Top 10 Places to See in Arizona

Post by Sharon

I have lived in Arizona since 1977 so I consider myself pretty well-versed in what to do. Having come here from the Washington, D.C. area, this place was so exotic and unusual. But, I can see what we have to offer that others need to come specifically here to see. Sure, you can golf or have nice winter temperatures in San Diego or Florida, but Arizona has some things you simply don't see anywhere else. 

Here's my top 10 list in no particular order - 


I put Tombstone and Bisbee together because they are about 30 miles apart and each offers a different taste of the old west.

Tombstone leaves the main street a dirt path for stagecoach rides and horses, shoot-out reenactments and just plain fun! You can take the stagecoach tour, tour a mine, shop to your heart's content, watch reenactments in the streets, check out the OK Corral and the fantastic showdown play there, walk through the old courthouse, see the world's largest rose bush, and sip a cold beer at Big Nose Kate's Saloon. The historic Birdcage Theater is a must-see and has a nighttime ghost hunt too!

The town of Bisbee, just down the road about another 30 miles is a definite must-see. This has a completely different western vibe. The narrow streets and beautiful historic buildings house art galleries, gourmet shops, trendy coffee shops with a strange vibe of a mining town turned quiet getaway retreat with great taste. Besides the upscale vibe of some places, there are also charming locations like the Shady Dell Motor Court where you can stay in a mid century airstream trailer or even a yacht and the "town" of Lowell that is a reenacted mid century street with fantastic diner and even old cars parked along the road, old signs, and a fantastic photography opportunity. 

Grand Canyon

If you're in Arizona and feel compelled to see one of the wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a fantastic sight. I suggest going to Williams, AZ and taking the Grand Canyon Railway up to the rim. It takes you right there where shops and restaurants are and the infamous views so you don't have to drive up, find parking. The train ride is a blast too because there is a mock hold-up with cowboys. Always a blast for out-of-towners.

Petrified Forest/Painted Desert

If you want to experience a place that is not even remotely like anywhere you've been the Petrified Forest (on the edge of the Painted Desert) is an amazing place. 

The rock shops are awesome, but getting out there and walking among the fallen trees turned to stone are compelling. You can almost feel a wet ancient dinosaur-laden landscape. 

The painted desert drive is beautiful and so foreign. It's like being on Mars. If you love geology this is THE Nirvana.

I enjoyed staying in Holbrook at the Wigwam Motel inside a wigwam shaped structure. 

The town has some dinosaurs along the roadway with rock shops. 

And if you're like Julie and I and enjoy urbex'ing (urban exploring) you will find lots of buildings here to photograph. 

If you want to stay at a resort with an old Spanish feel that is gorgeous with the best restaurant in the area, go to nearby Winslow and stay at La Posado Hotel.


Yes, Sedona has red rock and incomparable vistas, but it also is a New Age center with four noted vortexes of energy. Dining is fine, activities are intriguing, art and shopping are off the charts! If you want to condense geology with spa trimmings, western art, Indian flute, breweries, and hiking into one spot - this is it!

The colors are intense, red rock against green plant life.  Be sure to stop in TlaquePaque - an outdoor old Spanish style shopping center with Spanish tiles, the tinkling of windchimes, loads of art galleries and southwestern jewelry shops, and our favorite Mexican restaurant up there, El Rincon. Eat outdoors on the patio. Our favorites are the margaritas, enchiladas and save room for a chocolate chimichanga!

Get your chakras aligned, join a drum circle, take the jeep tours out to the vortexes, get an aura photo done, and listen to Spanish steel guitar, Indian flute, and smell the scent of creosote and juniper in the air.

It really does reset your soul.

Lake Havasu 

To some in-the-know, Lake Havasu is the infamous site of the London Bridge (taken down and rebuilt here at the lake). But, for us in Arizona, it is the Spring Break capital and the location to houseboat and getaway.

If you want a hot desert location with beauty and boats. This is the place to relax. If you're heading from Arizona to California, it's an ideal place to get a good rest and have some fun.

Historic Route 66 (I-40)

You simply cannot go wrong with Route 66 (now I-40 is its name). If you start in Williams, AZ, you can stay there and take the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon. Along your trek eastward, you can hit Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest and Painted Desert also on this list of top 10. Win-Win! You'd hit 5 on our list. 

The drive is so wide-open that you can see forever. You also pass some amazing abandoned mid century road trip tourist sites. These are fantastic for picture taking, like Two Guns, Twin Arrows, and Meteor City. 

Meteor Crater

It's breathtaking, it's mind-blowing, and its educational. They did a very nice job with the Meteor Crater center. Feel free to walk around, learn about this amazing past event of 50,000 years ago, and the gift shop is really excellent! 

Four Corners/Monument Valley

You've probably seen Monument Valley portrayed on TV and movies a lot as it's an amazing geological wonder that does look like a valley of monuments. It is different than anything you've ever encountered.

And, imagine at Four Corners being able to place your hands and feet in four states at one time! The drive there is picturesque and at times you feel like you're on the curve of the earth with nothing else around. If you are taking Historic Route 66 heading east toward Holbrook and New Mexico, this is not a far jaunt from there.

Lake Powell

This amazing lake/canyon is a new way to see water! We suggest taking a houseboat and spending some time. If you love the contest of interesting geology and water and hidden coves, this is a dream. Weather is good. Water is fine. 

Antelope Canyon

Located in Page, Arizona, Antelope Canyon is another one of those "you'll never see this anywhere" kind of places.  This is located on Navajo land and you must be on a guided tour to view it.

The sandstone has been carved over millions of years. This is also near Lake Powell (on the list) and so a good combo visit! 

Overall, if you seek huge vistas and geological wonders, I'd stick to the northern half of Arizona. If you want fine dining, golf, resorts, and old west towns with ghost towns, I'd stick to the southern half.