With its dramatic landscapes and year-round warm weather, Arizona offers unique things to do and there’s something for every traveler, making it one of the best places to visit in the US. The state is home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world and boasts a rich history that can be explored at any time of year. I have listed the most unusual and unique places in Arizona to go to while traveling.
Related Read: Reasons to visit Arizona If you’re heading to the Copper State, I had to choose to visit AZ in Spring, it’s wonderful, but any time of the year is great. Here are five top-rated places to put on your must-see list.
Unique Places to Visit in Arizona
No visit to Arizona is complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon. This massive chasm is a mile deep, 18 miles wide, and up to 277 river miles long. The Grand Canyon has been expanding for six million years thanks to the Colorado River. Six million people travel from all over the world each year to see this natural wonder, probably one of the most stunning and beautiful places in the United States. The South Rim is particularly popular with tourists, and this is where you’ll find the most amenities. The North Rim is a better spot for people who want to avoid crowds. You can park near the top and just look out at nature’s splendor below. Or you can hike along the ridges and down to the bottom using one of many trails with varying difficulty. Those looking for a bird’s eye view can get a helicopter tour.
Related Read: Best Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona
Beaver Falls in Havasu Creek
If you’re adventurous, Beaver Falls is on your must-see list. The falls are difficult to access, but worth the effort. The views are breathtaking, but it’s an 8-mile trek round-trip. The turquoise blue waters of the falls are a dramatic contrast to the surrounding red rock. In the desert of Arizona, Beaver Falls offers a natural oasis.
Meteor Crater, Winslow
Did you know that Winslow in Arizona (or just outside) is home to a perfectly preserved 50,000-year-old asteroid strike? Pretty cool, huh? Meteor Crater offers tours of the location as well as a discovery center and an attraction which features moon-like terrain. If you’re into space, or your kids are, you’ll have a fabulous time looking at something that is truly unique and out of this world, right in the heart of Arizona.
Once home to the ancient Navajo tribe, Munds Park was a popular place for early homesteaders. Named after William Munds, the area was used for agricultural purposes and was part of the ranching boom. You can even purchase vacation homes here. At one time, ranchers were able to grow crops and run livestock on up to 160 acres of land. Today, the area is home to luxury homes that offer dramatic views of the nearby mountains. Recommended Read: 10 Things to Know about Visiting Phoenix, Arizona
Saguaro National Park
Situated in southern Arizona, Sagurao National Park is named after the giant cacti that reside in the area. More than 150 miles of hiking trails are available in this 91,442-acre park. More than three-quarters of the national park is a designated wilderness. The park is home to all kinds of wildlife, including badgers, bobcats, bats, jackrabbits, tortoises, coyotes, skunks and more. The park has very limited amenities and concessions, so make sure that you plan for your trip. Guided hikes are available, and you’ll find numerous opportunities for biking here. Driving loops are accessible to all vehicles with the exception of certain larger and oversized vehicles or vehicles pulling trailers.
Arcosanti, Yavapai County
Arcosanti is interesting because it is an experimental United States city that is located in the high desert. Dreamed up by Paolo Soleri, the now-deceased Italian-born architect who studied under Frank Loyd Wright in Arizona, it is a city that seamlessly blends arcology and ecology for a unique living experience. Home to around 60 residents, daily tours which include open-air theater performances and musical events are held there, and you can even stay the night in a unique guest room if you so desire. It really has to be seen to be believed.
Goldfield Ghost Town, Pinal County
History buffs will love Goldfield Ghost Town, located at Apache Junction. In 1892, the town was thriving. Situated near the Superstition Mountains, the locals had struck gold. While visiting the town, be sure to explore the mine and stay for the Gunfighters show, which takes place every hour. There are plenty of attractions to explore. Goldfield is touristy in nature, but you can learn a lot about the history of the town at the Goldfield Historic Museum. Check out the exhibit on the Lost Dutchman gold mine, one of the most famous mines in the country.
The Hoover Dam From The Inside
A dam might not sound like the most exciting tourist destination, but it is one of the most amazing achievements of modern construction. Tours are offered daily and the cost is very low, making it a great day trip that might just inspire a curious young mind. Even adults will enjoy learning how the dam can change the landscape of Arizona itself. For a more spectacular view, you can drive over the nearby bridge and see the dam in action from afar.
Jerome, The Sliding Town
Someone back during the Old West times decided to build a mining town on a steep hill. Now the place still stands as it did back then, but several feet lower than it used to. Jerome is the town’s name, and now it’s a ghost town instead of an active mining village. The buildings that remain have come apart and slid down the hill they were built on, leaving ruins of a half-intact olden town. A more modern Jerome lies a short distance away on more stable ground, giving you the makings of a great day trip.
Phoenix, The City Of Golf
If big-city luxury and shopping are your game, then go to Phoenix. You’ll find the more upscale hotels, restaurants, and museums in Phoenix. The fair weather of Arizona also makes Phoenix a year-round destination for golfers with some of the most beautiful golf courses. There are amazing links and great clubs in Phoenix, making it a wonderful place to relax after some time on the green. Phoenix also offers facilities for horseback riding, sailing, and hiking.
The Mini Time Machine Museum on Miniatures, Tuscon
Try to say that really quickly! This museum is really unique in that it is made up of lots of very tiny displays. However, their small size does not take away from the fact that they do an excellent job of transporting you to different eras and lands that you could only dream of in your wildest imagination. It might sound like a bit of an odd attraction, but trust me, you’ll love it.
The Mystery Castle, Phoenix
Phoenix is home to an amazing mystery castle which is located at the bottom of South Mountain, It was built by Boyce Gully who, after being diagnosed with TB, left his wife and young child in Seattle. Moved to the arid desert of Arizona and set about building what is now known as Mystery Castle. He used a range of desert rocks and found materials to create what is one of the most memorable buildings in the United States. When he died, his daughter visited the castle and was immediately reminded of the castle she, as a young girl had asked her father to build for her. It’s a touching monument to love that you can visit for yourself between October and May.
Arizona is at the epicenter of natural beauty in the Desert Southwest, so it should come as no surprise that yet another Arizona attraction makes it onto this list, it’s one of the best natural canyons in the US. The Antelope Canyon is situated inside the state of Arizona but actually located inside Navajo Nation. Many of the canyon’s features have been portrayed in ubiquitous photography and videography; you’ll likely recognize the picturesque light-painted walls. With all-day tours available that canvass the interior and exterior of the broader canyon, you can make an entire day out of exploring and learning about the natural features found here. Be ready, however: both hiking and water will be necessary to explore the full extent of the canyon. Bonus: Not in Arizona, but totally worth it
Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
If you love natural beauty, anthropology, and architecture, then you’ll be at home when visiting Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. The ancient villages and land spans several miles and is home to the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America. For more than 1,000 years, Native Americans have called the village in Taos Pueblo home. Tours are affordably priced (around $15 per person) and you’ll be able to explore, purchase and view the culture of this ancient community. Its multi-storied adobes really contrast with the scenic countryside surrounding this one-of-a-kind place.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Tucked away in the mountains outside Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods is a 1300-acre spread of unique rock formations and canyons contrasting with the big, blue skies of Colorado. From its three-hundred-foot-tall rock formations to the natural history centers located in the park, Garden of the Gods is a hybrid of Desert Southwest’s beauty and the Rocky Mountains’ scale. With Jeep tours, biking trails, and mountain climbing all facilitated on-site, you’ll be able to do more than just take in the beautiful views.