Famous natural attractions and sites in Arizona include the cactus-filled Sonoran Desert landscape of the Saguaro National Park, the Kartchner Caverns, the 13,000-year-old Petrified Forest, and the magnificent Monument Valley.
The state is also home to a plethora of fun indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy from fascinating museums and science centers to hiking trails, helicopter rides, and an ostrich farm!
1. Kitt Peak Observatory
Located on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert about 50 miles outside of Tucson, the Kitt Peak National Observatory is an astronomical observatory that rests 6,875 feet above sea level and is home to 24 telescopes. The observatory has a visitor center that offers numerous programs for the public, including a unique night program that provides an introduction to astronomy, and an advanced observing program that explores professional astronomy. The observatory also occasionally offers astronomy camps and a variety of educational programs for all ages.
Tucson, Arizona 85634
2. Superstition Mountain Museum - Lost Dutchman Museum
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Situated on 12 acres at the base of the Superstition Mountains just outside Apache Junction, the Superstition Mountain Museum collects, preserves, and displays artifacts, items, and objects relating to the folklore and history of the area, notably the Lost Dutchman Mine and its founder, Jacob Waltz. The museum features several structures, including a 20-stamp ore crusher, and a quaint chapel known as the “Elvis Chapel,” and the Apacheland Barn houses several western displays, including a vintage parlor studio, a saloon, horse tack and carriages, and a hardware store. The Museum is open seven days a week and hosts several events throughout the year.
4087 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119, Phone: 480-983-4888
3. Hot Air Expeditions
Experience the beauty of Arizona from the air with an exhilarating hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert. Family-owned and locally operated, Hot Air Expeditions has been providing hot air ballooning experiences in Phoenix and Tuscon for over 28 years. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, Phoenix and Scottsdale are dream locations for hot air balloon rides where guests can enjoy breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and native animals like jackrabbits, coyotes, and burros. Tuscon trips include a continental champagne breakfast in the desert, a traditional balloonist’s ceremony, and an induction into the ballooning society as a memento of the journey.
702 W Deer Valley Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85027, Phone: 480-502-6999
4. American Gold Prospecting Adventures
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American Gold Prospecting Adventures offers visitors the chance to prospect for gold in the deserts and mountains of Arizona and learn all about the art of panning for gold. Based in Prescott, American Gold Prospecting Adventures offers prospecting classes that include discussing the sources of gold and how it moves, how to choose the right spot for gold panning, good digging and panning techniques, dry washing, setting up and running a sluice, and finding gold. Boasting a rich gold mining history full of legends, some of the most popular locations for panning gold in Arizona include the Wickenburg Mountains, the Hassayampa River, the Cave Creek area, the Agua Fria River, Lynx Creek in Prescott, and the Bighorn Mountains.
18170 Main St, Jamestown, CA 95327, Phone: 209-984-4653
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5. Apache Trail Tours
Located in Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours Inc., Apache Trail Tours is the oldest tour company in the region and offers a variety of guided tours ranging from Gold Panning and 4 x 4 Adventure Tours, Apache Trail tours and Combination Tours. The Goldfield Ghost Town is a beautifully reconstructed gold mining town that dates back to the late 1800s that dates back to the 1890s and features a history museum, a narrow-gauge train, Old West gunfights, and guided gold-mine tours. Set around the historic Mammoth Gold Mine, the town’s main street is lined with old buildings, including three saloons, a general store, a boarding house, a meat market, a blacksmith’s shop, and a schoolhouse. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the town and the mine, take a ride on Arizona’s only narrow-gauge train, pan for gold and witness an old west gunfight performed by the famous Goldfield Gunfighters.
4650 N Mammoth Mine Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119, Phone: 480-982-7661
6. Arizona Museum of Natural History
The Arizona Museum of Natural History is dedicated to showcasing the natural and cultural history of the Southwestern United States. Established as a small museum in Mesa City Hall in 1977 with an exciting collection of artifacts from around Arizona, the museum has grown into a 74,000 square feet institution with a selection of about 60,000 objects from various genres, including anthropology, art, history and natural history. Signature exhibits include “Dinosaur Mountain” which features life-size, animated dinosaurs, a Columbian Mammoth, and a saber-tooth cat against the backdrop of a continually flowing 50-foot-high indoor waterfall. The museum also features around 10,000 historical photographs and a modern research facility and is the only natural history museum in the greater Phoenix area.
53 N Macdonald Street, Mesa, AZ 85201, Phone: 480-644-2230
7. Arizona Railway Museum
The Arizona Railway Museum was founded in 1983 and is dedicated to showcasing the history and heritage of the railroads of Arizona and the Southwestern United States. The Museum features an extensive collection of railway-based artifacts and objects, including the Southern Pacific Railroad Locomotive No. SP 2562 and the Railroad Steam Wrecking Crane and Tool Car. Visitors to the museum can explore the inside of some of the trains, such as the Santa Fe "Diablo Canyon" Coach Car and the Santa Fe "Plaza Taos" Dome Car's "Lounge Room" which was built in 1950. The Arizona Railway Museum is only open on Saturday and Sundays, and group tours are available for a small fee.
330 E. Ryan Road, Chandler, AZ 85286, Phone: 480-821-1108
8. Arizona Zipline Adventures
Arizona Zipline Adventures offer a unique way to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert with exhilarating Zipline EcoTours. Based on the northside of Mt. Lemmon, Arizona Zipline Adventures features Arizona's first and fastest Zipline EcoTour, as well as team-building activities, short hiking trails, gold panning fun, a fully stocked general store, and the Peppersauce Kitchen which serves delicious, seasonal food against a backdrop of spectacular views from an outdoor porch. Tours are led by friendly, professional adventure guides, and all safety equipment is provided. More ideas: Romantic Weekend Getaways from Phoenix
35406 S Mt Lemmon Rd, Oracle, AZ 85623, Phone: 520-308-9350
9. Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center
The Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center is a wildlife sanctuary and nature center that protects birds and the habitats in which they live. Located on the 600-acre Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area two miles south of downtown Phoenix, the free-admission center was established to protect birds, promote habitat conservation, and foster a culture of conservation through high-quality nature education programs. The nature center is home to Audubon Arizona, the state office of the National Audubon Society, which acts an active voice for the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats and offers hands-on science programs and environmental stewardship opportunities for visitors of all ages.
3131 S Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85040, Phone: 602-468-6470
10. Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
Located 60 miles south of Tuscon, the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge is a 117,500-acre reserve that protects and preserves habitats for endangered and threatened fauna and flora. Established in 1995, the reserve is home to more than 58 species of mammals, 325 bird species, and over 50 species of amphibians and reptiles. Habitats in the refuge range from semidesert rolling grasslands, riparian and wetlands along the Arivaca Creek, and mountainous regions to the east and west of the Altar Valley. The refuge also offers a wide range of outdoor and recreational activities, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, backcountry hiking, and primitive style camping under the stars.
37257 S Sasabe Rd, Sasabe, AZ 85633, Phone: 520-823-4251
11. Historic Hat Ranch
© Historic Hat Ranch
Established in the 1800s, the Historic Hat Ranch is a unique ranch that offers exceptional overnight accommodation. Located six miles west of the mountain town of Williams in Arizona, the rustic ranch hasn’t changed much since the 1800s and features authentic guest rooms with simple furnishings and basic amenities. Surrounded by the Kaibab National Forest, the 2,800-acre ranch is ideally situated for exploring the most beautiful areas of northern Arizona, such as the Grand Canyon, Bearizona, Route 66, and the Grand Canyon Railway. Guests can enjoy a plethora of outdoor recreational activities ranging from hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding to bird and wildlife watching, and the ranch can be hired for special events and functions.
Williams, AZ 86046
12. Mystery Castle
Located in the South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Mystery Castle is a unique Arizona attraction that provides a fun afternoon out with the kids. Built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter, who used to get upset by her sandcastles being washed away, the pseudo castle took 15 years to complete and features 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, and many parapets. Boyce Luther Gulley used a combination of mortar, cement, and goat’s milk to hold the castle together, along with a variety of odd materials such as adobe, automobile parts, stone, salvaged rail tracks and telephone poles. Until recently, the castle had no running water or electricity and, today, offers guided tours to the public.
800 E Mineral Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85042, Phone: 602-268-1581
13. Old Tucson
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The spirit of the Old West comes alive at Old Tucson. Built in 1939 for the movie, Arizona, Old Tucson is a one-of-a-kind Wild West attraction featuring a variety of entertainment from live-action stunt shows to comedies and musicals, along with vintage rides for children. The movie studio and theme park has been used for the filming of many western movies and television shows since, including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), El Dorado (1966), and Little House on the Prairie. The studios were opened to the public in the 1960s and are a top attraction today, offering live cast entertainment featuring stunt shows and shootouts, along with special events throughout the season.
201 S Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85735-9322
14. Out of Africa Wildlife Park
Out of Africa Wildlife Park is a wildlife park in Camp Verde, Arizona, that provides an opportunity for visitors to see exotic animals from all over the world in natural, spacious habitats. The park was established by Dean Harrison to create to provide a sanctuary for wild animals in their natural habitats, promote conservation awareness and action, practice exemplary animal care, and vide and inspire the public about the beautiful world of wildlife through education and learning experiences. The park features an array of experiences from up-close animal encounters, feeding times, animal shows, zip-line runs, behind-the-scenes tours, animal rescue, and campouts. Out of Africa Wildlife Park is open daily, year-round.
3505 W State Route 260, Camp Verde, AZ 86322, Phone: 928-567-2840
15. Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters
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Papillon is an adventure company that offers a range of helicopter tours over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the Black Canyon. Experience the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam, the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, Lake Mead, and the Black Canyon from the air with spectacular aerial views on a Hoover Dam Heli Tour, which covers around 10 miles at 2,500 feet above the ground. Lake View Heli Tours fly over the beautiful Lake Mead, while the Black Canyon Heli Tour takes in the incredible sights of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam and heads down the Colorado River towards the Black Canyon, which is renowned for its dramatic gorges and emerald coves. Papillon is the oldest Grand Canyon helicopter sightseeing company and operates the largest fleet of sightseeing aircraft in the world. Each helicopter features air-conditioning, multi-language narration, and state-of-the-art in-flight, passenger-to-pilot communications.
Phone: 702-736-7243 or Toll-Free 888-635-7272
16. Phoenix Zoo
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Home to roaring Sumatran tigers, awe-inspiring Asian elephants, and towering Savannah giraffes, the Phoenix Zoo is one of the city’s most popular attractions. One of the nation’s largest privately-owned zoos, the animal park features over 1400 animals, including more than 30 different endangered species from around the world, as well as some breeding programs for various species. Fascinating habitats and exhibits include the Africa Trail, which boasts African wild dogs, African lions, white rhino, and Arabian Oryx, while the Tropics Trail is packed with iguanas, Asian elephants, ring-tailed lemurs, and giant tortoises. Enjoy daily animal encounters in the Monkey Village or the Red Barn, get soaked at the Leapin’ Lagoon or experience the wild in 4-D in the state-of-the-art theater.
455 North Galvin Parkway Phoenix, AZ 85008, Phone: 602-286-3800
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17. Pink Jeep Tours & Grand Canyon Tours
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Established in 1960, Pink Adventure Tours offers unique insight into the Grand Canyon on a Pink Jeep Tours Grand Canyon Tour. Tours are conducted in open-air Pink® Jeeps® and led by professional guides with unique insights and experiences which provide expert knowledge about each stop. Tour stops include the once-bustling tourist destination of centuries past known as Grandview and a show at the IMAX, which delves into the mysterious places of the Grand Canyon called Grand Canyon: Hidden Secrets. The tour includes admission fees to the park and tickets to see the IMAX movie: Grand Canyon: Hidden Secrets.
450 State Route 64 Tusayan, AZ-64, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, Phone: 844-239-7465
18. Pioneer Living History Museum
The Pioneer Living History Museum, also known as Pioneer Village, is an authentic Old West town that features 30 historical original and beautifully reconstructed buildings dating back to the 1800s. Set on 90 acres, the museum includes a Victorian House, a teacherage and schoolhouse, a community church, a northern cabin, a Sheriff’s Office, and a bank. The village can be explored on self-guided walking tours, which wind through the streets lined with other structures such as an opera house, a carpenter, a wheelwright shop, a bakery, a dress shop, and several farms with corrals, barns and farm equipment.
3901 W Pioneer Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85086, Phone: 623-465-1052
19. Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch
Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch is a family-owned operational ostrich farm and petting zoo in Picacho. Opened to the public in 1999, the working ranch is now a family attraction that features numerous ostriches, as well as a petting hybrid zoo with Miniature Sicilian Donkeys and Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Peking Ducks, Fallow Deer, stingrays, and a group of rainbow lorikeets, who are housed in a 5,000-square-foot tropical greenhouse. The Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch sells a range of ostrich-based products, including feather dusters, ostrich eggshells, and ostrich oil, is open daily.
17599 E Peak Ln, Picacho, AZ 85141
20. Salt River Fields
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is a baseball stadium complex near Scottsdale that serves as the Major League Baseball spring-training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. Located on the former site of the Indian Bend Country Club in the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community, the stadium is the first to be built on Native American Indian land. Surrounded by spectacular mountain views, the stadium also hosts several events throughout the year, including the Arizona Taco Festival, Russo & Steele, and Street Eats Food Truck Festival.
7555 N Pima Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
21. Slide Rock State Park
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Set on a historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon, seven miles north of Sedona, Slide Rock State Park is renowned for its fantastic swimming holes. Named for a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek, the 43-acre state park is surrounded by spectacular red rocks and striking desert scenery and home to an 80-foot-long slippery chute worn into sandstone after which the park is named. Other attractions in the park include three hiking trails, including the quarter-mile Pendley Homestead Trail, the Slide Rock Route, and the Clifftop Nature Trail, fruit orchards, and historic cabins.
6871 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336, Phone: 928-282-3034
22. Titan Missile Museum
The Titan Missile Museum, also known as the Titan II ICBM Site 571-7 or the Air Force Facility Missile Site 8, is a former ICBM missile site in Sahuarita, is the only nuclear missile silo open to the public in the country. Once the largest nuclear missile silo in the continental United States, the megaton missile silo from the Cold War, can be explored on guided tours. Visitors will pass through the stark corridors, the control room, living quarters that were built to survive a nuclear attack, and a simulated launch, complete with secret codes and two-key ignition, a count down, and a blastoff. Visitors can also spend a night in the old crew’s quarters on a few select nights of the year.
1580 Duval Mine Rd, Green Valley, AZ 85614
23. Trail Dust Town
Trail Dust Town is a locally-owned and operated historical outdoor shopping center located in Tucson that takes visitors on a journey back in time. Built in 1961, Trail Dust Town is home to an array of unique shops and stores selling all sorts of items from fine arts to handcrafted jewelry, along with a variety of services such as spa treatments, photography, and more. The center offers several dining options, including the historic Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, that has been serving prime steaks for the past 57 years, and Millie's Pancake Haus, a Tucson institution since 1964. Trail Dust Town has several family-friendly attractions, such as the Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros Wild West Stunt Show and the vintage Carousel or Circle-the-Wagons Ferris Wheel.
6541 E Tanque Verde Road, Tucson, AZ 85715, Phone: 520-296-4551
24. Tucson Botanical Gardens
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The Tucson Botanical Gardens is a 5.5-acre arboretum that features a collection of 16 residentially scaled urban gardens connected by pathways. Established to connect people with fauna and flora through art, culture, history and science, the botanical gardens offer a tranquil oasis in the heart of Tucson and boasts gardens that include a Barrio Garden, a Zen Garden, a Xeriscape Garden, a Butterfly Garden, a Prehistoric Garden, and a Children’s Garden, among others. Docent-led tours are offered throughout the year, where visitors can learn about the history and the fascinating plant collections within Gardens. The arboretum also offers a variety of educational classes, workshops, and community outreach programs for all ages.
2150 N Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712, Phone: 520-326-9686
25. The Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium
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The Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium is a 215-acre animal sanctuary and aquarium that specializes in African and South American animals and is home to the state’s most extensive collection of exotic animals. Features at the park include a 15-acre safari park that houses an African lion habitat, a variety of African animals such as spotted hyena, ostrich, springbok, spider monkeys, and warthogs, as well as African birds; Dragon World, which features large ectotherms, such as alligators, crocodile, reticulated pythons, iguanas, and Gila monsters; a baby animal nursery, a Lory parrot feeding exhibit; and an aquarium with fresh and salt-water marine species, including penguins and sea lions. Other attractions in the park include a ridable miniature railway around the park, a historic carousel and merry-go-round, and two children's playgrounds.
16501 W Northern Ave, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340, Phone: 623-935-9453