Arizona Bucket List: 25+ Best Things to do in Arizona (2023)

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Plan on being in Arizona for a while and want to know the best places to spend your time? Below is an Arizona bucket list made just for you.

I live in the southwest USA and have traveled throughout all of the states here, especially Arizona (Page AZ is my favorite).

Arizona is a state of extremes, home to one of the biggest cities in the United States, as well as some of the most rugged and untouched terrains. The desert beauty is all encompassing, and once you check off an item on your Arizona to do list, I promise you’ll be back for more.

🚗 Book your Arizona rental car here to enjoy your trip! 🚗

Arizona Bucket List

Spend a day in Sedona

Aerial view of a city at the base of a large rocky range.

One of Arizona’s most beloved destinations, Sedona is a city for lovers and adventurers. Inside the city limits is filled with culture, arts, and attractions, and outside is an endless wilderness of breathtaking beauty to explore.

With a great public shuttle system, Sedona makes it easy to see everything you need to see while you’re there. 

Marvel at the beauty of the Grand Canyon

View from an overlook into a massive canyon.

Witnessing the immensity of the Grand Canyon is a must do in Arizona.

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, we are lucky to be able to explore the Grand Canyon and all its magic. Here you can hike the rims, and revel in the majesty of this natural creation.

This not only deserves a spot on the bucket list, not just your Arizona bucket list.


Where should you travel next?

Snap a photo at Horseshoe Bend

A small river curving around the base of a red rock canyon.

When exploring the east rim of the Grand Canyon, immortalizing one of the park’s most photographed views is an Arizona must do.

The Colorado River expertly snakes around the red sandstone, creating a horseshoe-shaped pattern and an enchanting view. The hike to the bend overlook is 1.5 miles. Be sure to bring your camera along!

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Drive through Monument Valley

Sun rising over a large desert area with three large rock formations.

Monument Valley is great because it’s really a drive-by nature show. There is one 3-mile hike that follows a trail to Mitten Butte, one of the most famous sights, but most visitors opt for the 17-mile loop, showcasing the beloved sandstone formations.

Located in Northern Arizona, Monument Valley sits on ancient Navajo land and has been protected for hundreds of years. Once you’re finished with the scenic drive, you can pull into The Trading Post at the View Hotel to support Navajo artists and bring home an authentic souvenir.

This is one of the best things to do in Arizona if you’re a little pressed for time but still want to see something as you’re traveling through.

Check out Lake Mead

Rocky hills leading down towards a bright blue lake.

Over the last 100 years, Hoover Dam has created the desert oasis that is Lake Mead.

With 700 miles of coastline, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States. It became America’s first recreational area, and all 700 miles have been used for water sports, fishing, and sunbathing.

And when you’re getting tired of swimming, the recreation area extends far behind the lake, so you can hike, bike, walk or jog any of the surrounding areas. Who knows? You might catch sight of some wildlife as well.

Go skiing or snowboarding

Person skiing down a mountain on a clear day.

You wouldn’t think that one of the hottest states in the US would have any good ski resorts, but I’m here to tell you that Arizona does!

There are three main resorts: Arizona Snowbowl, Sunrise, and Mt. Lemmon. There is also Elk Ridge which is a bit smaller. 

The Snowbowl is located in Flagstaff, Sunrise is near the Arizona-New Mexico border, and Mt. Lemmon is right outside of Tucson.

Visit Petrified Forest National Park

Aerial view of a large desert area with colorful rock formations.

The Petrified Forest National Park should be an Arizona bucket list item for any geology, history, and nature lovers.

Walk the trails of the park, getting up close and personal with tree-turned-rock specimens. As you walk, you’ll be surrounded by views of the Painted Desert.

There are two visitor centers in this park, one on the north end and one on the south end. Each has fascinating exhibits, gift shops, and restrooms.

See the cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument

View of a rocky cliffside from behind a tree-covered area.

Near Flagstaff, the Walnut Canyon National Monument sits as a testament to the innovation of the ancient peoples who inhabited this land.

These cliff dwellings were built by the ancient Puebloan people, and although they were not the first to build settlements in this area, theirs were the most permanent and have stood the test of time.

To see these dwellings, you can take the Island Trail, which is a mile-long loop. If you’d like a ranger to guide you, that’s available as well.

Camp in Sycamore Canyon

Sycamore Canyon is one of our lesser-known Arizona bucket list items, but it is just as worth a visit as the others.

Soaring, green trees dust the surface on either side of the canyon, making the burst of red and orange on the canyon walls pop vividly. It is a nationally protected wilderness area with 50,000 acres full of breathtaking sights to discover.

Visit Montezuma Castle

Ancient buildings carved into the side of a cliff.

If ancient dwellings interest you, so will the Montezuma Castle.

This is one of my favorite bucket list things to do in Arizona. The Montezuma Castle is a 5-story tall dwelling built in the 12th century. It took about three centuries to complete the 20+ rooms. It is a truly fascinating piece of architecture that everyone should see at least once in their life.

See the red rocks at Red Rock State Park

Just like the name suggests, there are some pretty red rocks here. Honestly, this state park is the full package. With the glowing red rock formations, forested areas, and a creek, you’ll be able to find something for everyone to enjoy.

It’s stunning and a family-friendly location for an Arizona bucket list idea. It offers a great list of events where you can see the park from all angles.

Explore Jerome Ghost Town

Large wooden sign that says "Road open 365 days a year. Jerome a national historic landmark".

Jerome was a dead town before the tourist industry brought it back to life.

Now, you can visit the hundred-year-old buildings while still being able to find a place to eat afterward. The end of the gold rush still hangs in the air, reminding visitors what caused Jerome’s decline in the first place.

Take a step back in time and put Jerome on your Arizona to do list.

Visit Goldfield Ghost Town

Goldfield is another ghost town that was coaxed to death by the mining industry. The last time this city had a boom was in the 1920s.

Now, you can witness how little things have changed since then. In fact, you can even watch a recreated wild west gunfight right there in the street. Pan for gold and ride on Arizona’s only narrow gauge train.

A day in Goldfield is a day you won’t forget.

See the cacti in Saguaro National Park

Large grassy area with tall cacti in it.

Saguaro cacti are the US’s largest cacti, and Saguaro National Park is one of the only places they grow.

While exploring the park, you can see the heights that these magnificent cacti can grow to. Take the scenic loop or park your vehicle and hike the trails to examine these towering plants up close. 

Check out the street art on Roosevelt Row in Phoenix

Brick wall with a mural painted on it.

Phoenix hides one of its most interesting attractions in plain sight.

1 ½ Street, or “Mural Alley,” is a gallery of murals painted by 12 local artists. Depicting some iconic Arizona likenesses, the murals attract art lovers and art amateurs alike. It’s a great place to snap a few photos to let your followers know where you were.

1 ½ Street should be on your Arizona bucket list.

Walk through Antelope Canyon with a guide

View looking up to the top of a rock canyon from the canyon floor.

Antelope Canyon is one of those places that transports you into another world. Keep in mind that it’s not possible to visit this beautiful landscape without a tour.

The cool silence of the slot canyons starts as soon as you set foot on the even cooler sand. Your guide will lead you through the open sections of the canyon, giving you all the best views. 

This transformative sandstone palace is an Arizona bucket list idea you cannot pass up.

🎟️ Book the most popular Antelope Canyon tour here! 🎟️

Hike to Havasu Falls

Waterfall flowing into a bright blue lake in a red rocky canyon.

Havasu Falls needs to be on your Arizona bucket list if you’re up for a challenging but intensely rewarding trek into the Arizona wilderness.

You’ll need to secure a permit to do the hike, and that’s the first step to descending into the Grand Canyon to see what tropical paradise it hides within its walls. You’ll need to bring everything you’ll need for a 4-day trip, and you’ll camp at the bottom, enjoying the falls during the day.

Hiking Havasu Falls is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but be prepared for a difficult hike!

Go horseback riding

Arizona is the place to visit if you are wanting to live out your Wild West dreams of being a cowboy or a cowgirl.

You can start with horseback riding, exploring the trails with your trusty steed instead of on foot. If you’d like to take it a step or two farther, book a stay at a dude ranch, where you can stay, sing campfire songs, and experience the ranch life.

This is an Arizona must do for families.

🐎 Check out this Arizona horseback ride tour from Flagstaff! 🐎

Stay at a resort in Scottsdale

A golf course at the foot of a small mountain.

If you’re looking for Arizona bucket list ideas that involve luxury hotels and resorts and poolside fun, Scottsdale is the place to go.

With pool-ready temperatures all year long, Scottsdale is a destination for any season. It does get very hot in the summer, but most resorts and hotels are willing to give out discounted prices if you brave the heat. 

Just be sure to have an ice-cold drink by your side at all times!

☀️ Reserve a night’s stay at Scottsdale’s most popular resort here! ☀️

Enjoy a hot air balloon ride

You can’t just hop on a hot air balloon anywhere, but in Arizona, there are two places where you can.

Book a ride in Phoenix or Tucson and enjoy the truly magical experience of floating up to the sky in a vehicle many people will never even see in their lifetimes. You’ll see Arizona’s desert beauty with new eyes from your new height.

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Arizona.

Book this morning hot air balloon ride over Phoenix!

Wander through the Desert Botanical Garden

A small walking path leading through a garden.

Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden is a wonderland for plant lovers and beauty seekers.

Hearing the word “garden” doesn’t normally bring up images of cacti, but you’ll be surprised to see how well they come together to make a garden of their own, along with many other stunning desert flora. 

The Botanical Garden also has events and live music that just adds to its magic.

Ride in a helicopter over Grand Canyon

Helicopter tours are allowed to drop 1000 feet lower than airplanes when flying over the Grand Canyon, allowing riders an exclusive view of this natural wonder.

You can choose what helicopter you’d like to ride in as well. The Bell with large windows, best for sightseeing? Or the Eco-Star, with its quiet technology, to make the ride a little less noisy?

Either way, seeing the Grand Canyon from a helicopter is a must do in Arizona.

🚁 This Grand Canyon helicopter tour is a great option! 🚁

Boat on the Colorado River

There are all kinds of ways to experience the Colorado River, and boating is one of my favorites. 

You can do this at various points throughout the river, whether it’s taking out a small skiff, white water rafting, or renting a houseboat to lounge on near Lake Mead.

Choose your level of relaxation from houseboating to adrenaline-seeking and get out on the water!

🛥️ Book a Colorado River tour here! 🛥️

Explore Lake Powell

Large blue lake at the base of a large red rock formation.

If you take a look at Lake Powell from above, it is truly something to be explored. Its shores snake in between monumental rock formations, making it a massive, natural playground.

Camp on its shores, then take your skiff, kayak, or boat out onto the waters to explore all the nooks and crannies that veer off the beaten path. Or just relax on the shores and watch the tubers, wakeboarders, and jet skiers perform some fantastic tricks. Or just wipe out. Either one.

Learn at the Arizona Capitol Museum

Arizona’s history has been tumultuous. From ancient indigenous peoples to cowboys to the gold rush, the history here is as rich as it gets. And the Arizona Capitol Museum is the place to learn all about it.

The building itself is a symbol of Arizona’s history, and once inside, you will see artifacts from every aspect of Arizona life from thousands of years ago to the present. This isn’t an Arizona bucket list item to pass up.

Visit Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Person walking along the side of a rocky cliff.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument are formations cut raw straight from the earth, untarnished from human cultivation.

This monument is home to Arizona’s famous Wave, which is only accessible with a permit. Even if you aren’t able to see the star of the show, there are a few underdogs that are more than worth the trip to Vermilion Cliffs.

Take some time to hike and explore the marbled red, orange, and white rock formations here.

Have a drink at Wren House Brewing Company

If you want to try craft beer in Arizona, I’m highly recommending Wren House Brewing Company.

Not only do they have high-quality, tasty concoctions, but their taproom is a reimagined 1930s bungalow house. Yep, you’re going to love it there.

For fans of craft beer, this is a must do in Arizona.

Taste an authentic Sonoran hot dog

Three large hot dogs topped with condiments and veggies.

These are not your typical hot dogs. Bacon-wrapped and grilled, and stuffed in a soft bun, then topped with beans, mustard, onions, mayo, tomatoes, and a little bit of salsa, these Sonoran hot dogs will rock your world.

Final Thoughts: Arizona Bucket List

Follow this list, and you’ll be able to see the Arizona landscape from the water, the ground, the top of mountains, and from the sky; it really doesn’t get much better than that!

An Arizona bucket list is bound to have some of the most beautiful sights, the most interesting history, and jaw-dropping art. This list will hopefully give you a taste of each of those aspects.

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