Arizona is the perfect destination for travelers looking for a place to relax, explore, and have a memorable experience.
From grandiose canyons and majestic mountains to vibrant cities and golden deserts, Arizona offers a wide range of attractions and activities to keep you busy during your stay at a luxury vacation rental.
Our travel guide of “can’t miss” things to do includes some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, indigenous history, and outdoor experiences. We’ll tell you where to go and what to do when you get there!
Why Visit Arizona
Whether you’re looking for a tranquil escape on a Route 66 road trip or the bucket list-checking adventure of a lifetime, there’s no better place to visit than the Grand Canyon State.
The Great Outdoors
For outdoor enthusiasts, Arizona is a paradise of hiking, biking, and camping spots with breathtaking landscapes. You can hike the Grand Canyon, explore the vibrant forests of Flagstaff, or enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the Whiskey Row loop.
Other outdoor activities like white-water rafting and horseback riding are also available to explore. Plus, the climate is perfect for outdoor activities nearly all year round.
For those in search of a cultural experience, Arizona is home to unique attractions, museums, and markets.
Whether you’re looking to learn about the culture and history of the native tribes or just want to explore the art galleries and live music scene in Tucson, there’s something for everyone in Arizona.
You’ll find yourself surrounded by vibrant cultures and vast historical sites, all within a uniquely beautiful landscape.
A Travel Guide of The Best Excursions in Arizona
Visit the Grand Canyon
Location: Northern Arizona
Explore one of North America’s most magnificent natural wonders, if not the world, at the Grand Canyon National Park.
Enjoy the spectacular views from the South Rim, or take a hike down to the Colorado River. Take in the towering red cliffs, deep canyons, and unique rock formations that make the Grand Canyon one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth.
There are endless modes of transportation around this natural wonder. Take a jeep tour. Go for a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure down one of the tributaries of the Colorado River, soak up some sun on a scenic mule ride, or take a breathtaking helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon.
Whether you’re traveling alone or with family, the Grand Canyon has something for everyone.
Hike Monument Valley
Location: Utah/Arizona Border
Witness the iconic sandstone buttes, mesas, and other landforms that form an incredible landscape of panoramas at Monument Valley. Hike through this vast desert valley for a truly unique experience.
Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park located in Arizona and Utah and is often overlooked but is a spectacular place to explore. It is home to hundreds of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires, as well as an array of beautiful views.
Visitors can explore the valley on foot or on a guided tour, taking in incredible panoramic views of the sweeping sand-colored vistas. From ancient cliff dwellings and stone carvings to the incredible sandstone formations, Monument Valley is a must-see destination.
Tour Antelope Canyon
Location: Utah/Arizona Border
Antelope Canyon is a can’t-miss stop in Northern Arizona. It is one of the most visited and photographed slot canyons worldwide, known for its unique and breathtaking sandstone formations. The vivid orange and yellow sandstone walls look as if they have been painted on, while the turquoise waters of the canyon create an incredible contrast.
The canyon is split into Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Both offer incredible views and photo opportunities, but Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular choice for visitors.
Caves, passages, and corridors are filled with winding curves, vibrant colors, and intricate designs. The canyon walls, curves, and crevices of Antelope Canyon have been carved over hundreds of years by rushing floodwaters, creating an environment of extraordinary beauty.
Drive or Hike Saguaro National Park
See the iconic saguaro cacti of the Sonoran Desert in all their glory on a desert hike or scenic drive at Saguaro National Park. You can enjoy sweeping views of the desert landscape and visit some historical sites along the way.
The intermingling of local ecosystems is what makes this park unique. On these trails, breathtaking views of the desert are not to be missed, and you may even spot some of the desert’s unique wildlife, like coyotes, roadrunners, and endangered birds.
You can explore various trails, including easy nature walks, moderate hikes to nearby peaks, and a backcountry trek for those looking for a challenge.
View The Horseshoe Bend From Above
Location: Utah/Arizona Border
Get ready to be impressed by the sheer power of nature at Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. This 270-degree loop in the Colorado River is an incredible natural wonder created by the powerful and persistent force of the water.
The view from high above the canyon is stunning, with deep red and orange hues contrasting with the river’s serene blues and sky. As you look down from the overlook, you can marvel at the sheer magnitude of the horseshoe loop.
This is an outdoorsmen’s paradise. Take a walk along the trail to get an even closer view of the river and amazing sandstone formations. It is also an ideal recreation area for kayaking during a six to nine hour day trip.
Climb Camelback Mountain
Climb the challenging trails of Camelback Mountain and take in the stunning views of the city of Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun.
Camelback Mountain is an iconic landmark and one of the many great hiking trails in Phoenix, Arizona. This hike provides amazing views of the Valley of the Sun. With its steep terrain, tiring switchbacks, and seemingly endless staircases, it is a favorite among hikers of all levels.
Its two main trails, Echo Canyon and Cholla offer hikers the chance to challenge their cardiovascular fitness while taking in the stunning views of the Phoenix skyline and the rugged mountains surrounding it.
Echo Canyon is the more commonly used trail and begins with a steep climb and finishes off with a series of smaller trails. Cholla Trail is for the more adventurous hikers, with a longer route and trickier terrain.
For the most experienced hiker, you can even ascend the imposing “Rattlesnake Rock” section of the mountain. At the top, the 360-degree views of Phoenix and the surrounding area are simply breathtaking and more than worth the effort.
Go Back West in Old Tucson
Step back in time to experience the Wild West at Old Tucson, a Western-style theme park developed for old Hollywood productions.
Explore the Old West on wagon rides, take aim in a shoot-out on the banks of Tombstone and feel the rush of a stagecoach chase. See demonstrations of Hollywood-style stunts like gunfights and horse riding.
Visit the saloon to learn more about the history of the wild west, take a train ride and explore the scenic nature trails. Kids can enjoy a petting zoo, gold panning, pony rides, and much more. With over 40 historic buildings and 150 acres to explore, Old Tucson is the perfect destination for a family getaway.
Visit San Xavier Mission
Visit one of the oldest intact mission churches in the U.S. at San Xavier Mission near Tucson.
Marvel at the stunning tile-roofed and white-plastered mission’s baroque architecture, an example of the unique mission style developed by the Franciscan friars and the native Tohono O’odham Indians in the late 1700s.
Inside the mission, you can marvel at the intricate artwork covering nearly every inch of its walls and ceiling, as well as its ancient frescoes, statues, and altars.
Take part in one of the mission’s religious services, or participate in guided tours and multiple educational programs. Attend lectures and seminars on the mission’s history, architecture, and culture. You can also learn about its history from knowledgeable Friars and local historians.
Tour the historical cemetery, convent, and monuments to learn more about the builders and artisans who helped create the mission. After a day of exploration, relax and enjoy a meal in the mission’s delightful restaurant, where you can savor traditional Mexican and O’odham cuisine.
Enjoy The Outdoors at Tempe Town Lake
Enjoy outdoor recreation at Tempe Town Lake, a man-made reservoir set against the backdrop of Tempe. Take a boat ride, go fishing or just enjoy the views along the shoreline. Explore the nearby trails that offer picturesque views of the lake while you take a leisurely walk or a jog.
Check out the on-site restaurants and cafes for a bite to eat before heading into downtown Tempe. With the variety of attractions and activities, Tempe Town Lake has something for everyone.
Explore Papago Park
Explore the stellar expanse of Papago Park. Take in the stunning desert landscape and climb up the red buttes to view the entire park. Enjoy various outdoor activities, from running or biking along the designated trails to picnicking at the Desert Botanical Gardens.
Get up close and personal with the local wildlife that inhabit the park, like lizards, snakes, and cacti. Visit the Hole in the Rock and its unique hiking trail, or simply relax and enjoy the vibrant views.
Mountain biking is also very popular here, with the Double Butte Loop trail offering 2.2 miles of exciting cycling terrain.
Get Wild at Bearizona Wildlife Park
Get up close and personal with the wildlife of Arizona at Bearizona Wildlife Park. Take a drive or a walk on the trails to see majestic bears, bison, elk, and other animals.
Explore the educational exhibits and interactive displays in the Wildlife Center to learn more about the animals and their habitats. Then, visit the Animals in Action area to observe the animals in their natural habitat and take a narrated tour of the park with a knowledgeable guide.
Take the Trails to Cathedral Rock
Take on the beautiful trails of Cathedral Rock to see the iconic cathedral-like rock formations of this popular Sedona hiking destination. With panoramic red rock views, various trails, and plenty of space to explore, Cathedral Rock is the perfect day trip for nature lovers and adventurers alike.
This spot is also home to one of Sedona’s biggest tourist attractions, the Cathedral Rock Vortex. These energy-shifting places are thought to give off powerful magnetic healing that can give feelings of inner peace and healing.
In addition, the whole Sedona area is heaving with bucket-list hiking trails. The Dali-esque rolling red scenery is one of a kind.
Hike McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Hike through the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and take in the stunning desert vistas of Scottsdale, Arizona. This natural preserve covers over 30,000 acres of rugged terrain and contains various plants and animals.
Hike through the rocky hills and canyons, explore lush Sonoran Desert habitats, and spot rare and endangered species like the burrowing owl, Gila woodpecker, and Pronghorn.
Visit the Chiricahua National Monument
Location: Southeastern Arizona
Take a hike through the stunning rock formations of the Chiricahua National Monument, located in the Coronado National Forest in Southeastern Arizona.
Explore this 11,985-acre area as you walk through the 8-mile loop of the Echo Canyon and Massai Point Nature trails. Here you will find huge columns of ancient volcanic rock, sculpted by weather and time, called the “Land of Standing Rocks.”
Take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding canyon and rich vegetation of majestic old-growth pine, Douglas fir, and alligator juniper as you hike.
Stop at the Faraway Ranch Historic District and learn about the area’s cultural history of the Apache and the settlers who called this area home.
Learn at the Sonora Desert Museum
Learn more about the Sonora Desert and its wildlife at the Sonora Desert Museum. Explore the gardens, trails, and exhibits at this outdoor museum to discover the history, plants, and animals of the Sonora Desert.
Learn more about the history and culture of the region and the ecology and conservation of the Sonora Desert. Get an up-close look at the native species of the region, from native birds and reptiles to small mammals and insects.
In addition, families can take part in educational programs and activities that teach about the unique Sonoran environment and its inhabitants.
Drive the Apache Trail
Location: Tonto National Forest
The Apache Trail, located in the stunning Sonoran Desert, is a picturesque byway winding through the Superstition Mountains.
The road offers breathtaking views through the Tonto National Forest of canyon walls, desert plants, and the vibrant blue waters of Canyon Lake.
Along the way, you can experience many activities, such as hiking, fishing, and picnicking at nearby parks and lakes. Stop along the way at the Tortilla Flat General Store, a local staple featuring great food, goods, and friendly service.
With plenty of curves and twists, the Apache Trail is rated as one of the most thrilling drives in Arizona. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure or a relaxing day in nature, the Apache Trail provides unforgettable experiences.
Learn About Indigenous Culture at the Heard Museum
Discover the history and culture of the Southwest at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, featuring a collection of art and artifacts from the Native American tribes of the region, historic pottery, textiles, jewelry, and basketry.
Enjoy the museum’s special exhibitions and gain an understanding of the cultural history of the American Southwest.
The museum also hosts various events, including lectures, workshops, and Native American dances. Through its educational programs, the Heard Museum allows visitors to connect with and learn about the region’s native culture in a unique and meaningful way.
Tour Jerome Ghost Town
Explore Jerome’s Ghost Town for insight into old mining traditions and some of the most stunning views of the Verde Valle.
The preserved Jerome Ghost Town is one of the best examples of living history in the area, showcasing what life was like when it was built in the late 1800s.
With historical sites like the Douglas Mansion, Conner House, and the Jerome Fire Station, you’ll want to set an afternoon aside to explore. Unique local amenities like the Jerome Historical Society, Jerome State Historic Park, and Jerome Art Walk, make this town is an excellent destination for exploring the past.
Boat on Lake Powell
Location: Northern Arizona
Enjoy boating, fishing, and other water sports at Lake Powell, a stunning lake in the shape of a horseshoe surrounded by stunning red rocks.
Located on the border of Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell is the second-largest man-made lake in the United States, providing countless hours of exploration and recreation. Boaters can rent power boats, pontoon boats, houseboats, and more, while anglers can enjoy fishing for trout, bass, and other species.
Visitors can also enjoy waterskiing, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, and related activities in the lake’s crystal-clear waters.
On land, there are plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, including viewing the area’s distinctive red rock formations. With its beautiful backdrop, gorgeous sky views, and many recreational opportunities, Lake Powell is an amazing place to explore and enjoy.
Relax at the Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is a living museum displaying the beauty and diversity of the desert local to Arizona. From cacti and wildflowers to butterflies and hummingbirds, visitors can appreciate the desert ecosystem’s life.
This spectacular garden is home to thousands of plants, numerous walking trails, one-of-a-kind art displays, and a gourmet farm-to-table restaurant. Serving as an outdoor museum, the garden focuses on the living things of the Sonoran Desert, which covers the Southwestern United States.
View the Ruins at the Montezuma Castle National Monument
Location: Camp Verde
Montezuma Castle National Monument is a historical treasure located in central Arizona. It is the third National Monument dedicated to preserving Native American culture.
Built within a towering limestone cliff, the site showcases a well-preserved cliff dwelling built by the ancient Puebloans over 1,000 years ago. There is an informative visitor center as well as a 0.3-mile trek to tour the archeological ruins throughout the site.
Slot Canyons of Antelope
These unique canyons have walls that soar up to 200 feet into the air and provide a spectacular backdrop for photographers and hikers alike. The Slot Canyons of Antelope were formed by thousands of years of erosion from the nearby Colorado River and are celebrated for their unique and beautiful shapes.
These majestic canyons provide visitors with an opportunity to experience the beauty of nature and explore the many winding pathways that fill the canyon floors. With its striking rock formations, vibrant colors, and accessible paths, this incredible landscape offers an unforgettable experience.
Take a Guided Hike at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
This park offers the chance to explore a dormant volcano with its historical lava flows, cinder cones, and incredible views of the surrounding area. Visitors can take guided hikes around Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to explore the crater and learn about the area’s geology, ecology, and history.
The park also has a visitor center and museum where visitors can learn about the park and its natural and cultural history.
Additionally, there are campgrounds, picnic areas, and astronomy programs throughout the year.
Get Active at Catalina State Park
The Catalina State Park is home to various desert plants and animals, as well as stunning views of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona.
It features six miles of trails, perfect for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and a campground for those who wish to stay longer.
Visitors can also enjoy bird watching, rock climbing, and picnicking in the park. For a little added adventure, visitors can explore the park’s many archaeological sites, which tell the story of the ancient Hohokam people who once lived there.
Drive the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway
Location: Starts in Tucson
This winding mountain road provides stunning views of the Sonoran Desert and is a great way to experience Arizona’s incredible scenery.
Starting in Tucson, the route passes through the lush Coronado National Forest, winding up to the summit of Mount Lemmon at 9,157 feet. Along the way, you will see breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert, winding canyons, and a diverse range of wildlife.
Go Caving at Kartchner Caverns State Park
Home to one of the longest cave systems in the country, Kartchner Caverns State Park is a great place to explore the underground world.
Located near Benson, Arizona, the park is home to two spectacular caves – the Rotunda/Throne Room and the Big Room.
In addition to exploring the caves, visitors to the park can also enjoy camping, picnicking, and nature trails. It’s the perfect place for a family adventure!
A Must-Visit State
As you can see, visiting Arizona is one of the most rewarding experiences for families, couples, and adventurous travelers.
Yes, the weather is beautiful year-round, and there are plenty of activities to do, such as hiking, biking, swimming, and camping. Of course, the diverse landscape and vibrant culture make this unique and breathtaking state an ideal place to explore and experience.
Arizona’s captivating scenery, fun-filled activities, and friendly locals make it a bucket-list destination. Arizona offers something for everyone to enjoy, whether for a day trip or a longer vacation.
Plan ahead and book the vacation rentals of your dreams as you move through the Grand Canyon State!