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The Ultimate Arizona Bucket List

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The Ultimate Arizona Bucket List

Arizona is a beautiful state known for its unforgettable landscapes and warm weather: the perfect features for a getaway. If you are planning a trip, check out our Arizona vacation bucket list and see how many of these 35 different options you want to check off.

The National Parks and Monuments

Arizona has three national parks and many more national monuments, each with its own unique history and beauty. Here the parks and monuments you will want to add to your attraction bucket list for Arizona:

  1. The Grand Canyon National Park: The Grand Canyon is at the top of any list of things you have to do in Arizona. Millions of visitors come to this national park each year to see its beauty. This natural wonder is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles across and about a mile deep. You can come just to see the canyon, or you can hike and camp to explore more of the expansive park.
  1. Petrified Forest National Park: Petrified Forest National Park, located in the northeastern part of the state, is a colorful stretch of land known for its petrified wood. Hike, bike, backpack or ride on horseback through the Arizona desert in this national park. The stunning views are more than worthy of your bucket list.
  1. Saguaro National Park: Come see the country’s biggest cacti at this gorgeous national park. Saguaro National Park, located in southern Arizona, is home to not only its namesake cacti, but also a diverse population of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the birds, mammals and reptiles that call Saguaro National Park home.
  1. Canyon de Chelly: The Grand Canyon isn’t the only must-see canyon in Arizona. Canyon de Chelly, a national monument, is also stunning place to visit. Stop for the view or hike through the canyon, which Navajo people call home. You can also take a scenic drive along the canyon rim. The canyon is in northeastern Arizona.
  1. Casa Grande Ruins: Casa Grande Ruins is an ancient structure built in prehistoric times. While historians have speculated about its origins and purpose, this spot is shrouded in mystery. Come visit this fascinating national monument to learn about the Sonoran Desert people and get a glimpse into the past. The ruins are in Coolridge.
  1. Chiricahua: Chiricahua, a national monument, is known as a “Wonderland of Rocks” because of its unique pinnacles, some of which tower over 100 feet in the air. Take a drive down the eight-mile scenic path or strike out on foot on one of the 17 miles of hiking trails through the monument’s land. Chiricahua National Monument is in Willcox.
  1. Coronado: The Coronado National Memorial, located in Hereford, is named for Spanish commander Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and the expedition of Aztecs and Europeans that he led. The land holds no traces of the expedition and the immense change it caused for the indigenous people living there, but it is the same land the expedition journeyed over. Take in the spectacular view and learn about the area’s history.
  1. Montezuma Castle: You might not expect to find a castle in Arizona, but the Montezuma Castle in Camp Verde certainly fits the bill. The castle is a cliff dwelling carved right into a sheer rock wall. Montezuma Castle was one of the very first national monuments, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.
  1. Navajo National Monument: The Navajo National Monument features cliffside villages carved from the walls of sandstone canyons by the ancient Puebloan people. The dwellings have survived largely unchanged for approximately 700 years. Come marvel at this piece of human history located in Shonto.

grand canyon

  1. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: This national monument is unique because it is the only location in the country where you can see large groups of its namesake cacti. The organ pipe cactus thrives in its desert environment. If you visit anytime between May and June, you will be able to see the cacti in bloom. You can hike through and camp in this national monument in Ajo.
  1. Pipe Spring National Monument: Pipe Spring, located in Fredonia, includes a number of different historic sites. See three historic sandstone buildings that date back hundreds of years. The land of this national monument was home to Native Americans and European settlers. See live demonstrations of Native American crafts or take a guided tour through Winsor Castle.
  1. Sunset Crater Volcano: Sunset Crater Volcano last erupted about 1,000 years ago. Today, the volcano and the land surrounding it are a gorgeous place to visit. The national monument offers a stunning place to hike, as well as a scenic drive. Add this to your bucket list for an Arizona vacation for an unbelievable and unforgettable view. Sunset Crater Volcano is just north of Flagstaff.
  1. Tonto National Monument: Tonto National Monument includes two cliff dwellings built by the Salado people in 1300 A.D. Climb up into the ruins for an up-close look and a view of Theodore Roosevelt Lake below. The lower ruin features 19 rooms, while the upper ruin has 40 rooms. Take a guided tour or hike through the national monument on your own.
  1. Tumacácori National Historical Park: This national park is a collection of ranches, missions and military outposts in the Santa Cruz River Valley. Different groups of Native American people and European settlers used to meet at these places. Hike through the park, take a guided tour and visit the museum located in the park.
  1. Tuzigoot National Monument: Tuzigoot National Monument is located in Clarkdale, and the 42-acre monument highlights the 110-room pueblo built by the Sinagua people. Take the self-guided 1/3-mile tour around the pueblo and be sure to stop by the museum to see the artifacts and learn more about this unique piece of Arizona history.
  1. Walnut Canyon National Monument: Walnut Canyon, located in Flagstaff, has been a national monument since 1915. There is plenty to explore and discover over 3,600 acres of land. Walnut Creek runs through a deep, 20-mile long canyon. See cliff dwellings along the Island Trail or simply take in the views on the easy Rim Trail.
  1. Wupatki National Monument: Wupatki National Monument is another Flagstaff stop. Established in 1924, this national monument protects the Wupatki and Citadel pueblos and covers more than 35,000 acres. Marvel at the red rock and miles of prairie land that characterize this national monument.

Museums

Arizona has a wide selection of museums across its many major cities. Learn about Native American art, the history of the state and more at these must-see museums:

  1. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art: The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is a bastion of fascinating modern art, architecture and design. The current exhibition put together by artist pair The Art Guys is the Cheese Grid. This exhibit features more than 600 pieces of American cheese. Come to this museum for a never-boring look at modern art.
  1. Heard Museum: This museum is a must for your Phoenix, Arizona bucket list. Heard Museum, open since the 1920s, is dedicated to American Indian art and culture. See the museum’s permanent collection that has been curated over more than 75 years and check out the traveling exhibits hosted at the museum. The museum also hosts festivals and educational programs.
  1. Museum of Northern Arizona: The Museum of Northern Arizona, located in Flagstaff, is known as the Gateway to the Colorado Plateau. The museum is dedicated to preserving the culture and heritage of northern Arizona. See exhibits that range across geology, pottery, paintings, photography and more. The museum also hosts festivals throughout the year including the Zuni Festival, the Hopi Festival, the Navajo Festival and the Celebraciones de la Gente.

montezuma castle

  1. Musical Instruments Museum: This Phoenix museum is a little different than your typical museum. All of its exhibits are dedicated to musical instruments. The Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) has a collection of more than 6,600 different instruments from 200 different countries and territories. See the world’s largest playable sousaphone. Wander through galleries that cover Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, Europe, Latin America and North America.
  1. Arizona Museum of Natural History: The Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa celebrates archaeology, paleontology and ethnology through exhibits focused on Arizona, Mesoamerica and South America. Discover the museum’s dinosaur hall, experience the culture of the Ancient Americas and more. The museum also has plenty of hands-on activities for curious kids.
  1. Pima Air & Space Museum: Pima Air & Space Museum displays more than 350 historic aircraft. This 80-acre Tucson museum has been open since the 1970s. Take a tram tour of the amazing collection of the museum’s outdoor exhibits. You can also experience the indoor exhibits housed in hangars.

Amazing Sites

Snap incredible photos at these iconic Arizona sites:

  1. Hoover Dam: The Hoover Dam is a testament to human ingenuity. Built in 1935, this dam harnessed the power of the Colorado River to provide the Southwest with water and power. Today, visitors can tour the Hoover Dam Powerplant to get a view from the incredible heights of the dam. The dam is on the border of Arizona and Nevada.
  1. Tovrea Castle: Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights is a 4,000-square-foot, four-story spectacle in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. The castle was built in the early 1900s, but it did not open for tours until 2012. Take the two-hour walking tour of the historic building and be sure to explore the castle’s cactus garden.
  1. London Bridge: London Bridge spans Lake Havasu in Lake Havasu City, but it was originally built in London, as its name suggests. The bridge dates back hundreds of years. It was built in phases and stood over the River Thames in London. Eventually, however, it needed to be replaced. Rather than get rid of it completely, the bridge was put up for sale. The founder of Lake Havasu City bought it and brought it to Arizona. Come stand on a piece of history that continues to attract people from all over the world.
  1. Wrigley Mansion: Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. built this mansion in Phoenix during the early 1930s. The mansion was nearly torn down, but it survived to become a historic landmark. Tour the mansion to learn about its history, including some spooky ghost stories.

MIM

Shopping

Do you want to commemorate your trip with a souvenir or bring gifts back from someone else? Stop by these unique shopping options across the state:

  1. Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village: Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village is a must-stop spot in Sedona. Browse art galleries and shops selling food, jewelry, clothes and more. Find an unusual gift or treat yourself to something. The village is also a stunning location, so beautiful that it is often used as a venue for weddings.
  1. Roosevelt Row: Roosevelt Row is the arts district of Phoenix. Wander outside to see the area’s amazing murals, or you can step into its boutiques to browse work done by local artists and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts. You can also catch culture events and festivals at Roosevelt Row.
  1. Hubbell Trading Post: Hubbell Trading Post is the oldest trading post of the Navajo Nation. It is also designated a National Historic Site. Shop for rugs, jewelry and more, and you can also take a guided tour of the Hubbell family home.
  1. Angel and Vilma’s Original Route 66 Gift Shop: Driving along Route 66 is the ultimate road trip, and part of this iconic highway runs right through Arizona. Stop in Seligman to browse gifts and oddities at Angel and Vilma’s Original Route 66 Gift Shop.

Adventurous Activities

Arizona is all about the great outdoors. Get outside and try something a little adventurous:

  1. Spelunking at Coconino Lava River Cave: Coconino Lava River Cave is not far from Flagstaff. This interesting formation was created by a lava flow. Descend into the cave’s gigantic caverns on a spelunking tour. The sight of sunlight pouring through the cave’s roof is an experience you will not forget.
  1. Snowbowl’s Scenic Chairlift: Get the ultimate view from the scenic chairlift at Snowbowl in Flagstaff. Travel 11,500 into the air, and catch a glimpse of the Grand Canyon’s walls and the stunning Arizona landscape. The trip will take you up and down the San Francisco Peaks.
  1. Flagstaff Extreme: Flagstaff Extreme is a dream come true for adrenaline seekers. Test your skills on the Adventure Courses or soar through the air on the zip lines. Flagstaff Extreme has courses and zip lines for kids, adults and varying skill levels.
  1. OK Corral Horseback Riding: Explore the East Valley of Arizona on horseback. OK Corral Stables in Apache Junction leads horse rides through the Arizona wilderness. Sign up for a half-day ride or venture out for an entire day. If you’re hungry, the stables also offer cowboy steak dinner rides. Ride for an hour, and then sink your teeth into a steak dinner at Mammoth Steak House and Saloon.

ok corral

While you are trekking through Arizona checking stops off of your bucket list, you are bound to work up an appetite. Be sure to stop and fill up on fresh, delicious pizza at Giordano’s in Peoria.