Before we dig into it, I have a disclaimer: I adore the Grand Canyon. Yes, it is a tourist hotspot and that is because it is truly and unforgettably gorgeous.
Flying over the Grand Canyon was a bucket list experience for me. Far from overrated, it is one of those places you simply must visit. Likewise, Phoenix is another worthwhile fixture on most Arizona travel itineraries.
Those are two amazing spots that you already know. Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about all of the other places in Arizona that you’re going to love.
From underrated towns to hidden natural wonders, here are the top ten places to visit in Arizona (that aren’t the Grand Canyon).
Featured on my list of essential spots on any Southwest USA road trip, Sedona is like nowhere else you’ve ever been before. A geological wonderland and mecca for spiritualism, Sedona has a magical atmosphere.
Whether you want to hike the jaw-droppingly beautiful terrain or do yoga on a vortex of spiritual energy, this is the place to go.
Possibly one of the most photographed places in Arizona, Antelope Canyon is even more stunning in person. It’s an essential visit and only seven miles from the breathtaking lookout point that is Horseshoe Bend.Whether you want to fly overhead, hike the paths, or sail by, you’ll want to book in advance. Make your reservation online then start packing. It gets colder than you might expect when you’re out of the sun so bring layers and plan to bundle up.
Fun fact: There are more spas per capita in Scottsdale than anywhere else in the US. Lounge poolside at one of many lux resorts, get a pampering treatment, then hit the town for top-notching nightlife.
Need a minute to disconnect? Go on a horseback ride through the cactus-studded desert then hike the McDowell Mountains.
Dust off those cowboy boots and pull up a stool at the O.K. Corral. Play a game of poker or two then mosey outside to watch a shootout. Peak through the bullet holes in the old Bird Cage Theatre, a one-time brothel. When you’re here, you’re miles from the ordinary.
Exploring the historic streets and lovingly restored buildings, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time in this infamous Old West haunt.
You may have never been to Monument Valley but you’ve definitely seen the iconic mesas and buttes that create the red rock landscape. Right at the border of Arizona and Utah, you’ll feel like you’re exploring another planet.
If you’re a film and TV buff, be sure to track down the filming locations for famous scenes from Forrest Gump, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Westword, Stagecoach, and other classics.
Helpful Tip:If you have extra time, keep on trucking! Take a Mighty 5 Utah road trip to continue your treasure hunt of the United States’ most beautiful spots.
Surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Havasupai Indian Reservation is one of the United States’ most remote reservations. At the center of it, you’ll find the aquamarine waters of Havasu Creek and the famous falls.
If you have time, plan at least one night of camping here. Do note, however, you need to have a permit to stay over. Visit the Havasupai Reservations site to get set up before you go.
A dream camping trip can quickly go sour if you don’t arrive prepared. Check out my ultimate campsite packing gear guide to make sure you’ve got anything and everything that you might end up with. After falling back in love with camping trips not long ago, I put together an extensive list of all the things I found myself reaching for again and again.
A refuge from the scorching summer heat of Phoenix, Prescott has a fascinating history that is well worth exploring. With more than 800 local Victorian homes making their way onto the National Register of Historic Places, this city is non-stop action for architecture lovers.
On the famous Whiskey Row, you can knock back a drink or two in the Gold Rush era saloons. When you’re feeling hydrated, explore the works of local artists in the galleries then grab yourself something sweet at the retro candy shops.
Route 66: Kingman & Seligman
Who doesn’t have the world-famous Route 66 on their bucket list? If you don’t have time to cover the full 150 miles of the historic road, hit the area between Kingman and Seligman. The 87 miles between the two towns is a piece an unmissable piece of Americana.
Seligman is widely considered to be the original birthplace of Route 66. Jampacked with diners and souvenir shops, this town will set the stage for your trip.
When you finally make it to your destination, you’ll be greeted by all of the kitsch wonders that you’re dreaming of. Plan on filling up on root beer floats and greasy grub at Mr. D’z Diner then wander the main street.
The Ghost Town of Jerome
Once a mining town, Jerome is now better known for its ghosts than the spoils of the mountainside. Book a room in the most haunted hotel in Arizona for an unforgettable night of hiding under the covers.
When the sun finally rises, make your way down to the Sliding Jail, a badly constructed prison that has slid an incredible 2,500 feet from the original patch of clay that it was built on.
Quirky attractions aside, you’ll also find gorgeous scenery around the Jerome State Historic Park and the surrounding valley.
With 350 days of sunshine every year and more bird species than anywhere else on earth, Tuscon is one of Arizona’s most underrated spots.
Tucson is a perfect base for exploring the fascinating natural wonders of the desert.
Just beside the Saguaro National Park’s Red Hills Visitor Center, you’ll find the 98-acre zoo in Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Plan an afternoon to explore the natural history of this fascinating landscape.
When you’re ready to get back into town, visit the adobe heart of the city at El Presidio Historic District for a look back in time (and unique locals eats!).