The quirky town of Cave Creek, Arizona is where history, wonder, and desert landscape combine to offer a beautifully unique experience. This place is as country as it gets, proudly proclaiming “Where the Wild West Lives.”
Just north of Phoenix, you’re likely to see horseback riders trotting down Main Street as often as you see motorcycles in this old wild west-style community. Full of friendly inhabitants eager to welcome guests, this Maricopa County charmer offers plenty of outdoor adventures, indoor adventures, and everything in between near the Sonoran Desert and Tonto National Forest. After settling into your vacation rental home, you’ll be eager to explore this quaint desert town.
Read on for the top 30 things to do in Cave Creek, Arizona, during your next vacation!
29834 N Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
A hot air balloon ride over the gorgeous Sonoran Desert is the best way to view Arizona. Fodor’s Travel Guide awarded Arizona Balloon Safaris one of the top ten balloon rides in the U.S.!
N School House Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
The Black Mountain Trail is uncomfortably hot during the summer, with dangerous hiking trails, unstable rocks, and the occasional snake slithering beneath the foot. However, this hasn’t stopped numerous hikers and mountain climbers from reaching the summit because the area around it is one of Creek Valley’s most gorgeous.
Brilliant wildflowers, massive cacti, and 360° vistas of the surrounding cities and desert abound!
101 Easy St, Carefree, AZ
These botanical gardens feature self-guided walking tours, playgrounds for the little ones, events, a giant sundial, and more across four sprawling acres.
37019 N Lava Ln, Cave Creek, AZ
Cave Creek Regional Park spans over 3,000 acres of Sonoran desert with elevations ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level. Known for its rugged landscape, desert vegetation, and remote location, the Go John Trail is one of the most popular routes.
During the spring, wildflowers are abundant!
37201 N 28th St, Cave Creek, AZ
The Cave Creek Rodeo Days include a parade, mutton bustin’, rodeo dances, a golf tournament, three Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) performances, and more to complete a weeklong celebration of an Arizona town’s Western heritage.
37019 N 32nd St, Cave Creek, AZ
Go horseback riding across the picturesque Sonoran Desert. Your secure mountain horse will transport you on a historic ride as your guide tells stories about the old west and the mining town.
7750 E Redfield Rd, Suite 104, Scottsdale, AZ
Head on over to nearby Scottsdale for an unforgettable adventure. With a passion for the outdoors, Discovery Treks specializes in Arizona hiking tours and guided backpacking tours through the Grand Canyon and beyond.
33750 N Dove Lakes Dr, Cave Creek, AZ
Dove Valley’s unrivaled natural beauty is accentuated by the enormous pond in the middle of the course. The golf course boasts well-kept transition zones, well-kept fairways, and manicured greens, noticeable to even the most inexperienced golfers.
N Vermeersch Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
Desert Awareness Park is a great spot to visit if you want something more family-friendly without sacrificing the region’s natural beauty. It’s in the midst of Cave Creek, but the heavy vegetation creates the impression of being in the middle of nowhere, drowning out any man-made noises.
This 26.6-acre Desert Foothills Land Trust preserve, just south of the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, is rich in various high Sonoran Desert flora and fauna.
The area is vibrant with pre-history, showcasing the story of the Hohokam, canal-building farmers, who arrived in the area approximately A.D. 700 from the Salt River area (Phoenix).
43001 N Spur Cross Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
Spur Cross Conservation Area and Tonto National Forest trail rides are available through MTM Ranch Horseback Adventures. Inexperienced riders and families with children will enjoy the one- and two-hour rides on easy paths that wind through valleys with beautiful mountain views dotted with saguaro cactus.
P.A. Seitts Preserve is a lovely buffer zone combining nature and human civilization. This riparian environment is an important ecological hotspot in the northern Sonoran Desert, home to various sensitive plant and animal species.
Aside from wildlife interactions, the 271-acre park in the Go John canyon area also offers impressive panoramic views.
5734 E Rancho Manana Blvd, Cave Creek, AZ
Nestled amid the Sonoran Desert is this par 70 championship course with spectacular elevation variations and unspoiled desert scenery.
44000 N Spur Cross Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
Deep, arid valleys, worn rock outcroppings, and high-elevation mesas that rise to more than 4000 feet above sea level are all found here. Many trails weave through the canyons and onto the rocky plateaus, and you can explore the entire 2,154-acre area.
You might spot coyotes, hawks, rattlesnakes, and more as you stroll past towering saguaro cacti, some of which are over 400 years old. Some pathways pass by abandoned mines, ranches, and Indian ruins, making for an interesting trek through wild west history.
31840 N 45th St, Cave Creek, AZ
Wild At Heart is a bird of prey rescue, rehabilitation, and release center. Their main goal is to rescue and rehabilitate wounded owls, hawks, falcons, and eagles before releasing them back into the wild.
38443 N School House Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
Established in 1954, the Desert Foothills Library’s first librarian, Dorothy Smith, operated out of her car.
The Library, a 20,000-square-foot 501(c)3 non-profit public establishment with a full assortment of items for checkout, was recently remodeled.
748 Easy Street, Suite 4, Carefree, AZ
Grace Voss Fredericks, one of the first women on television, founded the Grace Museum. She worked in various fields in the entertainment industry, including radio, Broadway, and vaudeville.
She cherished her homeland, committing her museum to document its development over the past 200 years. A guided 2-1/2 hour tour will take you through the nostalgic history of Americana artifacts.
7100 E Cave Creek Rd, Suite 144, Cave Creek, AZ
The Sonoran Arts League is Cave Creek’s central organization for celebrating creativity and talent. Its art galleries are a focal point for rotating exhibits presenting works by the city’s most accomplished artists.
Look at the paintings, sculptures, art installations, jewelry, and other handmade items on display during your visit. Some of these are available for purchase, allowing you to bring home a special item that touched your spirit.
Ron Walker, a retired electrical engineer, owns the Star Barn Planetarium in Cave Creek. Throughout the year, Walker hosts presentations such as “Introduction to the Night Sky” and “Star of Bethlehem.”
DRINKS, EATS, & SWEETS
6130 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
A low-key eatery serves wood-smoked BBQ and standard sides in a modest, cafeteria-style setting.
6823 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
Live music, dancing, and bull riding are all part of the fun at the Buffalo Chip Saloon. The blaring of country-western music can be heard spilling out the door on Saturday nights (and almost every other night of the week).
6201 E Cave Creek Rd, Suite C, Cave Creek, AZ
This family-owned distillery and tasting room in historic downtown Cave Creek offer locally created and handcrafted spirits concentrating on bourbon and vodka.
6268 E Cave Creek Rd #8, Cave Creek, AZ
Satisfy your sweet tooth after gobbling up some BBQ with small batched handcrafted ice cream.
6248 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
This mission-style Mexican cantina features a menu of classic dishes and a charming duck pond on the patio.
6501 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
This family-owned business has one of the largest outdoor patio areas in Cave Creek. They serve award-winning coffee and bagels, pastries, breakfast, and lunch.
EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
6140 E Skyline Dr, Cave Creek, AZ
The Cave Creek Museum is the greatest site to learn about the region’s archeology and history and the mining and agricultural enterprises that fueled its development. There are two wings to visit as well as an outdoor exhibit.
6245 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
Frontier Town is one of Arizona’s last remaining western towns, with distinctive local stores and entertaining shows and events.
6401 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ
This surreal sight, just a block from Frontier Town, is a must-see for geology experts, fans of glittering things, and tourists looking for something unique. The outdoors is quite the sight with a “petrified forest” of marbled stones and exquisite sculptures carved from the region’s rocks.
7100 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek AZ
The Cave Creek Farmers Market has locals selling fresh vegetables, pastries, sauces, honey, jams, handcrafted metal and wood features, and other delectable food items.
1 Sundial Circle, Carefree, AZ
Open each Friday, rain or shine, year-round, Carefree Farmers Market features fresh, seasonal produce, herbs, and flowers, as well as locally created jams, jellies, salsas, fresh baked goods, seafood, and a range of local arts and crafts. Vendors change weekly.