With everything from alpine forests to deserts dotted with saguaro cacti, the landscape in Arizona is mesmerizing. The state’s natural landmarks are most readily apparent, but thousands of years of human habitation have also made their mark on the terrain—many of the canals that irrigate Phoenix follow the contours of ditches dug by the ancient Hohokam people. The unwaveringly sunny weather makes an outdoor lifestyle possible year-round, and a growing food scene means you’ll be well fed during your visit. In Arizona, the Grand Canyon is really just the beginning.



When’s the best time to go to Arizona?

Visit October through early May to avoid the stifling heat. Places like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, which are exceedingly popular in the summer, will also be quieter in late spring or early fall. If your trip does coincide with the warmer months, the Mogollon Rim highlands offer cool relief. Meanwhile, Flagstaff is the perfect winter playground. Just remember that snowy road closures are common at higher elevations. No matter when you visit, be prepared for cool nights everywhere in the state.

How to get around Arizona

Arizona’s two major airports are in Phoenix and Tucson. By car, I-10 and I-40 are the main east–west routes across the state. El Paso to Tucson is about a four-hour drive, and from Los Angeles to Phoenix is about five and a half hours.

A car—with air-conditioning, and ideally tinted windows—is an absolute must to get around the state. Always carry extra water.

Food and drink to try in Arizona

Arizona has a burgeoning local food scene that goes far beyond Mexican and cowboy fare. Vineyards and orchards blanket higher elevations across the state, while citrus fruits and pecans thrive in the heat. Though desert covers much of the state, the sea is only a few hours away, so ceviche and sushi are as popular as chimichangas and steaks. If you want to try Southwest fusion or international cuisine, head to Tucson and Phoenix—these diverse cities do the food of many regions well. Just save room for a prickly pear margarita, and remember that guacamole and salsa are as Arizonan as red rocks and cacti.

Culture in Arizona

A historic blend of American Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures makes Arizona a much more eclectic destination than many realize. Pre-Columbian ruins sit alongside modern cattle ranches, while the Mission San Xavier del Bac, a masterpiece of baroque desert architecture near Tucson, was founded by the Spanish in the 1690s and still serves as the parish church for the local Tohono O’odham nation. Arizona also has some excellent museums, such as the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Arizona State Museum in Tucson.

In Arizona, there are even festivals for every taste and season. Winter brings the Renaissance Festival, Tucson Rodeo, Tucson International Gem and Mineral Show, Tucson Festival of Books, and the Fiesta Bowl, while the spring sees the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, Tucson International Mariachi Conference, and Country Thunder. Summer is the time for the Annual Festival of Navajo Arts & Culture, Prescott Frontier Days, and the Sedona Hummingbird Festival. And in the fall, enjoy grape-stomping at various wineries, the Arizona State Fair, and El Tour de Tucson cycling events.

Local travel tips for Arizona

Summer is jaw-droppingly hot, but you can still enjoy the outdoors—just start at dawn so you can finish well before mid-morning. If you get caught in a sandstorm while driving, pull off the road and turn your lights off. Finally, when in Arizona, burritos are called burros.

Guide Editor

Read Before You Go
Everything you need to know to fully experience the natural wonder, whether you’re there for one sunset or a weeklong stay.
Resources to help plan your trip
The Grand Canyon itself has a limited selection of dining options, but luckily, Williams, Arizona, with its historic Main Street and collection of diverse restaurants, is a short drive away.
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Cactus and cowboys are just the beginning here. World-class spa-resorts dot the foothills of this desert city; the mountain ranges are topped with observatories and evergreen forests. A research university and an air force base add variety to the Anglo/Mexican mix. Mild winters and eternal sunshine draw runners and cyclists to the trails and canyons of the lush Sonoran desert. After a sunset hike to precolumbian petroglyphs, civilization awaits...
Tucked among striking red sandstone formations, Sedona attracts a mix spiritual seekers, artists and healers, and those of us just looking to get away from it all. With a perfect mix of outdoor adventure, fine dining, and spa time, Sedona offers a little something for just about anyone. Whether you stay a week or a weekend, this magical little city is the ideal place to relax, rejuvenate, and connect to nature.
Arizona is “The Grand Canyon State,” and yes, nothing else in the world is quite like Arizona’s most famous natural wonder. But you’ll also find other types of spectacular natural beauty: alpine tundra, evergreen forests, riparian canyons, snow-capped peaks, and flower-carpeted flatlands. Just be sure to time your visit with the seasons, and your dreamscapes will forever after be infused with Arizona’s natural wonders.
While on a road trip across Arizona, from canyon to canyon and ranch to restaurant, make sure to stop and take in some of the best sights along the way. With all of its wide-open spaces, Arizona is synonymous with long drives, but if you take the time to get out of the car, your legs will thank you and you’ll return home with experiences, not just a checked-off list of landmarks. Road trips should be remembered for more than just the road, and Arizona is the perfect terrain for travel memories.
If you only have three days in the Grand Canyon State, choose whether to see the canyons of Northern Arizona, drive to national forests along the scenic byways of central Arizona, or get a taste of Sonoran desert geology and Mexican-infused culture in the area sometimes referred to as “Baja Arizona.” You’ll wish you had more than three days after getting a sampling of the sense of place that runs strong in the stunning state of Arizona.
Tucson, Arizona may sometimes get overlooked as visitors fly into and out of Phoenix, but Arizona’s second city is anything but second-rate. Savor a chile pepper–infused breakfast, then walk it off as you contemplate Tucson’s archaeology, botany, and multicultural shopping. Catch a legendary sunset from Tucson’s desert edges, then end the day with a farm-to-table dinner to get a real taste of this part of Arizona.
November to April, snowbirds settle in and everyone soaks up Arizona’s sun. But if you want snow, just go up! After golfing or swimming down in the desert, in less than an hour you can be up in Arizona’s mountains skiing among evergreen forests. Traveling to Arizona can mean fleeing from the snow or escaping to seek solace in a quiet white landscape. Take your pick; it’s here waiting for you.
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