Best-places-to-visit-arizona-Grand-Canyon-coco-tran-2

15 Incredible Best Places to Visit in Arizona

Save To Read Later:

What are the best places to visit in Arizona? From the world wonder of the Grand Canyon to otherworldly landscapes like Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon to vibrant desert oases and ghost towns straight from the old west, Arizona truly has it all for travelers seeking stunning vistas and adventures.

This comprehensive guide covers 15 of the top sights and cities that need to be on your Arizona bucket list, from iconic national parks to underrated hidden gems like meteor crater and the lava tube caves.

Beyond being dazzled by the towering buttes of Monument Valley and saguaro-speckled scenes in Tucson though, this piece also highlights quirky small towns steeped in mining and cowboy history now turned funky artist communities and wine country. Fancy some gun slinging tales from the O.K. Corral or a burro crossing? It’s all here.

15 Incredible Best Places to Visit in Arizona

Intrigued to start crafting your perfect Arizona road trip but not sure where to begin amongst the overwhelming amount of possibilities? Continue reading below for everything you need to know to experience the very best places in the Grand Canyon State!

No time to read all the details? Here’s a quick highlight of some of the most amazing sights in Arizona that you need to experience:

  • Marvel at the immensity of the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world. Hike down into the canyon for astounding views.
  • Stand in awe at the absolutely picture-perfect Horseshoe Bend. This famous bend in the Colorado River draws visitors from all around to take in the view.
  • Nab a permit to visit stunning Havasu Falls with its magical blue-green waters set amid vibrant red canyon walls.
  • Take an incredible southwest USA road trip stopping at places like Monument Valley’s iconic landscapes and chilling at hip Sedona with its awesome red rocks.
  • Visit lesser-known but incredible sights like the lava river Cave, meteor crater, and organ pipe cactus national monument.
  • Have some wild west fun at unique towns like Oatman and experience Arizona’s Salt River tubing scene.

If you want more details and ideas for planning your Arizona trip, then read on below for the full guide!

Best time To visit Upper Antelope Canyon
Usa

things to do in arizona & Arizona Places to see 

No trip to Arizona is complete without taking in its awe-inspiring desert landscapes, unique geological formations carved over millennia, and stunning natural landmarks that attract visitors from around the world. The following breathtaking places should be at the top of your Arizona bucket list.

Grand Canyon National Park Arizona : Arizona Travel Destinations

Of course, no Arizona bucket list could possibly begin without the absolutely iconic Grand Canyon National Park! Home to some of the most incredible views not just in Arizona but the USA, the Colorado River has been working for millions of years to create this true natural wonder of the world.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/
  • When to visit: Open year-round; busiest May-September
  • Entry fee: $35 per vehicle (7 day pass)
  • Best viewpoint: Yavapai Point (have camera ready for iconic photos!)
  • Top trails: Bright Angel (a beautifully scenic trail into the canyon) and South Kaibab (steepest route with incredible canyon views)
  • TIP: Stay until sunset! It’s the best time to truly soak in the canyon’s immensity.
Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/

No matter how many photos you’ve seen, witnessing the Grand Canyon’s vastness and depth (over a mile down!) in person will still blow you away. You could easily spend days exploring the national park alone. From hiking down into the canyon itself to walking along the popular Rim Trail to watching the sunset from the many incredible viewpoints, the sights and trails seem endless.

The national park has two sections: the popular South Rim with its instantly recognizable landscapes and viewpoints like Mather Point and Yavapai Point and the lesser-visited but still gorgeous North Rim. While the South Rim should be your first stop, if time allows, take in the North Rim’s tranquil solitude as well.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/

Horseshoe Bend Arizona : Beautiful Places to see in Arizona 

This absolutely iconic horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River has become one of Arizona’s most photographed attractions. Located just outside the town of Page close to Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend looks like something pulled straight from a wild west film set with its picture-perfect meander.

You’ll want to arrive early if visiting Horseshoe Bend Overlook on your Arizona trip as the small parking lot fills up quickly, especially during peak visitor season. While access to the overlook viewpoint itself is now $10 per vehicle, the entry fee is well worth it for the chance to stand in awe before nature’s work of art.

Horseshoe Bend What To Do In Page AZ

Grab your camera, take the short hike out to the viewpoint platform, and be wowed by how the emerald waters wrap perfectly around the towering orange cliffs. Photographers will especially enjoy playing around with snapping images of Horseshoe Bend from both the lower and upper platforms. Just be careful not to get too close to the cliff edge!

Antelope Canyon Arizona – Most beautiful places in arizona: Places to visit AZ

Located on Navajo lands near Page, Arizona, Antelope Canyon continually tops lists for the most photographed slot canyon in the world. Formed by flash flooding slowly carving out the vibrant red Navajo sandstone over millennia, the narrow Antelope Canyon feels almost magical as sunlight streaming down from above illuminates the curvy walls and corridors.

RELATED: How To Get To Antelope Canyon

Since Antelope Canyon sits on protected indigenous land, you can only access it on a guided tour, but believe us when we say this slot canyon is worth every bit of planning. Upper Antelope tends to be more popular with photographers due to its shallower opening that casts gorgeous light beams down while Lower Antelope features several easier-to-navigate staircases descending deeper into the slot canyon.

RELATED: How To Get To Antelope Canyon

Best time To visit Upper Antelope Canyon

Just keep in mind when exactly you hope to visit, as Antelope Canyon tours often sell out completely during the peak spring and summer travel seasons.

Havasu Falls Arizona – Places to visit in Arizona 

Sitting on indigenous Havasupai lands within Grand Canyon National Park, Havasu Falls holds the magical claim to fame as being home to some of the most beautiful waterfall views not just in Arizona but the USA. Known for waters that shift from turquoise to emerald green as mineral-rich water pours over the red canyon cliffs, Havasu Falls seems almost unreal viewed up close.

Havasu Waterfall in Arizona, USA

Reaching Havasu Falls takes quite a bit more effort compared to some of the more road-trip-friendly spots on this list, but that’s part of what makes it feel like such a hidden gem. The waterfall sits at the heart of stunning Havasu Canyon, an 8-mile trek that requires securing a permit in advance from the Havasupai tribe and being prepared to camp overnight.

The challenging journey keeps crowds away, though, letting you better appreciate the unbelievable landscapes as you make your way down alongside striking blue pools and waterfalls to the inspiring final destination of Havasu Falls. Just remember to respect tribal lands during your visit!

Monument Valley Arizona Places to visit 

With its flat desert valley peppered with towering red sandstone mesas, buttes, and spires reaching heights over 1000 feet, Monument Valley undoubtedly provides some of Arizona’s most quintessential Southwest landscapes. Monument Valley straddles the border region with Utah within the Navajo Nation reservation, letting you take in utterly timeless terrain owned and protected by native indigenous peoples.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/

While a 17-mile scenic driving loop through the valley allows you to stop and view quite a few of the rock formations, visiting Monument Valley really is best experienced on one of their guided tours. Not only will a Navajo guide help share stories bringing deeper meaning to the sacred landscapes, but tours allow entrance to restricted areas for an even more breathtaking adventure through the valley.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/

If you still have energy after your tour, take the short hike up Wildcat Trail for a stellar overlook of Monument Valley. And before leaving, peruse the traditional jewelry and crafts for sale at the visitor center created by indigenous artisans. Purchasing directly benefits the community!

Saguaro National Park Arizona – Arizona tourist spots 

Renowned across the world as home to forests filled with the towering icon of the American West, no first-time visit to Arizona is complete without admiring the saguaro cacti in their native habitat at Saguaro National Park. Split into Tucson’s more popular west district showcasing classic Sonoran Desert scenery and the east district with its lesser crowds, both provide epic saguaro spotting along scenic drives and hiking trails.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/

Bring your camera and good walking shoes if you hope for that quintessential saguaro photo surrounded by the towering ribbed giants with their signature “arms” stretched high. For gorgeous golden hour views near end of day, head to Gates Pass Overlook or the Bajada Loop Drive. The park also offers ranger programs if you’re hoping to deepen your understanding of the vital relationship between all desert flora and fauna that lets the saguaro survive.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/

Lake Powell & Glen Canyon Arizona – Unique places to visit in arizona

Vying with the Grand Canyon when it comes to sheer epic scale, Lake Powell provides another lovely landscape for outdoor enthusiasts to take advantage of while visiting Northern Arizona. The reservoir delivers 190 miles of shoreline to explore along the Utah-Arizona border, tucked amid striking red cliffs near Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

Rent a houseboat and pretend you’re cruising down wild west rivers as you find hidden coves to drop anchor for a night. Many boat tour companies also operate on Lake Powell if you still want to sightsee without all the work of captaining yourself. If you need a home base on land, book a lake view room at the Lake Powell Resort to serve as your adventure hub.

lake powell things to do in arizona

When you’re not on the water, plan a short hike into Glen Canyon, especially through the famous sandstone wonderland known as The Wave. Peak into the depths of the earth by taking guided tours through Grand Canyon Caverns, an eerie limestone cave over 200 feet underground housing the world’s largest dry caverns.

Sedona’s Red Rock Country Arizona  – Where to go in Arizona 

Renowned for its vibrant red sandstone formations set against pine forests and the deep blue Arizona sky, Sedona provides visitors with supreme natural beauty just a scenic two hour drive from the Grand Canyon and Phoenix. Let the whole family marvel at the awe-inspiring natural architecture surrounding the small city as you seek out the best panoramic overlooks and hiking trails for iconic Sedona views.

Some favorite photo op spots include Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, and Devil’s Bridge, while spiritual types may enjoy meditating atop Bell Rock or visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Hike the short but steep Soldier’s Pass Trail to walk the dizzying heights along the Seven Sacred Pools, then finish off by splashing around Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole.

Wherever you wander in Red Rock Country, always keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife like golden eagles or maybe even a curious javalina! When the sun goes down, cap it all off watching the moonrise from Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park’s serene overlook.

Meteor Crater Arizona – Cool places in Arizona 

Space lovers visiting Arizona absolutely cannot miss taking a side trip east of Flagstaff to behold stunning Meteor Crater, the jaw-dropping result of a meteor impact so powerful it left a hole nearly one mile wide and 550 feet deep into the surrounding landscape. As the best preserved meteorite crater on Earth, Meteor Crater serves as an epic reminder of the immense natural forces at play in our universe.

Visit the interactive Discovery Center at Meteor Crater to learn all about meteorites, impacts, and asteroids through hands-on science exhibits and big screen movies that recreate the crater’s formation. Daily guided rim tours with knowledgeable meteorite experts provide a chance to step out onto the crater rim itself for a truly astounding view into the depths of the formation.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Arizona – Arizona Attractions

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument protects stunning Sonoran Desert landscapes along the U.S.-Mexico border showcasing an incredibly diverse range of flora and fauna that manages to thrive in the arid climate. Expect plenty of excellent scenic drives and nature walks for plant lovers hoping to spot vibrant wildflowers and over two dozen cactus species, including the rare organ pipe namesake.

Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/best-places-to-visit-in-arizona/

Birders should keep watch for elf owls, gilded flickers, and maybe even a passing peregrine falcon scanning for prey from above. A real wildlife highlight lies in catching sight of the endangered Sonoyta mud turtle, now rebounding within Quitobaquito Springs thanks to conservation efforts.

The 21 mile unpaved but smooth Ajo Mountain Drive passing through striking scenery and panoramic overlooks makes a lovely half day activity for road trippers with high suspension vehicles. More adventurous hikers can also take on the steep Puerto Blanco Drive to more remote hiking destinations.

Cities, Towns, and Historic arizonas Attractions 

Beyond Arizona’s many natural wonders, part of what makes the state such an incredible place for road trips lies in the diversity found in its small towns and developing cities. Quirky wild west holdouts rub shoulders with rapidly growing metropolises replete with fantastic art scenes and world-class dining. History buffs will also delight at well-preserved relics of indigenous cultures long past and more recent pioneering eras.

Sedona Arizona – Nearby visiting places Arizona USA

Nestled amid the red rocks of Arizona’s Verde Valley, stunning Sedona offers the perfect home base for nature lovers who maybe want a few more creature comforts mixed in with their outdoor adventures. Treat yourself to a dip in the luxurious central pool at L’Auberge de Sedona before heading out to hike Airport Mesa Trail for the perfect sunset.

sedona best places to visit in arizona

The walkable downtown also hosts plenty of galleries and shops selling paintings, pottery, jewelry and more by indigenous Arizonan artists and craftspeople. After scouring Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, recharge on inventive Southwestern fusion cuisine at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill’s creekside patio.

Cap off an already amazing artsy day with tickets to a film or musical performance at the Sedona International Film Festival and Mary D. Fisher Theater. And if you brought the kids along, rounding everyone up for a Pink Jeep Tour with a knowledgeable guide lets them learn all about the region’s ecology while you kick back and relax.

Scottsdale Arizona – Best vacation places in arizona

When people imagine an Arizona getaway centered around playing at plush resorts and indulging in luxurious spa days, visions of gorgeous Scottsdale with its top-notch hotel game likely dance through their heads. And while places like The Phoenician, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, and Boulders Resort & Spa certainly offer spectacular stays for those seeking serious pampering, “The West’s Most Western City” still holds plenty for visitors on a budget too.

The Old Town Scottsdale Arts District downtown overflows with awesome art galleries and souvenir shops, while the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West both make for thought-provoking visits.

Superstition Mountain in Arizona

Outdoor lovers can trade relaxing by poolside for hiking the Lost Dog Trails up Camelback Mountain or biking along the 13-mile Greenbelt. Considering winter nights rarely dip below 50 degrees, it makes for a lovely urban escape year-round. Wherever you wander downtown, always be on the lookout for eye-catching murals and statues from local creatives.

Tucson Arizona – Best places in arizona to visit 

As Arizona’s second most populous city, Tucson still beautifully holds onto its beloved small town vibe thanks to an abundance of funky shops, ace taco trucks, and indie music venues packed with college kids. But beyond the youthful energy also lies incredible history as one of the longest inhabited places by indigenous peoples in North America, traces of Spanish colonialism, and its rise as a haven for creatives seeking space to experiment.

Nature lovers can orient themselves with a drive along Gates Pass into Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park West for a healthy dose of desert vibes before enjoying innovative riffs on classic Sonoran cuisine for dinner downtown. Poke around the 4th Avenue Arts District downtown eyeing up giant murals, then catch an indie band or stand up show at Hotel Congress.

best places to visit in arizona

Don’t miss visiting the Mission San Xavier del Bac, an elegant Spanish Catholic mission founded in 1699 that dazzles as radiantly today as ever thanks to incredible preservation efforts. Cycling along The Loop shared path circling the city provides a lovely way to take in both city scenes and mountain vistas during your Tucson stay.

Winslow Arizona – places to see in az

Fans of old Route 66 Americana will find themselves falling head over heels for Winslow, a tiny Arizona town along the historic highway’s path that practically brims with retro charm. Thanks to its starring role in 1972’s Eagles classic “Take It Easy,” a visit to Standin’ on the Corner Park to snap that shot by the famous mural is practically required.

Peruse the brick-paved historic downtown district for souvenirs, stopping into quirky antique shops like Babbitt’s and Perico’s with their eccentric collections. Grab a craft beer at Road 66 before indulging on classic steakhouse cuisine inside La Posada Hotel’s signature Turquoise Room.

The magical hacienda style hotel first opened its doors in 1930 and over nearly a century of operation has seen famous guests like Albert Einstein, John Wayne, and more grace its halls. Even if you don’t overnight, make time to explore the lovely gardens and architecture of Winslow’s crowning jewel lodging gem.

Jerome Arizona – 

Perched 5,000 feet high atop Cleopatra Hill and considered one of America’s largest ghost towns, Jerome’s crumbling buildings and eerie past draw visitors seeking both historic intrigues and paranormal encounters. Once nicknamed “Billion Dollar Copper Camp” at its late 1800s peak, the mining settlement would become practically abandoned by mid-century as operations dried up until tourism helped breathe life back in.

Today, charming boutique hotels like The Jerome Grand Hotel let you spend the night in historic buildings purportedly still haunted by past residents. Quirky indie shops like Nellie Bly Scope and Staff fill the downtown district perfect for an afternoon of browsing.

Don’t skip visiting the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town either! At this living history museum just outside Jerome, you can actually descend 1000 feet underground via mine shaft elevator to view former mining tunnels. The neighboring ghost town replica and its historic buildings provide fun photo ops too.

Bisbee Arizona

Another former booming mining settlement turned charming artist community tucked into the Mule Mountains of Southern Arizona, Bisbee charms visitors with its colorful Victorian-era architecture and funky shops and cafes lining steeply inclining streets. Downtown stretches across the slopes of Tombstone Canyon like a funky southwest hillside village ripped from a fantasy novel.

Metal Queen Overlook provides superb views overlooking Bisbee and the Lavender Pit, the world’s largest open pit copper mine, scar still visible from the town’s all-in mining years. History buffs will adore tours of Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum with its interactive exhibits detailing the town’s past. If chasing thrills instead, continue driving the winding highway through Sierra Vista to arrive at

Tombstone Arizona

No trip through Southeastern Arizona reliving the wild west would be complete without a visit to legendary Tombstone. While only about 1,500 people call the town home today, its well-preserved 19th century buildings harked back to 1881 when the gunfight at O.K. Corral put Tombstone on the map during its heyday silver mining boom years.

Start your Tombstone experience taking in a historical reenactment of the famous gunfight put on by the Tombstone Vigilantes group. You can catch shows on Allen Street in the late mornings or early afternoons depending on season and day. Afterwards, explore the O.K. Corral grounds to see where the real gunfight went down and check out preserved period buildings like the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper office brimming with frontier artifacts.

sedona best places to visit in arizona

Looking to keep soaking up that gun-slinging era ambiance? Go on an afternoon horseback tour of sights like Skeleton Canyon for real western flavored adventure. And don’t miss treating yourself to dinner and a show inside the 1881 Bird Cage Theatre, putting you right into an immersive wild west theater setting for the night!

Before leaving town, grab some prickly pear ice cream, pick up a souvenir whiskey flask, and catch the lively nightly Helldorado Town Parade celebrating Tombstone’s spirited past.

Oatman Arizona

The former Gold Rush mining town turned Route 66 attraction lets visitors glimpse what the wild west frontier once felt like throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. While Oatman’s scenic location along historic Route 66 has kept it alive as a popular roadside attraction for decades, just a couple hundred residents plus plenty of wild burros wandering the streets call the place home nowadays.

Start your Oatman experience feeding the friendly burros some carrots before wandering historic buildings like the 1902 Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon night. Pop into quirky shops like Fast Fanny’s Place for locally made gifts or grab a bite at Dollar Willie’s Wild West Saloon while soaking up that funky gunslinger town ambiance.

An afternoon highlight for many visitors involves catching the daily historic “gunfight” reenactments by the Oatman Ghost Riders put on every day except Tuesday. Just remember to watch your step for burro droppings along the way!

Tucson Arizona

As Arizona’s second most populous city, Tucson still beautifully holds onto its beloved small town vibe thanks to an abundance of funky shops, ace taco trucks, and indie music venues packed with college kids. But beyond the youthful energy also lies incredible history as one of the longest inhabited places by indigenous peoples in North America, traces of Spanish colonialism, and its rise as a haven for creatives seeking space to experiment.

Nature lovers can orient themselves with a drive along Gates Pass into Tucson Mountain Park and Saguaro National Park West for a healthy dose of desert vibes before enjoying innovative riffs on classic Sonoran cuisine for dinner downtown. Poke around the 4th Avenue Arts District downtown eyeing up giant murals, then catch an indie band or stand up show at Hotel Congress.

Don’t miss visiting the Mission San Xavier del Bac, an elegant Spanish Catholic mission founded in 1699 that dazzles as radiantly today as ever thanks to incredible preservation efforts. Cycling along The Loop shared path circling the city provides a lovely way to take in both city scenes and mountain vistas during your Tucson stay.

More Incredible Places in Arizona places to see

Beyond all the state’s most famous sights, Arizona overflows with incredible under the radar destinations equally deserving a spot on your southwestern road trip route. From quirky underground cave lodging to a university greenhouse overflowing with desert flora, here lie some of Arizona’s coolest hidden gems to explore.

Pipe Spring National Monument Arizona Destinations

History and nature buffs alike will delight in this often overlooked northwest Arizona pitstop along the Utah border capturing snapshots of indigenous cultures, Mormon pioneer settlements, and diverse desert ecologies all in one. The main highlight at Pipe Spring National Monument stands as Winsor Castle, a large sandstone building completed in 1873 by Mormon colonizers who founded operations in the remote area to harvest timber and graze cattle.

Visitors today can take self-guided tours through restored rooms like the kitchen, parlor, and bedrooms for a vivid glimpse into Arizona’s frontier past. The on-site museum also illuminates Native American history in the region, from Ancestral Puebloans and early traders to the struggles of tribes like the Southern Paiute and Navajo facing increased settlement pressure during the 1800s.

Outside, a half-mile walking trail loop lets you take in the vibrant vegetation and calming babble of Pipe Springs before viewing petroglyphs left behind by Archaic hunter-gatherers from AD 500 to 1200. Birders can hope to catch sight of species like Vermillion Flycatchers and Lazuli Buntings flitting through dense shrubbery.

Biosphere 2 Arizona – stuff to do in arizona 

Conservationists, ecologists, architecture fans, and anyone who dreams of living full-time surrounded by nature will find themselves fascinated by this incredible feat of engineering currently run by the University of Arizona. Essentially an enclosed miniature model Earth, the 3.14 acre essentially serves as a living laboratory seeking technological solutions for issues like climate change and environmental sustainability.

Whichever guided walking tour you choose, prepare to be wowed by the incredible biodiversity supported across recreated biomes spanning tropical rainforest, mangroves, grasslands, desert, thorn scrub, and two breathtaking coral reef tanks. Full tours let you step inside the experimental chambers themselves for an even wilder behind the scenes look!

Before leaving, save some time to walk the tranquil desert loop trail weaving through ironwood forests outside Biosphere 2 near the Santa Catalina Mountains. Educational exhibits at the expanded visitor’s center will keep children captivated for hours with hands-on ecology activities as well.

Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum Arizona

Plant lovers absolutely should not miss stopping at Boyce Thompson Arboretum while road tripping between Phoenix and Tucson. As the largest arboretum in Arizona, the nearly 400 acre property protects stunning desert landscapes at the base of Picketpost Mountain in Superior providing vital wildlife corridors and research opportunities.

Of course, the main draw proves learning while wandering about the impressive 3.5 mile main loop trail that brings you face to leaf with incredible botanical diversity. Gaze up at towering legume trees in the Australian exhibit, sniff the intoxicating orange blossoms wafting from an excellent citrus collection, or simply soak up flaming red sunsets over towering saguaros in the arid Cactus and Succulent Garden.

Whatever path you follow under the warm Arizona sunshine, always keep your eyes peeled for resident wildlife like roadrunners, hummingbirds, desert cottontails, or maybe even a curious gila monster! Interpretive signing and regular tours by incredibly knowledgeable staff and docents aim to educate how fragile arid ecosystems sustain so much life.

Montezuma Castle National Monument Arizona

This cliff dwelling built high into a limestone alcove serves as one of the finest surviving examples of masonry architecture left behind by ancestral indigenous peoples like the Southern Sinagua who once flourished across Central Arizona. Only 90 minutes from Sedona or Flagstaff, Montezuma Castle makes an easy detour for history seekers already exploring Northern Arizona’s natural wonders.

Start your visit at the visitor center to brush up on regional chronology and view artifacts found at the site before taking the short walk over to behold the impressive five story pueblo yourself. Gaze up at the amazing structure secured with mortar and housing over 20 rooms while imagining just how families filled their days over 600 years ago far removed from modern era comforts.

For a quieter experience, continue 1 mile down the road to Montezuma Well, a natural limestone sinkhole now filled with vibrant green water that the Sinagua diverted via irrigation canals for crop cultivation. Just remember to closely supervise small children so they don’t accidentally fall in! A self-guided walking path here also brings you by more remnants of exactly how this innovative desert community once prospered.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Arizona

Arizona’s youngest volcano only erupted a short 1000 years ago, making it an apt stop for travelers intrigued by geology and volcanology alike. Located just 20 minutes outside popular Flagstaff, the park protects breathtaking landscapes surrounding the 1000 foot tall cinder cone while allowing visitors to witness Earth’s powerful forces etched vividly across the arid scenery.

Start by snapping photos of the Bonito Lava Flow, an expansive black rock field you can actually walk out onto, before taking a moment to admire colorful volcanic cinders swirling with reds, oranges, yellows and grays up close. Hike the mile roundtrip Lenox Crater Trail for panoramic views across Painted Desert horizons from atop an old cinder cone.

Cap off your volcanic adventures descending into the weirdly whimsical Lava Tube Cave, where molten rock flowed before hardening into dripping walls and rippled floors, leaving behind a chilly subterranean wonderland today. Rangers also frequently offer talks on volcanology and guided hikes for those hoping to expand scientific knowledge and safely explore further off trail. Just remember to dress warmly at this higher elevation!

Patagonia & Tubac Arizona

Nature lovers already exploring Southern Arizona absolutely must save a day to wander charming Patagonia and Tubac, a pair of colorful villages turned art havens tucked into gorgeous landscape perfect for birding and wine tasting excursions.

Founded as an artist colony over 50 years ago, creatives flock to Patagonia drawn by funky old adobes transformed into vibrant galleries and studios selling handcrafted home goods. Birders visit from around the world hoping to spot some of the incredible 400 species that pass through the region each year, from playful hummingbirds to massive grey hawks soaring overhead.

Just down the winding highway through pastures and farmlands overloaded with wildflowers waits Tubac, where over 100 local artisans peddle their paintings, textiles, sculptures, and more under the backdrop of Mission San José de Tumacácori’s graceful arches. Pop into the Tubac Center of the Arts to take in sophisticated gallery shows or catch live performances at Stables Theatre and Cultural Arts Center.

Before leaving, indulge in leisurely wine tasting overlooking the jewel-toned Santa Rita Mountains at spots like Dos Cabezas Wineworks and Rancho de las Cabras vineyards. With cozy historic inns like The Santa Fe Ranch Lodge or Casa San Pedro Bed & Breakfast offering warm hospitality and plenty more hiking trails and birding hot spots still left to find, you may just want to go ahead and extend your arts adventure by another vacation day or two!

Planning Your Arizona Travel Itinerary

With so many places competing to make it onto your Arizona trip bucket list, it can feel overwhelming trying to decide your optimal travel route to take it all in. Use the below tips and resources to craft your perfect itinerary through the beautiful Grand Canyon state!

  • Grand Canyon National Park and most major Arizona cities have international airports, making logistics smooth for both domestic and international travelers.
  • Rent an RV or motorhome for the ultimate flexible Grand Canyon road trip experience to hit multiple stops on your own schedule. Outdoorsy is a great rental site.
  • Stay in Sedona, Page, Tucson, Flagstaff, or the South Rim Village area for best home bases whilst exploring Northern Arizona’s parks and landmarks by day.
  • Travel between October and May to avoid intensely hot summer weather (and crowds!) while still enjoying beautiful sunny weather. April is the ideal month with fewer other travelers.
  • Some Native American reservation lands like Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley require guided tours, so plan/book those particular adventures a bit more in advance.
  • Admission to Arizona’s national parks runs $15-35 per vehicle for seven day entry. Multi-park passes can provide savings for avid explorers. Full national park pass info here.

Beyond all the incredible landscapes, Arizona also boasts charming cities and small towns with fantastic food, arts, culture, and history waiting to be discovered too. No matter what sights most captivate your imagination for your upcoming southwestern escape, this guide covers all the details needed to craft an unforgettable Arizona itinerary optimized to your personal travel passions.

Just don’t forget to snap some quintessential saguaro cactus selfies along the winding desert roads connecting everything together! With so much vibrant beauty and living history long the route, an adventurous road trip through Arizona offers the perfect recipe for lifelong travel memories in the making.

Arizona Travel Articles

planning a trip to Arizona? Here are my top travel resources and helpful travel articles & tips to help you get started with traveling.

Arizona Travel Resources

Save To Read Later:

Similar Posts