- Arizona offers a diverse range of vacation experiences for all types of travelers, from scenic drives to rich history and culture.
- Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking trails, national parks, and unique desert landscapes.
- Art and history buffs can explore the vibrant art scene and visit museums and missions throughout the state.
The state of Arizona offers a diverse array of vacation experiences, making it the perfect destination for any traveler. From the scenic drives near Phoenix to the rich history and culture of the region, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Outdoor enthusiasts can revel in Arizona’s abundant hiking trails, national parks, and unique desert landscapes. At the same time, art and history buffs can explore the vibrant art scene or visit the numerous museums and missions throughout the state. With its pleasant year-round climate, Arizona is an ideal destination for those seeking both relaxation and adventure, providing endless opportunities to create unforgettable memories. Here are 14 must-see vacation spots in the state that won’t break the bank.
UPDATE: 2023/10/11 13:17 EST BY JASON DOOKERAN
Four More Budget-Friendly Spots in Arizona
This article has been updated to contain four more budget-friendly locations in Arizona. Each of the accommodations recommended comes from research into places to stay in each of the locales mentioned. The featured accommodations were chosen based on certain criteria, including a minimum rating of 7.0 on Kayak. These places to stay also offer the amenities that visitors to Arizona will need while staying there.
Lake Powel Aerial View Page, Arizona
Page is a picturesque small town in northern Arizona. Visitors can expect affordable access to iconic sites like Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon. Hikers can explore nearby Horseshoe Bend and visit the picturesque Lower Antelope Canyon for a nominal fee. The Glen Canyon Dam also offers guided tours, providing a cost-effective educational experience. Visitors to the area don’t have to pay through the nose to get a glimpse of some of the natural wonders Arizona can offer.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
A flat rock face at Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona
This is a must-see vacation spot for its striking geological features, awe-inspiring landscapes, and thrilling outdoor adventures. This 280,000-acre monument boasts diverse, colorful sandstone cliffs, deep canyons, and unique rock formations, such as the renowned Wave and White Pocket. The rich palette of red, orange, and purple hues creates an otherworldly experience, making it a paradise for photographers, nature enthusiasts, and adventurers alike.
Hiking through the monument offers breathtaking vistas and an opportunity to witness the intricate beauty of its geological wonders up close. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife. With its dramatic landscapes and unparalleled beauty, the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is a must-see destination for those seeking an unforgettable encounter with nature’s astounding artistry.
Lake Havasu City
Boats on Lake Havasu, Arizona
This enticing vacation destination offers an idyllic blend of aquatic adventures, picturesque scenery, and lively entertainment. Renowned for its sparkling blue waters, Lake Havasu presents a paradise for water enthusiasts, with activities such as boating, fishing, jet skiing, and paddleboarding providing endless fun under the warm Arizona sun. The city’s iconic London Bridge, meticulously reconstructed from its English predecessor of the same name, is a unique historical attraction and the perfect backdrop for strolls and memorable photographs.
Outdoor lovers can explore the region’s striking desert landscapes, hiking or off-roading through the surrounding trails, while golf aficionados can enjoy the city’s lush and well-maintained courses. As the sun sets, Lake Havasu City comes alive with a vibrant nightlife, including lively bars, restaurants, and special events throughout the year. With its diverse array of activities and stunning surroundings, Lake Havasu City promises a memorable and rejuvenating vacation experience for all who visit.
Old mining town of Jerome, Arizona
Visitors to Jerome can immerse themselves in its unique character, which is evident in its hillside setting, historic buildings, and vibrant art scene. The town offers affordable exploration, with museums detailing its mining history and quirky shops lining its streets. Panoramic views of the Verde Valley, a taste of local wines, and ghost tours enhance the experience. Jerome, a budget-friendly delight, promises an eclectic and memorable visit to the heart of Arizona.
Panoramic view of Phoenix, Arizona
This city serves as a captivating vacation destination that seamlessly blends the excitement of a bustling metropolis with the allure of the surrounding Sonoran Desert. As the nation’s fifth-largest city, Phoenix offers a wealth of attractions catering to a wide range of interests. Yet there are some things you can only experience in Downtown Phoenix. Art and culture enthusiasts can delight in the city’s thriving arts scene, with renowned institutions such as the Phoenix Art Museum and the Desert Botanical Garden showcasing the region’s rich history and vibrant creativity.
For outdoor recreation seekers, Phoenix provides easy access to stunning desert landscapes, where hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails wind through the mesmerizing terrain, revealing breathtaking vistas and unique flora and fauna. Sports fans can revel in the city’s passion for athletics, attending games featuring Phoenix’s professional teams or partaking in its world-class golf courses. Culinary explorers can indulge in the diverse gastronomy, sampling everything from authentic Mexican cuisine to innovative farm-to-table offerings. With its enticing combination of urban amenities and natural beauty, Phoenix, Arizona, is an ideal vacation destination that promises an unforgettable experience.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Well unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona is known for its remarkable ancient architecture, rich cultural history, and picturesque setting. This well-preserved 20-room cliff dwelling, nestled within limestone cliffs, offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Sinagua people who inhabited the region over 800 years ago. The monument’s museum and visitor center provide insightful information on the ingenious construction methods, agricultural practices, and artistry that define the culture.
As you explore the site, the lush riparian habitat along Beaver Creek adds to the enchanting atmosphere, creating a serene backdrop for reflecting and appreciating the monument’s historical significance. Montezuma Castle National Monument is an extraordinary destination that transports visitors back in time, allowing them to marvel at the resourcefulness and resilience of an ancient civilization that once thrived in the heart of Arizona.
Peavine Trail, Watson Lake in the Granite Dells of Prescott, Arizona
Prescott, Arizona, is a charming vacation destination that captivates visitors with its unique blend of rich history, outdoor recreation, and picturesque scenery. Known as “Everybody’s Hometown,” Prescott embodies a welcoming atmosphere that invites travelers to explore its well-preserved downtown area, where the iconic Whiskey Row is lined with historic saloons, antique shops, and delightful restaurants. Outdoor enthusiasts can delight in the area’s idyllic weather, as the city boasts, on average, over 300 days of sunshine annually, providing the perfect backdrop for venturing into the surrounding Prescott National Forest, which offers an array of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
For those who enjoy water-based recreation, the nearby Watson and Goldwater Lakes provide ample opportunities for kayaking, fishing, and picnicking with stunning views. Art lovers can immerse themselves in the thriving arts scene, visiting local galleries and museums and attending the numerous art festivals held throughout the year. With its unique combination of small-town charm, outdoor adventure, and a lively cultural scene, this is an inviting vacation destination that promises a memorable and rejuvenating break from the norm.
Papago Park, Tempe
A Rare Peek Of Golden-hour Sunlight On A Cloudy Day In Papago Park To Phoenix, Arizona
Papago Park is among the most budget-friendly locations to visit in Arizona. The park features the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock, a sandstone formation with panoramic views. Enthusiasts of the outdoors can hike the numerous trails while birdwatchers delight in the diverse avian population. The Desert Botanical Garden within the park showcases indigenous plant life. Moreover, the park is home to the Papago Golf Course, combining recreation with stunning desert vistas. Papago Park is perfect for budget-conscious travelers and provides a taste of the Sonoran Desert’s beauty.
Panorama of Bisbee with surrounding Mule Mountains in Arizona
History and culture meet in Bisbee, Arizona, high up in the Mule Mountains. Visitors to Bisbee can explore the town’s charming streets lined with colorful buildings, quirky shops, and art galleries without breaking the bank. The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum offers an affordable glimpse into the area’s mining past, while free, self-guided walking tours reveal unique architecture and history. For nature lovers, the Lavender Pit, a massive open-pit copper mine, provides striking vistas. A visitor doesn’t need to break the bank to witness the wonders of Bisbee.
Tucson is a fantastic vacation destination with a delightful blend of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and modern urban charm. There’s no shortage of unique things to do in this locale. Nestled amidst the breathtaking Sonoran Desert, Tucson boasts a stunning backdrop of saguaro-studded landscapes and the picturesque Santa Catalina Mountains, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, biking, and birdwatching.
The city is steeped in history, with attractions like the Mission San Xavier del Bac and the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson reflecting its Spanish colonial past. For more natural history buffs, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum showcases the region’s unique flora and fauna. Tucson’s revitalized downtown area features vibrant street art, eclectic shops, and a flourishing culinary scene, with its celebrated Mexican cuisine earning it the title of a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. With its myriad attractions catering to diverse interests, Tucson is an ideal vacation spot for those seeking a memorable and enriching experience in the enchanting desert Southwest.
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon Sunset
This is a must-see vacation spot for its breathtaking natural beauty, incredible geological formations, and diverse outdoor activities. As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon showcases dramatic, colorful landscapes that leave visitors awe-struck by the sheer magnitude and grandeur. The park offers numerous viewpoints, such as the iconic South Rim and North Rim, where visitors can take in panoramic vistas of the canyon’s depth and vastness. Adventure seekers can explore the park by hiking, biking, or even rafting along the Colorado River. Wildlife enthusiasts have the chance to spot various species of animals and plants native to the region.
Nestled amidst the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest, this town offers a refreshing escape from the desert heat and diverse outdoor experiences. As a vacation destination, Flagstaff presents a striking contrast to the typical Arizona landscape, with its relaxed alpine setting and proximity to the towering San Francisco Peaks. It’s also the home of some of Arizona’s best watering holes.
Outdoor enthusiasts can relish the city’s abundant recreational opportunities, including scenic hiking and biking trails, skiing and snowboarding at the Arizona Snowbowl or exploring the ancient cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument. Flagstaff’s rich cultural heritage is on display in the historic downtown area. Visitors can wander through charming streets lined with art galleries, local boutiques, and a diverse selection of restaurants and breweries.
As a designated International Dark Sky City, Flagstaff also offers unparalleled stargazing opportunities, with the Lowell Observatory providing a fascinating glimpse into the celestial wonders above. With its unique blend of outdoor adventure, vibrant culture, and awe-inspiring natural beauty, Flagstaff, Arizona, is a captivating vacation destination that enchants visitors with its distinctive charm and unforgettable experiences.
Cathedral Rock Sedona sunset
This enchanting vacation destination captivates visitors with its stunning red rock formations, vibrant art scene, and rejuvenating atmosphere. It’s also one of the best places in the US for a spiritual retreat. Surrounded by picturesque landscapes, Sedona offers ample opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to hike or bike through scenic trails. In addition to its natural beauty, Sedona boasts a thriving arts community, with numerous galleries, studios, and events showcasing the works of local and internationally renowned artists. With its unique blend of outdoor adventures, spiritual exploration, and artistic expression, Sedona is a perfect vacation spot for those looking to unwind, recharge, and immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.
Parking can be a challenge in Sedona, especially near popular trailheads and attractions. Consider using the free trolley system that operates in the Uptown area, which can save you the hassle of finding parking.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, USA
The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is most known for its unparalleled geological wonders, stunning landscapes, and captivating historical sites. This remarkable park is home to one of the world’s largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood, with its ancient logs transformed into vibrant quartz crystals over millions of years. Visiting the Petrified Forest allows guests to explore the park’s 28-mile scenic drive, marveling at the dazzling hues of the Painted Desert, the intriguing Tepees rock formations, and the fascinating Agate House, a partially reconstructed Puebloan structure made from petrified wood.
Hiking enthusiasts can venture onto the park’s trails to discover hidden gems such as the Blue Mesa and the Crystal Forest, where the surreal beauty of the petrified wood is on full display. Alongside its geological treasures, the park also offers glimpses into the prehistoric and historical past through its preserved petroglyphs and remnants of Route 66. Petrified Forest National Park is undoubtedly a must-see destination for those seeking a unique and awe-inspiring experience in the heart of Arizona.
The park’s high desert location means it can experience extreme temperature fluctuations. Summers can be scorching, while winters can be quite cold. Be prepared with appropriate clothing, sunscreen, and plenty of water, especially if you plan to hike.