Arizona is best known for the Grand Canyon, but this natural landmark is only a taste of what the state has to offer. Other desert highlights include the Hoover Dam, which borders Arizona and Nevada, and the Colorado River, which is perhaps at its most stunning at the Horseshoe Bend where its course curves near the heights of the Glen Canyon Dam. Arizona is famous for its desert expanses and gorgeous red sandstone rock formations and, thanks to its dry climate, the night sky here is often clear and ripe for stargazing.
1. Grand Canyon National Park
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Grand Canyon National Park is a national treasure of the United States and one of the most stunning examples of the natural landscape of the Southwest. The canyon has steep sides that lead down to the Colorado River and it has been inhabited for thousands of years by various Native American groups, including the Pueblo people, who considered the canyon to be a religious site.
One of the canyon's most beautiful features is the view of its many coloured layers, which formed over time through geological erosion. Each layer represents a different age in the life of the stone.
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, Phone: 928-638-7888
2. Musical Instrument Museum
© Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix houses the largest collection of instruments in the world and is a must-see for music lovers. This colossal set of exhibits contains over 15,000 pieces comprising both musical instruments and related items.
The museum is highly interactive; one of its floors is dedicated to letting visitors touch and play instruments from different cultures, while another allows them to watch the instrument preservation and restoration processes as they happen. On its upper level, the museum is divided by geographical area, showcasing the musical traditions of ancient and modern cultures from across the globe. Things to Do in Phoenix
4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, AZ 85050, Phone: 480-478-6000
3. Titan Missile Museum
© Titan Missile Museum
The Titan Missile Museum is a historical and technological exhibit that shows off a real Titan II nuclear missile complex, one of 54 that existed on United States territory during the Cold War and which was on alert between 1963 and 1982. As the missile was never fueled for launch, it can be safely viewed.
The 301-foot missile sits in its silo and has a hole cut into its side to prove it is inert. The facility also includes a three-floor control center and an outdoor antenna, and guided tours of the entire missile system can be requested. Best Things to Do in Green Valley
1580 W. Duval Mine Rd., Sahuarita, AZ 85614, Phone: 520-625-7736
4.Desert Botanical Garden
© Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and presents a diverse collection of over 21,000 plants, including a number of representative species from the unique southwestern desert ecosystem. Given special status as a Phoenix Point of Pride, this series of gardens doubles as an exhibit and a conservation facility.
All the plants here are meticulously cared for in the desert conditions they need in order to thrive. Of particular interest is its extensive collection of agave and cactus plants. The Desert Botanical Garden has five different permanent curated walking trails, as well as seasonal events and temporary exhibits that change regularly.
1201 N. Galvin Parkway Phoenix, AZ 85008, Phone: 480-941-1225
5. Pima Air & Space Museum
© Pima Air & Space Museum
The Pima Air and Space Museum is a private museum collection with almost 300 different aircraft spread across its 80 acres. In addition to its vast outdoor space, it also has several colossal hangar spaces with different display items. Although this museum's most impressive artifacts are its airplanes, which range from World War II era military craft to modern commercial airliners, it also has two galleries devoted to space travel and the machines that have made flights into space possible.
In addition, the facility is home to the fondly named “Boneyard”, the largest airplane preservation and storage site in the world. The Boneyard is also open to visitors and can be reached by shuttle from the main museum complex.
6000 E. Valencia Rd., Tucson, AZ 85756, Phone: 520-574-0462
6.The Phoenix Symphony
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The Phoenix Symphony was originally founded in 1947 as an occasional musician group, prior to the city's population explosion in the mid-2oth century. Since 1972, the symphony has offered performances at the 2,312-seat Phoenix Symphony Hall, which was fully renovated in 2005. Today, the symphony serves as Arizona's only full-time professional orchestra, funded by the National Endowment of the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Guests can attend annual performances by the 76-member ensemble throughout the year, which often feature guest artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, James Galway, Sarah Chang, and Itzhak Perlman. Past guest pops artists have included luminaries such as Marvin Hamlisch, Michael Feinstein, and Andrea Marcovicci. Since 2014, the symphony has been under the supervision of music director Tito Muñoz.
75 N 2nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004, Phone: 800-776-9080
7. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
© Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson was founded in 1952 as a place to exhibit the unique wildlife of Arizona's Sonora Desert. The museum prides itself on its unusual zoological and plant exhibitions which foster interaction with the natural world. Here one can find tens of thousands of living plants and animals in its zoo, botanical gardens, and extensive network of trails covering over two miles in total.
Guests can either traverse the museum's enormous territory independently or enjoy guided tours, live animal presentations, aquarium touch tanks, and even a one-of-a-kind demonstration of the flight paths of raptors and other birds of prey. Read more
2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743, Phone: 520-883-2702
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8. Desert Caballeros Western Museum
© Desert Caballeros Western Museum
The Desert Caballeros Western Museum is a multi-purpose museum that exhibits works of art and historical artifacts from the American West. The museum was founded in 1960 as a hometown museum for its town of Wickenburg.
It has since grown to include a number of items that tell the story of both the small town and the state of Arizona as a whole. Its works of art include paintings by the famous founder of the Cowboy Artists of America, Joe Beeler, while children can enjoy a special exhibit dedicated to the typical “Main Street” found in Old Western towns. Best Things to Do in Wickenburg
21 North Frontier Street, Wickenburg, AZ 85390, Phone: 928-684-2272
9. Heard Museum
© Heard Museum
The Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art is a designated Phoenix Point of Pride located in the city of Phoenix, Arizona. Originally the personal collection of the Heard family, which owned a number of Native American archaeological artifacts from the La Ciudad ruin, the museum was opened to the public in 1929.
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Program, today the museum is a huge collection of over 40,000 Native American artifacts from the southwestern United States. One exhibit of note is its Barry Goldwater Collection, which contains over 437 traditional Hopi Kachina dolls. The museum also hosts the annual Mercado de los Artes Festival each year, during which Hispanic artists from the region sell their work and mariachi bands play traditional music.
2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004, Phone: 602-252-8840
10.Colorado River Discovery
© Colorado River Discovery
The Colorado River Discovery company is a provider of river rafting tours along the Colorado River. Colorado Discovery tours can last a full day or a half day and take place in a boat from the company's extensive fleet. Adventurers can paddle themselves on a river raft while those looking for a relaxing day can opt for a trip on the Helios eco-friendly electric boat.
During the journey, passengers enjoy the scenery provided by the clear waters of the river, the towering sandstone cliffs, and the wildlife roaming freely in their natural habitats. Colorado River Discovery employs experienced guides who narrate the entire experience, telling the wonderful story of this region. Best Things to Do in Page
130 6th Avenue, Page, AZ 86040, Phone: 928-645-9175
© Wildland Trekking
The Wildland Trekking company provides full-service backpacking and hiking excursions through many of Arizona's most famous natural sites. The company states that its mission is to provide “exceptional hiking adventures” and contribute to conservation efforts through its work.
Their destinations include the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls, the Paria Canyon as well as several red sandstone areas in the popular Sedona region. This company offers a number of different kinds of treks, from classic backpacking journeys to inn-based and basecamp hikes. One particularly unique offering from Wildland is its stock- and porter-supported treks, where hikers' baggage and equipment are carried by llamas, mules, or porters. Best Things to Do in Flagstaff
4025 East Huntington, Suite 150, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Phone: 800-715-4453
12.Western Destinations Canyon Creek Ranch – Tours
© Western Destinations Canyon Creek Ranch – Tours
Canyon Creek Ranch is a western-themed model ranch located forty miles to the north of Phoenix, Arizona. A visit to Canyon Creek transports guests to the Old Southwest in a desert setting and against the beautiful backdrop of the Bradshaw Mountains.
The village has a mission, a shooting range, a saloon, a blacksmith shop, and other quintessential buildings one might find in an old Western settlement. Activities at Canyon Creek include horseback riding, skeet shooting, and cowboy games. Visitors can also explore the area around the ranch on foot or on an organized Jeep tour. Tours are also available for children, families, and corporate groups.
22100 E. Tara Springs Rd., Black Canyon City, AZ 85324, Phone: 623-374-5245
13. Mission San Xavier del Bac
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The Mission San Xavier del Bac is a working mission with Spanish Catholic roots situated on the Tohono O'odham San Xavier Indian Reservation approximately 10 miles to the south of Tucson, Arizona. Although the mission itself was founded in 1692, the building that stands there today was constructed between 1783 and 1797, making it Arizona's oldest European building.
The mission building has a very interesting architectural style that combines influences from both New Spain and Native American cultures. The outer façade is white with Moorish design elements and a massive and detailed door, while the inside is particularly ornate, covered in frescoes and other paintings.
1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746, Phone: 520-294-2624
14. Phoenix Art Museum
© Phoenix Art Museum
The Phoenix Art Museum, opened in 1959, is the largest visual arts museum in the entire southwestern United States. Its 18,000 works of art from North America, Asia, Europe, and Latin America span a number of media, including photography, fashion design, paintings, and art installations. The pieces are housed in a complex covering 285,000 square feet.
The Phoenix Art Museum goes beyond the mere display of works of art; it also hosts musical performances, film screenings, and educational programs. Outdoors, it has a curated sculpture garden and it has even incorporated a special children's program called PhxArtKids into its repertoire.
1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004, Phone: 602-257-1880
15. Arizona Copper Art Museum
© Arizona Copper Art Museum
The Arizona Copper Art Museum is a young museum that marries history and art in its exhibition of beautiful copper works. The museum is located in Clarkdale, Arizona, which was once a company town that made its livelihood producing copper goods for industrial purposes in the early and mid-twentieth century. The exhibits here tell the story of copper and coppersmithing with artifacts from the 16th to 21st centuries.
Most of the pieces are works of art hewn from the red metal by artists from the United States and Europe. They are divided into several categories, including military art, kitchenware and drinkware, and distillery and winery paraphernalia.
849 Main St., Clarkdale, AZ 86324, Phone: 928-649-1858
16.Sedona Star Gazing
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Called “a cosmic journey” by the New York Times, a Sedona Star Gazing tour takes its participants on a fascinating trip through the night sky. This tour provider offers guided educational tours of the many constellations visible in Sedona's dark, clear sky, which owes its great views to a lack of light pollution, a dry climate, and its high altitude.
Sedona Star Gazing ensures an informative and personal experience by keeping its tour group numbers low. The company has a number of telescopes for guests to use and there are staff astronomers on hand for guidance during the stargazing experience.
P.O. Box 46,3 Sedona, AZ 86339, Phone: 928-853-9778
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17. Mesa Arts Center
© Mesa Arts Center
The post-modern, glass-heavy architecture of the Mesa Arts Center makes it a focal point of the downtown Mesa area. This venue is a grandiose performing and visual arts space that was opened in 2005. It incorporates four theaters of varying sizes, from the intimate 99-seat Farnsworth Studio Theater to the expansive 1,600-person Ikeda Theater.
The Mesa Arts Center also contains five art galleries and 16 studio spaces for classes and educational presentations. Both its exhibition spaces and its theater settings have rotating schedules with an ever-changing lineup of musical and theatrical performances and different works of traditional and applied art. Best Things to Do in Mesa and Best RV Parks in Mesa
One East Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201, Phone: 480-644-6560 (museum), 480-644-6500 (box office),
18. Children's Museum of Phoenix
© Children's Museum of Phoenix
The highly-regarded Children's Museum of Phoenix, which caters to children up to 10 years old, has been listed as one of the top three children's museums in the country. Located in the former Monroe School building, it has more than 300 interactive activities spread across its three stories.
The exhibits are all meant to be touched and played with, with experiences that feature art, block building, a noodle forest, and many other themed areas. The museum is divided by age category so that children can partake in those games and activities that are developmentally appropriate for them.
215 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034, Phone: 602-253-0501
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19. Commemorative Air Force Museum
© Commemorative Air Force Museum
The Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona, often shortened to CAF, houses a collection of historical combat aircraft known as the CAF Ghost Squadron. The museum is in the open air, with the airplanes spread across a wide field.
Some of its most famous planes include the F4 Phantom and the 1944 B-17G Bomber. There are friendly staff on hand to answer any questions guests may have as they roam around and get up close and personal with the giant airplanes strewn throughout the museum. And for the true aircraft enthusiast, hour-long rides around the nearby Superstition Mountains are available in seven of the museum's historic planes.
2017 N. Greenfield Road, Mesa, AZ 85215, Phone: 480-924-1940
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20. Lowell Observatory
© Lowell Observatory
Lowell Observatory is a not-for-profit astronomical research facility founded by the mathematician Percival Lowell in 1894. Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, this institution dedicates itself to furthering the study of the solar system while providing education and interesting science exhibits to visitors from the general population. Patrons can come in and use the observatory's specialized equipment to look at the sun and the stars.
There are both day and nighttime programs, including a deep space tour, telescope viewings, and presentations on the different galactic bodies. History buffs can also enjoy a tour of Percival Lowell's personal artifacts from the 19th century, which are housed in another exhibition hall at the observatory.
1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, Phone: 928-774-3358
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21.The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
© The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
As the name suggests, the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is home to displays of 300 miniature models of historical and contemporary homes. The models vary in size, but each is meticulously constructed with intricate detail.
The museum is divided into three sections: one is dedicated to a magical woodland with fairytale creatures, another to historical U.S. homes from the 18th century to the present, and a third to different cultures and miniatures from all across the world. Children and adults alike can roam for hours through this extensive collection of tiny homes and their equally tiny interiors.
4455 East Camp Lowell Dr., Tucson, AZ 85712, Phone: 520-881-0606
22.Sharlot Hall Museum
© Sharlot Hall Museum
The Sharlot Hall Museum located in the small town of Prescott, Arizona, is an open-air museum facility devoted to educating visitors about local traditions and folklore. The buildings and structures themselves are historic artifacts as they include the Governor's Mansion, Fort Misery (Arizona's oldest log cabin), and the Iron Turbine Windmill.
The museum's permanent collection features models of animals from the local ecosystem, over 400 Native American baskets, a building with historical modes of transportation from the Old West, and a display of old local photographs. The Living History program hosts festivals and events where visitors can learn how the people of the Southwest lived centuries ago. Best Things to Do in Prescott
415 W. Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-445-3122
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23. Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium
© Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium
Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium is Arizona's largest collection of exotic animals. Located just outside Phoenix in Litchfield Park, Arizona, Wildlife World stretches over 215 acres and is home to over 600 species. The zoo also has a large aquarium facility and a safari park with many African and South American animals.
At the safari park, visitors can take a train ride through the open-space animal habitat. One of the zoo's newest areas is called Adventureland, which includes four different rides and its own dedicated restaurant. The zoo also incorporates such interactive exhibits as a baby animal nursery and a lory (exotic bird) feeding area.
16501 W Northern Ave, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340, Phone: 623-935-9453
24.All-Star Grand Canyon Tours
© All-Star Grand Canyon Tours
All-Star Grand Canyon Tours is a private tour company based in Flagstaff, Arizona. All-Star provides full-service guided tours to the Grand Canyon and the Four Corners Region of Arizona. The company offers different packages, depending on how visitors would like to travel and how much time they want to spend in the canyon.
There are day hikes, private tours including VIP experiences from Phoenix and Las Vegas, luxury multi-day excursions, extended backpacking trips, and student and corporate group options. All-Star employs a number of nature-loving guides who ensure guest safety and offer a one-of-a-kind experience of Arizona's natural beauty.
2420 N. 3rd St., Suite D, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Phone: 928-814-8887
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25.Pink Jeep Tours Sedona
© Pink Jeep Tours Sedona
Pink Jeep Tours takes its group participants on exciting off-road adventures through Arizona in its signature pink Jeeps. The company has been in operation for over 50 years, bringing visitors up-close and personal to the Sedona outback.
Several tours are on offer, including a Grand Canyon tour, a Diamondback Gulch tour, and an Ancient Ruin tour, which leads to some of Sedona and the Verde Valley's ancient historical sites such as the Honanki Ruin and Montezuma's Well. For animal lovers, these excursions can also be combined with horseback riding trips.
204 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336, Phone: 928-282-5000
25 Best Things to Do in Arizona
- Grand Canyon National Park, Photo: Courtesy of Bon - Fotolia.com
- Musical Instrument Museum, Photo: Musical Instrument Museum
- Titan Missile Museum, Photo: Titan Missile Museum
- Desert Botanical Garden, Photo: Desert Botanical Garden
- Pima Air & Space Museum, Photo: Pima Air & Space Museum
- The Phoenix Symphony, Photo: Lukas Gojda/stock.adobe.com
- Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Photo: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Photo: Desert Caballeros Western Museum
- Heard Museum, Photo: Heard Museum
- Colorado River Discovery, Photo: Colorado River Discovery
- Wildland Trekking, Photo: Wildland Trekking
- Western Destinations Canyon Creek Ranch – Tours, Photo: Western Destinations Canyon Creek Ranch – Tours
- Mission San Xavier del Bac, Photo: Courtesy of ricschmitz - Fotolia.com
- Phoenix Art Museum, Photo: Phoenix Art Museum
- Arizona Copper Art Museum, Photo: Arizona Copper Art Museum
- Sedona Star Gazing, Photo: Courtesy of natureguy - Fotolia.com
- Mesa Arts Center, Photo: Mesa Arts Center
- Children's Museum of Phoenix, Photo: Children's Museum of Phoenix
- Commemorative Air Force Museum, Photo: Commemorative Air Force Museum
- Lowell Observatory, Photo: Lowell Observatory
- The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, Photo: The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
- Sharlot Hall Museum, Photo: Sharlot Hall Museum
- Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, Photo: Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium
- All-Star Grand Canyon Tours, Photo: All-Star Grand Canyon Tours
- Pink Jeep Tours Sedona, Photo: Pink Jeep Tours Sedona
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Krzysztof Wiktor - Fotolia.com
Grand Canyon Railway
The winding wooden tracks of the Grand Canyon Railway were built in 1901 and have been transporting visitors to the beautiful Grand Canyon ever since. This railway through the past has been listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places; although it is well maintained, the railroad and its train cars have a distinct Old West feel.
The train journey moves slowly so that passengers can take in the beauty of their surroundings on their approach to the canyon, which lasts about two hours and fifteen minutes. Each train has personal stewards to provide information, and there is onboard entertainment during the ride.
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, Phone: 800-843-8724