25 Best Things to Do in Arizona

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Spotting a tourist in Arizona may be more difficult than you would first imagine as even the locals wear shorts and t-shirts and take a high number photographs of the stunning natural landscapes.

Arizona has some of the most incredible and unique terrain in the United States with its rocky canyons and towering mountains.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national attractions in the world and it is easy to appreciate why whilst taking in the natural phenomenon.

The climate could also be described a natural wonder in its own right with its hot and dry weather attracting tourists in the winter who want a late taste of summer.

There are also man made wonders in the state including the Hoover Dam which defies belief with its structural strength and size.

The cities in Arizona also have plenty to offer with a mix of historic buildings and pioneering museums and art galleries.

When constructing this list of things to do in Arizona it was impossible to avoid missing off several prominent attractions as there is simply so much worth doing in the state.

However, the list has been refined and makes for a truly memorable itinerary. Here are the best things to do in Arizona:

1. The Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonSource: sumikophoto / shutterstock
Grand Canyon

Possibly the most popular natural attraction in the United States, and definitively the most popular in Arizona, is the Grand Canyon.

This natural wonder was shaped by the Colorado River many years ago. The Grand Canyon is mostly visited at the South Rim, which has a number of lookout spots.

Hiking into the canyon itself is possible as is a truly memorable helicopter flight over the landscape, providing spectacular views.

There are several tours available.

2. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Recreation AreaSource: Manamana / shutterstock
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

The Glen Canyon National Recreational Area is home to Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam.

Lake Powell is manmade and the largest artificial lake in the USA, it was formed by the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1964.

Hiking is one of the main reasons to visit the area and a great place to do so is the Antelope slot canyons where the light and rocks create some interesting sights and photo opportunities.

3. Monument Valley

Monument ValleySource: Victor Maschek / shutterstock
Monument Valley

When soaking in the views within Monument Valley Tribal Park it would be easy to believe that you are on a different planet.

The terrain here is hostile but beautiful with its sharp rock formations and huge sand dunes.

There are a number of ways to see the valley including a photography tour for those looking to take some great photos of the landscape.

Many visitors simply take in the valley from the comfort of their vehicles as they drive by on the nearby highway.

Suggested tour: 2.5-Hour Tour with Backcountry Access

4. Jerome

Jerome Arizona Ghost TownSource: weltreisendertj / shutterstock
Jerome Arizona Ghost Town

This former mining town is now a ghost town, which is a great stop off while in Arizona.

There are great views from the town and the main street has plenty of shops and places to eat.

Jerome is a mix of restored buildings and ruins.

There are hotels for those wishing to stay overnight in this unique location and also a museum, the Gold King Museum, detailing the history of the area.

Another point of interest is the Sliding Jail, which, as the name suggests, has slid away from its current location since construction and is now situated about 2,500 feet away from the spot where it was first built.

Suggested tour: Jerome and Tuzigoot National Monument Day Trip

5. Sedona

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

The town of Sedona is surrounded by stunning red mountains and sharp rocky precipices and makes for a great day trip from Phoenix, situated around an hour and a half away by car.

The views here are brilliant and can be taken in by hiking or mountain biking or, for those who want to relax slightly, off road jeep tours are also available.

Explore it by Jeep: Small-Group Vortex Jeep Tour

6. Hoover Dam

Hoover DamSource: superjoseph / shutterstock
Hoover Dam

It is hard not to be impressed by the Hoover Dam, it is one of the engineering wonders of the world. Constructed in 1935, the dam controls the Colorado River and bridges Arizona and Nevada.

The Hoover Dam is over 700 feet high and over 1,200 feet long.

The lake created by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, is 110 miles in length.

7. Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls, ArizonaSource: Lucky-photographer / shutterstock
Havasu Falls

The Havasu Falls are 100 feet high and during times of heavy water flow, it appears to be two falls as the water forks and cascades in two directions.

The pools at the bottom of the falls are a beautiful turquoise.

In the nearby Havasu Creek canyon, the Havasupai Indians live. In the past they survived a secluded life based on their agricultural skills but now they largely rely on the tourist trade in the area.

8. Canyon De Chelly National Monument

Canyon De Chelly National MonumentSource: kojihirano / shutterstock
Canyon De Chelly National Monument

The National Monument of Canyon de Chelly is home to unusual houses built into the steep cliff sides including a dwelling called the White House, which is thought to have been constructed in 1050AD.

Most of the houses, which are believed to have been lived in from as early as 350AD, are unreachable but the museum and visitor center nearby offer insightful guided tours of the area.

9. Bisbee

Bisbee, ArizonaSource: Chris Curtis / shutterstock

Bisbee is a former mining town situated near the Mexican border.

Its position in the mountains allows for spectacular views, which extend over the border and into Mexico.

When the mines closed Bisbee and its houses fell into disrepair but it is now home to an interesting mix of residents and shops.

Many people visit the town from Tucson as a day trip.

10. Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreational Area, ArizonaSource: Laurens Hoddenbagh / shutterstock
Lake Mead National Recreational Area, Arizona

Although the National Recreation Area takes its name from Lake Mead, it also includes some of the Colorado River and Lake Mohave within its impressive 1.5 million acres.

Lake Mohave, like Lake Mead, is an artificial lake restrained by the Davis Dam.

Many outdoor pursuits are available at the Recreational Area including, of course, water sports, fishing and camping.

11. Antelope Canyon

Antelope CanyonSource: tharathep lomchid / shutterstock
Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon offers some very unique sights due to its narrow canyon walls and the natural light that cascades from above.

It is these features that make Antelope Canyon a popular spot for photographers and photos of the canyon are often found on postcards, tourism leaflets and art galleries.

Visitors to the canyon must have a guide and, as such, there are a variety of tours available.

Book online: Canyon X, Upper, or Lower Antelope Entry

12. Tumacacori National Historical Park

Tumacacori National Historical ParkSource: Bill Florence / shutterstock
Tumacacori National Historical Park

The National Historical Park of Tumacacori is located to the south of Tucson and preserves the remains of the three Spanish colonial missions that were situated here in the past.

The missions of Los Santos Angeles and San Jose de Tumacacori are the oldest in the state of Arizona and were formed in 1691.

The final mission in the park is San Cayetano de Calabazas, which was formed in 1756.

In the year of 1848 the missions were abandoned due to a particularly harsh winter and increasing raids from Apache.

13. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National MonumentSource: Anton Foltin / shutterstock
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument occupies an area to the south of Arizona and near the border with Mexico.

The National Monument is home to a wide range of cactus species and is particularly well known for the organ pipe cactus, which can grow to heights of well over 20 feet.

Hiking and driving are equally good ways to see the area.

14. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National ParkSource: Galyna Andrushko / shutterstock
Saguaro National Park

If you want to experience the Arizona desert, and its saguaro cacti, then the Saguaro National Park near Tucson is the place to visit.

The park is split into an east and a west section, which are split by Tuscon itself.

Hiking in the area is a great way to see the unique flora and wildlife that calls the harsh environment its home.

The 8000 feet high mountains in the area provide a challenge for even the most dedicated hikers.

15. Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National ParkSource: Ekaterina Pokrovsky / shutterstock
Petrified Forest National Park

This interesting and unique national park has been the site of discovery for a large amount of plant and fish fossils as well as petrified wood.

Driving through the park provides a glimpse of the park’s key sights whereas the trails allow for closer investigation.

The Visitor’s Centre is a useful resource and provides information on how and why the site is home to so many fossils.

16. London Bridge

London Bridge, Lake Havasu CitySource: Angel McNall Photography / shutterstock
London Bridge, Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu City is home to this impressive structure which was built in 1831 but purchased for around $2.5 million before be re-constructed in the city.

Robert McCulloch was the city’s founder and also responsible for the purchase and relocation of the bridge.

The bridge had to be shortened slightly upon being moved in order to neatly fit its new location.

17. Tubac

Tubac, ArizonaSource: Nelson Sirlin / shutterstock

Arguably the home of art in the state of Arizona, Tubac was founded in 1752 and is now a popular spot for tourists but also home to many artist studios, shops and art galleries.

The town may be fairly small but a lot of money changes hands here and it is seen as a great place to shop by visitors and locals alike.

18. Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon, ArizonaSource: Johnny Coate / shutterstock
Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon is the tallest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountain range. It is an impressive 9,150 feet high and is a very popular location for skiing.

Despite the mountains intimidating height, there are runs for all levels of skiing experience as well as spectacular views.

The mountain in summer is a great place to see birds and wildlife.

Available tour: 4-Hour Guided Tour of Mount Lemmon

19. The Heard Museum

The Heard Museum, PhoenixSource: Manuela Durson / shutterstock
The Heard Museum, Phoenix

The Heard Museum can be found in Phoenix and portrays, through various exhibits and collections, the culture of the Native American people who lived in the area in the past.

The items on show in the museum include jewellery, pottery, textiles and dolls.

The outdoor area at the museum displays contemporary Native American artwork.

20. Taliesin West

Taliesin West, ScottsdaleSource: EQRoy / shutterstock
Taliesin West, Scottsdale

Taliesin West is the former home and architectural school of the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The building can be found in Scottsdale and is now known as the home of the FLW School of Architecture.

The building was constructed in 1959 by Wright and his understudies using materials local to area.

21. Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden, Papago ParkSource: Bill Perry / shutterstock
Desert Botanical Garden, Papago Park

The Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park is home to a varied collection of plants and cacti from all around the world.

The garden occupies an impressive 40 acres of space and contains ten thousand plants.

A small army of staff attends the garden, most of which are volunteers.

Spring is a great time to visit the gardens but expect to spend a large portion of the day walking as you explore the large area.

22. Heritage Square

Rosson House, Heritage SquareSource: Manuela Durson / shutterstock
Rosson House, Heritage Square

Heritage Square is home to a number of restored historical homes dating from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Many of the buildings were part of the original Phoenix town site but now contain shops or places to eat.

The main point of interest in the area is the Rosson House, which was constructed in 1895 in Victorian style.

23. Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art MuseumSource: BondRocketImages / shutterstock
Phoenix Art Museum

The collection in this museum is varied and impressive, ranging from the Renaissance period in Europe to art from the American West.

Modern art can also be found at the museum with regularly changing contemporary exhibits.

The museum and its collection has responded rapidly since its opening in 1959 and it now has a reputation as being one of the Southwest’s leading institutes.

24. Hall of Flame Fire Fighting Museum

Hall of Flame Fire Fighting MuseumSource: lonnydub / Flickr | CC BY-ND
Hall of Flame Fire Fighting Museum

The Hall of Flame Museum examines the history of fire fighting whilst also acting as a memorial for the many fire fighters who have been killed due to their profession.

The exhibits in the museum include old fire fighting objects, mainly from America but also including objects from around the world.

25. The Arizona Science Centre

The Arizona Science CentreSource: Robert Byrd / shutterstock
The Arizona Science Centre

The Arizona Science Centre has a wide variety of hands-on exhibits and galleries, each with a different scientific theme.

Also at the museum is an Imax cinema and a large planetarium.

The Science Centre is also a prominent institution in raising awareness for issues such as global warming.

25 Best Things to Do in Arizona:

  • The Grand Canyon
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Monument Valley
  • Jerome
  • Sedona
  • Hoover Dam
  • Havasu Falls
  • Canyon De Chelly National Monument
  • Bisbee
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Tumacacori National Historical Park
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • London Bridge
  • Tubac
  • Mount Lemmon
  • The Heard Museum
  • Taliesin West
  • Desert Botanical Garden
  • Heritage Square
  • Phoenix Art Museum
  • Hall of Flame Fire Fighting Museum
  • The Arizona Science Centre