From road trips and outdoor thrills to rejuvenating resorts and unique local cuisine, Arizona teems with exciting travel adventures. Experience the exhilarating scenery, including the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon National Park and the Sonoran Desert. Retreat to a quaint bed-and-breakfast or historic inn, or reward yourself at a luxurious resort and spa. Hit the links at a championship golf course. Taste wine from local vineyards and explore a variety of culinary delights. Averaging more than 325 days of sunshine a year, you can always plan on perfect weather.
Arizona’s cinema-ready canyons and deserts have long served as the backdrop for movies, including “Raising Arizona,” “Jerry Maguire” and “Thelma & Louise.” Whether it’s the panoramic landscapes punctuated by red rocks or alpine forests opening to hidden lakes, the view is enchanting and sobering, but also accessible for hiking, biking and other adventures. Take a four-wheel drive tour, stay on a houseboat at one of the magnificent lakes or skydive over the desert or near the Grand Canyon.
Experience the Old West by visiting the ghost towns and boom towns that established it. Tour a mining museum or enjoy a Western-themed amusement park, then savour a steakhouse dinner. Immerse yourself in the cowboy lifestyle by staying on a guest ranch. You’ll also find the American Indian influence everywhere, from rock petroglyphs to silver and turquoise jewellery in high-end shops; that’s because 22 tribes call Arizona home.
This state has no shortage of luxuries for the weary traveller. Pamper yourself with spa treatments at elegant resorts in some of the state’s biggest cities, which also offer golf courses overlooking the rustic desert landscape. Avid producers of wine, Arizona’s vineyards and award-winning wineries make for a romantic tour or site for farm-to-table dining. Not to be outdone, brewpubs and gastro pubs enliven the urban scene.
Whether you travel to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, buy art in Sedona, hike amid the ponderosa pines in Flagstaff, or chill in a Scottsdale spa, you’ll find that the majesty of the terrain translates into an unabashed frontier vibe.
Must See Places in Arizona
Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon looking out over the endless ridges of colorful cliff walls and deep ravines, it’s impossible not to be inspired by this natural wonder. The canyon walls glow 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 nothing less than spectacular.
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 the city, but the town is worthy of much more than just a few hours. The drive into town from the south, through the Village of Oak Creek, is stunning and offers numerous scenic pullouts.
One 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.
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.
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 for walking, hiking, and biking, and some outstanding attractions.
Hoover Dam is one of the world’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.
Located along 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, and where visitors will find interesting stores and restaurants. Views from the streets and some of the shop windows are amazing. Many of the old buildings have been renovated but some still stand as ruins, creating a very interesting dynamic. This town is a popular day trip from Sedona, Prescott, Phoenix, or Flagstaff.
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.
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.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is a great place to experience the desert landscape around Tucson and see the famous saguaro cacti 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 offer great opportunities to see the desert flora and fauna with roads and hiking trails.
Best Time to Visit Arizona
Despite the idea that Arizona is hot and dry most of the year, the truth is, the weather varies quite a bit depending on where you are. While people are enjoying the summer in Central Arizona by sunbathing or splashing around in everything from lakes to pools, folks in Northern Arizona enjoy outdoor life with cooler temps and crisper nights. Come winter, Northern Arizona offers the beauty of snow-covered mountains and great skiing, while in the central to southern parts of the state, people often enjoy the mild and welcoming weather in shorts or t-shirts.
Video Credit: Arizona Office of Tourism