While there is plenty to keep visitors busy in the Valley of the Sun, there are worthwhile destinations within a couple of hours from the Phoenix area. During the warmer months, you'll want to focus on destinations north, at higher elevations. During the cooler months, going south means you'll be only a few degrees cooler than Phoenix, but going north could mean snow.
Prescott was the territorial capital of Arizona. Enjoy a taste of Arizona history, with a side dish of a modern mid-sized Arizona city in a beautiful area of central Arizona.
The red rocks of Sedona will lure you and your guests if a day trip is on the agenda. You can't go anywhere better to enjoy scenic beauty than Sedona. If you plan on taking a guided 4x4 or jeep tour during the holidays or spring break, make your reservations early. After you're done marveling at Sedona's natural beauty, there's plenty of shopping and eating to be done, too.
Arizona isn't all desert, and even if all you do is drive to Payson, the trip up the Beeline Highway is one of the loveliest. Watch the lower desert gradually turn into pine forest as you go to Payson and beyond, to Pine and Strawberry. This is what we call Rim Country. The elevation is at about 5,000 feet in Payson, so check the weather and dress accordingly. There might be snow, but it doesn't usually last very long. In the summer, Payson is where you can attend the world's oldest continuous rodeo.
AddressJerome, AZ 86331, USA
Jerome is one of Arizona's favorite towns, and the museum and surrounding area are an Arizona State Park. A scenic drive to this former mining town in Central Arizona offers a glimpse into a significant part of Arizona's history and growth. Today's commerce in Jerome centers around the artist community, so after exploring the mines and museums, a little shopping at the eclectic studios is in order. Of course, you can simply visit the museum, but if you want to spend the entire day, be prepared to do lots of walking here.
Not so much uniquely Arizona, but maybe more uniquely Africa, this wildlife preserve about 90 minutes north of Phoenix makes an easy day trip. Leave about 5 hours to see all the animals in an environment that makes you happy that a place like this exists.
About one and a half hours north of Phoenix are two national monuments that are well worth a trip. Take a walk among cliff dwellings and ancient Native American villages. It's an important part of Arizona's history, and a fun day of walking and hiking in our beautiful Arizona weather.
One of the great features that Phoenix has to offer motorcyclists is the comfort and variety of a vibrant urban area in combination with easy access to magnificent rides with unexpected diversity. Through 6,000 feet of elevation change, Central Arizona’s roads wind amidst lonely cacti and pine forests, introducing the rider to landscapes from sweeping southwestern vistas to steep canyon walls.
Both Jerome and Sedona might be on your itinerary for wine tasting at various locations in Page Springs, Cornville, and Cottonwood. If you are a wine lover, it makes a fun day trip, as long as you have a designated driver or plan to spend the night.
Arizona's second largest city is Tucson, and it's just a couple of hours down the road from Pheonix. There are museums, flora and fauna, canyons, hiking, golf, great resorts, caverns, scenic drives—you won't be able to explore it all in one day or even one week. Here are some recommendations for spending a great day in Tucson.
Love trains? The Verde Canyon Railroad in Clarkdale (about 100 miles north of Phoenix) travels through an area that was once rich in mining activity, and even prior to that, was the home of the ancient Sinagua people. The excursion covers about 20 miles and then simply turns around and heads back; the round trip is about four hours.