Top 10 Best Day Trips From Phoenix

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Phoenix is a wonderful city to explore but it also makes a good base for touring around the Southwest. From here, you can easily day trip to some of the most ... read more...

  1. Top 1


    One of the best day trips from Phoenix is Sedona. Surrounded by striking red rock mountains, cut through by the meandering Oak Creek, and said to contain vortexes, Sedona is one of the most scenic and intriguing towns in the entire Southwest. The main street consists mainly of tourist shops and restaurants but is also home to crystal sellers, fortune tellers, and other unique retail outlets you can't find just anywhere, including places to buy metaphysical gifts or gets aura photo and aura readings.

    If you have time, a 4-hour Jeep Tour is a wonderful way to get out into the landscape and see some of the sites, including ancient ruins and rock wall art. Hikers will find fantastic hiking trails around Sedona. You can hike to a saddle of the famous Cathedral Rock or takes in some of the easier but equally beautiful canyon hikes. To experience the powers of an energy vortex, you can take a Sedona Vortex Tour, where a guide will explain what these mystical places are all about. While most of the appeal is the incredible surroundings, other things to see and do in Sedona include visiting ancient cliff dwellings and ruins, having a look at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and tackling some of the local mountain biking trails.

    Distance from Phoenix: 115 miles

    Travel time: 2 hours
    Verde Valley, Arizona, United States
    Tripadvisor Rating:

  2. Joshua Tree National Park is an American national park in southeastern California, east of San Bernardino and Los Angeles and north of Palm Springs. It is named after the Joshua trees native to the Mojave Desert. For an all-day outing to a complete change of scenery, consider a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. This is the perfect place to see these delightful trees, as well as some incredible landscapes and a few other added attractions.

    From Phoenix, you can reach the south side of the park in a little over three hours, along Interstate 10. Plan on a few hours in the park to stop and see some of the highlights, like Skull Rock, the Cholla Cactus Garden, Keys View, and Hidden Valley. The best option for spending the night, unless you want to camp in Joshua Tree National Park, is to base yourself in nearby Twentynine Palms. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features habitats of creosote bush scrub, ocotillo, desert saltbush, and mixed scrub including yucca and cholla cactus. Some areas of such cactus are dense enough to appear as natural gardens. The lower Coachella Valley is on the southeastern side of the park with sandy soil grasslands and desert dunes.

    Distance from Phoenix: 222 miles

    Travel time: 3 hours 21 min
    Location: Riverside County and San Bernardino County, California, United States
    Tripadvisor Rating: 5/5

  3. Meteor Crater, or Barringer Crater, is a meteorite impact crater about 60 km east of Flagstaff and 29 km west of Winslow in the desert of northern Arizona, United States. The site had several earlier names, and fragments of the meteorite are officially called the Canyon Diablo Meteorite, after the adjacent Cañon Diablo. Because the United States Board on Geographic Names recognizes names of natural features derived from the nearest post office, the feature acquired the name of "Meteor Crater" from the nearby post office named Meteor.

    Located 2 hours and 45 minutes from Phoenix lies a massive round depression in the ground. The depression is almost a mile across and over 500 feet deep and is known as Meteor Crater, the site where a large meteorite crashed into Earth approximately 50,000 years ago. Today, Meteor Crater attracts visitors from all over the world. The on-site discovery center contains 24 interactive exhibits that give information about stars, planets, and meteors. There are also a gift shop and rock shop on the premises.

    Guests can take a guided tour of the crater rim and can stay until dark for excellent star gazing. Since the crater's formation, the rim is thought to have lost 50–65 ft (15–20 m) of height at the rim crest as a result of natural erosion. Similarly, the basin of the crater is thought to have roughly 100 ft (30 m) of additional postimpact sedimentation from lake sediments and alluvium. Learn all about meteorites and their impact on Earth at the accompanying space museum. Complete with an RV park you could even spend the night staring into the expanse that contributed to this landmark so long ago.

    Distance from Phoenix: 187 miles
    Travel time:
    2 hours 45 min

    Location: Coconino County, Arizona, United States

    Tripadvisor Rating: 5/5

  4. The Grand Canyon is the most visited natural attraction in the Southwestern USA and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. If you have time for only one day trip from Phoenix and have not seen it before, you should definitely make time to visit the Grand Canyon. From Phoenix, by car, this trip takes a full day, but the drive is spectacular. You can do this drive as a quick there-and-back trip along the interstates or plans a few detours and turn the trip into a loop.

    The most scenic option on the way to the Grand Canyon is to drive north on Highway 17, breaking off at Highway 179 to 89A to see the red rock scenery of Sedona, and then drive through scenic Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. From Flagstaff, you can either take Interstate 40 West to 64 North, which is the fastest route, or Hwy 180 North to 64 North for a more scenic option. Once you reach Grand Canyon National Park, you can spend a few hours seeing the sites and lookouts along the Canyon Rim and admiring the views. If you want to relax and not worry about planning the trip on your own, you can easily join an organized tour of the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, including a helicopter flight over the canyon.

    Distance from Phoenix: 229 miles
    Travel time:
    3 hours 20 minutes

    Location: Cocono and Mohave, Arizona, United States

    Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5
  5. Top 5


    Only 1.5 hours from Phoenix, Tucson is a great day trip. You can stop by for a bite to eat on your way to the nearby attractions. Outdoor activities include hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Or step up in your adventure and try some bouldering or rock climbing. Conversely, you could spend the day learning the history of flight at the Pima Air and Space Museum. Or spend the night watching the stars whiz by at the Sky Center at Mt. Lemmon.

    Despite its ever-expanding size, Tucson exudes a small-town atmosphere. Neighborhoods like the El Presidio Historic District and the Barrio Histórico – are complete with colorful adobe buildings and quaint shops. Meanwhile, the high-end restaurants and resorts of the Catalina Foothills district add a contemporary flair that may soon rival that of Phoenix's ritzy suburbs like Scottsdale. And the trendy shops and rowdy bars surrounding the palm tree-laden University of Arizona campus infuse this city with a youthful spirit. Unlike the sprawling state capital, Tucson has yet to overpower its surroundings; nearby mountains and wilderness areas like Saguaro National Park offer a true taste of the Sonoran Desert.

    Distance from Phoenix: 108 miles
    Travel time:
    1 hour 50 min

    Location: Pima County, Arizona, United States

    Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5

  6. At an elevation of approximately 6,900 feet, Flagstaff has a dramatically different landscape and a completely different climate than Phoenix. Towering pine trees surround the city, giving it an almost alpine fee. The downtown, which includes a section of historic Route 66, has a number of historic buildings, interesting restaurants, and sports stores. Nearby, you can explore Ancient Sinagua cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument and the volcanic landscape of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

    During the winter months, you can expect to find snow in Flagstaff, and often lots of it in the surrounding mountains. Just outside of town, on the slopes of an ancient volcano, is the Arizona Snowbowl ski hill, with a top elevation of 11,500 feet. After winter storms, you can find some great powder here. Hiking is popular in this area from spring until fall when the area is free of snow. Although you can reach Flagstaff by taking Interstate 17, a more scenic option runs through the town of Sedona and up a winding road with switchbacks, through the Scenic Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. The best option is to take Interstate 17 north to Highway 179, which will take you to Sedona, then follow Highway 89A up Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff.

    Distance from Phoenix: 144.3 miles

    Travel time: 2 hours 15 min
    Coconino County, Arizona, United States
    Tripadvisor Rating:

  7. Pronounced “Preskit” to locals, Prescott has a lot to offer under two hours north of Phoenix. From hiking to rock climbing there is plenty to do in the outdoors for a day trip. Speaking of outdoor activities, you may be surprised to find how much you can do on the water. But there are more lakes here than in any other town in Arizona. Remember to bring your boat and fishing rod.

    Grown-ups may like to sample some of Arizona’s unique wineries. Or finds something for everyone strolling down historical Whiskey Row. From candy shops to old-west-style saloons, get a sense of the gold rush from over a century ago. From Phoenix to Prescott is less than a two-hour drive. The surrounding area offers unique scenery with excellent hiking trails, as well as opportunities for camping. The boulder-strewn shores of Watson Lake make a pleasant area for a stroll. If you are out for a scenic drive and don't mind a twisty mountain road, combine a trip to Prescott with a stop in the old mining town of Jerome and make a loop back to Phoenix. From Prescott, Highway 89A leads up to Jerome. You can return to Phoenix via Cottonwood on Highway 260, which will take you back to Interstate 17.

    Distance from Phoenix: 115 miles
    Travel time:
    1 hour 50 min

    Location: Yavapai County, Arizona, United States

    Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5

  8. Approximately an hour and a half north of Phoenix, Montezuma Castle National Monument makes for a superb cultural day trip. Here, travelers will find a set of preserved cliff dwellings once inhabited by the Sinagua people hundreds of years ago. Visitors can explore the pueblo ruins and various archaeological sites, hike the trails at Montezuma Well and enjoy ranger talks.

    The 90-foot tall cliff served as both a natural defense against enemy tribes and the annual flooding of Beaver Creek below. While you are there, don’t miss Montezuma’s Well. Although you can't go inside the dwellings, you can view them from almost immediately below, and since it's not far up the wall, you can get quite close. You can combine a visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument with a stop at the nearby Montezuma Well National Monument, a few minutes to the south of here. This site overlooks a small lake, which is actually a sinkhole fed by an underground spring. A pleasant walking trail loops through the monument. You can also combine a trip to Montezuma Castle National Monument with a stop in nearby Sedona.

    Distance from Phoenix: 93.2 miles
    Travel time:
    1 hour 22 min

    Location: Camp Verde, Arizona, United States

    Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5

  9. One of the most recognizable natural features of Arizona is the Saguaro Cactus. It is a rare cactus, found in a very small part of the Southwest. And that rarity makes them as synonymous with the desert as a roadrunner and a coyote speeding along the landscape. You will be hard-pressed to find any Looney Toons. But to see a large concentration of these desert giants look no farther than Saguaro National Park.

    Hikers and anyone with a love of saguaros and desert scenery will enjoy a trip to Saguaro National Park, near Tucson. This is about a two-hour drive from Phoenix. Scenic drives through the park offer beautiful views up the cactus-covered mountainsides, and hiking trails offer a chance to get out into the serenity of the desert and see some of the wildlife and vegetation up close. On the east side of Tucson is the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro, with a paved-loop road and a couple of easy hikes. This peaceful and entertaining museum, set on 89 acres, is mostly outdoors and more of a zoo and botanical garden than a museum. Spend a day hiking the many trails. The park is an excellent choice for all skill levels and you’ll find many of the trails in Saguaro National Park good even during the winters.

    Distance from Phoenix: 104.5 miles
    Travel time:
    1 hour 34 min

    Location: Pima County, Southeastern Arizona, United States

    Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5
  10. Top 10


    Jerome is one of many old mining towns that erupted during the heyday at the turn of the 20th century. As mining ran out, so did most of the population in these dying towns. Yet the locals wanted to keep this boom town alive. So not only can you see the remnants of the past in museums and the restored ghost town, you can spend a day here discovering some of the history of mining in the old west. Better yet, combine Jerome with some of the other attractions nearby.

    Perched on a mountainside, looking out over the valley below and distant mountains are the former mining town of Jerome. Abandoned and left to become a ghost town, Jerome has found new life through tourism. The twisting road that winds through the town is now a mix of rustic and restored buildings that have been turned into small shops and converted into restaurants. The town has been updated enough to make it enjoyable for tourists but still maintains some of the Old West characters. The drive to Jerome, up a paved road of switchbacks, is also part of the attraction of this day trip. You can make a full-day outing by driving to Sedona, then up to Jerome, and over the mountain behind Jerome to the historic town of Prescott, before returning to Phoenix.

    Distance from Phoenix: 100 miles

    Travel time: 1 hour 30 min
    Location: Yavapai County, Arizona, United States
    Tripadvisor Rating: 4.5/5

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