Arizona is a sunny state that brims with natural and cultural attractions. While its famously part of the American Southwest, parts of the state also brim with Western and mountain charm. The 48th state admitted to the union, Arizona continues to be home to as many as 27 federally recognized Native American tribes. The state also attracts a wealth of tourists who visit to escape the winter and to enjoy Arizona’s many things to see and do.
For sheer natural grandeur, nothing quite tops the Grand Canyon. This extraordinary landmark is 277 miles long and was originally carved by the mighty Colorado River. Visitors marvel at the canyon’s millions of years of exposed geology. When visiting, tourists have the option of witnessing the canyon from the South Rim or its less-crowded North Rim. Some visitors opt to hike into the canyon while others choose to raft down the river into the canyon grounds. Even if you’re just passing through Northern Arizona, you definitely want to make a stop to see this visually astounding site.
Jerome, Arizona is a historic mountain town that is sometimes referred to as the "wickedest town in the west." Back in its prime, the village had 37 bars and four churches. In the 1920s, when it was a booming mining town, Jerome was the largest producer of copper, silver, and gold in Arizona. When the mines shut down in the 1950s, Jerome became a ghost town.
Today, it has been somewhat restored for tourism, but with historical accuracy. Visitors can enjoy specialty shops, unique bed and breakfasts, and art galleries—a must-stop spot on any trip to Arizona.
The Hoover Dam has been a popular Arizona attraction since it was constructed in 1935. The dam is an engineering marvel on the Colorado River. Visitors can either drive or walk across the dam that stretches across the river for 1,244 feet. Regarded as one of the greatest engineering wonders of the world, Hoover Dam is a popular destination for people visiting Northern Arizona as well as Las Vegas. If you have time, be sure to take one of the guided tours of the dam to witness its grandeur up close.
With its red rock mountains and buttes, the city of Sedona is one of the most scenic areas of the Southwest. About an hour and a half north of Phoenix, Sedona is a popular tourist destination because of its stunning landscapes and artsy shops and galleries. There are plenty of places around Sedona to enjoy hiking and even camping. If you’re an outdoor lover, you definitely want to check out this postcard-worthy city.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a fantastic place to enjoy the state's natural wonders and get some fresh air. The red sandstone National Park is ideal for hiking and photography. Yes, Monument Valley has been used in many movie and TV shoots. It's definitely worth taking the drive to soak up the views.
Bustling Phoenix is the capital of Arizona, so it’s not surprising that it's filled with a wealth of urban attractions. When exploring this city and its surrounding communities, be sure to set aside time to see the Desert Botanical Garden, the Phoenix Art Museum, Papago Park, South Mountain Park, the Phoenix Zoo, and the Heard Museum. You’ll find a wide array of restaurants, shops, and sports arenas, and concert venues in the city too.
Home to Lake Powell and dramatic Southwestern landscapes, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a great place sightsee and spend quality time outdoors. Visitors enjoy activities on both land and water. There are various marinas on the lake as well as campgrounds. The recreation area is family-friendly but also attracts nature enthusiasts and photographers from all over the country.
You'll find this monument in the northeast, located on Navajo tribe land. A popular feature is the Spider Rock spire, which reaches roughly 800 feet high. The stunning canyon of enormous sandstone cliffs is a fantastic day trip for first-time visitors to Arizona.
Antelope Canyon is a famous slot canyon located near Page, Arizona on Navajo lands. The canyon’s sandstone formations are easily one of the state’s most picturesque natural wonders. Photographers from all over the world come to witness the canyon’s natural beauty. The only way to visit the canyon is by reserving space on one of the tours. There is a danger in visiting the canyon during the rainy season due to the risk for flash floods, so touring with a licensed operator is a must.
Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park is famous for its colorful terrain and, of course, its petrified wood. People who visit the park enjoy hiking, backpacking, and photography. The fossils of the fallen trees date back millions of years and are the backdrop of the area’s unique landscapes. The park encompasses about 230 square miles of land, so there’s plenty to explore.
Famed for its resident Saguaro cacti, Saguaro National Park is an amazing place to experience the desert landscape of the Southwest. The park is unique in that it sandwiches the city of Tucson with its east and west sides. Both parts of the park feature hiking trails and similar flora and fauna. If you prefer, you can even enjoy horseback riding on the park’s many trails.
The city of Tucson is home to the revered University of Arizona and is the county seat of Pima County. Tucson is just 60 miles from the US-Mexico border and features a long history that stretches back for 12,000 years. In fact, one of the earliest settlements in the Tucson area dates to 2100 BC. When it comes to contemporary times, Tucson is the state’s second-largest city and home to a myriad of shopping centers, restaurants, galleries, and cultural attractions. If possible, try to explore the amazing desert landscapes that surround this captivating Arizona city.
For natural enchantment, plan a visit to Arizona’s Havasu Falls. This stunning waterfall is located on Havasu Creek near the Grand Canyon. Owing to the high calcium carbonate in the water, the falls and the pool below boasts a dazzling shade of blue. Some people choose to hike to the falls or enjoy some swimming. If you’re looking to witness one of the state’s most postcard-worthy settings, be sure to set aside time to see Havasu Falls.
Lake Mead is a man-made lake that sits on the Colorado River's main stem and was formed by the Hoover Dam. It is located in Black Canyon, east of Las Vegas. The largest reservoir in the United States, it's worth carving out time in your itinerary for a visit.
Enjoy walking around Lake Mead National Recreation Area with its stunning views. Entrance is affordable with a non-commercial 7-day park pass costing $15 if you're entering on foot or $25 with a vehicle. While you're in the area, also be sure to check out the incredible Hoover Dam and take a dip in the hot springs.
In the southeast of Arizona, lays another historic copper-mining town called Bisbee. Set amongst the Mule Mountains, this little town now offers tours through its Queen Mine along with plenty of museums to help you appreciate the rich history. To understand its past, visit the Lavender Pit to see how mining can damage a mountain, and stop by Erie Street, which is perfectly preserved to make it feel like you're stepping back in time.
Bisbee is also famously haunted, so while you're there, be sure to hop on a nighttime ghost tour — if you dare.