10 Best Places to Visit in Arizona for a Family Vacation
Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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Arizona is a southwestern state that is known for sandy deserts, towering Saguaro cacti, and snowbird culture with lots of retirees camped out in RVs. This is also the home of the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Saguaro National Park, and many other iconic outdoor destinations. The winters are generally mild and pleasant, while the summers are hot and dry. But in northern Arizona, you’ll find forests and even snow in the winter months.
Overall, Arizona is a beautiful state that offers outdoor recreation, opportunities to learn about Native American history and culture, and impressive landscapes that are totally surreal. There are sprawling cities, unique villages, and even ghost towns that should be on every traveler’s radar when visiting the state. These are some of the most amazing places to visit in Arizona for your next trip. We’ll also share a few hotel recommendations to help you plan your journey.
Sedona is an exciting destination in Arizona that’s famous for its natural beauty and healing powers. It’s really unlike anywhere else in the state – or the country for that matter! Sedona is between Flagstaff and Phoenix and known for its healing vortexes of energy and New Age shops. Come here to learn about crystals, attend a yoga retreat, and hike in incredible landscapes. Book a horseback riding tour with a local guide company in the red rock canyons to really embrace the stunning beauty of the outdoors here. Sedona is also an artist haven, so you can shop for beautiful creations inspired by the mountains and rocks. The Casa Sedona Inn, L’Auberge de Sedona, and the Junipine Resort are all great places to stay in Sedona.
Tucson is an urban area that has a more chill vibe than Phoenix but still has lots to see and do. This is a friendly and laid-back place that has lots of saguaro cacti and hiking areas to explore. Saguaro National Park is nearby, and Mt. Lemmon is also great for a mountain hike. Head to Fourth Avenue in the downtown area for shopping, restaurants, bars, and breweries. There’s a University of Arizona campus here that hosts cultural events and has a science center and planetarium. Some of the local events to check out here are the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase, the Tucson Culinary Festival, and the Tucson Festival of Books. Book your stay at the White Stallion Ranch, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, or Canyon Ranch when you stay in Tucson.
Yuma is a border town next to California and Baja California, Mexico. Visit the Castle Dome Mines Museum and Ghost Town and the Yuma Territorial Prison to learn about local history. Gateway Park is a nice place to go for a walk or jog, and the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is an other-worldly place where you can wander across the sand to your heart’s content. You can also cross over the Mexican border to visit the border towns on the other side or explore elsewhere in Mexico. Consider staying at the Radisson Hotel Yuma, La Fuente Inn & Suites, or the Hilton Garden Inn Yuma Pivot Point when you visit this part of Arizona.
Cottonwood is a charming small town in Arizona. There are quite a few antique stores to check out and some great wineries to relax and take in the scenery. In addition to Historic Old Town Cottonwood, don’t miss the Blazin’ M Ranch, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, and the Arizona Stronghold Vineyards Tasting Room. Stay at the Pines Motel or the Little Daisy Motel when you visit Cottonwood.
Scottsdale often gets lumped together with Phoenix, but it’s worth a visit on its own. This is a great place to visit museums, and the Scottsdale Artwalk is excellent as well. In this upscale suburban-style town, you’ll also find botanical gardens, wineries, and amusement parks. There are lots of great places to dine and drink in the downtown area in the evenings. You can visit the Frank Lloyd Wright house, Taliesin West, watch live events at the Desert Stages Theater, and view authentic western art at the Scottsdale Museum of the West. The Scottsdale Camelback Resort and Canyon Suites at The Phoenician are top luxury hotels in Scottsdale, while there are also a ton of great Airbnbs in the area.
As the name suggests, Tombstone is a ghost town that is ideal for tourists looking to get a taste of what life was like in the old Wild West. It has been featured in lots of movies and used to be packed with lots of saloons and silver mines. This was one of the biggest boomtowns in the Wild West, but now only a little over a thousand people live here. Expect to find actors dressed in 19th-century costumes reenacting scenes from the olden days. Many of the local residents work here to entertain and educate tourists about what Tombstone was like during its peak. The Tombstone Grand Hotel and Tombstone Monument Ranch are recommended places to stay when you spend a weekend in Tombstone.
Flagstaff is a small town in northern Arizona that’s known as a gateway to the Grand Canyon. Many people stay here when visiting the Grand Canyon if they don’t plan to camp or stay in national park lodging. This is a budget-friendly town for accommodations if you want to visit the iconic landmark. Flagstaff is far enough north in the state and mountainous that you can even go skiing here. The Arizona Snowbowl is open in the winter, and you can also go to the top of Mt. Humphrey via ski lift in the summer. The volcanic lava tubes are a big attraction for tourists to explore when the weather is warmer. Humphrey’s Peak is the tallest mountain in the state and located in this city of 7,000-foot elevation. There’s a nice Drury Inn & Suites in Flagstaff, or you can stay at the Little America Hotel or the Sonesta ES Suites for a nice weekend getaway near the Grand Canyon.
Phoenix is a sprawling metropolis in Arizona that is conveniently located right in the middle of the state. This city is known for luxury golf courses and spas, which makes it perfect for a weekend away from reality. It’s also fun to visit the Phoenix Zoo, the Desert Botanical Gardens, the museums, and the designer fashion stores in town. There’s also an exciting nightlife scene in this large Arizona city. Hiking to the top of Camelback Mountain is a must when you visit Phoenix. Consider booking tickets for a classical music show at the Phoenix Symphony or taking a brewery tour to sample local beers. Tempe, Arizona is right next door and a fun college town that’s home to Arizona State University. There are tons of hotel choices in Phoenix, including the Hampton Inn Phoenix-Midtown-Downtown and the Westin Phoenix Downtown.
Globe is another fascinating small town in Arizona that is home to lots of great restaurants and antique shops. It’s fun to go horseback riding around Saguaro Lake in the fall, winter, or spring as well. Check out the Tonto National Monument, a day trip from Globe, to see the Native American ruins. Bartlett Lake is a nice local place for outdoor recreation, and the Theodore Roosevelt Lake is a large lake worth visiting nearby too. Stay at the Days Inn by Wyndham Globe or the Best Western Copper Hills Inn in Globe.
The reason to visit Page, Arizona is the incredible Antelope Canyon. This place is a nature photographer’s dream. These slot canyons display beautiful shapes and colors, and you can take a tour of them to see for yourself. You’ll need to arrange a tour through the local tribe since the canyon is on Native American land, but it’s definitely worth it. While you’re in Page, you can also check out Canyon X, which is less popular than Antelope Canyon but also very beautiful and photogenic. The Powell Museum is a place here that you can learn about Major Powell and relevant local history. The Red Rock Motel, the Lake Powell Motel, and the Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Page Lake Powell are all good places to stay nearby.