If you’re wondering what to do in Cave Creek, Arizona, look no further! Cave Creek is a small town that has much to offer. The town boasts beautiful scenery, including open desert, mountain peaks, and a variety of flora and fauna.
While many of the best things to do in Cave Creek are outdoorsy, you can also do a few things indoors, such as visiting museums, libraries, and art exhibits in the Sonoran Arts League.
It’s a great place for day trips or even a weekend holiday, exploring all it offers. It’s also home to some of the nation’s best golf courses, including Rancho Manana and Dove Valley Ranch Golf Clubs.
If you’re looking for something to do while visiting Cave Creek in Arizona, we’ve compiled a list of exciting things to do in this charming town.
What We Cover
- Things to Do in Cave Creek, Arizona
- 1. Take an Old West Stroll in Frontier Town
- 2. Get Educated at Cave Creek Museum
- 3. Take Your Chances on the Rocks at Black Mountain Trail
- 4. Have a Family Picnic at Cave Creek Regional Park
- 5. Saddle Up for a Horseback Ride at Cave Creek Trail Rides
- 6. Go on a Wildlife Adventure at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
- 7. Hike around Jewel of the Creek Preserve
- 8. Play a Round (or two) of Golf!
- 9. Enjoy an Authentic Western Saloon at Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse
- 10. Enjoy Riding with Family at Macdonald’s Ranch
- 11. Treat Yourself to Some Crystal and Rock Jewelry at Rare Earth Gallery
- 12. Immerse Yourself in Knowledge at Desert Foothills Library
- 13. Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride with Arizona Balloon Safaris over the Sonoran Desert
- 14. Learn about American History at the Grace Museum of America
- 15. Visit The Cave of Cave Creek
- 16. Relax at the Boulders Resort and Spa
- 17. Witness Rare and Endangered Bird Species At Wild At Heart
- 18. Wander around Carefree Desert Gardens
- Where is Cave Creek, Arizona?
- How to Get to Cave Creek, Arizona
- Places to Stay in Cave Creek
- Most significant landmark – The Cave of Cave Creek/Massacre Cave
- Park to visit – Cave Creek Regional Park
- Free activity – Hiking at Black Mountain Trail
- Activity for kids – Visiting Desert Foothills Library
- Activity for adults – Hot Air Balloon Ride Over The Sonoran Desert
- Place to eat – Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse
- Place to stay – Rancho Mañana Resort by Diamond Resorts
Things to Do in Cave Creek, Arizona
If this is your first time here and you’re still confused about what to see in Cave Creek, Arizona, we got you! This charming town offers various activities and attractions that will keep you busy all year. It’s known as one of the most beautiful places in Arizona, with its stunning desert landscape, wide open spaces, and stunning hiking trails such as Go John Trail.
1. Take an Old West Stroll in Frontier Town
Address: 6245 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Like most old frontier towns, the Old West town in Cave Creek has a longer main street, covering all the city’s famous spots. One thing distinguishing this frontier town is its appealing “Wild West” scenery.
The Old West town has the positive (but not literally) medieval gallows, where ne’er do wells and murderers were hanged publicly in the past as a punishment for their wrongdoings. Or others’ convenience – the Wild West was wild!
You’ll also come across the one and only Boot Hill while taking a stroll in Frontier Town. Boot Hill is a famous cemetery, the burial ground for the gunfighters who died in the gunfights with their boots on. There are also some famous picture-clicking spots where you can capture photos with your family to save them in your family album.
Tourists can shop for souvenirs, glittering jewelry, and clothes in Frontier Town. The best thing about staying near Frontier Town is that it’s close to everything! It’s only a mile from the town center and less than 40 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
What’s more, those looking for where to stay in Cave Creek, Arizona, can find great accommodation options near Frontier Town. My top budget-friendly recommendations include the Villas of Cave Creek and this lovely Cave Creek Private Home rental.
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2. Get Educated at Cave Creek Museum
Address: 6140 E Skyline Dr, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
The Cave Creek Museum is one of the most popular attractions concerning the town’s storied past. It’s a 52-year-old museum that preserves the town’s ancient history and includes artifacts from centuries ago.
The museum was inaugurated in 1970 by the members and promoters of the historical society. The museum displays an excellent display of ancient objects and prehistoric artifacts. Antique pottery, paintings, and unique artifacts are present in the museum.
Exploring the Cave Creek Museum is a great way to learn about the traditional culture, values, and lifestyles of people who lived in Cave Creek in past times. It also provides valuable information about early settlers who came to this area over 100 years ago. The museum also has several interactive exhibits.
3. Take Your Chances on the Rocks at Black Mountain Trail
Address: N School House Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
After you’ve visited the Cave Creek Museum, you must not miss the nearby Black Mountain Trail. It’s one of the top Cave Creek activities if you like to roam the great outdoors.
The Black Mountain Trail is also one of the favorite hiking trails in Arizona because it offers an exciting adventure with breathtaking views of desert flora and fauna. It’s not the toughest walk in the world, but you’ll get the blood pumping.
Black Mountain Trail starts with a gradual climb at first but then makes a steep descent near the end. As you hike along the trail, you’ll also see many different types of flowers, trees, and shrubs. It’s recommended for those who love nature and want to immerse themselves in this amazing landscape.
See Related: Most Amazing Natural Arches in the World
4. Have a Family Picnic at Cave Creek Regional Park
Address: 37019 N Lava Ln, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
If you’re looking for the best things to do with kids in Cave Creek, this might be the place for you. It’s a massive park with many things to offer for the whole family – especially incredible views and wide open spaces.
The park offers stunning scenery and natural landscapes. With its highest point at more than 2,000 feet, Cave Creek Regional Park offers many amenities and outdoor activities, such as wildlife areas, hiking and mountain biking trails, picnic and barbecue areas, playgrounds, and more.
One thing that makes Cave Creek Regional Park so special is that there are so many different kinds of animals living there. It’s a particularly good birdwatching country. When the weather warms up in springtime, many birds fly around in the morning, looking for a meal.
Cave Creek Regional Park is a great place to spend time with family, especially during the spring and summer months. It offers a variety of activities for all ages, from hiking to horseback rides, and is just a wonderful place to take a moment and connect with nature.
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5. Saddle Up for a Horseback Ride at Cave Creek Trail Rides
Address: 37019 N 32nd St, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Horseback riding tours are a great way to explore the vast Sonoran Desert. They provide a unique opportunity to ride through the desert landscapes of sand dunes and rugged mountains. It’s little wonder then that the Cave Creek Trail Rides is one of Arizona’s most popular horseback riding tours.
Expert horseback riders accompany each group during their trail rides to ensure the safety and security of all tourists riding on these horses. They also help you saddle up on the horse and show you how to hold its reins to control your mount throughout your ride easily.
After getting you saddled up, the horse guides then lead tourists to various sites around the surrounding area where they can appreciate the beauty of this breathtaking desert landscape. Although it can be quite hot on a sunny day here, alluring views of the sun setting behind the dunes and rocky mountains are worth the trouble! Just pack the sunscreen and some water.
The horseback riding tours here will give you an unforgettable experience while you enjoy the area’s scenic views and spend time with your loved ones in the saddle. There’s a reason it’s one of the favorite attractions in town!
6. Go on a Wildlife Adventure at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area
Address: 44000 N Spur Cross Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Visiting Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area is one of the best things to do in Cave Creek, Arizona. The park offers plenty of opportunities for camping, picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. It’s free and open to everyone, so it’s a great way to spend time outdoors with your family or friends.
The Elephant Mountain trail is the most popular yet challenging trail in the area. Although the route is a little challenging, it’s worth it for the stunning beauty on the other side of the road.
The trail also leads to the famous Tonto National Forest. It’s the largest national forest in Arizona, covering around 2,873,200 acres. It inhabits various animals and bird species. Raccoons, black bears, bald eagles, Arizona skunks (give them a wide berth!), bobcats, ring-tailed cats, long-eared owls, and blue herons are a few.
While Spur Cross Ranch is a great place to visit year-round, it’s especially beautiful during the spring when wildflowers bloom, and proverbial colorful paintings are in the sky during the sunsets. Don’t forget your camera!
If you’re a family looking for where to stay in Cave Creek, Arizona, this Charming Cave Creek Abode near Spur Cross Ranch may be right for you. The holiday home includes many great amenities, such as a hot tub, a TV, free WiFi access, and a terrace for great views. It also has a parking space onsite!
7. Hike around Jewel of the Creek Preserve
Address: Cave Creek, AZ 85331
If you make it to Spur Cross Ranch, be sure to take a look at the Jewel of the Creek Preserve. It’s a famous nature preserve in Cave Creek, Arizona, and one of the top family-oriented attractions in town. It’s more than a gem; it’s a jewel!
Jewel of the Creek Preserve is a fun place to visit with outdoorsy kids as it boasts its beauty with the iconic natural scenery and landscapes. Desert Foothills Land Trust rendered its best services to preserve this area and the oasis surrounding Cave Creek. So, you can imagine how beautiful the place would be!
Jewel of the Creek Nature Preserve shares its border with the renowned Spur Cross Ranch at the northern edge of town. There are many towering cottonwood trees, willow trees, and cacti plants to admire. It also contains small hidden caves to explore and picturesque running streams.
It also offers an incredible hike along the Dragonfly Trail with water crossings. The water crossings have wood plank bridges for entertainment purposes. If you love nature, this is a great place for you to visit!
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8. Play a Round (or two) of Golf!
Address: 5734 E Rancho Manana Blvd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Rancho Manana Golf Club is a renowned golf club in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. The course has one of Cave Creek and Scottsdale’s most beautiful layouts.
A variety of dine-in options are also available for those who would like to sample some snacks after a round of golf. The Tonto Bar and Grill is a top-notch restaurant in where a significant rush of people gathers to enjoy their great food.
If you’re in this neck of the mountains and fancy staying the weekend, check into the Rancho Manana Resort By Diamond Resorts. It’s in a great location with BBQ facilities, free Wi-Fi access, and a pool with incredible decor.
Legend Trails and Dove Valley Ranch Golf Club are other local golf courses near Cave Creek where tourists and visitors can fancy a game and enjoy the amazing desert landscapes.
9. Enjoy an Authentic Western Saloon at Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse
Address: 6823 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse is Cave Creek, Arizona’s best saloon and BBQ dining experience. It has a mini rodeo, not to mention some of the most mouthwatering eats in town.
Guests can enjoy the rodeo shows and try the delicious western food, especially the brisket, fried chicken, and steak. But mostly the brisket – holy heck, is the brisket good.
The saloon entertains the visitors with delicious food, Friday night bull riding shows, and mutton busting. The steakhouse gives the best cowboy experience with its sizzling, tender food.
It’s the best place to visit for a truly Western experience, have a quick bite, and watch kids get tossed about during Mutton Bustin.’ Note that this place fills up like crazy on Friday nights. So, if you wish to see the Friday night bull riding show, arrive at the Buffalo Chip Saloon earlier to get a seat.
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10. Enjoy Riding with Family at Macdonald’s Ranch
Address: 26540 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Macdonald’s Ranch is a family-owned and operated premier horseback riding stable in Cave Creek. It offers thrilling rides for all ages and abilities on beautiful horses.
The ranch is located in a secluded area. The ranch has many outdoor activities like horseback riding tours, stagecoach rides, and cowboy picnics that give the visitor a “Wild West” touch.
Besides horseback riding tours, MacDonald’s Ranch offers many other entertaining activities, like visiting their small zoo. Visitors can also book parts of the ranch out to celebrate special occasions!
See Related: Best Restaurants in Sedona, Arizona
11. Treat Yourself to Some Crystal and Rock Jewelry at Rare Earth Gallery
Address: 6401 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
The Rare Earth Gallery is a unique combination of an art gallery and a rock shop. The gallery contains outstanding pieces of the earth’s core and precious stones that are hard to find elsewhere.
Rare Earth Gallery is a magnificent gallery known for its huge collection of beautiful stones and crystals. The gallery also sells unique ornaments to decorate your home or office. You can also buy wall art glass plates and lamps illuminated by rare colored light bulbs.
There’s no better place to pick up a sparkly souvenir than Rare Earth Gallery! Its beautiful works of art and jewelry won’t let you go home empty-handed.
12. Immerse Yourself in Knowledge at Desert Foothills Library
Address: 38443 N School House Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
If you’re looking for the best quiet things to do with kids in Cave Creek, this is the place to be. The Desert Foothills Library has become a popular venue for families in the area, hosting many events and programs to enrich the community.
The library offers educational programs, story times, and its bookstore. They also have an outdoor patio where you can relax while enjoying the beautiful weather typical of this part of Arizona.
The staff at this library is very helpful and knowledgeable about their services. They always have something new for visitors to see or do so that they can enjoy their time here as much as possible. They’re also eager to give you their recommendations or share what they’re reading right now!
13. Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride with Arizona Balloon Safaris over the Sonoran Desert
Arizona Balloon Safaris is an awe-inspiring company, lets its guests enjoy hot air balloon rides to cherish for a lifetime. It offers the single largest hot air balloon ride in the area floating high above the tremendous Sonoran Desert. Trust me, there is no better way to admire the Sonoran Desert!
Fodors Travel Guide has listed this among America’s top 10 hot air balloon rides. The management has also received a Certificate of Excellence for their best services and cooperation with the visitors.
Riders can enjoy these sky-kissing balloon rides and have a memorable time with their loved ones. You can also make exclusive bookings with Arizona Balloon Safaris to celebrate any special occasion or event.
So, if you wish to surprise your family members or friends with the best gift, book the tickets in advance and take them on this ride. It’s one of the most unforgettable gifts you could ever give.
See Related: Best Hot Air Balloon Rides Around the World
14. Learn about American History at the Grace Museum of America
Address: 42088 North Fleming Springs Road, Cave Creek, Arizona, 85331
Whether you’re a history buff or not, the Grace Museum of America is an excellent place to learn about America’s rich and fascinating history. It’s located in the mountains of the Sonoran Desert. It tells the story of the events and periods in American history, from its infancy on the global stage to modern times.
American stage and TV actress Grace Voss Frederick started the Grace Museum. She was of the view of documenting the hustle and progress of America from an ordinary country to a superpower. Many of the museum exhibits used to tell this 200-year story are items and keepsakes of Grace’s, collected over nearly a century.
This fascinating museum includes many local and national historical records as well as records of many of the critical scientific achievements and inventions that originated in the United States.
The Grace Museum of America is a real hidden gem. Also, it’s a great place to introduce kids to America’s rich history!
15. Visit The Cave of Cave Creek
Address: Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Cave Creek has many historical sites, but the namesake Cave of Cave Creek is one of the most famous! It’s a large cave historically used by the Apache for shelter and food.
In the past, the cave was a hiding place for marauding Apaches who raided other tribes, western settlers, and caravans. They also used this place as a shelter to save themselves from the severe weather and cavalry raids.
Many marauding Apaches were killed during a famous raid in 1876. Since then, the locals have nicknamed it “massacre cave.”
Today, the Cave belongs to the local landowners associated with Desert Foothills Land Trust. It’s located on private property, and access is not easy – only through a guided tour!
Desert Foothills Land Trust feels pleasure in welcoming the tourists and group tours. Each year, tons of visitors come here to explore the Cave and learn about its historical background.
The Cave is certainly a landmark, maybe even an attraction in town, but it’s more than just something to see or do. Gory as it may be, it’s the town’s soul!
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16. Relax at the Boulders Resort and Spa
Address: 34631 N Tom Darlington Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85262
The Boulders Resort and Spa is a luxury place to stay, as all the services you need for your relaxing vacation are right there. When it comes to total relaxation, this place is the best choice due to its various residence facilities, including massage, spa treatments, and more.
The resort also offers impressive swimming pools and hot tubs, where you can enjoy lazy days with family or friends. Go on, you deserve it!
17. Witness Rare and Endangered Bird Species At Wild At Heart
Address: 31840 N 45th St, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Those interested in birds will enjoy seeing some of the state’s rarest species at Wild At Heart. It’s a wonderful bird rescue service in Arizona. It rescues, rehabilitates, and releases the birds of prey in their natural habitats after treatment. It also works to preserve local species of predatory birds, such as owls, eagles, hawks, and falcons.
One hardly finds a chance to get close to the birds of prey in their wild habitat. Thus, this place is one of the top attractions for families and kids interested in birds, as they can observe these raptor birds up close.
Wild At Heart service also features a clinic staff educating visitors about the raptor birds. Clinic staff also visit different institutions to inform the students about the predatory birds in the Sonoran Desert.
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18. Wander around Carefree Desert Gardens
Address: 101 Easy St, Carefree, AZ 85377
If you’re looking for free things to do near Cave Creek, this desert botanical garden is the place to be! Most people don’t show a willingness to visit a desert.
They consider it an uncharming and boring place where they can find nothing worthy except the vast, empty, remote, barren landscapes, dunes, spiky plants, poisonous bugs and snakes, and immense heat.
They aren’t necessarily wrong. A lot of deserts have these features. However, Carefree Desert Gardens drives away those thoughts of unwillingness and boredom with its unparalleled beauty.
This lovely botanical garden is at the center of neighboring Carefree in Arizona. There are only two botanical gardens in the area, and the Carefree Desert Garden is one of them. The gardens are open to the public throughout the year and well worth your time.
The gardens are an incredible oasis in the desert where beautiful vegetation thrives in all weather. You will also find complete information about the garden’s various cacti and desert bushes.
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Where is Cave Creek, Arizona?
Located in the Sonoran Desert, Cave Creek is a desert town in Maricopa County, Arizona. It’s bordered by nearby cities Carefree to the east, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, and New River to the west, and Tonto National Forest to the north.
The town has been a popular destination for many years due to its proximity to Phoenix, but it has grown rapidly in recent years as many people have moved to the Cave Creek area. The city is still on the up and up!
How to Get to Cave Creek, Arizona
The closest major city is Phoenix, Arizona, about an hour from Cave Creek on State Route 51. If traveling outside of this area, you must take a plane or train to get there.
The airport closest to Cave Creek is Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. After reaching Phoenix, you can book a car and head towards Phoenix. Services like Kayak can help you get one squared away ahead of time.
Unfortunately, Phoenix has no direct bus route to Cave Creek. So, if you wish to head to Cave Creek from downtown Phoenix by bus, board the 7 bus to Deer Valley Rd. & 7th St. From there, catch a taxi or a Lyft!
Places to Stay in Cave Creek
Suites at Rancho Manana Resort are spacious and appointed with everything you need for a comfortable stay, including full kitchen and laundry facilities, flat-screen TV with cable, and plush seating in front of a wood-burning fireplace. Wake up each morning to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and golf course.
This luxurious accommodation features fully equipped kitchens, private hot tubs, and fireplaces in the seating area, perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring. It's also just a short drive from hiking trails, barbecue facilities, and the airport, so you can make the most of your time in Arizona.
The Spur Cross Inn is the perfect place to stay when exploring the beautiful area of Cave Creek. This bed and breakfast offers comfortable and stylish accommodations, complete with all the amenities you need for a relaxing stay. Each unit features a kitchenette with a microwave and fridge, as well as a satellite flat-screen TV, safety deposit box, ironing facilities, and desk.