The top 10 tourist attractions in Arizona
It is very difficult to pick the top 10 tourist attractions in Arizona because there’s actually more than 10 places you shouldn’t miss if you’re planning on visiting the State. Snowbirds – those retirees that head south to escape all that frost and snow and slush head down to Arizona for their annual long stay vacation. Arizona is a very popular destination not only because of the weather but also the numerous sights to visit. You won’t be twiddling your thumbs counting the days until you leave. There’s plenty of activities to do here, tourist sights, natural and man-made wonders, events and sporting activities.
There are two conveniently located airports, one in Tucson and the other larger international airport in Phoenix, a two hour drive from Tucson. Both cities are worth visiting with many restaurants, events, hotels and tourist attractions. Scottsdale is a suburb of Phoenix and is noted for it’s Baseball Spring Training, golfing and hot air balloon rides. But beyond the cities, there’s an abundance of natural splendors, national treasures, wildlife, geological wonders, historical and national park sights. If you enjoy hiking or biking, camping or RV’ing it, then this is the State to visit. If you have time to visit only one sight, do the Grand Canyon which offers the majesty of the canyons, rafting trips and hiking.
Many houses are available for rent for long term vacations. You’ll find these listed either on Craig’s List or contacting local real estate offices that also manage house rentals for longer stays. You can also find the best vacation rental reviews and hotel deals here on TripAdvisor.
For those who love golf, Arizona is a golfing paradise with many fabulous courses centered around Tuscon, Phoenix and Scottsdale. Phoenix hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The PGA tour stops by every year for the Waste Management Open. Check hotel rates and book hotel or resorts in Arizona here. Another accommodation option is to gather together friends and/or family and rent one of the many large houses available. Check out the best vacation rental reviews and deals at TripAdvisor.
The top 10 Tourist Attractions in Arizona
1) Grand Canyon National Park is one of the greatest natural wonders of the world making it the highlight of Arizona. There are plenty of organized tours of the Grand Canyon as well as fantastic helicopter tours. If you want to hike and explore, it is advisable to hire a naturalist guide to accompany you. The Grand Canyon is accessible from the north and south. The South Rim provides more in the way of tourist facilities. The North Rim is less crowded.
2) The town of Sedona, surrounded by the geological wonder of the Red Rock mountains, is popular for cyclists and hikers and offers plenty of stunning photo opportunities.
While in Sedona, it’s worth taking the Verde Canyon Railroad trip. You can sit in the club car and enjoy snacks like chicken wings, beers, wine, all included in the club car price. There are rail cars where you can sit outside and take photos during the ride. The train travels through the red rocks, valleys and cliffs. It is a great trip.
Take a hot air balloon ride in Sedona. Sedona is an artists’ community selling expensive art, jewelry, sculptures, paintings, Native American weaving, etc. The rock sculptures all have names in Sedona, for example, the “Coffee Pot rock.” Set inside one of the Red Rocks is the Red Rock Chapel also known as the Holy Cross Chapel (completed in 1956), which is pretty famous. You park below and walk up to it where you see some great views of the Red Rocks. You can enter inside the Chapel.
In Sedona you can arrange for day trips to the Grand Canyon and/or Antelope Canyon. You will be picked up at your hotel and driven with a group to these places for the day. They are wonderful tours to do.
3) Tombstone town the cowboy town is known as the “town too tough to die”. It’s filled with tourists all the time with shops set up like they originally appeared in the 1800s. Tombstone was once a mining town but like many other mining towns, once the jobs dried up, it became a ghost town.
4) The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located went just outside of Tucson. It’s in the desert consisting of 21 acres defined by walking paths. All of the animals, reptiles and birds are in their natural habitat. Not to be missed: a demonstration of the raptures, hawks, owls from October 18th through April 2, for 2015. The Hummingbird aviary is a great place to be up close and personal with the hummers – a delight for birdwatchers.
5) Antelope Canyon, near the town of Page in the Navajo Nation lands are is where I took many beautiful shots of the slot canyons. Many photographers also find it’s the ideal spot for stunning landscape photography. You’ll need a tour guide to visit the Upper and Lower part of Antelope Canyon. Page is close enough for a day trip. You must hire a native tour guide because they know the Canyon and it is protected Native land, on a reservation.
6) Mount Lemmon in Tucson is where the rock climbers and bicyclists flock. The Summit has an elevation of 9,159 feet and is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It is located in the Coronado National Forest north of Tucson, Arizona. It’s a great tourist spot in Tucson.
7) Near the Mexican border lies the town of Bisbee a former mining town about 10 miles from Tuscon. Over time, like many other historic mining towns, it eventually became a ghost town. Interestingly enough Bisbee is a revived ghost town, becoming the home of artists and a collection of interesting shops.
8) Hoover Dam, (named after President Herbert Hoover) is an engineering feat in the Colorado River built between 1931 to 1936. It was constructed to generate hydro-electric power, provide irrigation and control flooding. Tours of the Hoover Dam are available and recommended to show you around the features and history of the Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam is built half in Arizona and half in Nevada. In the middle of the dam there are two clocks because it sits over two time zones. Arizona in the Pacific time zone, but moves to Mountain time zone in the Autumn.
9) Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, another natural, geological wonder in the Navajo lands of Arizona offers a campground, scenic drives and hiking trails. Monument Valley is 50 million years of nature in the works, with unlimited stunning photography opportunities. For getting the most from your visit, take a vehicle or hiking tour of the area. Spellbinding!
In Monument Valley there’s the absolutely splendid hotel built into the landscape called The View Hotel. The hotel is on Native lands and only by making a reservation can you obtain permission to access the property. Wilderness campsites are also available for campers. Magnificent sun rises and sun sets will create an unforgettable experience and the chance to take some fantastic photographs. The View Hotel is definitely a hotel for those very special occasions.
10) The Petrified Forest National Park is another of Arizona’s natural wonders in north eastern Arizona. It is located on Navajo and Apache lands. The textures of the petrified rocks and varied skies have been a favorite subject of many a photographer. Over millions of years, nature has eroded this desert and the badlands into a landscape of fossils of petrified trees, plants, animals and which fell millions of years ago. The U.S. National Parks Services offers short guided tours of the area. Visit the U.S. National Parks Services website here for more information.
Bored with Arizona? Well, that’s very unlikely, but if you’re looking for more excitement, Las Vegas is about an hour from the Hoover Dam. If you feel like driving to Las Vegas for a little over the top glitter and perhaps some gambling, it’s not that far away.
Care to visit the beach while in Arizona? Arizona’s beaches are at the town of Puerto Peñasco (Spanish name) or Rocky Point (English name) in Mexico on the shores of the Sea of Cortez. This is 212 miles from Tucson by car and 212 miles from Phoenix by car, the same distance, just different routes. You can also book a flight or shuttle to the Sea of Cortez. This is a great way to sneak in a little bit of Mexico into your Arizona vacation.
As I’ve already listed here more than 10 places to visit and experience, you can see you won’t run out of things to do in Arizona if you have the time. In summing up, there’s more to see and do than just these top 10 tourist attractions in Arizona. The Grand Canyon makes it onto one of the lists for the seven wonders of the world, depending on who writes the list. If your time is limited, this is the place to visit first. Wherever you go in Arizona, you’ll be amazed there’s so much to do and experience. Luckily, if you’re on an extended vacation, you’ll have time to experience them all.
Enjoy these photographs I’ve taken of the some of the top 10 tourist attractions in Arizona: