If you are looking for a great vacation destination, Arizona should be at the top of your list. It is home to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the country and filled with many incredible geological formations and canyons to explore along with numerous attractions to choose. In this article, we are highlighting the 5 best destinations in Arizona.
There are a great many attractions to choose from on your visit to the state, including desert, lakes, mountains, canyons, saguaro cactus, buttes, waterfalls, downhill skiing, hiking, as well as numerous restaurants and cultural options. The greater Phoenix area is one of the top golf destinations in the world. As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon draws people from all over the world to experience its natural beauty.
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SEDONA – MAGNIFICENT RED ROCK SCENERY
A trip to Arizona would not be complete without journeying to breathtaking Sedona to experience the red rock landscape in one of the most beautiful settings in Arizona. Driving two hours north from Phoenix through the Village of Oak Creek offers stunning views of its famed red rocks, nature and wildlife. Be sure not to miss this hidden gem on your Arizona adventures.
There are so many things to do here no matter what interests you, including great hiking, art galleries, tourist shops, restaurants, ancient native American dwellings, jeep tours and more. Sedona is an outdoor paradise for nature lovers, photographers and fitness enthusiasts. It is also well known for its Vortexes that are spots where energy is believed to project out of the earth and are said to exist at a few sacred spots around the world.
Sedona has become a gathering place for traditional and contemporary arts. The local arts are important part of Sedona’s culture and the Tlaquepague Arts and Crafts Village is a great place to get a taste of the local culture where you can experience colorful shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating.
Another highlight and must see is the spectacular Chapel of the Holy Cross. It is an extraordinary wedge of concrete that’s been sliced into the red rocks and the scenery is breathtaking in all directions. While it is Catholic in faith, it is a work of art and has universal appeal for contemplation and prayer.
Be sure to check out the large number of hikes to experience. As one of the most scenic areas of AZ, it is one of the best destinations in Arizona for casual hikers looking to spend a few hours walking along the red rocks or through dramatic canyons. From beginner hikes to advanced trails, you will experience plenty of hiking through some dramatic scenery.
If you would like an alternative way and a special experience to see a large volume of attractions, Jeep Tours are popular and provide an easy way to get out into the landscape and explore many interesting sites with off-road tours that wind through the scenery.
General Information: https://visitsedona.com/ https://visitarizona.com/cities/north-central/sedona
GRAND CANYON – One of the 7 Wonders of the World
As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a must-see destination you have to experience to believe. It is known for its intricate and colorful landscape and overwhelming size. It is inspiring and spectacular as it stretches almost 300 miles across and its rocky walls drop more than a mile to the floor of the canyon.
The south rim is the best place and most popular to experience the many aspects of the canyon. Some of the most unforgettable experiences are observing the sunrise and sunset. You can hike, ride a mule or even use a helicopter to get to the canyon floor.
The Grand Canyon has many interesting places to stay, from grand old lodges to upscale inns. Many of these accommodations surround the park and some are even in the park. There are also restaurants, a general store, laundry and shower facilities. It can be best to forget the parking space limitations and take the park’s free shuttle buses instead, which operate in multiple loops.
The Grand Canyon is a hiking paradise. Various trails offer views of the powerful and inspiring landscape of the canyon and provide a firsthand experience of the sheer scale of the canyon. There are popular day hikes and backpacking routes on both sides of the rim including simple hikes overlooking the rim and more rugged options that descend into the canyon. You can choose from various trails, including Rim-to-Rim, Bright Angel, Rainbow Rim, Hermit and South KaibabTrail. It certainly won’t take long to appreciate why it is one of the best destinations in Arizona.
General Information: https://nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/index.htm
Phoenix is one of the best destinations in Arizona. The majority of visitors to Arizona fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The metro area of Phoenix is surrounded by several cities, the primary ones being Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Glendale, Carefree and Cave Creek.
If you want to experience the desert landscape and an enormous variety of variety of activities, you have come to the right place. For outdoor enthusiasts, Phoenix is the perfect place to explore over 200 great hiking, running, and mountain biking trails for every skill level.
Greater Phoenix is one of the top destinations for the golf enthusiast with some championship courses and a total of almost 200 courses in the area. The top golf courses in the Phoenix metro area are often ranked as some of the top courses in the country. Even during the hot summers, there are many people that golf because of the discounted money on tee times. You can also pamper yourself with some of the best luxury resort and day spas that you will find anywhere.
If you want to sample a huge variety of different cuisines, you have come to the right place. You can sample southwestern choices of authentic Mexican and Native American influences and everything to international options.
There are also numerous museums, performing arts venues, and cultural attractions. You can experience performances at a wide variety of theaters, cultural centers, and concert halls. If you are an art and history lover, there are museums that you must see, including the Heard Museum. It is dedicated to the presentation of American Indian art. It covers the history and stories as well as exhibitions of contemporary as well as traditional art by American Indian artists.
This is a must see when visiting Phoenix. It is a wonderful chance for an amazing trip through the desert and all of the plant life to be seen. All of the vegetation is marked and there is a lot to learn while you are enjoying the beautiful scenery and displays.
Desert Botanical Garden is located in Papago Park in central Phoenix and offers more than 50,000 desert plants on display in a unique outdoor setting. There are five trails with multiple themes to learn about desert living, landscaping conservation and wildflowers. The displays highlight the topics of desert living, plants and people of the Sonoran Desert and desert wildflowers.
For some more in-depth information, be sure to check out the various lectures and workshops along with specialized tours, seasonal exhibits, special events and other activities. You can also catch a bite to eat at Gertrude’s restaurant, Patio Café and browse through the Garden’s gift and plant shop.
If you have an interest in learning more about the life, history and architecture of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, you have come to the right place. The tour is fascinating for anyone with even a passing interest in history or architecture.
Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark and was Wright’s winter home and architecture school. The 600 acres are located in the desert at the base of the McDowell Mountains. It served as an informal university where students learned under Wright’s guidance.
Wright and his students personally built studios, apartments and theaters and maintained the property. He used local materials to ensure that the low-slung buildings blended in with the natural surroundings. It was an organic architecture that blended tilting planes and materials of local desert sand and rocks so the complex would coexist with the desert environment.
The complex includes a drafting studio, workshop, dining area, theaters, a workshop as well as Wright’s office as well as private living area, and residences for his apprentices and staff.
There are daily 90-minute tours with engaging guides that make it an enjoyable experience. Please be sure to make reservations in advance of your tour.
Camelback Mountain is a prominent Phoenix icon and one of the best spots to get some amazing views across the valley below. The mountain resembles the head of a kneeling camel and consists of reddish granite and sandstone mass.
There are two vigorous hiking trails that are classified as extremely difficult. Echo Canyon and Cholla that are challenging with steep and rugged ascents, but well worth the spectacular 360-degree views of the valley. Echo Canyon is steeper and Cholla Trail on the east side of the mountain offers a more gradual incline, at least until you near the summit. You can also spend less than an hour along some easy trails that circle Camelback’s base, such as the Bobby’s Rock Trail and the Ramada Loop Trail.
A short drive just 20 miles north of downtown Phoenix, the award winning MIM is an amazing place where you could easily spend the whole day viewing over 7,000 instruments from various countries and cultures. As you tour, you get a headset and audio/ video that connects you wirelessly to whatever display you encounter to be able to see and hear the sounds of the instruments and observe them being played. In addition to the instruments, you will be able to see concert footage along with the clothing of renowned musicians and more.
Visitors can observe how the instruments are preserved and restored at the Conservation Lab. And there is also an Experience Gallery where all guests are invited to play instruments from around the world. The museum also serves as a performance venue and books artists from around the world. There are also rooms divided by geographic region where you can find some unique collections.
If you are looking for adventure and exploration all four seasons of the year, Flagstaff is a great place to visit and one of the best destinations in Arizona. A little over a two-hour drive time north from Phoenix and you are in the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine Forest at 7,000-feet of elevation. You can take advantage of the crisp mountain air all year long with the colors of fall, winter snow, blossoming spring and mild summers to pursue a wide variety of outdoor activities.
The San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Elden are perfect places for outdoor enthusiasts with plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. If you are interested in kayaking, paddle boarding or fishing, Mormon Lake and Lake Mary are great choices to explore. For those with a passion for skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing, Mt. Humphreys and around the base of San Francisco Peaks are nice options.
All year long you will also find a large selection of local entertainment and cultural events. Flagstaff has a lot to offer in arts and sciences, including festivals, concerts, workshops and performances. There are also several annual music festivals during the summer months. Flagstaff is home to a vibrant theatre scene.
AZ snowbowl is located a few minutes outside of Flagstaff and is on the western slope of Mount Humphreys on the majestic San Francisco Peaks. It is one of the oldest continually run ski areas in the U.S.
The runs are usually in great condition with over 200 inches of snow annually and state-of-the-art snowmaking if necessary. There are 48 trails with eight chairlifts for skiers and snowboarders and cover all ability levels.
It is also a place to visit in the summer to enjoy the Scenic Skyride chairlift where at 11,500 feet you can enjoy viewing the red rocks in Sedona and the magnificent Grand Canyon.
If you are interested in cross country skiing, snowshoeing on groomed trails and having the opportunity to camp in a yurt (tent), you have come to the right place. You can find many camping and lodging choices year-round in the Village.
There are many trails specifically designed for cross county skiing and additional trails packed for snowshoeing and fat tire biking. To fully enjoy your adventure, you can stay overnight in one of the cabins or yurts for a unique experience. It’s the perfect place to connect nature and outdoor activities.
Tucson is a great place for true southwestern experiences and is one of the best destinations in Arizona. It ranks near the top of the list for most sunny days per year and for its warm and dry climate along with offering a good mix of cultural and natural attractions. It has mountain ranges in every direction and sweeping expanses of arid desert. You will get a chance to observe some of the majestic saguaro cacti and beautiful desert landscapes.
Make sure you spend some time checking into some of the fascinating museums, historic sites and enjoy the authentic Mexican food for some nice dining experiences. after a variety of shopping and dining experiences.
Be sure to take advantage of the mountains and desert atmosphere to discover some wonderful hiking trails, parks, campgrounds and biking areas.
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See the desert up close and personal. There is something for everyone at the Sonora Desert Museum. It is unlike any type of museum you have ever seen, as 85% of the experience is outdoors.
It provides a combination of zoo, natural history museum, aquarium, art gallery and botanical garden that gives a taste of the varied flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert. In addition to seeing all of the exhibits, you can walk along the desert Loop Trail for some great views.
You even get the opportunity to see bears, coyotes and mountain lions in their natural surroundings, as well as hummingbirds and other types of desert birds in two aviaries.
A true treasure to visit about 10 miles south of Tucson is an historic Spanish Catholic mission that is a National Historic Landmark. The surviving mission of today was built between 1783 and 1797, making it the oldest European structure in Arizona. The architecture is absolutely stunning. It is often called the “white dove in the desert,” and you will discover its ornate and detailed artwork and careful preservation. It is a beautiful piece of history and culture of the area.
Your experience starts with a 20-minute video talking about the history of the Mission and its restoration process. In walking through the museum, you get a sense of the history by looking at the artifacts and what it was like to live at the Mission. The museum is free and open to the public.
As one of the largest aerospace museums and aircraft collections in the world, it features over 300 commercial, private, civil, and military aircraft to view. There is a huge collection of World War II planes along with many other unique commercial, private, military air and spacecraft that chronicle the evolution of flight.
There is The Tram Tour where you cover the 80-acre museum facility that you purchase upon arriving and the AMARG “Boneyard” Tour that leaves from the museum and ride on a motor coach to the Davis Monthan Air Force Base. This tour requires advance reservations.
Your basic admission fee covers: The Main Hangar, 3 world war II hangars, The Dorothy Finley Space Gallery, The Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame, The 390th Memorial Museum and 80 acres with more than 150 airplanes.
Hopefully, this brief tour of the five best destinations in Arizona has been helpful to you and you have a better idea of where you would like to visit and what to expect.
Do you have questions or concerns about an upcoming trip? Call us at 480-813-9100, send an email to [email protected], or click on the live chat bubble at the bottom of this page and we’ll be happy to serve you! With over 22 years of experience, we’ve seen a little bit of everything, and we want to make sure your travels are, happy, safe, and amazing.