Best Places to Visit in Arizona

Arizona is home to incredible landscapes, lively cities, world-class spas and warm weather year-round, making the state ideal for a getaway any time of year. But to help you decide which Arizona destinations to spend your vacation in, U.S. News considered factors like the number of attractions, the availability of accommodations and the opinions of everyday travelers to pick the best places to visit in Arizona. Vote for your favorite spot below to help determine next year's list. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

SUMMARY

Best Places to Visit in Arizona

  • Grand Canyon
  • Sedona
  • Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
  • Montezuma Castle National Monument
  • Tucson
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Lake Havasu
  • Phoenix
  • Flagstaff
  • Prescott
  • Monument Valley
  • Bisbee
  • Apache Junction
  • Saguaro Lake
  • Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
  • Coconino National Forest
  • Lake Powell
  • Lake Mead
  • Tombstone
  • Kingman
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    Grand Canyon

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    This massive natural wonder gives Arizona its nickname as The Grand Canyon State, and it's understandable why the attraction is a source of pride for the state. Former President Theodore Roosevelt was right when he said, "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world." Travelers can hike or ride mules around the North Rim or raft the Colorado River to explore this national park.

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    Sedona

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Outdoor enthusiasts flock to this central Arizona town to enjoy its stunning scenery. Regularly described as one of the most beautiful places in America, Sedona dazzles with its famous red rocks and hiking trails (found in Red Rock State Park), as well as its vortexes. These unique rock formations are said to emit a healing energy from the earth, and it's an experience you have to feel for yourself to believe. The town is also home to numerous spas with Sedona-inspired specialty treatments, which are bound to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

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    Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Vermilion Cliffs National Monument's gorgeous rock formations draw hikers from around the world. Can't-miss landmarks here include The Wave in Coyote Buttes North and White Pocket in the Paria Canyon. Keep in mind, though, that both areas require permits for hiking and camping. These permits – which are given to as few as 20 people per day (depending on the region and type of visit) by Arizona's Bureau of Land Management – ensure travelers can enjoy the monument without rubbing elbows with hordes of tourists.

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    Montezuma Castle National Monument

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Often compared to a high-rise apartment building, Montezuma Castle National Monument features a five-story, 20-room design that's built into the cliffs of central Arizona's Verde Valley. Although the pueblo structures were named after an Aztec emperor, the dwellings were formerly inhabited by the Sinagua Indian Tribe. Visitors can learn more about Sinagua culture at the monument's museum before they trek the area's trails to Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well. But remember, the monument does not permit entry into the dwellings due to their fragile state.

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    Tucson

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    With an average of more than 350 days of sunshine per year, Tucson draws sun-seekers in droves. When you're not lounging by the pool, you can spot native animals like coyotes and prairie dogs at the 98-acre Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or take a drive along the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway for stunning photo-ops. When you're ready to satiate your appetite, take advantage of all this UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy has to offer. Tucson's location less than 70 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border means you'll find plenty of restaurants serving authentic Mexican eats.

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    Petrified Forest National Park

    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    If you want to spend your next vacation outdoors, head to Petrified Forest National Park. In this more than 200,000-acre park, you'll discover one of the world's largest concentrations of petrified wood, plus rocky cliffs and animal fossils. To make the most of your time here, plan on incorporating several activities into your visit. Popular in-park pursuits include hiking, horseback riding and biking. Don't forget to also leave time for checking out some of the park's historical exhibits, such as those found at the Rainbow Forest Museum and the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark.

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    Lake Havasu

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Visit Lake Havasu to enjoy a variety of activities on and by water. The lake is one of Arizona's premier destinations for boating, water skiing, fishing and swimming. Plus, it features hidden coves accessible by kayak and the eye-catching London Bridge, which was relocated here from London in 1971. After spending some time on the lake, head ashore to Lake Havasu City, where you'll find shops, restaurants, campgrounds and hiking trails, among other amenities.

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    Phoenix

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    As the nation's fifth most-populated city, Arizona's capital is constantly buzzing with activity. Phoenix is lauded for its well-manicured golf courses, its world-class spas and its proximity to Camelback Mountain's hiking trails, but travelers can also visit unique attractions, such as the Musical Instrument Museum and the Desert Botanical Garden. What's more, Phoenix's diverse population gives it a dynamic restaurant scene for foodies to explore. Steakhouse fare and Mexican-inspired cuisine appear on many local restaurant menus, but to sample a bit of everything the area has to offer, sign up for a food tour of Phoenix and nearby Scottsdale.

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    Flagstaff

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Surrounded by multiple natural treasures of its own, Flagstaff is more than just a stopover on a road trip to the Grand Canyon. To the north, you'll find the Arizona Snowbowl – which offers everything from ski slopes to hiking trails – nestled 9,500 feet high in the San Francisco Peaks. And to the east sit ancient dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument. You should also spend a day exploring the Historic Downtown and Railroad District. The area is located on what is known today as Route 66 and features 20th-century buildings that house numerous restaurants, art galleries and shops.

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    Prescott

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Prescott appeals to every type of traveler. Nature lovers can explore the town's 400-plus miles of trails on foot, by mountain bike or by horse before venturing to one of its lakes to go boating or fishing. For architecture buffs, there's Prescott's downtown district, which features all kinds of early American structures, including Victorian-era homes and former saloons. Meanwhile, culture hounds can check out several highly regarded museums, such as the Old West art-themed Phippen Museum and the Museum of Indigenous People.

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    Monument Valley

    #11 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Whether you're a fan of movies or jaw-dropping landscapes, chances are you'll love visiting Monument Valley. Many films have featured the red sandstone mesas and buttes found in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which occupies land in both Arizona and Utah. Take the 17-mile-long Valley Drive from the visitor center to see some of the Arizona side's most popular sights, including the East and West Mitten buttes, Elephant Butte and John Ford's Point. The latter is named after the famous film director and features a Navajo store where you can buy jewelry and crafts.

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    Bisbee

    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Once a thriving mining town, Bisbee attracts travelers who want to get a taste of the town's past. You'll feel like you've stepped back in time as you stroll up and down Bisbee's streets during a walking tour. You can also learn more about the southern Arizona town's mining days as you explore the Copper Queen Mine and peruse the exhibits at the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum. If you enjoy learning about the paranormal, sign up for an evening ghost tour of some of Bisbee's historical – and reportedly haunted – buildings.

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    Apache Junction

    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    This town 35 miles east of Phoenix offers a connection to the Old West like others on this list. Apache Junction's location by the Superstition Mountains caused many people to come here in the late 19th century to search for gold. Relics from the town's Old West past can still be seen at Goldfield Ghost Town, where tours of the Mammoth Gold Mine, gold panning lessons and gun fight reenactments take place daily. Apache Junction also offers excellent hiking opportunities, so save time for trekking some of the trails in Lost Dutchman State Park.

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    Saguaro Lake

    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Travelers who want to beat the Arizona heat by spending time on the water will love visiting Saguaro Lake. At this lake in central Arizona, visitors can spend their vacation boating, water skiing and kayaking. Saguaro Lake is also a prime spot to fish for species like largemouth bass, rainbow trout and catfish. Plus, it's surrounded by the saguaro cactus-filled Tonto National Forest, giving vacationers easy access to hiking paths like Butcher Jones Trail should they want a break from the water.

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    Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

    #15 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    America's first archaeological preserve has been around for hundreds of years, but its purpose is still shrouded in mystery. Nevertheless, visitors enjoy coming here to see the site's impressive ruins. Start your visit at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument's visitor center to watch a short film about the destination and its former residents. Then, join a guided tour to the ruins. Consider packing a picnic lunch to enjoy on-site after you finish your tour.

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    Coconino National Forest

    #16 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Head to Coconino National Forest if you want to be surrounded by nature the next time you travel. This expansive forest is one of America's most diverse, with nearly 2 million acres of mountain-, lake- and creek-covered land. Hike to the top of the San Francisco Peaks (Arizona's tallest mountain) to enjoy phenomenal panoramas, or zip down Slide Rock State Park's rock slide for a refreshing dip in a swimming hole. The area is home to all kinds of wildlife, too, so keep an eye out for critters as you explore.

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    Lake Powell

    #17 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Millions of people flock to this lake on the Arizona-Utah border every year to enjoy a variety of water sports. Popular pursuits at Lake Powell – which features nearly 2,000 miles of winding shoreline, making it the second-largest man-made lake in the U.S. – include boating, water skiing, tubing, paddleboarding and wakeboarding. The lake's abundance of game fish also draws anglers in droves. No visit would be complete without hiking around the towering red rock formations that line the lake's shores.

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    Lake Mead

    #18 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    You'll find plenty of ways to stay busy at Lake Mead. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which extends across the Arizona-Nevada border, is the first and largest of its kind in America. Its 700 miles of shoreline and 9 trillion gallons of water make it a massive hub for water sports like boating, fishing and water skiing. Plus, Lake Mead is considered one of the world's best freshwater lakes for scuba diving thanks to its range of depths. Can't-miss dive sites on the Arizona side of the lake include the Gypsum Reefs and Kingman Wash.

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    Tombstone

    #19 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Make the journey to the southeastern Arizona town of Tombstone to see what life was like in the Wild West. On Allen Street, where many of the town's saloons, shops and restaurants are located, you can check out historical landmarks like The Bird Cage Theater and the O.K. Corral Historic Complex, as well as watch costumed actors reenact a famous 1881 gunfight. The town's original courthouse and an Old West graveyard are also still intact, providing you additional opportunities to learn more about Tombstone's earliest pioneers, lawmen and outlaws.

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    Kingman

    #20 in Best Places to Visit in Arizona

    Commonly called "The Heart of Historic Route 66" because it features the longest unbroken stretch of Route 66, Kingman is a bucket-list destination for transportation enthusiasts. Here, you'll find the Arizona Route 66 Museum and The Kingman Railroad Museum, plus a section of a former wagon route used in the 1800s. The northwestern Arizona town also sits close to Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area, so you can enjoy a hike or bike ride during your visit. Should you crave a tasty libation after a busy day of exploring or sightseeing, pop into one of Kingman's breweries, distilleries or wineries.

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