Our 20 Favorite Things To Do In Arizona When Visiting

While Arizona is actually the last of the original 48 contiguous states in America, however there is still plenty to do here.

Our 20 Favorite Things To Do In Arizona When Visiting

The global fame of the Grand Canyon of course draws in plenty of different visitors from all around, however, there are plenty of other attractions that make it worth visiting – there is plenty to do in this state.

For example, there are plenty of other natural attractions, however, there are some other reasons to visit like family attractions, museums, and other cultural sites and hubs. All of these give you plenty of reasons to visit.

There are plenty of different outdoor adventure reasons to visit like the option to play golf, or go to a spa, there are also plenty of shopping reasons to visit.

Also, there is plenty of Native American culture present that is worth respectfully witnessing. There are also plenty of sporting activities that make this a great spot to visit for sports fans.

As previously mentioned there are plenty of family attractions as well, which makes it a great spot for not just individuals but families as well. Arizona is well worth visiting whatever age you are.

So, if you are planning a trip to Arizona, but you have no idea what there is to do in the state outside of the obvious Grand Canyon, then this list is what you need to be reading (for a guide to our favorite hotels in Arizona, read here)!

1. Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Even though we do not want to spend too much time on a selection that is so obvious, it is impossible to overlook the Grand Canyon when it comes to tourist attractions in Arizona.

This is one of the most visited locations in Arizona, but also the country.

It is a natural formation and it is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world making it a global site of interest.

This is a gorge that has been carved from the sandstone bluffs from the Colorado River that are common in the region. 

There are a couple of options when it comes to ways to access the Grand Canyon with the options being the north rim or the south rim.

The northern rim is a little more remote which some people prefer, however the southern rim has some more options for tourists to appreciate this location.

If you want an amazing immersive experience visiting the canyon, we recommend doing a mule ride. However, a lot of people just prefer doing a typical hiking trail instead.

2. Sedona


While the Grand Canyon is seen as the main natural formation in Arizona, there are plenty others to see if you want to see some amazing natural sights.

There are some amazing sandstone formations at Sedona and they look even better at either sunrise or sunset making the colors of the rocks look even better. 

There is a distinct arid atmosphere of the desert here, and this is why there are so many spiritual practices that take place here, for example there are plenty of yoga festivals or some synchronized meditation.

If you are looking for a more standard version of spirituality, there is the famed Chapel of the Holy Cross that is built directly into the rocks which is an amazing sight to see.

On top of these features, you can find some amazing music festivals taking place here throughout the whole year.

3. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Adding to the list of amazing natural features of Arizona that are well worth seeing, there is Monument Valley that is in Navajo Tribal Park.

This is a staple of Arizona being a red sandstone National Park making it a beautiful scene to see. 

There are plenty of hiking options to get through the different red sand formations and you have the option to explore this national park just about however you want having an astounding unique experience.

Because this is on a Navajo reservation, you will also find that this spot is incredibly well maintained as a sign of respect. 

If you are unsure how you want to appreciate this National Park, then we recommend visiting the visitor center, here you can get a guided tour to see the highlights if you want.

Since there is so much beauty to see here, we guarantee you will have an amazing time visiting.

4. Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

This is another globally famous location and it is one of the most stunning feats of modern engineering you can visit. This spot was actually constructed back in 1931 during Franklin D Roosevelt’s presidency. 

The reason why Hoover Dam was constructed was to contain the flooding that frequently happened on the Colorado River as well as a means to provide water to those living in the desert.

There is so much to learn when visiting this spot and this makes it a beautiful tourist spot. 

For example, there is so much concrete here that there is enough to run a whole 2 lane road over the entire country between Seattle all the way to Miami.

The dam is thicker at its base than 2 whole American football fields that are put end to end and it is even taller than Washington’s Washington Monument. 

5. Phoenix Zoo

Phoenix Zoo

This zoo is actually a non profit as well as privately owned, and it is the largest zoo in the country that runs like this.

This makes it one of the best days out if you are in Phoenix and is a perfect location if you are sightseeing by yourself or with the whole family. 

There are animals in this zoo that are from all around the world from regions like the tropics, and Africa, and there is a little section dedicated to the animals you can find in Arizona making this zoo unique from zoos you can find anywhere else. 

There is a trail that will take you through all these different areas in the park which lasts for about 2 and a half miles, but you can do as little or as much of this as you want.

This zoo also has a pretty famous resident with Ruby the Elephant who all the way back in 1973 gained attention for being able to paint on a canvas using a brush!

6. Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

Now if you want another opportunity to appreciate some natural beauty in Arizona, then we strongly recommend visiting Havasu Falls.

This is a waterfall that any nature lover will love to see, it is over 100 feet high, and the water comes down from the stunning red sandstone into a gorgeous pool. 

People have plenty of options when it comes to visiting Havasu. You can either explore the trail to get there by yourself, or you can choose from one of the different guided tours which will lend you plenty of unique information. 

Because of how the sandstone is formed, the flow on the falls can vary at different times of year based on the weather, so keep this in mind when going.

However, no matter how the falls are, they will always be a stunning spot for you to visit when in Arizona.

7. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

This National Park is actually split into two different districts. In this park you will find the saguaro cactus as well as plenty of species that can only be found in Arizona.

This National Park is amazing to visit because of the massive amount of fauna and flora you can find here, like the coniferous forests, or the endangered species like owls and bats. 

Within the borders of this park you can find the Tucson Mountains, as well as the Rincón Mountains, and in these two spots along you can find more than 150 miles of trails for hiking on.

This park also has some amazing campsites which are perfect for if you want to lose yourself in the beauty of this park.

8. Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

This is another amazing monument you can find in Arizona that you will only fully believe once you have witnessed it in person. This is a stunning canyon that is a perfect representation of this part of America. 

There are massive sandstone walls that have evidence of ancient indigenous people who lived in the area, making the historical importance of this spot amazing.

This is also home to Spider Rock, which is the home of Spider Woman according to traditional Navajo folklore, who was believed to be the creator of the world. 

This monument actually reverberates energy, making it a magical experience to visit. We strongly recommend getting a tour around the monument for the amount of interesting information you can get.

You also cannot miss exploring the Mummy Cave here as well, which features plenty more ancient structures.

9. Arizona Science Center

If you love learning about scientific discoveries, then you will be happy to hear that Arizona actually has one of the best science museums in the whole country.

This spot manages to make learning about science engaging for anyone with immersive activities like the world of mummies, a planetarium, flight simulators, and plenty more. 

There are some amazing exhibits which will be interesting no matter what age you are when you visit.

There is plenty to learn here and to see, so we recommend giving yourself enough time when you visit so you get enough time to look around properly.

You can get the tickets before or buy on the day, but make sure if you know when you are coming, to try and buy online since you will get a slight discount.

10. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

If you are visiting the country and you are looking to learn more about the native wildlife of the area, then one spot you will absolutely need to visit is the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

This spot is a combination of a zoo, an aquarium, a natural history museum, an art gallery, and a botanical garden all in one spot! 

There is also a massive collection of flora and fauna sourced from the desert and the various climates present.

Everything is set up in a way that is simple and easy to understand and this makes this a perfect place to visit in Arizona no matter how old you are making it a great family day out. 

There are some big cats, reptiles, and raptors that are on display, and there are plenty of fantastical geological features and ancient fossils.

If you are at all interested in Arizona and any of its natural components, then we strongly recommend visiting this museum.

11. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area 

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area 

Another one of the many natural and beautiful sights to see in Arizona is the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and it is a must see spot for any tourists that are in the state and want to see some natural beauty. 

This spot can be found near Page, and because of how the space is classified, it is a large outdoor recreation area which is fun for all ages.

There is plenty to do here amongst the beautiful desert scenery.

You get some amazing views of Lake Powell in all its glory, and the lake looks amazing in how it reflects the contrasting red rocks and the bright blue sky. 

One of the most popular activities to do at Lake Powell is fishing, so if this is something you love or have always wanted to try, then this is the best spot for you to do it.

You have the option to fish along the thousands of miles of shore that are in this area, or you could instead rent out a boat and take it out onto the water. 

The most common fish that can be found are bass, however, there is still plenty of variety.

There are also plenty of accommodation and camping options that makes this a simple and fun place to visit, and millions of people visiting annually prove this!

12. Meteor Crater Natural Landmark

Meteor Crater Natural Landmark

If you want to see even more natural beauty in Arizona, then you have to go to this crater landmark.

This spot was created when around 50,000 years in the past a meteor crashed into the Northern part of what is now Arizona and this created the massive crater that is still here today. 

Meteor craters are pretty rare so it is an impressive sight to see, especially if you have never seen one before. This crater is close to 4000 feet deep and a massive 560 feet wide.

The spot itself is owned privately and has since been developed as a tourist location, however, it was able to receive the status of a natural landmark back in the 60s, and there are plenty of features and facilities on the site to make visiting this spot as comfortable and fun as possible. 

This is why we recommend visiting the well equipped visitor center, as well as the museum that is on site. This museum features plenty of interactive pieces and exhibits making it engaging for all ages. 

There are even some artifacts that have been gathered from different space missions, as well as space related films in the theater on site.

This area also has some amazing observation decks to get a great view, but you can also get close with guided tours along the rim of the crater.

13. Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

This is another one of the National Recreation Areas in Arizona and there is loads for you to do here and is one of the best places to visit if you are in the state (for our favorite Arizona theme parks, check out our guide here).

This is a Recreation Area that spans more than a million acres over the landscape of the desert. 

In this space there are valleys, mountains, canyons, lakes, and plenty of amazing natural landmarks you will have to see.

There is also a great wilderness area where you can see some amazing sights if you are organized enough.

However, as this is a recreation space, there are plenty of recreational activities to do that are worth trying! 

One of the best things you can do when visiting this park is trying some water sports activities, this could include fishing, boating, biking, or swimming.

Outside of the water based activities, there are also plenty of options for hiking as well. 

There are plenty of scenic routes that take you throughout the desert landscape and you will never forget.

There are a few park viewpoints that give you an amazing view once you reach them and are great goals to aim for. This park attracts millions of visitors every year, and once you go, you will understand why!

14. Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Another one of the amazing National Parks in Arizona is the Petrified Forest National Park, it attracts around half a million visitors annually, and it is well worth going out of your way to see. 

This spot has some massive remains of fossilized woods and this is a sight that is incredibly unique and can not be seen in many other places.

It has been decided that these logs need to be preserved so the National Park was founded back in 1962 in order to keep the logs from getting damaged.

This area was once a forest but is now just a desert with a badlands landscape that features the colorful remains of the petrified forest.

This unique sight is why this is one of the most popular spots for photography in the state. 

Other than seeing the sites, there are other popular activities to do here like backpacking or hiking.

There is plenty of biodiversity here to explore and uncover, with hundreds of different species of plants and animals present. 

If you want to see as much as possible, we recommend getting a guided tour to make sure you do not miss anything.

On top of all this, there are also some archeological sites you can explore that have uncovered some ancient artifacts that are interesting to learn about.

15. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Something you should try and see when you are visiting Arizona is the amazing Organ Pipe Cactus.

This is a cactus that can only grow in this part of America and this specific area is called the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. 

As you might have noticed throughout this list, there are plenty of different cacti throughout the state, and there are even more unique types you can see in this park.

This monument is found in the southern region of Arizona so it is quite close to the Mexican border, the section of the Sonoran Desert which it resides in is actually officially referred to as a wilderness area.

If you come here you get to appreciate how beautiful the landscape here is, and get to try out some different activities.

Once you visit the park you will see that there are plenty of different organ pipe cacti for you to appreciate, and because this area is recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, you need to ensure that you are not doing anything to harm the plant or animal life. 

This is why the best way to appreciate the park is through hiking. There are plenty of expert staff and park rangers here who will be able to give you information and point you in whatever direction you want to go in!

16. Tumacácori National Historical Park

Tumacácori National Historical Park

If you want to see something that has plenty of historical significance, then visiting the historical park is well worth doing.

There are actually three different sections of this park you can choose from, and it is a famous former mission site from the Spanish. 

This is one of the many fun things you can do in the Santa Cruz River Valley, and you will get plenty of educational opportunities to learn about it, but you can also appreciate how well the architecture has been preserved as well as a way to learn about the history of the mission.

This Historical Park has plenty of different communities present that have originated from Spanish missions, one of these being the oldest mission in the whole region.

A lot of the sites here are currently ruins, however a lot of the buildings have since been restored then converted to be a good destination for tourists. 

You will get a perfect impression of the Mission Revival type of architecture that has been authentically restored.

Other than these restored ruins, this space also has a museum, a visitor center, as well as a guide to the National Historic Landmarks that are present. 

The museum here has a focus on both art and history, so if this is something you are interested in, then we recommend going here.

The visitor center is where you can go to book a tour to guide you around the ruins, which we strongly recommend, however, if you want to guide yourself to go at your own pace, this is an option too.

17. London Bridge

London Bridge

The name of this landmark may confuse you since not many people expect to see a structure known as London Bridge within Arizona, but this was not even the original intention either. 

This spot is a canal that you can appreciate in Lake Havasu City, so if you are close to it, we recommend visiting one of the most popular tourist spots in the area.

The bridge, as the name suggests, was originally built back in 1830 all the way in London, and this is where it was installed to originally go over the River Thames that runs through the city. 

However, after a while, the bridge was actually sold and then got reconstructed here in Arizona more recently in 1976.

The bridge looks just as it did in London, still having the iconic arched design, and because of the long journey this bridge took, there are plenty of rumors and myths about the journey it took. 

For example, some people mistake the bridge for the real London Bridge, while there are also more spooky stories about it as well.

We love looking out for the plaques on the bridge which have different name markers, and it is a relaxing spot to sit and look for boats passing by.

18. Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

This is definitely one of our favorite sites from throughout Arizona and it is one of the most beautiful things you can see in the state. You can see it within the Glen Canyon Recreation Area, and this makes the journey there alone worth it. 

As the name suggests, this is a horseshoe bend that is curving through the Colorado River with the river flowing naturally to make this beautiful shape that is amazing to behold. 

Because of this natural phenomenon, plenty of people go out of their way to see this spot.

It is one of the most photographed spots. in the state for a reason, and we recommend visiting around sunrise or sunset to see it at its best.

19. Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden

If you want to see an amazing display of wildlife through the desert, then we have to recommend going to this Botanical Garden in Arizona. You get to see some amazing desert plants that are all showcased amazingly. 

This is a massive garden that you can find in Phoenix and it covers more than 140 acres, this gives you plenty to explore when you are looking around.

This spot has been running since all the way back in 1939 as it was created to show off the unique plants from the Sonoran Desert. 

Over time, it has grown to hold more than 50,000 plants and 4000 different species.

This includes some very rare and even some endangered species all there for you to appreciate. There are also some seasonal concerts and exhibits that are worth looking out for!

20. Heard Museum

Our final choice is definitely not worth missing and this is the Native American heritage museum that covers a lot of the art and the culture.

There is plenty here to help improve your awareness of the art of the American Indians and it is one of the biggest showcases of their art.

The space opened up in 1929 and it now has more than 40,000 objects being shown off.

If you are interested in seeing these traditional pieces in all their glory, this is one of the best spots you will have to visit.

There are plenty of unique and changing exhibits that are done here as well as native jewelry, as well as showing off modern and new Native talents!

Final Thoughts

When we think of Arizona, we typically picture desert landscapes and wide open expanses, which doesn’t exactly scream fun — More like Aridzona, am I right? 

But this state actually has a remarkably diverse topography. And if you’re not much of an outdoorsy person, there are a plethora of other amazing attractions to educate, inspire, and simply relax in.

Alex Kallen
Scroll to Top