Cities and towns to visit in Arizona

Yep, it’s an old town on Route 66, but what else is there to do here? Turns out . . . plenty!

There are lots of cool things to do in Kingman Arizona, and driving through during a Route 66 Road Trip is just the beginning. The town has a rich history, and is located not far from the western end of the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re a family with a minivan full of kids who need some distraction, some outdoorsy types looking for some desert exploring, or are just plain curious, Kingman offers plenty to see and do.

Kingman: Intriguing Layers of History

Although the town now known as “Kingman” was first established in the 1880s as a stop on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, the region has deeper roots. Native American peoples, including the Hualapai, Havasupai and Mojave have occupied these lands for centuries. Later, Spaniards in search of gold passed through these parts.

Fun Fact: Kingman was originally a settlement on “Beale’s Wagon Road,” an 1857 precursor to Route 66!

Beale’s Wagon Road & the Camel Corps

In 1857, surveyor Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale passed through this area with a unique crew: camels! His objective: to develop a wagon route west on or near the 35th parallel. Because of the desert terrain, Beale had the creative idea to use camels instead of horses–and it worked!

A 19th century military reenactor with camels-things to do in winslow arizona
Celebrating the Camel Corps with reenactors, photo courtesy NPS

Ultimately the road ran from Arkansas to California and became the first federally funded highway in the Southwest. It was a big hit with cattle drovers, sheepherders and anyone looking to bring goods westward.

The Railroad Years: Kingman is Born

Another surveyor, Louis Kingman, used Beale’s Wagon Road as a guide when assessing the area in 1880. This time the job was for Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (which would later become the Santa Fe Railroad). The town is named for Kingman. (Beale needed a better PR firm!). The first train pulled up to “Kingman” in 1883, with about 100 passengers on board. Kingman quickly became an important hub for ranchers and miners in the area.

On the road again . . . Route 66 and beyond

Once again using prior routes as a guide, the federal government established US Highway 66 in 1926. For the decades that followed, Kingman became an important stopping point for the more than 200,000 people who traveled Route 66 in search of a new beginning in the wake of the Great Depression. By mid-century, this town, with its roots in Native American peoples and, of all things, camels, had found its place in Road Trip history.

Things to do in Kingman Arizona

Knowing the town’s history helps put things into perspective, and also explains some of the unique things to do in Kingman Arizona. Activities and attractions range from sights related to the town’s history to ziplining over the Grand Canyon.

Historic Powerhouse/Visitors Center: Start Here!

This historic Powerhouse building should be FIRST on your list of things to do in Kingman Arizona. As the name implies, it was at one time the source of electrical power for the town, as well as the construction of Hoover Dam. After being mothballed for decades it was renovated in 1997 and repurposed as a multi-purpose facility that caters to visitors (like you and me!)

In addition to housing the Kingman Visitor Center (where you can get advice and brochures on all the local attractions), the Powerhouse is also home to Arizona Route 66 Museum & Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum. On top of that, there’s an awesome gift shop (a terrific collection of Route 66 memorabilia), and there are two model trains on tracks that circle the inside of the building.

Arizona Route 66 Museum

Located in the Historic Powerhouse visitors complex, this museum tells the story of depicts travel along the 35th parallel–the route that began with Native American trade routes and ultimately became Route 66. If, like most of us, you are traveling along Route 66, this museum is a must among things to do in Kingman Arizona.

Through a series of murals, photos and life-size dioramas, visitors journey through history with Native Americans and US Army-led survey expeditions (remember the “Camel Corps”?). A particularly poignant exhibit depicts the anguish of dust bowl refugees as they traversed the “Mother Road” west in search of a better life. But things end on an upbeat note as you stroll through a Main Street America display, complete with a Studebaker–(a version similar to the quirky model that was used in The Muppet Movie), heralding the joy of road tripping on Route 66.

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Although not the same exact car, this scene from The Muppet Movie shows a very similar Studebaker on the road. (Check at approximately 1 minute in . . . for the classic “fork in the road” bit.

Historic Downtown Kingman Walking Trail

If a drive along Route 66 has you itching to stretch your legs a bit, take a walk through Historic Downtown Kingman. The town has more than 40 sights and buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places. In addition to locations open to the public (which are listed in this post), there are several other points of interest to see, including the Mojave County Courthouse, the former Masonic Temple, and a little red schoolhouse.

Walking tour guides are available at the Powerhouse Visitors Center.

Mohave Museum of History & Arts

For a break from all the Route 66 and railroad history, stop in to the Mohave Museum. This museum is dedicated to preserving all aspects of the heritage of Northwestern Arizona in a format accessible to the public. There are exhibits illustrating prehistoric times, mining and ranching, with a LOT of memorabilia hanging on walls and stacked on shelves.

The museum also celebrates Andy Devine, a local boy turned 1930s movie star. This museum may not be everyone’s idea of things to do in Kingman Arizona, but if the “good old days” is your cup of tea, you’ll find it entertaining.

Visit (& Hike) Camp Beale Spring

Although named after Lt. Edward Beale, the springs here had been used by Native Americans for centuries. Camp Beale Springs was established in 1871 by U.S. Infantry to provide protection along the nearby toll road, as well as supply station for the local Hualapai Indians.

The site is located just west of town. A parking permit is required, but is free and available at the Powerhouse Visitors Center.

Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum

If you thought Kingman had its head fully in the past, think again. Despite gasoline-focused Route 66 and coal-fired locomotives this museum, the brainchild of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation, is on a mission to show us how we can look back while still thinking of the future.

Tucked into the ground floor of the Powerhouse Visitor complex, the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum showcases the history of electric vehicles (which goes back a lot further than you might think). Move over, Tesla, the first example here dates from 1909! Pride of place goes to the Buckeye Bullet, a battery-powered rocketship-esque beauty that reached 320 mph 😱 on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2011. If you’re looking to get a charge (see what I did there?) out of things to do in Kingman Arizona, then head over to this unique museum.

Bonelli House Museum

The Bonelli House, which was built in 1915, provides an excellent example of Anglo-territorial architecture at the turn of the 20th century. The house was unique at the time because it was built to be both fire-proof and safe for the family (their original home had burned down.

The house is constructed of fire-resistant plaster and Tufa stone that was quarried locally. To ensure both ventilation (and potentially a quick exit, every room had an exit door (both upstairs and downstairs) to the veranda. The house also had a (very) early version of “air-conditioning”: The cupola on the roof drafted the hot air upward and out the roof. (We once rented a house in the Caribbean with the same type of structure–it really works to cool things off!)

Kingman Locomotive Park

Climb up into the cab of an old steam engine! Locomotive Park is home to famed Steam Engine #3759. This coal-burning locomotive was built in 1928 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works (in our hometown of Philadelphia 😊) and served on a passenger run for the Santa Fe Railway between Kansas City and Los Angeles.

PRO TIP: A visit to the Locomotive Park is one of the free things to do in Kingman, Arizona

In 1957, the Railway presented number 3759 to City of Kingman as a historical monument. (Just a few years earlier the coal burning trains were replaced by diesel power. In 1987 Kingman added a colorful caboose to the park, which is located just across the road from the Powerhouse Visitors Center. If your idea (or your kids’ idea) of fun things to do in Kingman Arizona involves choo choos, this is definitely for you. 😊🚂

Kingman Railroad Station & Museum

All Aboard, Trainspotters! More railroad-y things to do in Kingman Arizona . . . This historic train station was built in 1907 and renovated in 2011. The white stucco structure trimmed in bright orange paint is a landmark that occupies pride of place, wedged between Route 66 and the tracks. Inside is a museum of model trains, which is ever-evolving.

PRO TIP: Check out the Kingman Station live trainspotting cam for a preview of what you’ll see when you visit!

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Video from Kingman Train Depot, via RailFan Arizona

Outside, you can stand on the platform and do some real-life trainspotting, where freight trains from BNSF pass by regularly. If you time your visit just right, you might get to see Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which runs twice a day from Chicago to LA (does that line sound familiar???😉) and back. It’s the same train that passes by La Posada in Winslow.

Hike the White Cliffs Wagon Trail–Ruts n’ all!

Just north of town is an old wagon route that was once used to bring ore from one of the nearby mines down to the railroad for transport. At the base of the White Cliffs the wagon route of the same name dates to the late 1800s. Over time the heavily-laden wagons cut trails into the stone road–so much so that the ruts are still very much in evidence 125 years later!

There are currently two trails (both loops) for hiking: a roughly 1-mile beginner trail and a 2.4-mile intermediate trail. Both begin and end along the rutted wagon road. A small parking lot with water fountain is located at the trailhead. If you are looking for outdoor activities in Kingman, Az, this is a good option.

Some days, we all need to “Take it Easy.”

There are lots of great things to do in Winslow Arizona, even after you visit the corner made famous by the Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey song “Take it Easy.” Take a look at our list–it’ll make you want to linger a bit in this great Arizona small town on Route 66, which is rich is Arizona history and culture.

The historic downtown area isn’t large (about 1.5 miles wide by 3/4 mile deep), so it’s very walkable. Additionally there are several interesting things to do in Winslow Arizona that are just a short drive outside of the main part of town. Plenty of nearby parks and natural wonders make Winslow an excellent base for exploring this part of Arizona.

History of Winslow Arizona

Despite Winslow’s current popularity being associated with the automobile (the “flatbed ford” and Route 66), the town actually has its roots in the railroad. According to the Winslow Historical Society, “in 1880, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad laid out the Winslow townsite along its new transcontinental line through northeastern Arizona Territory because the nearby Little Colorado River supplied a vital water source.”

large retro style billboard with "visit winslow" text
You’ve GOT to visit a place that welcomes you with a sign like this!

The Railroad puts Winslow on the Map

Winslow really started to grown after 1897, when the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (known then as the ATSF). At this time, the division headquarters was moved from Gallup, NM to Winslow, AZ. New employees meant new infrastructure for the town, which is evidenced by many of the Victorian-era buildings and homes, many of which are still standing today.

FUN FACT: From 1900 through the 1950s, Winslow had the largest population in northern Arizona!

Even before the ATSF made Winslow a division headquarters, the town had started to become known as a travel destination. It was one of the closest train stops to the many natural and cultural sites in northern Arizona, making it a popular stop for intrepid travelers looking to explore sites such as the Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly.

The popularity of Winslow as a train stop for for travelers headed to northern Arizona’s wonders drew the attention of legendary hospitality industry pioneer Fred Harvey. Harvey first built a Harvey House restaurant at Winslow in 1887, and eventually opened the renowned luxury hotel La Posada Winslow in 1930, right along the train tracks.

Planes, trains and automobiles

Winslow had a lock on the railroad presence with the ATSF divisional headquarters. Then, in 1926, Route 66 was established and ran right through downtown Winslow (it still does today!), which brought plenty of automobiles. But what many people don’t know is that Winslow was also an important early destination for air travel.

In 1929, Winslow’s new airport was designated as a key stop along Transcontinental Air Transport’s first coast-to-coast passenger route. For all these reasons, Winslow enjoyed the largest population in northern Arizona from 1900 through the 1950s. This rich history means it’s not so far fetched that Jackson Browne might’ve been “standing on the corner.” And it means there are quite a few worthwhile things to do in Winslow Arizona.

Standin’ on the Corner Park

woman next to bronze sculpture of a songwriter in front of Winslow Arizona sign-things to do in winslow arizona
Bonus points for spotting the homage to the band that recorded the song!

Okay, okay, let’s take care of this one first. This pocket park pays homage to the famous lyrics in the song “Take it Easy,” penned by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. It is arguably one of the most popular things to do in Winslow Arizona. It’s located right downtown, a the corner of Kinsley & 2nd Streets and open 24/7. There are bronze statues of the songwriters, a mural, and (natch!) a flatbed Ford. Learn more in our post about standing on the corner Winslow Arizona.

Old Trails Museum

historic railroad memorabilia, including uniforms, photos and lanterns-things to do in winslow arizona
Memorabilia from the Santa Fe Railroad at the Old Trails Museum

One of the best things to do in Winslow Arizona to get a sense of the rich history of the town is to visit the Old Trails Museum. This small (and free!) museum is chock-full of memorabilia that brings many of the towns highlights to life, including the Santa Fe Railway, Route 66, and the heritage of the Harvey House hotels and restaurants. The museum is located right across the street from Standin’ on the Corner Park and their gift shop sells some interesting Navajo and Hopi arts along with books on local history.

Hubbell Trading Post & Warehouse

You may be familiar with the Hubbell Trading Post that is a National Historic Site in northeast Arizona, which was the first in what would become an trading post empire for the Hubbell family. But it was in Winslow where Hubbell eventually established the regional warehouse for his goods, because of the town’s location along the Santa Fe railroad line.

Constructed in 1917 as a trading post by the Richardson brothers, the building was acquired by Lorenzo Hubbell in 1921. Until its closure in the 1960s, the building was renowned as a source for the finest specimens of old-time Navajo rug and silver and turquoise jewelry. Today it is the location of the Winslow Visitor Center and has some great exhibits showcasing Winslow’s past, along with plenty of brochures about the many things to do in Winslow Arizona.

La Posada Hotel and Gardens

Front entrance of La Posada Winslow-adobe architecture with tile roofs

Described by many as the town’s “crown jewel,” visiting the La Posada is definitely one of THE things to do in Winslow Arizona. The hotel originally opened in 1930 to cater to wealthy travelers exploring the newly popular sights in the southwest. Designed by famous architect Mary Colter, this is one of the last remaining Harvey House hotels. After a (admittedly non-luxurious) stint as the regional headquarters of the railroad, La Posada was lovingly restored to its former glory and is once again a magnificent hotel.

Take some time to explore the beautiful building and grounds–the hotel is surrounded by different gardens on each side. Typical of grand old hotels, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to rest weary feet and soak up the atmosphere. For a treat, enjoy a meal in the Turquoise Room restaurant, or go full-on and indulge yourselves by spending the night (or two!). It’s one of Arizona’s true historic hotel treasures. (For more information, read the review of our stay at La Posada Winslow. Spoiler alert: we loved it! 😊)

La Posada Art Museum

A combination of Native American and Contemporary artworks are on display at La Posada

La Posada is more than a hotel and restaurant–there’s also an art museum in the building that’s free to the public. Tina Mion, one of the owners of the hotel, is also an American contemporary artist who has exhibited at the Smithsonian and other prominent museums. Many of her paintings and pastels are on permanent display throughout the hotel, and in a dedicated museum space on the second floor.

An advocate of promoting the arts in the region, Mion also curates the work of local artists, including many Native American artisans. The guest room hallways alone are bedecked with beautiful hand woven rugs and blankets. Situated in these traditional pueblo architecture surroundings, these works really stand out. It’s one of the more “cultured” things to do in Winslow 😉.

Winslow Amtrak Depot and Freight Siding

Freight trains pass by regularly at La Posada’s back gate, which is also an Amtrak stop. One of the best things to do in Winslow Arizona for train geeks!

Hold on, we’re not finished with visiting La Posada just yet. If architecture, gardens and artwork aren’t your thing, what about trains??? La Posada may be the only hotel in America that has its own Amtrak depot! Although there are only two passenger trains per day that stop at the hotel, there is a never-ending parade of freight trains passing through (this is still an important siding for the BNSF Railway).

Woman standing at ornate iron gates that lead from train tracks to La posada hotel in background
Viewing the back entrance of La Posada hotel from the train platform (notice the train wheel motif in the ornate iron gate!)

Stroll out through the back gardens, where an ornate iron gate will show where the hotel property stops and the railroad begins. Two shady ramadas are equipped with comfy chairs for hotel guests awaiting their transport (or even just looking to do a little train spotting). Although Winslow is a train horn quiet zone, you might just get the engineer to blow his whistle if you give him the sign by pulling your arm down. (Just sayin’)

PRO TIP: Winslow is a train whistle “quiet zone,” but if you give the engineer the universal “horn” sign with your arm, you might just get a little “toot toot”!

First Street Pathway Park

If one of your ideal things to do in Winslow Arizona includes stretching your legs, spend some time in this lovely city park, which links many of the town’s historic sights together via a landscaped pathway over six city blocks. Along the way you’ll see interpretive exhibits about the town’s history and culture.

Get the little ones to work off some pent-up energy at the park’s playground, and then let them watch the “choo choos” on the raised (and fenced-off) railroad viewing platform.

Snowdrift Art Space

Art abounds in Winslow (in fact, we could probably write a post just about “arty things to do in Winslow Arizona” 😉) Take in some contemporary sculpture at this incredible space that was once the Babbitt Brothers Mercantile building. Today it is a combination gallery, studio and home for sculptor Dan Lutzick, who was a partner in La Posada rehabilitation project.

Guided tours of the 7,000-square-foot gallery are provided by appointment only, so be sure to submit a request on the Snowdrift Art Space website at least 24 hours in advance. (Additionally, check their Facebook page for updated events and tour availability.)

Explore Winslow’s Victorian Roots

Since the town was established with the coming of the railroad in 1880, you can imagine the sudden need for housing and other services. The prevailing architecture at the time was Victorian, and fortunately there are still plenty of examples of that along the streets downtown. For architecturally minded (or maybe just Pinterest-worthy) things to do in Winslow Arizona, stroll the residential areas along 3rd and 4th streets to see the charming Victorian cottages.

Pinterest-worthy Victorian cottages line the residential streets of Winslow

Historic Route 66 Relics and Memorabilia (& a great Motel!)

Route 66 is an integral part of Winslow, and you have TWO streets you can explore! Second St. (nearest the train tracks) is one-way eastbound, while the westbound portion of Route 66 is one-way on Third St. Route 66 runs the length of Winslow, approximately 51/2 miles. A drive (or walk) along either street (or both, for the truly intrepid Route 66 fans!) provides a glimpse into mid-century America. Take your time, and really look, you’ll find this is one of the really fun things to do in Winslow Arizona.

PRO TIP: For an awesome “retro Route 66 motel” stay, check out Earl’s Motor Court on 66 westbound (i.e. 3rd St.)

One of the “retro” things to do in Winslow Arizona is staying at Earl’s Motor Court on Route 66

Homolovi State Park

Remains of ancient Hopi dwellings at Homolovi State Park (photo by Trevor Huxham via Flickr)

Explore ruins of the Hopi, who inhabited this area from the 1200s to late 1300s, while taking in the beauty of more than 4,000 acres of high desert (4,900 feet elevation) scenery, just 3 miles from town. In addition to ruins and archaeological research, Homolovi State Park  houses a visitor center and museum along with trails, a campground and picnic sites.

Viewing ancient pottery and petroglyphs helps put the ancient quality of these lands into perspective. And as an added bonus, they have star viewing parties once a month! Visiting Homolovi is a must-do among things to do in Winslow Arizona.

Brigham City Fort

For one of the more unique things to do in Winslow Arizona, get glimpse of the ghost town of early travelers who passed through town in the city’s early days. The fort at Brigham City, about 2 miles northeast of town, was originally built by Mormon pioneers in 1876. The settlement only lasted a few years; ironically in the desert, flash floods washed away the fort’s irrigation systems. The buildings on the site are reproductions; portions of the original walls were moved to La Posada’s grounds to preserve them.

McHood Park and Clear Creek

For those of you who didn’t think a list of things to do in Winslow Arizona would include camping and water sports we are happy to share that we’ve got you covered! About 5 miles southwest of town, McHood Park at the Clear Creek reservoir offers a refreshing spot for camping, swimming, boating and more.

Bring your own kayak or rent a canoe at the park to paddle to Clear Creek Canyon, a secluded spot that’s popular with locals. Campers can purchase a (dry) camping pass at a kiosk on site.

Little Painted Desert County Park

Stunning photo ops at Little Painted Desert County Park (photo by Martin Ely via Flickr)

Head up to this little-known spot for some spectacular photo ops without the crowds. Facilities at this 660-acre county park, which is about 13 miles north of town, are no longer maintained, so don’t expect services. (You’ll see a few old picnic shelters that now have some spectacular graffiti!)

But the exotic combination of colors and natural rock formations are worth the trip–especially at either sunrise or sunset. NOTE: be sure to stick to the roads and major pathways–the rocks are crumbly. Now you can add “stunning desert photography” to your list of things to do in Winslow Arizona!

Rock Art Ranch

If your list of things to do in Winslow Arizona includes ancient petroglyphs, Rock Art Ranch is the place for you. The ranch, situated about 23 miles east of Winslow in a remote area off Interstate 40, is home to some of the finest Anasazi petroglyphs in the Southwest along with a collection of pottery and other historic artifacts found on the property.

Rock Art Ranch is a working cattle ranch, so visitors must make a reservation to visit. Rock Art Ranch is approximately 23 miles from Winslow. The ranch is open for tours from May 1st to Nov. 1st. Closed Sundays. Call (928) 288-3260 for reservations and pricing information.

Grand Falls (aka “Chocolate Falls”)

Depending on the time of year when you visit, taking a side trip to see Grand Falls (also known as the ‘Chocolate Falls’ because of the often muddy water) is definitely one of the things to do in Winslow Arizona. These incredible falls, which are over 180 feet tall (taller than Niagara Falls!) can range from a deluge to a trickle, depending on the amount of rain and snow melt. Remember, we’re in the desert here, so water is kind of “full on” or “almost off.”

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Visiting Grand Falls on the Navajo Reservation is one of the awe-inspiring things to do in Winslow Arizona

Visit during the late summer monsoons or in the early spring during snowmelt for the best views. and occurs when the monsoon season hits northern Arizona and during snowmelt from the winter snowstorms. The falls are located on Navajo land, about 48 miles north of Winslow. Admission is free, but be sure to respect private property and stick to the roads.

Meteor Crater

Woman facing the edge of gigantic Meteor Crater near Winslow Arizona
Gi-normous (!) Meteor Crater, photo by Kevin Walsh, courtesy Flickr

Here we’re moving into the category of “otherworldly” things to do in Winslow Arizona. Meteor Crater is a massive crater (550 feet deep by 3/4 mile wide 😱) caused by the impact of a giant meteor 50,000 years ago. This is one whompin’ big hole in the ground! The terrain is so unique that in the 1960s it was one of the locations where NASA astronauts trained for the first moon landing.

In addition to both outdoor and indoor (air conditioned!) viewing points of the crater, there is also a Discovery Center and Space Museum on site where visitors can examine an Apollo 11 test capsule and learn more about the history and geology of meteors. Meteor Crater is about 20 miles west of Winslow.

Petrified Forest National Park

view of painted desert-reddish hills covered in bits of greenery

Located just 55 miles east of Winslow, Petrified Forest National Park offers far more than the world renowned petrified logs. A drive takes you through the Painted Desert, with several viewpoints along the way before meandering into an alien landscape filled with points of interest at almost every turn.

man in cowboy hat looking at petrified log in petrified forest national park

Plan to stop often to see ruins of former Native American settlements, ancient petroglyphs, badlands, and, of course, petrified logs. Two Visitors Centers provide interpretive exhibits, and the rangers are great about informing you of some terrific hikes to see some of these wonders up close. This is one of the many stunning Arizona national parks and monuments, and well worth a visit.

There you have it: 18 fabulous things to do in Winslow Arizona. There are certainly plenty of reasons to stay a night (or 2, or 3), and make it your base for exploring this part of northern Arizona! Which will you do first?

Things to do in Winslow Arizona

  1. Standing on the Corner Park
  2. Old Trails Museum
  3. Hubbell Trading Post & Warehouse
  4. La Posada Hotel & Grounds
  5. La Posada Art Museum
  6. The Winslow Amtrak Depot
  7. First Street Pathway Park
  8. Snowdrift Art Space
  9. Explore Winslow’s Victorian Roots
  10. Route 66 Memorabilia
  11. Homolovi Ruins State Park
  12. Bingham City Fort
  13. Rock Art Ranch
  14. McHood Park & Clear Creek
  15. Little Painted Desert County Park
  16. Grand Falls (aka “Chocolate Falls”)
  17. Meteor Crater
  18. Petrified Forest National Park
sign for Amtrak stop in hotel garden
Billboard that looks like a giant postcard about things to do in winslow arizona
Apparently even this guy knows the answer to “what is winslow, arizona famous for?” ! 😉

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I worried that Page (and Horseshoe Bend) would just be a hokey tourist trap. I was wrong.

We’ve developed our list of favorite things to do in Page AZ, based on our recent trip exploring this scenic part of northern Arizona. The city of Page is the gateway to Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, which makes it an excellent base for exploring this scenic section of northern Arizona.

The city of Page is not a particularly old community, in fact, it’s one of the youngest communities in the United States. This Arizona small town was established in 1957 when the federal government began construction on Glen Canyon Dam. The dam was built to retain water from the upper Colorado River, producing hydroelectric power for the region. In the process, Lake Powell was created along the border of Arizona and Utah. The dam opened in 1966, and in 1972 the government dedicated the 1.25 million acres surrounding Lake Powell and Glen Canyon as a National Recreation Area.

The Dam and the city of Page sit at the edge of the Navajo Reservation, where there are multiple areas of both cultural and natural interest to explore. Between Glen Canyon Dam, the Navajo sights and the National Recreation Area, we discovered plenty of interesting things to do in Page AZ.

Glen Canyon Conservancy 3-D Model

Overhead view of relief map of Powell Country with annotations marking Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Town of Page Az, Antelope Canyon
This 3-D relief model helps to put all the things to do in Page Az into perspective

Glen Canyon Conservancy (GCC) is the non-profit organization that works in conjunction with the National Park Service and other municipal organizations in the area to ensure the best visitor experience at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell. They oversee interpretive centers throughout what they call “Powell Country.” Their administrative headquarters and “flagship store” are located in the town of Page. It’s a great place to begin your exploration of all that Page and its environs has to offer.

There are a few basic displays about the history of the area, along with some informational brochures. But the real reason to visit is the 3-dimensional terrain model of Powell Country that’s huge: roughly the size of a small motor home! The model gives you a bird’s-eye-view of the region, and helpful assistants point out sights of interest using a laser pointer.

The shop sells a nice selection of history books and specialty guidebooks about the area, as well as maps, simple hiking gear and a few souvenirs. A visit to Glen Canyon Conservancy will help you decide which things to do in Page AZ will interest you the most.

Horseshoe Bend Overlook

view of horseshoe bend, red rocks with colorado river snaking through page arizona
Horseshoe Bend: one of the “must” things to do in Page AZ

For many people a visit to Horseshoe Bend is their first priority of things to do in Page AZ. This view of a U-shaped bend in the Colorado River is certainly an Instagram darling. Although it’s technically free to visit (it’s within the boundaries of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area), it’s difficult to access without a long hike. The easiest way to see it is to park at the facility built by the city of Page. For $10 you can park your car and walk a well-paved (and accessible) 1/2-mile trail to the Horseshoe Bend overlook. There are railings and plenty of good viewing spots (there are also plenty of people).

*Please avoid the temptation to climb out on the edge of the rocks for that “perfect Insta shot”– it’s a 1,000-foot drop and the red sandstone on the cliffs is very crumbly! 😱

Glen Canyon Dam Overlook

For those looking for a similar, but less crowded, view high above the Colorado River in Glen Canyon, we recommend the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook, a quiet spot just west of town. It’s free to visit, with a fun short hike over irregular sandstone to reach the viewing point (there are railings!). You also get two-for-one views: looking south you’ll see a view of the much like Horseshoe Bend (but without the curve); looking north you get a fantastic view of Glen Canyon Dam, superimposed by the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge. This is one of the lesser-known things to do in Page AZ, but it’s well worth the trip.

Hike to the Hanging Gardens Arizona

Larissa standing at the hanging gardens, one of the cool things to do in page az
Hiking to the hanging gardens is one of the cool (literally!) things to do in Page AZ

The rocky terrain around Page, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell is pretty stunning, but there’s not a lot of natural greenery. For a refreshing change, take a short hike on the Hanging Garden Trail to the amazing Hanging Gardens Arizona. An unusual configuration in the otherwise unrelenting red rocks allows water to collect, giving ferns and wild orchids just enough moisture and shade to flourish. After the sun and heat of all those red rocks, its almost thirst-quenching to view. (And the temperature is literally cooler there too!)

John Wesley Powell Museum

When exploring things to do in and around Page AZ, don’t forget to check out what’s in the town itself. The Powell Museum celebrates the life and achievements of Major John Wesley Powell, who is credited with leading the first group of white men through the Grand Canyon in 1869.

The museum is housed in a building was originally built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as a concrete testing lab for the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Today, the collections, archives, and exhibits illustrate the history of Powells expeditions, as well as providing information about visiting Page and the surrounding Colorado Plateau.

Note: The Powell Museum is currently closed for renovations (as of 12/1/21). Check the website listed above prior to visiting

View Lake Powell from Several Scenic Overlooks

view of lake powell, one of the things to do in page az
The view of Lake Powell from Navajo Viewpoint

There are endless vistas on this high Colorado Plateau and one of the fun things to do in Page Az is to see them is from a series of overlooks near the Lake Powell Marina. Each provides terrific photo ops.

Each of these viewing spots are accessible from US Highway 89, just a few miles north of Glen Canyon Dam. Wahweap Overlook is free to access and offers a 360-degree panorama of the whole region. Two other spots, Wahweap Viewpoint (not to be confused with the overlook of the same name) and Navajo Viewpoint, face east toward Lake Powell and Navajo Mountain in the distance. (These latter Viewpoints are within the fee area of the Lake Powell Marina and Campground.)

Things to do in Page Az: Tour Antelope Canyon

Photogenic and awesomely cool Antelope Canyon

Those photos of swirly red rocks in narrow slot canyons? Yep-that’s Antelope Canyon. Thanks to Instagram, it’s the most visited-and photographed-slot canyon in the American Southwest. The canyon was formed over 100 million years ago as water eroded the layers of red sandstone. The canyon is divided into two sections: the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. Each have their own unique beauty. Upper Canyon is like following a dried up stream as it snakes through a tunnel of rocks. Lower Canyon has more spiral, corkscrew-y configurations.

Because it is located on Navajo Triabal Lands, taking a tour is mandatory to view either of the canyons. The number of visitors is limited, so it’s best to book a tour ahead of time through one of the approved operators listed on the Navajo Tribal Parks website. It’s one of the top Page AZ things to do.

PRO TIP: Space is limited on Antelope Canyon tours, so be sure to book ahead

Float down the Colorado River

Here’s a unique way to see Horseshoe Bend: looking UP from the river! Sign up for a tour that takes you down from just below Glen Canyon Dam, 15 miles downstream to Lees Ferry. There are kayaking tours, or multi-person raft excursions if you’d just like to float along.

You’ll pass through the tunnel to the base of the Dam (very cool!), then gently float down the river, past ancient petroglyphs and around Horseshoe Bend, where you can wave to all the people at the Overlook 1,000 feet above you.Tours are about a half-day, including transportation to and from the river. Be sure to book ahead, as seating is limited.

YouTube video
Rafting down the Colorado River through Horseshoe Bend is one of the more awesome things to do in Page Az


Tour Glen Canyon Dam & Bridge

When considering things to do in Page AZ, it makes sense to visit the site that caused the creation of the town in the first place: Glen Canyon Dam. At The 710 feet high this massive concrete structure is just a teensy bit smaller (16 feet) than Hoover Dam. The damming of the Colorado River, which created Lake Powell, generates hydroelectric power for much of northern Arizona.

Because there were no rail lines to this remote canyon, Glen Canyon Bridge was built just south of the future dam site to facilitate transport of construction materials. When completed in 1959, it was the highest arch bridge in the world, rising 700 feet above the Colorado River.

Visitors are welcome to take free guided tours of the dam and the power plant. Sign up at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, where there are exhibits about the Dam’s construction along with a panoramic interior viewing platform of both the dam and the bridge. Outside, there are multiple viewpoints of the bridge, and an excellent view of the dam from a walkway on the Glen Canyon Bridge itself.

The Carl Hayden Visitor Center is currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, however there are still plenty of outdoor viewpoints that are accessible.

open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day; and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year. The visitor center is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Tour hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are limited to 20 persons each tour.

Spend some time on Lake Powell

aerial view of lake powell with marina full of boats page arizona
Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell offers loads of options to get out on the water: boat or “toy” rental, or tours

Lake Powell was created when the Glen Canyon Dam began to regulate the flow of the Colorado River in the 1960s. The National Recreation Area was opened in 1972 so everyone could enjoy the water in this otherwise dry area of the southwest. Water levels have dropped in recent years due to drought conditions, but there’s still a lot of Lake Powell to enjoy.

If all this exploring around Lake Powell has you itching to get out on the water itself you can do so at Wahweap Marina. No matter what type of water “toy” you’re looking for, you can rent it here-it’s one of the things to do in Page AZ. From a houseboat for a multi-night stay on the water, to motor boats & jet skis, or kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, there are rentals available. Half-day boat tours and dinner cruises are also available in the summer months.

There are so many fun and interesting things to do in Page AZ. Which will you do first?

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I love visiting sights where an element from pop culture has become a destination unto itself.

“Standing on the corner Winslow Arizona” immediately calls to mind the Classic Rock song Take it Easy, made famous by the group Eagles. The town of Winslow has embraced the song and created a park commemorating the song. In the opening line lead singer Glenn Frey belted out “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,” putting that town forever on the map of must-see rock-and-roll sights.

Standing on the Corner Park refers to the opening line to one of Eagles’ most iconic songs, from their debut self-titled album. Jackson Browne and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey wrote Take it Easy in 1971 and it was released as Eagles’ first single in 1972. Even a half-century later, the song still resonates.

“Well, I’m a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
slowin’ down to take a look at me.”

Written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne


Standing on a corner Park Winslow Arizona statue

Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona: the Park

Winslow already had some acclaim as a Route 66 town with a celebrated hotel, the historic La Posada, and, up until the 1960s, it was the largest town in northern Arizona but the song sent Arizona road trippers detouring from interstate I-40 to look for the famous intersection. The only problem was Take it Easy wasn’t written about any particular corner in Winslow. But the town realized they should give these visitors something to see so in 1999 they created “Standing on the Corner Park” at the intersection of Route 66 and North Kinsley Avenue right in the center of town. Hence “standing on the corner Winslow Arizona” was memorialized.

You can’t miss it, there’s a giant highway shield of Route 66 painted in the road. Since the song doesn’t mention exactly which corner in Arizona the writer was standing this one will have to do. It won’t be long before you’ll be singing “standing on the corner Winslow Arizona” beneath your breath as you approach the legendary site.

In a mural created by artist John Pugh there is indeed a reflection of a girl slowing down to take a look. To add even more realism, a bright red 1960 Ford flatbed truck is parked in the street for a unique photo op. While Winslow doesn’t get quite the foot traffic of tourists crossing Abbey Road in London does, we were surprised by the steady flow of people on a winter’s day. It’s estimated that 100,000 people a year visit Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona.

standing on a corner winslow arizona, image of statue in the park
The girl in the flatbed Ford appears in the window reflection. Can you spot the eagle?

The centerpiece of the park is a denim-clad statue named “Easy” holding an acoustic guitar. The statue was created by sculptor Ron Adamson. While it does bear a passing resemblance to Jackson Browne, it is supposed to represent all songwriters. It was installed in September 1999 when the park was dedicated. Upon Glenn Frey’s death in 2016 the statue became a setting for tributes to the Eagles songster. A statue of Frey was added thanks to fundraising efforts of two Phoenix morning radio DJs, Mark Devine and Paul Marshall, from classic rock station KSLX along with the Standing on the Corner Foundation and the City of Winslow.


The origin of Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona

But where did the famous lyrics come from? Jackson Browne had once been stranded in Winslow and put the town name in the song. But he had trouble coming up with the context to finish the verse. In the 1994 documentary Jackson Browne: Going Home Browne attributed the lyrics about the flatbed Ford to Glenn Frey. According to Browne, “He came up with this great flatbed Ford thing, that’s a transformation made right there. I dug the fact that all these women in Arizona were driving trucks so that appealed to me, ‘It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford.'”

Standing on the Corner Park and Route 66

Winslow itself is a pretty interesting town to visit. It’s a great stop along a Route 66 Arizona Road Trip. You can stay in the historic La Posada Hotel which is a former Santa Fe Railroad hotel from 1929. East of town there are a few relics from Route 66’s glory days of welcoming travelers and even a spot where the road literally ends.

In September, Winslow hosts the annual Standin’ on the Corner Festival with live music, craft vendors and food trucks. It’s a great time to visit and mingle with fellow Eagles fans. Year-round there are several souvenir shops to get your Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona swag.

Old Route 66 peters out below, replaced by the interstate.

Visiting the Park: Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona

Address: Intersection of 2nd Avenue (Old Route 66 eastbound) and North Kinsley Avenue. Winslow is 58 miles east of Flagstaff. You’ll take I-40 to get to Winslow so make sure to exit the interstate to get downtown.

Hours: 24/7

Admission: Free

Web site: StandinOnTheCorner.com

And here’s one for the road . . . the Eagles, Jackson Browne and (Arizona native!) Linda Ronstadt performing Take it Easy in 1974:

YouTube video
Watch more on Jackson Browne’s YouTube Channel

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INSIDE: Arizona small towns each have a unique history and character-perfect for a road trip! See our fave mining, western & funky artsy spots and work one (or three) into YOUR next road trip!

We needed a pit stop on our Arizona road trip. Sick of truck stops along the Interstate, with their harsh fluorescent lighting and sticky bathroom floorswe spied a small signpost pointing toward “downtown historic district” and “Original Route 66.” That combination was too tempting to ignore, so we veered off the exit . . .

. . . and drove into one of the best days of our road trip.

The trick was finding that Arizona small town to visit.

Exactly what type of charm do you find in an Arizona small town?

Most small towns in Arizona are off the beaten path–or at least off the Interstate–and they make a perfect road trip stop.

Although some of these towns are still bustling with the business that got them started, such as mining and cattle ranching, many have reinvented themselves as tourist destinations that celebrate their heritage. You’ll find a TON of charm, and maybe even include a ghost town👻!

Small town charm to the rescue!

The small town we discovered when we followed the signs? It was Winslow! We’ve included it below in our list of 17 favorite Arizona small towns, along with practical info to help you as your plan your trip. Each town is unique and offers up a special bit of Arizona charm.

We hope this helps you drive into one of the best days of your road trip too! 

Northern Arizona: 7 small towns that are Worth a Visit

Flagstaff: The highest elevation in the state!

Flagstaff is the largest town in northern Arizona. Old route 66 passes through the southern edge of town, so you get that “classic road trip” vibe. (And there’s a cool Route 66-themed gift shop in the old train station–souvenir alert!).

The main part of town has a “nice old-fashioned downtown” feel, with historic late Victorian brick buildings housing bars, restaurants, and shops. Northern Arizona University is also based in Flagstaff, which means the town is not just a tourist haven.

Of all the Arizona small towns, Flagstaff has the highest elevation in the state, at nearly 7,000 feet.

Flagstaff’s high altitude means temperatures stay cool in summer, a refreshing break from the desert heat. And in winter? Skiing at nearby slopes! Located midway between Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks, it’s a central base for exploring the natural wonders in northern Arizona.

Tudor-style train station building along railroad tracks

Kingman: Cars, Trains, and . . . Electricity?

Kingman was established as a railroad town in the 1880s, and soon grew thanks to mining in the surrounding area. Historic Route 66 passes right through town; Kingman is the westernmost Arizona town on the so-called “mother road.”

We thought it was going to be a “drive-by,” but we ended up enjoying our visit here. Andy Devine, one of the early stars of western movies, is from Kingman. To celebrate this celluloid hero, the portion of Route 66 that goes through the center of town is known as “Andy Devine Avenue.”

Today Kingman has a real “road trip” feel and celebrates its motoring and railroad heritage. The cool multi-purpose Powerhouse Visitor Center is in an old converted power station. You’ll also find the Arizona Route 66 Museum and the Arizona Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum there.

Across the street in Locomotive Park train geeks will love the ogling historic old steam engine #3579. And there is no shortage of Route 66 photo-ops: the logo is displayed all over town on signs and painted on the street.

Interesting things to do in Kingman Arizona abound for everyone in your road trip crew. It makes a great base for exploring northwestern Arizona, and the western ends of the Grand Canyon.


Page: Horseshoe Bend . . . but so much more

Page serves as the gateway to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which includes such attractions as Lake Powell and the famous Horseshoe Bend. Page is a relatively new community, established in the late 1950s to support workers building the dam.

Today it’s a friendly town with the most hotel rooms in the “Arizona Strip,” (the name for this far northern part of the state), which makes it a great base for touring this area of northern Arizona near the Utah borders.

Many people pop into Page, make a quick stop at Horseshoe Bend, then move on. But we found there’s a lot more to see and do in the area. Day trips from here include Vermillion Cliffs, Lee’s Ferry, and even the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We also love some of the lesser-known spots, such as Glen Canyon Dam Overlook and hiking to the (sort of secret) Hanging Garden Trail. Be sure to allow some time for water sports, whether it’s rafting down the Colorado River or boating on Lake Powell. No matter what you choose, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Page AZ.

Glen Canyon Bridge, looking eastward, with red sandstone in background, one of the things to do in page az

Seligman: Birthplace of “Historic Route 66”

This little hamlet, bypassed by Interstate 40, preserved the Route 66 legend. In 1987 locals petitioned the State of Arizona and had it designated a historic highway. Rumors are that Seligman inspired the location of Radiator Springs for the movie Cars.

Battered old red tow truck parked in front of building with American Flag painted on side
Is this Seligman . . . or Radiator Springs???

Today this no-stoplight town is a pilgrimage for Route 66 fans, who find retro motels, memorabilia shops . . . and lots of vintage cars parked around town (you might even get to meet Tow Mater!)


Williams: Gateway to the Grand Canyon

Two things distinguish Williams: Route 66 and the Grand Canyon. Williams describes itself as “the best-preserved stretch of Route 66.” It was the last town on the “mother road” to be bypassed by Interstate 40 (in 1984), so it hung on to its Route 66 identity.

The center of town, with its diners, motels, and shops is a designated National Historic District. We first came here to use it as a base for visiting the Grand Canyon but found the town itself charming.

building with statue of cow in front
Old-timey charm in Williams, Arizona

Williams is also the town nearest to the main entrance of Grand Canyon National Park (about 50 miles due north), which makes it a great base for exploring the area. The town is the headquarters of the Grand Canyon Historic Railway and Hotel.

Because of its proximity to the park, many Grand Canyon tour operators are based in Williams. Kaibab National Forest surrounds the town, with plenty of hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities for outdoor lovers.

Brick and stucco front of Grand Canyon Hotel on route 66

Winslow: Yep, the place with “the corner”!

For anyone who has ever listened to a Classic Rock radio station and heard the lyrics, “well I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona . . . ” Yep, this is the place! This is one of the small Arizona towns along old Route 66 which has capitalized on the Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey song made famous by the rock group Eagles. Get your 70s rock fix at the park that commemorates “Standing on a corner Winslow Arizona” where there’s even (you knew this was coming!) a flatbed Ford.

Route 66 sign on roadbed, Winslow Arizona

Winslow’s other claim to fame is the La Posada Winslow Hotel (we loved our recent stay there!), one of the original 1930s-era Fred Harvey railroad hotels designed by Mary Colter along the Santa Fe railroad line. Current owners renovated and reopened the southwestern-style luxury property in 1997.

Today it contains a top-notch restaurant and art gallery in addition to comfy guest rooms. It makes an elegant old-world stopover while cruisin’ Route 66. And check out these other things to do in Winslow Arizona.

PRO TIP: Go retro in Northern Arizona! Stay at one of these fabulous hotels on Route 66 in Arizona!

Honorable Mention: Sedona-Red Rocks & Blue Skies

You may be wondering why I didn’t include Sedona in the above list. While Sedona is a wonderful destination, and you’ll find plenty of reasons to visit Sedona (especially in the fall), it’s hard to classify it as a “small town.”

Shopping abounds along State Route 89A, although much of it is in clusters of small strip malls. And this road gets super jammed during weekends, so you’re not likely to go for a random stroll.

Shopping in Sedona along Hwy 89A-gorgeous red rocks, but not a small-town atmosphere

Sedona is best appreciated away from highway 89A–that is, enjoying the hiking amid the magnificent red rocks, or chilling out at a spa. By all means, check out Sedona, just don’t expect a “quaint small town” atmosphere. For a “village-esque” atmosphere, head over to the Tlaquepaque complex, a beautiful cluster of shops, galleries, and restaurants resembling a Mexican village.

  • What we love: Hiking the red rocks, Tlaquepaque shopping
  • Fave Eats: Mariposa (swanky, Latin-inspired spot with amazing views)
  • Highlights: Cathedral & Bell Rocks, Vortexes, Tlaquepaque
  • Road Trips: Red Rocks & Red Wine
  • Where to Stay: Hotels in Sedona
man sitting on deck looking at red rocks of Sedona
Sedona is best when enjoying the red rocks

PRO TIP: For small-town charm NEAR Sedona, check out Cottonwood & Jerome (listed below)


Central Arizona: You need to see these 5 Adorable Small Towns

Cottonwood: Water & Wine

Cottonwood sits alongside the Verde River in the valley just north of Jerome. Due to its location along a river, Cottonwood is a unique small Arizona town: it began its life as a farming community in the late 1800s. The cute main street has a midcentury feel.

Our first visit to Cottonwood in 2013 showed a town with “good bones” but not a lot going on. However, all those storefronts with potential couldn’t stay empty for long! On recent visits, we’ve been delighted to see a town full of shops, cafes, and wine tasting rooms. (Be sure to visit NORTH Main St.–that’s the cute part 😊)

Lots of places for wine tasting in Cottonwood

Cottonwood has stayed true to its agricultural roots. Tuzigoot National Monument is just outside of town, the stone remains of this Indian pueblo providing evidence that this has been a prime growing country for centuries. The Verde Valley Wine Trail provides more modern evidence: rows of vines grace the gently sloping hills surrounding town and that musky smell of fermenting grapes permeates the air. Over 20 wineries and tasting rooms are open for sampling in and around the town.

Red 1950s car parked in front of vintage gas station Cottonwood Arizona
A fun throwback experience at Bing’s Burger Station

Globe: Cattle, Copper, and Cute!

Globe was founded in the 1870s on copper mining and cattle, and both are still important industries today. This central Arizona small town is equidistant from Phoenix and Tucson and makes a nice day trip or weekend destination.

Take a walking tour of the historic downtown. Visit the Gila County Historical Museum and explore the work of local artists at the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts (in the former courthouse).

Sitting in the middle of the Tonto National Forest, Globe is near several native American historic sites, such as the Tonto National Monument (cliff dwellings), as well as Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park. The 3,500-foot elevation transitions between the saguaro-filled desert and ponderosa pine forest. Wildflower lovers come to Globe for some spectacular natural displays.

BONUS: Keep an eye out for interesting wildlife–we had to break for a tarantula crossing the road! 🕷😱


Jerome: Wicked (& a little creepy 👻)

Jerome is a unique former copper mining town that’s perched up high on Cleopatra Hill, not far from Sedona. It’s a hair-raising drive up a twisty road to get there. (I need to look straight ahead-not down!) But the good part is the view of the surrounding valley is spectacular. You can even see many of Sedona’s red rocks in the distance.

Jerome is an Arizona Victorian small town perched on a mountain, here is the 1898 Hotel Connor with the red rocks of Sedona in the background

Jerome once had so many saloons it was called “The Wickedest Town in America.” Now you can browse in funky shops and wet your whistle at atmospheric bars and restaurants. Planning on whoopin’ it up old-tyme miner style during a night on the town? We recommend staying in one of the cute Bed & Breakfasts (or the allegedly haunted Jerome Grand Hotel). You won’t want to tackle the drive down that mountain late at night after a few drinks.

photo courtesy Visit Jerome

Prescott: Epitome of Small Town America

Prescott may be one of the most charming Arizona small towns. A classic old courthouse anchors the central square. (Remember the old Back to the Future movies? It wouldn’t be surprising to see Marty McFly zipping by in his SteamPunk DeLorean.) Pretty Victorian homes and cottages line the downtown streets.

Prescott Courthouse in background, compass rose on pavement in front, arizona small towns
The courthouse in the center of Prescott’s beautiful town square

Restaurants, boutiques, antique shops, cafes, and western wear outfitters surround the courthouse square. Visit historic “Whiskey Row,” so called because that’s where all the “hootin’ & hollerin'” happened. Today you can do a bit of hootin’ & hollerin’ of your own on Whiskey Row, as you get your Western on . . . many of the bars feature live music.

That western atmosphere is legit: Prescott is also home to the world’s oldest rodeo, with the grounds about a half mile northwest of downtown. Nearby Prescott National Forest and Watson Lake State Park provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor pursuits.

Watson Lake near Prescott offers great hiking

Honorable Mention: Scottsdale: Big city Small town

Scottsdale is a super-popular destination, and there’s an Old West feel to Old Town Scottsdale. But it stopped being a small town a long time ago. But with just over 250,000 people, it’s about the same size as Richmond, VA, and Toledo, OH.

Lots of cute shops in an “old west” setting in Old Town Scottsdale

Scottsdale is worth visiting: great restaurants, terrific shopping (including a gorgeous mall with a Neiman Marcus & a Nordstrom), as well as some wonderful museums, including Western Spirit Scottsdale Museum of the West (a terrific Smithsonian Affiliate). It’s just not a small town.

The skyline of Downtown Scottsdale-pretty, but not a small town

Southern Arizona: 5 Small Towns that are western, funky & fun

Bisbee: Funky, Artsy & Historic

Bisbee, Arizona was established in 1876 as a copper mining town tucked away in the Mule Mountains southeastern part of Arizona. The mine is no longer operational, but Bisbee has now transformed itself into a cool and funky destination with a sort of “Victorian-meets-Midcentury” kind of vibe.

Street in Bisbee, Arizona with mountain in background
The winding streets of Bisbee, a small town nestled in the Mule Mountains of southeastern Arizona.

Learn how copper helped shape both the town⏤and the nation⏤at the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, and then see the real deal underground on a Queen Mine Tour. Browse Bisbee’s many art galleries, and spend the night (or 3) at one of the town’s picturesque bed and breakfasts.


Patagonia: Chill at a Bird-lover’s Paradise

Patagonia is a small town nestled high in the Santa Rita Mountains, about an hour southeast of Tucson. Once a mining town, Patagonia today is focused on cattle ranching and recreation. The wine-growing region of Sonoita is just a few miles north.

The old train station in Patagonia is now the court house

The Sonoita Creek flows through Patagonia year-round (a rarity in Arizona’s dry climate). As a result, the region is a popular flyway for many unique types of birds⏤and is a great spot for birdwatchers. Downtown Patagonia has a few funky art galleries, shops, and cafes. The town’s high altitude (4,500 feet) keeps it cool in the summer, and many visitors like to stay for a week, enjoying nearby State Park at Patagonia Lake AZ, or ropin’ and ridin’ at the historic Circle Z Ranch.

  • What we love: The low-key cowboy vibe
  • Fave Eats: Wagon Wheel Saloon (fancy it ain’t, authentic? Yup!)
  • Highlights: Fairs on the town green, Patagonia Lake
  • Road Trips: South Central Arizona
  • Where to Stay: Hotels in Patagonia
Birders love Patagonia

Tombstone: Hootin’, Hollerin’ Wild West🤠

Pose with Wyatt Earp & the lawmen at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, the classic western Arizona small town

It would be hard to get more “Old West” in Arizona small towns than Tombstone. This is home to the famous “OK Corral,” where the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday gunned down the ornery Clanton-McLaury gang. But there’s a lot more to Tombstone, including a rich silver mining history and clashes with the Apaches.

Tombstone has done much to preserve its Old West atmosphere. The main street is still dirt, and cars have to share the road with horses! Western wear shops, restaurants, and saloons line the wooden sidewalks. Historic sights include the Birdcage Theater and Tombstone Courthouse. But be sure to allow some time to see the “shootout:” it’s re-enacted daily.

Tubac: Artsy Historic Fun

Tubac is a small Arizona town about 50 miles south of Tucson that today is a thriving artist colony. Unlike most Arizona small towns, the history of Tubac predates mining and cattle. Because of its location along the Santa Cruz River, it was a settlement for native tribes. Many of these native tribes greeted the Spanish Missionaries when they arrived in the late 1600s.

Colorful pottery outside a shop in Tubac, Arizona
Colorful pottery is one of the many types of creative expression available in the artsy small town of Tubac, Arizona. (photo courtesy AOT)

History buffs should visit Tumacacori National Historic Park just outside of town. Here, hundreds of years and layers of history mingle together, incorporating Native Peoples, Spanish Missionaries, and Mexican and American soldiers. Tubac’s multiple art galleries line the sleepy streets of Tubac. The Tubac Center of the Arts hosts rotating exhibits, art workshops, and performances.

  • What we love: Great Mexican pottery
  • Fave Eats: Elvira’s-funky Mexican in a hip setting
  • Highlights: Art galleries; Tubac Presidio Historic Park
  • Road Trips: South Central Arizona
  • Where to Stay: Hotels in Tubac

Yuma: An Old West Border Town

Yuma is a small Arizona town in the extreme southwest corner of the state. Sitting along the banks of the Colorado River made Yuma a strategic location in the 18th and 19th centuries. Initially, it was missionaries who traveled this route. Passing through Yuma became one of the fastest ways to get out west during the California Gold Rush.

Today visitors to Yuma can get the feel of a real “old west” town by visiting the historic downtown. The center of town took off during the gold rush years. Yuma was also home to the Yuma Territorial Prison, which is now a state park. (The prison figured largely in the classic Western movie 3:10 to Yuma). Visit the Colorado River State Historic Park to learn about the importance of the crossing throughout the past few centuries.

  • What we love: The mixture of old west & border town
  • Fave Eats: Wagon Wheel Saloon (fancy it ain’t, authentic? Yup!)
  • Highlights: Territorial Prison Museum; Downtown
  • Road Trips: Southwest Arizona
  • Where to Stay: Hotels in Yuma
Visiting a small town makes a road trip more fun

These Arizona small towns help to tell the fascinating history of the state. They all sit amid Arizona’s fabulous scenery, under those magnificent blue skies. The combination makes each of them a great destination for a few days’ excursion.

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List of Small Arizona Towns to Visit on a Road Trip

  1. Bisbee (southern Arizona)
  2. Cottonwood (central Arizona)
  3. Flagstaff (northern Arizona)
  4. Globe (central Arizona)
  5. Jerome (central Arizona)
  6. Kingman (northern Arizona)
  7. Page (northern Arizona)
  8. Patagonia (southern Arizona)
  9. Prescott (central Arizona)
  10. Scottsdale (central Arizona)
  11. Sedona (north/central Arizona)
  12. Seligman (northern Arizona)
  13. Tombstone (southern Arizona)
  14. Tubac (southern Arizona)
  15. Williams (northern Arizona)
  16. Winslow (northern Arizona)
  17. Yuma (southern Arizona)