With one-of-a-kind natural wonders, rugged desert landscapes, and lively cities, it’s no wonder that millions of visitors flock to Arizona every year.
Arizona is home to some of the most iconic landscapes in the entire country. But if you’re planning a trip to the Grand Canyon State, it can be difficult to know where to start.
16 Best Places to Visit in Arizona in 2023
From remote hiking trails to large, bustling cities, Arizona has something for everyone. Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about the best places to visit in Arizona, no matter what you’re looking for in your vacation.
1. Grand Canyon National Park
No trip to Arizona would be complete without a visit to the state’s most iconic and popular attraction, the Grand Canyon. Located across 278 miles in Northern Arizona, this natural wonder offers unparalleled views of its stunning red and orange cliffs and ravines.
Grand Canyon National Park has two main sections – The South Rim and North Rim. The more popular South Rim is home to Grand Canyon Village as well as several scenic roads and lookout spots.
There’s also a challenging six-mile hiking trail, called Bright Angel Trail, that visitors can hike or even travel by mule. If you’re looking for a more peaceful, isolated trip to the Grand Canyon, consider stopping by the North Rim.
While this side of the Canyon is visited by only 10% of Grand Canyon visitors, it has so much to offer, from scenic views of Roaring Springs to a beautiful, rustic campground perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
Just make sure to secure a reservation if you’re planning on camping, as the sites can fill up quickly.
Read Next: Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon
2. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
If you’re looking for even more incredible scenic views, stop by Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park along the Arizona-Utah border.
This vast, sandy desert region boasts miles of red mesas and buttes, colorful plants and trees, and incredible sandstone rock formations. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is one of the best places to visit in Arizona to do some sightseeing in a classic western landscape.
While visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte from the park’s visiting center, there are also guided tours and gentle hiking paths for an up-close view of the valley.
The park also has a 17-mile scenic loop road. After a long day of exploring the park, you can stop by the Haskenneini Restaurant in the visitors center to try some delicious native Navajo cuisine.
While some areas of the park are open year-round, you can enjoy access to the visitor center, tour booth, winter drive loop, and other Navajo vendors during the peak season between March and August.
3. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
With over 1.25 million acres of land and countless outdoor activities, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is the perfect spot for anyone who loves the great outdoors.
Nestled within the park’s cliffs is Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made lakes in North America. This location makes Glen Canyon a prime destination for a huge variety of water sports and activities, including:
- Water skiing
There’s even more for Glen Canyon visitors to enjoy on land, from hiking trails to bird watching. If you want to sleep under the stars, this recreation area has seven different campgrounds available for overnight stays.
Keep in mind that in the summer, Glen Canyon can reach up to 110 degrees. While the best time to visit is when the temperature cools down in the fall, be sure to pack for any extreme weather conditions during your visit.
4. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Bordering the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are the incredible, magical rock formations of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
This spectacular 280,000-acre monument is home to some of the most unspoiled landscapes in the Arizona desert, including the Vermilion Cliffs, Paria Canyon, and Coyote Buttes.
Most visitors are drawn to the monument by The Wave, a unique sandstone rock formation that can only be accessed by a six-mile hike.
Only 64 hikers chosen by a lottery system are allowed to visit this exclusive natural wonder daily. If you want to try your luck, you can apply for a Coyote Buttes permit before your visit.
Vermilion Cliffs is another great spot for overnight stays, with two developed campgrounds. Keep an eye out for wildlife during your visit, as California Condors are known to fly through the monument.
While Arizona might be most famous for its desert landscape and scenic views, there’s just as much to enjoy in its larger cities.
And if you’re looking for a bustling, lively city environment on your trip to Arizona, there’s nowhere better than Phoenix. As the state’s capital and largest city, Phoenix has so much for visitors of all ages to explore.
You can stroll through the Desert Botanical Gardens, enjoy a more challenging hike up Camelback Mountain, or explore historic rock carvings on the Waterfall Trail.
Phoenix is also full of unique museums and family-friendly attractions, including the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix Zoo, and Enchanted Island Amusement Parks.
And with plenty of delicious restaurant options, live music and performances, and a thriving art district, you’ll never run out of new things to discover around this city.
6. Antelope Canyon
If you head up north to the small city of Page, Arizona, you’ll find the pristine sandstone walls of Antelope Canyon. Over millions of years, water and wind erosion has carved out this impressive landmark on Navajo Nation land.
There are two main areas of the canyon to explore – Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.
In the Upper Canyon, the sunlight illuminates the colors of the vast slot canyon walls, making it a popular destination among photographers and hikers. Tour guides are required to visit Antelope Canyon, so plan ahead and book a tour that fits your preferences.
Along with sightseeing in the pristine canyon, these guided tours are an excellent way to learn more about the geology, culture, and history of Antelope Canyon and the Navajo Nation.
7. Horseshoe Bend
If you’ve already made the trip up to Page, you might want to consider a stop at Horseshoe Bend. Situated along the Colorado River near Glen Canyon, this horseshoe-shaped incised meander is one of the most photographed natural wonders in Arizona.
This stunning destination is the perfect place to enjoy vibrant sunrise or sunset views during your Arizona vacation.
To get to Horseshoe Bend, visitors must complete a .6-mile one-way hike up to the fenced overlook, so come prepared with comfortable, closed-toed shoes, a hat, and plenty of water.
If you’re planning a visit to Horseshoe Bend or any of the nearby attractions, the town of Page makes a fantastic base camp as you discover the surrounding natural beauty.
Page offers plenty of places to stay and nearby dining options for extra convenience when you visit Horseshoe Bend.
Tucson, the second-largest city in Arizona, offers visitors a perfect balance of city life and outdoor adventures. This southern Arizona college town is full of must-see attractions perfect for visitors of any age.
You can head to Saguaro National Park to walk through cacti and scenic desert landscapes or discover exciting desert wildlife as you hike through the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
Or, if you’d rather take in the views on horseback, you can saddle up to explore the trails at Catalina State Park. Tucson is also one of the best places for any family traveling with children. Travelers of all ages can:
- Visit the zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, and more located at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Stroll through the historic grounds and children’s garden at the Tucson Botanical Gardens
- Attend an engaging performance at the Gaslight Theater
- Learn about the history of US aircrafts with interactive exhibits at the Pima Air and Space Museum
With a combination of outdoor experiences and a unique arts and culture scene, Tucson is guaranteed to offer something for everyone.
Just about 90 miles southeast of Tucson is the small mining town of Bisbee, Arizona. With a rich history, thriving arts scene, and charming hillside setting, this unique city is a must-see for any history-lovers.
Visitors can travel back in time at Copper Queen Mine, where retired mine employees offer unique insight into the dangers of working in these caves.
And if you want to learn even more about Bisbee’s mining history, you can visit the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum or the Bisbee Restoration Museum. Bisbee is also home to a commercial center full of vintage shops, art galleries, and delicious local restaurants and breweries.
And for even more fun, be sure to plan a trip around one of the city’s many festivals and annual events, such as the Bisbee 1000 or the Bisbee After 5 Artwalk.
10. Petrified Forest National Park
Named after the petrified giant Redwoods, logs, and fossils found throughout this high-desert region, the Petrified Forest National Park is a must-see attraction in northeastern Arizona.
With various activities and areas to explore, this park truly has something to interest every traveler. There are many ways to make the most out of your experience at this incredible National Park. You can:
- Enjoy scenic roads and overlooks by car
- Bike the paved park roads
- Walk through maintained trails or take on more strenuous off-trail climbs
- Explore the trails on horseback
- Sleep under the night sky at the designated Petrified Forest National Park Wilderness Area
To learn even more about the area, you can also join several different guided tours and backcountry hike programs.
This National Park also boasts some of the most accessible views of the Painted Desert, so make sure to stop by the Painted Desert Visitor Center to discover the best spots to view the desert’s striking colors.
Read Next: The Best National Parks in the United States
Located in Arizona’s Verde Valley, Sedona offers one of the most unique and unparalleled landscapes in the United States.
Surrounded by crimson rock formations and dramatic desert scenery, this city is perfect for visitors who want to rejuvenate and recharge in the great outdoors. Sedona boasts over 400 miles of hiking trails, with options for every skill and experience level.
There is also a huge range of national monuments, historical parks, fishing spots, campgrounds, and so much more to explore. And if you’re looking for an off-road adventure, sign up for a Pink Jeep Tour for a thrilling ride through the iconic red rocks.
When you’re hungry after a long day of exploring Sedona’s incredible landscape, you’ll have your choice of nearby fine dining restaurants, cafes, and local bars and breweries.
The city also hosts several events, including restorative yoga and outdoor meditation, that allow visitors to take in all the surrounding beauty.
12. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
With over 750 miles of shoreline and 1.5 million acres of surrounding canyons and mountains, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the perfect place to experience new adventures and cool off from the hot Arizona weather with a huge variety of water sports.
This gorgeous landscape is the home of the oldest and largest recreation area in the country and offers visitors many activities to choose from. These include:
- Swimming in Lake Mead or Lake Mohave
- Hiking across the rock formations
- Biking on designated park roads
- Camping at one of the park’s 15 campgrounds
If you’re looking to discover new outdoor adventures along pristine shorelines, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Lake Mead.
13. Canyon De Chelly National Monument
Established in 1931, the rocky canyons of Canyon De Chelly have supported human inhabitants for thousands of years.
Today, this national monument is protected land for the Navajo community with a rich history and remarkable archeological sites. To learn more about the area’s geology and history, visitors can sign up for a ranger-led program.
These guided hikes and canyon tours are the perfect way to take in the landscape while learning about all the area’s past and current communities.
There is also a loop road for visitors to explore on foot or bike, as well as two self-guided scenic drives. You can also sleep among the unique rock formations and canyons with primitive campsites at Cottonwood Campground.
These sites are all first-come-first-serve, so arrive early and come prepared if you’re planning a camping trip to this region.
14. Havasupai Falls
While Arizona has a huge variety of easy, family-friendly hiking trails, there are plenty of options for more experienced hikers looking for a challenge.
The remote Havasupai Falls, located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, is the perfect destination for any avid hiker visiting Arizona. The stunning Havasupai Falls is made up of five different waterfalls.
These include Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Fifty Foot Falls, Mooney Falls, and Beaver Falls. The 10-mile hike to the falls and campgrounds is strenuous and requires significant planning and preparation, as well as a reservation and entrance fee.
But for adventure-seeking travelers that are up to the challenge, these falls offer some of the most incredible views in the state.
While most people don’t associate skiing and winter sports with a visit to Arizona, Flagstaff in Northern AZ offers travelers an opportunity to experience a thriving alpine culture in any season.
In the winter, both visitors and locals can take advantage of the snow and cooler weather with a huge variety of winter activities, such as:
As a year-round tourist destination, Flagstaff has just as much to discover during the warmer months. Visitors can stop by the breathtaking Meteor Canyon, hike the trails of Walnut Canyon, or take a guided expedition down the Colorado River.
And not only does Flagstaff provide unique opportunities for outdoor recreation.
But they have a bustling and modern downtown area as well. In this laid-back, pedestrian-friendly city center, you can enjoy live music, unique local shops, and historic hotels.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience life in the wild west, Tombstone in Southern Arizona is the place to go. This unique city allows you to step back in time with historic attractions and an authentic Old West atmosphere.
“The Town Too Tough to Die” has so many historical landmarks and attractions that visitors of any age will love.
You can see a show at the OK Corral, take an underground mine tour, or enjoy daily reenactments and historical tours. There are also charming antique shops, authentic restaurants and saloons, and a huge variety of museums.
Tombstone is also one of the best places to visit for any paranormal fan. With such a rich history, the city is full of haunted destinations that can be explored with a guided ghost tour.
Things to Consider
Before packing your bag and heading to Arizona for your vacation, there are some important things to keep in mind:
While Arizona boasts year-round sunshine, there are also some extreme weather conditions to consider when booking your trip.
Over the summer, Arizona can reach an average high of 106 degrees. For many of the warmest parts of Arizona, this means that spring and fall is the ideal time to visit to avoid these extreme conditions.
If you are planning on spending time outdoors during the summer, make sure to pack accordingly, with plenty of water, sunscreen, and weather-appropriate clothes.
Length of Stay
With so much to explore in the area, it can be challenging to fit all the attractions you want to visit in the span of your trip. It’s important to consider everything you want to see while making your itinerary.
Some destinations, such as Sedona and the Grand Canyon, offer a huge number of day trips and attractions that don’t take much time.
However, if you’re planning a long or strenuous hike, be prepared to account for longer trips. Some areas, such as Havasupai Falls, also don’t permit day hiking, so it’s crucial to reserve an overnight stay in the area.
Outdoor Experience Level
Arizona has so many unique outdoor adventures for visitors to explore, and commonly, travelers will want to try new, thrilling experiences in these parks and recreation areas.
Most parks offer guided programs designed to help travelers safely try new experiences. There are also hikes and trails designed for all skill levels.
So check out trail maps and talk to park rangers before setting off on a new adventure to make sure your experience and skill level match the activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions for travelers taking a trip to Arizona:
What is the best time of year to visit Arizona?
While some parts of Arizona, such as Flagstaff, offer cooler weather in the summer, the best time of year to visit Arizona is during winter or spring. During this time, you can still enjoy the desert landscape and all the outdoor adventures the state has to offer while avoiding the extreme summer heat.
What should I pack for my trip to Arizona?
Arizona has a lot of different activities to explore, so your packing list should depend on your itinerary. However, make sure you’re packing for the weather, and bring comfortable shoes and clothing for any outdoor activities.
Where should I stay in Arizona?
No matter where you choose to visit from this list, there are plenty of lodging options, from historic hotels to luxurious resorts. There are also many campgrounds throughout the state’s national parks and recreation areas for a unique overnight experience under the stars.
Are there family-friendly activities in Arizona?
While some hikes, such as Havasupai Falls, are not ideal for young children, the state offers various unique and engaging family-friendly activities. There are plenty of less challenging hiking trails and walking paths throughout the state, along with interactive and educational museums, exhibits, and parks.
Are there entrance fees for Arizona parks?
Arizona parks generally charge an entrance fee per vehicle, although the majority are affordable for a day trip and offer plenty of free recreational activities once inside the park. If you are planning on camping, however, there might be an additional entrance and permit fee.
So, What’s the Best Place to Visit in Arizona?
With a nickname like the Grand Canyon State, it’s no surprise that Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best places to visit when you’re in Arizona. But no matter what you’re looking for, Arizona is full of unique destinations that every visitor will enjoy.
From the red cliffs of Sedona to the remote hiking trails to the vibrant city of Phoenix, this beautiful state is guaranteed to keep every traveler happy.