Things to do in Arizona – 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.
1. The 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.
2. Glen Canyon
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. Antelope Canyon
Formed by millions of years of wind and water erosion, Antelope Canyon’s magnificent smooth and flowing shaped sandstone has made it one of the most famous slot canyons in the world.
4. 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.
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.
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.
7. Cape Royal
If you are visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Cape Royal Road overlooks are not to be missed. Combining no less than six stunning overlooks with interesting side hikes and historical exhibits, this scenic drive can be an all-day excursion or a few-hour flash tour of the Grand Canyon.
8. Crescent Moon
Crescent Moon sits beneath the towering Cathedral Rock, one of the most photographed scenes in the Southwest. This day-use area (group shelter also known as Ramada) is as popular as it is beautiful. Visitors will marvel at the reflection of the red cliffs in the waters of Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing.
9. Red Stone of Sedona
Multi-hued stone formations jut upwards from the high desert floor creating a vivid, mesmerizing setting that changes hourly with the light. When USA Weekend compiled their Most Beautiful Places in America list, Sedona claimed the top spot.
10. The Arizona Petrified Forest National Park
The Arizona Petrified Forest National Park is located in the northeastern part of Arizona about 25 miles east of Holbrook, Arizona. It is a fascinating place to visit abundant with geographical history.
11. Fort Verde State Historic Park
Visitors can tour the former Military Headquarters building, which also serves as a museum with artifacts, photos and videos related to the Indian Wars and the lives of the people residing at Fort Verde.
12. Grand View Point
The southernmost point on Grand Canyon’s south rim is Grandview, reached by a one mile side road, and looking out over a wide bend in the Colorado half way between Desert View and Grand Canyon Village.
13. The Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway
The Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, also called the Catalina Highway or the Sky Islands Scenic Byway, originates at the northeast edge of Tucson and climbs 27 miles to the heights of the 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
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.
18. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. London Bridge
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.
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.
24. The Heard Museum
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.
25. Taliesin West
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.
26. Desert Botanical Garden
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.
27. Rainbow Lake
Located in Arizona’s resort community of Pinetop-Lakeside, Rainbow Lake’s shores are lined with second homes and private lakeside vacation properties. With limited public access, Phoenix and Tucson residents can leave the rush behind and quietly melt into Navajo County’s countryside.
Surrounded by the scenic White Mountains in east-central Arizona, life at Rainbow Lake offers a combination of nature at its best and healthful activity in a small-town atmosphere.
28. Sedona’s Red Rocks
Sedona’s Red Rocks are comprised of sediment layers deposited over many millions of years. The shale foundation is the remainder of ancient swamp lands.
29. Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
The house was built in 1904 for two Riordan families. The historic building is an Arizona treasure — a remarkable example of Arts and Crafts style architecture featuring a rustic exterior of log-slab siding, volcanic stone arches, and hand-split wooden shingles.
The Riordan residence was designed by the creator of Grand Canyon’s El Tovar Hotel, Charles Whittlesey.
30. 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.
31. Oak Creek Canyon
There are several small villages along the stream north of Sedona in thickly-forested Oak Creek Canyon, offering lodges, motels and rustic shops, plus many opportunities for camping, hiking, swimming and fishing.
32. Coronado National Forest
Coronado National Forest spreads across nearly 2 million acres (700,000 hectares) of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. The forest includes 12 mountain ranges or “sky islands” that shoot high above the desert below, some reaching almost 11,000 feet (3,300 meters).
Head to the Coronado National Forest to escape from the bustle and heat of the city and explore the outdoors.
33. The Supertitions Mountain
The Superstitions are the largest of the mountain ranges surrounding Phoenix, visible from many miles away along the straight roads through the suburbs east of Mesa.
Spring is right around the corner and along with the warmer temps, Arizonans can find some amazing wildflower scenes.
34. Surprise Stadium Arizona
Surprise Stadium was officially opened in December 2002 and since then has hosted not only Spring Training games, but plenty of little league, high school and college sports tournaments, too.
35. Yuma Territorial Prison State
On July 1, 1876, the first seven inmates entered the Territorial Prison at Yuma and were locked into the new cells they had built themselves. Thus began the legend of the Yuma Territorial Prison. A total of 3,069 prisoners, including 29 women, lived within the walls during the prison’s 33 years of operation.