenic Sonoran Desert oasis is by boat. You paddle between jagged, red cliffs, and also have great scenic views of the landscapes dotted by cacti.

You don’t have to be an experienced kayaker or paddler to enjoy this calm river, either. But if you know how to steer your watercraft, you’ll be able to get yourself a better view of the big draw in the area – the wild mustangs. Small herds of wild horses can be spotted as they come to the water for a drink. If you’re lucky, you may spy a line of horses crossing the river.

The entire Salt River is 200 miles long, but the most popular section for kayaking or beginner-friendly floating trips is the Lower Salt River. Due to its proximity to Phoenix, it’s an easy day trip for visitors to the metro area, and most of these tours start in Mesa, AZ.

It’s best to go on a guided tour . Local outfitters provide the equipment (including a wet bag to keep your belongings dry), instructions, and knowledgeable guides will add to the experience, pointing out native wildlife and sharing entertaining stories. You can rent equipment and paddle unguided, too, but you’ll need to arrange transportation and you also need a Tonto National Forest Recreational Pass. If you book a tour, they normally take care of all of this.

Good to know: Dress in layers since it’s cooler in the morning and heats up quickly. And plan on getting wet. It’s common to take breaks in shallow areas of the river to cool in the water.

TIP: If you are looking for more action and adventure, there are also rafting trips on the other part of the Salt River. Most of them start in Whiteriver, AZ. Here you can book a 3-hr rafting tour on Salt River and here’s a longer 6-hr rafting tour . Most of these tours are still very beginner-friendly, and even kids (usually age 8+) can partake.

Recommended by Kim from Oh My! Omaha

Kayaking and Wild Horses of Salt River in Arizona

23. Apache Trail

If you are visiting the Phoenix area, one of the cool places that really gives you a sense of Arizona and the wild, wild, west is the Apache Trail located just about 20 miles outside of the city.

A real taste of old Phoenix and the western days, the Apache Trail holds most of the water reservoirs that feed a large part of the population. But it’s also interspersed with arid desert filled with local cactus and flora, ghost towns, and little spit communities with cool dive bars and memorabilia stuck to the walls and ceilings. It really is a special area to visit in Arizona that remains unchanged and so Old Western in appeal.

The Apache Trail is about 40 miles, with lots of scenic lookouts and great photo opportunities. It’s totally unique and fun to explore. Most of the trail drive is on dirt and gravel roads, winding trails that curve the water edges, and into hilly areas with stunning scenic views of this magnificent countryside.

A popular place to visit along the route through the Apache Trail is Goldfield ghost town , an old miner town that is more tourist-focused but not so tacky and still authentic. Superstition Mountain and the Lost Dutchman State Park are beautiful mountain and outcrop formations with fantastic hikes to enjoy.

Canyon Lake is also a nice stop. It has nice facilities to enjoy a picnic, water fun, and even some water sports. Tortilla Flat is another must-see en route. It’s an old western settlement with a funky old general store, a bar, and some interesting outbuildings to explore. It is fun and what you would typically expect from an outpost in this area.

The forty miles of varied terrain on the Apache Trail is not a fast journey. Count at least 3-4 hours, but you can easily fill an entire day for this route. If you are in Phoenix, make sure to take some time to visit the Apache Trail for a taste of the Wild West of Arizona.

Recommended by Noel Morata from Travel Photo Discovery .

Apache Trail in Arizona

24. Lake Havasu

Although you may never have heard of Lake Havasu before, it is actually home to the second most visited attraction in Arizona, the world-famous London Bridge ! Yes, the London Bridge from England, UK, featured in the popular nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down.” After being purchased from England in 1968, the bridge was meticulously relocated brick by brick from its former home on the river Themes to Lake Havasu, linking the city with an island in the Colorado River.

Rumor has it that the founder of Lake Havasu City actually thought he was purchasing the much more decedent Tower Bridge rather than the plain brick London Bridge they received.

Other than spotting a somewhat out-of-place historic monument, there are plenty more reasons why you should visit Lake Havasu. From hiking and mountain biking through SARA Park to fishing , boating , and paddleboarding on the lake itself or simply relaxing on its sandy beaches , this lakeside city in the Sonoran Desert indeed does have something to satisfy everyone’s preferred vacation.

An amazing event to see is the Lake Havasu Hot Air balloon festival, which sees more than 80 hot air balloons take the sky in an incredibly picturesque setting over the lake for a weekend in mid-January. Take your family to enjoy the music, food, entertainment, and carnival rides that truly make this the most magical time to visit Lake Havasu.

TIP: While you can visit Lake Havasu for a day, it’s a real vacation destination that is best enjoyed on a longer visit! Allow at least three days to relax and see the sites of Lake Havasu. The best way to embrace the summer vacation spirit here is to rent a lakefront Airbnb with your family or friends for a group getaway.

Recommended by Kate from Miss Tourist.

Lake Havasu in Arizona

If you are looking for nice places to visit along the iconic Route 66 in Arizona , check out the tiny village of Oatman , between Needles and Kingman. Oatman was founded in 1915 when two people found gold in this area that was worth over 10 million dollars. Within a year, the town’s population grew to 3,500 inhabitants. However, after the mines closed and Interstate 40 was built, Oatman turned into a ghost town.

Nowadays, the town is a popular stop for people road-tripping through the Southwest USA and Oatman has about 40-50 inhabitants. Besides historic Route 66 (the section between Oatman and Kingman is breathtakingly beautiful), there are many other interesting things to see in Oatman.

The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive is the large number of wild burros that wander through town. They are descendants of the pack mules that were used by the prospectors back in the day. The burros are protected by the government and roam around freely. In the shops, you can buy food to feed them.

Also the Oatman Hotel is worth checking out. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard (the famous couple from Gone with the Wind) stayed here during their honeymoon in 1939. Besides that, the hotel is known to be haunted. But don’t worry, “Oatie the Ghost” seems to be a friendly ghost.

If you are passing nearby, be sure to take a detour off the main highway, drive part of the original Route 66, and visit Oatman. It’s just a short stop that doesn’t require more than an hour or two, but it will definitely make your Arizona road trip more special.

Recommended by Jacoba from Op Reis Met Co .

Wild burros in Oatman Arizona

26. Seligman, Route 66

Seligman is one more place that we feel deserves a separate mention on this list of the best places to visit in Arizona. Considered the “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” , Seligman is a small town along the original line of this historic route and a great place to get a taste of what Route 66 used to be like.

Seligman is a colorful town that has preserved a lot of its buildings and culture, and it’s full of fun photo opportunities.

One of the best places to start is the Copper Cart , an old gas station that now functions as a gift shop. Often, a real-life cowboy fully equipped with a couple of horses, cowboy hats, and 1870s Winchester rifles hangs out here and you can take some great pictures with all the ‘props’. Don’t forget to tip as the proceeds go toward hay for the horses. Historic Seligman Sundries is another nice place for souvenirs and photos.

There are dozens of great photo opportunities in Seligman (don’t miss the colorful  Seligman sign  too), so you can spend an hour or two wandering around and taking pictures. There are also a couple of nice old-school places for lunch or a snack (check out Delgadillo’s Snow Cap or Westside Lilo’s Cafe).

Just like most Route 66 attractions, Seligman isn’t really a destination in itself, but a great photo/lunch stop when passing by. If you find yourself near Williams, AZ, or if you are driving between Las Vegas and Grand Canyon, be sure to check it out! If you have more time, you can also drive a section of the historic Route 66 here.

Seligman on Route 66 in Arizona

Map of the Best Places in Arizona

To give you a better idea of where all these places are located, we created a map indicating all the main landmarks and attractions mentioned in this article (see below). This will help you decide which places can be visited together so that you can plan a perfect Arizona itinerary covering all the sights that interest you the most.

How to use this map:  Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

So, this is our guide to some of the best places in the Grand Canyon state. I hope that it gave you plenty of ideas of where to go and what to see in Arizona!

For more travel inspiration for this area, please see our featured articles below. Check it out!

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  • 1-day Las Vegas Itinerary
  • Best day trips from Las Vegas

Southern California:

  • Los Angeles Itinerary for 3 Days
  • Universal Studios Hollywood: Tips for First Visit
  • Universal Studios vs. Warner Bros Studios Hollywood
  • San Diego Itinerary
  • Best Places to See in Death Valley National Park

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Where to go and what to see in Arizona - top places and attractions

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Tuesday 19th of March 2024

i like the Sedona its cool

Wednesday 20th of March 2024

It is! There are so many cool places in Arizona, right?!

korosh solhi

Wednesday 29th of November 2023

hi this is great

Thursday 30th of November 2023

Glad to help. Happy travels!

Frances Williams

Monday 30th of January 2023

Hello Jurga, I am going to Italy this September and using all your suggestions- love your blogs! Please can you suggest an organized tour for 3 Seniors in May to visit Sedona and the GC, south rim. We won’t drive. We would like to stay a couple of nights in Sedona and do day trips but how do we get to Sedona from Phoenix? Would love your guidance. Thanks

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

Hello Frances, I did some research and found this company that seems to arrange transportation between Phoenix (airport) and various places in the area including Sedona. Once in Sedona, you can take tours to any of the places you want to visit in that area. For recommendations, take a look at our guide to the best things to do in Sedona. Have a great trip!

sunset over sonoran desert with saguaro cacti in foreground near phoeniz az, one of the best places to visit in arizona

21 Best Places to Visit in Arizona (AZ Bucket List!)

Home to some of the most iconic and otherwordly landscapes in the American Southwest, not to mention plenty of towns and cities to explore, it’s safe to say that tackling all of the best places to visit in Arizona is quite the challenge.

After visiting Arizona many times, we still leave each time with an ever-longer list of hikes, viewpoints, small towns, and quirky attractions that we hope to enjoy (and plenty that we hope to return to again and again).

This AZ bucket list is designed to help you make the most of your time in The Grand Canyon State!

Whether you want to hike in the iconic Grand Canyon, check into a relaxing resort in Scottsdale, stand in awe of towering saguaro cacti, or try to nab a hard-to-get permit for some of Arizona’s (literal) hidden gems, this list of beautiful places in Arizona to visit will have you dreaming of desert sunsets in no time.

Here are the best places to go in Arizona!

Table of Contents

Naturally Beautiful Places in Arizona to Visit

Arizona bucket list cities + towns to visit, more of the best places to visit in arizona, read more about visiting arizona (and the southwest usa).

kate storm and ranger storm among rock formations in petrified forest national park, one of the best places to visit in arizona bucket list

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Grand Canyon National Park

Of course, no Arizona bucket list could possibly begin with anything other than the absolutely iconic Grand Canyon!

Home to some of the most incredible views in the USA, the Colorado River has been working for millions of years to create this absolute masterpiece.

According to one 2012 study, the formation of the Grand Canyon may reach back a whopping 70 million years!

kate storm descending into grand canyon day hike south rim via south kaiab trail on a switchback

Some of the most popular things to do in the Grand Canyon today include strolling along the Rim Trail, hiking into the canyon itself (on the South Rim, the Bright Angel trail and South Kaibab trails are both incredibly popular–South Kaibab is my favorite), and watching the sunset from the viewpoints.

The national park itself is split into two sections: the popular South Rim, home to the best-known views and trails, and the lesser-visited but still beautiful North Rim.

While the South Rim should undoubtedly be your first stop, if you have time to add on a trip to the North Rim too, you won’t be sorry!

(Note that while the South Rim is open year-round, the North Rim closes seasonally, but is traditionally open from mid-May to mid-October).

South Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon, one of the most famous national parks in USA

Horseshoe Bend

This iconic bend in the Colorado River is one of the best places to visit in Arizona and a must-see attraction in the small town of Page !

Seeing how big of a sensation this gorgeous viewpoint has become, it’s hard to believe that during our first visit to Horseshoe Bend in 2015, it was barely a blip on the map.

At that time, Horseshoe Bend was free to visit, and we were one of only a handful of people there!

Now, everything from a large parking lot to a hiking trail to a viewing platform has been built to accommodate the number of visitors eager to admire the view–and it deserves every bit of its fame.

As of the time of writing, there’s a $10 parking fee, per car, to visit.

kate storm admiring horseshoe bend at sunset

From Paula of Paula Pins the Planet

The Wave is one of the  best places to go hiking in Arizona … and also one of the most competitive!

This Arizona bucket list destination is known for its beautiful red and orange wave-like sandstone formations.

However, you must be the lucky winner of the permit lottery to be able to hike to this epic spot.

Each day, only 64 people are allotted permits to hike there.

You can apply online 4 months in advance, or you can show up at the Grand Staircase Escalante Visitor Center the day prior to trying your chance at the walk-in lottery.

The Wave rock formation in northern Arizona, a hard-to-reach but amazing place to visit on a utah arizona road trip

The hike is about 8 miles round trip and rated as moderate.

The trail is primarily used for hiking and is best used from October until May.

It is highly recommended to hire a local guide to do the hike with, especially if you are not super skilled with route-finding.

The Wave is located in the Coyote Buttes North area of the Utah and Arizona border, and in addition to the Wave, it has many other spectacular rock formations to be explored.

welcome to arizona sign as seen when driving into page az

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

From Daria of The Discovery Nut

Arizona is well-known for its stunning natural landmarks such as the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon which are popular with travelers who go there on a day trip from nearby cities such as Las Vegas .

However, the state also boasts many less-discovered gems that have been quietly flying under the radar for many years.

One of them is Canyon De Chelly National Monument, a spectacular landmark in the Four Corners region located near the town of Chinle in northeastern Arizona.

With over 800 archaeological sites that include cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and other remnants of past civilizations that inhabited this place, Canyon De Chelly is well worth a stop.

What’s interesting is that this monument consists of three major canyons including Monument Canyon, Canyon Del Muerto, and Canyon De Chelly.

It’s a fantastic place for hiking and enjoying the scenic views, and, unlike some other landmarks in the region such as Monument Valley, Canyon De Chelly offers a less crowded space.

view overlooking canyon de chelly with a sandstone pillar in the center foreground

Saguaro National Park

From Ale of Sea Salt & Fog

The saguaro cactus is the icon of the West, and there’s no better way to see these unique cacti in their full splendor than by visiting Saguaro National Park.

Located in Tucson, Arizona, the national park is made up of rolling hills dotted in saguaros and is a photographer’s dream. 

One of the  best things to do in Saguaro National Park  is to go hiking among the saguaros.

The Kings Canyon / Gould Mine Loop trail is a short, but moderately strenuous hike that will give you stunning views of the saguaros and of the city of Tucson.

saguaro national park, one of the best places to go in arizona, with a path to the left and large cactus on the right

This is one of the best places in the park to experience and photograph the sunset, and an Arizona bucket list destination for photographers!

If hiking isn’t your thing, you can still greatly enjoy one of the scenic drives in the park.

The Bajada Loop drive is a great introduction to Saguaro National Park.

On the eastern side, the cactus forest drive will also deliver beautiful views right from your car.  

Saguaro National Park is one of the most beautiful places to go in AZ and one that should definitely be on your Arizona bucket list.

saguaro national park at sunset, one of the best usa national parks to visit december january february

Lake Powell

From Sarah of Roadmaps and Restaurants

Lake Powell should be on everyone’s must-visit list when exploring the best places in Arizona. 

Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir along the Colorado River that offers something for everyone!

From kayaking, boating, and watersports to camping, hiking, and exploring the nearby Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell is filled with opportunities for both adventure and relaxation.

Lake Powell Utah at sunset with the lake curving in the distance

There is even a golf course if you’re interested in playing a round on your trip.

In addition to camping at multiple RV or tent campgrounds, you can rent houseboats to stay on the water or stay at the Lake Powell Resort !

The resort also has multiple dining options including the Rainbow Room, which offers a delicious meal with unparalleled views of the water. 

Lake Powell is also right by Page, AZ , and approximately a 15-minute drive from the famous Horseshoe Bend, which is definitely worth a stop!  

lake powell as seen from above, one of the best places to visit in arizona

Monument Valley

From James Ian of Park Collecting

When you think of classic Southwest USA scenery, you are probably thinking of the iconic  Monument Valley .

With its desert plains dotted with buttes and mesas, it is both famous (you can partially thank Forrest Gump for that) and incredibly beautiful.  

The valley is designated as the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and, because this is Navajo land, there are restrictions on how you can access it.

famous road leading to monument valley, one of the best places to go in arizona bucket list destination

There is one road, a 17-mile loop called Valley Drive, that you can drive yourself.  This takes you past many of the main formations.

You can stop off at John Wayne Point and get your photo taken sitting on a horse looking out over the scenery just like John Wayne did.

For more detailed exploration, take a backcountry tour with a Navajo guide and learn more about their culture and see additional sites.

If you like to hike, there is one trail – the Wildcat Trail – that you can hike yourself.

Other hikes also require the services of a Navajo guide.

Monument Valley as seen near sunset in Navajo Nation

Havasu Falls

As one of the most logistically challenging places to visit in Arizona–but also one of the most beautiful–there’s something truly magical about visiting Havasu Falls.

Tucked into a corner of the Grand Canyon that is part of the land belonging to the Havasupai people, Havasu Falls is not part of the national park.

For that reason, visiting Havasu Falls entails first nabbing an elusive permit , and then hiking 10 miles each way into the gorgeous Havasu Canyon.

No day hiking is allowed, so laying your eyes on this waterfall requires both advance planning and a commitment to camping overnight.

For those who make the journey, though, the effort is absolutely worth the magnificent reward!

Havasu Falls in Arizona, one of the most beautiful places in USA. Turquoise waterfall with orange walls surrounding it

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

From Lori of Southerner Says

There are several reasons that Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument should be on anyone’s list of the best places to visit in Arizona.

First, there’s nowhere else in the United States where you can see this many organ pipe cacti.

A rare cactus, the organ pipe requires special conditions to flourish.

Because there are so many in this compact area of southern Arizona, Organ Pipe was declared a national monument and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. 

Second, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is home to one of the last places on earth where visitors can see a certain rare fish.

cacti and yellow flowers at sunset in organ pipe national monument, one of the beautiful places in arizona to visit

A fish in the desert you might ask? Yes!

In the United States, the Sonoyta Pupfish exists only in Quitobaquito Springs inside the park.

Besides Organ Pipe, there are two other places in the world (both in Mexico) where it’s found. 

When visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, don’t miss the 21-mile unpaved, but maintained, scenic Ajo Mountain Drive for the best views of the cacti and the park.

It’s doable in a car if you keep it slow.

Organ Pipe National Monument

Antelope Canyon

From Ashley of Jetset Jansen

One of the most popular attractions to see in Arizona is the famous slot canyon known as Antelope Canyon.

Its popularity is due to the incredible canyons that have been carved out of sandstone by water over thousands of years.

The swirling walls make for beautiful pictures, but what you may not know is that there are actually two different sections to see: the  Upper Canyon and Lower Canyon .

Both parts of Antelope Canyon have a stunning landscape, but they do have slight differences.

antelope canyon in arizona with a beam of light streaming into the canyon

The Upper Canyon has a shallower opening and lets in less light. This can create light beams that shine through the canyon.

The Lower Canyon has a wider opening, so it does not get the light beams shining through, but it does have ladders that descend into the canyon. 

Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land and you must enter with an official tour to visit.

You’ll want to plan your tour well in advance because of its popularity (particularly in the cooler months), but it is well worth the visit!

antelope canyon as seen looking up, one of the best things to do in page az

Chiricahua National Monument

From Megan Kopp of Time. Travel. Trek.

It started with a volcanic eruption over 27 million years ago. Time and weather eroded rhyolite tuff into the “Land of the Standing Up Rocks.”

Chiricahua National Monument – 120 miles southeast of Tucson – is a perfect blend of both history and hiking.

While you’re there, you can wander in the footsteps of the Chiricahua Apaches, and pay homage to Buffalo Soldiers who camped in the canyon and carved their names into monument stones.

Learn about Lillian and the Faraway Ranch while admiring the now-preserved stones built into the dining room fireplace.

Explore remains of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp built on the ranch property.

Head up to the top of this “sky island” and hike down Echo Trail’s wild switchbacks.

Or, go big with 7.3 miles (11.8 km) of hiking bliss as you stroll along Ed Riggs trail past Mushroom and Big Balanced Rocks, navigating the Heart of the Rocks loop before continuing down Sarah Deming and Lower Rhyolite Canyon trails to the Visitor Center.

view of Chiricahua National Monument with a large, balancing boulder in the foreground.

From Tegan and Alex of Why Not Walk Travel Guides

Sedona is a picturesque town located right along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, one of the most beautiful drives in the country.

Known for its funky vibe, Sedona is famous for being one of the premier places in the world to experience vortexes or convergences of energy that are said to leave you feeling recharged and inspired.

Sedona is a fantastic destination to add to any visit to Arizona and is a particular favorite for hiking and nature lovers, or those seeking an escape to a quiet and calming place.

view from an elevated cave in sedona arizona, one of the best places in arizona

While you’re here, be sure to check out the views of Cathedral Rock and the other astounding rock formations with their signature red hues.

One great place to do so is at Buddha Beach, and don’t miss splashing around a bit in its beautiful iridescent pools, which are quite shallow and fairly warm year-round.

If you’re in the mood for a brief hike, the Devil’s Bridge hike is one of the most popular in the area, and hiking it takes less than 2 miles round-trip along a smooth and well-paved trail.

Art lovers will surely enjoy the Sedona Art Walk and the variety of boutiques and galleries in the Gallery District.

woman in a red backpack hiking in sedona on a southwest road trip of a lifetime

From Margie of DQ Family Travel

Winslow makes for a great stop when visiting Arizona.

This classic Route 66 town is located an hour east of Flagstaff and is a popular tourist destination for those driving the Mother Road.

Winslow is home to two famous roadside attractions.

The first is “Standin’ on the Corner” Park, which was created to pay tribute to the 1970s Eagles song that made Winslow a town to sing about.

Many people stop here and take pictures at this corner and in front of the giant mural.

kate storm and ranger storm in front of route 66 sign in winslow arizona, one of the best small towns arizona places to go

The second best thing to do in Winslow is to stay at the famous La Posada Hotel .

Opened in 1930, this hotel was a stop on the Santa Fe Railway and had a number of famous guests in its heyday (Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, FDR, John Wayne, and Betty Grable, just to name a few).

It was restored in the late 1990s and features beautiful gardens, local art, and updated rooms.

In addition, it is home to one of the  best Route 66 restaurants , The Turquoise Room.

The chef is a James Beard nominee and the restaurant features seasonally changing menus with a Southwest influence.

carved bald eagle statue with route 66 sign in downtown winslow arizona

From Stella Jane of Around the World in 24 Hours

Even though  Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the United States, people often overlook it when listing the best cities to visit in America. This is a true shame.

Phoenix has some of the best cultural experiences in the country, from museums to restaurants to botanical gardens. 

The best museum in Phoenix might be the Heard Museum, which is dedicated to advancing American Indian art and history.

Don’t miss their amazing Katsina doll collection!

If you want a more hands-on museum, visit the Musical Instrument Museum, where you can hear instruments from all over the world.

There’s also a section on Arizona musicians, like rock legend Alice Cooper. 

If you’d rather get outdoors, try exploring the gorgeous Desert Botanical Garden.

You can also visit the historic homes in Heritage Square, and afterward get a pizza at the legendary Pizzeria Bianco.

Phoenix truly has something for everyone, and its large airport makes it the perfect jumping-off point for exploring more of the best places to visit in Arizona.

aerial view of phoenix skyline, one of the best places to visit in arizona

From Alexa of 52 Perfect Days

Yuma is located in the southwestern corner of Arizona, just a few miles from the California-Arizona state line.

Anyone who lives in San Diego or Phoenix knows  Yuma  as a halfway point between the two cities, but it’s much more than a stopover!

Yuma is a city with an interesting past. It was a true wild west town of cowboys, brothels, gambling, and gunfights during the California Gold Rush.

For a small “pitstop” town, there is a surprising number of things to do.

The historic downtown is where you’ll find Lutes Casino, now a restaurant but where gambling took place from 1912 to 1920. Today, they are famous for their funky decor and potato tacos.

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park is a must-visit in Yuma. It was built by its first prisoners and opened in 1876. It is now a museum and free to tour.

Yuma, AZ Greetings Sign

Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park is perfect for any military buffs.

In the late 1800s, this was a thriving military post used by the U.S. Army to store and distribute supplies for all the military posts in Arizona and throughout the West.

Five of the original depot buildings remain on the park grounds, and four of these buildings contain exhibits.

The Confluence of the Colorado and Gila Rivers happens in Yuma, which makes for great tubing.

If you visit from late spring to early fall, a float down the Colorado River is a must.

It’s definitely worth adding Yuma to your list of places to visit in AZ!

view of a lake in yuma arizona with palm trees in the background, one of the best bucket list arizona travel destinations

From Sydney of A World in Reach

If you’re looking for an Arizona bucket list destination where you can enjoy the outdoors and the city all in one, Scottsdale is the place to be.

The city has great hikes and other outdoor activities as well as a fun downtown with plenty of museums and a thriving foodie scene.

Spend a morning hiking Camelback Mountain or one of the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Make sure to get an early start – it gets very hot in Scottsdale, so starting before sunrise can help you beat the heat.

fountain with bronze horses in old town scottsdale, an arizona bucket list destination

Up next, explore Old Town Scottsdale. Here, you can go souvenir shopping, visit museums, and go winery hopping along the Scottsdale Wine Trail.

Arizona wine country may be under the radar, but it has plenty of gems to offer!

When visiting Scottsdale, you have to stay at one of the excellent resorts, like the Andaz Resort & Bungalows .

If you’re visiting Scottsdale on a budget , go during the summer when the resorts slash their prices.

It’ll be hot, but you can cool yourself down at the resort pool!

Scottsdale-Old Town Scottsdale-1

From Katie of Two Wandering Soles

With one of the best Mexican food scenes in the US, a unique national park, and a burgeoning arts scene, Tucson is adored by foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, and art fiends alike.

If you find yourself in this southern Arizona city, you’ll have no shortage of ways to fill your time!

First and foremost, one of the  best things to do in Tucson  is to visit Saguaro National Park, which is divided into two sections — the most popular being on the west side of town and a less crowded portion to the east of the city.

Known as one of the best places in the world to see the  saguaro cacti  after which it was named ,  there are plenty of scenic drives and hikes suitable for all levels.

Tucson May 2019 02 (University Boulevard)

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, sample your way through the city’s famous Mexican food scene.

Order your favorites or try a Sonoran Dog — one of Tucson’s staple dishes.

Even if you don’t eat meat or dairy, you’ll find some great vegan Mexican restaurants in the city.

If you’re in the mood, Tucson has a pretty lively nightlife scene, complete with a pretty good variety of live music.

If you prefer your evenings on the more relaxed side, do a sunset hike up “A Mountain” for a spectacular view over town as it begins to light up!

saguaro cacti at sunset in a neighborhood in tucson arizona

Oatman Ghost Town

From Debbie of World Adventurists

Located in western Arizona along Historic Route 66 flourishes the ghost town of  Oatman , in the Black Mountains of Mohave County.

Oatman was originally a mining camp where two prospectors struck $10 million in gold back in 1915.

Its location on Historic Route 66 has kept it alive since, with over half a million visitors every year.

You’ll stop for the wild burros that wander around town, but you’ll soon realize they are just the start of the show.

Stay to watch the Gunslingers Wild West shootout (1:30 & 3:30 daily) and wander the western-themed shops.

You’ll quickly also notice the fun sassy town vibe, with each storefront being named something cheeky.   Don’t miss the Oatman Hotel’s saloon, covered with signed one-dollar bills.

This started when Miners would sign and attach their money to the wall for use when they were short of funds.

Locals also claim that the hotel is haunted and the whispers and laughs of ghosts are heard in empty rooms. 

storefronts in oatman arizona with 2 burros in the foreground, an az bucket list place to visit

Montezuma Castle National Monument

From Alanna of Periodic Adventures

Between Sedona and Phoenix, you’ll find  Montezuma Castle National Monument , a hidden gem in Arizona.

There are two locations 11 miles apart that make up the National Monument; the castle and the well.

Montezuma Well is a large freshwater sinkhole that was once frequented by ancient Native peoples, as evidenced by cliff dwellings and irrigation systems, that still function today!

There is one main path around the area, and some of it is shaded near the small irrigation ditches.

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm taking a selfie at montezuma castle national monument

Rest here for a tranquil break from the Arizona heat.

Montezuma Castle is the main site where you can see the large cliff dwelling that was erected over 900 years ago by the Sinagua people!

Take the circular path around the site to see the main Castle, other cliff dwellings, and unique Arizona plant life and wildlife.

There is a visitor center at the Castle site with facilities and a small museum to explore as well.

montezuma castle set into the rock wall, one of the best hidden gems in arizona to visit

Apache Trail

From Noel of Travel Photo Discovery

One of the most unique places to visit in Arizona, just on the outskirts of Phoenix, is the Apache Trail area.

This rugged landscape with man-made reservoirs cut into the large basins collects water to take care of the Phoenix water needs.

Traveling through this trail and now more of a graveled road through the various reservoirs, rivers, and desert landscape is so unique and old western that doesn’t look changed from the old days.

You also get to pass through striking Superstitious Mountain State Park, the Goldfield Ghost Town, and some of the most beautiful mountain and desert-scape in the area, which comprises the Apache Trail.

There’s even a cool western town called Tortilla Flats that has a western bar that is so photo-worthy that a stop really gives you a sense of place in this small western spit far removed from the rest of the region.

The striking beauty and landscape of this area stand out and is a unique place to visit that isn’t even touristy in appeal but a very cool road trip experience.

view along the historic apache trail, one of the best places to visit in arizona, with cacti in the foreground and a lake in the background

Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix)

From Cat of For Two, Please

Whether you are looking for  romantic things to do in Arizona  or fun family outings around the area, be sure to make a stop at Desert Botanical Garden!

Located in Papago Park, Phoenix, the visually stunning plant sanctuary offers a peaceful opportunity for visitors to discover 4,000+ different cactus species from around the world!

There are several hiking trails inside the Garden – all offering fantastic views of the surrounding landscape while immersing yourselves in colors and fragrances.

Throughout the year, the Garden continuously hosts exciting events to celebrate each season. Concert series, wine tastings, and dinners, to name a few.

Desert Botanical Garden Phoenix Arizona 51

If you’re visiting in the winter, check out Las Noches de las Luminarias.

Using projection, lighting, and sound, you will watch the cacti, succulents, and rocks be brought to life and put on a show you’ve never seen before.

The event runs throughout the entire month of December – in time to celebrate the winter holidays!

The Garden is quite big to spend half a day exploring. Make sure to plan ahead and set aside enough time to get a full experience.

photo of a paved sidewalk path leading through cacti in phoenix, one of the most beautiful places in az to visit

Devil’s Bridge (Sedona)

From Jessica of Unearth the Voyage

Of all the best places to visit in Arizona, Sedona’s iconic Devil’s Bridge is definitely high on the list!

There are lots of fun things to do in Sedona, but the  hiking in Sedona  is out of the world amazing.

Of all the really neat hikes Sedona has to offer, you definitely cannot miss Devil’s Bridge.

It is arguably the most famous hike in Sedona, landing a spot on Arizona bucket lists for visitors across the country.

If you’re looking for a picture-perfect shot on a really cool natural arch, Devil’s Bridge is your place.

The hike to Devil’s Bridge is rated as moderately challenging and can be shorter or longer depending on where you park (and parking is extremely competitive–be prepared for an early start!).

For the closest parking to Devil’s Bridge, it is recommended to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get there, especially after it’s been raining.

man in a red shirt standing on devils bridge in sedona arizona

The trail itself has some gorgeous red-rock scenery that Sedona is so famous for so you will get to admire that on your 2-4.2 mile hike (depending on where you park).

After walking on a fairly easy flat trail for more of your hike, you will come to the mountain face where you will have to do some rock-scrambling to get to the arch.

The rock scrambling isn’t too bad though, and it’s for a very short distance.

After you’ve climbed up the rock staircase, you will be rewarded with a gorgeous view of one of the most beautiful places in Arizona and Devil’s Bridge!

Planning a trip to the Southwest soon, and want to keep reading?

You can browse all of  our 100+ USA blog posts here , or check out these guides:

  • 9 Best Things to Do in Page, AZ (+ Nearby!)
  • 3 Days in Las Vegas: The Perfect Weekend in Vegas Itinerary
  • 11 Epic Day Hikes in the Grand Canyon (South Rim)
  • Horseshoe Bend, Arizona: The Ultimate Travel Guide
  • 19 Stunning Southwest Road Trip Itinerary Ideas (+ Tips!)

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4 photos of arizona: antelope canyon, lake powell, oatman ghost town, saguaro cacti. red and black text on a white background reads "arizona bucket list"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

3 thoughts on “21 Best Places to Visit in Arizona (AZ Bucket List!)”

Check out Fountain Hills az. Just east of Scottsdale, this town has the largest fountain in the world that goes off approximately every hour on the hour . It is approximately 375 ft high, surrounded by a beautiful park. The Town has some of the most beautiful vistas in the valley and it’s mountainous landscape is like nothing else in the Phoenix valley. Don’t miss this gem.

I lived in Arizona for a year and I loved the scenery. I’d love to go back someday. Such a beautiful place.

What is often missing as a place to visit in Arizona is Meteor Crater, a few miles from Winslow. About 50,000 years ago, an enormous nickel-iron meteorite smashed into the Earth and within a few seconds a crater nearly a mile in diameter and hundreds of feet deep was formed. The explosion was so great that anyone or any animals close by would have been killed. The meteorite is estimated to have been about 150 feet across. Upon impact, solid rocks were pulverized into what I’d describe as face powder. The crater is a marvelous place to visit and people of all ages will find it fascinating. It is the best preserved meteorite impact crater in the world. Most of the incoming meteorite was vaporized the moment of the impact. The visitor center has wonderful photographs and exhibits describing the event. There are guided tours of part of the crater rim. In the visitor center is the largest meteorite found there, about 1,400 pounds and visitors can actually touch this fascinating “visitor from outer space.” There is a gift shop and food is available. The cost of admission is much lower than what theme parks charge. I have been there several times and it is always a fun, educational and inspirational experience.

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23 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Arizona

Written by Lana Law Updated May 13, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Lana Law has spent many winters in Arizona and traveled the state extensively.

In the heart of the American Southwest, Arizona is filled with natural wonders, vibrant cities, and charming small towns . The Grand Canyon is one of the top attractions in the United States and a must-see destination. But those who venture deeper into the state will find unique places to visit and interesting sights.

While cities and towns like Phoenix and Sedona make great vacation destinations, you can head beyond the urban centers to discover Native American cliff dwellings and remnants of ancient cultures, along with historic ghost towns from the mining days.

Arizona also has a landscape perfect for outdoor adventures . The state is home to deserts, lakes , mountains, slot canyons, saguaro cactuses, buttes, waterfalls, and even a volcano with downhill skiing , all of which offer a world of possibilities for travelers.

Before heading off on your trip, have a read through our list of the best attractions and places to visit in Arizona.

1. Grand Canyon

3. monument valley, 5. hoover dam, 6. glen canyon national recreation area, 9. canyon de chelly national monument, 10. horseshoe bend, 12. havasu falls, 13. lake mead national recreation area, 14. tombstone, 15. flagstaff, 16. petrified forest national park, 17. saguaro national park, 18. antelope canyon at page, 19. organ pipe cactus national monument, 20. lake havasu, 21. prescott, 23. tumacacori national historical park, map of attractions & places to visit in arizona.

Grand Canyon

Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon peering out over the endless ridges of colorful cliff walls and deep ravines, it's impossible not to be inspired by this natural wonder. The view never gets old no matter how many times you visit.

The canyon glows in the late afternoon sun, revealing hues of orange, red, yellow, and everything in between.

One of the biggest attractions in America, and certainly in the state of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a place that has to be visited to be fully appreciated. Carved out over the centuries by the Colorado River, which can be seen in the distance far below, the enormity of this natural wonder is captivating.

Most visitors head to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon , where lookouts all along the road and walkways running along the canyon's edge offer incredible views.

The North Rim provides a different view altogether, but the road is closed in winter. Depending on the time of year you visit the canyon, the North Rim may not even be an option.

If you've seen pictures of the glass bridge jutting out over the Grand Canyon, these are from Eagle Point. The Skywalk , as the bridge is known, is at Grand Canyon West , about a 2.5-hour drive from Las Vegas.

For those who want a closer look, hiking trails offer access to incredible lookouts and a route to the canyon floor. If you want less physical activity, try a helicopter flight over or into the Grand Canyon.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions at the Grand Canyon

Sedona

Surrounded by stunning red rock mountains and buttes, Sedona has one of the most beautiful settings in Arizona. About a 1.5-hour drive north of Phoenix , Sedona is a popular day trip from Phoenix , but the town is worthy of much more than just a few hours.

The drive into Sedona from the south, beginning at the Village of Oak Creek , is mesmerizing and pullouts along the way allow you to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Sedona's main street (89A) is full of interesting tourist shops, art galleries, and restaurants and is an easy place to spend an afternoon. The town is also one of the best places to visit in Arizona if you're looking for great hiking trails and mountain biking trails .

You can also find a number of good golf courses and golf resorts in Sedona. If you want something a little more relaxing, consider a stay at one of Sedona's spa resorts .

Jeep tours, one of the most popular things to do in Sedona , provide an even easier way to get out into the landscape. Also in the surrounding area are a number of historical Native American dwellings, which you can visit on your own or as part of a tour.

Sedona is considered by many to be a highly spiritual place. It is known for its energy vortexes , found at a number of sites around the town. In downtown, you'll also find New Age shops and unique opportunities, from UFO tours and aura readings to psychics and crystal sellers.

Popular day trip destinations within easy reach of Sedona include Flagstaff and Jerome. The scenic drives to both of these towns from Sedona make them worth the trip, but you can easily fill a day exploring either place. Skiers can even find downhill skiing just outside Flagstaff at Arizona Snowbowl.

Monument Valley

Some of the most iconic images of the Southwest are the sandstone buttes that dominate Monument Valley. This area, straddling the border between Arizona and Utah, includes jagged rock formations, stone spires and buttes, and sand dunes.

At the heart of the valley is the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park , where you'll find an impressive visitor center and a 17-mile self-drive route along a one-way gravel road through the park.

You can also take a guided sightseeing tour to explore the area more thoroughly. If you don't have time to go into the park, you can appreciate some of the views from the highway.

Phoenix

Phoenix is a great base for exploring Arizona but it's also a major destination in the winter for golfers and sun seekers, who simply want to enjoy a stay at a resort or spa and spend a little time basking in the heat of the desert.

In the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, which includes Scottsdale and Mesa, you'll find great shopping, dining, golf courses, desert parks with hiking trails , biking trails, campgrounds , and some outstanding attractions. Topping the list of places to visit around Phoenix are the Heard Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West .

If you are spending some time in the area, there are some wonderful day trips from Phoenix , which will take you to cliff dwellings, historic mountain towns, and ghost towns, and even the Grand Canyon.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Phoenix

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is one of America's great engineering marvels. This massive structure, completed in 1935, crosses the Colorado River, linking Arizona and Nevada. It is 726 feet high and 1,244 feet long.

Lake Mead , held back by the Hoover Dam, is the largest artificial lake in the United States. It is 110 miles long, and holds the equivalent of two years of flow of the Colorado River.

You can drive or walk across the dam for free, although there is a charge for parking. Another option is to take a tour of Hoover Dam or the Powerplant. The visitor center provides information on the dam and tours, and has a café with some basic food options.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a stunning region of blue water, desert landscape, and dramatic stone walls. Home to Lake Powell , one of the largest manmade lakes in the United States, this area is known for both land-based and water-based recreational activities.

The Glen Canyon Dam was constructed between 1956 and 1964 to block the Colorado River and create Lake Powell. A 15-mile section of Glen Canyon downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, stretches from the dam down to Lees Ferry.

The town of Page is a good base for exploring the Glen Canyon National Recreation area and surrounding region. The largest marina on Lake Powell, Wahweap Marina , is located just 7 miles north of Page.

One of the area's biggest attractions is the nearby slot canyons of Antelope Canyon . Depending on the section of the canyon, you can either simply walk through a narrow slot canyon with shafts of light penetrating through the top, illuminating the red walls, or opt to repel down into a canyon.

Photos of Antelope Canyon are often found on postcards or in fine art galleries. You can visit Antelope Canyon on a guided tour.

Tucson skyline

Tucson is a beautiful city set in the Sonoran Desert and surrounded by mountains. As the second largest city in Arizona, it has many cultural attractions, as well as historic sites and natural areas to explore nearby.

Some of the highlights include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum , Saguaro National Park , El Presidio Historic District , and Old Tucson Studios .

Nature lovers will find wonderful hiking trails and camping in the city and nearby surrounding mountains and canyons. The Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is a popular driving route just outside of Tucson, which offers outstanding views. From Tucson, you can also do day trips to nearby destinations like Tombstone or Bisbee.

Although the climate is warm and arid, Tucson is a little higher than Phoenix and is generally slightly cooler. The elevation is just under 2,400 feet.

Jerome

Set on a mountainside high above the desert floor, Jerome is an old mining town, turned ghost town, turned tourist attraction. A steep hill with switchbacks is the main street through town, lined with interesting stores and restaurants.

Views from the streets and some of the shop windows are amazing. Most of the old buildings have been renovated but some still stand as ruins, creating a very interesting dynamic.

The town's history can be appreciated at the Gold King Mine Museum and the Jerome State Historic Park .

This town is a popular day trip from Sedona, Prescott, Phoenix, or Flagstaff. Accommodation is available for those who want to spend the night.

Jerome is unique to say the least, but some might just call it quirky. The Sliding Jail in Jerome was originally built around 1928. Built on a clay slick, it soon began to slide and now sits 2,500 feet from its original location. The Bartlett Hotel was once one of Jerome's finest hotels but today stands in ruins.

The Jerome Grand Hotel , built in 1927, is the highest public building in the Verde Valley, and it offers breathtaking views.

Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is home to spectacular Native American cliff dwellings set along steep-sided canyons, with walls up to 1,000 feet high.

In the main canyon, some of the key attractions are the White House Ruins , constructed circa 1050 and discovered in 1849, and Spider Rock. The White House is the best known of the more than one hundred cliff dwellings.

The only self-guided hike in the park, which leaves from the White House Overlook on the South Rim, descends 600 feet to the White House Ruins.

Other cliff dwellings include the Antelope House and Mummy Cave (in which mummies were found) in the Canyon del Muerto. Most of the ruins, which are largely inaccessible to visitors, were occupied from around AD 350 to 1300.

You can tour the site on your own by driving along the North and South Rim Drives and stopping at the pullouts. Although you can easily see ruins nearby, many of the lookouts also have scopes that let you pinpoint ruins on the distant walls.

From spring until fall, you can join a free ranger-led hike or take a private tour of the canyon.

Arizona - Canyon De Chelly National Monument - Map

It's hard to scroll through things to do in Arizona and not come across a striking picture of Horseshoe Bend. This stunning sight, where the Colorado River makes a dramatic 270-degree U-turn around a sandstone escarpment, is a hot spot for photographers visiting Arizona . The sight of the green water of the river juxtaposed with the tan sandstone in an unbelievable natural formation is simply breathtaking.

Until recent years, Horseshoe Bend was relatively undiscovered by the masses, but with the age of Instagram and other photo-sharing services, its popularity has mushroomed, and it is a must-do when visiting Arizona. Today over two million people visit annually.

Count on a 1.5-mile round-trip walk along a rock walkway to get to the overlook. You won't find any real safety features here except for a lookout area with a fence. If you want to walk right out to the edge, you are free to do so at your own risk.

Bisbee

In the far southeast corner of Arizona, near the Mexico border, is one of Arizona's most interesting towns and possibly one of its best kept secrets. The former mining town of Bisbee is a unique little community set high in the mountains and one of the best small towns in America .

After the mines here closed, Bisbee became a ghost town, and squatters took up residence. Eventually, the town became a haven for artists and hippies.

Today, it is a prosperous small town with an eclectic mix of residents, unique shops and restaurants in the historic downtown, and many interesting things to see and do.

Homes, many of which are former miners' cabins, line the hills surrounding the historic downtown area. Many of these residences are only accessible via long sets of stairs that lead to the town center below.

Views from the upper streets and hillside homes are incredible, looking out over mountains all the way to Mexico. In the hills above town are a number of informal hiking trails.

Bisbee is a popular day trip from Tucson and surrounding areas, often combined with a stop in Tombstone.

Havasu Falls

Near Supai on the Havasupai Indian Reservation is the 100-foot Havasu Falls. The pools at the base of Havasu Falls have a bluish green tint to the water, and the fall is forked so it appears that there are two falls when the river is flowing heavily.

In the canyon of Havasu Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River, some 450 people of the Havasupai tribe (the "people of the blue-green water") live a secluded life, subsisting on their modest farming activities but now mainly dependent on the tourist trade.

In this paradisiac valley the Havasu have created a number of waterfalls and carved out basins in the travertine rock which form attractive bathing pools.

Day hiking is not allowed here. You need to make reservations , obtain a permit, and pay a fee. Access is via a long hike, horseback or mule, or helicopter.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area spans 177 miles of the Colorado River and includes Lake Mead and Lake Mohave . The area's 1.5 million acres stretches into southern Nevada.

The area offers boating and water sports, camping facilities, fishing , and hiking opportunities. Lake Mohave is 67 miles long, making it the smaller of the two major lakes in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Like its counterpart, Lake Mohave is an artificial body of water, held back by Davis Dam.

Willow Beach is a small resort town on the Colorado River with accommodation, restaurants, a marina, and fish hatchery.

Tombstone

Tombstone offers a modern look at an Old West town. Staged gunfights in the streets and characters walking through town in period costume recreate the glory days of this small Arizona town.

Every shop, restaurant, and attraction is designed with tourists in mind, but you can still see some of the town's history in the historic sites, including the famous O.K. Corral and the Boothill Graveyard .

Also of note is the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, housed in the original courthouse, which is now a museum.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Tombstone

Aerial view of Flagstaff, Arizona

One of the main stops on Historic Route 66, Flagstaff is a treasure trove of well preserved buildings and streets. Take some time to stroll around the restored downtown area, and if you find yourself in town at night, check out the impressive neon signs.

However, Flagstaff, or Flag as the locals call it, is not all about history. Today it's a young, dynamic mountain town with a lively air, driven by the large number of students at Northern Arizona University (NSU). This active set ensures that you'll find a good variety of restaurants along with entertainment throughout town.

Owing to its elevation at nearly 7,000 feet, Flagstaff enjoys a more moderate climate than Phoenix, just a couple of hours down the road. This means it gets chilly here in the winter, and snow falls not only in town but at Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort located a short drive from the city.

Flagstaff is an ideal place to base yourself if you are considering visiting some of the national parks and monuments located nearby, including the Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, and Sunset Crater National Monument.

  • Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Flagstaff
  • From Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon: Best Ways to get There

Petrified Forest National Park

Large pieces of petrified wood, along with fossilized plants, fish, and reptiles, have been revealed in great numbers in what is today Petrified National Forest in the Painted Desert . The park access road runs by many of the highlights and short interpretive trails allow for close up looks at a variety of unique sights.

The Visitors Center provides insight into the ecology and geology of the park and is a good place to start before heading out on the drive.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is a great place to experience the desert landscape around Tucson and see the famous saguaro cactiuses up close. The park has two sections, an east and a west portion, located on the east and west side of Tucson, approximately 30 minutes apart.

Both sections of the park offer great opportunities to see the desert flora and fauna along roads and hiking trails. Hikes range from easy walks to challenging trails that lead up into the high mountains, reaching up to 8,000 feet in elevation.

You can visit both sections of the park on the same entrance ticket or park pass.

Antelope Canyon at Page

Seen in countless photographs in galleries all over Arizona, Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located just outside of Page. The sculpted, twisting sandstone walls rise up around you, with shafts of light breaking through from the narrow opening above as you walk through the canyon.

You can tour Upper Antelope Canyon or Lower Antelope Canyon , or both, on a guided tour. Upper Antelope Canyon is the easier option, perfect for anyone with mobility issues or people who prefer a flat ground and solid footing, but it still provides the stunning scenery.

Photographers will not be disappointed! You are given plenty of free time to explore on your own and at your own pace. The canyon lies within the Navajo Nation reserve boundary.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is an International Biosphere Reserve situated in southwestern Arizona, on the frontier with Mexico. The main feature of the monument is the namesake organ pipe cactus, but the area is stunning, with mountains and beautiful sunsets over the desert.

Withing the area are three distinct desert vegetation zones and some 30 different species of cactus. The organ pipes grow up to 23 feet high and bloom from May to July . Because of the often extreme heat during the day, it opens up its flowers only after sunset.

The area can be explored on various roads and hiking trails, but the two main scenic drives of note are Ajo Mountain Drive and Puerto Blanco Drive . You can access hiking trails off both of these roads.

The Bull Pasture/Estes Canyon Loop Trail is one of the top hiking trails in Arizona . This is just one of the hikes in the park.

The park is also one of the best places to camp in Arizona , and given that the main attractions in the park are quite a drive from the nearest towns and hotels, camping is a great option out here.

The palm-lined shores of Lake Havasu

One of the most delightful small cities in Arizona, Lake Havasu is an oasis in an otherwise dry and dusty desert. Created when the Colorado River was dammed, Lake Havasu today is a wonderful place to enjoy the water at the beach, on a pleasure boat, or at a lakeside patio.

The city that surrounds the lake has two personalities: In the winter, it's home to snowbirds from the northern states and Canada fleeing the cold. In the spring and summer, it's home to local Arizonians looking to escape the heat.

A highlight of any visit to Lake Havasu is a stroll over London Bridge . This bridge, parts of which date to 1831, was transported from London, England and installed at its present location in 1971. A fun fact about the bridge is that it was actually reassembled on dry land in the middle of a field. It was only later on that a canal was dredged underneath it.

Kayakers on Watson Lake, Prescott

With tall Ponderosa pine trees, lakes, and occasionally even a sprinkle of snow, Prescott is an unexpected find in Arizona. At 5,300 feet, this small city has more defined seasons. It's also incredibly scenic and offers opportunities for hiking , kayaking, and camping .

This city is also a former capital of the Arizona Territory. The charming downtown has a number of tourist attractions and historic sites , including the old courthouse and the Elks Theatre . Stop for lunch at one of the downtown restaurants or spend a night at one of the beautifully restored bed and breakfasts or hotels.

Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park

The city of Yuma is off on its own in the far southwest of Arizona and a stopping-off point for people heading to and from Mexico. Here, you'll find some interesting historical sites, one of the most important being the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park . Tour the park, dating from 1876, and step into the cells where the outlaws were housed.

Another must do when in town is to stroll up and down the historic main street. Just look for the neon sign indicating the street, and you'll know you've found the right place. A number of restaurants, shops, and other services line the street, many fronted by a covered walkway.

Yuma is fortunate for such a dry place to have the Colorado River flowing right through town. Exceptional opportunities for water-based recreation exist, including pleasure boating, swimming, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding.

Tumacacori National Historical Park

Tumacacori National Historical Park , located south of Tucson, preserves the ruins of three early Spanish colonial missions on 47 acres in southern Arizona. San José de Tumacácori and Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi were established in 1691 and are the two oldest missions in Arizona. The third mission, San Cayetano de Calabazas, was established in 1756.

The site was abandoned in 1848 due to Apache raids, neglect, and a terrible winter. Tumacacori became a national monument in 1908 and the two Spanish missions, Guevavi and Calabazas, were added to the site in 1990.

Address: 1891 East Frontage Road, Tumacacori

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Resorts and Hotels in Arizona: Because not everyone is a snowbird renting a place for the winter, we've compiled some lists to help narrow your search when it comes to places to stay in Arizona. For a relaxing city getaway, see our list of the top resorts in Phoenix or Scottsdale .

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Camping in Arizona: Spending a night under the stars in the quiet of the desert should be on everyone's bucket list of things to do. Arizona is the perfect place for camping during the winter months and in the spring, when the desert turns a lush green and blooms in a fantastic display of color. Campgrounds near Phoenix usually offer the warmest weather, making them perfect during the coldest months. Tucson campgrounds are a little cooler but still great for camping in winter.

In spring and early summer , you can move into higher elevations. At this time of year, consider heading to the campgrounds in Sedona and Prescott . At a much higher elevation, the campgrounds around Payson are also good in late spring and summer. For a more complete look, see our article on the best campgrounds in Arizona .

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More on Arizona

Arizona Travel Guide

The 10 Best Places to Visit in Arizona

State 48, as it's known locally, is more than the tumbleweeds and cacti depicted in classic Western movies. In major cities like Phoenix and Tucson, you’ll find world-class museums and luxury resorts. At the Grand Canyon, you’ll be inspired as you view the only one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World located in North America. The state has world-class spas, Native American arts and crafts, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

On the same day, you can kick off your morning walking the still-dusty streets of Tombstone and end the day sipping wine at a winery. Or, pose with the world’s largest cacti at Saguaro National Park near Tucson, then Instagram a photo of yourself standing in the world’s largest stand of Ponderosa Pine trees in Coconino National Forest. The possibilities are endless. 

 Matt Mawson / Getty Images

Chances are, if you fly to Arizona, you’ll most likely land at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. The fifth-largest city in the United States boasts some of the state’s best museums, including the internationally acclaimed Musical Instrument Museum and the Heard Museum with its impressive collection of Native American art. Taliesin West , the winter home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and open for tours in Scottsdale.

Even though the greater Phoenix metropolitan area is surrounded by the Sonoran Desert, its unique landscape is worth exploring in the cooler months. Get a primer on the area’s flora with a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden and its fauna at the Phoenix Zoo before heading out. You can explore the Sonoran Desert on your own on a hike at South Mountain Park , one of the largest city parks in the world, or take a 4x4 tour into the Four Peaks Wilderness.

Phoenix also has some of the state’s best restaurants, including its only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star award-winning restaurant, Kai; nearly 200 golf courses; and some of the nation’s best spas. 

Grand Canyon National Park

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is a must for any visitor to Arizona. You can see the canyon from viewpoints at the South Rim, the national park’s main entrance; the North Rim; and Grand Canyon West, the Hualapai tribal lands where the glass Skywalk curves over the rim’s edge. First-time visitors will want to experience the canyon at the South Rim, which is the easiest access and has jaw-dropping views.

After gazing across the expanse of the South Rim, you can hike or bike the mostly-paved Rim Trail, trek a short way into the canyon (or all the way to the bottom if you plan to overnight there), or ride a mule with reservations on the rim or below. Rafting trips, which generally leave from Page, and helicopter tours, which take off at Grand Canyon National Park Airport, are other ways to explore the canyon. 

 Nikolas_jkd / Getty Images

Surrounded by rocks tinged red with rusting iron, Sedona is one of the most beautiful cities in the state. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike or mountain bike the trails in Red Rock State Park, cool off at Slide Rock State Park, or take a yoga class on the red rocks, but you don’t need to work out to indulge at one of Sedona’s luxury spas. Pamper yourself even further with an aura reading or by meditating in a vortex, a swirling pocket of energy that promotes healing and self-exploration.

A trip to Sedona wouldn’t be complete without a Pink Jeep tour. Book the two-hour Broken Arrow tour to see the red rocks up close while tackling rugged terrain in an open-air Jeep Wrangler. After, shop for souvenirs on the main route through the city, State Route 89A, or at the boutiques and galleries at the Spanish-style shopping center, Tlaquepaque. 

ChrisBoswell / Getty Images 

This city makes a good base for exploring the Grand Canyon, but it’s a destination in its own right. Start in the historic downtown, where you can shop Flagstaff’s boutiques, specialty stores, and art galleries. Between retailers, break with a pint from one of several downtown breweries on the Flagstaff Brewery Trail or grab a bite to eat at Proper Meats + Provisions or Pizzicletta . Or, discover the downtown area on a self-guided walking tour. The city’s “Walk This Talk” tour retraces the Route 66 alignment through Flagstaff. Drop by the Visitor Center in the historic train depot at 1 E. Route 66 for more information.

Beyond downtown, the Museum of Northern Arizona features exhibits on geology and Native American culture while Lowell Observatory introduces visitors to the universe and tells the story of how Pluto was discovered onsite in 1930. 

Jim Vallee / Getty Images 

Jerome—dubbed the Wickedest City in the West in the early 1900s—nearly became a ghost town after its mines played out. Thankfully, in the 1960s, artists moved in and breathed new life into the community. Today, Jerome is known for its art galleries, specialty shops like Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes, winery tasting rooms, and great food. Before heading into town, make a stop at Jerome State Historic Park to learn about the community’s mining past.

A day trip to Jerome can easily be combined with a visit to Cottonwood , which has even more galleries, restaurants, and tasting rooms. Serious wine lovers may want to overnight either in Jerome or Cottonwood and spend the following day visiting the actual wineries on the Verde Valley Wine Trail near Cornville. 

 Esdelval / Getty Images

The second-largest city in Arizona, Tucson is the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States, thanks to its rich agricultural history and efforts to preserve heirloom crops. You can visit the nation’s oldest continuously farmed land at San Agustin Mission Farm and drop by Native Seeds/Search to learn more.

But Tucson is much more than its farming past. It’s home to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a highly-acclaimed botanical garden, zoo, and small aquarium, as well as the Pima Air & Space Museum. In addition to a tram tour of its outdoor aircraft, the museum also offers guided tours of the AMARG “Boneyard” across the street at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Round out your visit with stops at Mission San Xavier del Bac, Sabino Canyon, and Saguaro National Park.

Want to experience life as a cowpoke? Tucson has two dude ranches: White Stallion Ranch and Tanque Verde Ranch . 

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Immortalized in movies and books, this legendary silver boom town in Southern Arizona lives on today. You can stand in the same spot where the Earp brothers—Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan—along with Doc Holliday stared down rivals Ike Clanton, Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury, and Frank McLaury before the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral. Actors reenact the scene at the O.K. Corral Historic Complex daily for ticketholders, but you can dive even deeper into the gunfight at the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park. Tour the Bird Cage Theater Museum , and get a drink at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon before you go.

A visit to Tombstone can easily be combined with time in Bisbee , a mining-town-turned-arts-community less than a half hour’s drive south. Browse the galleries there, discover the excellent, Smithsonian-affiliated Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum , or go underground on a Copper Queen Mine tour. 

Sonoita/Elgin Wine Region

Chiyacat / Getty Images

Believe it or not, Arizona produces wines so impressive they’ve been served at the White House. While the Willcox area is the largest growing region in the state, some of the best vintages come from the Sonoita/Elgin wine region , the state’s first American Viticulture Area (AVA). Download a map here to visit some of the wineries on your own, or leave the driving to someone else with Arizona Winery Tours . Top wineries include Dox Cabezas WineWorks, Kief-Joshua Vineyards, and Sonoita Vineyards.

If you want to discover even more Arizona wines, detour to Willcox , where several Willcox AVA wineries, such as Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, have tasting rooms.  

Antelope Canyon

 Buena Vista Images / Getty Images

You’ve likely been awed by pictures of Antelope Canyon , the sandstone slot canyon in northern Arizona formed over millions of years by water and wind. Its wavy, orange walls, and shafts of light give it an otherworldly appearance. Located near Page, it is an extremely popular destination.

Book your tour before you go, especially if you will be visiting during the fall or spring when temperatures are more moderate. Most tours spend about an hour in the actual canyon and involve some hiking. (Due to COVID-19, visitors are not permitted to walk back through the canyon to the 4x4 that brought them. Instead, they have to hike out over a low section of wall.)

Upper Antelope Canyon is more commonly toured since it’s easier to navigate, but some companies also offer tours of Lower Antelope Canyon and nearby Waterhole Canyon and other slot canyons. 

Monument Valley Tribal Park

 Don White / Getty Images

Straddling the Arizona-Utah border, the iconic landscapes of Monument Valley Tribal Park are well over a five-hour drive from Phoenix but not to be missed if you have the time. You can drive the unpaved 17-mile road on your own into the park’s interior or, better yet, have a Navajo guide take you off-road. Often these tours include weaving demonstrations, sunset dinners, and Native American singing and dancing. Plan to spend the night at The View Hotel , the only hotel in the park, to watch the sunrise over the Mittens rock formations the next morning. 

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

26 Stunning Places to Visit in Arizona That We Love

Written By: ThePlanetD Team

United States

Updated On: February 9, 2024

There are a lot of beautiful places to visit in Arizona. Arizona offers a unique mix of striking landscapes, bustling cities, hidden ghost towns, and unique formations, making it a great destination any time of year. This guide will help you plan your Arizona getaway now and discover what this diverse state has to offer. Whether planning an Arizona road trip or popping over from Vegas, you’ll surely find something to suit your needs.

Table of Contents

Best Places to Visit in Arizona

best places to visit in airzona

This guide is split into specific sections, as Arizona has many different types of places to visit. The best way to get around Arizona is by car. Compare prices from the airport you are flying into here at RentalCars.com (This is what we use). So, let’s get started.

1. Coyote Buttes

arizona the wave

Do you love unique landscapes? The landscape of Coyote Buttes is beautiful and fascinating. It’s is a bit like walking through a maze of natural skatepark ramps.

The Buttes are located in Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. A little like Antelope Canyon, the landscape features wave-like rock patterns. But instead of being in a canyon, you can experience the waves out in the open, amongst towering buttes.

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness is one of the best places to visit in Arizona in its own right. Paria has over 100,000 acres of protected lands, but add Coyote Buttes and it is out of this world.

2. Antelope Canyon

places to visit in arizona antelope canyon

Antelope Canyon is a national treasure. The wave-like sandstone walls of the slot canyon were made famous on social media, but to see it in person is magical. Photographers flock to Antelope Canyon to capture the dramatic scenery and walk along the canyon floor.

If you want to visit Antelope Canyon, you’ll have a choice of which part to visit – Lower Antelope Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, or maybe both as you can book tours and see both.

Upper Antelope Canyon is the easiest to hike but is darker, while Lower Antelope Canyon is narrower but much lighter. You can book online or pay a visit to Antelope Canyon Visitor Center. Antelope Canyon is easily one of the best natural tourist attractions in Arizona. This canyon is a must-visit if you want to visit bucket list outdoor attractions. Check out Antelope Canyon Photo Tours – How to Make the most of it

3. Monument Valley

places to visit in arizona monument valley

Monument Valley is located along the Arizona- Utah border. If you want to visit easily, you must base yourself in a northern city like Flagstaff. The valley is one of the most famous landscapes in the US and easily one of the best places to visit in Arizona.

The valley is over 90,000 acres and full of hiking trails and spectacular rock formations. It is most known for its towering sandstone buttes, which you can experience on scenic drives or on hiking trails. Don’t miss Forest Gump Point, the iconic viewpoint used in famous movies and is an important filming location in cinematic history.

The valley is a great place to cut through if you are planning an Arizona road trip . There are many things to see while driving through the valley, and the scenery is perfect for memorable road tripping.

4. Montezuma Castle National Monument

places to visit in arizona montezuma castle monument

Fascinated by ancient culture and archaeological sites of inhabitation? Montezuma Castle National Monument is the place to visit. The site is home to several cliffside dwellings, built and lived in by Indigenous People around 1100 to 1425 AD.

Sadly, access inside the dwellings has now been prohibited in an understandable attempt to protect the site from excessive damage. However, visitors can take a virtual tour inside the houses. They look incredible from the outside, and you can enjoy numerous hiking trails for different views.

5. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

We’ve briefly mentioned Saguaro National Park already. The park is located just outside Tucson. It is a great place to visit for stunning scenery and hiking trails while visiting Southern Arizona.

The park is most known for its cacti. Indeed, in this national park, you’ll find some of the largest saguaro cacti in the US. Some of the cacti live up to 200 years old and grow at a very slow rate. The national park feels like an old American West movie scene and has over 90,000 acres for you to explore.

Whether you choose a scenic drive or hike, booking a rental car to visit Saguaro National Park is the easiest option. Valley View Overlook Trail is a nice short walk that should take you around 20 minutes to complete, while hiking to Signal Hill Petroglyphs is a must for anyone interested in ancient art and civilizations.

6. Petrified Forest National Park

petrified forest arizona

If the Petrified Forest National Park sounds fantastic, it’s because it is. However, if you arrive expecting a lush forest full of beautiful, interesting trees, you’ll be shocked. The national park is a barren landscape, full of fossils and petrified, sliced tree trunks.

The petrified wood is scattered across the national park, and you can drive the length of the park in around an hour – stopping at whatever spot catches your eye. Some not to miss places include Rainbow Forest Museum, the Crystal Forest hike, and the Blue Mesa hike.

Wondering how this natural phenomenon occurs? Petrification of trees takes place when trees have been buried underground without oxygen for thousands of years. Over time, the decaying wood becomes mineralized and turns into fossilized stone, creating an exact replica of the original form, just in a different material.

For a unique natural experience, Petrified Forest National Park is one of the best places to visit in Arizona. We recommend choosing this national park for anyone intrigued by natural ‘mysteries’ and wanting a memorable experience in Arizona.

7. Grand Canyon National Park

best places to visit in arizona grand canyon

What can we say? The park is one of the best places to visit in the US , never mind Arizona. Visiting the Grand Canyon is up there on most people’s US bucket lists. From hiking to whitewater rafting, and camping to taking a trail ride, this destination is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire world.

South Rim and North Rim are the most popular areas to explore while the North Rim is the lesser seen side of the Grand Canyon and is best for those who want a quieter place to experience.

best tourist attractions in arizona the grand canyon

A popular hiking route in the Grand Canyon is the Bright Angel Trail. The trail is well-maintained and relatively easy. But there are plenty of other hiking trails in the Grand Canyon that you can explore. Read The Absolute Best Things to do in The Grand Canyon for more information.

Of course, you can always splurge on a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Many tourists opt to view the canyon from above, which is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Arizona. Whichever way you decide to see the Grand Canyon, it will leave you breathless. It truly lives up to the hype. Read more: Where to Stay At The Grand Canyon: Best Hotels And Areas For Every Budget

8. Havasu Falls

not so popular tourist destination in Arizona Havasu Falls

While visiting the  Grand Canyon , you must plan a hike to Havasu Falls. This trek needs to be planned in advance, as permits to the falls are hard to get, but it is worth the time..

Havasu Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls in the U.S. The water is a striking pastel blue from the high calcium carbonate and magnesium levels. The falls drop over 100 feet in a single drop to fill a considerable plunge pool at the bottom.

Getting to the falls is an adventure in itself, one you can read more about here. It is recommended that you stay overnight at the Lodge or campground. But for all the effort of getting there, the turquoise water of the Havasu Falls will soothe your weary body, providing yet another dream-like experience.

Better yet, you can swim – rare amongst the prettiest waterfalls since tourism usually damages their natural beauty. Havasu Falls is still enough under the radar to avoid this strict rule brought on by over-tourism. So grab a bikini and towel and enjoy.

9. Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly National Monument covers over 80,000 acres and is home to the Spider Rock spire. The spire is a 700-foot-high sandstone rock. Spider Rock spire gained its shape by gradual erosion over time, and experts believe it was once connected to a ridge. Nowadays, it makes an unusual natural attraction and a great photograph.

You can drop by the Canyon de Chelly Visitor Center for expert local guidance on things to see and do. However, you should definitely make sure to try a hiking trail or scenic drive. You can also explore the canyon on horseback if you want a more exciting experience.

After exploring the best national parks and cities, let’s look at Arizona’s largest category – its outdoor attractions.

Arizona is perfect if you love being outdoors and experiencing natural attractions. The state is full of things to see and do outdoors, including visiting the National Monument, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley. Ready to be inspired? Let’s take a look.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a national park in Northeastern Arizona. It is located in the Navajo Nation and is exceptionally close to the Arizona-New Mexico border. For those who want to experience nature, it is easily one of the best places to visit in Arizona.

10. Lake Powell

beautiful lake in the Arizona Territory Lake Powell

If you are heading up to the Arizona-Utah border, it is well worth detouring to Lake Powell. The lake is a stunning artificial body of water situated between Monument Valley and Grand Canyon National Park. It is a beautiful place to visit in Arizona. The lake’s bright blue water and orange sandstone surroundings cut a picture-perfect scene.

The lake is fed by the Colorado River and covers over 2,000 miles of shoreline. The Rainbow Bridge National Monument is a significant tourist attraction on the lake, and the vast stone arc is the largest natural bridge in the world. It is an excellent attraction to combine with enjoying the lake itself.

Many people spend a day or two staying along the shores of the lake. You may wish to visit as a day trip or look for a cabin , hotel, or campsite so that you can stay overnight.

11. Lake Mead

airzona places lake mead

Lake Mead is another impressive artificial attraction. The lake has the highest water capacity of any US reservoir and sits on the Nevada-Arizona border. If you love water activities and lakeside living, Lake Mead is one of the best places to visit in Arizona to unwind and relax.

We recommend allowing time to take a Lake Mead cruise, as the contrast between desert and an oasis-like body of water is striking and best experienced from the water itself. You can also fish and boat on the lake. The desert mountains are the perfect places for scenic drives and biking; however, it will be hard to draw yourself away from the refreshing lake that surrounds them.

If you are planning a road trip, Lake Mead is ideally located en route to Las Vegas . It is worth a detour to enjoy the lake and you may want to consider combining it with a visit to the nearby Hoover Dam.

12. Horseshoe Bend

places to visit in arizona horseshoe bend

You can’t visit Arizona without visiting the Colorado River. Of course, you can choose to see many sections of the river, however, we highly recommend visiting Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend is the postcard image of the Colorado River. It is definitely one of the best places to visit in Arizona. As you may have guessed, the curve is shaped like a horseshoe, and you’ll find a fantastic viewpoint where you can appreciate the unique scenery up close. Make sure to pack a camera if you’ve got one, as Horseshoe Bend is one of the most popular sights in the US.

Reaching the viewpoint is relatively easy and is just a 1.3-mile round hike. Horseshoe Bend is best visited during the early morning or late afternoon, though, as there is very little shade and Arizona gets dangerously hot in summer.

13. Hoover Dam

hoover dam

Once the tallest dam in the world, the Hoover Dam has a nostalgic kind of power. While it no longer holds that grand title, it is still one of Arizona’s best places to visit. It is said that the dam could withstand the force of Niagara Falls – which gives you an excellent perspective on how strong it is.

You can view the Hoover Dam from afar or drop by the Hoover Dam Visitors Center to book a guided tour. Tours typically include access to the Hoover Dam tunnels, an elevator ride to the top, and special access to functional rooms throughout the building.

If you are interested in architecture or just want to see a national historic landmark up close, the dam is excellent to visit. It can also be combined with a trip to Las Vegas , as the dam sits on the Nevada -Arizona border.

14. Glen Canyon Dam

things to do in arizona gland canyon dam

Planning a trip to Glen Canyon National Recreation Park to visit Lake Powell? We recommend taking a detour to visit the Glen Canyon Dam.

Glen Canyon Dam is situated in Glen Canyon National Recreation Park, a one million-acre reserve encompassing biking trails, hiking trails, and Lake Powell. The dam is a hydroelectric power plant and has become an iconic attraction along the Colorado River.

Visitors can take boat tours to view Glen Canyon Dam up close or even fly over the dam with a flight experience. The 710-foot infrastructure is incredible from a distance and even more impressive up close. Of course, to save a bit of money, you can always walk across Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, where you’ll still have great views over the dam.

15. Jerome State Historic Park

places to visit in arizona jerome state. historic park

Fancy indulging in a bit of history? Jerome State Historic Park is a fantastic place to visit in Arizona. The state park has a couple of acres surrounding Douglas Mansion, which has been transformed into a quirky mining museum.

Visitors can wander through two floors of informative exhibits plus outdoor gardens. The museum balances general mining stories and the local town’s history. You can learn about region-specific minerals and mining processes through various mediums, including cinematic videos.

The park can be combined with a visit to Montezuma Castle or it is a great day trip if you are staying in nearby Flagstaff. It is undoubtedly an activity to note down for your Arizona itinerary.

16. the Superstition Mountains

Interesting Facts about Arizona State

The Superstition Mountains cover 160,000 and are full of gorgeous mountainous and desert scenes. That is not what makes this place famous, though; it is the lost gold mines.

Legends of gold have kept mining companies and independent hunters searching the mountains for years. Many hunters have hit the jackpot and found lots of riches. You can join the crowds or find your own non-gold-related entertainment in the mountains.

You can visit the Superstition Mountains Museum, explore the surrounding Tonto National Forest, or hike along one of the various trails. These mountains are one of the best places to visit in Arizona for adventure.

You can explore the hiking trails, biking trails, take off-roading tours, or book a scenic helicopter flight – it is up to you. These are the best national parks to visit in Arizona.

17. Phoenix

places to visit in arizona phoenix

Phoenix is the sunny state capital of Arizona. Located in central Arizona, Phoenix is surrounded by mountains and desert landscapes. Its location seems unlikely for a city, with skyscrapers and luxury hotels shooting up from what (before 1881) was once sand and dust.

Phoenix is the best place to visit in Arizona for a big-city experience. The city is bursting with art, nightlife and attractions, including more art galleries than you could see in a whole week.

Phoenix is home to the Musical Instrument Museum, Natural History Museum, Phoenix Bat Cave, and Desert Botanical Garden. Read more: 34 Best Things To Do In Phoenix (By A Local)

18. Desert Botanical Garden

desert botanical garden phoenix

The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Papago Park, in the center of Arizona’s capital city. However, the Desert Botanical Garden is worthy of a spot on our list in its own right. We highly recommend visiting even if you fly into Phoenix and head straight out of the city after (but seriously, at least give the city a day or two).

Why is the Desert Botanical Garden so spectacular? The 150-acre garden has over 50,000 desert plants and is the ideal place to visit for a convenient desert experience. The botanical garden is an easy and fun alternative for those who don’t have time to visit major desert locations like Saguaro National Park.

Phoenix’s botanical garden is a fantastic place to visit in Arizona. The garden is a great compromise option if you still want to experience the desert landscape and characteristic cacti and flora.

19. Lake Havasu City

places to visit in arizona lake havasu

If Phoenix is best for a big-city feel, Lake Havasu City is best for the opposite. The tiny city sits next to Lake Havasu, which is fed by the Colorado River and is a hot spot for watersports and relaxation. But it was the Little London Village that made us take a detour to visit Lake Havasu.

Nature lovers and those looking for a quiet base in Arizona will love Lake Havasu. The city has a slow pace, and its lakeside location is a pleasant change from Arizona’s dry desert landscape. There are plenty of outdoor activities and attractions including Lake Havasu State Park and London Bridge. London Bridge is an architectural wonder transported from London in the 1970s and there is a distinct English feel in the London Village.

You can spend your days fishing, enjoying the footpaths and green space around the city, or swimming and boating on the lake. Don’t forget to check out the Lake Havasu Lighthouses that span the shoreline..

arizona places to visit

Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city and is full of cultural diversity and things to do. If you want a  different  Arizona experience, we recommend visiting Tucson.

Tucson sits just above the US-Mexican border in Southern Arizona. Thanks to its location, the city has a lot of Mexican influence. One of the top places to visit San Xavier del Bac is a Spanish Catholic Mission. This national historic landmark was founded in 1692 and welcomes more than 200,000 visitors per year. The church is considered the finest Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.

You’ll find many new experiences and immersion opportunities, from the city’s cuisine to its cultures. You must try some Mexican cuisine while visiting.

Tucson is also home to the University of Arizona. As a university city, visitors can enjoy an extra sociable, friendly atmosphere – especially in the city center.

While just outside the city center, you’ll find attractions like Saguaro National Park and Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (more on them later). Tucson is a fun, fresh city to visit in Arizona. For an introduction to Southern Arizona, don’t look no further.

21. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Arizonas State Bird Cactus Wren Facts

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is located just on the outskirts of Tucson. However, the museum deserves a place on this list in its own right.

The museum is a bit of everything – from natural history museum to a botanical garden. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum covers 98 acres. There is also an art gallery for visitors to enjoy.

You could easily spend a whole day at the museum. The museum is a chance to experience multiple tourist attractions at once. It is perfect for a family day out.

22. Flagstaff

places to visit in arizona flagstaff

Flagstaff is a small city in Northern Arizona known as the gateway to the San Francisco Peaks and the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff is one of the best places to visit in Arizona if you want to be centrally located amongst most of the state’s natural attractions.

You can spend your days excitedly exploring all the nearby attractions. Make sure to stay in Flagstaff for the day and head to the city’s historic downtown. You’ll find a brewery trail, excellent restaurants, and the Flagstaff Visitor Center. Remember to bring a camera, as you’ll stumble across plenty of street art and great photo spots.

Both desert and forest surround Flagstaff. Coconino National Forest envelops the city and is the largest Ponderosa Pine Forest in the world. For a city where you can easily take a day trip into nature, Flagstaff is an ideal place to visit in Northern Arizona. Check out our guide on the best cabins in Flagstaff for accommodation inspiration.

23. Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park

little colorado river

If you are driving from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, or Monument Valley, make sure to stop at Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park. The gorge outlook is perfectly positioned to slot into even the busiest day trips.

Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park is another of the best places to visit in Arizona to add to your list. The park is located just north of Flagstaff. If you are looking for to make a day out of it, combine this with a trip to Lake Powell or Monument Valley.

The park’s main highlight is the gorge overlook, where you’ll get to admire the sheer drop of a lesser-visited canyon. Be wary of where you are stepping as there is little to no barrier protection, and the park isn’t as commercialized as others in Arizona. Many find it a peaceful alternative to busier canyons – like the Grand and Antelope Canyons.

24. Chapel of the Holy Cross

arizona chapel of the holy cross

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of the most unique places to visit in Arizona, and there’s no way we couldn’t add this unique Catholic church to our list. We’re not religious people, but this is one of the most unique structures in Arizona. So it’s worth seeing.

The church is wedged between two sandstone buttes and has large, plain glass windows that give it a modern, chic design. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is not your typical church.

You can enter the church to look around or join a service if that’s your thing. The church is near Sedona and plenty of other attractions , so it isn’t too much of a detour to make.

25. Gold King Mine Museum and Ghost Town

gold king mining museum

Gold King Mine Museum and Ghost Town are by far the quirkiest place on our list. The property is set up as an Old West mining camp and is designed to give you an insight into what the life of a miner was like.

You’ll be fully immersed with old vintage vehicles and mining equipment on display. Car enthusiasts will especially love this museum, and we recommend visiting if you are interested in old cars and vehicles. The variety is impressive, even if you know nothing about cars.

It isn’t just all old relics, though; there are working areas like a sawmill and blacksmith’s shop to visit as well. Gold King is designed to be a step back in time – fully immersing visitors in the old mining lifestyle.

You can expect to spend at least a couple of hours learning, laughing, and admiring your way around the museum and ghost town. It is like its own little world and a fun yet historically informative thing to do in Arizona.

26. Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway

mount lemmon scenic byway

Are you looking for a scenic drive? Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is an incredible, relatively short scenic drive from Tucson that you can enjoy. Short enough to comfortably squeeze into a day yet long enough to provide diverse scenes and attractions, this scenic byway is a great place to drive.

You won’t find the byway marked on a map. However, it is the only paved road leading to Mount Lemmon’s top. The road is called Mt Lemmon Highway and starts from the outskirts of Tucson. Altogether, the route is approximately 60 miles long and takes three to four hours to complete – plus extra time to allow for stops.

Speaking of stops, we recommend stopping at Babad Do’ag Scenic Overlook, Molino Canyon Vista, Thimble Peak Vista, Windy Point Vista, and Geology Vista Point. There are quite literally dozens of hiking trails and trailheads along the highway as well. You can easily park up and take a detour on foot.

Allow extra time again once you reach Mount Lemmon’s peak. There is Mt Lemmon Ski Valley, Mt Lemmon Sky Observatory, and a Fire Lookout Station to visit. Mount Lemmon has a small town at the mountain top too, where you can grab refreshments and do some light shopping.

best places to visit in arizona monument valley

The ‘Grand Canyon State’ is packed with wonderful activities and tourist destinations. Visiting Arizona is guaranteed to be memorable with breathtaking sights that will make your jaw drop throughout your stay. The state has so much to offer, whether you want a typical desert experience, a quirky tourist attraction, or a cultural immersion.

Photo Credit: Chapel of the Holy Cross

  • 17 Beautiful Cabins in Arizona
  • 15 Interesting and Fun Facts About Arizona
  • 16 Best Hikes in Sedona, Arizona
  • 16 Cozy Cabins in Flagstaff, Arizona for Your Next Getaway
  • 20 Best Things to do in Sedona, Arizona
  • The 17 Best Hikes in Arizona
  • Arizona Road Trip – The Ultimate 10 Day Itinerary

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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1 thought on “26 Stunning Places to Visit in Arizona That We Love”

Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway is an incredible. Best tourist destinations . post these kind of blogs everyday.and thankyou..

35 Best Things To Do & Places To Visit In Arizona

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: October 22, 2019  - Last updated: October 15, 2023

Places To Visit In Arizona

Arizona, one of the best vacation spots in the world , is packed with must see places and tourist spots, all with their own unique points of interest, and features.

It can be hard to figure out all the things to do in Arizona this weekend or during your next visit due to the sheer wealth of options – but we have you covered.

Here are the 35 best things to do and places to visit in Arizona.

Table of Contents

1. Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

jejim / Shutterstock

Need some really cool Arizona vacation ideas?

How about a majestic Native American heritage site?

After all, there are few things more fascinating than that!

Head inside the boundaries of the Navajo Nation and look up Canyon de Chelly National Monument – a location that has seen almost 5,000 years of uninterrupted human occupation by the Anasazi and Navajo people.

These days, it’s all ruins – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting.

If you take a private tour or a free ranger-led hike you can see the spectacular sight that is all these cliff dwellings high up and carved into the side of the canyon walls.

Most of the ruins are inaccessible to visitors these days, but there are still some places you can go wander through yourself and at least one self-guided hike available.

So if you’re in the area, why not give yourself a chance to check out some incredible history in person?

It’s among the top things to do in Arizona!

Address: Highway 191, Chinle, AZ 86503, United States

2. Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon

Looking for fun things to do in Arizona?

Why not dive deep into some pre-Colombian history, and take a moment to appreciate the culture and beauty of a land and its native citizens?

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the state is the historical cliff dwellings that are hewn into the side of canyon walls.

Walnut Canyon specifically was home to the Sinagua people, before it was suddenly abandoned.

Considering that the Sinagua not only thrived in such an environment but even had a trading empire, their vanishment comes as a mystery.

To this day, historians and archeologists haven’t been able to unravel this puzzle.

And since the site is open to visitors, tackling this mystery by yourself is now fair game! (Within reasonable limits, of course.)

So if and you’re interested in around playing as archeological detectives, why not add visiting this incredible location to your list of to-dos?

Address:  3 Walnut Canyon Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, United States

3. Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Erik Harrison / Shutterstock

The internationally renowned jewel of the Colorado Plateau Province, and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in America , is the Grand Canyon .

Large enough to be seen from space, this location sits among the top 10 best Arizona travel destinations lists for a good reason.

With breathtaking views, incredible biodiversity, and challenging activities for you to do, there is never a dull moment in this Canyon.

Consider white-water rafting along the Colorado River, or marveling at how the Earth’s history on full display on the walls of the canyon.

And if you would rather not walk, there are even mule rides available!

All in all, the Grand Canyon is a must-see destination if you’re an outdoorsy person or someone with an amateur interest in geology.

There’s just something that strikes awe into the human soul about this geological marvel, and it is really worth coming here for an experience you’ll never forget!

This is one of the things to see in Arizona to add to your must do list.

Address:  Arizona, United States

4. Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock

Need a sprinkling of danger to heighten those senses for maximum enjoyment?

Antelope Canyon may just be what you’re looking for.

A location infamous for its frequent flash floods, this particular canyon requires that visitors be led on guided tours for their own safety.

That said, there’s a reason it is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Arizona.

The banded sandstone here has been worn smooth into gorgeous shapes that are reminiscent of the water that rushes through them.

This incredible view alone should put this place on your list of things to see in Arizona!

Named after the pronghorn antelopes that used to be common here, the canyons themselves are divided into two parts – the upper and lower canyon.

While both are equally beautiful, you might want to pick the upper canyon if you are a casual tourist that just wants some fun!

Address: Navajo Tribal Park, Page, AZ 86040, United States

5. Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument

smartyunknown / Shutterstock

What is the point of visiting the state if you don’t at least check out the view?

Some of the top things to do in Arizona include siteseeing – an activity that makes complete sense if you drop by the Wupatki National Monument to take a look.

Located in the middle of the state’s scenic desert vistas, the Wupatki National Monument is home to some of the best-preserved pueblo ruins in the country.

Despite excavations beginning as early as the 1800s, studies and further archeological work is still ongoing due to the rarity of finding such a well-preserved pueblo.

Despite having been abandoned for centuries, the pueblos still feel haunting.

Drop around sunset, and it’s as if the houses and buildings are still waiting for the inhabitants that will never come home.

Maybe you can fill in the space for a bit, and explore its centuries’ worth of history.

Address:  25137 N Wupatki Ln, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, United States

Don’t forget to check out some more fun things to do in Flagstaff !

Sedona

Abbie Warnock-Matthews / Shutterstock

Despite what most people think, some of the best things to do in Arizona include staring at the scenery.

The desert landscape here amidst the canyons and valleys is a breathtaking view and carries with it a raw kind of earthy energy that can attract sensitive types.

If you are any kind of spiritual practitioner, you ought to put visiting Sedona on your must-visit list today.

Located in Verde Valley, the desert town is a cultural arts enclave surrounded by incredible rock formations.

While the red bands of iron oxide and manganese are often enough to attract visitors, Sedona is famous for something else.

Within the masses of rock formations lies four vortexes of energy, sites that have made visitors burst into tears just by walking into it.

There’s a reason for all the metaphysical shops in that town, after all!

Don’t worry if you’re not the metaphysical type – Sedona is one of those vacation spots that has something for everyone.

Why not check out Cathedral’s Rock, an elevated summit that presents itself as a challenge?

Here’s a list of some of the most amazing things to do in Sedona !

7. Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Felix Lipov / Shutterstock

Scenic places usually don’t function as a main draw for a lot of people, but there’s a reason Arizona attractions are all about the view.

Just where else would you find a completely fossilized forest?

It’s a truly one-of-a-kind spot!

The Petrified Forest National Park spans across northeastern Arizona, covering both Navajo and Apache counties in an area of approximately 146 square miles.

Made into a national monument in 1906, the park has some incredible terrain you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world.

Just think about it – where else are you going to find an entire fossilized forest in such incredible condition?

It would be an adventure just to walk among the petrified trees alone.

If the incredible views alone aren’t enough to wow you, however, the history buffs among you might prefer looking at the remnants of prehistoric people’s homes instead.

Address: Petrified Forest, Holbrook, AZ 86028, United States

8. Musical Instrument Museum

Musical Instrument Museum

Paul R. Jones / Shutterstock

If you’re a culture and history buff, then it only makes sense that your list of top things to do in Arizona include checking out the litany of culturally rich museums the state has to offer.

Alas, you have so many places to go and so little time.

How are you supposed to make the best of your visit in Arizona?

How about a museum dedicated almost entirely to instruments?

A pretty recent institution by museum standards, the Musical Instrument Museum first opened its Arizona doors in early 2010 and differentiates itself by one key feature – its main exhibits is about musical instruments.

Boasting over 15,000 instruments from every single country in the world in its galleries, this is an exhibit that music lovers should not miss.

And the best part?

You’re allowed to play and handle most of them too!

What’s the point of enjoying music if you can’t have hands-on experience, after all?

Address:  4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050, United States

Planning a trip to Phoenix soon? Be sure to check out our list of things to do in Phoenix !

9. Camelback Mountain

Camelback Mountain

Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock

Some of us may be familiar with the story of how the camel got its hump.

Have you ever tried asking how the mountain got its head?

The answer is pretty interesting!

Named after its distinctive shape, Camelback Mountain sits pretty high on the list of tourist places you must visit if you’re a hiker making your way through Arizona.

It historically was home to pre-colonial Native Americans, so budding historians might be interested in checking out this mountain’s historical areas too!

But the real fun here is for the geologists.

The head of the “camel” gets its unique shape from the red sandstone eroding faster than the harder granite sitting on top of it.

There’s just one question – how did the old granite end up on top of the younger, newer sandstone for this particular part of the mountain?

Drop by this scenic location yourself and see if you can solve the mystery!

Address: Phoenix, AZ 85018, United States

10. Lake Powell

Lake Powell

worldswildlifewonders / Shutterstock

Still need to bulk up your list of places to visit in Arizona?

Why not check out Lake Powell ?

A man-made reservoir situated on the Colorado River, it was created in 1972 when the Glen Canyon was flooded by the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam.

Aside from supplying water to multiple different states, these days it serves as one of the best places in the state for all sorts of recreational water activities in an otherwise arid landscape.

If you’re struggling to beat the heat while visiting Arizona in the summer, why not pop this lake for fishing, boating, or water skiing?

Even better, why not grab a boat tour to Rainbow Bridge?

It’s a jaw-dropping rock arch accessible best by boat.

Sure, you can find other similarly beautiful formations elsewhere, but how many of them are suspended above a sparkling expanse of water?

Address: Utah and Arizona, United States

11. Superstition Mountain Museum

Superstition Mountain Museum

Gregory E. Clifford / Shutterstock

If you’re in Arizona for a weekend trip, why not tick visiting this museum off your Arizona bucket list?

East of Phoenix is a mountain range known as the Superstition Mountains.

Tall and forbidding, the mountains themselves are a sight to behold – and are crammed full of incredible hiking trails.

Perhaps if you’re lucky, you might even finally find the legendary Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine!

But if you’re a movie buff, it’s more likely that you’re interested in the movie sets – and this happens to also be the perfect place to indulge that hobby.

Nestled in the foot of the mountain range is a museum named after the mountains itself – and it’s a locale you may recognize.

The Superstition Mountain Museum has been featured in all sorts of Western kitschy movies and commercials.

Feel free to wander around the Western-style sets, or even have yourself an Elvis wedding!

Address:  4087 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119, United States

12. Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Tom Willard / Shutterstock

On a road trip and need some fun things to do in Arizona?

Why not do yourself a favor and visit some of the most popular tourist attractions in the state?

History fans and budding archeologists will be particularly excited about this one.

Just 50 miles away from Flagstaff, Arizona is a resilient testament to the resilience of the Sinagua people – Montezuma Castle .

Named after an Aztec ruler by white colonists who had mistaken it for an Aztec ruin, Montezuma Castle is a dwelling carved into the sides of Beaver Creek Canyon.

Five-stories tall and located a good hundred feet above the canyon floor, the dwelling is partitioned into twenty rooms that you can explore in person.

By the way, if you’re bringing along a dog, it’s time to rejoice!

This particular ancient pueblo allows visitors to bring along their dogs – so long as they’re kept on leashes, of course.

Address:  Montezuma Castle Rd, Camp Verde, AZ, United States

13. Tombstone

Tombstone, Arizona

Nick Fox / Shutterstock

In need of fun places to visit?

Say no more, and put this locale on your list of Arizona vacation spots.

Harkening back to the Victorian heyday where pioneers were still pushing westward in search of gold and land, Tombstone is a town especially for you.

Unlike all the other attractions listed so far, Tombstone is a town that is explicitly designed to cater to tourists.

Step in here and let yourself be transported back to the days of the Old West, with its period-accurate buildings and staged recreations of famous historical gunfights.

Indulge your love for Western B-movies, and have fun with the activities available here!

For those who are craving for more authentic stuff, there’s still hints of the town’s mining history that can be discovered.

Why not head on down to the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, visit the museum there, and see if that hits the spot?

14. Route 66

route 66

Francesco Ferrarini / Shutterstock

Made famous by Pixar’s Cars, Route 66 is a location that’s sure high on your child’s list of places to see in Arizona.

Back in the days before interstates were routes like this one, which still hold a lot of their old-world charm.

If you’re heading down to the place where this road will take you anyway, then isn’t it great to take a moment to use this route?

The scenery is what American road trips are made off, and you’ll be reminded that it is always the journey that makes it worthwhile, not the final destinations!

You may still be asking where to go to find this route.

From Interstate 40, just take a bypass and drive for another 75 miles.

You’ll find it in no time – just keep driving along and enjoying the stuff to see along the way.

While you’re there, why not stop for lunch at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In?

On trips like these, it’s the memories you make along the way that really makes it worthwhile.

15. Havasupai Falls

Havasupai Falls

Anton Foltin / Shutterstock

If you’re already set on going sightseeing, why not visit some of the most beautiful places in Arizona – like the Havasupai Falls?

Tucked away deep in the heart of the Grand Canyon on Havasupai reservation is the Havasu Cavern – home to a series of gorgeous aquamarine waterfalls from which the Havasupai people derive their name.

Despite its beauty, this location is still a relatively unknown secret in Arizona!

The most famous of these waterfalls is known as the Havasu Falls – a waterfall with turquoise cascades so intensely colored, it’s hard to believe that the water flowing through it isn’t transparent.

Unfortunately, trying to get there is pretty difficult.

Not only do you require a permit to enter the reservation, it’s a tough journey to make.

Still, if you can make it, it’s one that will be definitely worth your while.

Address: Hualapai Hilltop, Supai, AZ 86435, United States

16. Yayoi Kusama Firefly Infinity Mirror Room

Yayoi Kusama Firefly Infinity Mirror Room

ephst / Shutterstock

If you are an art junkie, then one of the top things to do in Arizona is to see Yayoi Kusama’s work in person for yourself.

The darling of the New York avant-garde art scene in the 1960s, Kusama faded largely into obscurity when she voluntarily moved back home to Japan and stayed in a hospital for the mentally ill in 1973.

Now, at the age of 89, Kusama is once again steadily regaining her well-deserved reputation as an incredible artist.

And now you too can personally experience the fun and joy of her mindbending artwork yourself!

Just head on over to the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona to see the permanent exhibit installed there.

The title “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Butterflies” may seem like an odd name to the casual onlooker, but the appropriateness of the name quickly becomes apparent once you are standing there to experience the exhibit in person yourself.

All in all, it is certainly a piece of art you should personally check out at least once in your life while you’re in Arizona!

Address:  1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004, United States

17. Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway

Mt Lemmon Scenic byway

Tristan Brynildsen / Shutterstock

Despite being largely a desert, Arizona doesn’t fall short of pretty places.

In fact, some of the best Arizona attractions can be accessible just by turning out of the nearest freeway exit.

In this particular case, the route itself is the actual tourist attraction!

Boasting one of the most scenic views in the state, Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway is no short journey with its round-trip length of almost 60 miles.

But it is definitely a road well-worth traveling.

Over the course of these 60-odd miles, drivers making their way through this byway will see some incredible views found nowhere else.

Not only does the temperature change as you make your way up and down, you will also be privy to a wide variety of landscapes – from the arid vista of the Mexican desert to the forested slopes of the Canadian mountains.

Just where else are you going to find an experience like that?

Address: Tucson, AZ, United States

Planning a road trip around Arizona? Here are some incredible things to do in Tucson  & things to do in Scottsdale !

18. Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater Natural Landmark

Gioele Mottarlini / Shutterstock

Still in need of fun places to go to while you’re in Arizona?

Would visiting a crater be cool enough a destination for you?

Yes, you heard us correctly – we did say “crater”!

One of the top things to do in Arizona is to check out the incredible desert vista and marvel at the history it holds – like the Barringer Crater.

Better known as simply the Meteor Crater , this is a massive scar on the Earth caused by a meteor impact over 50,000 years ago.

These days, it is an incredible sight to behold – though a dangerous one.

In 1964, two curious pilots in their Cessna 150 had flown too low over this unique mar in the Earth’s crust.

Luckily, they survived and managed to walk away with their lives.

If you are lucky, you may even spot the wreckage they left behind as a warning to other daredevil pilots.

While flying over the crater is ill-advised, you can still visit the place on foot.

Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll find some of the unique minerals that are only made when a meteorite crashes into the Earth!

Address:  Interstate 40, Winslow, AZ 86047, United States

19. Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

LucasHeplerPhotography / Shutterstock

For all of you outdoor enthusiasts and amateur geologists, the Glen Canyon Recreational Area is home to some of the most awesome places in Arizona.

Think about it – just where else will you find sites like the Horseshoe Bend ?

Flowing 1,000 ft above sea level is the Colorado River, carving its way through the rocky plateau as it makes its way Southwest.

Thanks to the geological makeup of this unique desert landscape, the river is forced to flow in all sorts of weird shapes.

At one point, the river makes a perfect U-shaped bend that looks like a horseshoe!

For the best view, head on down to Route 89.

From there, it’s just a quick hike before you’re faced with one of the most stunning views American nature has to offer.

Address:  Page, AZ 86040, United States

20. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

If you were already going to see the most jaw-dropping points of interest Arizona has to offer, then why not make a fun detour to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument ?

Nature lovers, in particular, take note – this certainly should be on your list of places to visit in Arizona if you want to make your trip truly worthwhile.

Established in 1937, the Monument was intended to preserve some of the unique biodiversity and geology that can only be found in the Sonoran Desert and to share that love with the general public.

Crammed full of rare and incredible plants (including the titular Organ Pipe Cactus), this is a destination you won’t want to miss!

517 square miles isn’t enough for how many things this park is packing, but it manages it all anyway.

As long as you’re an outdoorsy person, there’s something for you here – whether it’s a place to enjoy camping under starlit skies or scenic paths where you can meander through the local plant life, this park has got you covered.

Address:  10 Organ Pipe Dr, Ajo, AZ 85321, United States

21. Kartchner Caverns

Kartchner Caverns

Robert Shea / flickr

If you don’t already have an Arizona bucket list of some sort, then it’s time to start one just to add this destination to your list.

Discovered in 1974, the incredible sights of Kartchner Caverns were kept a secret from even the landowners themselves in an effort to protect it from any activities that may damage or destroy it.

And it’s easy to see why this decision was made – the cavern is home to some of the longest stalactite formations in the world and is a sight to behold like no other.

After the government of Arizona purchased the land from the family in 1988, the caverns were carefully opened up for public viewing.

Consider making a weekend trip to view these caverns for yourself – it’s well worth your time.

A fun bonus: if you decide to take a tour of the caverns, the guide may point out to you footprints that were left behind by the discoverers when they first explored the caverns!

Address:  2980 AZ-90, Benson, AZ 85602, United States

22. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

The Giant Saguaro is an undeniable symbol of the American West – but for something so ubiquitous in movies and TV, it’s actually a very rare plant that grows in a few select locations.

One of these locations is in a park at the heart of the Sonoran Desert, a cool 2,400 feet above sea level.

Located in Tucson, Arizona, Saguaro National Park is high on the list of tourist attractions thanks to its namesake plant.

Aside from checking out the cacti, there are plenty of other experiences to be had in the park.

For starters, there’s a myriad of hiking trails for both beginners and experienced hikers alike, and there are biking trails if you want to put your new mountain bike to the test!

Alternatively, maybe you would prefer to go camping instead and stare at the moonlit night sky.

Whatever the case may be, it’s undeniable that there’s plenty of fun things to do in Arizona with a park like this!

23. Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting

Hall of Flame Fire Museum

Daniel Greene / flickr

Firefighting is already a dangerous profession as it is – and in highly flammable, arid desert regions, the task becomes even more important.

After seeing how many lives were lost to fires, citizens thought it best to honor these brave people by creating a memorial for them

If you’re still asking about what to do in Arizona, then visiting the Hall of Flame Museum to pay tribute to these brave professionals is a must-do.

These days, the memorial doubles as a museum, with an exhibit dedicated to displaying old firefighting equipment.

Tracing the history of firefighting to 1725, the museum shows just how firefighting has changed over the centuries as technology evolved and training becomes more extensive.

You’ll definitely walk away with a greater appreciation for our heroes after a visit to this place!

Address:  6101 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ 85008, United States

24. Arizona Copper Art Museum

Arizona Copper Art Museum

Autumn Sky Photography / Shutterstock

Thanks to its rich deposits of minerals, Arizona has a mining history that can still be seen now!

One of the minerals that was hunted down by pioneers in the state’s heyday was copper.

An incredibly useful mineral, the desire for it gave way to some incredible mining operations – many of which are still in operation today!

While modern copper mines are nothing to sniff at, it’s the historical mines that form some of the coolest places to see in Arizona.

If you’re not keen on running around all over the state to check out the actual locations themselves, then the Arizona Copper Art Museum is the place for you.

Here you can trace the history of copper and its uses throughout 500 years of human history.

From the reminder that Venus’s astrological symbol is also the alchemical symbol for copper, to its uses in artillery in World War I and II, you must visit this museum to enjoy its fun celebration of all things copper.

Address:  849 Main St, Clarkdale, AZ 86324, United States

25. Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

superjoseph / Shutterstock

An engineering marvel, visiting the Hoover Dam sits on the list of top things to do in Arizona.

Completed in 1935, it stands as a testament to what the best minds in humanity are capable of when their efforts are focused.

These days, the dam is a hot location for sightseeing, thanks to its incredible scale and size.

It also doubles as a link between Arizona and Nevada, if you plan to drive to either state.

Ideally, however, you would take the time to stop and enjoy the view.

It’s not every day you get to see the largest artificial lake in the nation, after all!

While you’re here, consider taking a tour of the Hoover Dam or its attached Powerplant.

If that’s not quite your speed, then why not walk around the Hoover Dam instead?

It’s hard to beat that low entry price of free!

Address:  Nevada 89005, United States

Jerome Arizona

weltreisendertj / Shutterstock

If you’re an amateur ghost-hunter, then high on your list of cool things to do in Arizona will definitely be visiting abandoned mining towns like Jerome .

While the town is still largely a ghost town, today it has plenty of attractions and activities catered towards visitors looking to get some thrills.

Built in 1928, this town was originally constructed around some vertigo-inducing cliffside operations.

Many of the ruined buildings still stand on steep hillsides – a haunting reminder of the town’s citizens and history.

Some standout views include The Sliding Jail, which was built unawares on clay slick.

Thanks to its hillside location and gravity, the entire jail has slid about 2,500 feet over the years, and will likely continue moving further and further away from its original point of construction.

It’s a good idea to visit it while you still can before it slides right off the cliff!

27. Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area

Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area

Martina Badini / Shutterstock

Some of the best Arizona attractions harken back to the state’s history, pulling forward its past for us to enjoy and experience in the present.

And in Yuma , this history is still alive and breathing.

Founded in the 1500s by Spanish explorers, Yuma is not only just as old as Arizona itself but played a crucial role in founding the state.

The modern city of Yuma is still spectacular, but budding visitors will want to head down to Yuma Crossing – a patchwork of wetlands and parks that connects the modern to the old, historic downtown.

That isn’t to say the park itself has no places of interest in and of itself.

When you’re done with revisiting history, why not drop by for some scenic riverside trails?

It will surely be worth your time!

Address:  180 W 1st St, Yuma, AZ 85364, United States

28. Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

Paul B. Moore / Shutterstock

Ever asked what to do in search of fun while on a trip to Arizona?

Perhaps this particular attraction may grab your fancy!

Called the “Land of Standing-Up Rocks” by the native Apache people, Chiricahua National Monument is 12,000 acres of wonder.

Initially formed by a volcano eruption, this area spent the next 27 million years being shaped and chiseled out by the elements.

After so many years, nature’s magnum opus is complete. The Monument is crammed full of all sorts of ancient rock spires and caves.

Go hiking alongside ancient lava flows, or stare at the strange rock garden that nature had so proudly carved out of stone hundreds of feet high.

If this alone isn’t enough to land visiting this locale on your list of top things to do in Arizona, then the 17 miles of hiking trail would be of greater interest to you.

You can also opt for a scenic 8-mile tour if you would rather stay in the comfort of your car!

Address:  E Bonita Canyon Rd, Willcox, AZ 85643, United States

29. London Bridge

london bridge

Peter Kunasz / Shutterstock

Some of the top things to do in Arizona is to go and explore the attractions it offers.

And as it turns out, you can see some of London right here in the state!

No, there’s no teleport to London just yet.

Instead, what you have is the titular bridge of the famous nursery rhyme “London Bridge Is Falling Down” being one of the biggest roadside attractions in Arizona.

Built in the 1830s, London Bridge used to span the River Thames until it began sinking.

Eventually, the bridge was purchased by Lake Havasu City founder Robert P. McCullough and deconstructed in 1967, where it was brought over to the city itself and reconstructed in 1971.

These days, you can get a walking tour of a piece of London’s history – right here in the United States!

Address:  1340 McCulloch Blvd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403, United States

30. Apache Death Cave

Apache Death Cave

J Jakobson / flickr

For those of us who respect local legends and myths, some points of interest are wisely avoided.

For others who are thrill-seekers in search of exploring and examining such local stories, the Apache Death Cave may be on your list of places to visit in Arizona.

It was common for the Native American nations to loot and pillage each other’s settlements in search of valuables and goods.

The attack on a Navajo encampment in 1878 was no different.

Apache raiders came in and slaughtered the entire encampment’s population save for three girls before taking their leave.

Navajo leaders were enraged and sent out teams to hunt down these raiders – to no avail.

It wasn’t until after a second similar raid did scouts finally discover a cave the Apache raiders were hiding in.

Revenge was swift, absolute, and merciless, and it seems the act had left a permanent mark.

Drop by this cave to explore the curse it supposedly left behind – if you dare.

Address:  2 Guns, Winslow, AZ 86047, United States

31. Hubbell Trading Post

Hubbell Trading Post

Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock

During the heyday of Western pioneering, trading hubs were set up so that both pioneers and natives could sell, exchange, and trade goods.

For a fun trip to tick off your Arizona bucket list, why not travel up to the Hubbell Trading Post in the north?

Founded in 1878 by John Lorenzo Hubbell, the trading post ended up supplying the exiled Navajo people when they finally began returning home to their homes – and it hasn’t stopped since.

These days, the trading post is home to all sorts of handmade items like rugs and jewelry.

So if you’re in northern Arizona in search of some interesting activities to do, why not drop by this trading post and support the local craftsmen with your purchase of a one-of-a-kind item?

Address:  1/2 Mile W, S U.S. Hwy 191, Ganado, AZ 86505, United States

32. Coconino Lava River Cave

Lava River Cave

Michael Landrum / Shutterstock

Thanks to Arizona’s history of being a geological hotspot, some of the best things to do in Arizona is to check out the ancient landscape.

Shaped and carved over millennia of erosion, it is now full of must-see places that harken back to a pre-historic era, a time where dinosaurs still roamed the Earth and the world was still in its infancy.

These days, Arizona is a pretty stable area in terms of volcanic activity – but all that shifting and flowing has left its mark.

There are certain caverns and tunnels like Coconino Lava River Cave , where lava flowed through these underground passages and permanently reshaped the ground it flowed on.

In this particular case, this cave was the result of a giant lava flow that had run through the earth like an underground river.

It now is a smooth, near-perfect circle that you can swear is a man-made passage.

And that’s just scratching the surface of the beauty this subterranean marvel holds!

Address:  171B Forest Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, United States

33. Tumacacori National Historical Park

Tumacacori National Historical Park

Hoxel / Shutterstock

No matter what your Arizona vacation ideas are, checking out the state’s history is always a must do.

After all, nothing quite beats learning about transpired events than by being able to see, touch, and feel the weight of history carried by all that have lived through it.

After centuries of war, raids, and cultural clashes, it is a miracle that the ruins of these three 17th-century missions still stand tall.

These days, the ruins are protected by the establishment of Tumacacori National Historical Park , which serves to care for the surviving ruins as much as possible.

If you’re visiting Arizona, consider walking through the ruins to check out the picturesque Mission of San Jose de Tumacacori, or learning more about the area via the Tumacacori Museum!

Informative guided tours are also available, though the Museum and the Mission remnants provide plenty of information if you’re short on time.

Address:  1891 I-19 Frontage Rd, Tumacacori, AZ 85640, United States

34. Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden

Daniel Gratton / Shutterstock

Cartoons, movies, and television all tell us that the desert is just nothing but miles and miles of sandy dunes, broken up by the occasional cactus.

If we’re lucky, there may be an oasis with palm trees!

But this is far from the actual reality of this type of land.

In reality, desert regions like Arizona are bursting at the brim with all sorts of incredible plant life – and Desert Botanical Garden is a crucial example.

With over 4,000 species, this garden is overflowing with all the floral beauty a desert can ever hope to muster.

So if you’re still asking about what to see in Arizona, then why not add this garden to your to-do list?

It will certainly be a fun and happy trip that’s designed to bust your expectations of what a desert should be like!

Address:  1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008, United States

Bisbee, AZ

Chris Curtis / Shutterstock

Founded in 1880, Bisbee is one of the many mining camps that sprung up in the Old West as pioneers hoped to strike fame and fortune.

Despite the riches it accrued, it, unfortunately, fell to the same fate that other mining towns did, and was quickly abandoned when the mines closed down in the mid-1970s.

These days, its name is the answer to would-be visitors asking where to visit in Arizona – and for good reason.

If the history and incredible surroundings alone aren’t good enough a reason for you, then perhaps the activities it has may spark your interest instead!

What kind of activities, you may ask?

Consider checking out the many museums and galleries this little town holds, or hop along on a guided tour to learn more about Bisbee’s colorful history.

There’s never a dull moment in a historical town such as this one!

Start Planning Your Trip To Arizona

There’s no shortage of Arizona attractions to enjoy, each filled with stuff to do.

With all the great places to travel, there’s no shortage of tourist spots to enjoy so plan a vacation today!

Hopefully, our list of the best things to do in Arizona will help you see all the sights and get to all the destinations that Arizona has to offer!

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22 Best Places to Visit in Arizona

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on May 4, 2024

Overflowing with distinctive landscapes and footprints of the Old West, Arizona offers both iconic national parks and fabled history in droves. Although home to such famous sites as the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Arizona rewards those that expand their horizons.

With Indian reservations making up almost a quarter of Arizona’s area, there are lots of interesting archaeological, historical and cultural sites relating to Native American culture for tourists to enjoy.

As they are home to a plethora of great museums, theaters and art galleries, Arizona’s cities are fun and friendly places to stop by and there is some great nightlife to boot. An incredible state to visit, the best places to visit in Arizona will live long in the memory.

22. Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu

In 1967, Robert McCulloch made a mind-boggling purchase when he decided to buy the London Bridge and move it, brick by brick, to the humble town of Lake Havasu. Now on the proverbial map, Lake Havasu was later awarded the title of one of the best communities in America.

Along with this startling attraction, Lake Havasu is an outdoor paradise. With over 300 days of sunshine, you can enjoy 60 miles of navigable waterways, and 1800 miles of off-road trails.

On the lake, you’ll discover 27 replica lighthouses and the largest skatepark in Arizona, all alongside a white sand beach. All the more reason to make Lake Havasu the spot for your winter vacation,

Bisbee

In the foothills of the Mule Mountains, Bisbee was once one of the richest mining towns on planet earth. The Old West mining camp, however, managed to stay the course over the years without becoming a classic ghost town. Today, with the mine closed, Bisbee is a hub of art and culture.

Along the delightful and leafy streets, you’ll find a selection of boutique stores, cozy cafes and local art galleries. All within the classic buildings that flourished during the mining era. As a throwback to the good ol’ days, Bisbee still has over 45 saloons to grab a pint at, along with the original library and opera house.

20. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Slowly and patiently, the spectacular nature of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park came to life. To begin, seawater, volcanic lava and rainfall help to form a travertine dam. Over the years, the dam eroded. Leaving before the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.

The bridge is 150 feet wide, rising over 180 feet above the dazzling Pine Creek. Surrounded by pines, flowing springs and grottoes enveloped by ferns, the inspiring nature creates stark contrasts to the world around it. The most popular activity in the park is climbing over the bridge, but you’ll also find four other hiking trails to further explore the geological wonder that is Pine Canyon.

19. Tombstone

Tombstone

A historic town that is famous as the site of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, Tombstone was one of the last boom towns. It was a rough place that attracted hardy prospectors, tough gunslingers and lawless gamblers who came to win their fortune in the silver mines.

Very much a tourist trap, Tombstone is a fun place to visit in Arizona to learn about how the West was settled. With the historic part of town perfectly preserved, step into the past and wander around its saloons or check out a reenactment performance of the gunfight. As the place is geared towards tourism, there are lots of cheap eateries, souvenir shops, restaurants and hotels around town.

18. Scottsdale

Scottsdale

Part of the Greater Phoenix Area, Scottsdale’s year-round warm weather means that it welcomes millions of visitors to its streets every year. As such, there is a plethora of resorts, hotels, restaurants, and bars that cater to every budget.

Marketing itself as ‘The West’s Most Western Town’, numerous historic sites are scattered around and festivals and events embracing this heritage are regularly held, with cowboy competitions and horse shows often featuring.

With lots of great museums and art galleries on offer, Scottsdale has a thriving arts and cultural scene for visitors to enjoy. On top of all this, the city’s nightlife is pounding; there are loads of great nightclubs, swanky lounges and trendy bars for you to explore.

17. Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle

Fifty miles south of Flagstaff, Montezuma Castle was built between 700 and 900 years ago. The five-story castle was cut using the limestone cliffs in Beaver Creek Canyon. One hundred feet off the valley floor, Montezuma Castle is a visual story of resilience and ingenuity of the Sinagua people.

Held together by clay mortar and mud, the castle comprises 20 separate rooms. Unfortunately, visitors can’t explore the inside of Montezuma Castle. However, the striking views along the walking trail complemented by various informative panels create a memorable experience. To learn more about the castle, explore the visitors center.

16. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Mostly consisting of endless desert, the huge Glen Canyon National Recreation Area surrounds the beautiful waters of Lake Powell. With over three thousand kilometers of shoreline, the dark waters of the lake are lined by beautiful red rock formations and the dramatic rock faces that plunge down into it.

A popular place to go boating, five marinas are scattered about and there are loads of great water sports and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether it is kayaking and jet-skiing on Lake Powell’s waters, fishing along the shoreline, or hiking amidst the spectacular rock formations; this national recreation area has something for everyone.

The desert scenery is otherworldly, with Paria Canyon and Rainbow Bridge being particularly memorable. Horseshoe Bend is another must-see area in Glen Canyon. Make sure to stop by for a couple of days; you won’t regret it!

15. Phoenix

Phoenix

Set in the middle of the desert in an area which is appropriately known as ‘the Valley of the Sun’, the state capital is undoubtedly the cultural and economic heart of the state. Bathed in glorious sunshine almost year-round, Phoenix attracts over sixteen million visitors every year.

With lots of educational and entertaining museums on show, as well as some great theaters and shopping options, Phoenix has a lot going for it . There are a number of great restaurants and bars for visitors to check out. Sport lovers can watch any one of the city’s teams, while golfers will adore exploring the more than two hundred courses found in the town.

Jerome

In its short and turbulent history, Jerome has seen it all. Once a thriving mining town, soon the numbers dwindled until it was nothing but tumbleweeds meandering along Main Street. But with enough of the old town remaining, it turned into a popular tourist destination.

Today you can explore the historic stores, old restaurants and museums in the restored buildings. Or simply admire the crumbling facades still standing. Learn all about Jerome’s history at the Gold King Mine Museum before exploring the famous Sliding Jail. The original building was made on clay slick and over the years has moved 2500ft from its first location.

Those exploring Sedona, Phoenix, Flagstaff and Prescott can make a day trip to the ghost town with on-site accommodation also available.

13. Prescott

Prescott

Found at over 5000ft, Prescott experiences the change of seasons more than most towns in Arizona. With a balance of exotic desert features among the ponderosa pines and sprawling lakes, there’s a wide variety of fun to be had.

Once the capital of the Arizona Territory, Prescott is the place to go for idyllic lakes where you can kayak by craggy canyons and camp under the stars. If you’re more of a dry land person, complete the Watson Lake Loop Trail. Covering 4.7 miles, experience the deep blue lake colors while trekking over desert boulders.

Prescott has an adorable downtown area, with historic buildings like the Elks Theater and the old courthouse. For accommodation in town, check into one of the daintily restored BnBs.

12. Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

In the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Horseshoe Bend is one of the most recognizable sights in the United States. The park itself features an abundance of epic rock formations, scenic vistas and a fascinating layer of human history. But Horseshoe Bend will always steal the show.

Carved over the course of millions of years, the Colorado River completes a sharp 180-degree turn through the park. The result is a stunning horseshoe vista with the dark blue waters flowing through the orange canyon.

To get the best view in the house, complete the relatively flat 1.5 mile hike to the observation platform (this hike is wheelchair accessible). From there, try to avoid vertigo as you peer down 1000ft to the river below.

11. Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

Turquoise waterfalls amid the rich desert await you on this bucket list worthy hike. The charm and beauty of Havasu Falls is hard to describe but when a hike of this difficulty is worth it, then you know the reward fits the bill.

The popularity, strenuousness and fragility of the landscape means visitors will have to plan ahead to make the famous journey. Permits need to be arranged ahead of time, with a night spent at either Havasupai Lodge or under the stars at the campground near the falls.

With your permit sorted, the hike begins by losing 1800ft of elevation as you trek to the base of the Grand Canyon. All up the hike to the mystical falls is ten miles one way.

Tucson

Home to the University of Arizona, this lively college town is a fun and friendly place to visit, with some great nightlife on offer. The second largest city in the state is a delightful mix of cultures that attest to its long and varied history. Its numerous museums and lively arts and culture scene showcase the city’s diversity.

With great local shops on offer and fantastic restaurants and bars, the university’s large student body gives the town a youthful vibe. Lying in a valley and surrounded by arid mountains and cacti-filled plains, the brightly-colored buildings of the city make Tucson an attractive place, full of charm.

With amazing natural sights lying just outside of Tucson, most tourists to the city come to explore the mesmerizing Saguaro National Park or hike in the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains.

9. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

The city of Tucson is surrounded by serene desert and one of the few places in the United States where you can see the giant saguaro in the wild. The Saguaro National Park was formed to allow the opportunity to both protect and show off the rare and spectacular cacti.

The park is split into two sections, with Tucson taking up the middle, granting easy access to anyone in town. The saguaro can live for 200 years while growing at the snail-esque pace of an inch per year.

The best time to visit the chandelier-like plants is in the morning and late afternoon, when the Sonoran Desert sun is less ferocious. The west side has a higher concentration of saguaro, but you can expect more crowds. While you can camp under the desert sky in the eastern section.

8. Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater

Just out of Winslow, Arizona, is a massive meteor crater that has to be seen to be believed. Known as the Barringer Crater, named after the man who discovered the popular attraction, the crater came to be roughly 50,000 years ago. On that fateful day, the Canyon Diablo meteorite hit the Arizonan landscape at a speed of 26,000 mph.

With the equivalent force of 20 million tons of TNT, the 100ft wide meteorite created a 700ft hole with a 4000ft diameter. Today, visitors can get up close to one of the biggest craters in North America. Stand on the observation platform on the cliff of the crater and admire the sheer size of the hole. Afterwards, spend some time in the visitor center learning more about the history of Barringer Crater,

7. Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

The idea of fossils isn’t new. In fact, you probably loved them as a kid. But to see a different type of fossil, the tree kind, then you have to explore the incredible Petrified Forest National Park.

Spread through the Navajo and Apache regions of Arizona, the forest became famous for the sheer number of petrified wood on display. As you drive through the park, you will be taken in by the striking terrain of desert badlands with varied shades of color. Stop along the way to embark on one of the several hiking trails through the forests. Get up close to the fossils which date back over 200 million years.

One hike you must do is the Blue Mesa Trail. The simple 1-mile loop guides you through blue-infused clay to a large area of petrified wood.

6. Flagstaff

Flagstaff

The City of Seven Wonders, Flagstaff is the perfect base from which to tackle many of the attractions on our list. But the college town isn’t just a handy waypoint on your travels to the Grand Canyon.

The unheralded city tends to your inner-traveler, allowing you to experience a fresh place that hasn’t yet been bombarded with Insta-famous attractions. Flagstaff is the highest point along the entire Route 66 and also where Pluto was first discovered. But that’s not its only claim to fame.

With beautiful nature surrounding it and a diverse art, culture and dining scene, there are many reasons to make the journey to the city. None better than to see why Flagstaff became the world’s first International Dark Sky City.

5. Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

The winding, twisting cracks of Antelope Canyon are mesmerizing to wander around, as sunbeams enchantingly snake their way along the sandstone walls, illuminating and bathing the soft red tones in resplendent light.

A beautiful sight to behold, the two different parts of Antelope Canyon are both well worth visiting; their distinctive features have led them to be respectively nicknamed ‘The Crack’ and ‘The Corkscrew’.

While they each have their own unique look, in both parts the rock appears to be flowing, thanks to the shapes created by the erosion of the rock. Set in a Navajo Tribal Park, the Upper and Lower parts of Antelope Canyon are only accessible by guided tour.

4. Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

One of the most visited national monuments in the country, Canyon De Chelly has been inhabited for over five thousand years. The canyon walls protect and shelter some amazing old buildings that date back to the days of the Ancestral Puebloans.

Since the Navajos began calling it home in the 1700’s, the canyon has tragically been the site of numerous massacres throughout history, with both the Spanish and US Army having persecuted the Native Americans.

Nowadays, the site is owned and run by the Navajo and there are a number of great trails and horseback tours available to visitors. While Spider Rock is the canyon’s most distinctive feature, Canyon De Chelly is lovely to gaze upon, and there are great views from along its rim.

3. Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Iconic in look, Monument Valley’s incredible geological features have starred in TV commercials, featured in films and appeared in magazine ads. As such, they are instantly recognizable around the world.

Surrounded by a desolate and featureless desert that stretches almost interminably, the massive sandstone buttes rear impressively towards the heavens, their vivid reds, and oranges standing out against the blue sky. Beautiful to behold, the ‘Valley Between the Rocks’ – as it was dubbed by the Navajo – is a must-see place when visiting Arizona.

Sedona

While the jaw-dropping red sandstone formations are the undoubted highlight of what Sedona has to offer, there is lots more to see and do; visitors to the area invariably come away astounded at what they have witnessed.

Nestled amid the beautiful rock formations, Sedona is considered sacred by Native Americans and people come here to heal themselves and seek spiritual enlightenment. There are many shops selling alternative medicines and lots of spas for visitors to relax in.

An area of outstanding beauty, there are plenty of outdoor activities to take part in here; cycling or hiking in the canyons is an amazing experience, while swimming in the pristine waters will replenish your spirit. With lots of great restaurants on offer, as well as numerous art galleries to explore, the town can get a bit busy during summer, although the stunning scenery more than makes up for it.

1. Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Renowned throughout the world, the Grand Canyon is awe-inspiring to visit and the beautiful panoramas on show are simply breathtaking. Gigantic in size and scale, the views from the edge of the canyon are incredible, as you look out over the rock face dropping away below you and the dramatic vista stretches towards the horizon.

Descending into the canyon, the geological formations are mesmerizing. The arid and desolate terrain is peaceful yet picturesque and indeed a powerful place to explore. The ruddy hues of the canyon walls look beautiful in the light and the fossilized remains of plants and animals can be seen here and there.

To gain a greater insight into how the Grand Canyon came to be, head to the Geology Museum or the Trail of Time exhibition, which will take you through the layers and landscapes that the canyon has to offer.

With Ancestral Puebloans having lived in and around the area for centuries, head to the Tusayan Ruin and Museum for an interesting look at their history and culture. A simply incredible place, the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly the highlight of what Arizona has to offer.

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  • Destinations

25 Best Places to Visit in Arizona

Cathedral rock, sedona, saguaro national park, grand canyon, arizona, antelope canyon, monument valley.

  • Complete List & Map

Cathedral Rock, Sedona

It takes 1.5 miles to get to the summit and back the same way, and the spectacular views all along the way (especially at the top) make the effort worthwhile. If you are looking for top attractions in Arizona, don't miss this unique destination. --->

Saguaro National Park

The park is a great location for short, pleasant hikes for families, but it also offers more challenging adventure wilderness hikes and camping in the backcountry. Bikers can enjoy Cactus Forest Loop Drive or the Hope Camp Trail. --->

Grand Canyon, Arizona

While some parts of the canyon on the upper plateau are covered with forests, most of the area is arid. Nevertheless, it is home to 1,500 plants, 89 mammalians, 355 birds, 9 amphibians, 47 reptiles, and 17 fish speciess. --->

Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley

The canyons are popular with photographers: tours of the canyons only began in 1997 when it was made a Navajo Tribal Park by the Navajo people. --->

Bisbee

Bisbee , with a population of less than 6,000, is today a popular tourist destination because of its magnificent surrounding red rocks, its colorful history and even more colorful inhabitants. The town is full of galleries, museums , new age shops, restaurants, hotels, and tour guides.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

More ideas: Arizona Day Trips

Barringer Crater, Arizona

Barringer Crater, Arizona

More ideas: Things to Do in Arizona --->

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle was probably built and occupied some time during the period between 1200 and 1450 AD at a time when there was an influx of Sinagua people from the north into the region. The name Montezuma Castle came from white settlers who believed that the ruins belonged to Aztecs – Montezuma was one of Aztec rulers. More info --->

Lake Powell, AZ

Lake Powell, AZ

More ideas: Day Trips from Phoenix

Havasu Falls, AZ

Havasu Falls, AZ

More ideas: Day Trips from Scottsdale

Hoover Dam

More ideas: Things to do in Chandler

Superstition Mountains

Superstition Mountains

More ideas: Scottsdale

Tumacacori National Historical Park, Arizona

Tumacacori National Historical Park, Arizona

The park also contains the Tumacácori Museum building, built in 1937, another National Historic Landmark. While the remnants of the Mission and the Museum provide a short, informative visit that you can take on your own, there are guided tours that offer more in-depth information to those interested in the history of this colorful region. For the more adventurous, there is a historic Anza Trail that passes nearby. --->

Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

More ideas: Day Trips from Tucson

The Wave

More ideas: Hot Springs in Arizona

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness

Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness

More ideas: Camping in Arizona

Papago Park

Papago Park

More ideas: Florence, Arizona

Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge, Arizona

Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge, Arizona

More ideas: Arizona RV Parks

Tonto National Monument - 2 hour 20 minute Weekend Getaway from Phoenix

Tonto National Monument - 2 hour 20 minute Weekend Getaway from Phoenix

Plants include several kinds of cacti, agave, palo verde, and yucca.---> Tonto National Monument is a great weekend getaway from Phoenix , AZ.

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

More ideas: Camp Verde

Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Canyon De Chelly National Monument

More ideas: Willcox

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

More ideas: Tusayan

Agathla Peak, Monument Valley

Agathla Peak, Monument Valley

It goes by other names such as the “place of wool and hair” because of the fact that these collected on the rocks as the antelope and deer brushed against them. It is also known as “El Capitan” because of its size and location at the entrance to the valley. --->

best travel places in arizona

  • 1. Cathedral Rock, Sedona
  • 2. Saguaro National Park
  • 3. Grand Canyon, Arizona
  • 4. Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley
  • 6. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
  • 7. Barringer Crater, Arizona
  • 8. Montezuma Castle National Monument
  • 9. Lake Powell, AZ
  • 10. Havasu Falls, AZ
  • 11. Hoover Dam
  • 12. Superstition Mountains
  • 13. Tumacacori National Historical Park, Arizona
  • 14. Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • 15. The Wave
  • 16. Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
  • 17. Papago Park
  • 18. Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge, Arizona
  • 19. Tonto National Monument - 2 hour 20 minute Weekend Getaway from Phoenix
  • 20. Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
  • 21. Canyon De Chelly National Monument
  • 22. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  • 23. Agathla Peak, Monument Valley

Last Updated By VI on May 8, 2024 in Things to Do in Arizona & Places to Visit

More Arizona Getaways:

Resources: Arizona Tourism , AZ.gov , Instagram , Visit Phoenix

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Jessie on a Journey | Solo Female Travel Blog

Arizona Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Arizona travel guide ?

Then you’re in the right place!

Known for its picturesque desert, Arizona is one of the top destinations in the United States for nature lovers.

The state packs 24 national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and historic trails into 113,990 square miles, including Grand Canyon National Park, one of the most visited in the country.

If you’re looking for a taste of the old west, you’ll definitely find it here. From the iconic cacti of Saguaro National Park in Tuscon to the instantly recognizable rock formations of the Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Park, Arizona is full of one-of-a-kind sites.

If you took a family vacation to the Grand Canyon as a kid and are looking for a different view of the Arizona desert this time around, give Canyon de Chelly National Monument a try.

Located in the Navajo Nation and managed jointly by the Navajo Nation and the National Park Service, the canyon is home to incredible scenic views, 5,000 years of history, and some of the world’s best hiking trails .

Tour the canyon by car, horseback, or on foot to learn how families have made their homes in the canyons for millennia.

Want to cool off from some of the harsh desert heat?

Head to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (home to Lake Powell) or Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Both offer acres of space for boating, fishing, and swimming among truly gorgeous landscapes.

You can even take a boat out to some of the uninhabited islands in each lake — such as Antelope Island in Lake Powell and Channel Island in Lake Mead — for a fun excursion.

Arizona also has tons of great cities to explore when you need a break from the desert.

The state capital of Phoenix is home to world-class art and history museums, gorgeous botanical gardens, unique shops, and a delicious culinary scene.

Further north, you can explore the galleries and boutiques of Sedona, an artistic and eclectic desert oasis. It’s the perfect spot for a spiritual or wellness retreat, boasting tons of top notch spas, yoga studios, and opportunities for healing treatments such as reiki and hypnotherapy.

And in Tuscon, you can discover the state’s Spanish colonial history and relive the Wild West while exploring the beauty of the southern desert.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Arizona in the United States .

Note: This ultimate Arizona guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Arizona travel guide

Arizona Map

Use this Arizona tourism map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Arizona map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Arizona Travel Guides & Experiences

These Arizona tourism guides can help you plan the perfect trip!

The Grand Canyon is a top Arizona travel guide recommendation

Hiking & Mule Riding My Way Through Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park

Sedona Arizona travel guide attractions

Arizona Travel: Exploring Sedona By Jeep

Hiking Piestewa Peak when visiting Phoenix during Arizona travel

Arizona Adventure: Hiking Piestewa Peak In Phoenix

Best Arizona Tours

Explore local culture with a Arizona tour guide through these unique excursions:

  • Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Small-Group Tour from Sedona or Flagstaff
  • 45-minute Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon from Tusayan
  • Classic River Run on the Verde Guided Kayak Tour from Cottonwood
  • Half-Day Kayak Tour in the Black Canyon (Self Drive) from Willow Beach
  • Grand Canyon West Rim Adventure by Plane with Skywalk from Phoenix
  • Scottsdale Greenbelt E-Bike Tour

Renting A Car In Arizona

Need a rental car for your Arizona trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

best travel places in arizona

Public Transportation In Arizona

Getting around Arizona by train, bus, or ferry?

Omio is a must! You can use this tool for all of your public transportation needs when traveling around Florida.

The site is straightforward and user-friendly — and you can pre-book your tickets in advance at a discount.

They even offer flight and car deals!

Arizona Hotels

Click here to browse the best Arizona travel hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local properties:

Arizona Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on an Arizona tour. When visiting Arizona — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Arizona travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks .

Arizona Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in Arizona .

Q: What is the best month to visit Arizona?

The best time to visit Arizona definitely depends on your itinerary.

If you want to visit some of the higher elevation destinations in Arizona such as Sedona, Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon, spring is probably the best time to go. These destinations can get quite cold (and even experience snow) in the winter, so don’t expect too much desert sun during those months.

Summer is peak season for the Grand Canyon, so if you’re trying to avoid crowds, spring and fall are your best bets.

In the warmer parts of the desert (i.e. Phoenix, Tuscon and Scottsdale), winter is peak season. You’ll run into a fair amount of crowds during this time as visitors from northern parts of the country escape the snow.

Spring and fall are great times to visit if you want to avoid the crowds as well as Arizona’s signature triple-digit summer temperatures.

And if you want to see the desert wildflowers in full bloom, plan a trip for some time between March and May.

Q: What are the best places to stay in Arizona?

There are a few cities to consider as “home base” destinations for a trip to Arizona.

The state capital of Phoenix offers easy access to many of the state’s top attractions as well as a lively metropolitan area with great dining, museums and more.

The Grand Canyon, Jerome and Saguaro National Park are just a short drive away and all make for great day trips from Phoenix.

Phoenix also has lots of great hiking trails within city limits such as Piestewa Peak .

Golf lovers will also want to visit neighboring Scottsdale , a desert oasis featuring over 200 gorgeous, challenging courses.

If you’re planning on spending a few days in the Grand Canyon or just want to spend most of your time outdoors, book a stay in Sedona , a gorgeous city in the red rock mountains.

Sedona is just a two hour drive from Grand Canyon Village, making it easy for you to stay close to the famous national park while exploring a beautiful and unique desert city.

Additionally, Sedona offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and exploring energetic vortexes (if you’re into that sort of thing).

The city is also home to many incredible artists whose work you can find at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, a Mexican-style village filled with boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.

Want to spend some time in the Sonoran Desert? Head down to Tuscon , or the “City of Sunshine”.

Tuscon is a perfect destination if you’re looking to visit Saguaro National Park, where you can see the tallest species of cacti in North America and get up close with desert animals like lizards and jackrabbits.

The city is also home to plenty of well-preserved examples of Spanish colonial architecture like those found in the El Presidio Historic District and Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Staying in Tuscon also offers you easy access to top attractions like the old Western town of Tombstone and the arts destination of Tubac.

Q: How much money do you need for a trip to Arizona?

Your budget for a trip to Arizona will depend on your itinerary, but most travelers tend to spend about $120 USD per day on transportation, accommodation, food, activities, and other travel expenses in Arizona.

Q: How many days do you need in Arizona?

If you want to do a full tour of the state of Arizona, plan for about a week away.

A seven-day road trip will give you enough time to visit many of the state’s top destinations and attractions, including Phoenix, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.

If you’re short on time, you can still see many of these sites in a five-day trip by spending a bit less time in the cities and focusing on your must-see attractions.

Q: What are the best things to do in Arizona?

No USA travel guide would be complete without mentioning Arizona, and here’s why:

One of the best things to do in Arizona is to enjoy its many natural wonders.

Visiting the Grand Canyon is high on the bucket lists of many travelers and absolutely should not be missed, of course.

But Arizona is home to so many other incredible parks that you’ll have to see to believe.

Monument Valley Tribal Park , located on the Navajo Nation Reservation, is an iconic desert site featuring colossal red sandstone buttes that will take your breath away.

You can experience the desert landscape in all its glory at Sagauro National Park in Tuscon , a perfect spot for hiking and exploring the desert flora. This park is truly home to some of the best hiking trails in the world !

And you’ll definitely want to bring your camera along as you explore the out-of-this-world beauty of the slot canyons at Antelope Canyon in Page , AZ.

Arizona is also home to plenty of remnants of the Old West that will satisfy any Western fan.

The town of Tombstone keeps the Wild West alive with museums, recreations of old saloons, and stage coaches rolling through the streets. You can even witness a gunfight twice a day at the OK Corral and Historama .

For a look at Arizona’s mining past, head to Bisbee, located just off the U.S.-Mexico border. Here, you can learn about the town’s history at the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum , tour a former Phelps Dodge Mine , or just wander the streets of the Old Town and Lowell neighborhoods , featuring plenty of mid-century style.

And if you like your history with a side of the supernatural, head to the town of Jerome .

Once a bustling mining town, Jerome’s population dwindled after the Phelps Dodge mine closed in 1953 and the town was declared a ghost town and National Historic District. Today, you can visit the remnants of the old town or try and commune with some of the spirits that still call Jerome home.

Q: Where is Arizona?

Located in the southwestern United States, Arizona is a landlocked state bordered by Mexico (south), New Mexico (east), Colorado (northeast), Utah (north), Nevada (northwest), and California (west).

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Arizona?

Credit cards — mainly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around Arizona. That being said, it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in Arizona?

While the water is technically safe to drink, there are certain chemicals that have been found in the water in certain areas that may make you consider filtered water. It’s recommended to do your own research based on where exactly you’re going and your personal preferences.

Q: What is the local currency in Arizona?

The local currency in Arizona is the US Dollar (USD).

What would you add to this Arizona travel guide?

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Phoenix   Travel Guide

Courtesy of tonda | Getty Images

best travel places in arizona

20 Best Things to Do in Phoenix, Arizona

Begin your introduction to the Valley of the Sun with a visit to downtown Phoenix, home to some of the city's top attractions, including the Phoenix Art Museum , Heritage Square and the Heard Museum . Travelers on the hunt for a more laid-back

  • All Things To Do

best travel places in arizona

Desert Botanical Garden Desert Botanical Garden

U.S. News Insider Tip:  Springtime is a particularly colorful season to visit the Desert Botanical Garden. Visitors who arrive mid-February through mid-June will see an abundance of blooming cactus just begging for attention. – Jill Schildhouse

The desert may seem like the last place you'd expect to find flora. Yet the Desert Botanical Garden is home to thousands of species of cacti, trees and flowers from all around the world. The garden's brightly colored plants sharply contrast the Sonoran Desert's cinnamon-red buttes, and numerous hiking trails – like the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert and the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop trails – allow you to experience the region's natural wonders the way early settlers once did. The Desert Botanical Garden also hosts numerous events, including culinary demonstrations and outdoor concert series.

best travel places in arizona

Camelback Mountain Camelback Mountain free

As one of the highest peaks in Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is among the most scenic hiking spots in the city. Soaring more 2,700 feet in elevation, Camelback's summit offers spectacular views of Phoenix and Scottsdale and can be reached from the 2.5-mile (incredibly steep) out-and-back Echo Canyon Trail. If you're looking for a slightly easier trek, the 2.6-mile out-and-back Cholla Trail on the east side of the mountain offers a more gradual incline, at least until you near the summit. You can also try one of the several beginner-friendly trails that circle Camelback's base, such as the Bobby's Rock Trail. Hiking Camelback Mountain is best attempted earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon when the desert heat is bearable (in fact, it's closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on days with excessive heat warnings). But no matter when you decide to climb, make sure you have plenty of water and sunscreen. For a unique perspective of the mountain, consider a sunrise hot air balloon ride (one of the best Arizona tours ).

Recent travelers who scaled the mountain said the arduous journey is well worth the incredible views, though they do warn this experience is not for the faint of heart. Reviewers also suggested bringing your camera, as the views at the summit and along the way are photo-worthy. Visitors also warn that you should be prepared to share the trails with lots of other hikers.

best travel places in arizona

Musical Instrument Museum Musical Instrument Museum

U.S. News Insider Tip: When hunger strikes, visit the on-site Café Allegro, which tantalizes customers' taste buds with a seasonal menu showcasing local produce, regional dishes and cuisines from around the world. There are plenty of vegan, vegetarian and kid-friendly options, too. – Jill Schildhouse

The Musical Instrument Museum, located about 20 miles north of downtown Phoenix, invites visitors to check out its collection of more than 8,000 instruments from around the world. Travelers will find instruments, concert footage, clothing of renowned musicians and more. Visitors can even see how instruments are preserved and restored in the Conservation Lab before actually playing instruments in the Experience Gallery. Many parents said their children especially enjoyed experimenting with the instruments in the Experience and Encore galleries (the latter of which is geared toward kids who are prekindergarten to second grade), advising future visitors to make it the last stop in the museum because the kids will not want to leave.

best travel places in arizona

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best travel places in arizona

Heard Museum Heard Museum

If you're a history buff or an art aficionado (or both), take advantage of the spectacular exhibits – and air conditioning – housed in the Heard Museum. According to many, the Heard Museum is one of the country's finest Native American museums and offers a comprehensible introduction to Arizona's original residents. With the help of pre-Colombian to contemporary art and a variety of traditional artifacts, the Heard Museum conveys the life and culture of Native Americans in the Southwest. On-site facilities include a gift shop, a cafe and outdoor sculpture gardens. 

Recent visitors recommend setting aside at least half a day to see the exhibits housed here. Many also praised the docents and suggested joining a free tour to get the most out of your time here. You'll also want to take a spin through the gift shop, according to reviewers.

best travel places in arizona

Phoenix Art Museum Phoenix Art Museum

Housed within a notable example of Modernist architecture (it was partially designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) is the largest art museum in the Southwest United States (with more than 20,000 works of art, some of them dating as far back as the Renaissance). From Diego Rivera to Frederic Remington, Georgia O'Keeffe to Frida Kahlo, the Phoenix Art Museum's permanent collection caters to a wide variety of tastes, and often welcomes top-notch traveling exhibits. Be sure to check out the popular Thorne Miniature Rooms, and if you're traveling with kids, take advantage of the museum's youth-oriented activities; you can pick up a guide for navigating the museum with kids (which includes a scavenger hunt) at the front desk.

Recent visitors praised the museum's size and layout, and its ability to appeal to a variety of age groups. Reviewers also offered kudos for the on-site restaurant and gift shop, and say this is a great place to beat the heat on hot summer days. Those without a taste for modern art may not enjoy their visit as much; despite its diverse collections, expect to see a lot of more recent artworks. If you'd like a little guidance navigating the museum's collection, consider signing up for one of its docent-led public tours, which are offered every day that the museum is open.

best travel places in arizona

South Mountain Park South Mountain Park free

Arizona offers a seemingly endless array of outdoor experiences. And Phoenix's South Mountain Park is no exception. The park, which spans more than 16,000 acres and is one of the country’s largest municipally managed parks, boasts three mountain ranges and more than 50 miles of trails. Hikers should consider the Dobbins Lookout summit, which is accessible by major hiking trails and Summit Road. Standing at 2,330 feet, the lookout provides panoramic valley views. If your feet need a break, the park's trails are also open to horseback riding and mountain biking. Along with its hiking trails, the park is also home to an education center that interpretive exhibits. From the center, you can embark on the Judith Tunnell Accessible Trail, which comprises two barrier-free, half-mile loops. Mystery Castle is another must-see. This 18-room home was built in 1945 by Boyce Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou. It's open for tours between October and May.

Recent visitors loved the scenic trails at South Mountain Park. The views and plant life were popular. Some travelers also praised the beautiful drives. Note that the roads are very popular with cyclists – drivers should prepare to share the road and keep an eye out for two-wheeled transport.

best travel places in arizona

Papago Park Papago Park free

Home to the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo , Papago Park is popular with locals and visitors alike thanks to its proximity to downtown Phoenix (less than 10 miles east) and its massive red butte formations. There are options for all activity levels, from the west side trails to the east side trails to the popular Hole-in-the-Rock trail . Dogs are welcome, too.

Before it was a park, this land served many purposes. It was a reservation for Indigenous tribes, a fish hatchery during the Great Depression, a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II and a veterans affairs hospital.

best travel places in arizona

Hole in the Rock Hole in the Rock free

Papago Park features several hikes – perhaps the most distinctive is Hole in the Rock. Nestled in and among the red butte formations of the park, this short but spectacular hike (it is only 0.3 miles out and back) features a dramatic endpoint. After hiking up 200 feet of steps, visitors arrive at a lookout onto nearby lagoons and the more distant city. Historians believe the Hohokam civilization, which was present in this area, may have used the rock formation to track the position of the sun through a hole in the top of the rock.

Recent visitors raved about the views from the hike’s summit. Many recommended timing your visit to appreciate a beautiful Arizona sunset. Several noted that the hike is busy with visitors, but well-appointed. There are public restrooms, picnic areas and a nearby parking lot. What's more, the trail is just a half-mile from the Phoenix Zoo .

best travel places in arizona

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best travel places in arizona

Phoenix Zoo Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo is a great place to enjoy nature without your little ones dying of boredom. There are four trails that wind through the numerous habitats populated by more than 3,000 animals living east of downtown Phoenix. The zoo houses a variety of animals, including cheetahs, monkeys, Asian elephants, three-toed box turtles and Mexican gray wolves. Take younger tots to the Red Barn petting zoo or to the giraffe encounter where they can get some face time with the animals. When their little legs start to tire, consider the 25-minute narrated safari cruiser tour, which only costs a few extra dollars and provides a good orientation of the zoo.

Recent visitors (especially those with kids in tow) had fun at the zoo, and praised the clean grounds and abundant activities. However, some travelers were disappointed with the added costs for activities, as well as the high admission price overall. Those who visited in the hot summer months warned that some of the animals may not be as active/visible due to the heat. However, if you visit in the summer you'll be able to take advantage of the zoo's water features (it's home to multiple splash pads).

best travel places in arizona

Taliesin West Taliesin West

U.S. News Insider Tip:  While the audio tour is nice, taking a guided tour with a passionate docent reveals more intimate stories about Frank Lloyd Wright and provides exclusive access to his private living spaces. These tickets often sell out in advance, so plan ahead. – Jill Schildhouse

Renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright loved the Sonoran Desert, and he used these nearly 500 acres at the base of the McDowell Mountains as his winter home and school. With the help of his art and architecture students, Wright constructed apartments, studios and theaters using local materials to help the camp blend with its natural surroundings. This National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site is still used as an educational space for budding artists and architects. What's more, it's considered one of the top things to do in Arizona .

best travel places in arizona

Tee off at one of Phoenix's golf courses Tee off at one of Phoenix's golf courses

Despite its desert surroundings, Phoenix is emerging as a premier golf destination. In fact, the Valley of the Sun is home to nearly 200 courses with difficulty levels ranging from beginner to expert.

Finding the right course may be a feat in itself, thanks to all of the options. For an authentic Phoenician golf experience, follow in the footsteps of movie stars and politicians and head to the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club. Constructed in 1928 and known as "the granddaddy" of Phoenix country clubs, the Arizona Biltmore is home to two 18-hole PGA Championship courses, as well as a driving range, a putting green, a pro shop and a full-service restaurant. Because of its reputation, you'll want to reserve tee times well in advance, plus, you should plan your tee time for early morning or later in the evening to avoid the Arizona heat. The club is part of the Arizona Biltmore Resort in downtown Phoenix. Reserve your tee times online at the course's website . Prices and availability may vary.

best travel places in arizona

Indulge in a spa treatment Indulge in a spa treatment

U.S. News Insider Tip: The world-renowned Sisley-Paris Spa resides within Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess — there are only three U.S. locations and this is the largest. These ultra-luxe European-style facial treatments and body rituals are a highly sensorial experience. – Jill Schildhouse

If hiking or golf isn't really your cup of tea, consider a day spent wrapped in seaweed or soaking in mud. Alongside its luscious green golf courses, Phoenix is also known for its outstanding day and resort spas , which are often set among jaw-dropping desert scenes. When winter strikes or everyday life becomes too overwhelming, many weary travelers head to the Valley of the Sun for hot rock massages and salt scrubs. And since many spas incorporate botanicals sourced from the Sonoran Desert (like prickly pear and cactus flower) into their treatments, a visit to the spa can be as educational as it is restorative. 

best travel places in arizona

Arizona Science Center Arizona Science Center

Seek refuge from the broiling Phoenix weather in the Arizona Science Center, one of the top things to do in Arizona . Here, interactive displays teach kids about everything from electricity to weather patterns to outer space. Other topics covered across the center's four levels of exhibits include sound, gravity and psychology, among others. An Imax theater also offers family-friendly, educational entertainment.

Recent visitors were pleased with the activities offered here, especially the temporary exhibits. However, some felt the tickets were pricey, especially for families. Reviewers also suggested purchasing your tickets online in advance to avoid having to wait in long admission lines. 

best travel places in arizona

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best travel places in arizona

Pueblo Grande Museum Pueblo Grande Museum

History and archaeology buffs should put a trip to Pueblo Grande, a National Historic Landmark and the largest preserved archaeological site within Phoenix, at the top of their list of things to do. This site features the ruins of an ancient Hohokam village, which was occupied for more than 1,000 years until around A.D. 1450. Walk among what's left of houses, storage facilities, play areas and cemeteries on a short, accessible trail. You can also view artifacts found during the site's excavation at the small on-site museum.

Recent visitors called this site a "hidden gem" and praised the well-maintained grounds, as well as the small museum. Reviewers recommend setting aside at least an hour to enjoy the attraction, though some reported spending more than two hours here. Though there are a few interactive exhibits in the museum for children, most said this attraction is best enjoyed by adults.

best travel places in arizona

Children's Museum of Phoenix Children's Museum of Phoenix

Boasting more than 300 play experiences across three floors, the Children's Museum of Phoenix is a hit with kids. Spanning more than 48,000 square feet, the museum offers a range of exhibits suitable for infants and kids up to age 10. Exhibits include a miniature grocery store, a noodle "forest" made from suspended pool noodles, a climbing structure and a fort-building area, among other activities.

Recent visitors loved the museum, saying it was a great place for kids to burn off energy. Many families said they spent several hours here thanks to the variety of exhibits. Others appreciated the museum's efforts to cater to infants and toddlers with designated spaces. Some reviewers said it was the best children's museum they'd ever been to.

best travel places in arizona

Heritage Square Heritage Square free

Visitors to Arizona may not associate the southwest with Victorian-era history and architecture. Heritage Square will change that. Located downtown, this walkable area dates back to the 1800s. Fans of delicate Queen Anne architecture will enjoy the restored Rosson House Museum, which features period decor, while others will delight in the tasty restaurants and attractive views in the area. Note that the 1895 Rosson House Museum is accessible exclusively by guided tour. Tours visit all areas of the home, including several bedrooms, a nursery, a bathroom and a doctor's office (the home's original owner was a doctor who occasionally saw patients at the house).

Recent visitors enjoyed this trip back in time, praising the historic preservation of Heritage Square and the many eateries. Many were intrigued by the history of the square, but some noted that it could be easily seen in a short period of time. Consider adding a stop at the Arizona Science Center as the two attractions sit within walking distance of each other.

best travel places in arizona

Butterfly Wonderland Butterfly Wonderland

U.S. News Insider Tip:  Want to increase the chances of having butterflies land on you? Wear brightly colored clothing – reds, yellows and oranges are more likely to attract them. Just don't reach out for them or handle them in any way, as they are fragile. – Jill Schildhouse

Unbeknownst to most visitors and even some locals, there's a rainforest in the Scottsdale desert – and it's home to the largest butterfly conservatory in the United States. Here, visitors will find some of the only humid terrain in the state (around 80% humidity and 80 degrees year-round), making this enclosure the perfect habitat for thousands of butterflies across up to 70 different species. Before entering the conservatory, visitors begin with a viewing of "Flight of the Butterflies" in the 3D theater to gain a better appreciation for a monarch butterfly's intense annual migration. Next, stop by the Butterfly Emergence Gallery, where live chrysalis morph into beautiful butterflies right before your eyes. Once inside the conservatory, be sure to look at all the foliage high and low, because the magical butterflies flit about everywhere.

best travel places in arizona

Wrigley Mansion Wrigley Mansion

Back in 1932, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. designed the Wrigley Mansion as a winter getaway home and a 50th anniversary gift to his wife. Set atop a hill overlooking 360-degree views of the entire Phoenix Valley, this property is a stunning mixture of Spanish, California Monterey and Mediterranean architectural styles. Today, it's been lovingly restored into a premier fine dining and special event venue. Docent-led tours of the mansion, which take about 45 minutes to an hour, cost $20 per person; advance reservations are recommended. Between the grand staircase, the Switchboard Room and the hand-painted ceiling, you'll definitely feel as though you've stepped back in time.

In 2021, the property became the much-anticipated site of James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross' latest concept, Christopher's at Wrigley Mansion. The all-glass space features an eight-course tasting menu (think: wagyu carpaccio, foie gras soup and scallops with caviar) with optional wine pairings. For a less grand, but equally delicious experience, enjoy small plates (such as escargot, smoked salmon BLT and Moroccan lamb sausage with couscous) and cocktails on the patio, overlooking the city (especially impressive near sunset). Another on-site restaurant, Geordie's by Chef David Brito, is the ideal spot to enjoy a special Sunday brunch or live jazz with dinner. Wine enthusiasts will be impressed by the Wrigley Mansion's wine program, which has earned the "Best of Award of Excellence" from Wine Spectator magazine for multiple consecutive years.

best travel places in arizona

3-Hour ATV and Shooting Combo

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best travel places in arizona

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park free

In the heart of Scottsdale lies the 30-acre McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Part municipal park, part railway museum and part kid-friendly fun zone, this unique site brings together a functional railroad, carousel, shops and even quintessential park space. There are a variety of activities offered here, from traditional playgrounds to an enormous model railroad building – not to mention frequent special events like a holiday lights display and summer concert series.

Recent visitors enjoyed their time at the park. Many noted it was a family-friendly destination, and budget-friendly to boot. Often some attraction or area is closed on a given day, but most travelers found that there were still enough activities available to happily pass a few hours. This attraction appealed to everyone from solo adult travelers to families visiting town.

best travel places in arizona

Chase Field Chase Field

Watching the Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field is a worthwhile experience, even if you aren't a die-hard baseball fan, according to recent visitors. Reviewers appreciated the kid-friendly atmosphere, air conditioning and retractable roof, and the park's unique amenities, including the lifeguard-staffed pool and hot tub that sits 415 feet from home plate. Even if you aren't in town for a game, you can still see the ballpark on a tour, which are available three times a day Monday through Saturday throughout the year. Tours, which last 75 minutes, visit the press interview room, the 20th Anniversary Experience (which features artifacts and memorabilia), the dugout and more. Note: The tour does not go on to the field. After, grab a bite to eat or a cold one at the Four Peaks Draft Room.

Chase Field is located one block south of the Arizona Science Center in the downtown area. Tours cost approximately $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $14 for children 12 and younger.

best travel places in arizona

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Destinations.ai

Destinations.ai

We make it easy to find the perfect travel destination

10 Best Cities to Visit in Arizona

Author: Destinations.ai · Updated on: April 10, 2024

As you set foot in Arizona, a land that effortlessly marries raw natural beauty with a rich cultural heritage, be prepared to uncover a spectrum of wonders extending far beyond the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon and the sculpted landscapes of Monument Valley. This is a place where every corner tickles your curiosity, from the thrumming pulse of its cities to the warm embrace of its residents, each with a story to tell.

The legendary Route 66 carves its path through Arizona, beckoning travelers with an array of landmarks that whisper tales of the Old West. Venture into saloons that resonate with the echoes of cowboys and outlaws, or immerse yourself in the profound Native American history that’s preserved not just in museums but in the very soul of this place. In Arizona, adventure and discovery aren’t just found—they’re felt.

Mountain view at Yuma in Arizona

Nestled where the Gila meets the Colorado River, Yuma is a stone’s throw from both Mexico and California. It’s a city that’s as sunny in spirit as it is in the sky, boasting year-round clear weather that paints the perfect backdrop for your explorations.

Here, parks dot the landscape, an echo of the city’s transformation for its 100-year milestone. The gripping tales of Yuma Territorial Prison , once dubbed ‘the Hellhole of the West,’ captivate history buffs. Within its walls, the gripping stories of the Old West come alive.

As you meander through Yuma, the Mexican influence is palpable, tempting your taste buds with authentic flavors at every turn. Whether it’s a sojourn into history or a savory journey, Yuma serves as a delightful stop on your Arizona adventure.

9. Lake Havasu City

landscape of Lake Havasu in Arizona

Nestled on the western edge of Arizona, Lake Havasu City is a testament to purposeful urban design, gracefully skirting the water from which it takes its name. Here stands the authentic London Bridge, an architectural marvel that secured a new lease on life when the city ambitiously reassembled it stone by stone—a centerpiece in this desert oasis.

Your exploration isn’t complete without meandering through the adjacent ‘English Village,’ a quaint simulation of olde England right at the foot of the bridge. Beyond the bridge, Lake Havasu City emerges as an aquatic playground. You’re invited to embark on a boating adventure, indulge in a variety of water sports, or simply unwind as you witness the serene sunsets painting the lake’s horizon.

8. Prescott

hikers at a mountain in Prescott

Prescott welcomes you with its mountainous embrace, where the air is crisp and reminiscent of a time when horseback was the favored mode of travel. Stroll through the heart of the town, where Victorian architectural jewels stand as testament to its rich past.

Boldly experience Whiskey Row , where once notorious saloons now invite you to relish in their storied histories. Here, you’ll find not just vibrant nightlife but also the legacy of the world’s longest-running rodeo.

Venture beyond to where the landscape beckons adventurers. Whether by horse, foot, or bike, the scenic surroundings of Prescott are a retreat from the more intense desert climates of Arizona’s other cities.

Tour of Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park

Founded in the late 1800s by Mormon pioneers, Mesa is not only steeped in history but also thrives with its rich cultural presence. Here, you can engage with the vivid past through its impressive array of museums. The renowned Natural History Museum and a museum dedicated to youth stand out, showcasing engaging exhibits.

As you step beyond the confines of these cultural halls, Mesa beckons with its natural splendor. You’re invited to explore its waters by kayak, or perhaps take a cooling swim in one of its serene lakes. Should you seek adventures on land, the extensive Tonto National Forest offers trails through one of the largest forests America has to offer, where the landscapes hung with mystery and grandeur await your footprints.

Mill Avenue District in Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, nestled within the vast expanse of the Greater Phoenix Area, boasts a vibrant atmosphere, thanks to the presence of Arizona State University—the nation’s most populous campus. This influx of academia ushers in a youthful spirit that pervades local culture. As you explore, you’ll find a plethora of eateries and boutiques scattered throughout the city, all pulsating with the energy of its collegiate heart.

Local Attractions:

  • Arizona State University’s sprawling campus
  • An array of shops and restaurants
  • Sporting venues hosting exhilarating college games

Evening Entertainment:

  • Numerous bars offering a spirited nightlife
  • Varied events including conferences and shows

Tempe’s appeal extends beyond its academic boundary. Its charm is enhanced by a burgeoning hub of research-driven industries and a celebrated culinary landscape that awaits your palate. If your journey brings you here, delve into an evening of electrifying atmosphere or savor the flavors at a vibrant food fest.

Beautiful Sunset Scenery of Sedona, Arizona

Surrounded by red sandstone formations like the iconic Cathedral Rock, Sedona offers a visual feast that beckons outdoor enthusiasts. Here are ways to immerse yourself:

  • Hiking : With trails winding through awe-inspiring landscapes, every step promises new discoveries.
  • Mountain Biking : Ride the rugged terrain and feel the thrill amidst Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte .
  • Spiritual Well-being : Seek serenity in the New Age atmosphere that pervades the city; countless come in search of spiritual awakening.
  • Arts and Gastronomy : Punctuate your adventures with visits to exquisite art galleries and sample the culinary delights of local eateries.

Despite its popularity in summer, your visit will be rewarded with an eclectic mix of activities and tranquil moments. As you navigate the vibrant streets lined with spas and shops offering alternative remedies, Sedona’s allure reveals itself, offering an experience far beyond the ordinary.

4. Flagstaff

San Francisco Peaks with Snow, Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff rests peacefully under the scrutiny of the towering San Francisco Peaks, a haven nestled along the iconic Route 66. As you stroll through the heart of town, the legacy of its railroad hub days is palpable through historic structures that now house cozy cafés and bustling bars—a nod to the vibrant university crowd.

Enveloped by pristine nature, your adventurous spirit can be satiated with pursuits such as skiing, mountain biking, and trekking up Mount Elden. Here, one finds an exquisite blend of alpine recreation and cultural landmarks. Discover why this college town, not far from the wonders of the Grand Canyon , is a must-visit spot in Arizona, offering a tapestry weaved with the threads of nature, history, and modern vibrancy.

See Related: Alternatives & Places Similar to Grand Canyon National Park

Tucson Arizona

Tucson, Arizona’s second most populous city, offers a vibrant cultural fusion, evident in its exceptional dining, historical districts, and museums.

Whether exploring quirky boutiques, frequenting lively taverns, or immersed in the bustling nightlife, the city’s energy is partly credited to the vast number of students from the University of Arizona.

Beyond urban charms, outdoor adventures await with Saguaro National Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, highlights among the many natural wonders encircling Tucson.

2. Scottsdale

Aerial view from above Scottsdale looking SW towards Camelback Mountain and downtown Phoenix, Arizona

As you wander through Scottsdale, you’re embraced by the aura of luxury that mirrors an oasis reminiscent of the upscale Beverly Hills. This slice of the Phoenix Metropolitan embraces indulgence, showcasing an abundance of high-end resorts, gourmet dining spots, and a nightlife that rivals the most trendy spots.

  • Resorts and Hotels: Experience opulence with various high-end accommodations.
  • Dining: A wide range of upscale culinary delights await your palate.
  • Nightlife: Trendy bars and vibrant nightlife beckon.

Discover artistic expressions at numerous galleries and museums, or step back in time in the Old Town, a tribute to its Wild West heritage.

  • Art Galleries: Explore local and international artistry.
  • Museums: Immerse yourself in the rich narratives of the West.

Retail therapy is at its peak, with one of the largest malls inviting you to splurge, set against a backdrop of the city’s historical and contemporary charm.

  • Shopping: Indulge in retail luxuries at expansive malls and boutique shops.
  • Old Town: Authentic crafts and themed eateries providing a taste of the cowboy life.

Embark on a journey through a city where the upscale modernity and spirited history create an unforgettable visit.

1. Phoenix: Arizona’s Urban Oasis

Phoenix, Arizona, USA Downtown Skyline Aerial

Nestled in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix beckons with its perpetual warmth and sun-drenched days. This desert jewel is not just Arizona’s capital but is its pulse, teeming with a vibrant cultural landscape and flanked by spectacular desert vistas.

  • Cultural Hotspots : Immerse yourself in the city’s artistic flair at the Phoenix Art Museum or marvel at globally-sourced melodies in the Musical Instruments Museum—the world’s largest of its kind.
  • Athletic Thrills : Root for the home team among the city’s avid sports enthusiasts or swing into action on one of the 200+ pristine golf courses.
  • Desert Adventures : Surrounding you, the natural splendor of arid landscapes beckons for exploration, be it hiking or mountain biking.
  • Culinary Delights : As night falls, savor the zesty flavors of authentic Mexican cuisine and dive into Phoenix’s dynamic nightlife.

In Phoenix, every corner offers a testament to its lively spirit and the rich tapestry it weaves in the vast Southwestern stage.

Related Resources:

  • Does It Snow in Arizona? Exploring the Winter Climate in the Desert
  • Best Places to Visit in Arizona
  • Do You Really Need a Car in San Antonio? A Comprehensive Guide to Transportation Options

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Does Arizona have any beaches? Here are 14 of the best sandy spots for summer fun

Arizona has just about everything.

We’re a desert state for sure but we’re also rangy with mountains, some so high they’re crowned by alpine tundra. We’re covered with forests, including the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest. We’ve got rolling hills, grassy plains and colorful badlands. And the state is slashed by canyons — even a famous one or two.

Of course, it’s true we don’t have an ocean. But just because we lack that ultimate body of water doesn’t mean we’re short of beaches. Arizona contains scenic and surprising beachfront property. That’s always an enticing getaway with summer approaching.

So grab a towel, a sand pail and sunscreen, and hit the road for Arizona's best beaches. 

You can swim here too: Everything you can do at Arizona's newest state park, Rockin' River Ranch

Lake Powell

With hundreds of miles of shoreline, Lake Powell harbors countless remote beaches amid a colorful labyrinth of canyons. There are even a few beaches that don’t require a boat.

Wahweap Beach sits just south of the Stateline launch ramp. Services at Wahweap Marina include lodging, restaurants, campgrounds and boat rentals. Guided boat tours of the lake have been discontinued during the pandemic.

Details:  A Glen Canyon National Recreation Area pass is required; $30 per vehicle, good for seven days: nps.gov/glca . Wahweap Marina: 888-896-3829, lakepowell.com . 

The Chains is a day-use beach in Page that can be accessed from U.S. 89 just east of the bridge over Glen Canyon Dam. A dirt road leads to a parking area that sits above the lake, so some scrambling is required. The beach is mostly sandstone. Of course, how accessible it is depends on the water level in the lake.

Details:  Free. 928-608-6200, nps.gov/glca .

Patagonia Lake State Park

Tucked away amid the rolling hills of southern Arizona, Patagonia Lake State Park is a shimmering oasis in the high desert. And since water is scarce around these parts, the 265-acre reservoir draws summer visitors from all across southern Arizona and northern Mexico looking to cool off.

There’s a roped-off swim area at Boulder Beach, a modest plot of sand. But swimming is allowed in any part of the lake except boat launch areas. Boating, water skiing and fishing are also popular activities. To avoid overcrowding, the park may experience temporary day-use closures.

Details:  400 Patagonia Lake Road, south of Patagonia. $15 per vehicle Mondays-Fridays, $20 per vehicle Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. 520-287-6965, azstateparks.com/patagonia-lake .

Buckskin Mountain State Park

Four state parks cling to the edge of the Colorado River between Parker and Lake Havasu City, accessed from State Route 95. Buckskin Mountain straddles a picturesque section of river, a beautiful combination of stony mountains and sparkling water.

A slender beach fringes most of the shoreline and swimming is permitted. But as is the case at virtually all Arizona beaches, no lifeguard is on duty. Swim at your own risk and keep a vigilant eye on children. Overnighters can enjoy a shady campground, cabana sites and hiking trails.

Details: 5476 SR 95, Parker. $10 per vehicle. 928-667-3231, azstateparks.com/buckskin .

River Island State Park

Nearby River Island State Park nestles in a sloping bowl at the base of stark mountains that rise from the riverbank. An intimate beach sits next to the boat ramp and just beyond the campground with a grassy lawn that’s perfect for tents. Sprawling mesquite trees offer a dollop of shade at the edge of the beach. The short but scenic Wedge Hill Trail climbs the rocky slopes above for staggering views. 

Details: 5200 SR 95, Parker. $10 per vehicle. 928-667-3386, azstateparks.com/river-island .

Cattail Cove State Park

Hugging the southern edge of Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove State Park protects a long piece of scenic shoreline. Swimming is allowed in the roped-off area adjacent to the beach. There are also some small, secluded beaches for those willing to take a short hike downstream and even a dog beach just south of the boat ramp. Other trails ramble across gaunt desert hills. The campground includes RV and tent sites as well as boat-in sites.

Details:  15 miles south of Lake Havasu City on SR 95. $10 per vehicle Mondays-Thursdays, $15 per vehicle Fridays-Sundays and holidays. 928-855-1223, azstateparks.com/cattail-cove .

Lake Havasu State Park

At nearly 11,000 acres, Lake Havasu is by far the largest of western Arizona's parks . And right in the heart of Lake Havasu City, just upstream from London Bridge, it’s also the busiest.

Windsor Beach, a long stretch of white sand, is the main attraction. There’s a day use picnic area at the beach. The park has campsites for RVs and tents as well as air-conditioned rental cabins. Boat and jet ski rentals are available from the park concessionaire, Wet Monkey Powersport Rentals (928-855-2022, wetmonkeyrentals.com ). To avoid overcrowding, the park may implement occasional day-use closures.

Details: 699 London Bridge Road, Lake Havasu City. $15 per vehicle Mondays-Thursdays, $20 per vehicle Fridays-Sundays and holidays. 928-855-2784, azstateparks.com/lake-havasu .

Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu City also has free public beaches . Rotary Beach is a 40-acre park with picnic areas, barbecue grills, multiple play areas, a skate park and designated swim area. Its location inside the 5 mph no-wake zone of Thompson Bay makes for calm waters.

London Bridge Beach may be Arizona’s most oceanlike beach with its swaying palm trees and seagull wings flashing white in the sun. It’s on Bridgewater Channel, a spit of sand fronting the water with a view of the famous bridge.

But it also spreads out along the edge of the sparkling lake and includes playgrounds, picnic areas, a walking path, a grassy park with big shade trees, volleyball courts and an enclosed dog park. A wide swath of sand surrounds the palms and a designated swim area. With small waves lapping the shore and gulls crying overhead, it’s easy to forget you never left the state.

Details:  golakehavasu.com .

Yuma has done an amazing job cleaning up and revamping its waterfront in an effort to reconnect to the Colorado River. Gateway Park was part of that development.

Sitting at the end of Madison Avenue, the park has picnic ramadas, a grassy area, playground, fishing piers and a sandy beach with a gradual entry into the water. Located under the Ocean to Ocean Bridge, the span provides a swath of welcome shade.

Just downriver from Gateway, the West Wetlands features two popular beaches. Centennial Beach was established in 2014 with sand dredged from the Colorado River. Playa Linda opened in 2018. What once was the city dump is now a sandy expanse with an accessible ramp, seating wall and grassy area.

Trails lead along the river through heavy woods and a canopy of cooling shade. Above the beaches are a small lake, picnic ramadas and restrooms. Yuma River Tubing offers one-hour float trips between the East and West Wetlands for $15. 928-750-0247, yumarivertubing.com .

Details:   yumaaz.gov/parks-and-recreation .

Roper Lake State Park

Popular with anglers, Roper Lake State Park also has 5 miles of trails, cabins, a campground and a picnic area. Sitting just south of Safford, visitors enjoy views of mighty Mount Graham while fishing the 30-acre lake for largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie and bluegill. There’s a small swimming beach. Sadly, the natural stone hot tub bubbling with mineral spring water has been permanently closed.

Details: 101 E. Roper Lake Road, Safford. $10 per vehicle. 928-428-6760, azstateparks.com/roper-lake .

Meet Roger Naylor

You have two chances to meet Roger Naylor, author and longtime Arizona Republic contributor, on Saturday, June 8.

First, he'll give a presentation on his book "Arizona’s Scenic Roads and Hikes" at 10 a.m. at the Chandler Downtown Library. This is a great opportunity to plan your summer getaways. Also on hand will be the owner of d’Vine Gourmet to discuss local foods and offer yummy samples. The event is free.

Details: 22 Delaware St., Chandler. Free. 480-782-2800,  chandlerlibrary.org .

Later Saturday, Naylor will be at the White Mountain Nature Center in Pinetop-Lakeside at 6 p.m. to give a presentation on his book "Awesome Arizona: 200 Amazing Facts About the Grand Canyon State."

Details: 425 N. Woodland Road, Pinetop-Lakeside. Free for members; $10 donation requested for nonmembers. 928-358-3069,  www.wmnature.org .

Find the reporter at www.rogernaylor.com . Or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RogerNaylorinAZ or Twitter @AZRogerNaylor.

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Where to Stay in Phoenix in 2024: Best Neighborhoods and Hotels

Jessica Nemire Last Updated: May 22, 2024

DId you know that Phoenix, Arizona is geographically bigger than Los Angeles? Because Phoenix is spread out and quite large, this might make it daunting to figure out where to stay when you visit. This article will break it down for you and help you select the hotel that’s best for you and your trip!

Pro Tip : Looking for activities around Phoenix, Arizona? Check out our list of tours in the area for some great ideas and jaw-dropping scenery!

The Best Hotels in Phoenix At A Glance

  • Best 5-Star: JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa
  • Best 4-Star: Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
  • Best for Families: The Westin Tempe
  • Best Affordable: FOUND RE Phoenix Hotel

Where To Stay In Phoenix, Arizona

Traveling to warm and sunny Phoenix, Arizona? We’ll help you plan your trip! Please note that Phoenix itself is pretty spread out, as we said. Despite this, the hotels are generally in the same couple of areas. Therefore, in this list we included hotels in nearby Tempe and Scottsdale as well. Both of these cities are around a 20-minute drive from Phoenix. Read below for our picks on where to stay on your Arizona trip.

Best areas:

Biltmore District

  • Downtown Phoenix

best travel places in arizona

Map thanks to Google

If you’re into upscale shopping and classy restaurants, you’ll want to stay in Biltmore! For starters, this area is definitely one of the trendiest in Phoenix. This neighborhood is home to some of the nicest hotels in Phoenix, such as the Arizona Biltmore. What’s more, Biltmore is located close to many fun attractions, such as Biltmore Fashion Park and the beautiful Camelback Mountain, which is good for hiking. Other nearby activities include Wrigley Mansion, the timeless mansion built in 1931 by William Wrigley Jr. as an anniversary present for his wife, and the iconic magic show, Carnival of Illusion. What’s more, the Biltmore area is around 10 minutes from the airport by car, making it a convenient place to stay. Read on for our favorite places to stay and eat in the Biltmore district.

Best Restaurants Near the Biltmore District:

  • Postino Central – Italian cuisine | outdoor patio | great happy hour 
  • The Collins Small Batch Kitchen – contemporary American food | friendly staff | inviting ambiance
  • FLINT by Baltaire– Mediterranean | craft cocktails | elegant

Top Attractions Near the Biltmore District:

  • Tierra Luna Spa (inside the Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria Resort)
  • Hike up Camelback Mountain for stunning sunset views
  • Carnival of Illusion (also inside the Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria Resort)
  • Browse high-end shops at Biltmore Fashion Park
  • Visit Wrigley Mansion

Best Hotels Near the Biltmore District:

Arizona biltmore, a waldorf astoria resort.

best travel places in arizona

$$$ | 4 Star | Amazing Amenities | Historic | Desert Oasis

The Arizona Biltmore Hotel opened in 1929 and has had some famous guests, such as Frank Sinatra. You still never know who you might see while staying here! Set in a lush desert oasis, this hotel will literally make you feel like royalty because of its stunning architecture and top-notch amenities. We’re talking a luxury spa, two golf courses and 8 different pools – one of which has a water slide. There’s also a magic show, the Carnival of Illusion, with showings inside the resort.

Location, photos, and booking

AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Biltmore

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 3 Star | Free Parking | Modern + Spacious Rooms

The AC Hotel by Marriott boasts a modern interior design, both in the rooms and in the rest of the hotel. The rooms are spacious as well, with comfortable beds. In addition, the hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, which guests say is very nice and kept clean. If you are in Phoenix with a car, this hotel has free parking, which is great! No car? No problem. The AC Hotel by Marriott is conveniently located to attractions such as the iconic Wrigley Museum. When you’re staying at this hotel, it isn’t hard to get around the area with rideshare services, or even on foot.

Hampton Inn Phoenix-Biltmore

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 3 Star | Modern + Clean | Fantastic Location + Price

The Hampton Inn Phoenix-Biltmore boasts modern, clean rooms, comfortable beds, and a great location! It’s close enough to stores and restaurants that you can walk. The rooms are large as well, which is great if you’re traveling with kids. In addition, all of the rooms include a microwave, a refrigerator and a coffee maker. These are great features to have if you’re with children as well, of course. There’s also a pool and hot tub on-site, and the reception area and fitness center are both open 24/7! Guests love this hotel for the location as well as the affordability and the friendly, helpful staff.

Pro Tip: Once you decide where to stay in Phoenix, make sure to book one of our scenic tours from Phoenix! We provide transportation to and from your hotel as well as take care of any necessary reservations and planning for the day! 

Downtown Phoenix 

best travel places in arizona

Downtown Phoenix is the heart of the city, and full of many different activities. There’s truly something for everyone to do here. Everything from upscale shopping to educational museums can be found in this district, as well as many bars and restaurants. Art enthusiasts will love Roosevelt Row, which is the arts district in Downtown Phoenix. If you’re there on the first Friday of the month, make sure to check out their art walk!

Best Restaurants Near Downtown Phoenix:

  • CIBO – Italian | Cute Atmosphere | Date night 
  • The Farish House – Mediterranean and French Fusion | Patio and bar | Elegant vibe 
  • Restaurant Progress – Small plates | Stylish American cuisine | Cocktails
  • The Compass –  Rotating Restaurant | New American cuisine | Panoramic View of Phoenix

Top Attractions Near Downtown Phoenix:

  • Roosevelt Row
  • Chase Field – home of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team
  •  Phoenix Art Museum
  •  Arizona Science Center

Best Hotels Near Downtown Phoenix:

Hyatt regency phoenix  .

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 4 Star | Rotating Restaurant On-site | Good for Business Trips

The Hyatt Regency Phoenix   is located less than a minute from the Phoenix Convention Center. Because of this, it’s a great place to stay if you’re in Arizona on business. What’s more, the Hyatt Regency Phoenix features flat-screen TVs in all the rooms. Also, there’s also a pool and hot tub on-site, which are both perfect for relaxing after a long day. In addition, this 4 star hotel features The Compass, a rotating restaurant! If you haven’t eaten at a rotating restaurant before, we definitely recommend it!

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 4 Star | Speakeasy On-Site | Clean and Comfortable 

The Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel features an outdoor rooftop pool, which we love, especially for hot Arizona days! In addition, there’s an on-site speakeasy open on weekends that guests love. How cool is that? As far as the rooms, they are clean with comfortable beds. Each room features a work desk as well in case you need to be productive while you’re in Phoenix.

FOUND Re Phoenix Hotel

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 3 Star | Art Museum On-Site | Big Rooms and Great Location 

Located right next to the beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, this quirky hotel boasts spacious rooms and comfortable beds. The interior decor is hip and fun. What’s more, they have a bar and restaurant with great cocktail options. There’s also an art gallery on-site as well, which is an awesome amenity we don’t see very often. In addition, this hotel boasts an outdoor pool that’s open year-round. Like we said, Phoenix is sunny year-round, so that works out well.

best travel places in arizona

Located around 20 minutes from Phoenix proper, Tempe is a vibrant city known for its plethora of activities. If you like outdoor excursions, Tempe is a great place to stay while you’re visiting Arizona! This is because of its proximity to Butte Mountain and Tempe Town Lake. Keep in mind that Tempe is a college town. This is because there is an Arizona State University Campus there. This makes Tempe a great place to visit for groups of friends or younger couples. The most popular area of Tempe is Mill Avenue, a lively hotspot for dining and shopping. Below you’ll find our recommendations for Tempe!

Best Restaurants Near Tempe:

  • RigaTony’s Authentic Italian Restaurant  – Italian cuisine | family friendly | old school decor
  • Perfect Pear Bistro – contemporary American food | Cute Ambiance | Reasonably Priced
  • Casa Reynoso – Mexican Cuisine | Reasonably Priced | Casual Dining
  • Culinary Dropout – British-style Gastropub | Vibrant Atmosphere | Quirky Decor

Top Attractions Near Tempe:

  • Hike Tempe Butte 
  • Catch a sunset at Tempe Town Lake
  • Visit the highly rated Tempe History Museum
  • Shop and eat on the lively Mill Avenue

Best Hotels in Tempe:

Tempe mission palms – destination by hyatt.

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 4 Star | Stunning Design | Free On-Site Parking | Saltwater Pool With Cabanas 

This beautifully designed hotel boasts an on-site saltwater pool with cabanas you can relax in.What’s more, Tempe Mission Palms is also conveniently located next to a light rail station. Therefore, you can move around the city easily without a car. However, if you do have access to a car, there’s free parking on-site! The hotel is also around a seven-minute drive away from attractions such as the Rolling Hills Golf Course and the Phoenix Zoo. 

Canopy by Hilton

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 4 Star | Rooftop Pool | Free Bikes | Central Location

Centrally located near Mill Avenue, this modern hotel features a rooftop pool with a stunning view! In addition, the hotel provides free bikes that guests can use to explore the surrounding areas. We love that! Guests reported that this hotel is walking distance from many restaurants, and that the rooms feature comfy beds and spacious showers. Can’t go wrong there!

The Westin Tempe

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 4 Star | Rooftop Pool | Great for Families | Clean and Comfy Rooms

The Westin Tempe features a rooftop pool and a modern aesthetic. What’s more, guests love the clean, comfortable rooms. In addition, some of the rooms boast a great view of the city. This hotel is a good pick for families, and is conveniently located near Mill Avenue and its many restaurants and stores.

best travel places in arizona

Located around a 20 minute drive from Phoenix proper, Scottsdale has an upscale vibe and is filled with great places to stay. The most popular area of Scottsdale is Old Town, also known as Downtown Scottsdale. This walkable district is a hotspot for nightlife, shopping and restaurants. What’s more, also a great place to check out museums and art. Arizona is also considered a top wellness destination, and Scottsdale is no exception. Therefore, make sure to treat yourself to a spa when you visit. Old Town Scottsdale is considered to be historic, since it’s where settlement and development began in Scottsdale back in the late 1800s. Winfield Scott, a U.S. Army general, purchased over 600 acres of land to develop. While he was building up the area, he also planted two olive trees for unknown reasons. The acres he purchased are now known as modern day Old Town, and the olive trees are still standing today. How cool is that! Check out our picks for the best places to stay in Scottsdale as well as ideas for what to do on your trip!

Best Restaurants in Scottsdale:

  • Los Olivos Mexican Patio – Family Owned | Named after the historic olive trees | Casual Vibe
  • Roaring Fork – American cuisine | Old West vibe | Great Happy Hour 
  • Isabella’s Kitchen – Italian Cuisine | Sunset Views | Family Friendly
  • Cafe Monarch  – Fine Dining | Prix-fixe New American cuisine | Great for celebrations

Top Attractions in Scottsdale:

  • Scottsdale Fashion Square -the largest indoor mall in Arizona, featuring more than 200 brand name stores 
  • Scottsdale Arts District Art Walk – Free to the public every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. along Main Street! 
  • Scottsdale Historical Museum – Housed in the Little Red Schoolhouse, which was built in 1909), this museum displays photos and artifacts telling Scottsdale’s history
  • The OdySea Aquarium – great for kids 
  • Check out one of Scottsdale’s iconic spas – we like Inspire Day Spa

Best Hotels in Scottdale:

Jw marriott scottsdale camelback inn resort & spa.

best travel places in arizona

$$$ | 5 Star | Villas | Amazing Amenities

This scenic resort is located about a mile away from the beautiful Camelback Mountain. Therefore, there are excellent mountain views from the hotel. Instead of standard hotel rooms rooms, this five star hotel provides villas for ultimate comfort. What’s more, the resort boasts a luxurious on-site spa, as well as 5 restaurants. They provide awesome amenities, like free bikes to explore the gorgeous mountainous area. There is also a terrace just so you can make sure to really take in all the views!

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows – A Concept by Hyatt

best travel places in arizona

$$$ | 4 Star | Bungalows and More | Secluded Getaway

This beautiful property features three pools and is perfect for a secluded, peaceful getaway. This 4 star hotel provides both standard rooms as well as bungalows, which are spacious and comfortable. Additionally, the staff also goes above and beyond to assist the guests, making this a wonderful place to stay. We recommend Andaz for a celebration, such as a honeymoon.

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

best travel places in arizona

$$$ | 4 Star | Rooftop Pool | Stunning Hotel l Spa On-Site

With several pools and amazing views, this visually stunningresort is a great spot for a couples’ getaway. In addition, they feature a spa called Joya. The rooms have a charming, rustic vibe and walk-in showers. In addition, every room features a balcony so you can better appreciate the gorgeous surroundings. There’s a private bathroom and a desk in each room as well. This resort is located around a mile from Camelback Mountain and 5.6 mi from Old Town Scottsdale. so it’s conveniently located.

Bespoke Inn Scottsdale

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 4 Star | Free Parking | Boutique Hotel | Secluded Getaway

This quaint inn offers free parking and features a beautiful courtyard. It’s perfect for couples, and is conveniently located within walking distance of Old Town Scottsdale. Despite this, it’s still a bit tucked away from the action, so you can enjoy a peaceful stay. The rooms are clean, and they all come with an electric tea pot. To beat the Arizona heat, you can hang out in the inn’s lovely pool on-site. What’s more, there’s free parking, which. is extra convenient.

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale

best travel places in arizona

$$ | 4 Star | Stunning Views | Modern Vibe | Great Amenities

With stunning views of Camelback Mountain, this hotel features two pools! In addition, there is a restaurant and a golf course on-site if you have golfers in your group. Most of the rooms feature a balcony, and the staff here are very attentive. There’s a bar on-site as well, with live music on the weekends. We love staying here.

L’Auberge De Sedona

About Jessica Nemire

Jessica Nemire has been writing about about travel since 2011. She graduated from San Francisco State University in 2016 with a BA in journalism. She loves the ocean, Mission District burritos, and amazing sunsets.

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Arizona cities ranked low on best places to live ranking. Here's why

best travel places in arizona

Arizona cities didn't rank high on a recent list of the best United States cities to live in, according to an analysis by U.S. News and World Reports.

For its annual Best Places to Live ranking, U.S. News evaluates quality of life across 150 major cities and ranks them from the best to the worst places to live. In this year's list, Phoenix and Tucson both barely made it to the top half, situated between cities such as Columbus, Indianapolis and Anchorage.

Although both Arizona cities scored 6.3 out of 10, Tucson led Phoenix by four slots on the list, likely because the southern Arizona city obtained better scores on the quality of life and value categories. The poor attainment of both cities on the list is also a reflection of Arizona's low position on another U.S. News ranking of the best states in America.

Other categories evaluated in the ranking were desirability and job market, for a total of four categories in which the quality of life and value indexes were weighted most heavily based on a survey on the factors that were most significant to people. Cities were evaluated using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor, crime statistics from the FBI and U.S. News' internal resources. 

Here's how Arizona cities performed on the ranking as well as a rundown of the places that made it to the top of the list.

Money buys happiness? This Arizona city was ranked one of the happiest in the US

Top 10 places to live in the U.S.

These are the 10 cities named the best places to live in the nation by U.S. News and World Reports, along with the overall score they obtained.

  • Naples, Florida: 7.1
  • Boise, Idaho: 7.0
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado: 7.0
  • Greenville, South Carolina: 6.9
  • Charlotte, North Carolina: 6.8
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: 6.8
  • Huntsville, Alabama: 6.8
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia: 6.8
  • Austin, Texas: 6.8
  • Boulder, Colorado: 6.7

Where did Tucson fall among best places to live in the U.S.?

A sprawling metro in southern Arizona, Tucson has constantly transformed over the years while maintaining its strong identity and roots. According to U.S. News, Tucson's rapid growth has drawn new residents seeking beautiful scenery and a low cost of living

Among the best places to live in the nation, Tucson ranks 63rd , according to U.S. News.

Tucson ranked particularly well in the value category, where it obtained a score of 7. The cost of living in Tucson is considered mostly reasonable, although it has increased in recent years.

The median price for a home in Tucson is about $335,000, just below the national median. New housing developments springing up in suburban areas have helped keep housing costs down, according to U.S. News. However, Tucson residents also tend to earn less than the average American.

Tucson also scored a 6.7 in the quality of life category. Tucson has a wide range of activities to do, from hiking and winter skiing to art galleries and museums. And don't forget the authentic Sonoran-Mexican style restaurants that boost the city's gastronomic scenery.

More: These 2 Arizona cities grew even more than metro Phoenix last year

Where did Phoenix fall among the best places to live in the U.S.?

The Phoenix area sprawls more than 2,000 square miles between desert mountains, which is why it is nicknamed the Valley of the Sun. According to U.S. News, Phoenix has a lot to offer, including a thriving economy, a relatively low cost of living and many things to do around the Valley.

Phoenix ranked 67th among the best places to live , according to U.S. News.

Among the study categories, Phoenix scored best for the job market. As the fifth-largest city in the nation , Phoenix offers plenty of work opportunities, with tourism and technology among the city's top industries.

Although Arizona's capital did not perform as well in the other categories, Phoenix still obtained a score of 6.4 for value, which is better than the majority of cities on the list. According to U.S. news, living in Phoenix is considered somewhat affordable in comparison with metro areas like  San Francisco  or  New York City .

However, the average annual salary in Phoenix falls slightly below the national average and the cost of housing is well above the national median. The median home price in Phoenix is about $342,000, while the national median sits at about $282,000.

Phoenix also obtained a score of 6.3 in the quality of life category. Outdoor and indoor activities around the Valley are practically endless, with hiking trails, natural parks, lakes, gardens, museums, galleries, malls, movie theaters, entertainment shops, sports events and music venues extending across greater Phoenix. However, Phoenix's harsh summers may impact some outdoor activities.

Laura Daniella Sepulveda is a trending reporter for the Arizona Republic. Reach her on Twitter at @lauradaniella_s or by email at [email protected].

SMOKUS POCUS: The World’s Dopest Magic Show Appears In PHOENIX

  • Admission $30+
  • Time 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM

SMOKUS POCUS: The World’s Dopest Magic Show Appears In PHOENIX

  • Location Third Street Theater
  • 1202 North 3rd Street
  • Phoenix, Arizona 85004
  • 203-998-1117
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9 Best Places to Live in the Western U.S., According to Real Estate Experts

In these stunning locations throughout the Western U.S., residents can enjoy endless outdoor recreation, urban amenities, and a high standard of living.

best travel places in arizona

DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

14 states and territories comprise the West Census Region — and life in all of them comes with some serious perks. Proximity to many of the country’s most beautiful natural sites is pretty much a given, as the region is home to an overwhelming majority of the U.S. national parks (40 out of 63). The variety of landscapes, geological wonders, and natural sites is awe-inspiring, with snow-capped peaks, deserts, rainforests, and thousands of miles of beaches.

At the same time, the region also offers plenty of economic opportunities that draw professionals from all industries and educational backgrounds. Utah, for example, was just named the best state to start a business with the largest employment growth in the country.

These are the best places to live in the Western U.S., according to real estate experts.

Sacramento, California

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"Sacramento isn't just a place to live, it's a place where people feel they belong," Pat Shea, a longtime Sacramento resident and president and CEO of Lyon Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International , said, adding that California's capital offers the perfect blend of city energy and small-town charm. With excellent schools, many parks and green spaces, and a dining scene that's getting national recognition , Sacramento is a family-friendly, culturally rich city that attracts residents with its affordability. According to Zillow, the median home value here is $483,455, compared to $783,666 for California as a whole.

Shea explained that seven counties comprise the greater Sacramento region, and each offers something unique. "East Sacramento's 'Fabulous Forties' beckons with its picturesque tree-lined streets and historic homes. Land Park, with its lush green spaces and close proximity to the Sacramento Zoo, provides a serene retreat within the heart of the city. Midtown Sacramento pulsates with energy, boasting trendy restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and a thriving arts scene," he added.

Portland, Oregon

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Access to abundant outdoor recreation, a thriving beer scene , and a stunning natural setting have made Portland one of the best places to live in Oregon . Real estate prices have cooled off since the pandemic, and the current median home value is $539,524, about $150,000 less than it was in June 2022. And Aimee Virnig, an agent at Windermere Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International , said this is great news for people looking to relocate here, as the market is less competitive than it was two years ago.

"My advice to prospective homebuyers is to come to Portland and visit. Make sure you are prepared for those four seasons. If you are used to sunshine, our winters might be surprising," Virnig added. "The more you educate yourself, the more likely you will be able to make a competitive offer when the perfect property becomes available."

Salt Lake City, Utah

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Utah is known as one of the most family-friendly states in the nation, and Salt Lake City is an excellent example of that, with endless outdoor recreational activities, low crime rates, and a school system that ranks among the best in the country .

The city is also known for its bustling tech and healthcare industries fueling the area's economic growth, which in turn attracts highly educated professionals.

"Salt Lake City, in general, is a culmination of new and old townships. It's peppered with hidden gems of pocket neighborhoods that have stood for over a century, such as The Avenues, Harvard and Yale, and Sugarhouse," Tim Jones, a broker with Windermere Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International , explained. "By contrast, heading southwest of downtown Salt Lake City, the areas of Riverton, South Jordan, and Daybreak have all seen an eruption of new construction."

Jones also added that now is a good time to invest here since many potential buyers are waiting for interest rates to drop and competition is low.

Boise, Idaho

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Boise's population grew during the pandemic — it was the fifth fastest-growing city in the U.S. in 2022 — driven by lower cost of living and access to the outdoors. The city, which is the largest in Idaho, offers many urban conveniences but has a much slower pace than other metropolitan areas. It is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with over 90 parks and hundreds of trekking miles, and it's home to a vibrant cultural scene with many annual festivals, museums, and public art.

Nicolette Kimmel, a broker with Windermere Real Estate, explained that Boise's North End neighborhood is an all-time favorite among buyers for its craftsman bungalows, Tudor-style buildings, and Victorian-inspired homes. Currently, the median home value in the city stands at $484,000.

Vancouver, Washington

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Across the Columbia River from Portland lies the city of Vancouver, home to 195,000 residents who live a classic Northwestern lifestyle — think access to stunning natural scenery, many opportunities for outdoor recreation and water sports, lots of restaurants and coffee shops, and a thriving art and culture scene. As a no-income-tax state, Washington offers a financial incentive for young families and professionals to make it their permanent home.

"Vancouver has a strong, growing economy with a mix of industries, such as technology, healthcare, and education. The cost of living is four percent lower than the rest of Washington State, and [that] combined with low unemployment is appealing to most buyers," Judy Matz, a broker with John L. Scott Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International , explained. She added that this has led to an explosion of new developments in the area as the county rapidly expands and median home prices hover around the $500,000 mark.

Reno, Nevada

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What makes Reno one of the fastest-growing places in the nation ? According to agent Nicolle Gust, at Chase International Real Estate , it's affordable and offers a lower cost of living compared to other urban areas on the West Coast.

"This makes it an ideal destination for families, young professionals, and retirees looking to enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank," Gust said. But that's not nearly all. As Nevada's fourth-largest city, Reno has a thriving arts scene and is surrounded by beautiful landscapes with easy access to Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and several national parks.

And new buyers have plenty of neighborhoods to choose from. Old Southwest, with its idyllic tree-lined streets and charming homes, has plenty of character, while Somersett, on the western edge of Reno, is a master-planned community with modern, resort-like amenities.

San Jose, California

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"San Jose is a phenomenal location, situated in the heart of the Silicon Valley. You have access to so many amenities, including hiking trails, [and you can take] a short drive to the coast, head up the peninsula to San Francisco, or make your way to Lake Tahoe in a few hours," Jordan Mott, an agent at Intero Real Estate Services/Luxury Portfolio International , said.

The "capital of Silicon Valley" recently ranked fourth nationwide for quality of life and was in the top 15 cities to live in America according to U.S. News, thanks to its strong employment market and high standard of living.

However, newcomers should be ready to pay a hefty price for all of that. Housing prices are well over the one million mark (currently around $1,461,923), and the cost of living is 25 percent higher than the state's average — and a whopping 75 percent higher than the rest of the country.

Boulder, Colorado

"I personally moved here as an age-group triathlete, drawn to Boulder's fantastic outdoor training opportunities, and quickly got hooked! That was almost 30 years ago," Phil Booth, a broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate/Luxury Portfolio International , shared with Travel + Leisure.

Set against the Rocky Mountains, the city is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts. But it's also home to a top-notch university, a thriving artist community, and a hub for tech industries. Booth explained that the city's real estate market has evolved over the last decade into one of the hottest in the nation.

"Taste-wise, there is something for everyone. Whether it be accessible mountain living, classic historical neighborhoods, contemporary architectural beauties, or small-acreage equestrian properties, you get to choose the type of 'Boulderite' you want to be," he added.

Phoenix, Arizona

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Phoenix's population has increased by four percent on average since 2020, adding nearly 200,000 new residents. The city's lower cost of living, warm and sunny year-round weather, robust job market, and proximity to national parks and outdoor recreation are all factors for this impressive growth.

Shane Edic, an agent at Long Realty Elevate/Luxury Portfolio International , said that the West Valley, a region within the Phoenix metro area, is experiencing a significant upsurge "fueled by the burgeoning industrial developments along the 303 corridor." 

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