If you know me, you know I love Arizona. This state has such vast landscapes, the best sunsets (in my opinion) in the world, and not to mention some bomb Mexican food. With that being said, I’m compiling a quick list of the 7 best spots to visit on your next trip to Arizona.
Sedona is gaining popularity at a rapid speed, and for good reason. This town has one of the coolest vibes, recognized as a place of spiritual healing, and is also sacred to the Native Americans. With it’s unmistakable red rock, it is absolutely breathtaking and the views never get old. In the summer months, Sedona’s temperatures offer an oasis from the scorching valley and is home to Slide Rock, an iconic state park where the smooth red stone acts as a natural water slide. My friends and I go up there every weekend we can to cliff jump in some of the deeper pools and cool off in the crystal clear water. Sedona has loads of great hiking trails, camping spots, and picturesque lookout points. The shopping is like no other when it comes to crystals, jewelry, and everything boho. I highly recommend stopping in at Center for the New Age for an aura reading or just to look at all of their beautiful crystals. Eating options in Sedona are endless and offer everything from vegan options to barbecue. Sedona is a must see when visiting Arizona, and is also only a short two hour drive to the Grand Canyon.
2) Cave Creek
Next on the list is Cave Creek Arizona. My mother was born and raised in this town back when you could ride your horse up to the post office. She’s even pictured riding down the creek with her horses on the official town of Cave Creek poster circa 1980. I moved here my senior year of high school and instantly fell in love with the place. Although I had always come up to visit my grandparent’s I never appreciated the town for what it’s really worth. Now that I’ve spent a year exploring I can easily say it is a must see when in Arizona. Located about 45 minutes from downtown Phoenix, Cave Creek is a time capsule of the Wild West. There’s everything from bull riding on Wednesday nights at the local bars, to two stepping the night away at Harold’s Corral. Aside from all the touristy hang outs, Cave Creek is home to a breathtaking landscape. One of my favorite places is the Spur Cross Conservation Area where you can find a flowing creek and cave alongside a plethora of wildlife, making it a beautiful sunset hike. There is no shortages of coffee shops and cafés here as well, my favorite being Janey’s Coffee House where there is not only great coffee, but also superb live music throughout the week. Cave Creek is home to a beautiful resort, The Boulders, where I once had a staycation and a bluebird landed on my shoulder as I ate fluffy pancakes (it was pretty Snow White-ish). This town is awesome for a weekend get away or even just a day trip.
Located an hour and a half South East of Tucson, this quaint town is charming and full of Arizona history. Bisbee is an old mining town founded in the 1800’s when gold and silver was plenty. The houses and architecture in Bisbee are unique to the area, and when you drive into town there’s a perfect pullout to stop and take photos. Every cafe and restaurant always looks so cozy, and it’s easy to spend all afternoon just walking around and sipping on a warm coffee. Some of my favorite places are Santiago’s Mexican Restaurant, Cafe Cornucopia, and for coffee I like Bisbee Coffee Company. Walk around downtown and take your time stopping in at the little thrift stores and shops. Bring cash if you’re planning on purchasing anything because many stores don’t accept cards. For lodging the Bisbee Grand Hotel is a historic little bed and breakfast and boasts a lovely bar. If you’re in Southern Arizona, Bisbee is definitely a location to spend a few days at.
On the southern most edge of Cave Creek lies the city boundary of Scottsdale, a beautiful and buzzing city filled with nightlife, art, and world renown shopping. During the day you can lay poolside in one of the many five star resorts, and by night you can head to Old Town for a night out. There’s SMOCA, a modern and contemporary art museum that is always changing their exhibits, that you can peruse during a hot day. Nestled in Old Town Scottsdale, there’s The SugarBowl, an adorable, pink smattered ice cream parlor that has any kind of sweet treat you can imagine up. Scottsdale Fashion Square boasts an extensive list of high end designers, with everything from Bottega Veneta to Ferragamo. If you are an avid golfer, there is no shortage of beautiful courses to play a round at and grab a beer after. Go gaze at Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful architecture at Taliesin West or wander around the Desert Botanical Gardens. Scottsdale is anything but short of activities.
Changing the tone from upscale Scottsdale, we head to number five on the list, Tucson. Tucson is where I go to school and and this little city is one of a kind. With everything from deep hippy Fourth Ave, to historic Downtown- Tucson has it all. One of my favorite things to do is drive up scenic Mount Lemmon where at the top you can get a fresh baked cookie and enjoy the view. In town, I spend a lot of time on Fourth Ave either doing hot yoga or buying incense at one of the many independently owned stores. Grab fresh produce at the Co-Op or sip fresh coffee and read a book at Cafe Passé. In the downtown area my favorite place is Hotel Congress, a historic hotel that has a super unique concert venue, bar, and not to mention the best brunch around. On the other side of Tucson there’s the old Loft Cinema that shows indie, documentary, and classic films. They also have beers on tap and a beautiful array of concessions to much on. Tucson is eccentric, intriguing, and undeniably authentic- a must visit for sure.
I like to call Flagstaff the Tucson of the North due to it’s similar vibe and authenticity. Flagstaff has an adorable downtown with vegetarian restaurants galore and a cute little music venue called the Orpheum Theater. Snowbowl is located a mere seven miles from the NAU campus, making it convenient for those who want to hit the slopes. This town is great if you’re looking for an escape from the city, and need a breath of fresh air, literally. Flagstaff is an awesome place to base yourself out of if you’re looking to visit the Grand Canyon or Horseshoe Bend. In the heart of downtown there is an adorable hostel called Grand Canyon International Hostel that has great dorm style room prices for backpackers. Check out Lowell Observatory and admire the night sky in all it’s glory then end the night in downtown at one of the cozy looking pubs. This town is so different from the rest of Arizona and is worth the drive.
Last but certainly not least is Oracle. Like Bisbee, this is a tiny mining town located near Tucson. I recently visited Oracle for the first time and loved it. Although this town is small, it’s filled with character. Cafes speckle the town, offering a hot cup of coffee on a chilly winter morning or a cold iced tea to battle the sweltering Arizona summers. You can’t miss Peppersauce Cave, a limestone cave that is about a mile long. My brother and I went camping one weekend and checked it out since you don’t need a guide and it was unreal. You crawl on your stomach through a tiny opening and you’re in- it’s pitch black, completely silent, and really awesome (also a little terrifying). There is a small lake at one end so make sure to go scope it out, just make sure not to actually get in the water unless you want to be doused in E Coli. After the cave, go pitch a tent at the local campground and wake up to fifty wild turkeys walking around as the sun is coming up. Oracle is awesome for a day trip from Tucson- you can even drive up the backside of Mount Lemmon when weather permits.