Arizona is home to some of the most stunning natural beauty in America. From the blooming saguaros down south to the crimson slot canyons up north and everywhere in between, there’s an endless array of sights. Each of these gorgeous places to visit in Arizona are worth adding to your itinerary.
Born and raised in Tucson, I’m here to share my expertise so you can decide how and where you want to spend your trip to The Grand Canyon State.
I spent my young adulthood taking day trips and planning camping getaways to every corner of Arizona. I know this beautiful state like the back of my hand, so you won’t need to look any further than this list to explore like a true local. Vámanos!
Table of Contents
- 27 Best Places to Visit in Arizona
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Saguaro National Park
- Monument Valley
- Saguaro Lake
- Lake Pleasant
- Lake Havasu City
- Montezuma Castle National Monument
- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
- Chiricahua National Monument
- FAQs About Arizona Destinations
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27 Best Places to Visit in Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park
Formed by the Colorado River, this unmissable sight draws millions of visitors per year
Everyone’s seen a photo of the Grand Canyon, but no image can ever measure up to the sheer beauty of this Colorado River masterpiece. If you plan on journeying through the northern half of Arizona, make sure you stop here.
The south rim is the iconic desert end of the canyon while the north rim features dense forests and herds of wild bison. Dare to hike from south rim to north rim? Add Havasu Falls, a section of the Colorado River, to your trail route for a life-changing adventure.
This is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Arizona. Plus, there are so many ways to experience the Grand Canyon — take a look at these guided tours for more ideas!
👉 Pro Tip: Havasu Falls reservations typically need to be made nearly a year out from your hiking departure. Check out the website to explore your options.
A magical town set against the backdrop of otherworldly red rocks
Sedona is at the top of everyone’s list of places to visit in Arizona, and for obvious reasons. This is one of the most gorgeous locations on earth.
Western-style resorts found creekside and nestled into the mountains are reason enough to visit. Explore vortexes sworn to have healing powers, crystal stores, and unique gift shops from end to end of the town.
If you’re an avid hiker, strap on your boots for some of the best hiking trails in Arizona. A semi-secret trail to “the birthing cave” (pictured above) is my personal favorite as it’s not too difficult but earns you some killer views.
👉 Love Sedona? These Sedona tours on Viator will give you a whole new perspective on this breathtaking town.
A historic town perfect for antiquers and ghost hunters
Ah Bisbee, my favorite day trip from my hometown of Tucson. This historic copper mining town is packed with personality and excitement.
Want to have a spooky experience? Stay a night at the Copper Queen Hotel in one of their most haunted rooms. And if you’re looking for immersive experiences around town, I can’t recommend the mine tour enough. If you’re not prone to claustrophobia, this journey underground will give you a thrill and a fascinating history lesson.
Make sure to stop at The Bisbee Social Club, my favorite speakeasy in Arizona. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy live music and a game of billiards with a delicious cocktail in hand. And don’t forget to stock up on gifts at the myriad antique and thrift stores. Bisbee has some of the best I’ve ever seen!
👻 Love Ghost Tours? Check out the best ghost tours in Bisbee.
Experience the Wild West in the most famous outlaw town in Arizona
Located just 30 minutes from Bisbee, Tombstone is an easy destination to add as a stopover in Arizona. Tombstone is unlike all other places to visit in Arizona. The main drag is filled with horses, buggies, and cowboy souvenirs galore. You’ll also find saloons with bullet holes in the ceilings, originating from gunshots fired in the 1800s.
Check out the Boothill Graveyard for an authentic look at the dismal lives and deaths of those who resided in this area during the Wild West days. Admission is only $10, and you’ll learn all about the fascinating history of the lawmen and outlaws who once wreaked havoc on the town of Tombstone.
👻 Love Haunted History? Take a tour at the famous Bird Cage Theater for an inside look at the tragedies that occurred throughout the streets of Tombstone.
Arizona’s favorite mountain getaway town
Home of the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks, this adorable college town is one of my favorite Arizona destinations. It’s full of quirky shops, great breweries, homestyle restaurants, and endless outdoor activities.
For the coziest ambiance in town, visit Dark Sky Brewing. Or admire the night sky on this guided stargazing experience, as well as at Lowell Observatory. Most importantly, go skiing or snowboarding at the town’s greatest attraction, Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort.
Another wonderful thing about Flagstaff is its proximity to so many fabulous Arizona attractions. Most notable is The Grand Canyon, formed by the Colorado River and located just over an hour north of Downtown Flag. Sedona, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and Montezuma Castle National Monument are also within a feasible driving distance. You can visit tons of destinations with this mountain town as your home base!
👉 Pro Tip: Avoid visiting during NAU’s busiest times such as Parents Weekend and graduation. It’ll be nearly impossible to find a place to stay!
Saguaro National Park
A sprawling park overflowing with plump saguaro cacti
The saguaro cactus is the defining plant of the Sonoran Desert. Only found in Arizona and small areas of Mexico and California, you won’t find anything similar to this tree-like cactus anywhere else in the world. Though you can see these magnificent beings throughout Arizona, Saguaro National Park earned its name for a reason. Thousands of saguaros line the magnificent mountains in this postcard-worthy Tucson destination.
The park is divided into two sections – East and West. SNP West is located within 15 minutes of downtown Tucson while SNP East takes closer to an hour to drive to from central Tucson. Both are unbelievably beautiful, so you’ll appreciate your visit no matter what area of town you’re coming from.
If you’re a fan of hiking, SNP West has some fantastic hiking trails that offer stunning views of the park. My favorites include Wasson Peak and the Yetman Trail. You can also visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum during your visit along with Old Tucson and the Arizona Wildlife Museum. Discover unmistakable Hohokam petroglyphs at Signal Hill as well!
A stunning drive past sandstone buttes featured in famous Western movies
Monument Valley is one of the most iconic places to visit in Arizona and Utah. Located right along the state border, the sight of these fantastical sandstone buttes will stick with you forever. Stop along the road at the famous Forrest Gump scene, then head to the Monument Valley Visitor Center. From here, you can take the Tribal Park Loop past some of the most popular formations in the valley.
You can drive this dirt road without a 4×4 car, but if you’re worried about hitting some bumpy spots, these guided tours are a great idea. You can also opt for a horseback ride through the stunning landscape. These tours are led by experienced guides local to this Navajo Land along the Arizona Utah border.
🚗 How to Get There: You’ll need a rental car to get here if you’re flying into Phoenix. Discover Cars is your best friend to find the perfect ride!
A laidback city full of vibrant art galleries, delicious food, and world-class hiking
There’s something for everyone in the wonderful city of Tucson. Surrounded by five mountain ranges in a desert landscape, the hiking opportunities are endless.
If you visit after the summer monsoons, you can hike to raging waterfalls like Seven Falls or Romero Pools in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Head to Saguaro National Park for stunning scenery and manageable hikes. Best of all, go rock climbing along the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, the forested oasis local Tucsonans flock to on a daily basis.
If you want to experience Native American and Hispanic culture, check out Fourth Avenue and downtown Tucson. It’s a short stretch of funky shops, breweries, mouthwatering restaurants, museums, and historic sites unique to Tucson. This is where locals love to shop and eat, so you’ll feel like a true T-loc here.
It’s also worth stopping at the iconic University of Arizona located in central Tucson. This gorgeous campus is beautifully landscaped, and it’s easy to take an afternoon walk on the paved walkways. This area is also surrounded by fun bars and fashionable boutiques!
For more, see my full guide to what to do in Tucson.
🌵 Want to Explore the Sonoran Desert? These top 10 Viator tours will take you all over the Tucson wilderness.
Visit stunning wine country just south of Tucson
A wine lover’s paradise! Sonoita is one of my absolute favorite places to visit in Arizona. The rolling hills make for a gorgeous drive, and the weather is at least 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding populated cities. This is the perfect getaway for couples, groups of friends, or solo wine-os.
Since you’re going to be drinking in wine country, make sure to have a designated driver or book a B&B to avoid the headache of finding a ride. I once booked a cheap limo service to take a group of 8 from Tucson to Sonoita for a full day of touring the vineyards of our choice! We all had the time of our lives and it only cost $40 per person!
🍷 Top Wine Tours: Take a limo to Sonoita for an unforgettable day with your favorite people.
A bustling metropolis with endless attractions to keep you busy
As the capital city of Arizona, it’s no secret that Phoenix is a happening place. The list of unique things to do in Phoenix is broader than any other destination in the state. Experience desert plant life at the Desert Botanical Gardens or take the kids to the Phoenix Zoo. You can also float the day away on Tempe Town Lake, or see a baseball or basketball game downtown… the possibilities are endless.
Phoenix is probably the easiest destination to visit in Arizona, as it’s home to Sky Harbor International Airport. It also has a decent public transportation system in place.
If you’re planning to visit for a long time, you can hit up the most popular spots in Phoenix over several days. It’s also centrally located so you can take some awesome day trips if you have a car (highly recommended to rent one from Discover Cars).
📚 Related Reading: For insights on the best places and areas in town, check out my recent article on Where to Stay in Phoenix!
The place to be for luxury resort life and high-end shopping
The Beverly Hills of Arizona as I like to call it, Scottsdale is one of the most glamorous places to visit in Arizona. The streets are perfectly manicured with palms, brick sidewalks, and sparkling window displays. Consider treating yourself to a relaxing spa day at one of the most highly acclaimed resorts in the Southwest. Or take to Old Town Scottsdale for a day of shopping and a night of upbeat clubbing.
Though Scottsdale is likely the priciest stay on this list of places to visit in Arizona, it’s certainly worth it if you crave the finer things in life. And who doesn’t need a glamorous vacation every once in a while?
👉 Pro Tip: Brave the summer sun in this town and you’ll be sure to get some killer summer deals on typically high-priced resorts.
A vibrant border town dripping with real Mexican culture
Nogales is one of the best places to visit in Arizona for those who want to get an authentic taste of Mexico without necessarily crossing the border. Less than an hour south of Tucson, it’s incredibly easy to get here by car. Try some of the best Mexican food of your life, shop for brightly colored pottery, drink a cerveza, and enjoy yourself in this laidback town.
If you do have a passport, it’s definitely worth it to walk across the border into Nogales, Sonora. It has a totally different feel to it despite being just steps away from Arizona. You can easily walk through the main parts of downtown for a few hours and then return to your car in AZ before the sun goes down. While you’re there, check out La Roca, my favorite restaurant built into a mountainside!
🚗 How to Get There: Rent a vehicle through Discover Cars in Tucson, then head south on I-19 until you reach the border.
A woodland getaway in the gorgeous White Mountains in northern AZ
Since I spent every summer of my childhood just outside of this mountain town, I have nothing but fond praises to sing about it. As the name alludes, Pinetop is surrounded by a dense pine forest. When the weather is hot in southern Arizona, nothing feels better than the crisp mountain air in this quaint little town.
You can go skiing at Sunrise Ski Valley a mere 30 minutes away if you’re a fan of winter sports. About 15 minutes east of the slopes is another small town called Greer. It’s a mini version of Pinetop located in a small valley with just 2 operating restaurants. If you want a truly isolated getaway, continue on to Greer from Pinetop. And just over an hour away is the Petrified Forest National Park!
A small town surrounded by astonishing sandstone formations and a huge lake
Page is a diamond in the rough. Though it takes some driving to get this far north if you fly into Phoenix, it’s totally worth the drive. To the north is stunning Lake Powell where you can go camping along the banks, rent a boat, or kayak through canyons of waterways.
Then there’s Horseshoe Bend, the iconic rock formation shaped by a bend in the Colorado River. This is a sight to behold, and I think every Arizona visitor should make their way to this natural beauty.
Antelope Canyon, the most popular attraction in Page, grants an unreal day of exploring. Here, winding sandstone slot canyons have been carved into an otherworldly landscape. If you want to drive to more crazy landscapes, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is less than an hour away.
🌵 Love Outdoor Excursions? Make the most of your outdoor explorations at Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and Upper Antelope Canyon by taking tours from Page on Viator!
A quaint town known for its whiskey scene
If Whiskey Row is music to your ears, you need to pay a visit to Prescott. This historic town was born during the pioneer era, and much of its original architecture still stands. The live music scene at the bars on Whiskey Row is unparalleled to many of the venues in Arizona. What more could you ask for outside of a locally renowned band playing to you with a highball glass in hand?
Prescott is also located just moments from Watson Lake. Among local Arizonans, it’s a popular destination for birding, hiking, biking, and camping. This incredibly picturesque lake is surrounded by massive boulders and vivid greenery.
The state’s most wicked town
If you’re a ghost town fanatic, you can’t miss out on Jerome. Once a flourishing copper mining town in central Arizona, the history of this spooky place is absolutely fascinating. From gruesome murders to startling accidents, there are plenty of creepy stories to discover in Jerome. Be sure to take one of the best ghost tours when you visit!
The town went from one of the largest in Arizona in the 1920s to the home of fewer than 100 residents after WWII. The events that led to its downfall will interest any visitor. Check out the Mine Museum and Jerome State Historic Park for an inside look at what life was like in the early 1900s. Then take a stroll in the downtown area for unique art galleries, gift shop goodies, and occasional live music.
A gorgeous desert oasis with fun for the whole family
A day at the lake is never a bad idea in Arizona — especially when it’s surrounded by high canyon walls and thousands of blooming saguaro cacti. Located in the Tonto National Forest just north of Mesa, Saguaro Lake is the perfect getaway on a hot day. You can rent kayaks, speedboats, paddleboards, and other fun water gear right at the marina.
Whether you’re out on a leisurely date or taking the entire family with you, Saguaro Lake is a fantastic AZ destination for everyone.
👉 Pro Tip: Get your rentals at Precision Marina, located just past the main entrance.
A vast lake with endless watersport opportunities
The name speaks for itself. Lake Pleasant truly is one of the best attractions in Arizona. Located about 40 minutes north of central Phoenix, it’s easy to get to if you’re traveling from the big city. Here, you can do everything from rowing a relaxing paddleboard to taking an all-inclusive cruise.
What sets Lake Pleasant apart from other Arizona lakes is its exhilarating obstacle course located at Scorpion Bay. Paqua Park is a challenging course that’s sure to provide hours of fun for any age range. Ditch the kiddos there while you relax on a peaceful boat nearby!
Lake Havasu City
The best beach destination in the desert
Welcome to the beachiest of all places to visit in Arizona! Lake Havasu is the most popular lake destination in the state. The city revolves around the lake, and there are endless ways to enjoy this scenic area. Fun fact: a portion of the London Bridge was brought over from England to connect the mainland to the marinas!
Try your hand at wakeboarding or jet skiing through stunning canals. Or commit to a full-fledged Havasu vacation by renting a houseboat with your favorite people. No matter how you spend your time here, you’re going to love Lake Havasu.
👉 Pro Tip: Avoid visiting during spring break if you want to have any peace here!
Montezuma Castle National Monument
A testament to the resilient Native American history in Arizona
This is a history buff’s paradise. If you have even the slightest interest in American Indian culture, you must pay a visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument. This collection of well-preserved dwellings was occupied by the Sinagua people (which means “without water”) nearly 1,000 years ago.
You’ll feel like you stepped into a time machine when you peruse these ancient homes built into the side of a mountain in Camp Verde. This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting places to visit in Arizona and a popular national monument.
🚗 How to Get There: Take I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff. If you need a rental, check out Discover Cars for a sweet ride!
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
A stunning environment full of unique cactus plants
Have you ever seen an organ pipe cactus? This one’s for plant enthusiasts and nature lovers; you don’t want to miss out on these magnificent beings. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is the only place in the United States where these massive cacti grow wild.
This UNESCO biosphere reserve is located just north of the Mexican border. Be sure to make a pit stop at the visitor center if you plan to continue south to Puerto Peñasco.
Chiricahua National Monument
A gorgeous hiking and camping destination
This might be the most unique national monument in Arizona. The Chiricahuas are a vast mountain range in southeast Arizona. They’ve eroded into a collection of hoodoos, tall rock columns that look like natural pillars. You’ll be in awe of this “wonderland of rocks” as you explore the park’s 17 miles of gorgeous hiking trails.
Every time I visit the Chiricahuas, I see incredible wildlife from curious coatimundis to families of mule deer. It’s one of my favorite places to hike, not just in Arizona, but in the whole world. Each scenic visit never fails to deliver a strong dose of serotonin, so I can’t recommend this destination enough.
A cool getaway in a small mountain town
Payson is a great place to escape the heat if you’re starting your Arizona travels in Phoenix. The drive from the capital to this quaint town is seriously stunning. You’ll travel through the Four Peaks Wilderness, which is home to rolling hills speckled with wildflowers and desert wildlife. The drive alone makes this destination worth visiting.
If you’re a lover of the outdoors, check out Water Wheel Falls just north of Payson. This is a beautiful spot to relax with a picnic by the water, or to take a dip when the summer sun emerges. It can get crowded on the weekends, but you can easily find your own private corner on the short out-and-back hiking trails. You can also visit the Petrified Forest National Park, less than two hours away in northeastern Arizona!
“Take it easy” along historic Route 66
The classic Eagles song Take It Easy gave this small Arizona town a boost in the tourism industry. A statue of Don Henley stands “on the corner,” of course, where you can take a photo with the famous singer in front of Route 66.
Located only an hour outside of Flagstaff, this popular tourist destination is more of a day trip than a full-on vacation spot. It’s a small town, so you can easily scan the local businesses in a few hours.
Check out the historic trading post to learn more about this area back when Route 66 was an integral part of Arizona’s business districts. And just under an hour away is the Petrified Forest National Park!
An authentic western town full of free-roaming burros
Oh Oatman, what a strange and wonderful place. Located along the Mother Road (Route 66), what started as an old west mining camp is now a tiny town full of character. It’s most famous for the Oatman burros, which roam freely through the streets and surpass human residents in number. You’ll be filled with delight at the sight of these friendly creatures.
The Oatman Ghost Rider Gunfights occur daily, free shootout reenactments that will give you a thrilling view of old western drama. Aside from the shootouts and the burros, Oatman truly has an exciting mining history.
Take some time to peruse the stops in the historic downtown area, especially the museum at the Oatman Hotel. Here, you can learn all about mining life in the Black Mountains throughout the 1900s.
The ultimate skydiving destination
Home to the largest skydiving facility in the world (that’s right, the world!), Eloy is best known for its thrill-seeking activities. Outside of this sport, there isn’t much to do in this small Arizona city. But Picacho Peak State Park is located less than an hour away if you’re seeking a difficult hike!
Looking to jump out of a plane over the Sonoran Desert? Sure, why not. This is the place to do it! Skydive Arizona hosts over 100,000 jumpers each year. If you’re a beginner, you’ll be in some of the most highly-trained hands in the United States. And if you’re an experienced diver, join other experts to get your name on the next world record!
Apple orchards and pumpkin patches abound in this fall-weather wonderland
Welcome to the autumn destination of Arizona. When the apple and peach seasons roll around, visitors and locals alike flock from Tucson to pick fresh fruit from the famous orchards of Wilcox. Most well-known is Apple Annies, a family-run operation with 3 locations in the basin. This is one of the most family-friendly activities in southern Arizona, so bring the kiddos here!
Downtown Wilcox is a historic area lined with antique shops, local businesses, museums, and wineries from the surrounding vineyards. You can easily fill up your day with fun activities in this tranquil Arizona town.
👉 Pro Tip: Make sure to check out when the orchards are open so you don’t visit during the off-season.
FAQs About Arizona Destinations
Is Arizona worth visiting?
Arizona is definitely worth visiting. Between the incredible landscapes, delicious food, rich culture, and exciting attractions, you could fill a lifetime with Arizona experiences. No matter your traveling style, you’ll find your corner in Arizona.
What is the number 1 attraction in Arizona?
The number 1 attraction in Arizona is the Grand Canyon. After all, it is named The Grand Canyon State! As one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, it’s no surprise that this magnificent sight draws millions of visitors from around the world each year.
What is the prettiest place in Arizona?
The prettiest place in Arizona is Saguaro National Park, in my opinion. Here, jagged mountains are covered in thousands of majestic saguaros – it’s a sight to behold.
Another one of the prettiest places in Arizona is Havasu Falls. The crystal waterfalls in Havasupai are simply enchanting. However, there are so many gorgeous places to see in Arizona. There truly is no single winner with contestants like Bisbee, Antelope Canyon, Greer, and Sonoita.
Where is the coolest place in Arizona?
The coolest place in Arizona is Page, in my opinion. The swirling slot canyons of Antelope Canyon and orange rock formations at Horseshoe Bend are jaw-dropping. It’s so incredible that it’s almost hard to believe it’s real. And Lake Powell is the most scenic lake I’ve ever seen. You’ll feel like you’re on another planet when you visit this area!
Thanks for checking out this guide on the best places to visit in Arizona! I hope you gained some clarity on where you’d like to go most, and that you’ll come back again to discover all that my great state has to offer.
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