15 Best Day Trips from Phoenix

The hot and dusty state capital of Arizona is Phoenix. Home to 1.66 million people there is a lot to take in during a visit to Phoenix.

Whether you spend your days visiting the Camelback Mountain, spotting all the weird and wonderful animals at Phoenix Zoo or taking a gentle stroll around the Desert Botanical Garden suffice to say there is plenty to keep you busy.

Once you have exhausted all of your exploratory options in Phoenix know that there is a whole host of other activities to take part in outside of the city limits.

Let’s take a look at 15 day trips from Phoenix that’ll keep you on your toes.

1. Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonSource: sumikophoto / shutterstock
Grand Canyon

Easily one of the most popular attractions in all of the United States of America the Grand Canyon is a real natural wonder.

It spans as far as the eye can see and way beyond.

The best view points can be found at Mather Point and the Mary Colter Lookout Studio.

Lipon Point is one of the most visited viewpoints offering breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon itself and the Colorado River meandering below.

For the most impressive views the Grand Canyon should be experienced at sun up or sun set, preferably both.

2. Las Vegas

Las VegasSource: Nido Huebl / shutterstock
Las Vegas

Las Vegas, or Sin City as it it is also known, must be visited at least once in every lifetime.

With casinos, flash hotels, cabaret shows and more Las Vegas is a wonderland of entertainment and fun set in the Nevada desert.

While the pace of live in Phoenix is steady Las Vegas provides an exciting and enchanting contrast.

A little overwhelming if you stay too long Las Vegas is best experienced in a short and sweet kind of way.

If you’re travelling with your lover why not live up to the cliche and swing by the Graceland Wedding Chapel, why not.

When in Vegas and all!

3. Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign & L.A.Source: Sean Pavone / shutterstock
Hollywood Sign & L.A.

Home to Hollywood superstars, sports heroes and business gods Los Angeles is a wonderful place to explore, if only for the day.

Stroll down Hollywood Walk of Fame and pose with the stars dedicated to your idols.

Head up to the hills and walk beneath the world famous Hollywood sign.

The Griffith Observatory is a real highlight of any visit to Los Angeles and from this breathtaking art-deco building you can peak through the telescopes and take in amazing views of the vast cityscape.

Not just for the kids, Disneyland provides fun and memories galore, regardless of your taste in film.

4. Tucson Mountain Park

Tucson Mountain ParkSource: Laurens Hoddenbagh / shutterstock
Tucson Mountain Park

If you are keen to get out and about on a day trip from Phoenix the Tucson Mountain Park is a great introduction to the Arizona landscape.

Don the hiking boots and remember to bring plenty of water, it is the desert after all, and head out on one of the many hiking trails.

Boasting a number of beautiful scenic lookout points exploring Tucson Mountain Park requires minimal fitness levels.

If you do want to push yourself however, get yourself a set of wheels and get exploring by mountain bike.

With gnarly assents and challenging terrains in parts there is something for everyone at Tucson Mountain Park.

5. Saguaro Lake Marina

Saguaro LakeSource: Isabel Eve / shutterstock
Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake Marina is a relaxing and peaceful day trip from Phoenix and offers visitors the opportunity to be at one with the scenic landscape.

Lying off State Route 87, between the eerie ghost-town of Sunflower and Phoenix city itself Saguaro Lake Marina is very easily accessed.

The lake is home to dozens of species of fish including Rainbow Trout, Yellow Bass and Channel Catfish.

A man-made lake, Saguaro Lake was formed as a result of the Stewart Mountain Dam.

There are plenty of options of things to do during a day, including kayaking, skiing and of course swimming too.

6. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National ParkSource: fotogestoeber / shutterstock
Joshua Tree National Park

Straying across state lines into California, the Joshua Tree National Park is a rugged and raw landscape that is highly photogenic and great to explore.

Home to thousands of twisted and spiny Joshua Trees the national park itself spans across 3,200 km². Straddling the void between the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert, the Joshua Tree National Park is perfect for hiking, especially if you love jumping from boulder to boulder.

Ideal for the true adventurer the Joshua Tree National Park is just over three hours drive from central Phoenix.

Make sure to find time to head up to Keys View to enjoy the spectacular view over the Coachella Valley.

7. Lake Mead

Lake MeadSource: SNEHIT / shutterstock
Lake Mead

Officially the largest reservoir, in terms of capacity, in the United States of America, Lake Mead spreads into Nevada and Arizona.

Also a National Recreation Area, Lake Mead has plenty to explore and many an adventure to be had.

Many people choose to explore the perimeters of Lake Mead on ATV, others prefer to go fishing or take a relaxing boat tour out on the water.

Whatever your outdoors interest Lake Mead is there to please.

Formed due to the impressive Hoover Dam, it is possible to team both sites together in a day trip from Phoenix if you’re prepared for a jam-packed day.

8. Bisbee

Bisbee, ArizonaSource: Chris Curtis / shutterstock

Rich in mining history Bisbee is a small city in the Mule Mountains, tucked away in southeast of Arizona state.

Once a thriving copper mining town Bisbee is now a destination in its own right.

The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum provides fascinating insights into the city’s bountiful past, the Muheim Heritage House too provides a vivid picture of what live was like for locals in the 19th-Century.

Take a walk up along Tombstone Canyon and see the homes that were once inhabited by the hardworking mining families.

If you don’t suffer from claustrophobia take a trip down Queen Mine and explore the underworld of Bisbee.

9. Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle, ArizonaSource: Pamela Au / shutterstock
Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle is one of the oldest and most interesting historical features of Arizona.

Camp Verde is a well preserved village in the red rocks of Yavapai County and is the site where you’ll find Montezuma Castle itself.

Created by the native Sinagua Indians over 600 years ago Montezuma Castle is one of the best preserved prehistoric dwellings in all of the United States.

Standing at a proud five storeys high, the cliff dwelling of Montezuma Castle has to be seen to be believed.

Featuring twenty rooms and built into the rocks of Beaver Creek Canyon this national monument is an important link to our past.

10. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National ParkSource: Galyna Andrushko / shutterstock
Saguaro National Park

For lovers of the great outdoors the Saguaro National Park is an ideal day trip from Phoenix.

Perfectly preserved and easily accessible Saguaro National Park has a great number of hiking trails, easy through to challenging, to explore.

The Signal Hill Trail features ancient petroglyphs that were created by the Hohokam people.

This trail can be found in the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Park.

If you’re a budding botanist then perhaps the Cactus Forest Drive would be of interest.

Located in the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park the Cactus Drive is the best route to follow to see the famous giant cactus of Arizona and it’s stark desert landscapes.

11. Sedona

Devil's Bridge Trail, Sedona, ArizonaSource: Nikolas_jkd / shutterstock
Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona

Famed for its steep, craggy canyon walls and tall pine forests the town of Sedona is truly wonderful.

Straddling the county lines of Yavapai and Coconino Sedona is home to a wealth of natural beauty.

The Red Rock State Park, Slide Rock State Park and the Oak Creek Canyon is just the beginning.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a modern contrast to the natural landscapes and is a quaint chapel set into the red rocks of Sedona.

Visitors come from far and wide to witness the striking, dazzling red sandstone formations that surround Sedona town.

12. Flagstaff

Flagstaff, ArizonaSource: Frank Bach / shutterstock
Flagstaff, AZ

Encompassed by steep mountains, towering pine forests and the barren desert, Flagstaff is the gateway to the San Francisco Peaks.

If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder then Flagstaff will already be firmed on your to-visit list.

The Arizona Snowbowl is a relaxed and laid back mountain resort offering the full spectrum of snow sports throughout the year.

If you want to get to grips with native American history then a visit to the Wupatki National Monument would be a great addition to a day trip to Flagstaff for it features preserved Pueblo sites.

The Walnut Canyon National Park also features cliff dwellings.

13. Apache Trail

 Apache Trail, ArizonaSource: Malgorzata Litkowska / shutterstock
Apache Trail

The Apache Trail is also known as State Route 88 and although means spending much of the day in the car, is a great day trip from Phoenix.

With plenty of scenic look out and stop off points the Apache Trail is Arizona’s oldest highway.

Originally designed for stagecoaches to travel through the Apache Indian country the Apache Trail allows you to walk the route of our ancestors.

Travel across the state taking in views of the Superstition Mountains of the Lost Dutchman and the Tonto National Forest.

True to its original form, the Apache Trail has barely been improved since its creation way back when.

Smaller vehicles fair better than big RV’s and trucks.

14. Jerome

Jerome, ArizonaSource: Fotoluminate LLC / shutterstock

Another of Arizona’s copper mining towns, Jerome was once regarded as the most wicked and sinful town in all of the wild west due to its infamous ‘prostitution row’. Now the copper has all be mined up Jerome has more tourists than it does resident locals.

Something of a ghost town these days Jerome provides visitors with interesting and insightful information as to the copper mining industry that once thrived in Arizona.

A living museum as it were, it is possible to couple a visit to Jerome with the Tuzigoot National Monument that is home to a well-preserved ancient pueblo hilltop settlement.

15. Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater, ArizonaSource: Nikolas_jkd / shutterstock
Meteor Crater , AZ

Located just under 40 miles east of Flagstaff lies the phenomenal Meteor Crater of Arizona.

Without a doubt the best preserved terrestrial impact site in the world the Meteor Crater is an area under constant research and review.

An incredible 1.1km in diameter the Meteor Crater has to be observed to be truly comprehended.

It is believed that the crater was created over 50,000 years ago when a meteorite came crashing to the earth.

Aside from the crater itself visitors can head to the discovery centre and complete the interactive exhibits and expand their knowledge of stars, rocks and the wonders of outer-space.

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Phoenix, Arizona (AZ)
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15 Best Day Trips from Phoenix:

  • Grand Canyon
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Tucson Mountain Park
  • Saguaro Lake Marina
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Lake Mead
  • Bisbee
  • Montezuma Castle
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Sedona
  • Flagstaff
  • Apache Trail
  • Jerome
  • Meteor Crater