Traveling has become one of my favorite things to do. Here in Arizona, new experiences, new food, and new people are less than a day away. Plus, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy them! Since gas money can get expensive, we’re taking a look at some fantastic road trip destinations around Arizona with inexpensive admission prices yet are amazingly fun. Hopefully, this gives you some ideas for things to do during your next adventure!
We’ve talked about this urban laboratory before and it’s a truly unique spot that is worth a visit! Here, you’ll find one architectural example that strives to exist in harmony with the desert while still providing creature comforts for everyday living. Take a walking tour of the area, grab a bite to eat in their cafeteria, and you can even spend the night in one of the rooms.
Admission is a $10 suggested donation.
2. Canyon de Chelly
This expansive canyon in Chinle is
free to visit and offers both historic and scenic views. Take a drive on the rim for an overall view of the area or hike down to the canyon’s floor to check out the White House Ruins that date back nearly 1,000 years.
3. Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Located about 40 minutes southeast of Tucson, this large cave is a hidden gem! Take a walking tour of the cave to learn about its history and geology in a cool, 70-degree environment. If the weather allows, enjoy a hike on one of the trails.
General admission is $16 for adults and $9 for children. Discounts are available to military personnel.
Choose your favorite
weather-appropriate hiking trail
and head out for an inexpensive, yet fun adventure through Arizona’s beautiful wilderness. Some areas do require a day pass but these often cost less than $10. Check in advance for fees and weather.
This ghost town turned tourist destination is full of history and intrigue. Reportedly one of the most haunted towns in Arizona, Jerome has a wide range of activities to keep you occupied. A walk through the hillside town will cost you nothing (except your leg muscles, perhaps) and a tour through the Mine Museum is a mere
$2 for history of the area.
6. Monument Valley
This tribal park is located on the Navajo Nation and sits right on the border of Arizona and Utah. Here, you’ll find some of the most stunning landscapes in the world with easily recognizable buttes that look incredible no matter the season or time of day. While most people tend to grab a quick photo in front of the mitten buttes, you’ll want to spend some time here to hike on Wildcat Trail and check out other viewpoints seen in iconic movies.
Admission is just $5 per person and is free for children ages 9 and under.
7. Mount Lemmon
Located at the top of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, this is a wonderful destination no matter the season. In the summer, it’s a great escape from the sweltering desert heat and the day temperatures reach the low 80s most days. In the winter, you can drive here for skiing and playing in the snow in just one hour from downtown Tucson.
This lovely little town sits on the Mogollon Rim and is a nice respite from the busy city life. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy antiquing, spotting wildlife, and even going for a hike or two. There are plenty of attractions nearby—such as Fossil Creek, Verde Hot Springs, Shoofly Indian Ruins, lakes, and the Strawberry Historical Schoolhouse—that will keep you busy without wreaking havoc on your wallet.
9. San Xavier del Bac Mission
Known as the "White Dove of the Desert," this historic mission in Tucson is one of the most stunning examples of Spanish Colonial architecture still standing. The
free tours will introduce you the history of the mission and give you a chance to take a peek at the beautiful details both inside and out.
10. Sunset Crater-Wupatki National Monuments
Located just north of Flagstaff, these two national monuments sit a short distance from each other and are the perfect destination if you want to learn more about Arizona’s early history. Sunset Crater will introduce you to the geology of the area and Wupatki is where you will learn more about Arizona’s Indigenous peoples.
Admission is $20 per vehicle for up to seven days.
11. Tortilla Flat
When the temperatures are cool and you’re in the mood for a nice drive, consider driving through Tortilla Flat. This little destination sits on Apache Trail, the notorious highway with sharp curves and narrow lanes right along canyon walls. Here, you can grab a bite to eat at the saloon, the occasional reenactment, and a chance to purchase your favorite goods in the merchantile.
12. Tumacácori National Historical Park
Another old Spanish mission of southern Arizona, this historical park preserves what is left of the Tumacácori Mission and its grounds. Take a self-guided tour, watch cultural demonstrations, and, when the weather is accommodating, enjoy a brief hike through the area.
Admission is $5 per person ages 16 and older.
How many of these places have you had the opportunity to travel to? Be sure to let us know your favorite places and if there are any others you would add to this list!