There’s a reason they call Arizona the Grand Canyon State. That giant hole in the ground has been topping “must see” lists for Arizona travelers, long before it was designated as a National Park in 1919. But it isn’t the only thing to see when taking a road trip through Arizona. Our 48th state is filled with incredible beauty, natural wonders, big cities and recreational opportunities that involve playing and watching.
Don’t know where to start? Yeah, we had the same problem. Here are 10 places, in no particular order, to consider on your next Arizona trip:
Arizona is known for its year-round hot weather. Summers can regularly challenge thermometers to stay below triple digits and shorts/t-shirts/flip-flops are the Arizona uniform. Now go ahead and tell that to Flagstaff which at just over 2 miles above sea-level, is a winter sports mecca for Arizonans who want to ski and snowboard. With an average temperature about 20 degrees below the rest of the state, Flagstaff is the place to go to cool off from the scorching heat, as well as to discover a bustling nightlife.
2. Minor League Baseball
The state has two major springtime events that are well attended by so many looking to take an Arizona roadtrip: Major League Baseball’s Cactus League, which is Spring Training for half of the league’s teams in sites across the state. Many of baseball’s most popular teams do their exhibition season in Arizona, from Glendale, which boasts the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, to Tempe, home of the California Angels, to Scottsdale’s Salt River Fields, which plays host to the Colorado Rockies and the homestate Arizona Diamondbacks. So spring brings baseball ...
3. Lake Havasu
... and Spring Break at Lake Havasu. Of course, we are not endorsing a stop at the lake during the actual spring break, for YOUR trip, as hotels are more of a challenge to book and the scene may not be fully family friendly, but we definitely recommend a stop at the lake and Havasu City during the off season. The lake offers a whole lot of recreation activities and the city has a number of shops and restaurants to keep the whole family occupied.
4. Colorado River
If you like the water but Lake Havasu is a bit too tame for your needs, perhaps a white water river trip down the Colorado River is the better choice for you. Whether it is a lazy ride through the beautiful countryside or a challenging, high-adrenaline, pulse-pounding ride over true whitewater, there are a number of great adventures that await. If you really want to experience breathtaking beauty and grandeur, while exploring Arizona, check out the rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. It is truly memorable.
With all of this physical activity, it might be time to slow things down and enjoy feeling the “vibe” of the land. Sedona is the epicenter of Arizona’s art culture, with a large helping of Native American art on display. Additionally, Sedona, itself, is its own canvas, with some of the most beautiful natural colors and desertscapes you’ll see. And don’t forget to shop the many crystal shops and visit the spas to realign your karmic being. You’ll leave feeling refreshed!
6. Phoenix & Tucson
No trip to Arizona is complete without a visit to the state’s two biggest cities: Phoenix and Tucson. Centers for commerce, art, government (Phoenix is state capitol), good food, entertainment and a thriving nightlife, these two cities are also the homes to the state’s professional sports teams (playing in Phoenix and nearby Glendale) and the two largest universities (UofA in Tucson and ASU in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb). There is a lot to see and experience in both cities...but may we recommend the Tucson Museum of Art and MOCA?
7. Monument Valley
You would be doing yourself an absolute disservice if you didn’t take the drive to Northern-most reaches of the state to see the grandeur of Monument Valley. These incredible natural red sandstone buttes, poking out of the desert like old-time tombstones can be appreciated in pictures, but are breathtaking in person. And bring a camera...this is one of those “you can’t mess this picture up” opportunities.
8. Painted Desert & Petrified Forest
Three hours south of Monument Valley are the equally picturesque Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. More desert landscape that has been kissed by the wind and sun to create unimaginable beauty, the Painted Desert features colors that you might not have known ever existed. Within the same park is the Petrified Forest, which is filled with 225 million year old petrified wood and other fossils. These are National Parks and have a fee attached to entrance.
9. Four Corners
While you are traveling through the area that includes Painted Desert, Monument Valley and Petrified Forest, you may as well head to the Four Corners, the only area in the United States where you can be standing in four states at once. The four states that converge to make the Four Corners Monument are Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. While there is very little to actually see and do, it is one of those stops that feels almost obvious...like you HAD to do it.
10. Grand Canyon
Oh yeah, can’t finish this list off without a nod to the biggest - and deepest - tourist attraction in the state. The Grand Canyon sits at 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep. This beautiful, natural wonder of the world is one Arizona landmark you cannot miss. If you do take some time at the Grand Canyon, note that the Southern Rim is where most of the action can be found. From helicopter tours (available in multiple places, including the Grand Canyon Airport) to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, to hiking the Bright Angel Trail, which originates at the south rim Grand Canyon Village or taking a mule ride into the Canyon, there really is something for everyone.
Road trips like this allow you to make the most of your time with family while vacationing behind the wheel. It's a big beautiful country with so much to see. Load up the car with family and snacks, make sure you are fully insured (you saw that coming, right?) and get out to see it all! Arizona drivers could save $100s when they switch to Mercury. Find more information about our Arizona Auto Insurance and get a quote today!