When you think of Arizona, what do you think about? If you’re like most people, images of deserts, cacti, and the Grand Canyon are likely the first thoughts that come to mind.
I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life, and one of my favorite things about the state is its incredible diversity. Yes, there are plenty of cacti, and of course, the Grand Canyon National Park is an alluring destination, but there’s so much more to Arizona than what meets the eye.
If you’re planning a trip to Arizona soon, you’ll likely be staying somewhere in Greater Phoenix. Fortunately, there are tons of places you can explore on quick day trips from Phoenix that will allow you to see the diversity of the “Grand Canyon State.” Here are some of the best day trips from Phoenix, recommended by a local!
Map of the Best Day Trips from Phoenix, AZ
Best Day Trips from Phoenix, AZ
Flagstaff is surrounded by the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest and is the adventure mecca of Arizona. During the summer and fall, you can enjoy camping, hiking, hiking, or fishing in Flagstaff, and in the winter, you can go skiing or snowboarding at Arizona Snowbowl.
Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and Lowell Observatory are some of the major attractions in Flagstaff, aside from outdoor activities. You can also head to Downtown Flagstaff, where you’ll find historic shops, restaurants, and coffee shops along a portion of the famous Route 66. Diablo Burger and Lumberyard Brewing Co. are two excellent locally-owned restaurants in Flagstaff to check out during your day trip.
Phoenix sits just above 1,000 feet in elevation, and Flagstaff sits at nearly 7,000 feet in elevation, so you can expect a completely different climate when you come. Flagstaff is one of the best day trips from Phoenix if you’re looking to cool off and get some fresh air.
- Distance from Phoenix: 144 miles
- Where to Stay: Little America Hotel
Did you know Arizona is home to the largest ghost town in North America? It’s called Jerome—and you can visit it during your trip to Arizona!
Jerome is built on the side of Cleopatra Hill at an elevation of 5,000 feet. While it once had a population of 15,000 people, the population dropped to just 50 after the copper mines were closed. You can learn more about Jerome’s history at the Jerome State Historic Park and the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum during your visit.
Since Jerome is haunted, you can also go on a ghost tour during your visit to the city. You also can’t miss the chance to get a bite to eat at The Haunted Hamburger—a haunted restaurant overlooking the Verde Valley that is a local favorite.
- Distance from Phoenix: 111 miles
- Where to Stay: The Clinkscale Hotel
Sedona is undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Phoenix. Visitors flock from around the country to see Sedona’s stunning red rocks and breathtaking views!
Sedona is an incredibly scenic spot for hiking and has dozens of popular hiking trails you can explore, like Devil’s Bridge, Cathedral Rock, and Soldier Pass. If you’re visiting in the summer when it’s too hot to hike, you can cool off at Slide Rock State Park—a natural waterslide and pool just north of Sedona, in Oak Creek Canyon. You can also go on a sightseeing tour if you’d like to stay off the trails or drive along the Red Rock Scenic Byway—one of the most scenic drives in Arizona—for gorgeous views of the red rocks.
You can go shopping, dining, and exploring in Uptown Sedona, and don’t miss the chance to explore the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village to see beautiful Native American art and architecture. When you’re hungry, grab a table at Pump House Station Urban Eatery & Market—they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
- Distance from Phoenix: 116 miles
- Where to Stay: Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
- 10 Best Hikes in Sedona
- How to Spend the Perfect Day Trip to Sedona
- How to Hike Soldier Pass Trail & Find Soldier Pass Cave
If you’re looking for a town that offers western flair with plenty to do, look no further than Prescott. This town’s claim to fame is the “World’s Oldest Rodeo,” which you can watch if you’re visiting in the summer. However, there is plenty more to do in Prescott, making it one of the best day trips from Phoenix.
If you love the outdoors, you should spend your day in Prescott kayaking, paddleboarding, or swimming in Watson Lake, Goldwater Lake, or Lynx Lake. You can also go hiking or biking in the surrounding Prescott National Forest.
If you decide to stay in town, you can walk around Courthouse Square, a collection of local restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Don’t miss the chance to walk down Whiskey Row and enjoy lunch or dinner at The Palace Restaurant & Saloon—an establishment dating back to the late 1800s where famous cowboys and gunfighters grabbed a drink in the evenings.
- Distance from Phoenix: 99 miles
- Where to Stay: Prescott Resort and Conference Center
Wine lovers, unite! Cottonwood is a small town located between Jerome and Sedona, and it’s the perfect place to start and end a trip along the Verde Valley Wine Trail—a collection of local wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms in Northern Arizona.
Some of the most popular wineries along the Verde Valley Wine Trail, like D.A. Ranch and Page Springs Cellars, are found in Cornville, just a short drive from Cottonwood. You can also see the wineries in Cottonwood on a guided tour from Sedona that includes transportation. When you’ve had enough wine, head back to Old Town Cottonwood to explore the shops and restaurants down Main Street—you’re sure to find something to satisfy!
Crema Craft Kitchen & Bar is one of the best places to grab breakfast, and don’t miss the chance to enjoy dinner and a prickly pear margarita from The Tavern Grille for dinner.
- Distance from Phoenix: 103 miles
- Where to Stay: The Tavern Hotel
If you want to explore all that Eastern Arizona offers, head to Payson! Payson provides an excellent launching point for other attractions, like the Mogollon Rim and Pinetop-Lakeside, in the heart of the scenic “Rim Country.”
Payson is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest and is an excellent location for outdoor activities, like hiking, biking, and fishing. It’s also a popular location for camping, so if you’d like to stay the night, bring your camping gear and reserve a spot at one of the local campgrounds.
Payson has more of a “small town” vibe than other locations on this list, and it tends to be less touristy than other cities, like Sedona and Prescott. If you’re looking for somewhere you can truly unplug and connect with nature—Payson is one of the best day trips from Phoenix for you.
- Distance from Phoenix: 90 miles
- Where to Stay: Cabins At Creekside
7. Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is easily the most famous attraction in Arizona. It’s the only natural wonder of the world in the United States, making it a must-visit during your time in the “Grand Canyon State.”
However, I’ll be blunt—trying to squeeze the Grand Canyon into a day trip is extremely ambitious. You’ll spend nearly seven hours in the car roundtrip just to arrive at the South Rim, where you’ll have a few hours to walk around before you need to head back home.
Instead, I recommend staying overnight in Williams and driving to the Grand Canyon the next day. You’ll have much more time to explore when you make the Grand Canyon a weekend trip. You also get to explore the cute town of Williams and its famous attractions, like Bearizona and the Canyon Coaster Adventure Park. You can also stay in Sedona or Flagstaff and take a guided tour of the Grand Canyon from either of these cities.
- Distance from Phoenix: 224 miles
- Where to Stay: La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Williams
8. Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is maybe the lesser-known national park in Arizona, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular! Saguaro cacti are extremely rare and can only be found in certain parts of the Southwest USA, like Arizona!
Saguaro National Park is a great “add-on” to a weekend trip or a day trip to Tuscon, Arizona. The park is split into two parts—Tuscon Mountain District (Saguaro West) and Rincon Mountain District (Saguaro East). Saguaro West is the most easily accessible from the Valley, making it one of the best day trips from Phoenix.
In Saguaro West, you can hike the Desert Discovery Nature Trail or Valley View Overlook Trail, drive along the Bajada Loop Drive, or see the petroglyphs that are hundreds of years old, dating back to the Hohokam people. In Saguaro East, you can explore the Desert Ecology Trail or drive the Cactus Forest Loop Drive.
- Distance from Phoenix: 104 miles
- Where to Stay: JW Marriott Tuscon Starr Pass Resort & Spa
Tucson is a large city to explore in one day (the second-largest city in Arizona, in fact!), but it is doable, making Tucson one of the best day trips from Phoenix.
During your trip to Tucson, you can’t miss the chance to explore the Pima Air & Space Museum, with over 250 aircraft on display, or tour the Mission San Xavier del Bac—a stunning example of mission-style architecture from the 1700s. Tourists also love driving the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway—one of the most scenic drives in Southern Arizona.
When you’re done exploring the popular sites, head to Downtown Tuscon to grab dinner. There are plenty of new, trendy spots, but if you’d like some authentic Mexican food, you’re in luck. Head to the family-owned restaurant, El Charro Café, to get your fill!
- Distance from Phoenix: 113 miles
- Where to Stay: JW Marriott Tuscon Starr Pass Resort & Spa
Tombstone is well-known for its history dating back to the Wild West, earning the nickname “The Town Too Tough to Die.” It was once a popular silver mining town made famous by the O.K. Corral Gunfight, but the city has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962.
Popular things to do in Tombstone include seeing The Bird Cage Theatre, a haunted landmark once a gambling hall and brothel, and watching a reenactment of the famous gunfight that made Tombstone famous at O.K. Corral. You can also walk around the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park to walk in the footsteps of famous gunfighters Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
After a day of exploring, head to Tombstone Brewing Company for a beer, or get a table at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for a bite to eat. Then, before you head home, go on a spooky ghost tour in Tombstone!
- Distance from Phoenix: 184 miles
- Where to Stay: Tombstone Miners Cabin
Bisbee is just a short drive from Tombstone, so pairing these two cities on one action-packed day trip from Phoenix is a great idea! Bisbee is a former copper mining town located in the Mule Mountains in Southern Arizona. In fact, the city is just eleven miles away from Mexico!
In Bisbee, you’ll find plenty to do, including the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, where you can learn all about the city’s past, and the Copper Queen Mine, which used to be one of the country’s most productive copper mines before it closed several decades ago.
When you’re done sightseeing, head into Old Bisbee, where you can enjoy a brew from Old Bisbee Brewing Company or enjoy a meal at Bisbee’s Table.
- Distance from Phoenix: 207 miles
- Where to Stay: Letson Loft Hotel
Explore the Best of Arizona with These Diverse Day Trips from Phoenix
It’s time to explore! Arizona has a little bit of everything that everyone will love to explore—from mountains and lakes to deserts and cities.
Which of these day trips from Phoenix sparks your interest most? Let me know in the comments below!
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Save the Best Day Trips in Phoenix for Later
Looking for some more things to do in Phoenix, Arizona, besides these best day trips from Phoenix? Check out these helpful blog posts:
Your blog is just overall stunning! Thank you for mentioning Prescott, as it is my hometown. I am so excited for future blog posts and wish you luck with your blog!
Thank you, James! That is so kind! That’s so awesome you are from Prescott. It’s one of my favorite places to visit in AZ! Thank you so much for your encouragement. I appreciate your support!
These are such great ideas! I’ve never been to Arizona (or West of the Appalachians, to be honest) but it’s been on my list FOREVER. Definitely using this post as a reference for when I can finally get out there 🙂
Thank you, Lauren! If you ever visit Arizona, I would love to show you all the most amazing spots! I hope you can visit soon 🙂
Love your blog, the layout is so pretty!! I’ve visited Arizona twice but only briefly, would love to go back and spend a whole week exploring some of the places on this list!! 💗
Thank you so much, Jess! Oh, that’s awesome! Where in Arizona did you visit?
If you ever find yourself back in Arizona, let me know! I would love to give you tons more recommendations on what to do during your stay!
[…] Prescott. If you are visiting Phoenix or Sedona during the Christmas season, Prescott is the perfect day trip. It’s only an hour and a half drive from both […]
[…] 4 Best Day Trips from Phoenix […]
After reading your articles on Jerome and this post, I really want to go there! You have inspired a new location – not even on my radar. I didn’t realize how many beautiful towns there are in AZ.
Yay! I hope you have a really awesome time, Erin! 🙂
I had never head of many of these before. Now I have some ideas for the next time I visit my sister-in-law in Phoenix! Flagstaff is definitely my style though but now I have stops along the way.
Yay! I’m so glad you have a great reason to come out to Arizona. I love Flagstaff, too. I hope you have fun exploring when you get here! 🙂
Would love to spend a few days in Phoenix as well as take the time to do these wonderful day trips. We were supposed to head to AZ to do a race, but then the pandemic hit… so hopefully, we manage to get there at some point!
Ah, bummer! I hope you get the chance to visit later this year! Just maybe wait until the summer is over so you don’t have to suffer through the heat 😉
Great article. I have never been to the west side of the US, but now, I have plenty of places to visit after reading this article.
Thank you very much, great content.
Thank you for reading, Valentina!
I love Arizona! I spent a week exploring the Grand Canyon and Sedona, I really want to go back and visit Sedona. These looks like some great road trips with Phoenix as a base, I hope I can go back soon and check out some of these other towns.
Sedona is truly a gem. There’s so much to see here! I hope you get the chance to come back to AZ soon 🙂
Thanks for all the cool tips. I have a friend who recently moved to AZ so I’ve been collecting info for when I can go visit her. Definitely saving this for later.
Oh, that’s awesome! You’ll have a great time! Just wait until after September to visit to avoid the heat, LOL. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Wow, these all look great! I never heard Bisbee until your article. I would love get a meal at Bisbee’s Table and then go with your recommendation of the Old Bisbee Brewing Company. I love small towns so this would totally be up my alley!
It’s such a cute little town! It reminds me a lot of Jerome. Thanks for reading, Erin! 🙂
I wish I came across this before my last visit in Phoenix – i didn’t realize there were so many places to day trip to! I would love to see the World’s Oldest Rodeo and kayak in Prescott! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Prescott is seriously one of my favorite little cities! It’s so cute! Thanks for reading, Jill. I hope you can come back to AZ one day to explore more 🙂
I obviously follow too many hiking/adventure bloggers as I have heard of most of these amazing places as starting points for epic adventures. You are lucky to live in such an incredible (and adventure-filled) part of the world!!
I’m super grateful to live in such a naturally beautiful state, Josy! Thanks for reading!
I would love to visit Arizona one day and Phoenix looks like a great base for some amazing day trips! Thanks for sharing.
It’s an awesome home base, Leah! Thanks for reading 🙂
I had never heard of Jerome before, but that sounds really fun to visit the ghost town! And Sedona has always sounded so beautiful to me. It’s so crazy to me all the different climates in Arizona. I usually just think “hot and hotter”, but the different elevations really give it some diverse weather!
Haha, right? We have so many different climates – it can be snowing up north while we’re sweating down here in the Valley, lol. Jerome and Sedona are super close – you could make an extended weekend trip out of the two! 🙂
BRB – booking a trip to Phoenix so I can explore all of the amazing areas around it! Love Cottonwood and some of the others you’ve included in this article. Arizona in general is just such a cool state!!!
Arizona is really cool, Lisa! I used to take it for granted when I was young, but I’m glad I’ve had the chance to explore more of the state as I’ve gotten older. Hope you can come out and visit Cottonwood soon – the wineries are calling your name 🙂
Oh wow Brittany! What a fab post. I’ve never been to Phoenix but now I literally want to come so I can do all of these fab day trips you’ve included! Loved reading through just how much you can access from Phoenix!
Thank you, Bejal! Arizona is a super diverse state with tons to see and do. I hope you can visit soon! 🙂
I loved my road trip from Tucson to Flagstaff. The change in the geography amazes me. You really need to get out of Phoenix sometimes.
I agree! Phoenix can be hot and busy, and it’s nice to escape every once in awhile!
It seems like there is so much near Phoenix for just about every type of traveler. I’ve been wanting to explore Bisbee for a while — my mom said it’s very cute! And I love Saguaro and Tucson. I’d love to go back to that area!
Haha, that’s so funny, my mom was the one who told me I should go to Bisbee too! I really need to explore more of Southern AZ – I’ve been north dozens of times, but I’ve only gone south a few!
Looks like there are tonnes of amazing day trips from Phoenix, AZ! I hope to be able to explore the area myself one day.
I hope so too! Thanks for reading, Katy.
This is great! It’s been awhile since we’ve been back to Arizona, the last time we were fortunate to take a trip over the Grand Canyon by helicopter. So unique! Fun to read your post as it reminds me there’s so much more to do. We’ll have to plan a trip back soon. 🙂
Wow, that’s amazing! I would love to do that one day. I hope you can plan a trip back soon, Gail!
I’ve always wanted to do a road trip around this part of America and your blog post has convinced me even more. Such a gorgeous region to explore with so much to see and do.
Yay! We’d love to have you out here to explore, Nicola! 🙂
Phoenix sounds like such a naturally bountiful place to live in! I’d love myself some time in Sedona, Grand Canyon NP and Prescott. Oh, and would love to get tipsy at Cottonwood haha! Thanks for this guide – definitely coming back to it when the time is right 🙂
There’s so much natural beauty here, Bea! Thanks for reading 🙂
Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the US and this post is a great collection of some of the best places to visit outside of Phoenix! I’d love to be kayaking on that lake in Prescott, it looks amazing! I appreciate your tips and also that you have include distances from Phoenix. It is a big state!
It’s such a beautiful lake, Erica! And haha, yes, deceptively big! I didn’t even include some spots in Northern Arizona because there’s no way you can fit them into a day trip!
This is a great list! I was pleasantly surprised by Cottonwood and Jerome! Saving this list for when I’m back in the area this fall. Thanks!
Have fun when you’re back in the fall, Susan! That’s a great time to visit!
Lots of great day trip ideas here! I’d love to visit this part of the states and do a road trip around to different locations.
Yes! That would be an awesome trip!
I’ve been to Jerome and Sedona, but somehow missed Cottonwood! I need a do-over!
Cottonwood is a great city! So much wine and so much fun 🙂
Although all of these places sound amazing, Sedona has always been at the top of my bucket list for some reason. Tombstone also seems interesting.
Sedona is a total bucket list destination – you can’t miss it!