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 incredible Monument Valley certainly gives it a run for its money. These are our favorite places to visit and things to do in Arizona.
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 accurate as this may be, it doesn’t make Arizona any more boring or less exciting, or enjoyable as a place to visit. Arizona has many exciting things to do, including visiting top attractions to enjoy the state’s prime features.
|Best Overall||Grand Canyon National Park|
|Best Outdoor Activity||Hiking at Sedona|
|Best Historic Site||Montezuma Castle National Monument|
|Best Adventure Activity||Antelope Canyon Exploration|
Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Arizona
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 incredible natural phenomena, making it a can’t-miss destination in Arizona. It’s the world’s largest canyon, formed by natural erosion over millennia. It has become a significant tourist hotspot for visitors worldwide who 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. Grand Canyon Village’s visitor center and town are located on the south rim and have a museum, gift shop, and restaurant. Many trails lead down to the canyon floor as well as ranger programs.
See Related: Grand Canyon Packing List
2. Saguaro National Park
The Sonoran Desert is home to the Saguaro cactus, 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 ten different types of reptiles.
Saguaro is one of the best places to visit to get a true feel of the landscape Arizona has to offer, and it’s a great winter destination if you are looking to escape from a cold-weather climate.
See Related: Things to do in Page, Arizona
Sedona is a popular tourist destination in Arizona, and after 5 minutes here, it’s not hard to see why. With its stunning red rock formations, funky art galleries, and New Age vibe, Sedona offers one of the most unique experiences in the Southwest.
The area is also an excellent 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 for its beautiful scenery.
The red rocks of Sedona are perfect if you want to experience an exciting night out in Arizona with some stunning views – they also make great photo subjects. As mentioned before, there is an abundance of outdoor activities available in this area, including hiking, biking, and camping.
Check into one of the many hotels or guest houses in the city center when visiting Sedona. There is plenty on offer here, and at affordable prices, which makes them even more appealing to tourists who want their money’s worth staying here.
See Related: Things to Do in Cave Creek, Arizona
Phoenix is the state’s capital, largest city, and one of Arizona’s most popular attractions. This city has a dynamic atmosphere and spectacular monuments like 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.
In addition, the city 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.
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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, ten restaurants, and 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 a haven for 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.
Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city, offering many 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 plenty more hiking trails are worth exploring too!
See Related: Things to Do in Paradise Valley, Montana
7. Colorado River and Lake Havasu
The Colorado River flows through much of western Arizona towards Mexico before dramatically turning southwards near 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 and amazing desert views.
Lake Havasu City was founded in 1963 by American entrepreneur Robert McCulloch. 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. When he discovered Lake Havasu – a large reservoir 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.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona
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, known for its blue-green water and picturesque surroundings.
The Havasupai tribe has inhabited the area around Havasu Falls for centuries and continues to live there today. The reservation is located in a remote corner of the Grand Canyon and can only be accessed by foot or helicopter.
European explorers first discovered Havasu Falls 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 filled with bright blue pools of water – thanks to calcium carbonate in the rocks forming 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.
9. Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is an immense area that extends into New Mexico and Utah in addition to Arizona, making it one of the largest tribal reservations in the United States. 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 various activities such as hiking, climbing, skiing, camping, and 4-wheel driving. Several excellent museums in this region 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 is known for its spectacular sandstone monoliths resembling 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.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Mesa, Arizona
10. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in northern Arizona, 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 fantastic photographic opportunities.
The area has become a popular stop on the Grand Circle Tour Route, and guided tours are available that take visitors through its 10-mile length. Tourists can visit two main Antelope Canyons – 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 offers some amazing views of the canyon walls.
Upper Antelope Canyon is located a few miles upstream from Lower Antelope Canyon, and it’s only accessible by guided tour. This makes it less popular with tourists but offers some beautiful views worth the extra effort.
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11. Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is a famous destination in Arizona due to its location on Lake Powell – this 10-mile-long manmade lake was created in 1964 when Glen Canyon Dam was operational. The dam provides hydroelectric power for much of southern California and northern Arizona, but it also offers fantastic views from both sides thanks to its colossal 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. Guided tours are also available here if you want someone else to do your hard work.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Sedona, Arizona
12. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is a truly iconic location in the American West, on the border between Arizona and Utah. The valley is known for its towering sandstone buttes that rise from the desert landscape, featured in countless movies and TV shows.
If you’re looking for an amazing natural wonder to explore, 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 out of the desert landscape.
The area is open to visitors all year round, and plenty of guided tours are 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 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 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
Jerome, Arizona, is a small town in the Black Hills of the Verde Valley. The town was founded as a copper mining camp in the late 19th century. The town reached its peak population of 10,000 in the 1920s. However, the copper deposits were eventually exhausted, and the town’s population declined. Jerome is now a popular tourist destination 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 different 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 in Nevada and Arizona. This park has many things to do, including hiking, fishing, camping, and swimming. The scenery is stunning, and it’s a great place to relax and escape the city life’s hustle and bustle.
Lake Mead is essential to the Hoover Dam because it provides the water needed to generate hydroelectric power. Without it, the dam couldn’t operate (and would be pointless), so the recreation area is vital to the overall infrastructure.
The park offers some of the country’s best fishing and plenty of camping, hiking, and swimming opportunities. It’s a great place to spend a weekend or a summer vacation and 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 by stunning scenery. Recent census data shows the metro area has just under 140,000 people.
However, 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 unique cultural attractions, such as Lowell Observatory – this observatory was built in 1894 by Percival Lowell, who believed he had found evidence that an advanced civilization existed on Mars!
Plenty of great places are nearby if you want to explore beyond Flagstaff. 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 easy here, even if you have no experience whatsoever.
Other places 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. Hike to the top of Camelback Mountain
The iconic Camelback Mountain is a must-see landmark within the Phoenix and Scottsdale 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 and a great workout.
19. Learn about Earth at 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 food for inhabitants and featuring various climates.
This is an entertaining attraction for families, as kids can 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!
Dr. John Allen founded it in the 1980s. The facility was created as an orbiting space station inhabited by humans who would monitor whether they could maintain their high energy living standards while sequestering 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 minerals and sunlight for energy. Over the years, Biosphere 2 has been a research hub for NASA, FEMA, and universities worldwide – making it an educational gem if you’re keen to learn more about natural sciences.
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 near 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 in the Superstition Mountains. The landscape of the Lost Dutchman State Park is incredibly rugged and varied.
The park is 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 has 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, and 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, 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 the 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 Navajo people have inhabited the area for over 4,000 years, and visitors can explore numerous archaeological sites. Hikers also have many options, with 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 for families in Arizona.
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 about the fascinating process of forming these fossilized logs while exploring this beautiful desert oasis.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable natural attraction, 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
Kartchner Caverns is home to one of the longest limestone caves in North America and offers an unforgettable experience for visitors keen to learn more about the desert’s natural attractions.
The caverns were discovered by two cavers, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, on November 14th, 1974. These caves are considered 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 connected by a labyrinth of tunnels. The first chamber is called the Big Room, 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. Kartchner Caverns State Park is located in the southern Arizona desert near Benson.
27. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Canyon is a beautiful recreation area 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 along the canyon’s many scenic waterways, including unbelievable rock formations and spectacular canyons stretching 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 due to 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 boating, fishing, swimming, and hiking destination. Many scenic areas around the lake are perfect for photography.
See Related: Where to Stay in Prescott
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.
See Related: Visiting Four Corners National Monument
30. Embrace Your Inner Cowboy at Prescott’s Whiskey Row
Step into another era as you stroll down Prescott’s famed Whiskey Row. Picture an old Western movie set come to life, the air brimming with the faint smell of leather and nostalgic echoes of spurs clinking. Western saloons sit shoulder to shoulder. Their historic charm is untouched by time, each teeming with tales of miners, cowboys, and roguish gamblers from the bygone days of the Wild West.
The Row’s saloons wear their storied pasts like badges of honor, wooden walls, and swinging doors whispering tales of days when whiskey was cheaper than water, and every other building was a saloon. The century-old Palace Saloon, the survivor of the great fire of 1900, is a can’t-miss destination. Step inside, and you’ll find yourself transported back in time, it’s carefully preserved interior revealing an authentic glimpse of its illustrious past.
But it’s not just about the saloons. Whiskey Row pulses with energy the heart of Prescott’s lively downtown, framed by art galleries, quaint shops, and delightful eateries serving the best local cuisine. It’s more than a place; it’s an experience, a tangible piece of history that leaves a lasting impression and a yearning to discover even more of Prescott’s charms.
Arizona, with its diverse landscape and plethora of attractions, it’s no wonder that Arizona draws visitors from every corner of the earth. We hope you enjoyed this little roundup of some of the best things to do in Arizona- don’t forget to include them on your bucket list!
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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’s a vast natural formation 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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