What Arizona could possibly conjure up in your mind? The answer is mostly desert sand dune and cactus. The sublime beauty of Arizona desert is haunting. It’s just like the desert tells a different story every time one wanders around. Western fantasies never cease in the countryside of Arizona. Springtime of Arizona, with streams gushing down from the mountains, flower blooming out all over the place, trees leafing out create a super climax for hiking, camping and exploring. With its enigmatic desert, canyons, craters, ancient ruins and everlasting legends, Arizona is indeed home to some of North America’s most wonderful landscapes.
The best things to do in Arizona are actually more like time depended. You can’t expect to do everything or visit wherever you like to visit in a certain trip. There is always fun to go but Spring and autumn is the best when temperatures are moderately warm in the desert and cool in the mountains. Camping in the middle of desert in this period could be the best experience in your life. To see the desert in the full moon or starry night is something that you will never forget.
10 Best Things to do in Arizona:
As it prominent that things to do in Arizona are mostly outdoor adventure based, our list has certain preference about it. Hope, our list of best things to do in Arizona will be helpful to you. And let’s find, what to do in Arizona?
10. Heard Museum, Phoenix
Located in Phoenix, Heard Museum is kind of a big deal to Arizona. Visiting it is one of the best things to do in Phoenix. The sole purpose of the museum is to inform the public about the heritage and the living cultures and arts of Native peoples, especially the peoples of the Southwest. It was founded in 1929 by renowned anthropologist Dwight B. and Maie Bartlett Heard as a personal collection. Who would know then than it would become one of the best places to visit in Arizona? From its beginning as a small museum, the Heard has grown both in size and resources.
It is now internationally recognized museum and among quite a few number of museums about the heritage and culture of native people. Its educational programming and its festivals also draw attention to the critics. It consists of over 40,000 items including a library and archives with over 34,000 volumes. The museum steals the places of the list of the best things to do in Arizona is for the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market.
This unique world class cultural event draws around 15,000 visitors and more than 600 of the nation’s most renowned and successful American Indian artists. The goal is just to let people know the cultural depth of native people and protect the heritage from extinction. This is the reason, visiting Heard Museum is one of the best things to do in Phoenix.
Also Read: Top 10 famous museums in the world
9. Barringer Crater
You can see the mountains, islands, beaches but not an asteroid every day even in the sky. That’s the reason Barringer Crater is in our list of best things to do in Arizona. Around forty-nine thousand years ago, an iron asteroid with 30 to 50 meter diameter impacted the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona. This resulted huge explosion, excavated 175 million tons of rock, forming one of the nature’s surprising phenomenon, a crater nearly a mile wide and 570 feet deep. The impact of this phenomenon was quite devastating and similar to a nuclear bomb blast.
It could also be the reason of extinction of some animals. Initially it had been ascribed to the volcanic actions. It was mining engineer and businessman Daniel M. Barringer who suggested that the crater was produced by meteorite impact in 1903 and referred as Barringer Crater in honor of him. Scientists were skeptic to the theory of Daniel M. Barringer until researcher Eugene Merle Shoemaker confirmed Barringer’s hypothesis. It was designated as a National Natural Landmark and one of the best places to visit in Arizona.
It is commonly known to the locals as Meteor Crater or Arizona Crater. Once a havoc to the nature become hero in course of time. It’s rare and unique geological significance makes it one of the best tourist attractions in Arizona. The crater is still a subject of wonder to the scientists. NASA astronauts practiced in the crater to prepare for the Apollo missions to the Moon during the 1960s. No wonder why it is in the list of things to do in Arizona.
8. Montezuma Castle
The magnanimity and bizarre location bring Montezuma Castle in the list of best things to do in Arizona. Located near Camp Verde, Montezuma Castle features the best-preserved cliff dwellings of the country and one of the best places to visit in Arizona. The dwellings were built by the Sinagua between approximately 1100 and 1425 AD. Sinagua were a pre-Columbian cultural group that occupied a large area in central Arizona. It is a five structure built into a niche in a white limestone ridge about 70 feet above the ground. When it was discovered, it was thought to be Aztec in origin and even named it for the famous Aztec emperor Montezum. But the dwellings were abandoned before Montezuma was even born.
Although it is called castle, it is more like apartments, a wonderful technique developed by the Sinagua people to protect themselves from the enemy and bad weather. Visiting it is certainly one of the best things to do in AZ. Several Hopi clans and Yavapai communities come to these ancestral homes for religious ceremonies. These dwellings are an interesting subject of archeology and one of the must things to see in Arizona. Sometimes you could feel like that the stones are not as dead as you use to think. Montezuma Well in the vicinity is also one of the major tourist attractions in Arizona. It was purchased by federal government and regarded as a distinct site.
7. Canyon de Chelly
Canyon de Chelly is without a doubt one of the must things to see in Arizona. Owned by the Navajo Nation, it is one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America. It conserves ruins of the early indigenous tribes including the Ancient Pueblo Peoples and Navajo. The serenity of this place makes it one of the most sacred place on Earth and a major Arizona tourist attractions.
The Ancestral Puebloans began carving multi-storied dwellings around 700 A D. They mysteriously abandoned the place in the 1300s. Paired with the canyon’s special beauty, this oldest known house in the US are one of the major Arizona tourist attractions. Most of the canyon bottom is not accessible as Navajo still lives here. The scenic beauty of Canyon de Chelly is beyond description and one of the most photographed area of Arizona. You must take guides in your tour of Canyon de Chelly.
The guide will show you cliff houses and petrogylphs set against spectacular cliff walls. Canyon de Chelly National Monument is one of the most recognized monuments of America and visiting it is one of the things to do in AZ. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Spider Rock is park’s most unique geologic feature. It is a sandstone spire and served as the scene of a number of television commercials. It is one of the must things to see in Arizona.
6. Hoover Dam
Visiting this giant concrete arch-gravity dam is one of the best things to do in AZ. Constructed during the Great Depression, it is considered one of the greatest engineering marvel of America. The dam was built on the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada for irrigation. Controversy arose from the beginning of the construction. A massive effort was needed to constructed the Hoover Dam and cost over one hundred lives. It was named after President Herbert Hoover and it also brought controversy.
However it attracts millions of tourists every year and one of the most interesting things to do in AZ. Watching the Hoover Dam is certainly a breath taking experience and you will see a mammoth job done by the people within 5 years. You will find three levels of tour: visitor center only, power plant tour and the “Dam Tour”. Among these we recommend you the dam tour because it is much more exciting. Hoover Dam is one of the must things to see in Arizona.
5. Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is a United States National Park, mostly famous for its undeniably beautiful cactus. Located near Tucson, the park is one of the most interesting things to see in Arizona. 240 km of well-marked and maintained hiking trails make it a paradise for the hikers. Encompassing more than 91,000 acres of the Sonoran desert in Tucson, the sole purpose of the park is to protect the symbol of the American West, the giant saguaro cactus.
Those who are not interested in long journey, can also take shorter walking trails with interpretative information available. And for the record, you should not hike here during the hot summer. You will be enamored by the lovely cactus of the park. Beside cactus, the park has much to offer. The prehistoric petroglyphs, historic sites and wildlife viewing are also quite thrilling. Visiting Saguaro National Park is obviously one of the best things to do in AZ.
4. Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls is one of the most picturesque site in America and has a very common television shows and magazines appearance. Visiting Havasu Falls is surely one of the interesting things to in AZ. The incredible waterfall has no comparison with its unique beauty. The fall plunges 120 feet creates a natural swimming pool of blue-green water that stands in striking contrast against a background of red canyon wall.
It is hard to avert eyes from such beauty. You can go there for a picnic or you can go there alone. It is an experience of a life time. Sandy beach and plenty of shady cottonwood trees are truly relaxing. Havasu Falls is indeed one of the most interesting things to see in Arizona.
3. Monument Valley
Nature may unjust a little as it gives quite a portion of her beauty to Arizona from the quota. Monument Valley is just another feather of Arizona’s magnificent beauty. You probably don’t need a lot of introduction about Monument Valley if you are a movie buff. It was an automatic choice for western movies for its majestic sandstone. It was also the backdrop for Robert Zemeckis’s two masterpiece “Back to the Future 3 and Forrest Gump”.
Located on the Arizona-Utah state line, it is technically not a valley at all, but a wide flat landscape with crumbling rock formations. But it is not only the beauty that will surprise you but also its overwhelming size. It certainly one of the best things to see in Arizona. If you are a western movie fan, then it should be in top of your list of best things to do in Arizona. The whole area is within the Navajo Indian Reservation near the small Indian town of Goulding. You can enjoy the world-famous panorama of the Mitten buttes and Merrick Butte from the visitor center.
A guided tour is always suggested to get the best views and conceptions about the valley and avoid the looping as the travelers often do. The climate is extreme in this area. It is one of the most photographed places in USA and one of the best places to visit in Arizona. Roaming around the valley is just like roaming around in western movie set. So don’t forget to visit one of the best tourist attractions in Arizona.
Also read: Top 10 best looking desert landscapes
Sedona is also an expected one in the list of the best things to do in Arizona. The red sandstone formations of Sedona is simply awe inspiring and obviously one of the places to visit in Arizona. If you visit Sedona ever, you will feel like a great impressionist artist plays with the brush and color. Here, the impressionist artist is no one but the sun. As it changes the position, Sedona’s gorgeous sandstone formations changes its color, especially during sunrise and sunset when the Sedona possesses the unearthly beauty.
No wonder why it is on top of the list of the best things to do in Arizona. Visiting this one of the best tourist attractions in Arizona could change the philosophy and style of your life forever. People use to come to this place in quest of finding out spiritual mystery as it is some of the rarest places on earth where you can contemplate as calmly as you can. This tranquil desert is also a paradise for hiking, camping and exploring. In the springtime, the desert wind will certainly haunt your nomadic nature.
You can call Sedona an ideal place for hikers and hermits. Visiting Sedona is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Arizona. Another positive thing about Sedona is that you don’t have to be choosy about where to stay as all over the Sedona is as magnificent as it could be. Sedona has also a popular diving area and a variety of music festival held each year and it is one of the best places to visit in Arizona.
1. Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World will make you utterly speechless. The photographer’s hand never get tired to capture the magnificence of the landscape, the adventurers never get exhausted to explore, and the poetic minds never refuse to create poetry here. No question should arise why it is in the first of the list of best things to do in Arizona. It may not be a surprising news that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Grand Canyon is certainly Arizona’s most distinguishable landmark and a targeted place to the adventure lover tourists from all around the world. No one has to Google it to select in his/her plan of best things to do in Arizona. But you might need help to travel around this world’s one of the most awe inspiring wonders. The Grand Canyon encompasses several distinct areas so it is suggested to travel the selected area, especially Grand Canyon National Park as it is described as the most picturesque part of the canyon. The national park is divided into two main areas: the more accessible South Rim and the remote North Rim. To visit this one of the best tourist attractions in Arizona, you better make a plan as you have lot to do.
Temperatures and weather can be vary greatly even within the park. That’s why the Arizona is called the land of extremes. So you better prepare for that to visit this one of the places to visit in Arizona or the best things to do in Arizona. You can visit to Grand Canyon Village filled with historic buildings. Don’t miss the chance to see the historic Watchtower. The best thing to do in this Grand Canyon is hiking. There are several routes you can follow but if you are a novice, then the guided tour is requested. Whitewater rafting expeditions and flightseeing are also very exciting. This is really one of the best places to visit in Arizona.
Also read: Top 10 unbelievable canyons you must visit