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Arizona is one of the top destinations for travelers worldwide. It is a Southwester U.S. state with much more to offer its visitors than you can imagine.
There are a plethora of places to visit in Arizona, as it is home to many cool things, incredible views, outdoor adventures, and stunning tourist attractions.
Arizona introduces visitors to a wonderland of scenic landmarks, natural beauty, and interesting sights. There is no end to exploring things in Arizona because every part of the state brings something different to you.
1. Discover Arizona
Arizona has both a vibrant city and a charming small-town vibe. And that is one of the best things about a certain place because you need to feel both at times. It is home to bustling cities like Sedona and Phoenix, which are great vacation destinations.
Moreover, the climate, well, is a natural wonder in itself. It has sunny, dry weather all year round, and the winters are so mild that tourists love visiting Arizona.
Arizona is pretty much a mix of everything, and you will find historic buildings, art galleries, deserts, waterfalls, mountains, hiking trails, and biking trails. All in all, it is a nature lovers’ paradise.
So, before you head off to Arizona and enjoy your vacation, go through our list of the best things you can explore in Arizona and pin a few for yourself.
2. 13 Places to Explore in Arizona
2.1. Grand Canyon
Being one of the biggest attractions in Arizona and America, a tour of the Grand Canyon has to be one of the best places in Arizona.
The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder carved out by the Colorado River years ago. It has several lookout spots, and most visitors head to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as it offers incredible views and walkways along the edge.
2.1.1. Colorado River, the Principal River in the U.S.
The North Rim of the Canyon can also be visited; it offers a different view altogether. However, that road is closed in the winter.
The Canyon is so large that it can be seen from anywhere, and as the late afternoon sun hovers over, it just glows with hues of colors: orange, red, and everything in between.
Those visitors who would love a closer look at the canyon may consider the hiking trails to the canyon floor.
Those who are not very into adventure and exploration can take a helicopter tour of the canyon.
Mastering the Challenge: Coaching for the Thrilling Rim-to-Rim Hike
Kristen Czudak, the owner and author of Yonderlust Ramblings, shares thrilling experiences and discusses the range of adventurous activities available in Arizona:
“One of my specific areas of expertise is the Grand Canyon and its many trails. In particular, the Rim to Rim hike. This park is home to [a lot of] thrilling opportunities, but conquering this epic hike is not only thrilling but equally challenging and rewarding.
It is often heralded as one of the hardest hikes in the U.S. I currently coach clients on training for the Rim to Rim hike and preparing them for the experience.
What makes this Arizona adventure so thrilling is the chance to join the 1% of [visitors to the] Grand Canyon who [actually] complete a Rim to Rim. Being part of this elite club is thrilling [in itself], but then there’s the hike itself.
A Rim to Rim hike [is composed of] trekking across the Grand Canyon, most commonly from the North Rim to the South Rim.
Along the way, hikers pass 24 miles worth of striking red rock and glowing yellow aspens on the North Rim, to gentle creeks, “subway” tunnels, rustic Phantom Ranch, and the mighty Colorado River at the bottom, all the way back up passing towering cliffs and a maze of canyon wall switchbacks.[The vast majority of] visitors to the Grand Canyon only witness its beauty from above. Hiking a Rim to Rim provides that once-in-a-lifetime moment of witnessing the Grand Canyon from the bottom, looking up!
It is a unique way to experience the vast diversity of ecosystems and geology in this natural wonder and even discover [a few] secrets [that are] hiding at the bottom of the canyon, like vibrant oases, graceful waterfalls, and gentle creeks.”
2.2. Monument Valley
Monument Valley, located on the Arizona-Utah state line, is a part of the Colorado Plateau, defined by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes. These sandstone buttles are one of the most iconic sites of the Southwest.
The valley area includes the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which people visit for its impressive visitor center, and the 17-mile one-way gravel road through the park.
A few parts of the valley, such as the Hunts Mesa and Mystery Valley, are only accessible by a guided tour, so if you want to explore the area, you better take a guided tour.
The valley is one of the most photographed sites on Earth because of the sharp rock formations and dunes. The sandstones are magnificent masterpieces at heights of 400-1,000 feet.
As the sun shines upon these majestic formations surrounded by shrubs, trees, and windblown sand, it creates a truly wonderful experience and spellbinding scenery.
2.3. Havasu Falls
On the Havasupai Indian Reservation is the majestic 100-foot Havasu Falls- one of the most beautiful places in Arizona. For those looking for soothing and relaxing place in Arizona, Havasu Falls is a must-visit.
The falls are stunningly beautiful, and when there is a heavy flow of water, the fall cascades in different directions, making it look like two falls.
The pool at the base of the falls is worth a glimpse, too, for that bluish-green tint it has. There are several waterfalls in this valley and a few attractive bathing pools.
And as pleasing as the falls sound, trying to get to the fall ain’t that easy. So, if you can make it through the challenging journey, you will realize it was worth it upon reaching there.
2.3.1. A Fact Related to the Havasu
In the past, the Havusai Indians lived a secluded life near this area in the Havasu Creek Canyon. Their lives earlier depended on their agricultural skills but now rely highly on the tourist trade.
2.4. Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum was opened in 1959. Since then, it has featured an impressive collection of artworks from the Renaissance period in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and West America.
The museum has a photography exhibition center, a shopping store, and a landscaped sculpture garden. Additionally, visitors can enjoy live performances, films, art festivals in the art gallery, and educational programs.
You will find both modern art and contemporary art here.
2.4.1. Travel Tips
While visiting Phoenix Art Museum, you can also take a short trip to visit other exciting museums in Arizona, such as the Heard Museum, Hall of Flame Museum, the Pima Air & Space Museum, or the Musical Instrument Museum.
The Hall of Flame Fire Museum is an interesting place dedicated to preserving firefighting equipment worldwide.
2.5. Petrified Forest National Park
This unique national park is a major attraction of Arizona, and it is all about the views. This forest is a one-of-a-kind forest because where else will you find an entirely fossilized forest?
Here, you will find fossilized plants, reptiles, fish, and large pieces of petrified wood. There is a visitor center that introduces you to the geology and ecology of the park.
Some trails allow you a close look at the unique sights.
2.6. Trip to Bisbee
Near the Mexico border lies one of the most interesting towns of Arizona- Bisbee. Nestled high in the mountains, Bisbee is a little community and a former mining town.
After the mines were shut down, Bisbee became a haven for artists and hippies. Today, the town has many interesting things to see and do, with unique shops on the main street, an interesting mix of residents, and amazing restaurants in the historic downtown.
The town offers spectacular views of Mexico. And in the hills, there are quite a few hiking trails so that you can take a self-guided hike.
2.7. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a breathtaking desert landscape, blue water and stunning stone walls. The area is also home to Lake Powell, the largest artificial lake in the U.S., and the Glen Canyon Dam.
The area offers amazing water-based and land-based recreational activities. And among these, hiking is one of the main reasons visitors come here. It is done in the area’s biggest attraction, the Antelope Canyon.
You can visit the Antelope area on a guided private tour.
If you love visiting recreation areas, there is another one in Arizona that you can consider visiting- the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The area is home to some of the Colorado River and Lake Mohave, an artificial lake guarded by the Davis Dam.
2.8. Desert Botanical Garden
Regarding desserts, we usually think of long stretches of sand, cactus, and maybe a few pine trees. However, the Desert Botanical Garden is far away from what’s in your mind.
This garden is home to various cacti and plants from all over the world. It is spread across 40 acres of land and houses over 10,000 varieties of plants.
This desert garden is an overflowing floral beauty.
Speaking of desserts, you can visit the Sonoran Desert for the actual feels. And if you would like to know about the desert, you can visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Also, for the desert feel, you can visit the Saguaro National Park.
2.9. The Arizona Science Centre
Located in downtown Phoenix is the Arizona Science Centre, one of the premier science destinations.
The museum offers hands-on exhibits and galleries. Each gallery has a different scientific theme, which fascinates the visitors very much. In addition to that, there is a large planetarium and an Imax cinema.
Various events and programs are organized in the center that visitors can participate in. So, a trip to the science center will certainly be interesting.
2.10. Trip to Jerome
Nestled high above the desert floor, on a mountainside, is Jerome’s town, a significant tourist attraction, and the most famous ghost town.
Jerome is a total tourist pleaser, with plenty of exciting shops and restaurants. Even views from the streets are pretty amazing. The place has a mix of ruins and restored buildings.
There are many interesting places in Jerome, like the Gold King Museum or the Sliding Jail, built on a clay slick.
If you stay overnight, you can check out the Jerome Grand Hotel in Verde Valley, which offers stunning views.
2.11. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
In Southeastern Arizona, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is an International Biosphere Reserve. As the name suggests, the main attraction of the monument is the organ pipe cactus.
The whole area surrounding the monument is quite remarkable, with mountains and everything. It can be explored through various hiking trails and roads. Maybe you can take up a Jeep tour.
It is also one of the best places to camp in Arizona. So, you can check out the tall organ pipes and enjoy hikes and camping.
2.12. Tumacacori National Historical Park
Located in the South of Tucson is the Tumacacori National Historical Park, a historic site in Arizona. The site is home to the ruins of three early Spanish colonial missions namely San Jose De Tumacacori, Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi, and San Cayetano de Calabazas.
The site features a vintage museum where you can discover fine artwork. Over the years, the site has become a popular tourist destination as it organizes several tourist programs.
Cultural Gems of Arizona: Art Institutions Enriching Travel Experiences
Jonathon Kent, the Founder and Chief Editor of Artifacts, explains how art institutions contribute to the tourism landscape and what unique aspects of art and culture can visitors explore in Arizona:
“In an era of globalized travel, top destinations need a cultural component to stand out. Art institutions play a crucial role in this regard, [both as] tourist destinations [themselves] and [as] establishments that shape historical and cultural narratives.
Arizona has plenty to offer here. The Heard Museum’s collections of Native American art are a must for anyone seeking to better understand the rich traditions of indigenous cultures in America’s Southwest.
The Arizona State Museum and the Se’dav Va’aki Museum (formerly the Pueblo Grande Museum and ArchaeoLogical Park) offer similarly unique experiences unavailable [anywhere else].
As you suggest, the Phoenix Art Museum, a nationally renowned institution, adds another rich art experience for visitors to Arizona.
The moving retrospective of Amalia Mesa-Bain’s works is a fantastic example of the distinctive experiences offered by a top Arizona art institution.[Without] institutions like this, Arizona would still be a fantastic place to visit. Having them, however, adds richness to Arizona’s tourism industry.
They allow one to leave with a deeper appreciation of the artistic achievements of native cultures and the Southwest’s unique contemporary art scene.
This adds a critical dimension to Arizona’s tourism landscape, substantially enhancing its appeal relative to [other] competing tourist destinations.”
3. Closing Thoughts
Well, these are just a few spots to explore in Arizona. By now, I hope you have a rough idea of how it will be on vacation to Arizona.
That place has something intense and interesting that tourists love discovering every part of it, including the major attractions, cities, and towns.
Arizona has a very lit camping scene, too, so if you are up for such adventures, you will surely find yourself doing such a thing once you are there.
4. Other Places to Visit
Suppose you are in Arizona over a weekend trip and want to do something thrilling and adventurous. In that case, this mountain range known as the Superstition Mountains offers incredible hiking trails.
Other places you can check out include Grand Canyon National Park, Montezuma Castle National Monument, South Mountain Park (famous for its mountain biking), Wildlife World Zoo, Hoover Dam, the Canyon De Chelly National Monument, and the Mystery Castle. a national historic landmark, Japanese Friendship Garden, Phoenix Zoo, and Grand Canyon State.
Visitors get a free ranger-led hike and private tours for the Canyon De Chelly, too, from spring until fall. And who would want to miss that?
So, plan your vacation wisely, check out our list, and see what suits you best.
Guest Author: Saket Kumar
Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Saket Kumar