1. Witness all the beauty the Grand Canyon offers.
I think most Arizona natives actually take the gorgeous landscapes that constantly surround us for granted. Also, I think most Arizonans have seen the Grand Canyon once, probably as a kid, and never fully explored the area. Here’s your chance!
To make a weekend of it, try taking the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams up to the canyon and book a stay at either their hotel or the historic Tovar Hotel. If you’re able and the weather permits, take a hike (or a mule ride!) along one of the trails to see the canyon from a different perspective. Also, check out the caverns located deep inside the canyon.
2. Take a trip south to Yuma.
This is perfect during the spring when you’re looking for just a hint of warmth while the temperatures are still chilly further north. The city and its surrounding areas have quite a bit to offer tourists; it just depends on where your interests lie.
For history buffs, there is the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, Castle Domes Mine, the Quartermaster Depot Historic State Park, and the downtown area. Those who enjoy wildlife, birding, and fishing have the Colorado River, wetlands, and wildlife refuge areas to visit. You should also make a quick stop to one of the local farms, such as Martha’s Gardens or the Peanut Patch, for a tour and treats to take home.
3. Spend a week(end) camping along the Mogollon Rim.
Summer is prime camping season here and a day pass won’t cost you much, plus the hiking opportunities are almost endless. This is also the chance to go fishing, horseback riding, canoeing, and stargazing! You will definitely want to visit the Tonto Natural Bridge, which is the largest travertine bridge in the U.S., and to Fossil Creek.
4. Relax at a classic Phoenix resort.
If you're craving a vacation where you can enjoy the finer things in life in a historic hotel, you will want to book a stay at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. The hotel has a number of different packages to choose from so that you can enjoy their wide range of accommodations, dining, spa, and shopping experiences.
5. Explore a ghost town that came back to life in Jerome.
Of all the towns in the Verde Valley, Jerome is one of the most popular for its history and ghostly presence. The town itself is a designated National Historic Landmark but also be sure to check out the Jerome State Historic Park for a glimpse into some of the history.
A stay at the Jerome Grand Hotel, a former state hospital that many claim to be haunted, is a must but if you’re unable to get a room, book a ghost tour and eat at the Asylum Restaurant in the hotel. Other local attractions include the Sliding Jail, the Gold King Mine Museum, and local wineries.
6. Enjoy the ride along Route 66.
The original highway spanned across northern Arizona and brought about some interesting roadside culture. It still exists in parts across Arizona, so here are a few iconic stops to make while traveling the Mother Road.
Starting from the west end, pay a visit to Oatman, a former mining town that exists as a living ghost town and has feral mules wandering the streets. Visit the Historic Route 66 Museum in Kingman and the General Store in Hackberry. Winslow requires a stop at the Standin’ on a Corner park and Meteor Crater. Continuing east, Holbrook has petrified wood shops, the Wigwam Motel, and Petrified Forest a few miles away. Further east, you will find Burnham Trading Post in Sanders and eventually make your way to the Arizona border where you could make a quick stop into New Mexico in Gallup (my birthplace!).
7. Check out how beautiful Navajoland is.
Sprawled across three states, the Navajo Nation is huge and requires driving, often for long stretches at a time. My first tip is during your drive to tune in to KTNN 660, the AM station broadcast mostly in Navajo, to get a feel of the language and music (hint, it is mostly country but you will occasionally hear traditional).
Some of Arizona’s most iconic landscapes that you must visit are located within Navajoland, including Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Grand Falls, and Canyon de Chelly. In addition to those places, you will also want to visit Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado and Window Rock, where you can check out Window Rock Tribal Park, the Navajo Nation Museum, and eat some mutton stew at Pinky’s.