Arizona

The Ultimate Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things To Do in the Grand Canyon State

March 22, 2017
Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things to do in Arizona

If you’ve been on Instagram lately, chances are you’ve seen a few pictures of Arizona. The Wave, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Horseshoe Bend are just a few of the places I see constantly popping up on my feed. These natural wonders are all bucket list worthy, but we decided to create our own proper Arizona bucket list beyond these few highlights. Hopefully this list of 101 things to do in Arizona will inspire you to venture a bit further south and explore the whole state. We bet you’ll be surprised at what you find!

Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things to do in Arizona

Northern Arizona

1 Hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim Don’t make my mistake and procrastinate prepping for this trip. It’s 23.9 miles across, which you’ll most likely be making in one day unless you plan far ahead to get camping reservations for the canyon.
2 Raft the Colorado River No wetter (or faster) way to travel through the Grand Canyon
3 Hike to Havasupai Even if you’re doing the Supai Shuffle afterwards, this hike to falls with turquoise waters is worth it.
4 Horseshoe Bend A horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River. Just a few minutes hike off the road south of Page.
5 Antelope Canyon Scenic slot canyon formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone from flash flooding.
6 Monument Valley The ultimate backdrop for a cowboy to ride off into the sunset.
7 Boating on Lake Powell Man-made reservoir created by the Glen Canyon dam. Incredibly scenic and a great place to rent a houseboat as this lake is huge!
8 Hike to The Wave Sandstone rock formation on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes. Good luck with getting your permits!
9 Emerald Cove in Black Canyon Maybe you’ve heard of the blue lagoon in Capri, but did you know Arizona has its own cave you can kayak to, with glowing emerald waters?!
10 Lake Mead Largest reservoir in the U.S. and popular boating spot.
11 Skiing at Snowbowl near Flagstaff Who says Arizona doesn’t have snow?!
12 Snowbowl’s chairlift to the top of the San Francisco Peaks Beautiful views of this volcanic mountain range, including Arizona’s highest mountain, Humphreys Peak.
13 White House Ruin Trail in Canyon de Chelly National Monument Cliff dwellings built by the Anasazi in caves and recesses in the canyon walls in the 1100s
14 Keet Seel and Betatakin in the Navajo National Monument Two Ancestral Puebloan villages from the 1200s
15 Cliff Dwelling at Walnut Canyon National Monument Cliff dwelling rooms constructed 1100 to 1250 CE by the Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group
16 Hike Humphreys Peak Arizona’s highest peak
17 Sycamore Canyon True wild backcountry with no paved roads, camp grounds or visitor center. This is the second largest canyon in Arizona (after the Grand Canyon, of course.)
18 Petrified Forest National Park Colorful badlands scattered with petrified wood.
19 Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River Taller than Niagara Falls, these may not be the most picturesque falls with a brown, muddy flow.  The flow is highly variable, heavier from rainfall or snowmelt, or there may be no flow at all.
20 Drive U.S. Route 66 One of the original highways, this route connects Chicago to Santa Monica. The highway passes near Flagstaff, and there’s even two surviving Wigwam Motels near Holbrook.
21 Window Rock In Navajo: tségháhoodzání. Or directly translated: the rock-with-hole-through-it.
22 Meteor Crater Meteorite impact crater near Flagstaff

Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things to do in Arizona

Central Arizona

23 London Bridge in Lake Havasu City This bridge spanned the Thames in London from 1831 until 1967, when it was deemed no longer fit for the heavy load of daily traffic. It was dismantled, sold, and reconstructed in Lake Havasu.
24 Swimming in Slide Rock in Sedona A natural water slide among Sedona’s red rocks
25 Grasshopper Point Swimming & Picnic Area One of the many scenic swimming holes in Sedona
26 “The Crack” in Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness southeast of Sedona One of the many scenic swimming holes in Sedona
27 Red Rock State Park in Sedona See Sedona’s unique Red Rocks
28 West Fork of Oak Creek Trail #108 Lush trails with creek crossings. A great place to see fall foliage in AZ.
29 S-Canyon in the Blue Range Primitive Area Beautiful forests near the New Mexico border
30 Tuzigoot, Montezuma Castle, and Honanki Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings
31 Aravaipa Canyon See creeks, cliffs and big horn sheep
32 Lone Pine Trailhead in Four Peaks Wilderness Area Hike through pine covered wilderness
33 Hike to Fossil Creek 8.4 mile hike to large waterfalls. As of 2016, this hike now requires a permit.
34 Mogollon Rim Drive along Forest Road 300 for scenic views of the rim and the valley, hike, camp, kayak or fish around the area’s lakes.

Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things to do in Arizona

Phoenix Metro Area

35 Hike Peralta Trail to Weaver’s Needle in Superstition Mountains 4.9 mile moderate trail with interesting rock formations
36 Hike Flatiron in the Superstition Mountains 5.5 mile hard trail up to a large plateau on top of Superstition moutains
37 Hieroglyphic Trail in Superstition Mountains 2.9 mile easy trail with a waterfall
38 Hike Camelback Popular 4.7 mile hard trail in the middle of Phoenix
39 Hike Piestewa Peak 2.3 mile hard trail in the middle of Phoenix
40 Hike Wind Cave 2.9 mile moderate trail through beautiful Sonoran desert
41 Backyard Taco Basic but delicious Mexican food
42 Cibo Pizzeria The best pizza I’ve had in Phoenix. Get anything with burrata
43 Pizzeria Bianco Wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and Italian small plates. Often listed as some of the best pizza in the U.S.
44 Mesa Donuts Simple and fresh, these are the best donuts in the east valley.
45 Karl’s Quality Bakery Amazing cronuts! The bran muffin is pretty incredible too.
46 Worth Takeaway The crispy chicken is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.
47 Little Miss BBQ Barbeque so good, you might think you’re in Texas.
48 Realeza Michoacana Mexican treats. Get a raspado (shaved ice, cream, tons of fruit)
49 Carolina’s Mexican Food Hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant
50 Four Peaks Brewery Working brewery and restaurant
51 Matt’s Big Breakfast Everything here is done right – pancakes, waffles, eggs, all served with a lot of butter.
52 Cerreta Candy Co Arizona’s own candy maker, famous for the green french mints
53 Gelato Dolce Vita The closest you’ll get to real Italian gelato in AZ
54 Sweet Republic Ice Cream Shop Local chain serving artisan ice cream
55 Barrio Cafe Get the mole!
56 Organ Stop Pizza Go here to see the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. The pizza is mediocre at best.
57 Farmers Market at Phoenix Public Market Lots of local produce and vendors on Saturday mornings
58 Mary Coyle’s ice cream shop Classic ice cream shop originally opened in 1951
59 Talison West by Frank Lloyd Wright Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home
60 Desert Botanical Garden One of the best collections of desert plants from deserts around the world
61 The Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art A living museum with both artifacts and contemporary art of Native American cultures
62 DeSoto Central Market Hangout offering eateries, a bar & a farmer’s market in a vintage car dealership
63 Walking Tour of Downtown Phoenix A fun way to learn a bit of Phoenix history and see some of the city’s best street art and architecture
64 Street Art in Roosevelt Row Arts district decorated by local street artists
65 Boating on Saguaro Lake Resevoir on the Salt River great for wakeboarding
66 Tubing or kayaking down the Salt River Float or paddle down the river
67 The Phoenix Zoo Largest privately owned, non-profit zoo in the U.S.
68 Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park Cool natural geological formation in Phoenix
69 Musical Instrument Museum Thousands of instruments on display from around the world
70 Phoenix Art Museum Modern and contemporary art museum
71 Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMOCA) Small modern art musem in downtown Scottsdale
72 Old Town Scottsdale A taste of the southwest with art galleries, retail and great restaurants.
73 Wrigley Mansion Tour the 1931 home of the chewing-gum magnate,  William Wrigley, Jr.
74 Tovrea Castle A mini “castle” in the middle of the desert
75 Rosson House An 1895 Victorian home from Arizona’s territorial days
76 Show at Orpheum Theater 1929 theatre originally used for traveling vaudville acts
77 Diamondbacks Baseball Game Arizona’s professional baseball team
78 Phoenix Suns Basketball Game Arizona’s professional basketball team
79 Coyotes Hockey Game Arizona’s professional hockey team
80 Cardinals Football Game Arizona’s professional football team
81 Spring Training Game Chicago Cubs or Oakland A’s facilities are in Mesa
82 Pick the peaches at Schnepfs Farm Peach picking is the 2nd and 3rd weeks in May
83 Watch the bats take off at 40th Street and Camelback From May to October, right at nightfall, Mexican Freetail bats fly out of the flood control channel at 40th Street and Camelback
84 Stay the night at the Arizona Biltmore Historic hotel built in 1929, it was a favorite of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe.
85 Encanto/Palmcroft Neighborhood Neighborhood with 1920s California Craftsman bungalows and Mock Tudors
86 See a show at Grady Gammage Auditorium Traveling Broadway shows and other performing acts come to this theatre, one of the last public commissions of architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things to do in Arizona

Southern Arizona

87 Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway Scenic drive through the Santa Catalina mountains
88 Skiing on Mount Lemmon The southernmost ski destination in the U.S.
89 Mission San Xavier del Bac Historic Spanish Catholic mission built in the late 1700s. Known as the “The White Dove of the Desert”
90 Kartchner Caverns State Park Caverns are carved out of limestone and filled with speleothems
91 Hike Seven Falls Trail in Sabino Canyon Hike along and through the creek to impressive falls up in Sabino Canyon
92 Hike Picacho Peak A difficult trail, with cables and catwalks need to reach the top of this big peak.
93 Chiricahua National Monument Extensive hoodoos and balancing rocks
94 Biosphere 2 Earth systems science research facility.  It is the largest closed system ever created.
95 Saguaro National Park Large park near tucson with hiking, petroglyphs, and, of course, saguaro cactus.
96 Blue Canyon on the Hopi Indian Reservation Scenic area of red and white colored rocks in the Hopi Indian Reservation. To visit, you’ll need to schedule a Hopi guide.
97 Aqui Con Nene Tacos Not only incredible tacos, but finalist in the Stand-out Sixty Four Food Bracket for the best hot dog.
98 Café Poca Cosa Unique spin on Mexican cuisine
99 El Charro They invented the chimichanga (deep fried burrito)
100 Jerome Ghost Town Old copper mining town
101 Tombstone Wild West Show Entertaining reenactments of the wild west!

Arizona Bucket List: 101 Things to do in Arizona

What tops your list of things to do in Arizona?


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15 Comments

  • Reply Monica March 22, 2017 at 11:33 am

    El Charro invented the Chimichanga?! Incredible to learn. Great list, there are so many natural treasures to be found in the Arizona desert!

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 22, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I always wondered why it was so hard to find outside of Arizona, even in So Cal. Guess that’s because it’s kind of an Arizona thing!

  • Reply Jamie March 25, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Wow, terrific list! Pinning this for future reference. Thank you for taking the time to put this together!

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 25, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks Jamie! Hope you get to use it soon. 🙂

  • Reply Leigh March 25, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I’m planning on spending about 2 months in Arizona next fall winter (as part of a 6-month road trip) so this is awesome for me – definitely bookmarking for later!
    Leigh recently posted…Chelsea Market Food and Culture Walking TourMy Profile

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 25, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Wow, sounds like an epic trip! Hope you love your time in AZ.

  • Reply Lia & Jeremy March 25, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    This is an incredible and comprehensive list! Totally bookmarking this for the next time we visit Arizona!

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 25, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      Thank you! Hope you find it helpful!

  • Reply Sally March 25, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    This is beautiful! Am planning a family trip to Grand Canyon- thank you for all these wonderful ideas!

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 25, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      That’s sounds like a fun trip, Sally! Hope you fit in some great hiking or rafting!

  • Reply Yolanda March 25, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    I live in AZ and have done MANY of the things on this list. You have hit all the great for sure!

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 25, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks! Great to hear from another native 😉

  • Reply Laura April 5, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Awesome list! My parents are moving to Phoenix soon so I can’t wait to check some of these out!

    • Reply nomanbefore April 5, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      That’s great! Hope you guys can explore together! And hopefully you won’t be visiting in the heat of summer for the first time so you’ll want to come back 😉

  • Reply Jen April 23, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I just got back and fell in love with Arizona! I only did a brief trip to Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon but wow. I hear there are also dinosaur tracks? Seriously, what a cool state! I will be referencing your list on a future visit soon 🙂

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