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10 Fun Things to Do in Arizona: From Awe-Inspiring to Mystical

Discover 10 fun things to do in Arizona. Explore things to see in Arizona like the Sonora Desert Museum. Learn about popular things to do in Arizona.
Arizona is one of the most unique (and one of my favorite...) destinations in the United States. I've had the good fortune to visit Phoenix, Tucscon, Flagstaff, Sedona, the Grand Canyon and more over the years. In fact, Arizona is one of my favorite places in the U.S. for a road trip.

There are so many unique experiences to be had in Arizona, how can you choose what to add to your American Southwest itinerary? Never fear! I've got you covered with my top picks of fun things to do in Arizona. 

Fun Things to Do in Arizona - Trail among the Saguaro Cacti

Fun Things to do in Arizona at a Glance

Let's start by summarizing my top picks for things to do, see, and eat in Arizona. I list the closest major airport (with approximate driving time) in parentheses.
  1. Channel Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Scottsdale (Phoenix, 30 min)
  2. Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens (Phoenix, 10 min)
  3. Hike the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona (Phoenix, ~4 hours)
  4. Get Swept up in a Mystical Vortex in Sedona (Phoenix, ~2 hours)
  5. Get Your Kicks on Route 66 in Arizona (Phoenix, ~2 hours)
  6. Name the Cacti in Saguaro National Park (Tucson, 30 min)
  7. Blast Off at Arizona's Titan Missile Museum (Tucson, 30 min)
  8. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson, 30 min)
  9. Visit Arizona's Airplane Boneyard (Tucson, <30 min)
  10. Eat Cactus in Arizona (Tucson, 30 min)

Fun Things to do in Arizona in Detail

Now let's explore the list of unique places to visit and amazing Arizona experiences in more detail including helpful photos to inspire your trip to the American Southwest.

1. Channel Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West near Phoenix

Fun Things to Do in Arizona - Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, split his time between Wisconsin in the north and Taliesin West which is located in Scottsdale just outside of Phoenix. Take time out to explore his winter home and school in the Sonoran desert.

2. Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix


The flora in Arizona is like no other place I've been in the world. The Desert Botanical Gardens near Phoenix is an ideal spot to see cactus and other native plants in all their glory.

3. Hike the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona


No trip to Arizona is complete without a a visit to the Grand Canyon. Sidle up to the south rim and stare off into infinity. 

The Grand Canyon is a jaw-dropping sight to see. Consider taking time to hike down (at least partway) into the Grand Canyon. 

Bear in mind that: 
  • (a) the temperature gets hotter as you go down into the canyon 
  • (b) going down is the easy part; don't use up all your energy on the descent because you still need to climb back out of the Grand Canyon.
Fun Things to Do in Arizona - Views from the Grand Canyon South Rim

4. Get Swept up in a Mystical Vortex in Sedona, Arizona

Fun Things to Do in Arizona - Sedona

Sedona is a new age-y town in Arizona's desert purported to be dotted with spiritual vortexes. You may be wondering, is the Sedona Vortex real

For those who believe, the vortexes are places of special spiritual energy that leave you feeling inspired and energized. 

For me, the views of the red rocks surrounding the Sedona itself left me inspired. That's all the special energy that I need.

5. Get Your Kicks on Route 66 in Arizona

Things to Do in Arizona - Route 66

Route 66 is an iconic route across the U.S. Route 66 was a series of major roads in its day but has now largely been left behind (except for determined tourists) in favor of the faster, more direct interstates. 

Route 66 is littered with all sorts of fun small town kitsch and roadside attractions. You can get your kicks on Route 66 in Arizona near Flagstaff. It's definitely worth a gander as part of an Arizona road trip.

6. Name the Cacti in Saguaro National Park Near Tucson

Fun Things to Do in Arizona - Collage of Saguaro Cacti in Saguaro National Park

One of my favorite things to do in Arizona is hike around the saguaro cactus. Each one seems to have its own personality. 

On our trips through Arizona, I decided to name the cacti based on those personalities. I also like to imagine stories about different sets of cacti. Here what my imagination cooked up for the cacti in the photos above (from top left):
  • (a) The Three Amigos!
  • (b) Draw, Pard'ner! Standing back to back for a good old fashioned duel.
  • (c) The three amigos on a walk through the valley
  • (d) A friendly two-headed alien saying hello
  • (e) A circus performer doing a hand-stand.

7. Blast Off at Arizona's Titan Missile Museum

Fun Things to Do in Arizona - Titan Missile Museum

Just a 30 minute drive from Tucson, you can revisit the atmosphere of the Cold War at the Titan Missile Museum. Did you know that this site is a National Historic Landmark?

Once home to the U.S.'s largest land based nuclear missile, the formerly active Air Force base is now a museum that transports visitors back in time. 

See the Titan Missile itself and then take a seat at the command center and simulate the conditions of a potential launch. 

I literally had my finger on the button. It was intense an intense part of our trip to Arizona!

8. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

Unique Things to Do in Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum

We made a more lighthearted stop at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tucson. We strolled through the park checking out the local flora and fauna. 

We even got to see a bird of prey demonstration. The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum is a great spot to commune with the unique nature and wildlife of the American Southwest.

Did you know that the Sonoran Desert in designated as a National Monument? Yes, all 500,000 acres...

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking to experience the full diversity of cultures and landscapes on a trip in the United States? Check out these amazing destinations:
  1. Embark on a Florida Gulf Coast road trip and experience fantastic beaches and wildlife.
  2. Go birdwatching in the San Francisco Bay Area or take the ferry to Alameda.
  3. Explore Buffalo architecture including plenty of historic buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  4. Get a little crazy with these fun things to do in New Orleans French Quarter.
  5. Walk the High Line in as part of a one day in New York City itinerary.
  6. See where America was born with a weekend in Philadelphia.
  7. Take a scenic road trip from Boston to Maine in New England.
  8. Explore the U.S. Midwest with a day in Chicago or Cleveland or discover a myriad of things to do in Pittsburgh.
  9. Appreciate the beauty of the Pacific Northwest when you spend a day in Seattle.
  10. Find yourself deep in the heart of Texas on a Houston to Austin drive.

9. Visit Arizona's Airplane Boneyard

Things to Do in Arizona - Airplane Boneyard

We pulled off the road not far from Tucson for a quick gander at the Airplane Boneyard. A jumble of old planes sits just behind a tall barbed wire fence. 

Conditions in Arizona are just right to allow the planes to be stored and stripped as needed for parts to repair other aircraft. They give so that other airplanes might live.

10. Eat Cactus in Arizona

Things to Do in Arizona - Eating Cactus Fruit
We learned from the host at our Bed and Breakfast outside of Tucson that cactus fruit is edible right off the plant. 

I decided to give it go and picked out an appetizing looking piece from a cactus on the property. Down the hatch!

Map of Fun Things to do in Arizona

Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps to help you pinpoint the various Arizona experiences outlined in this post.

Fun Things to do in Arizona Map

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 10 Fun Things to Do in Arizona: From Awe-Inspiring to Mystical
10 Fun Things to Do in Arizona: From Awe-Inspiring to Mystical
Discover 10 fun things to do in Arizona. Explore things to see in Arizona like the Sonora Desert Museum. Learn about popular things to do in Arizona.
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