Planning a trip that includes the best vacation spots in Arizona can be slightly overwhelming. There are simply too many cool things to do in Arizona to do even half of them in one vacation! To make it easier to choose, we’ve highlighted 11 of them for you to consider.
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1. Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is a vacation destination all on its own. It’s no wonder it’s one of the best places to vacation in Arizona. In fact, as you’re planning your Arizona tourist attractions, you can easily focus your agenda around the Grand Canyon as the main attraction.
With nearly six million people visiting this National Park each year, a little pre-planning can make your trip even better.
Summertime is of course the busiest, although Spring Break can be pretty crowded as well. If you’re traveling during these times, consider getting to the park before 8:00 am. Otherwise you could be sitting in a 2+ hour wait just to get in the park.
The South Rim is the most popular entrance and has about 50 viewpoints, although only 20 are accessible by car. If you’re an early bird willing to get to the canyon super early, the sunrise over the Grand Canyon is definitely worth getting out of bed for!
The West Rim is famous for the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass walkway that towers a whopping 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. You can also zip line 3,200 feet across a side canyon or take a helicopter tour.
While many people simply drive from point to point to see as much of the Grand Canyon as their schedule allows, there are plenty of fun things to do in Arizona at the Grand Canyon. Consider taking the Grand Canyon Railway, book an overnight mule ride down to Phantom Ranch or go rafting down Colorado River.
There’s no wonder visitors from all over the world consider the Grand Canyon the best place to visit in Arizona!
2. Oatman, Arizona
If you’re looking for fun places to go in Arizona, you need to add Oatman to your itinerary. Adults and kids alike will get a kick out of seeing dozens of wild burros roaming around the town, and you can even buy feed for a dollar to give them. Keep your own food away from them, though. They’ll snatch it right out of your hand!
This small ghost town is about a 45-minute drive from Kingman, and the drive alone makes it worth visiting. The road starts out pretty straight but ends up getting pretty narrow with lots of switchbacks and some amazing views of the red rock Arizona is famous for.
Once you’re in Oatman, plan to spend a couple of hours wandering through the shops, getting some ice cream at the Oatman Hotel, and watching the staged Bank Robbery. (It’s a hoot!) You’ll want to be standing right in front of the Hotel at 1:30 or 3:30 before the gunfight starts to be able to see it over the crowds.
If you’re in town over the Fourth of July, you can even participate in the Annual Egg Fry where it’s hot enough to literally fry an egg on the sidewalk! This fun little town needs to be on your list of places to vacation in Arizona.
3. Phoenix, Arizona
The Valley of the Sun is a popular Arizona vacation destination for a lot of reasons. There are so many fun things to do in Phoenix, and the weather is quite beautiful for eight months of the year. Just avoid the summer (though you can get amazing hotel deals!)
Phoenix is a great place for outdoor activities. Hike the many mountains in and around the city. Camelback, Piestewa Peak, South Mountain Park, and the Superstitions are favorites. Go horseback riding in the desert, kayak or canoe on many of the lakes, or go tubing in the Salt River. Fun for the entire family!
There are a lot of great museums in town. The Musical Instrument Museum and the Heard Museum are quite special. Or, head to the Desert Botanical Garden or Boyce Arboretum to learn just how beautiful the desert can be.
It’s a resort town, and there are a lot of popular spas to visit, or if golfing is your thing, you can do that, too. And you won’t go hungry in Phoenix as it’s one of the best places in Arizona for foodies.
Plan a few days there and add a day trip to Sedona—you’ll be sure to have a great time!
By Sam Glauser from My Flying Leap
4. Bisbee, Arizona
If you are looking for unique things to do in Arizona, Bisbee may be the place for you.
Bisbee, a former copper, silver, and gold mining town, produced some of the biggest riches in the West. Because of this, it is known as the “Queen of the Copper Towns.”
Nowadays, you can explore the lively core, see the mining pits and learn about the past at dedicated museums.
Start your visit by exploring Tombstone Canyon Road, the main thoroughfare full of colorful buildings, interesting shops, artist studios, murals, and quirky art installations.
Since Bisbee is located about 15 miles from the Mexican border, make sure to try a Sonora-influenced dish and a shot of bacanora (a unique type of mezcal).
The Queen Mine offers daily, underground tours led by former employees. The Lavander Pit, an open-pit copper mine, can be observed free of charge.
For a comprehensive understanding of Bisbee’s history, you have to visit the Mining and Historical Museum. You will get insight into the discovery, boom, development, and decadence of the town. Besides, the minerals displayed are impressive.
Bisbee, and its surrounding areas, can be visited as a day trip from Tucson (about 90 miles away). Although, staying the night will allow you to get a better sense of what the town is all about.
Bisbee is located over 5,500 feet above sea level (it is a mile-high town). Temperatures are considerably cooler than on the desert floor. Dress in layers and bring a jacket.
With so much to do here, it’s one of the best points of interest in Arizona.
By Ruth from Tanama Tales
5. Tombstone, Arizona
Most visitors to Arizona won’t want to miss a chance at experiencing the “Old West” with gunslingers, lawmen, shootouts, and maybe a cold drink in a western saloon. One of the best places to get all of this is in Tombstone, Arizona.
Attractions here include gunfight shows, silver mine tours, and even a ghosts and murders trolley tour ending at Boot Hill. It’s easy to spend four or five hours exploring the shops and saloons, taking the trolley tour, watching the historical reenactment of the shootout at the O.K. Corral, or howling with laughter at the comedy western show at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park (more suitable for kids).
While walking around the town and visiting the shops is free, expect to pay entrance fees of about $10-15 for adults and less for kids at most of the main attractions.
Check Groupon for any deals, and keep in mind that kids 6 and under are free at many of them. Look for combo deals, like the Wyatt Earp special that combines the trolley tour with a gunfight show.
Anyone looking to find the “Old West” in Arizona should make their way to Tombstone, the infamous home of Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, and the O.K. Corral. It’s one of the best things to do in Arizona.
by Jim Vail of Roving Vails
6. Scottsdale, Arizona
Located just minutes outside of Phoenix, Scottsdale is a paradise full of luxurious resorts, fun things to do, delicious food, and more. Many people consider it one of the best places to visit in Arizona.
Old Town Scottsdale is the city’s historic downtown area and is a must-visit when visiting Scottsdale. The neighborhood is dotted with cute boutiques, art galleries, museums, and more.
Many of Scottsdale’s best restaurants are located in Old Town – don’t miss The Mission for some of the best tacos and margaritas in the city. In the evening, plan a trip along the Scottsdale Wine Trail – a collection of five local wineries that are all located in Old Town.
There are more than 70 hotels and resorts in Scottsdale, many of which are a destination in themselves. Many of the resorts, with their sparkling swimming pools and gorgeous desert views, will make you feel like you’re in a desert paradise.
Several of the resorts are also home to state-of-the-art golf courses, perfect if you want to practice your swing. During peak season, resort rates can be a bit pricey.
If you can handle the dry Scottsdale heat, plan your trip during the summer – the perfect time to experience Scottsdale on a budget.
by Sydney from A World in Reach
7. Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, with its famous red rocks, is a beautiful place to visit during your Arizona travels. Conveniently located 2 hours south of the Grand Canyon and approximately 120 miles from Phoenix, the view as you drive into Sedona is almost worth the whole trip.
You can choose to have a relaxing vacation by indulging in some local wine tasting, playing a round of golf, or enjoying a spa treatment. Alternatively, adventures are also possible through plenty of tour operators showcasing picturesque hiking, horseback riding, jeep tours, and hot air balloon or helicopter rides.
Sunsets in Sedona are top-notch, as is the world-renowned art scene which includes local Native American jewelry and crafts. You can’t beat the weather (who can argue with 300 sunny days per year), creating a year-round fun destination.
Various types of lodging, shopping (don’t miss the Tlaquepaque plaza) and restaurants make Sedona the perfect couple’s getaway, family vacation, or solo travel destination. With so much to offer its easy to see why Sedona is one of the best Arizona vacation spots.
by Jenny from Global Game Plan
8. Monument Valley, Arizona
Monument Valley has perhaps the most famous scenery in the American Southwest. If you think of the wild west, you are probably thinking of the dramatic buttes and mesas scattered around this enormous valley.
Officially called Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, the entire area is part of the Navajo Nation. There is an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle for up to four people or $10 per person (children under 10 years of age are free).
You can see the highlights in half a day but need at least a day to really experience all the valley has to offer.
There are two things you can do in Monument Valley without a Navajo guide. The first is the self-guided 17-mile scenic Monument Valley loop drive. On the drive, you will pass all the most famous landmarks, including the Mittens and the Three Sisters.
At John Ford’s Point, you can pose for the classic photo on a horse looking out from a cliff edge, with the valley’s spectacular scenery behind you. It’s the perfect Instagram moment.
There is also one hike you can do without a guide. The Wildcat Trail is a 3.6-mile lollipop trail that circles around West Mitten. The trail is closed in the heat of the day, but the colors are especially stunning in the early morning and late afternoon.
To explore the rest of the park, you will need to take a backcountry tour with a Navajo guide. These are also well worthwhile and one of the best places in Arizona to visit, as you will learn more about Navajo culture and discover areas of the valley that most visitors never see.
by James Ian from Parks Collecting
9. Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Saguaro National Park is one of three national parks in Arizona and one of the most underrated, for sure. It’s just outside of Tucson, basically in the city, really, and home to the fabulous saguaro cactus.
There is a $25 entrance fee that’s good for a week, and while you can do a lot in one day, two days would be great so you can explore both the east and west sides of Saguaro without feeling rushed.
Most of the park is kid-friendly, just watch out for those cactus spines. They can easily get stuck in anything that brushes against them.
While both sides of the park are great, the west side is the best so focus your time there if you’re limited. If you plan to visit both sides, staying near downtown will be perfect since it’s just about in the middle.
While you’re there, make sure to drive the Bajada Loop and Cactus Loop roads, hike to Valley View Overlook, and hike both nature trails.
Even though it isn’t in the park, consider a visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. When you’re planning places in Arizona to visit, this area needs to be on your list!
by Megan from Red Around the World
10. Havasu Falls, Arizona
Havasu Falls is one of the best vacation spots in Arizona! If you are looking for a remote epic adventure, you’ll want to add this experience to your vacation! Havasu Falls is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is accessed by hiking 10 miles through Havasu Canyon.
You must obtain a permit to visit Havasu. All permits are for 3 nights/4 days. Make sure you research how to purchase permits well ahead of time. The process changes often, and permits sell out within hours of being released.
Visitors can book their stay at the Supai Lodge (2 miles from the main falls) or at the campground at the base of Havasu Falls.
There are five waterfalls to explore along the blue-green water of Havasu Creek. Three of the waterfalls are located between the village of Supai and the campground.
The other two falls, Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls, are further down the creek. Both are accessible by making a 200 ft climb down the side of the cliff. This climb is a little treacherous but definitely worth it!
Bringing young children to Havasu is not recommended by the tribe but can be done with proper training and preparation.
by Charlene from Adventures with the Hills
11. Lake Powell, Arizona
A desert lake spanning hundreds of miles across Arizona and Utah, Lake Powell is undoubtedly one of the most magical family-friendly places in Arizona. Travelers can camp along the sandy, rust-colored shores of Antelope Island or cruise the waters on a houseboat trip.
While you can see some iconic areas of the Lake Powell region, like Antelope Point, on a day trip, it’s best to spend at least three days exploring Lake Powell. There are hundreds of coves to explore and find a spot all to yourself.
Kids will love swimming, building sandcastles, standup paddleboarding, riding on a jet ski or inner tube, and exploring the nooks and crannies of Lake Powell’s sandstone slopes.
If traditional camping or renting a houseboat isn’t your style, consider glamping in a covered wagon at Page Lake Powell Campground. Each Conestoga wagon sleeps a family of four and costs $125 per night.
The best time to visit Lake Powell is early summer or late fall. This way, you’ll beat the crowds and the heat and will enjoy the lake at its calmest. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Arizona, Lake Powell has everything you need!
by Chantae from ChantaeWas Here
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3 thoughts on “11 Best Vacation Spots in Arizona”
Like to get out of South Dakota , to a warm climate foe a couple of weeks
Haven’t been to Arizona yet. I have only visited the US east coast. Must go there someday. I am loving your writing style. This is a great post. Thank you so much.
Hi James, thank you so much for your encouraging words! I do hope you get to Arizona someday. There’s SO much to see and do there – it’s definitely worth putting on your bucket list!