All you need are a few days to explore Arizona’s enthralling history and diverse natural beauty.
Temperatures are beginning their slow descent from summer’s scorching heat, but that’s no reason to sit at home. Arizona is chock-full of exciting scenery and attractions that are just waiting to be explored. While we love Flagstaff for its cool mountain air and Ponderosa pine forests, Sedona for its red rock landscapes and New Age vibe, and Tucson for its saguaros and hip foodie scene, there’s a multitude of additional amazing destinations that should be on every Phoenician’s vacation radar.
We’ve selected six destinations, including historic mountain villages, lakefront playgrounds, nostalgia-filled Route 66 communities, and verdant winelands, that offer the perfect respite from your daily routine.
Wedged into a steep canyon in the Mule Mountains, this picturesque former copper mining town was once the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. The Copper Queen Mine is one of the top tourist attractions, but another draw is the lively arts and antiques scene, as well as the gay-friendly nightlife.
If you dare, stay at the Copper Queen Hotel. Constructed in 1902, it’s reportedly home to three ghosts. Visitors to The Shady Dell also can travel back in time in one of 11 mid-century trailers, as well as an Airporter bus and a Chris Craft yacht, that make up this quirky, camera-ready court.
Combine your trip to Bisbee with a stop in historic Tombstone and experience a re-enactment of the famed 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral, tour Wyatt Earp’s house, and visit the graves of famous outlaws at the 1878 Boothill Cemetery.
2. Lake Havasu City
Home to the famous London Bridge, this desert oasis on the California border is known for being a trendy spring break destination, but it’s a worthwhile vacation spot year-round. While the famed bridge, which was dismantled, shipped to, and rebuilt between 1968-1971, is the state’s No. 2 attraction—right behind the Grand Canyon—there’s plenty more to see and do.
Boating, watersports, fishing, and swimming lure low-desert dwellers who flock to the city to cool off. There are more than 400 miles of shoreline, with white sand beaches and smooth blue-green waters, and more lighthouses than any other city in the country.
Visitors have plenty of accommodation options in Lake Havasu City, from luxury lakefront resorts to private vacation rentals. For the ultimate lake vacation, rent a houseboat, and you’ll never have to leave the water.
Located on the shores of Lake Powell in the Navajo Nation, Page is a hot spot for adventurers seeking to tour northern Arizona’s natural wonders. Dozens of hotels line the town’s main roads, catering to visitors from across the globe.
A 10-minute drive will get you to Glen Canyon Recreational Area, where you can take a float trip on the Colorado River; Horseshoe Bend, with its Instagram-worthy views; or Antelope Canyon, which comprises a pair of breathtaking red sandstone slot canyons. Less than an hour to the west is Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, filled with fantastical rock formations and colorful swirls of slickrock. And two hours to the east are the iconic landscapes of Monument Valley. The towering shale and sandstone buttes have featured prominently in Western movies for decades and are some of the most definitive images of the Southwest.
More than a dozen wineries and tasting rooms skirt the nine-mile stretch, known as “winery row,” between these two neighboring towns that are nestled in a basin surrounded by the Huachuca, Santa Rita and Whetstone mountains.
Spend your days sampling the region’s award-winning varietals, tour the vineyards, challenge your friends to a game of cornhole or bocce, or simply sit back and take in the sun setting over acres of grapevines. For a truly immersive experience, stay at one of the wineries that also have accommodations, such as Dos Cabezas WineWorks and Twisted Union Wine Co.
Still thirsty? Head to nearby Willcox, where you’ll find even more wineries and tasting rooms as well as Rhumb Line Vineyard & Lavender Farm. Set among fields of fragrant lavender are 1940s-inspired Quonset huts, each with its own patio and a shared courtyard. On your way there, stop at Kartchner Caverns State Park, named one of the most beautiful caves in the world.
This historic Route 66 town is filled with classic Americana and family fun for all ages. Old-fashioned gas stations, diners, and motels showcasing vintage signage and colorful automobilia hark back to a time when the Mother Road was a bustling byway.
Known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” Williams is headquarters of the Grand Canyon Railway. Every morning, following a “shootout” at the Old West-style depot, the train departs for a scenic round-trip journey to the South Rim.
A quick drive outside of town takes you to Bearizona Wildlife Park, where you can see bears, wolves, bison, and other animals; Raptor Ranch, which offers daily birds of prey flight demonstrations; and Bedrock City, a re-creation of the stone-age town from The Flintstones cartoon. And opened in April 2022, Canyon Coaster Adventure Park, with its mile-long alpine coaster is a must-do for thrill-seekers.
The Eagles helped put this sleepy town on the map with their 1972 song “Take It Easy,” and the Standin’ on a Corner Park in Winslow’s historic downtown is “such a fine sight to see.” A two-story mural, flatbed Ford, and statue of late Eagles guitarist and songwriter Glenn Frey provide the perfect selfie backdrop.
The town is a great jumping-off point for visiting Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater,
the petroglyphs at Rock Art Canyon Ranch, the Native American archaeological ruins at Homolovi State Park, and the otherworldly landscapes of the Hopi Reservation.
In the evenings, relax in comfort at the historic La Posada Hotel in downtown Winslow. This 1920s Spanish colonial masterpiece is considered renowned architect Mary Jane Colter’s magnum opus. Stroll through 12 acres of lush gardens and enjoy a meal in the hotel’s acclaimed Turquoise Room.