When most people think of Arizona, they think of the desert and the Grand Canyon, the mile-deep chasm carved by the Colorado River.
And while it’s true that the state is home to some of the most iconic desert landscape in the world, there’s so much more to Arizona than cacti and sand.
From towering mountains to lush forests, from vibrant cities to secluded ghost towns, Arizona is a truly diverse and unique place.
Tucked into the southwest corner of the United States Arizona offers something for all types of travellers.
In this article, I’ll cover my top things to do in Arizona.
Things To Do In Arizona
1. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Arizona.
Located on the south shore of Lake Powell, on Navajo land east of Page, the area’s natural beauty is a year-round draw for road trippers.
It is divided into two parts, Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.
Upper Antelope Canyon is also called “The Crack” because of its narrow opening at the top.
The canyon walls are made up of red sandstone that has been eroded over time by wind and rain. The result is a series of beautiful curves and shapes.
Lower Antelope Canyon is narrower and deeper than Upper Antelope Canyon. It is also less crowded because it can only be accessed by hiking down a steep set of stairs.
Both canyons are full of fascinating rock formations, but Lower Antelope Canyon is especially known for its “light beams”.
These are shafts of sunlight that penetrate the canyon walls and illuminate the rocks and sand below.
Antelope Canyon is a popular spot for photographers, who come to capture the beauty of the light beams.
It is also a popular destination for hikers who come to enjoy the canyon’s peaceful atmosphere.
Antelope Canyon tickets are known to sell out fast, and same-day tickets may not be available. We recommend booking e-tickets tickets ahead of time to secure your spot.
2. Monument Valley
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, known is said to be one of the most photographed places on earth.
When soaking in the views within Monument Valley it would be easy to believe that you are on a different planet.
The valley is host to towering sandstone rock formations that have been sculpted over time and soar 400 to 1,000 feet above the valley floor.
The terrain here is hostile but beautiful with its sharp rock formations and giant sand dunes.
There are a number of ways to see the valley including a photography tour for those looking to take some great photos of the landscape.
You can also take many other tours of Monument Valley such as a guided tour, a horseback tour, a sunset tour or a private tour.
Many visitors simply take in the valley from the comfort of their vehicles as they drive by on the nearby highway.
Address: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, US Highway 163
3. Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum is located in Phoenix, Arizona.
The museum opened in April 2010, and is one of the largest museums of its type in the world.
It is divided into galleries that focus on specific regions or topics.
The museum houses a collection of over 6,500 musical instruments and artefacts from all over the world.
Visitors can see how instruments are preserved and restored in the first-floor Conservation Lab before actually playing instruments in the Experience Gallery.
The museum also showcases live music, hosting approximately 200 concerts every year in its theater.
One of the best things to do when visiting Arizona for families and music lovers.
Address: Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050
4. Taliesin West
Taliesin West is an iconic American home designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The home is located in Scottsdale, Arizona and was constructed between 1937 and 1959.
It was a private residence for Wright and his family until his death in 1959, after which it became a museum open to the public.
Taliesin West is one of the most significant examples of Wright’s organic architecture, which he developed in response to the harsh desert climate of Arizona.
The home is built with native materials such as stone, wood, and adobe, which helps it blend into its desert surroundings.
The layout of Taliesin West is based on a series of concentric circles that radiate out from a central point.
This radial design was inspired by the Native American petroglyphs that Wright saw in the area.
The home is filled with numerous artworks and furnishings designed by Wright himself and is considered to be one of the most complete collections of his work.
Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Arizona and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Address: Taliesin West, 12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
5. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, art gallery and botanical garden, all in one place.
It is located in Tucson, Arizona and is dedicated to the plants, animals, and geology of the Sonoran Desert region.
The museum houses over 2,000 species of plants and animals, making it one of the largest collections in the world.
The museum also has an extensive education program that offers classes and lectures on desert ecology.
Address: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743
6. Grand Canyon South Rim
The Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.
Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon South Rim offers breath-taking views of the canyon and its many layers of red rock.
The Grand Canyon is a mile-deep gorge that was carved over millions of years by the Colorado River.
The Southern Rim is home to some of the most iconic views of the Grand Canyon, including Bright Angel Trail, Phantom Ranch, and the Grand Canyon Village.
More than five million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year, and the vast majority of them visit the South Rim.
Address: Grand Canyon National Park, AZ 86023
7. Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument protects a set of well-preserved dwellings located in Camp Verde, Arizona, which were built and used by the Sinagua people.
This national monument is a dwelling carved into the sides of Beaver Creek Canyon and is one of the best-preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings in North America.
Five-stories tall and located a good hundred feet above the canyon floor, the dwelling is partitioned into twenty rooms that you can explore in person.
This visitor center at the monument provides the entrance fee station, as well as bathrooms, a small museum, and the Western National Parks Association bookstore.
Address: Montezuma Castle Rd, Camp Verde, Arizona, USA
8. Tonto National Forest
Tonto National Forest is a large national forest that extends from the Mogollon Rim in the north to the Superstition Mountains in the east and the Sierra Ancha range in the south.
The forest covers an area of 2,873,200 acres and includes parts of four counties: Gila, Maricopa, Navajo, and Yavapai.
The Tonto National Forest has a diverse array of plant and animal life. There are over 3,400 species of plants, including such rare species as the Apache Plume and the Pima Pineapple Cactus.
The forest is home to more than 150 species of animals, including several endangered species such as the Mexican Spotted Owl and the Chiricahua Leopard Frog.
The Tonto National Forest is a popular recreation destination, with activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking and horseback riding.
The Forest also contains several lakes and reservoirs, including Roosevelt Lake, the largest lake in Arizona.
Address: Tonto National Forest, 2324 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Jerome, Arizona is a ghost town alive and well!
Located high atop Cleopatra Hill between Sedona and Prescott, this historic copper and gold former mining town was founded in the late 19th century.
While the mining town is still largely a ghost town, today it has plenty of attractions and activities catered towards visitors looking for fun things to see and do.
Many of the ruined buildings still stand on steep hillsides.
Some standout views include The Sliding Jail, which was built unawares on clay slick so the entire jail has slid about 2,500 feet over the years.
Jerome is definitely worth visiting for its historical past and gorgeous scenery.
Address: Jerome, Arizona, 86331
10. Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock’s red rock cliffs and formations are a beautiful backdrop for hiking, picnicking, and photography. The area is also popular with rock climbers.
The rock formations in the area are made up of Schnebly Hill Formation sandstone.
This type of sandstone is unique to the Sedona area and was formed over millions of years by wind and water erosion.
The Cathedral Rock area was once home to the Sinagua people.
They built pueblos and cliff dwellings in the area, some of which can still be seen today.
Cathedral Rock is one of the most popular hiking trails in Sedona. The trailhead is located just off Highway 179, south of uptown Sedona.
The trail is a 3 mile round trip and leads to the summit of Cathedral Rock, which has stunning views of Sedona and the surrounding area.
Address: 100 Cathedral Rock Rd, Sedona, AZ 86351
11. Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend is a canyon of the Colorado River located near Page, Arizona.
It is known for its distinctive U-shape and for the overlook at its edge, which allows visitors to see the river 1,000 feet below.
Horseshoe Bend is located 5 miles downstream from Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, about 4 miles southwest of Page.
The name “Horseshoe Bend” can be traced back to early explorer John Wesley Powell, who named it in 1869 during his expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers.
Powell described the bend as “a great horseshoe shaped meander.”
The exact origin of the unusual U-shape of Horseshoe Bend is not known, but it is thought to be the result of differential erosion.
The softer sandstone underlying the harder limestone erodes more quickly, creating a concavity in the land.
Over time, the force of the river flowing around the bend creates a vortex, which further exacerbates the erosion.
Address: Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona
12. Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is a living museum located in Phoenix, Arizona.
It is one of the few botanical gardens in the world dedicated to the study and conservation of desert plants.
The Garden was founded in 1937 by Dr. Forrest M. Mims III and has since grown to include more than 50,000 plants from around the world.
The Garden is home to many rare and endangered species, as well as a wide variety of cacti and desert flora.
Visitors can stroll through five thematic trails to explore the fascinating beauty of the Sonoran Desert, from towering cacti and alluring succulents to brilliant wildflowers and lush trees.
In addition to its plant collections, the Garden also features a variety of educational programs and events, such as plant sales, lectures, and workshops.
Address: Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
13. Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is located in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The park is home to the largest cacti in the world, the saguaro.
Saguaros can grow to be over 50 feet tall and live for over 200 years.
The park is divided into two sections, the Rincon Mountain District and the Tucson Mountain District. Both districts offer hiking, camping, and picnicking opportunities.
The Rincon Mountain District also offers horseback riding and backpacking.
In addition to the saguaro, other plants and animals that can be found in the park include: desert flora, javelina, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions.
Birds such as Gila woodpeckers, Gambel’s quail, and cactus wrens make their homes in the park.
Saguaro National Park is a great place to explore the desert and learn about the plants and animals that call it home.
The Saguaro National Park has a visitor center where you will find the book store, information station, maps and restrooms.
The visitor center is also the starting point for a scenic auto/biking trails tour around the Cactus Forest Loop Drive offering incredible views of the Rincon Mountains.
Address: Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA
14. Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is located in Arizona, near the city of Holbrook.
The park is home to one of the largest and most complete petrified forests in the world.
The petrified wood found here is some of the oldest in the world, dating back around 225 million years.
The Petrified Forest is a popular tourist destination, attracting over half a million visitors each year.
The park has many hiking trails, picnic areas, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. It also contains a number of important paleontological sites, including the world-famous Blue Mesa.
Petrified wood is created when trees are buried by sediment and minerals replace the organic matter over time.
The process can take millions of years, but the results are often stunning. The wood often retains its original shape and can be very colourful.
Petrified Forest National Park is an important scientific site due to the abundance of petrified wood and other fossils.
The park is also home to a number of research facilities and is constantly being studied by scientists from around the world.
Address: Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, USA
15. Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix Art Museum is one of the largest art galleries in the United States and is located in Phoenix, Arizona.
The museum was founded in 1959 by a group of community leaders and artists.
It has over 18,000 works of art in its collection and includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints, and drawings from all over the world.
The museum also has a library with over 50,000 books and periodicals about art.
The Phoenix Art Museum offers a variety of educational programs for adults and children including classes, lectures, workshops, and tours.
To explore the art and experience events hosted by Phoenix Art Museum it is best to reserve your ticket online.
Address: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
16. Heard Museum
The Heard Museum is located in Phoenix, Arizona and was founded in 1929 by Dwight and Maie Heard.
The museum is dedicated to the history, art, and culture of the American Indian.
The museum showcases Native American art and culture in the U.S.
It reveals the cultures of tribes in the region through exhibits, demonstrations and live performances and displays the work of contemporary Native American artists.
The museum has a collection of more than 32,000 items, including American Indian art, paintings, sculptures, pottery, baskets, jewellery, and clothing.
The museum also has a library with more than 14,000 books and manuscripts.
The Heard Museum hosts a number of events throughout the year, including art shows, concerts, lectures, and workshops.
Address: The Heard Museum, 2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
17. Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located in north-eastern Arizona, within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.
The monument protects one of the most well-preserved and significant archaeological sites in the United States.
The canyon and its surrounding cliffs are home to numerous ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings, as well as a variety of other cultural and natural features.
The canyon has been inhabited for over 5,000 years, and was once home to a thriving community of Ancestral Puebloans.
These early inhabitants built elaborate cliff dwellings within the canyon walls, which were used as both homes and places of worship.
The Canyon de Chelly National Monument was established in 1931, and is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation.
The monument is open to visitors year-round, and there are a variety of ranger-led tours and programs available.
Address: Chinle, AZ 86503
18. Hoover Dam
It is hard not to be impressed by the Hoover Dam, it is one of the world’s great engineering marvels.
This massive structure, completed in 1935, crosses the Colorado River, linking Arizona and Nevada.
Lake Mead, that is held back by the Dam, is one of the largest artificial lakes in the United States.
Visitors can drive or walk across the dam for free, although there is a charge for parking.
Another option is to take a tour of Hoover Dam or the Power plant and on site is the visitor centre, with plenty of information available.
Address: Hoover Dam, Arizona, USA
What popular tourist attraction is Arizona known for?
Since its admission to the Union as the 48th state, Arizona has been a popular tourist destination.
With world-famous attractions like the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam and Saguaro National Park.
What is the best time to visit Arizona?
The best time to visit Arizona is during the fall and spring, when the weather is mild, dry, and sunny.
How hot does Arizona get?
Summers are exceptionally hot and dry in Arizona, with temperatures usually in the 90°F (32.2°C) to 120°F (48.9°C) zone.
What lake is good for boating in Arizona?
Lake Havasu is considered one of the state’s best boating lakes.
Lake Havasu features 60 miles of navigable waterways along Arizona’s northwest border with California.
What is the largest artificial lake in Arizona?
Lake Mead is located at the Arizona–Nevada border and was formed by the damming of the world-famous Hoover Dam in the Colorado River.