Phoenix and Scottsdale make great bases for day trips exploring Arizona. You can drive to most of the state’s top destinations from Phoenix and Scottsdale and get back by the end of the day. Here are 10 day trips from Phoenix and Scottsdale to consider when planning a visit.
If you take only one day trip while visiting Phoenix and Scottsdale, make sure it’s to the Grand Canyon. One of the original Seven Wonders of the World, the canyon is roughly a 4-hour drive from Phoenix but well worth it. Start your day early, and you’ll have a few hours at the South Rim to gawk at its enormity, take photos and even hike partially into its depths.
Want to explore Route 66 ? You’ll find more of the historic highway still in existence in Arizona than you will in any other state. From Phoenix and Scottsdale, drive the two hours north to Flagstaff to pick up the infamous route.
Head west to Williams and Seligman, birthplace of the movement that saved what remains of the road. If you have time, continue to Kingman or even Oatman, where wild burros greet you in the street looking for carrots and treats.
You’ll drive through Flagstaff to get to the Grand Canyon or to pick up Route 66, but the city has so much to do that it’s worth a day trip of its own. Start by shopping on the Square, the city’s historic downtown. When you get thirsty, sample beers on the Flagstaff Ale Trail.
If you’re looking for museums, look no further than the Museum of Northern Arizona. Or, visit Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered. (Come back at night for stargazing.) You can also marvel at local flora at the Arboretum at Flagstaff.
The red rocks of Sedona are just two hours from Phoenix and Scottsdale. Spend the day shopping at the boutiques and galleries in Uptown Sedona or the Mexican village-themed Tlaquepaque. Or, hit the trails on foot or by mountain bike.
You can also explore the area on a 4×4 tour. If its your first visit, book the Broken Arrow Tour offered by Pink Jeep, the only tour that drives up on the red rocks.
A mining-town-turned-arts-community, Jerome is also a 2-hour drive from Phoenix. You can learn about what was once the largest copper mine in Arizona at the Jerome State Historic Park. Or, visit the art galleries and boutique shops in town. There’s even a few wine tasting rooms sampling vintages from nearby vineyards.
The Verde Canyon Railroad takes you on a scenic, narrated ride through Verde Canyon. Watch for ancient ruins, early settlers’ homes and wildlife along the way. You may even see a bald eagle or two if you keep your eyes open! Take advantage of the open air cars for the best experience.
After your ride, stop by neighboring Cottonwood to sample regional wines or shop for antiques in Old Town. Several restaurants make it a great option for dinner before heading back to the Valley.
Originally a stagecoach route connecting Phoenix to Globe, the Apache Trail (State Route 88) is a scenic drive beginning in Apache Junction. Along the way, you’ll pass Lost Dutchman State Park and Goldfield Ghost Town. Plan to stop for lunch at Tortilla Flat.
Continue to the beginning of Fish Creek Hill at mile marker 222, but don’t venture much further unless you’re a confident driver. There are steep drop-offs, and some of the switchbacks narrow to one lane. If you encounter another driver, one of you will have to yield the right of way.
Arizona has three wine regions, all great day trips from Phoenix and Scottsdale (as long as you have a designated driver). The Verde Valley Wine Region is about an hour and a half north of Phoenix, near Sedona. Here you can visit Page Springs Cellars, Javelina Leap Vineyard and Caduceus Cellars.
It will take you about two and a half hours to drive to the Sonoita Wine Region and three hours to drive to the Willcox Wine Region from Phoenix. Sample wines from Kief-Joshua Vineyards, Sonoita Vineyards, and Dos Cabezas Wineworks in these areas.
It’s worth the 3-hour drive to Tombstone from Phoenix and Scottsdale, especially if you are interested in the Old West or history. You can see the OK Corral where the gunfight between the Earps and the Cowboys took place and watch a reenactment. Several museums, like the Bird Cage Museum, provide insights on the gun battle and life in the mining town.
There’s plenty to see and do in Tucson. Start by learning more about the Sonoran Desert at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Then, explore Saguaro National Park. Or, step back in time at Old Tucson to the 1880s. If you prefer aircraft to horses, spend the day at Pima Space & Air Museum.
You can also discover why UNESCO recently named Tucson the first City of Gastronomy in North America. The city has great food and a long heritage of farming. Drop by Mission Gardens to see the oldest continuously farmed piece of land in the country.
Phoenix in 48 Hours: 13 Places Not to Miss … Desert landscapes, culture and fine food in the Arizona capital