Things to Do in Arizona - page 2
Most travelers venture to Sedona to get back to nature, get outdoors and get up close to Arizona’s stunning red rocks. But the unique shops, handmade crafts and tasty restaurants of Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village offer visitors a chance to experience another part of Sedona—its artist community.
Visitors can wander the 40 specialty shops that make up this laid-back shopping destination and bare witness to artisans at work. Whether its blowing glass, painting an Arizona landscape or throwing a pot in one of Tlaquepaque’s studios, a visit to Tlaquepaque puts travelers in touch with the artists and offers a one-of-a-kind experience that’s sure to be a memorable part of any Sedona trip.
Visitors to Oak Creek Canyon would be wise to stop at this scenic viewpoint for a bird’s eye view of the rolling Arizona landscape. A well-kept lookout lined with Native American artisans selling handmade jewelry proves a popular destination for tourists and photographers alike. Though visitors warn Oak Creek Vista can get crowded, most agree its epic views are worth the trip.
At six stories tall and 82 feet wide (25 meters), the screen of the Grand Canyon IMAX is grand, perfect for a screening of Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets in the 487-person theater. The 34-minute show takes travelers into the canyon with historical commentary and incredible aerial views—a perfect introduction to the real thing.
In 1964, the Colorado River’s roaring waters needed to be harnessed, so the towering 710-foot-tall (216 meter) Glen Canyon Dam was built. The resulting 186-mile-long (299 kilometer) Lake Powell, the second largest man-made lake in the US, took 17 years to fill to capacity. Today, the dam provides hydroelectric power to the American West.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is famous for its red rock formations that soar up to 1,000 feet (305 meters) into the desert sky. It is also known as the setting for classic Western films starring John Wayne. Straddling the Arizona-Utah border, the area is home to nearly 92,000 acres of massive buttes, cacti, and natural arches, as well members of the Navajo Nation.
The National Geographic Visitor Center is both a gateway to the Grand Canyon and a destination in its own right. Conveniently located near the South Rim entrance, the center makes a logical first stop at Arizona’s iconic landmark. Visit the center for guidance on your trip, and to experience its IMAX Theater, cafe, and exhibits.
Airport Mesa is more than its quirky name suggests. The scenic trail loop guides travelers along well-marked paths that lead to panoramic views of the city’s iconic red rock landscape. Outdoor enthusiasts agree Airport Mesa is one of Mother Nature’s most impressive local wonders, but with occasional old-school aircraft flying overhead, there’s still a nod to some modern marvels, too.
The 3.5-mile loop has just a 200-foot elevation change, but its uninterrupted views of Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Cockscomb and Chimney Rock make it one of the area’s most scenic treks.
Williams, Arizona, is a town in the northern part of the state and within the Kaibab National Forest. It was founded in 1881 and named after Bill Williams, a famous trapper, scout and mountain man. Williams offers a variety of outdoor activities. There are seven fishing lakes in the area. Several hiking trails go up Bill Williams Mountain and into Sycamore Canyon. The town has an alpine ski area as well as cross country skiing trails. There is plenty of wildlife in the area, including a drive-thru wildlife park. Visitors can also play golf at one of Arizona's premier golf courses, Elephant Rocks Golf Course.
Williams is known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, since it is only an hour's drive away. You can also choose to ride in a vintage train to the park with the Grand Canyon Railway, a journey that takes about two hours. The town also lies along the historic Route 66 and was the last town on the route to be bypassed by Interstate 40. Williams continues to celebrate the historic route with vintage car shows and the Route 66 Cultural Heritage Days.
Located in the southernmost point on the Grand Canyon’s south rim, Grandview Point is accessible via a one-mile side road off of East Rim Drive. Travelers agree the panoramic views from this famous vista are some of the park’s most impressive. Easy hiking trails wind through narrow ridges and well-preserved nature, giving travelers the opportunity to stretch their legs while driving the popular pass along Highway 64. But it’s the epic views and scenic landscape that make Grandview Point a quintessential Grand Canyon stop.
The Verde Canyon Railroad winds its way along the scenic Verde River at a leisurely 12 mph (19 kph), offering passengers a unique way to experience the Arizona wilderness. The refurbished heritage railroad cars make the round-trip journey through national forest land, with stellar views out windows on both sides of the train.
More Things to Do in Arizona
Get away from it all in the breathtaking Sonoran Desert, a 100,000-square-mile (260,000-square-kilometer) region that spans Arizona, California, and parts of Mexico. Though it’s the hottest of four deserts in North America, its two rainy seasons sustain unique animals and plants, including the only remaining jaguar population in the United States.
Originally built as a copper trade route, the Apache Trail now guides travelers past steep desert mountains, cliff dwellings, lake shores, eroded canyons, and old mining towns. This scenic road winds 120 miles (193 kilometers) through Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, from the outskirts of Phoenix to the vast Theodore Roosevelt Lake.
Historic Heritage Square takes you back in time to Arizona’s Victorian past. The square is home to the only remaining residential structures of the original Phoenix town site. Heritage Square features eleven Victorian buildings, each with its own unique design, history, and purpose. Today, the buildings have been refurbished and reopened as museums, restaurants, and shops. Each building is designed to give visitors a taste of life back in the original Phoenix settlement. The Baird Machine Shop, for example, was built in 1929 as a commercial structure. Today it is home to Pizzeria Bianco, a local pizza place featuring a wood-burning brick oven, homemade mozzarella cheese, and locally grown vegetables.
The cornerstone of the square is the Rossen House, a 2,800 square feet (260 square meters), fully restored, Victorian home which is now regularly open for guided tours. Build in 1895, the home features ten rooms and five fireplaces. Exhibits such as “A Victorian Christmas” and “A Victorian Wedding” all help the museum capture and show life as it was in the early twentieth century.
Located in Central Arizona’s Tonto National Forest -- within an hour of Phoenix -- the rugged 160,000 acre (64,750 hectare) Superstition Mountain Range is one of the state’s best hiking, rock climbing and outdoor activity attractions, especially for those with a true sense of adventure. Some popular treks in the Superstition Mountains include Miner’s Needle, Weaver’s Needle, Cave Trail and Peralta Canyon Trail (Peralta Canyon Area) and Treasure Loop Trail, Siphon Draw Trail and The Hand (Lost Dutchman Area). Those wanting to enjoy otherworldly desert scenery will love the mountain’s hoodoos and curving canyons, formed by volcanic eruptions that occurred over 15 million years ago.
Superstition Mountains is an apt name for the range, as it’s home to a number of legends. Its history dates back 9,000 years, with some of its many inhabitants including the Apache Indians, Spanish explorers, Mexican gold miners and American trappers. One story is of the “Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine,” about a man named Jacob Waltz (aka the Lost Dutchman) who supposedly knew where the world’s richest mine was -- somewhere in the Superstition Mountains -- and kept the secret even after he died in 1891. Additionally, Apache Indians believed there was a hole in the mountain that led to hell.
An interesting related attraction is the Superstition Mountain Museum in Apache Junction, where visitors can peruse artifacts, historical treasures and folklore objects from the Superstition Mountains and surrounding area. You’ll also find the Elvis Memorial Chapel, a chapel and movie museum showing films made at Apacheland. The museum is open 9am to 4pm daily (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). Admission is $5 per adult, $4 for seniors 55 and over, and free for youths 17 and younger with a paid adult.
Eagle Point, a popular stop in Grand Canyon West, is the site of a Native American village, amphitheater, and the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk—a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet (21 meters) over the canyon for views of the Colorado River 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) below.
Located in nearby Tucson, Mission San Xavier del Bac is a Spanish Catholic mission dating from 1692 when it was founded by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit missionary. At the time the area was an Indian village, and Kino was the first non-Indian to visit the place, which was then known as Wa:k (although he wrote “Bac,”). It is he who called for the construction of the church, named in honor of San Francisco Xavier; however, the church needed to be rebuilt after 1770 due to destruction from Apache attacks.
Because at this time Spanish Jesuits were banned from the Americas, it was rebuilt under the eye of the Franciscans. This is a unique facet of Mission San Xavier del Bac, as it’s one of the few Arizona missions still led by Franciscans, with mass still taking place. Additionally, the church is touted as the oldest European structure in Arizona still intact, and often the country’s best example of Spanish Colonial architecture.
As soon as you arrive at the site, you’ll understand why it’s known as the “White Dove of the Desert.” The structure is done in white adobe with a sand-colored ornate entrance, which appears striking against the cacti-filled desert landscape. Inside, original statuary, frescos and sculptures bring history to life with such beauty even non-religious visitors can appreciate it. In fact, the artwork is a highlight of a visit. It is recommended to take a tour with a docent -- which typically take place 9:30am, 10:30am 11:30am and 12:30pm, although call first to confirm -- to really grasp the history of the mission and understand what you’re looking at in the church and museum areas. Before leaving, light a prayer candle and browse the gift shop for a momento of your trip.
Designed as a 50th anniversary present for his wife, the Wrigley Mansion was constructed in 1932 by enterprising gum salesman William Wrigley Jr.
The mansion sits atop a hill, providing scenic views of the mountains and Phoenix landscape below. The Wrigley family sold the property in the early 1970s. After changing ownership several times, it looked as though the mansion was going to be demolished in 1992, until the Hormel family purchased the Mansion and restored it with the intention of sharing it with the public. The on-site restaurant is a popular spot to grab a bite to eat or celebrate a special occasion.
Guided tours of the Wrigley Mansion provide details about its history and fun tidbits like ghost stories that have been told over the years. Some tours include lunch at the Wrigley Mansion as well.
Boynton Canyon Trail’s breathtaking red rocks views and easy passes make it one Sedona’s most accessible hikes. Travelers find impressive panoramic landscapes early in the three-mile trek, where open desert, lush foliage and sky-high canyon views reign supreme. And while some say this accessible hike ends in a rather anti-climactic way because box canyon walls stretch up on either side, ancient Sinaguan Indian ruins and tons of biodiversity make it a memorable outdoor experience for visitors to Sedona.
Driving through the Bearizona wildlife park offers the thrilling opportunity to spot a stunning number of wild animals. Watch as a black bear lumbers through the forest or a wolf sneaks slowly through the grass, and see Bighorn sheep, bison, and burros graze in the forested setting.
Bright Angel Point is the most popular viewpoint on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, offering views of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim and Roaring Springs some 3,000 feet (914 meters) below. The easy paved Bright Angel Point trail leads to the spot, with panoramic views of Grand Canyon National Park unfolding along the way.
This iconic contemporary art museum is located on 21-acres of local park in the heart of Scottsdale and showcases between nine and 12 exhibitions each year. Visitors who venture to this popular attraction will find some of the best examples of art, design and architecture in the Southwest.
Travelers agree the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is an ideal place to escape the city’s heat while taking in some fabulous pieces. But since the museum is relatively small, it’s good to check ahead to be sure it’s not between exhibits.
Playing in or on Arizona’s Salt River is a great way to stay wet and cool any time of year. Just how you make a splash is entirely up to you.
Depending on conditions, whitewater rafting season typically runs winter through spring on the Upper Salt River. Its rafting rapids are rated class III and IV. Guided trips can run from just one days to five days in length.
Near Mesa, folks love to rent inner tubes and float down the lower Salt River. Not far from Scottsdale, you can paddle, or simply just float in the calm water. Be sure to be on watch for bald eagles and wild horses. A class 1 river, it’s also a great place for a stand up paddle board tour.
A visit to Tusayan Ruins and Museumprovides a glimpseinto the life of the Hopi tribe and the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited the region 800 years ago. Inside the museum, there are artfully displayed exhibits on various aspects of life in the village including pottery,arrowheads, and other household artifacts. The museum also features some of the original 2,000–4,000 year oldsplit-twig figurines, which are made in the shape of deer or bighorn sheep, sometimes with horns or antlers.
The Tusayan Ruins and Museumis part of the Grand Canyon South Rim’s Desert View Drive. The trail itself holds a variety of attractions including Desert View, the breathtaking scenery unfolding from Desert View Watchtower, Navajo Point, where you can see the Colorado River and Escalante Butte, and Lipan Point, where you can see several stretches of the Colorado River. Also here is Moran Point, where you can see a layer of red shale in the canyon walls.
Just outside the city of Sedona is the evocatively-named Slide Rock State Park that was once an apple farm.
Slide Rock State Park was originally the Pendley Homestead, an apple orchard started in 1912 that covered more than 40 acres. Pendley later built cabins as more vacationers began coming into the area, and the homestead was purchased by the Arizona Parklands Foundation in 1985. The original Pendley farmhouse is still in the park.
The name “slide rock” comes from one geologic feature of the park, a slippery area in a creek near the homestead. The red rock formations that are so famous in this part of Arizona are all over the park, which is a popular place for hiking, swimming, fishing, and picnicking.
- Things to do in Sedona
- Things to do in Phoenix
- Things to do in Flagstaff
- Things to do in Scottsdale
- Things to do in Utah
- Things to do in New Mexico
- Things to do in Nevada
- Things to do in Monument Valley
- Things to do in Las Vegas
- Things to do in Palm Springs
- Things to do in Albuquerque
- Things to do in California
- Things to do in Colorado
- Things to do in Baja California Sur
- Things to do in Texas