10 best things to do in Arizona | Discover Arizona

The beauty of Arizona is the stuff of legends. Nestled in the heart of the American Southwest, this gem of a state promises a treasure trove of natural wonders, vibrant culture, rich history, and thrilling adventures.

The question isn’t whether or not to visit Arizona, but rather, what are the 10 best things to do in Arizona?

Brief Overview of Arizona

Arizona, often known as the Grand Canyon State, is a tapestry of diverse landscapes and vibrant cities. From the awe-inspiring vistas of the Grand Canyon to the bustling urban vibe of Phoenix, Arizona has something for everyone. Blessed with year-round sunshine, the state presents endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and explorations.

Why Choose Arizona for Your Next Adventure?

The state’s diverse geography, rich history, and vibrant culture make it a must-visit destination. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, thrill-seeker, or just someone looking for a unique vacation, Arizona has something for you.

But with so many options, how do you choose? Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you. Here is your guide to the 10 best things to do in Arizona.

The Natural Wonders of Arizona

The Natural Wonders of Arizona are a captivating showcase of the state’s diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes. Home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s terrain is an irresistible call to outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

10 best things

From the red rock formations in Sedona that glow like embers under the setting sun, to the striking sandstone buttes in Monument Valley, Arizona’s natural beauty is breathtaking.

Add to this the Painted Desert’s riot of colors, the cool pine forests in Flagstaff, and the surreal cacti silhouettes in the Sonoran Desert – and you’ll begin to understand why Arizona’s natural wonders are a must-see on any travel itinerary.

Exploring the Grand Canyon

There’s no conversation about Arizona’s natural wonders without a mention of the Grand Canyon. This breathtaking landscape, sculpted over millions of years by the Colorado River, draws millions of visitors every year from around the world.

From the South Rim, you can gaze over the vast expanse of the canyon. The panorama from Yavapai Point, for instance, offers an unobstructed view of the canyon’s layered rocks.

For an even more dramatic perspective, brave the heights of the Skywalk at the West Rim, a glass bridge extending over the canyon’s edge. Visit the official Grand Canyon website for more information on these and other viewpoints.

Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon. The Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails are among the most popular, offering stunning views of the canyon. However, hiking in the Grand Canyon can be strenuous, so prepare accordingly and always adhere to park safety guidelines.

Soaking in the Serenity at Sedona’s Red Rocks

Another of Arizona’s natural treasures is the mesmerizing red rock landscape of Sedona. Known for its vibrant art scene and healing energy, Sedona is a haven for spiritual seekers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Guided tours are a great way to explore Sedona’s landscape. Many tours, such as those offered by Pink Adventure Tours, offer a mix of off-roading adventure, hiking, and knowledge about the area’s geology and Native American history.

Sedona is also famous for its vortexes, spots said to be centers of energy conducive to healing, meditation, and self-exploration. Places like Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, and Bell Rock are popular spots to experience these energy vortexes.

Exploring Arizona’s Vibrant Culture and History

Arizona’s rich tapestry of culture and history offers ample opportunity for engaging and educational experiences.

No Arizona trip is complete without traveling the historic Route 66. Known as the “Main Street of America”, it offers a nostalgic journey through vintage Americana.

Famous Stops Along the Route

Historic motels, quirky roadside attractions, and classic diners dot the landscape of this famous highway. Don’t miss the iconic Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, the Petrified Forest National Park, and the Route 66 Museum in Kingman.

Route 66 is also a haven for foodies and souvenir hunters. Be sure to try some authentic southwestern cuisine at the many diners along the route, and pick up unique souvenirs at local shops to remember your journey.

Engage with Native American Culture at the Heard Museum

The Heard Museum in Phoenix offers a deep dive into the vibrant and enduring cultures of Native American communities in Arizona.

Highlights of the museum include its extensive collection of Native American art, historical artifacts, and cultural exhibits. The museum is also home to contemporary art pieces, showcasing the evolving cultures of Native American communities.

The museum regularly hosts special events and festivals celebrating Native American cultures, including the popular annual Indian Fair & Market, where visitors can interact with artists and buy directly from them.

Revisiting the Old West in Tombstone

To experience the wild west, a visit to the town of Tombstone is a must. This historic town offers a peek into the lawless days of the frontier.

The town’s most famous attraction, the OK Corral, is the site of the infamous gunfight that involved legendary figures like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Today, reenactments of the gunfight offer a thrilling experience for visitors.

Thrilling Adventures in Arizona

Arizona’s diverse landscape and climate make it the perfect playground for adventure seekers. Phoenix, with its year-round pleasant weather and stunning landscapes, is one of the best places in the world for hot-air ballooning.

The best time for hot air ballooning in Phoenix is during the cooler months, from October to April. The calm winds and clear skies during these months offer the perfect conditions for a smooth and scenic flight.

On your flight, you can expect stunning views of the Phoenix skyline, the expansive desert, and on a clear day, even the distant red rocks of Sedona. Companies like Hot Air Expeditions offer different packages, including sunrise and sunset flights.

Hiking the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

For a unique hiking experience, the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a must-visit. This iconic landscape, characterized by its towering sandstone buttes, has been the backdrop for many Western films.

Tips for a Safe and Fun Hike

When hiking in Monument Valley, it’s essential to respect the Navajo land and culture. Always stay on designated trails, carry plenty of water, and be prepared for the desert climate. Guided tours, such as those offered by Navajo Spirit Tours, are recommended to get the most out of your visit.

Key sites to visit include the East and West Mitten Buttes, Merrick Butte, and the Three Sisters. Each of these natural formations carries its own unique Navajo legend.

Exploring Arizona’s Urban Attractions

Exploring Arizona’s urban attractions offers a unique blend of modern amenities, cultural experiences, and historical intrigue. Each city has its distinct charm and a plethora of activities to offer. Phoenix, the state capital, is a bustling metropolis with top-notch museums, an array of restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.

Tucson will delight you with its rich arts scene, UNESCO-recognized gastronomy, and historical sites. Scottsdale, on the other hand, is renowned for its upscale shopping, luxury spas, and golf courses.

Meanwhile, Flagstaff offers a delightful mix of college-town vibes, craft breweries, and access to various outdoor activities. From arts and music festivals to sporting events and culinary tours, exploring Arizona’s urban attractions offers something for every traveler.

Scottsdale, known for its upscale shopping scene, is the perfect destination for a day of retail therapy.

Scottsdale Fashion Square: The Ultimate Shopping Destination

At the Scottsdale Fashion Square, you’ll find an array of high-end boutiques and renowned international brands. It’s the perfect place to find the latest fashion trends or indulge in luxury shopping.

Old Town Scottsdale: Art and Antique Shops

Old Town Scottsdale, with its unique blend of old and new, is an excellent place for shopping as well. It’s home to a variety of art galleries, antique shops, and boutique stores offering a range of unique and local products.

Unleashing Your Inner Foodie in Tucson

Tucson, recently recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, is a must-visit for food lovers.

Tucson’s culinary scene is a melting pot of Native American, Mexican, and Western influences. Must-try local dishes include Sonoran hot dogs, chimichangas, and a variety of tamales.

For an elevated dining experience, visit top-rated restaurants like Cafe Poca Cosa or The Tasteful Kitchen, which offer innovative menus that celebrate local and seasonal ingredients.

Unconventional Attractions

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Arizona has a few surprises in store.

Searching for the Supernatural in the Phoenix Lights

The Phoenix Lights phenomenon, one of the most famous UFO sightings in history, still intrigues locals and visitors alike.

In March 1997, thousands of Arizona residents reported seeing strange lights hovering over the Phoenix area. The event has been the subject of many investigations, documentaries, and books, yet the mystery remains.

Best Viewing Spots and Times

For those interested in observing the sky for similar phenomena, South Mountain Park and Estrella Mountain Regional Park are popular viewing spots. The best times are usually during the spring equinox, when the Phoenix Lights event occurred.

Visiting Biosphere 2: The Earth Under One Roof

Biosphere 2, located in Oracle, is a unique scientific project that replicates different global ecosystems under one roof.

Within its walls, Biosphere 2 houses a rainforest, an ocean, a desert, and other ecosystems. It was initially designed to research and develop self-sustaining space colonization technology. Today, it serves as a unique laboratory for studying the future of our planet.

Biosphere 2 offers guided tours and a range of educational programs for visitors of all ages. Visitors can learn about earth science and the challenges our planet faces due to climate change.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we wrap up our tour of the best things to do in Arizona, let’s address some common questions visitors often have.

What is the Best Time to Visit Arizona?

The best time to visit Arizona largely depends on what you want to do. For outdoor activities like hiking and camping, spring and fall offer the most pleasant weather.

What are the Unique Souvenirs I Can Buy in Arizona?

Arizona is known for its Native American jewelry, local food products like prickly pear jelly, and art pieces from local artists. Don’t forget to pick up some Route 66 memorabilia on your travels!

Are there any Safety Precautions for Outdoor Activities in Arizona?

When planning outdoor activities in Arizona, remember to account for the climate. Carry ample water, wear sunscreen, and be aware of potential encounters with wildlife. Always respect nature and follow designated trails.

How Can I Learn More About Arizona’s Native American Heritage?

Visiting the many Native American sites throughout the state, including the Heard Museum, the Pueblo Grande Museum, and the tribal lands of the Navajo and Hopi, can offer insights into Arizona’s Native American heritage.

Conclusion

So there you have it: our comprehensive guide to the 10 best things to do in Arizona. From its breathtaking natural wonders to its rich cultural heritage, thrilling adventures to urban delights, Arizona offers an array of experiences that cater to all types of travelers.

So whether you’re planning a visit or just dreaming of one, we hope this guide has inspired you to explore the many wonders that make Arizona a truly unique destination. Here’s to your next adventure in the Grand Canyon State!

About the author

Hi, I'm Teri Franks, the voice behind Prescott Voice. I've spent years immersing myself in all that Prescott has to offer, and I love sharing the unique stories and experiences I've discovered. When I'm not writing, you'll find me exploring Prescott's trails or tasting our local cuisine. I believe that the vibrant lifestyle here in Prescott inspires us to live a healthier, happier life. Come join me on this exciting journey as we explore Prescott together.

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