I remember first visiting Arizona first with my parents on a short road-trip, it was one of those states that I’d never thought too much about. I mean, as a young kind, I was pretty taken with Disney Land (still am), the glittering strip of Las Vegas (without the gambling) and Death Valley (which sounded so mysterious). To the younger me, Arizona was just a stopping point to the next destination… How wrong I was!
Immediately, as we drove through the dramatic and totally expansive landscapes (something we don’t seem to get in Southern England), I quickly realised how incredible this state is and vowed to always come back. Fast forward a good 15 years and we planned our epic road trip from the Florida Keys to Los Angeles, which I made sure that Arizona was to be included. I mean, how could I not?
If you’re planning your first, fifth or gazillionth trip to the United States, make sure you check out some of the incredible places to see in Arizona. Take a look at some of the best places you have to experience. 🌵
1.) Visit the Grand Canyon
Let’s face it, the Grand Canyon is possibly the most well-known natural landmarks in Arizona… and it’s easy to see why! The Grand Canyon truly is one of nature’s most stunning creations, especially in this region of the US. At a whopping 446km wide and 29km long, it’s one place you won’t be able to totally cover.
One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to split your visit into more manageable bite-sized chunks. Maybe, for a few days, you’ll explore the Southern or Eastern Rim, or head over the West or North to explore more. This way, you can focus your energy on really seeing the best of the Grand Canyon without getting bamboozled by its vast size… or is that just me?!? 🤣
Make sure to visit; Mather Point Overlook, drive around 7 miles on the Hermit Road Drive, head to Moran Point and Maricopa Point that’s just off Hermit Road Drive. Ohhh and don’t forget ‘Ooh Aah Point’ too!
You can also take in the Grand Canyon by helicopter, if you’re feeling like a baller (which is especially useful if you’re staying in Las Vegas, Nevada). River rafting, skydiving (which terrifies me) and hiking routes are also well established, making it the perfect stop no matter what experiences you want to have.
2.) Explore Flagstaff & Meteor Crater
This sounds so silly, but when we arrived in Flagstaff it was below freezing (I mean, my teeth were rattling) which, for some reason, totally surprised me. I always had images of Arizona being dry, arid and very hot. Again, how totally wrong I was!
Flagstaff is pretty close to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, making it an easy city to explore when in the area. Make sure to visit the; Wupatki National Monument, Humphrey’s Peak, Wukoki Ruin and the old railway station. Don’t forget to head for an amazing brunch at Coco’s Bakery Restaurant. You won’t be disappointed.
Also, about 30 miles from the city itself is one of the biggest meteor craters you can visit anywhere in North America. Spend a few hours wandering the rim on a guided tour and learn more about this huge impact that happened many years ago. Just a pointer, if you’re not into geology or the like, you’ll might find this a little dull.
3.) Live it up on Whiskey Row, Prescott
Prescott, Arizona is nestled within the Bradshaw Mountains in Central Arizona and has, literally, hundreds of Victorian style homes that are featured on the National Register of Historic Places.
Once lapping up all those historic homes, head over to, the infamous, Whiskey Row which is almost like stepping back in time. Filled with lots of bars (and whiskey, naturally) it’s a great place to enjoy an epic evening. Especially with all live and local music. Superstition Meadery is also a great little watering hole to visit, make sure to try their ‘peanut butter jelly crime’ – it’s yummy!
For a little slice of nature, head over to Watson Lake, too.
4.) Wander through Tsé bighánílíní
Tsé bighánílíní or commonly known as Antelope Canyon is just east of Page and situated within Navajo Lands pretty close to Monument Valley. Although, in English, it’s called Antelope Canyon the local Navajo name translates to the passage of water through rocks.
You will need a guide to visit the upper and lower canyons and we were fortunate to book this on the day of arrival. From what I remember it was about $40-50 USD each.
Be prepared for quite a few crowds, especially at peak times. We were one of the last tours of the day and it was pretty quiet (with only about 10 other people in the canyon.
5.) Discover the ghost town of Jerome
Deep in old mining country lies the city of Jerome, one of the most famous “ghost towns” in the USA. 👻 It boasts all the charm that one might expect to find in an old mining town.
Well worth a gander at if you’re passing by.
6.) Grab a tipple in Williams
Williams lies on the historic Route 66 and is on the Southwest Chief Amtrak train route… best of all, you can still visit the Grand Canyon Railway and Williams Depot with all their grand, historic, trains.
Williams is often referred to as ‘the gateway to the Grand Canyon’ but it’s so much more. If you love the outdoors, you’ll be spoilt for choice with fishing lakes, hiking trails and country ski trails to enjoy.
Don’t forget to visit ‘Pete’s Rt 66 Gas Station Museum’ and the Grand Canyon Wine Company for a tasty tipple.
7.) Explore Sedona
With a well-established cultural scene and epic events such as the Sedona Film Festival, Sedona Jazz and Rock Festival to name just a few, Sedona is a great place to visit. There’s also the rather impressive Chapel of the Holy Cross that’s perched in the mountains.
If you’re more into the natural side of the region and love the good ol’ outdoor, make sure to visit the Sinkhole and Cathedral Rock.
If you’re looking for a ramble or hike, head onto the Devil’s Bridge Trail that’s just stunning. It can be a more challenging hike so be prepared.
8.) Spot cougars at Kaibab National Forest
Close to Williams, Kaibab National Forest is a whopping 1.6million acres, which borders both the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon in north-central Arizona. It makes a must-see destination for anyone, especially if you’re already in Williams.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Spring Valley Cabin and watch out for some elk, bison and cougar that roam the area.
9.) Enjoy Phoenix
City slickers rejoice! Your time in Arizona doesn’t just have to be spent exploring off-the-beaten-track ghost towns and national parks, Phoenix is a place that’s really fun to visit.
Make sure to visit the Desert Botanical Garden, the Heard Museum and see the views from Camelback Mountain. For a tasty bite to eat, head over to ‘Little Miss BBQ’ that make the best BBQ platters in all of Arizona. Just a heads up, on weekends you might have to wait, so plan your visit to accommodate wait times or just visit a little earlier or on a weekday instead.
10.) Explore the Navajo Nation
Navajo Nation straddles the borders of northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah and northeastern Arizona and is a designated area that is used as the tribal and communal centre for the Navajo Nation. It is home the historical Navajo Cultural Monument which can be explored by horseback if you’re really adventurous.
Don’t forget to see the stunning; Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Blue Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, and the Shiprock monadnock. It really is a special place.
11.) Explore a slice of the wild west at Tombstone
A historic city and mining town, Tombstone is the quintessence of Arizona with a classic Old West atmosphere that “is too tough to die” as the saying goes. Wild West history was made in the very streets, motels and bars that pepper this town.
It also makes a great place from which to explore an old silver mine or go on a paranormal history tour of the town.
12.) Drive the Kingman Highway and Route 66
The classic American highway forms the backdrop of some of the most enduring movies in cinematic history. Recreate your own American road trip experience on the Kingman Highway: drive through dramatic scenery by day and sleep over in a roadside lodge by night.
If you’re looking to travel further along Route 66, enjoy some well-earned pit stops at places like the Roadkill Cafe in Seligman or Hackberry.
13.) Drive the Arizona Strip
Sandwiched between the Grand Canyon and Utah, the Arizona Strip is one of Arizona’s most desolate and sparsely populated regions and travellers who choose to venture here will be richly rewarded. Only one paved road carves through the region, Highway 89A, and it makes for some of the most spectacular scenery and pristine driving conditions in the entire country. Open skies? Check. Crimson-coloured cliffs? Check. Dusty desert scrubs? Check. Grab a car and go! 🚙 💨
14.) Discover Horseshoe Bend
Perched just shy of Page and off Highway 89 is the incredible Horseshoe Bend. Pack your walking boots it’s about a 1.5-mile walk to the edge (which I promise you is worth it).
When you arrive, there’s a parking area that will probably seem pretty hectic and busy but it doesn’t feel like that once you reach the bend itself. If you’ve got time, head here for sunrise (or sunset), it really is a beautiful spot.