If you live in the Phoenix area, you’re fortunate to have so many great vacation destinations within driving distance. Whether you’re looking for impressive rock formations, lakeside recreation, interesting cultural experiences, or a spa getaway, there are lots of great places to take a trip from this Southwestern city. Here are our top 10 picks for vacation spots near Phoenix.
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Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona
Monument Valley is famous for its towering red mesas and buttes on along the border between Utah and Arizona. This epic vacation destination is about five and a half hours from Phoenix and well worth the trip. It’s located on Navajo land and requires and admission fee to enter, but once you’re in, you’ll have amazing access to hiking trails, scenic drives, and Native crafts at the roadside stands and galleries. This vacation spot is a photographer’s dream!
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend driving, then hit the road for an easy two-hour trip to Sedona. This Arizona city stands in stark contrast to the big city vibe of Phoenix and offers an outdoorsy and even spiritual experience for vacationers. Here you can go on hikes to the mysterious vortexes, take a jeep tour to explore the backcountry, and stay at a rejuvenating spa to treat yourself. Also, make sure to check out the many art galleries, gift shops, and New Age offerings while you’re here. Sedona tends to be less crowded with tourists in the fall season, so plan your trip in autumn for a little more peace and quiet.
Las Vegas, Nevada
You’ll only need to drive about four and a half hours from Phoenix to get to the bright lights and excitement of Las Vegas. This is an ideal vacation spot for guys’ trips, girls’ trips, and couples’ trips. Book a room at one of the many flashy hotels on the Strip to be right in the middle of the action. Spend your vacation days lounging by the pool, walking in and out of casinos with a cocktail in your hand, and checking out live concerts and acrobatic acts in the evenings. Taking a trip to Vegas means much more than just gambling, especially if you’re a foodie looking to indulge in celebrity chefs’ cuisine or want to dance the night away at some of the hottest clubs in the world.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
For a vacation filled with arts and culture, Native American and Mexican history, and some of the best food you’ll ever eat, plan a vacation from Phoenix to Santa Fe. This New Mexico city is just a little over seven hours from Phoenix and is the perfect size of a city to navigate for a vacation. While in Santa Fe, browse the downtown plaza, visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, hit the slopes at Ski Santa Fe, and hike the Dale Ball Trails.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
For lake recreation, Phoenicians head over to Lake Havasu City, which is about a three-hour drive away. This is a famous spring break destination but a fun time to visit at other times of the year as well. Boating and partying are top reasons to plan a vacation here, but it’s also a beautiful outdoor area that is great for hiking, biking, and ATVing.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular national parks in America, and it’s only about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Phoenix. The South Rim trail is even dog-friendly, unlike the trails in most national park areas, so you can even bring your pup along on this vacation. Many people do driving and sightseeing tours of the Grand Canyon, but you can make your vacation especially epic by hiking to the bottom of the canyon or taking a whitewater rafting adventure down the Colorado River. While visiting the Grand Canyon area, you might also want to incorporate a side trip to Flagstaff into your vacation. Here you can hike to the top of Arizona’s highest point, Humphrey’s Peak, and even go skiing or snowboarding during the winter. In the warm months, there are plenty of hikes to keep you busy in the national forest and also lots of great breweries in town for a cold pint after long days of adventure.
Zion National Park, Utah
Another great national park to visit for your vacation from Phoenix is Zion National Park. This vacation requires a drive of about six and a half hours, but it’s a great one that passes through the Coconino National Forest and near Grand Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument too. Zion is an ideal place to plan a canyoneering adventure with a guide that will help you navigate the ropes and slot canyons. The national park has three campgrounds to stay in, and there are several others just a short drive from the park.
You don’t need to leave the state or drive far from Phoenix to experience a whole other side of Arizona for your vacation. Tucson is only about two hours from Phoenix and is filled with excellent hiking, top-notch Southwest food and local craft beer, and interesting cultural and historical sites. Tucson is very bike-friendly, so load the bikes on the back of your car to get some exercise and see the sights.
San Diego, California
It might surprise some newbie Phoenicians to learn that San Diego is only about a five-hour drive away. If you’re craving some beach time, this is the prime vacation spot for you. Come to San Diego to spend some time in the sun and sand, eat delicious seafood, and explore all of the city’s top attractions, such as Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.
Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico
Another great thing about living in Phoenix is that international travel is easy and close by. The resort town of Puerto Peñasco in the Mexican state of Sonora is only about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Phoenix and a top place for water sports. Just make sure to allow extra time for the border crossing and bring your passport. Here you can hire a guide to go diving, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, or kayaking. The food and drinks at the local establishments here are delicious and very affordable.