There are plenty of amazing places to visit and fun things to do around Phoenix. And, here are some of the best day trips from Phoenix to add to your list.
What are the best day trips around Phoenix?
The best day trips from Phoenix are Flagstaff, Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat, Payton, Sedona, and Mesa. Each of these destinations offers a unique, special and memorable experience. The destination that you choose will depend on whether you are fond of nature, history, art or architecture.
Arizona is known for its rich history, diversity and gorgeous landscapes. Phoenix is one of the state’s most popular travel destinations.
But, if you really want to experience what the Copper State has to offer, then you should consider heading out from the city of Phoenix to explore other parts of the Grand Canyon State.
The good news is that the areas around Phoenix are home to amazing natural wonders, mountains, historical sites, scenic landscapes, restaurants and dozens of parks, among other attractions.
Today, we will share the best day trips from Phoenix.
Located approximately 144 miles from Phoenix, Flagstaff offers one of the best day trips for those looking for a getaway from the city.
During spring, summer and fall, you can enjoy activities like hiking, camping and fishing.
And when winter comes around, you can visit for snowboarding, or skiing at the Arizona Snowbowl.
The areas around Snowbowl offer some of the best hikes, especially in fall. During this time, the fall foliage colors will fill the entire forest.
And if hiking is not your thing, you can opt for a chair lift to the mountain top, where you will enjoy spectacular views of the entire area bathed in fall colors.
Once you’ve finished hiking, trekking or exploring the forests and mountains, you can head over to downtown Flagstaff.
Here, you will have an opportunity to explore historic restaurants and eateries, antique shops and various coffee shops, all lined up along the renowned Route 66.
Make sure you check out Lumberyard Brewing Company and Diablo Burger, two of the area’s most popular locally-owned businesses.
Flagstaff sits approximately 7,000 feet above sea level compared to Phoenix at 1,000 feet. Therefore, the climate is much cooler in Flagstaff.
So, if you are looking to escape the city, get some fresh air and cool off, then a trip to Flagstaff is just what you need.
If you want to see what the eastern side of the Grand Canyon State offers, then you should head to Payson. Payson is just 60 minutes away from Mesa.
And over the last couple of years, it has grown to become a hub for restaurants, coffee shops and rental cabins, for those who want to enjoy a relaxed weekend in the area.
Water Wheel Falls is located just outside Payson.
It offers incredible hikes during the summer, thanks to the numerous swimming holes spread across the area. Horton Creek is yet another location for amazing hikes.
This eight-mile round trip leads to a cold spring, where you can soak and cool down after a long hike.
Tonto Bridge State Park is nestled between Pine and Payson. Again, if you are a hiker, you should also check out its short trail, which will lead you to a creek, where you can enjoy some fresh water.
If you are visiting during the wet season, then you will see some waterfalls cascading in streams from the walls.
Payson is also a great destination for those looking for that small-town vibe. Also, it’s less crowded during peak season, compared to some of the other destinations on this list.
So, if you are looking for a place outside Phoenix where you can escape the heat, unplug and spend time closer to nature, then Payson is the perfect one for you.
Sedona is, without a doubt, one of the best day trips from Phoenix. Its strategic location close to the Oak Creek Canyon combined with the majestic red rock formations surrounding it make it the ideal place for outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking and biking, just to name a few.
If you are a hiker, you will have numerous trails to choose from, depending on the amount of time you have and your expertise.
Some of the most notable ones include the Soldier Pass, Cathedral Rock and Devil’s Bridge.
And in case it’s too hot for a hike, then you can head to Slide Rock State Park, where you can relax and cool off. You also have the option of driving along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, a drive that offers some of the most breathtaking views of the red rock formations.
Once you are back in town, you should check out its main street, which features a selection of eateries and tourist shops.
Also, the main street is home to fortune tellers and crystal sellers, in case you are into astrology or such sorts of things.
You should also pass by the Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village to explore or buy Native American art.
Mesa is the state’s third-largest city. It’s home to scenic parks, cliffs, art centers, Italian restaurants and historic museums.
Also, it’s the gateway to the Tonto National Forest, which is currently the fifth largest in the country. As you can see, Mesa has a lot to offer, for residents and visitors looking to escape Phoenix.
At the forest park, you can enjoy the year-round recreational activities that are offered at the forest park, including hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing and camping.
And if you are lucky, you may also spot the Salt Water Wild Horses in the park.
The best time to spot them is just before the sun sets. They will come to the river around this time to drink water.
You also have numerous attractions in town, in case you don’t want to explore the wilderness.
Some popular attractions include the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Mesa Arts Center. There’s also the Grand Cultural Park nearby, where you can browse through structures and artifacts from the Hohokam people indigenous to the area.
Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat
Canyon Lake is located about 40 miles from Phoenix, which is around an hour’s drive or there about.
It’s a popular destination for swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, or just relaxing on one of its shores.
Also, the views on either side of the lake are striking, since it sits within deep canyon walls.
This area is quite popular with Arizonians, especially during summer and spring. So, if you want to enjoy the best water skiing or paddle boarding, you should arrive before sunrise.
Once you’ve had your fill of the lake and its surroundings, you can then head over to Tortilla Flat, where you can enjoy some Mexican or local cuisines, depending on your tastes.
- There are hundreds of places to explore around Phoenix
- You can spend the day hiking, visiting historic towns or exploring museums
- These destinations are ideal for family, couples or solo adventures
- You can visit these places all year round, thanks to the area’s sunny weather