Nicknamed the Grand Canyon State, Arizona is an ideal vacation spot. I am surprised more people have yet to explore this stunning state, beyond the Grand Canyon National Park. Not that the Grand Canyon isn’t reason enough. As you will read in a moment, the Grand Canyon has much to offer, but the rest of the state bears a peek as well. Kids will get a kick out of the Four-Corners, where they can straddle four states at once, or hold a moon rock at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. I will discuss some of my favorite Arizona destinations here.
The scope of majesty and power displayed by the Grand Canyon is difficult to understand until you see it with your own eyes. Everyone I know loses their breath every time they see it. I am amazed each time I step up to the first viewing spot, and gaze in wonder at what I behold.
The mind boggles at the mystery of time that cut the giant gorge using the waters of the Colorado River to create the Grand Canyon. The visitor’s centers are excellent, and rangers are on hand to help explain the geology of the area, as well as providing insights to the cultures that make this part of the earth their home, or did in centuries past.
There is far too much to cover in one article about the state, to do justice to the magnitude of the Grand Canyon. The beauty and tranquility of this most famous landmark is second-to-none. In my estimation the Grand Canyon is a must see for everyone.
Sedona and Surrounding Region
South of the Grand Canyon, Sedona draws many visitors. The deep red sandstone buttes make a dramatic backdrop to the multi-faceted city of Sedona. Artists, spiritualists, naturalists, and sun worshipers converge on the Arizona town, offering rustic cabins to super chic spa resorts.
With the growth of New Age spirituality, Sedona blossomed as the mystical vortices, and strange energy surges drew audiences. Artists flock for the opportunity to capture the stunning region on canvass. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will find endless trails all over Arizona. Sedona is no exception. Enjoy a simple day hike, or take a challenging backpacking adventure. The rich pine forests, secluded lakes and ever-changing rock face make Sedona a special stop.
In the area, you should check out Prescott, Arizona, known for fascinating history from the Wild West. Victorian buildings and old saloons beckon visitors to learn more about the famed Whiskey Row, or the famous gunslingers that raised a ruckus in Arizona’s colorful past. Prescott is home to the world’s oldest, and longest running rodeo, held over Independence Day. The rodeo has been an Aizona tradition since 1888.
Two other Victorian towns are nestled in the foothills of the Pinal Mountains. Globe and Miami are charming former silver mining towns. Mining museums, antiques and shops are interesting diversions here.
Central Arizona is far from rugged. The cosmopolitan communities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe offer luxury accommodations, spa treatments, extraordinary golf courses and the like. Springtime brings Major League Baseball, as spring practice erupts on fields around the region. Big-league sports abound here, as do several fine museums and purveyor’s of stunning turquoise and silver jewelry.
If you are ready to cowboy up, check out Wickenburg, Arizona, approximately 60 miles outside of Phoenix. They say even city slickers can test their mettle riding, roping, and working alongside real ranch hands. Plan to get dirty, and have a good time.
Tucson and the South
Tucson is another bustling Arizona city with all the amenities. Year around festivals, fairs and rich college nightlife keeps this southern city hopping. Some of the best cultural exchanges happen in Tucson. Native American culture thrives and learning opportunities abound. The ancient civilizations you may have learned about at the Grand Canyon, can be explored in depth here.
Not far away, Tubac offers one of the leading artist colonies around. This town is hundreds of years old, and was once a Spanish Colonial presidio. The Coronado National Forest is next door, and the nearby Santa Cruz River is a premiere bird watching spot.
No trip to this region of Arizona is complete without a visit to Tombstone, home of O.K. Corral that made it famous. Tombstone is very much as it was back in the days when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers ran the town. Dirt streets and wooden sidewalks give insight to life in the old West. Take a ride on a horse drawn carriage, or have a splash of sarsaparilla at the bar. The saloon is original, and dripping with history and opulent charm. Tombstone is not very big and exploration only a few hours, but the lore and history it brings is worth a stop.
Western Arizona has plenty to see and do. The stunning Sonora Desert is teaming with life, although
it may seem completely barren, especially compared the the Grand Canyon. Don’t be fooled by first impressions.
My all time favorite place to visit is located here. The Sonora Desert Museum is an outstanding blend of natural history museum, zoo, botanical garden, art gallery and aquarium! It is rated one of the best museums in the USA and is in the top 10 zoos internationally. It is worthy of a separate article. Do not miss this extraordinary place.
Do you love water sports? The Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation provides access to the Parker Strip. Sixteen miles of fun, near Parker, AZ offers virtually every form of water sport known to me. Land lovers will be able to pass time at the casinos, or playing a round of golf.
Kingman was founded in the late 19th century. Silver and gold were mined here and history buffs will be delighted with the discoveries they can unearth. Kingman, Arizona gained fame from song, and on the old Route 66, where nostalgia is always a stone’s throw away. If you keep following Route 66 you will eventually come to Oatman. The road to Oatman is nearly non-existent in places, but the town itself, is adorable. Wild burros roam the streets, and even make themselves to home in the boutique style shops on the main drag. Bring some carrots and you will make some fast friends to take photos with.
Lake Havasu may be best known for Spring Break, but this idyllic little Arizona town is home to the London Bridge. Yes; the real one. Water sports, art galleries, live music, and river tours make Lake Havasu a welcoming, if laid back respite on a busy trip.
As you can see, there is no end of fun in Arizona. When you come to see the Grand Canyon, take your time and explore one of our national treasures- the entire state of Arizona.