Chances are… if you are here in the Phoenix area, you may have some time at some point during the year, or have family coming to visit.
If you are, and you are stumped for things to do, taking a day-trip is always a great option – thankfully we have more than a dozen places you can drive a few short hours, to see some beautiful views, learn some history, and wow your visitors.
From far Northern Arizona to all the way South to Bisbee, there is definitely something for everyone – even those of us with small children. We love road trips, and we have done many of these ourselves – some are on our list of things to do when the kids get a little older.
We thought it would be fun to round up 16 fun one-day road trips you can take out of Phoenix – just in case you want some new adventures.
Obviously there are MANY more that didn’t make this list ~ maybe one day we’ll expand the list to include those, but for now, we thought we were pretty generous in giving this list a good variety.
Don’t forget to check out the FREE National Park Entrance Days!
Just south of Phoenix in the town of Coolidge is the Casa Grande Ruins – it’s open all year (except for Christmas and Thanksgiving) and is FREE if you go on National Park FREE Entrance Day. The ruins holds an ancient Sonoran Farming Community and Great House, as well as a small Visitor Center with historical artifacts.
Fees are $5 per person over the age of 16, all others are FREE.
Located in Northern Arizona, Havasu Falls is 5-6 hours from Phoenix – to get there, you travel 65 miles North of Rt. 66 on Indian Road 18. It’s probably not the best place if you have small children, but is great if your kids are out of the house & you are looking for a day trip with your spouse.
The best time to travel for hiking is March – June.
Located in the far East Valley of Arizona, travel 27 miles north on State Highway 87 to the Bush Highway (Forest Road 204), and turn right to go an additional 4 miles.
The Lake is open January to December, and admission is $6 per vehicle. You can boat, and fish out there – but when the weather is nice the lake gets FULL very quickly (so it’s best to head out early in the morning!)
They also have the Desert Belle Cruise out there which you can take – but reservations must be made in advance.
Head north of Williams and the 1-40 just 60 miles, on highway 64. The rim is open 365 days per year – it goes get congested, so plan in advance. Reservations for lodging are encouraged.
Open daily from 8 – 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s – you can hike (self guided) or take a scenic drive. May through Labor Day you can participate in a Ranger Led Program, and should you wish for a canyon tour there is a fee.
To get there, take 1-40 East to 191 North (from Flagstaff) – it’s located 3 miles north on Route 191 in Chinle. Admission is FREE.
The OLDEST in tact European Structure in Arizona, the Mission of San Xavier is 9 miles south of Downtown Tucson off of the 1-19 on exit 92. There is NO charge for admission
The world’s longest stalactite formation, the caverns are Arizona’s tallest natural column formation below ground level – and a popular place to visit for a day trip in Arizona.
Take a self-guided tour for 1 1/2 hours, admission is $23 for adults 14 + and $13 for youth 7 – 13 years of age. Tours must be booked in advance, and you must arrive at least 1 hour before your tour time.
Travel north on the 1-17 to exit 289 (90 minutes north of Phoenix) and exit there, to the right, then head 1/2 mile (past two traffic circles) and hang a left on Montezuma Castle Road. You’ll drive down the hill to see the Cliff Dwellings & Archaeological Remains.
The Well is just a few more miles north of Montezuma’s Castle, off the 1-17 and exit 293.
The Well and Castle are open 364 days per year (closed on Christmas) from 8 – 5 p.m. Fees are $5 for ages 16 and above to see the Castle. There is no fee to enter the Well.
Just north of the Meteor Crater, East of Flagstaff on 1-40, is the Petrified Forest… exit 285 into Holbrook then travel 19 miles on Highway 180 South to the park’s south entrance. Drive the 28 miles north through the park to return to Interstate 40.
The Forest has self-guided tours, guided tours, and more -admission is $10 per vehicle.
The Petrified Desert is not too far from the Petrified Forest – 26 miles east of Holbrook. If you go from the Petrified Forest to the Painted Desert you will pass the edge of the Wupati National Monument Indian Ruins.
The Painted Desert is 93,500 acres and stretches 160 miles.
A 100 Year old Mining Town, the city is full of antiques and old mining equipment, that is 5,000 feet above sea level in Yavapai County.
Jerome sits atop what (once) was the largest copper mine in Arizona – when the mine closed, the town became one of the largest ghost towns in America.
You can visit the Winery, eat at a Restaurant or shop for Antiques. Visit Prescott the same day to make it a fun day trip – while in Prescott you can walk down Whiskey Row.
Located in Southern Arizona, Bisbee is a city perched on the hillside of an old mining town – you can find gourmet restaurants, antique shops, book stores and restored neighborhoods of European and Victorian Style homes.
Take a Mining Tour in the Queen Mine, or an Old Bisbee Ghost Tour ~ visit the Brewing Company.
Bisbee neighbors to Tombstone, an Authentic Old Western Town that has museums, gunfights, underground mine tours, ghost hours & more. Both Bisbee & Tombstone are 3 hours Southeast of Phoenix.
Enjoy one of the earliest agricultural developments in Arizona with a 43-acre historic apple farm in Oak Creek Canyon (Sedona)… right off Highway 89A. Those who visit can slide down a natural chute, or play in the creek.
Entrance is $20 per vehicle for up to 4 adults; each additional adult (14 years or older) is $3 and you can pay with Visa or MasterCard. Holiday weekend fees are a little more ($30 per vehicle on Memorial, 4th of July & Labor Day). See more on their site for hours.
The Sunset Crater erupted 900 years ago and shaped the neighboring landscape. You can visit the crater on a FEE FREE National Park Day in 2015, or from 8 to 5 p.m. May 22nd – October 31st (or, 9 – 5 p.m. from November 1st to May 21st).
Ages 16 and up are just $5, others are FREE.
The crater was formed as a result of a collision between an asteroid traveling 26,000 Miles per Hour and Planet Earth 50,000 years ago. WE LOVE the crater, my kids rank this one as their favorite place to go.
The crater is 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. It’s a tourist venue – great for people who come in from out of town.
Take a tour of the crater from the staff, prices are not cheap (they are around $9 – $18 per person). The crater is located East of Flagstaff off the I-40; exit on Meteor Crater Road (exit 233) and turn right. They are open Memorial Day to Labor Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and non-Summer hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Christmas, and open on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park has the largest Natural Travertine Bridge in the world – 183 feet high over a 400 foot long tunnel that is 150 feet at it’s widest point. You can enjoy the bridge from up top or hike down.
The park is $5 for adults 14 years and more, $2 for ages 7 – 13, and kids under the age of 6 are FREE. Head up to Payson on 87 North – at the traffic circle take the 2nd exit, and stay on AZ 87 N for another 8.6 miles, then turn Left on NF 583. The park is on the left.
Located up in the Colorado Plateau area in Northern Arizona, the Vermillion Cliffs are a National Monument nestled on 280,000 acres. Elevations range 3,100 to 7,100 feet.
Head to Flagstaff to Highway 89, then at the Bitter Springs turn off take Highway 89A. – to the House Rock valley Road (BLM 1065) – a dirt road. Make sure you are in a 4WD vehicle.
Have you taken any of these trips? Which are your favorite? We’d love to hear about it!