Arizona Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Arizona

The author doing a yoga on a road with the Monument Valley on her background
Casual road yoga with a backdrop of Monument Valley.

Why We Love Arizona: Arizona is a gorgeous state with endless scenic destinations, old west towns, delicious food, and rich culture. Though most people simply associate Arizona with the Grand Canyon, this wonder of the world is just one of many reasons to visit. From the Sonoran Desert in Tucson to the mountain peaks in Flagstaff, Arizona is so much more than a desert scene with cacti and tumbleweeds. The Grand Canyon State will certainly leave a mark on your heart no matter where you choose to explore.

Best of Arizona

🏙️ Destinations

Overlooking view of buildings in Tucson with lights at night
Surrounded by 5 mountain ranges, Tucson offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation.

From natural wonders to historical towns and bustling cities, Arizona offers something for everyone. The best destinations include: 

  • Sedona – A hiker’s paradise among the sacred red rock scenery. This town is said to have healing powers!
  • Bisbee – Once the top producer of the nation’s copper, this historic mining town features charming shops and haunted hotels.
  • Tombstone – See a Wild West gunfight reenactment and go saloon hopping in this historic mining town.
  • Prescott – The “Christmas City” of Arizona, this woodsy town is known for its winter light festivals and Whiskey Row.
  • Tucson – Home to the beautiful Sonoran Desert and its saguaro cacti, a thriving art community, and killer Mexican food.
  • Phoenix – A bustling, desert metropolis filled with exciting shopping, attractions, resorts, restaurants, and bars.
  • Flagstaff – The perfect getaway from the desert heat. This mountain town has a great ski resort and charming downtown.
  • Nogales – This border town is a great spot to get vibrant Mexican culture without needing a passport.

👉 See the full list of best places to visit in Arizona.

✨ Things to Do

Don’t miss out on these must-do Arizona activities, including some of the best hiking in the world: 

  • See the Grand Canyon – Take in the breathtaking sites of this wonder of the world, or hike it if you’re up for a challenge.
  • Drive through Monument Valley – Feel like you’re in an old western movie when you drive past these incredible rock formations. 
  • Hike in Sedona – Explore the enchanting red rocks via one of over 200 hiking trails in this gorgeous town.
  • Taste Authentic Mexican Food – Tamales, tortillas, tacos, enchiladas, you name it! The Mexican food in Arizona is something to experience.
  • Tube the Salt River – Tube past wild horses in the waters of the Salt River, refreshing during the hot summer months.
  • Go Wine Tasting – From Nogales to the Utah border and everywhere in between, you simply must visit an Arizona vineyard.
  • Experience the Wild West in Tombstone – Step into the Wild West and see how the outlaws lived in this iconic Arizona town.
  • Visit Antelope Canyon – Just south of Utah, these picturesque slot canyons will give you an adventure you’ll never forget.
People riding a horse carriage in Tombstone, Arizona
With horse buggies and shootout reenactments, Tombstone really gets into the Wild West act!

🗺️ Where to Stay

Shops and speakeasies in Bisbee before night time
Bisbee is a historic mining town full of haunted shops and hidden speakeasies.

Choosing where to stay in diverse Arizona can be a challenge, but fear not. Here’s a local’s insight into a few of the state’s top destinations:

  • Sedona – Don’t miss a chance to wake up to the crimson scenery of this enchanting red mountain town.
  • Flagstaff – Skiing, hiking, camping, and simply escaping the heat makes this beloved college town a must-see.
  • Bisbee – Bisbee’s charming streets make it an absolute favorite destination among Arizona visitors.
  • Tucson – Outdoor adventures and city activities abound in this southern town surrounded by the lush Sonoran Desert.
  • Phoenix – This is your one-stop shop for historic sightseeing, glamorous resorts, and exciting attractions in the big city.

🛎️ Best Hotels

Overlooking view from the El Tovar Hotel
The El Tovar Hotel overlooks the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at dusk.

If you’re looking for a luxurious stay in a jaw-dropping setting, these are some of the best hotels in Arizona:

  • Arizona Biltmore – This Phoenix resort doubles as a beautifully designed luxury escape or a fun-filled, family getaway.
  • L’Auberge de Sedona Resort – Here, you’ll be surrounded by stunning red rock scenes visible through floor-to-ceiling windows.
  • Arizona Inn – A historic Tucson gem, these pristinely landscaped grounds are conveniently located in the center of the city.
  • Canyon Ranch Resort & Spa – The pioneer of health and wellness resorts, this Tucson stay comes highly recommended by celebrities and royalty alike.
  • El Tovar Hotel – Built just steps away from the edge of the Grand Canyon, you won’t find a closer stay to this natural wonder.

🚗 Best Road Trips

Scenic view while on a drive to Nogales from Tucson
The drive to Nogales from Tucson is truly glorious after the monsoon rains.

If you’ve got wheels, take advantage of an Arizona road trip. You’ll pull over every hour or so to take photos on these scenic drives.

  • Sedona to Flagstaff – This trip via Oak Creek Canyon is one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever taken, especially after the summer rains.
  • Page to Monument Valley – Go from Horseshoe Bend and the slot canyons in Page to the unreal formations of Monument Valley.
  • Tucson to Nogales to Sonoita – Get lunch in Mexico, then end your day wine tasting in Sonoita via the Box Canyon highway.
  • Tombstone to Bisbee – Get your fill of Wild West tourism, then take a mountain drive to Bisbee for a lowkey stay in this mining town.
  • Phoenix to Payson – The highway through the Four Peaks Wilderness is absolutely stunning. Your drive will go by in a flash!

⛰️ Best Mountains

Overlooking view of a road in Mount Lemmon
The road up Mount Lemmon has many lookouts that give you an awesome view of Tucson.

From the ski slopes in Northern Arizona to the “sky islands,” or isolated peaks, in Southern Arizona, the state boasts nearly 4,000 mountain summits.

  • Humphreys Peak – At over 12,000 ft., this is the highest peak in Arizona. You’ll feel the burn in your calves and your lungs when summiting this Flagstaff mountain.
  • Mount Lemmon – Tucson locals will rave about this summer getaway to no end – and for good reason. Stop at Windy Point on the way up the winding highway.
  • Mount Wrightson – The peak of the beautiful Santa Rita Mountains is found between Tucson and Nogales. The drive to Madera Canyon alone makes this one worth visiting.
  • Mount Graham – Home to the Mount Graham International Observatory, the stars at the top of this peak are out of this world! 
  • Chiricahua Mountains – Delicate rock towers called “hoodoos” bring thousands of ogling hikers to the Chiricahuas each year.

👉  Fun Fact: The top of Humphreys Peak is classified under the tundra biome. Bet all you “Arizona is just a desert” folks didn’t expect that!

🖼️ Best Museums

Historic aircrafts displayed in Pima Air and Space Museum
The Pima Air and Space Museum displays historic aircraft. (photo: Mia2you / Shutterstock)

Live animals, mountainous settings, interactive displays – these are the qualities of some of the best museums in Arizona. Here are our top 5:

  • Arizona Sonora Desert Museum – If you visit Tucson, this is a must-see. Mostly outdoors, you’ll want to visit during the cooler months.
  • Pima Air & Space Museum – Aviation nuts will have an absolute blast perusing this display of over 300 historic aircraft.
  • Phoenix Art Museum – The best art in Arizona lives here. This expansive collection features local and internationally famous artists’ works.
  • Arizona Museum of Natural History – If you’re a history buff, you don’t want to miss out on this museum. Discover the intriguing natural and cultural history of the Southwest!
  • Musical Instrument Museum – The largest museum of its kind in the world, examine over 20,000 musical instruments from around the world.

Arizona Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Arizona isn’t constantly hot, but when it is, it’s no joke. We recommend visiting in the winter while the rest of the country is shoveling snow.

  • ❄️ Winter – The “cold” weather provides more opportunities for hiking adventures and outdoor dining. Holiday events abound!
  • 🍂 Fall –  The air is crisp in the desert during the fall. Head to the mountains to see the Aspen trees change colors.
  • 🌼 Spring – March is one of the most beautiful months in Arizona. The blooming flowers are gorgeous, but beware of allergies!
  • 🌞 Summer –  Summertime can be brutal in Arizona. If you hate the heat, don’t bother. However, hotels and resorts will be cheaper!

🚌 Getting In & Around

Rental cars are the most convenient way to travel to various Arizona destinations. However, especially when in urban areas, there are several ways to get around: 

  • ✈️ Airports – Most visitors fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) or Tucson International Airport (TUS).
  • 🚗 Driving – A rental car allows you to make the most of your Arizona trip, especially if interested in outdoor activities.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Public transit isn’t popular in any Arizona city besides Phoenix, where you can take the light rail.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are easy to call everywhere in Arizona, save for the extremely remote towns.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Arizona is one of the most popular biking destinations on earth. Opt for two wheels when you visit.
  • 🛴 Scooters – You will find Birds in Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff, but only in the downtown areas.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Small Arizona towns like Flagstaff and Bisbee are easily walkable. Cities are not as walker-friendly.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🚰 – Drink Water – The #1 rule when visiting Arizona is to stay hydrated. This goes for all the seasons and locations… drink water all day long!
  • 👬 – Bring a Hiking Buddy – Never hike alone in Arizona. Visitors get lost on hikes every year, so make sure you have someone with you on the trail.
  • 🔥 – Watch Your Fires – Nearly every major forest fire in Arizona over the last decade started from a careless match. If you camp with a fire, put it out for good!
  • 🏞️ – Respect Park Rules – All of the national and state parks in Arizona have their own set of visitor rules. Read them carefully before you enter.
  • 🌲 – It’s Not Just a Desert! – Arizona is not just composed of desolate sand dunes and prickly cacti. It consists of 6 major biomes, including tundra!

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🧴 – Sunscreen – The Arizona rays are no joke. If you go outside for mere minutes without sunscreen, you’re going to get crispy. Protect your skin!
  • 🥾 – Hiking Shoes – Choose hiking boots if your ankles are prone to injury on rocky trails, or Chacos/Tevas if you’re planning to wade through streams.
  • 🧥 – Light Jacket – Hot days end in cold nights in Arizona. A light jacket will keep the shivers away when the sun goes down.
  • 💧 – Water Bottle – This cannot be emphasized enough: if you’re not peeing every hour, you’re doing it wrong. Stay hydrated, friends!
  • 🧢 – Hat – Keep your scalp and your eyes protected by wearing a hat wherever you go outside. This extra protection is a godsend in the sun.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 7.2 million people
  • Capital – Phoenix
  • Largest Metro Areas – Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa
  • Time Zone – Mountain Standard Time (GMT-7)
  • Airports – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Tucson International Airport (TUS), Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG), Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA), Yuma International Airport (NYL)
  • Colleges & Universities – University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon University
  • Nickname – The Grand Canyon State, Copper State, Sunset State
  • Demonym – Arizonan
  • USPS Abbreviation – AZ
  • Governor – Katie Hobbs (Democratic)
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • MERIC Cost of Living State Rank – 36th most affordable
  • 3-Star Hotel Room – $80-$150/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $75-$200/night
  • Rental Car – $20-$100/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2-$4 ($10 to airport from center)
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-$30
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $30-$90
  • Draft Beer – $5-$9

FAQs About Visiting Arizona

Is Arizona safe for tourists?

Arizona is generally safe for tourists. The bigger cities in Arizona are well taken care of, and locals are typically friendly and helpful. If you’re hiking or camping in Arizona, it’s very important to remember water and sunscreen, and to let someone know exactly where you’re going in case you get lost.

What is the best month to visit Arizona?

The best month to visit Arizona is October. In the lower desert cities, the air cools down and the weather is perfect for hiking. In the higher mountain towns, the leaves start changing colors and fall is in full swing. It’s a beautiful time to visit.

Where is the prettiest place in Arizona?

The prettiest place in Arizona is Saguaro National Park, in my opinion. There is something so magical about the thousands of saguaros against the backdrop of the jagged Tucson mountains. When you visit, you’ll have to decide which spot is the prettiest for you!

What is Arizona famous for?

Arizona is famous for the Grand Canyon, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Nearly 6 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. Arizona is also famous for its Wild West history along with award-winning cuisine and desirable year-round weather.

Meet Our Arizona Travel Expert

Betty Hurd

Betty Hurd is a flight attendant from Tucson, AZ with a degree in Journalism from the University of Arizona. Her love for travel led her to exciting careers in aviation and writing. She’s visited 37 countries and hopes to inspire others to see the world by chronicling her adventures in her blog, Have You Hurd.

👉 Read Betty’s Articles

📰 Arizona Travel Guides

Since there are so many things to fit into your Arizona trip, you may want to check out these travel guides to get more help with your planning:

🗺️ Arizona Map