Arizona’s desert climate is home to spectacular geologic formations and canyons that are well worth seeing, with a stunning range of diverse attractions. The Grand Canyon, for example, is one of the United States’ most famous sites, but the amazing Monument Valley certainly gives it a run for its money.
With 25% of Arizona’s land area belonging to Native American reservations, there are lots of fascinating archeological, historical, and cultural sites for visitors to explore.
Arizona has a reputation for being one of the most liveable states in America – the sensational weather being the chief reason. As true as this may be, it doesn’t make Arizona any more boring or any less interesting or enjoyable as a place to visit.
There are a lot of interesting things to do in Arizona, including visiting some of these top attractions if you want a taste of what the state has to offer.
Table of Contents
- Best Things to do & Places to Visit in Arizona
- 1. Grand Canyon National Park
- 2. Saguaro National Park
- 3. Sedona
- 4. Phoenix
- 5. Scottsdale
- 6. Tucson
- 7. Colorado River and Lake Havasu
- 8. Havasu Falls
- 9. Navajo Nation
- 10. Antelope Canyon
- 11. Horseshoe Bend
- 12. Monument Valley
- 13. Montezuma Castle National Monument
- 14. Jerome Ghost Town
- 15. Hoover Dam
- 16. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- 17. Flagstaff
- 18. Camelback Mountain
- 19. Biosphere 2
- 20. Lost Dutchman State Park
- 21. Tonto National Monument
- 22. Wupatki National Monument
- 23. De Chelly National Monument
- 24. Desert Botanical Garden
- 25. Petrified Forest National Park
- 26. Kartchner Caverns State Park
- 27. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
- 28. Lake Powell
- 29. Verde River State Park
- What is the number 1 attraction in Arizona?
- What is the prettiest place in Arizona?
- Is there anything fun to do in Arizona?
Best Things to do & Places to Visit in Arizona
Looking for a more visual travel guide? Check out our Best Places to Visit in Arizona YouTube Video in delicious 4K!
1. Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is a true wonder of nature and arguably the most famous of all the world’s natural wonders, making it a must-visit in Arizona.
It’s the world’s largest canyon, formed by natural erosion over millennia, and in turn has become an important tourist hotspot for visitors from all over the world, who come to admire its majesty.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is one of the more recent additions to the park – this horseshoe-shaped bridge offers visitors a unique and vertigo-inducing view of the canyon from 4,000 feet up.
The south rim of the Grand Canyon is open all year round and is one of the most popular areas to visit.
The visitor center and town of Grand Canyon Village is located on the south rim and has a museum, gift shop, and restaurant. There are also many trails that lead down to the canyon floor as well as ranger programs.
I know, that last vid was pretty choice. Watch our visual guide about Grand Canyon National Park on this YouTube video below.
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2. Saguaro National Park
The Sonoran Desert is home to the Saguaro cactus, which is found almost exclusively in this part of the world. This makes Saguaro National Park a must-see for any nature lover interested in desert flora and fauna.
Saguaro National Park is a great place to explore the Sonoran Desert.
Visitors can enjoy hiking and biking through the park’s many trails, which offer beautiful views of the desert landscape. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including 300 species of birdlife and 10 different types of reptiles.
Saguaro is one of the best places to visit to get a true feel of the landscape that Arizona has to offer and it’s a great winter destination if you are looking to escape from a cold-weather climate.
With its stunning red rock formations, funky art galleries, and New Age vibe, Sedona offers something for everyone. The area is also a great base for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and camping. Sedona offers a variety of things to do for all including kids.
Sedona is a well-known tourist destination, known for its spiritual and artistic vibes as much as it is for the beautiful scenery that surrounds it.
The red rocks of Sedona are perfect if you’re looking to experience an exciting night out in Arizona with some stunning views – they also make great photo subjects!
As touched on before, there are lots of outdoor activities available in this area including hiking, biking, and camping.
Check into one of the many hotels or guest houses located around the city center when visiting Sedona – there is plenty on offer here, and at affordable prices too, which makes them even more appealing to tourists who want their money’s worth staying here.
Watch our YouTube video of Sedona attractions and things to do below if you’re looking for ideas.
Phoenix is the state’s capital and largest city as well as one of Arizona’s most popular attractions.
Phoenix has a dynamic urban atmosphere, as well as a spectacular collection of monuments such as Arcosanti – this community-built artistic city allows visitors to understand more about sustainable living practices.
Phoenix is a huge sports town, home to 10 professional sports teams including the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, NBA’s Phoenix Suns, MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, and the USL’s Phoenix Rising FC.
Phoenix has witnessed a significant rise in the number of fantastic new restaurants, bars, and clubs in the last ten years, ensuring that you’ll be able to have a great night out. You may also enjoy day trips from Phoenix.
Wanna know what else is going on in town? Watch our YouTube video of the Best Day Trips from Phoenix, Arizona visual travel guide below.
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Scottsdale is a popular Arizona vacation spot that provides both leisure and relaxation. It also has the world-famous Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, which offers over 250 stores and 10 restaurants, as well as other entertainment options.
This makes Scottsdale an ideal place for retail therapy before heading out into the desert wilderness. The town is also home to some excellent golf courses, so if you’re a fan of a good walk unspoiled, this is definitely the place for you.
There is no shortage of the best things to do in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale is well known for its nightlife, party scene, and day trips. The city has a wide variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants that are perfect for a night out on the town.
Scottsdale is also home to some of the best golf courses in the country, so if you’re looking for a daytime activity to balance out all the drinking, there’s no shortage of options.
Want another yummy 4K visual travel guide? Watch our YouTube video of the best things to do and attractions in Scottsdale.
Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona, and it offers a great mix of cultural attractions and natural wonders.
It’s a great base camp to visit Saguaro National Park as well as the Kitt Peak Observatory – this astronomical observatory has some of the most powerful telescopes in the world and offers visitors an amazing view of the night sky.
Tucson is a city located about 10 miles north of Saguaro National Park and it’s home to the University of Arizona, which offers great cultural attractions for students as well as tourists.
The area is known for having one of America’s best climates – making it an ideal place to visit at any time of year.
It also boasts world-class golf courses such as Club de Golf Santa Catalina, while there are plenty more hiking trails that are worth exploring too!
7. Colorado River and Lake Havasu
This is where the river forms the border between Arizona and California, and it’s also home to one of America’s most popular tourist destinations – Lake Havasu City. This lakeside city is known for its vibrant party scene as well as its amazing desert views.
Lake Havasu City was founded in 1963 by Robert McCulloch, an American entrepreneur. McCulloch is most well-known for his work on the first functioning chainsaw, and he used this experience to create the world’s largest chain of sawmills.
McCulloch had always dreamed of creating a city on the banks of the Colorado River, and when he discovered Lake Havasu – a large reservoir that was formed after the completion of Parker Dam – he knew that his dream could become a reality.
The city was originally called London Bridge Beach because McCulloch had bought the rights to the bridge from the City of London. He then transported the bridge piece-by-piece to Lake Havasu City, where it was reconstructed.
Today, the historic London Bridge remains one of Lake Havasu City’s most popular attractions – it forms part of the city’s pedestrian walkway across the Colorado River.
8. Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls is a waterfall located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state, and it is known for its blue-green water and picturesque surroundings.
The Havasupai tribe has inhabited the area around Havasu Falls for centuries, and they continue to live there today. The reservation is located in a remote corner of the Grand Canyon, and it can only be accessed by foot or helicopter.
Havasu Falls was first discovered by European explorers in the 18th Century, and it soon became a popular destination for adventurous travelers.
The waterfall was immortalized in photographs by famed landscape photographer Ansel Adams, and it continues to attract photographers and nature lovers to this day.
The name ‘Havasu’ means ‘blue-green water’, and the area around the falls is indeed filled with bright blue pools of water – thanks to calcium carbonate present in the rocks that form travertine.
The travertine formations create beautiful cascades that drip down into large swimmable pools.
The waterfall is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, and the surrounding scenery is some of the most stunning in Arizona.
Havasu Falls can be reached by hiking 8 miles (13km) from the Havasupai Indian Reservation, or it can be accessed by helicopter tour for a fee.
The Navajo Nation has a great mix of landscapes, from vast barren desert landscapes to spectacular mesas and mountain ranges that rise dramatically from the desert floor.
A trip to the area can offer visitors a wide range of activities such as hiking, climbing, skiing, camping, and 4-wheel driving. There are also several excellent museums in this region, which are dedicated to preserving the history of the Navajo people.
One of the largest attractions in the Navajo Nation is Monument Valley – it’s situated on Navajo Tribal Land and it’s known for its spectacular sandstone monoliths that resemble large skyscrapers.
Visitors will quickly realize that this is a true frontier land that has resisted the pervasive influence of modern civilization, and it’s a great place to experience the Navajo way of life, which includes many sacred and ceremonial sites.
10. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located in northern Arizona, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state. The canyon is known for its stunningly smooth sandstone walls that change color with the light, making for some amazing photographic opportunities.
The area has become a popular stop on the Grand Circle Tour Route, and there are guided tours available that take visitors through its 10-mile length.
There are two main Antelope Canyons that tourists can visit – Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon.
Lower Antelope Canyon is the more popular of the two, and it’s located a few miles downstream from the town of Page, Arizona. It’s accessible to visitors via a short walk from the parking lot, and it offers some amazing views of the canyon walls.
This makes it a little less popular with tourists, but it offers some beautiful views that are worth the extra effort.
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11. Horseshoe Bend
The dam provides hydroelectric power for much of southern California and northern Arizona, but it also offers amazing views from both sides thanks to its huge spillway.
Horseshoe Bend lies at one end of the reservoir, where you’ll find some stunning desert scenery that changes color with each season and time of day. This view can be captured perfectly using just an Instagram filter.
There are also guided tours available here too if you want someone else to do all of the hard work for you.
12. Monument Valley
The valley is known for its towering sandstone buttes that rise up out of the desert landscape, which has been featured in countless movies and TV shows over the years.
If you’re looking for an amazing natural wonder to explore, then look no further than Monument Valley. This iconic location is situated on the border between Arizona and Utah, and it’s known for its towering sandstone buttes that seemingly rise up out of the desert landscape.
The area is open to visitors all year round, and there are plenty of guided tours available to take you around this natural wonderland. Some of the best things to do at Monument Valley include hiking, photography, and camping.
This is by far one of the best places to visit in Arizona if you’re looking for ‘gram candy.
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13. Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument is a United States National Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Camp Verde, Arizona. The monument consists of a five-story Sinagua pueblo ruin, which is thought to have been constructed in the 12th or 13th Century.
The Montezuma Castle National Monument is a must-see for anyone visiting Arizona. This ancient pueblo is incredibly fascinating and well worth exploring.
14. Jerome Ghost Town
The town reached its peak population of 10,000 in the 1920s. However, the copper deposits were eventually exhausted and the town’s population began to decline. Jerome is now a popular tourist destination and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As Jerome’s population declined, many of its residents left the town. However, some of them stayed behind and continued to live in Jerome. These residents soon began to notice that something strange was happening in their town.
There were many reports of strange noises and sightings of ghostly apparitions. Some people reported seeing the ghosts of former miners and residents who had died in Jerome.
The ghost town was even featured on an episode of TV’s Unsolved Mysteries.
There are many reports of strange noises and sightings of ghostly apparitions that happen throughout the old historic downtown.
15. Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is one of Arizona’s most popular tourist destinations. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 and is now a National Historic Landmark.
The dam was named after Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States. The Hoover Dam is 726 ft high and 1,244 ft long. It has an electrical generating capacity of 2,074 megawatts.
Blocks of concrete used in the construction were produced in 90 separate plants and contained enough metal to build 300 Sherman tanks – and the concrete won’t be cured until 2050!
An average of 3,000 people worked at the Hoover Dam during any given year throughout its construction. It is one of the most recognized engineering achievements in American history.
A popular tourist attraction today, the dam draws millions every year.
16. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a beautiful park that is located in Nevada and Arizona. There are so many things to do at this park, including hiking, fishing, camping, and swimming. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and it’s a great place to relax and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Lake Mead is important to the Hoover Dam because it provides the water needed to generate hydroelectric power.
The dam couldn’t operate (and would be pointless) without it, so the recreation area is a vital part of the overall infrastructure.
The park offers some of the best fishing in the country, as well as plenty of opportunities for camping, hiking, and swimming.
It’s a great place to spend a weekend or a summer vacation, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Southwest.
Flagstaff is another major city in Arizona, located about 10 miles north of the Grand Canyon, 10 miles south of Sedona, and surrounded on all sides by stunning scenery.
According to recent census data, the metro area has a population of just under 140,000 people, but it still feels like a relatively small town compared to other cities in the region, partly due to its isolated location and sparse layout.
It certainly feels a little busier in term time when the 10,000 students of Northern Arizona University descend upon the city!
Flagstaff offers some amazing cultural attractions, such as Lowell Observatory – this observatory was built back in 1894 by Percival Lowell who believed he had found evidence that an advanced civilization existed on Mars!
There are plenty more great places nearby if you want to explore beyond Flagstaff as well.
Flagstaff gets an average of 300 days’ worth of sunshine every year, making for some beautiful blue skies that change color as sunset approaches – this makes photography really easy here even if you have no experience whatsoever.
Other things to do around Flagstaff include hiking through Coconino National Forest or visiting nearby Sedona. If you happen to be staying near Grand Canyon Village, don’t miss out on the chance to visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
This 10,000-year-old volcano is located about 10 miles north of Flagstaff and it’s well worth a visit if you have the time.
18. Camelback Mountain
The iconic Camelback Mountain is a must-see landmark within the Phoenix city limits. Although the mountain’s shape is similar to that of a camel, it actually gets its name from a 19th Century professional hunter named Abe Camel who frequented the area searching for prey.
The hike up Camelback Mountain rewards hikers with amazing views of the surrounding area, as well as a great workout.
19. Biosphere 2
Biosphere 2 is an amazing scientific feat that brings visitors up close and personal with the environment of Earth’s rainforests.
The biospheres are designed to be self-sustaining communities capable of producing their own food for inhabitants and feature a range of different climates.
This is an especially fun attraction for families, as kids are able to don spacesuits and wander around the world’s rainforests just like astronauts on an alien jungle planet!
Inside the three spheres are replicas of the environment of Earth’s rainforests, with some that duplicate Earth’s arctic and desert environments too – making it like visiting these places without leaving home!
It was founded by Dr. John Allen in the 1980s. The facility was originally created to act as an orbiting space station inhabited by humans who would monitor whether they were able to maintain their high energy standard of living while sequestered in reduced atmospheric pressure on limited food rations.
This idea soon evolved into more complex experiments including closed ecological systems testing how different habitat types could sustain themselves while recycling wastes using both minerals and sunlight for energy.
20. Lost Dutchman State Park
Named after a mysterious prospector said to have buried plenty of gold somewhere in the Superstition Mountains, Lost Dutchman State Park is a beautiful desert oasis not far from the Arizona-Mexico border.
The park gets its name from the Lost Dutchman, a prospector who is said to have buried a fortune in gold somewhere in the Superstition Mountains.
The landscape of the Lost Dutchman State Park is incredibly rugged and varied.
The park is situated in the middle of a desert, so it’s home to some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring cacti and desert flora in the state. However, the park also features towering mountains, lush green valleys, and bubbling brooks and creeks.
The park is a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and birdwatchers, as more than 200 species of birds have been recorded in the area. The park is home to several stunning natural landmarks, including Javelina Falls and Weaver’s Needle.
The park features numerous hiking trails, which are great for hikers of all abilities, as well as horseback riding opportunities to explore the surrounding area.
21. Tonto National Monument
The mighty cliffs of Tonto National Monument set the scene for an epic adventure through history at this historic landmark.
Visitors can marvel at the prehistoric petroglyphs carved into the canyon rocks, which are estimated to be around 2,000 years old!
As one of the most well-preserved ancient Native American locations in Arizona, Tonto National Monument is an exciting place for adults and children alike.
22. Wupatki National Monument
The Sinagua cliff dwellings preserved within Wupatki National Monument form part of the largest collection of such ruins in the Southwest.
Caves carved into sandstone cliffs are characteristic features of this region, and visitors can enjoy hiking around these fascinating structures that were once home to ancient Native American tribes.
23. De Chelly National Monument
The De Chelly National Monument is a stunning and frankly awe-inspiring place to visit. The Monument is located in northeastern Arizona and is known for its beautiful red sandstone cliffs and canyons.
The area has been inhabited by the Navajo people for over 4,000 years, and there are numerous archaeological sites in the area that visitors can explore.
There are also a number of trails that wind through the canyons, allowing visitors to explore the area on foot.
The De Chelly National Monument is one of the best places to visit in Arizona for people that have seen the main attractions such as Monument Valley, Lake Powell, and the Grand Canyon.
24. Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is a must-see attraction in Arizona. It’s home to over 21,000 plants from all over the world, and it’s the perfect place to learn about the unique ecology of the Sonoran Desert.
There are also plenty of activities for kids, including a nature trail, a playground, and a petting zoo making it a great thing to do in Arizona for families.
The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s open every day of the week from 8 am to 8 pm, and admission is free for members and children aged 12 and under.
25. Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park preserves some of the world’s most unique natural attractions, including an impressive collection of petrified wood.
Visitors can learn all about the fascinating process that formed these fossilized logs while exploring this beautiful desert oasis.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable natural attraction to explore, look no further than Petrified Forest National Park. This stunning park is home to a vast collection of petrified wood, which has been turned to stone through the process of fossilization.
This is a must-see destination for any nature lover, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy the park’s unique beauty.
Be sure to check out the park’s museum, which offers in-depth information about the fascinating history of this area, and don’t miss out on the opportunity to hike some of the park’s most scenic trails.
26. Kartchner Caverns State Park
The caverns were discovered by two cavers, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, on November 14th, 1974. These caves are considered to be one of the best-preserved limestone cave systems in the world.
The caverns are open year-round and feature a great range of guided tours perfect for beginners.
Kartchner Caverns consists of two major chambers that are connected by a labyrinth of tunnels. The first chamber is called the Big Room and it is 2,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high.
The Big Room contains beautiful examples of helictites, anthodites, moon milk, flowstone rocks covered with frostwork, cave pearls, and numerous cave columns.
27. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Canyon is a beautiful recreation area situated in Arizona’s northern reaches and features some of the most spectacular scenery in the state.
The recreation area was created to protect the numerous natural attractions found along the canyon’s many scenic waterways, including unbelievable rock formations and spectacular canyons that stretch for miles.
Glen Canyon is one of the better-hidden gems when visiting Arizona relative to all the other national parks.
28. Lake Powell
Lake Powell is a manmade reservoir located on the Colorado River near the border of Utah and Arizona.
It was founded as a result of the 1972 Glen Canyon Dam flooding, which also created the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area.
The area surrounding the lake has now become a nationally recognized recreational park.
The reservoir is named after John Wesley Powell, who traveled along the river in 1869 in boats. Lake Powell also supplies water to the Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and the Upper Basin states of the Colorado River Compact.
Lake Powell is a popular destination for boating, fishing, swimming, and hiking. There are also many scenic areas around the lake that are perfect for photography. Some of the best things to do at Lake Powell include:
- Boating – Lake Powell is a great place to boat, with plenty of areas to explore.
- Fishing – The reservoir is home to a wide variety of fish, making it a great spot for fishing enthusiasts.
- Swimming – The lake is perfect for swimming and enjoying the sun.
- Hiking – There are many great hiking trails around the lake, providing stunning views of the area.
- Photography – Lake Powell is a beautiful place to take pictures, with impressive views around every corner.
- Rock Climbing – Rock climbers love the area surrounding the lake, which has many opportunities for climbing and bouldering.
- Watersports – There are plenty of watersports available at the lake, including skiing & tubing.
- Scenic Drives – There are many scenic drives around the lake, including a drive to Rainbow Bridge National Monument which is south of the lake and a drive to Horseshoe Bend, which is north of the lake.
- Glamping – Camping at Lake Powell has never been better with glamping now being offered in the area.
- Wildlife Viewing – There are many opportunities to view wildlife around the lake, including a great opportunity to see bighorn sheep on State Route 89A between mile markers 15 and 16.
- Stargazing – It’s always a good idea for stargazers to pack their gear when camping at Lake Powell because the skies are so dark and free of light pollution.
- Cave Tours – Lake Powell’s many caves make it a great place for caving expeditions & tours, which can be arranged by Glen Canyon National Recreational Area.
- Twin Rocks – Lake Powell is home to two magnificent rock formations known as “Twin Rocks.” These rocks jut out of the water on State Route 89A near mile marker 14.
- Rainbow Bridge – The bridge is a natural bridge formation located on Lake Powell, which is also known as the largest natural bridge in the world. It’s about 290 feet wide and spans 275 feet across.
29. Verde River State Park
For those who enjoy getting up close and personal with nature, Verde River State Park or the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area offers an unforgettable experience within the beautiful landscape of northern Arizona.
The park features a range of trails and waterways that provide unique opportunities for visitors to enjoy the area’s natural attractions, including pretty waterfalls and stunning wildflower displays.
To get to Verde River State Park, take I-17 north to Camp Verde and exit onto AZ-260. Head east on AZ-260 and the park will be on your right.
Arizona is a state with something for everyone. With its diverse landscape and plethora of attractions, it’s no wonder that Arizona draws visitors from all over the world.
We hope you enjoyed this little roundup of some of the best things to do in Arizona- be sure to add them to your bucket list!
What is the number 1 attraction in Arizona?
The Grand Canyon is the number 1 attraction in Arizona as it’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It is a vast natural formation that was created from mudstone cliffs on the Colorado River.
What is the prettiest place in Arizona?
The prettiest place in Arizona is Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. A Casa Grande is an imposing house or villa built by the ancient people of Arizona that still stands today.
A place where you can explore ruins of the past and marvel at the culture that had flourished long before Europeans explored North America.
The second prettiest place in Arizona is Montezuma’s Castle. Montezuma was an ancient leader of the Sinagua people. This impressive cliff dwelling with intact rooms and artifacts is over 600 years old.
Is there anything fun to do in Arizona?
Yes! There are plenty of great things to do in Arizona. Some popular attractions include the Grand Canyon National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Sedona Stargazing.
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