10 Best Day Trips from Phoenix, Arizona

You probably would get enough of the Camelback Mountain, the Desert Botanical Garden or the Phoenix Zoo while you’re in Arizona’s capital. However, the areas surrounding the city also boasts of diverse attractions and fascinating places to visit.

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How about a cruise down the river below dramatic cliffs? A semi-dangerous drive down the oldest Arizona highway? A visit to a Native American dwelling carved in limestone? Read on and find out the many ways you can spend outside of Phoenix if you have a spare day or two. So here are the best day trips from Phoenix, Arizona.

10 Day Trips from Phoenix, Arizona

1. Apache Trail

Apache Trail

A scenic and definitely unforgettable day trip from Phoenix is the Apache trail, which is only thirty minutes from the Arizona capital’s city center. The Apache trail is the oldest highway in Arizona, which is also called Route 86. This was originally used as a stagecoach trail that ran through the Apache Indian county, with some narrow and unpaved parts that wind through mountains.

It is not suitable for larger vehicles because there are not enough guard rails or any sort of safety barrier. The trail starts at Apache Junction, which is still part of Phoenix, then it runs through the Superstition Mountains of the Lost Dutchman legend and Tonto National Forest.

The scenery is quite breathtaking, and there are some interesting places on the way that you can visit such as Canyon Lake and Goldfield Ghost Town. Since the drive-through Apache Trail isn’t just for everyone, it is best to join a tour group with an experienced driver if you’re going here.

To book, click here. 

2. Jerome

Jerome

A vibrant tourist hotspot that sits 5,200 feet above sea level, the intriguing tiny town called Jerome is a Phoenix day tour that you must experience. This former copper mining village is located about 90 miles north of Phoenix.

During the Great Depression when copper supply declined, Jerome became a ghost town of only a hundred people, a huge drop from its former population of 15,000. Today, it is back to its former glory although not because of the copper anymore but more for being a tourist destination.

This bustling town is a monument to the history of Arizona, and now has a number of restaurants, shops, and galleries featuring local artists, as well as historic buildings from the town’s mining days.

3. Foxtail in Mesa

Lower Salt River

Phoenix day trips aren’t just deserts, mountains, rock formations and parks — there are also opportunities to get into the water and explore the wilderness.

One of the popular kayaking excursions takes you through the Lower Salt River that passes through the stunning sceneries of Tonto National Forest or surrounded by majestic cliffs, even cruise beside the cacti of Sonoran desert.

While paddling your way towards Foxtail in Mesa, be sure to watch out for the stunning flora as well as sightings of native wildlife such as bald eagles, deer, great blue herons, osprey, and wild horses.

To book, click here. 

4. Grand Canyon

Grand canyon

You can’t beat Phoenix and not visit the majestic Grand Canyon. In fact, if you only have time for a day trip from Phoenix, this is where you should go. The drive maybe four hours each way, bit totally worth it.

This lace is grand indeed, and massive that it seems daunting for a day trip but several hours should be enough if you’re going via the South Rim.

Be sure to stop every now and then at scenic overlooks, hike below the rim, explore some of the visitor centers or museums, or rent a bicycle to see more of the national park.

A great way to see more of the Grand Canyon though is to have lunch or snack at El Tovar where there are fantastic views over the ancient rock walls.

To book, click here. 

5. Scotsdale

Scotsdale

Located close to Phoenix is the scenic city of Scottsdale, which is definitely more than great spas and golf. The city also prides itself on its stunning desert scenery, as well as its picturesque old town area.

A great place to walk around in and explore, Scottsdale also has impressive art galleries, a variety of museums, and excellent restaurants.

Some of the best places to visit in this city are The Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Xeriscape Garden at Chaparral Park to which has more than 7,000 plants and the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.

It’s the ideal day trip from Phoenix if you want to be somewhere close enough but still offers a variety of attractions.

To book, click here. 

6. Montezuma Castle

montezuma castle arizona

The intriguing Montezuma Castle might as well be an ancient condominium, carved into limestone walls resembling apartments. It was built by the Native American tribe Sinagua, who occupied the area over 600 years ago.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt named Montezuma Cast as one of the country&s first national monuments. It is now one of the more popular day trips from Phoenix, where visitors can hike along trails that lead to the dwellings by the cliffside.

There is also a museum there and a park that’s home to many different native plants like Arizona sycamore trees as well as diverse wildlife.

To book, click here. 

7. Sedona

Sedona arizona

Sedona might as well be called red rock city, with the amazing natural wonders that surround it. This city apart from the red rocks and dramatic cliffs also has active sinkholes, trails with 13 creeks, the stunning Cathedral Rock and beautiful sunset views from Airport Mesa.

Sedona is also home to the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, which has interesting galleries, shops, and a New Age vibe. Another must-see while in Sedona is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which sits on red rocks.

If those are not enough reasons for you yet to make this city your next Phoenix day trip, Sedona is also known for its vortex areas, or energy pockets which you can hunt using maps that can be downloaded online.

To book, click here. 

8. Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert

A rather otherworldly but magnificent scenery awaits in one of the best Phoenix day Trips— the Sonoran Desert. Comprising 100,000 square miles, the Sonoran forms most of Arizona’s southern half, as well as covering arts of Baja, California and northern Mexico.

Boasting diverse landscapes and ecosystems, the Sonoran Desert has all of the world’s biomes such as desert, coniferous and deciduous forest, grassland and tundra. You can explore it easily on foot or by cycling with its well-maintained trails and dirt paths.

Other must-visit places are the aquarium at the Sonoran Desert Museum, the aviary, and the pretty gardens.

To book, click here. 

9. Tombstone Arizona and San Xavier Mission

Tombstone Arizona and San Xavier Mission

If you love the Old West, then the legendary Tombstone town is the perfect Phoenix day trip for you. A visit to this town takes you to attractions that date back to the days of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, such as the Bird Cage Theater and Big Nose Kate’s Saloon.

There’s also the O.K. Corral which features re-enactments of events like the infamous gunfight involving the Earp brothers, Holiday, and the Clanton gang.

Be sure to visit the place where the gunfight victims were buried — the Boot Hill Graveyard. The mission of San Xavier del Bac meanwhile has been around since 1797 as a part of New Spain than of Mexico before it became part of the United States.

Adorned with murals and sculptures, the Spanish-style cathedral still holds masses and services, and one of the most visited places outside of Phoenix along with Tombstone.

To book, click here. 

10. Tucson

Tucson

With its 4,000 years of constantly evolving agricultural and culinary history, it is no wonder that Tucson was the first-ever city in the United States that’s recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Definitely a great reason to make it your next Phoenix day trip, but the reasons to visit Tucson doesn’t end there.

This city is also home to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, the Pima Air and Space Museum and the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Aside from the attractions and since Tucson is basically a haven for foodies, a must-try is their Sonoran dog — bacon-wrapped hot dog with pinto beans and cheese toppings.

To book, click here. 

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