Cities and towns to visit in Arizona

INSIDE: Surprisingly vibrant and walkable, we share a whole list of things to do Phoenix downtown–you won’t even need a car!

For years I thought of Phoenix as a “region.” Great weather & spectacular scenery? Sure. But a city? With a traditional downtown? Not so much. Then I went to a concert, expecting to leave right afterward, and discovered something unexpected . . .

Downtown Phoenix was hopping-there were people everywhere, out and about, walking around and having a great time. Wait, WHAT???

It was time to give the downtown “city” part of Phoenix a closer look.

Downtown Phoenix Arizona: It’s a (real) Thing

Clearly I had taken my eye off the ball regarding what was going on in the state’s largest city (and its capital). In recent years, Phoenix has committed to redeveloping its urban corridor to offer more experiences to both business and leisure travelers.

Translation: there’s lots of cool stuff in downtown Phoenix. And you can walk to it all.

It’s not just the “big things,” like the Convention Center, baseball stadium and basketball arena. Those are great, but not enough to create a downtown atmosphere. You could drive to an event, then go home afterwards.

To be a true downtown you need more. Specifically . . . people.

Woman in a hat holding up a microbrew in downtown phoenix
Megan Greenwood of Greenwood Brewing celebrates walkable downtown Phoenix Photo by Jenny Dupuis

Tons of new apartments and condos have sprouted up in recent years. Which means people are living downtown. And where people live, they shop, eat, and just plain do stuff.

Which makes being in downtown Phoenix fun.

And it’s all within walking distance, so you even get a little exercise in the process. (Which in my mind totally justifies stopping for a cookie! 🍪)

We’ve put together a guide of what to do in downtown Phoenix to get you started. Whether you’re looking to shop in funky boutiques, discover some history, or just enjoy the Arizona sunshine with a refreshing microbrew, you’ll find it here.

Next time you’re coming to town for a convention, or even just in from the ‘burbs to catch a Diamondbacks game, take some time to explore downtown Phoenix. It’ll be worth the trip.

Things to do Phoenix Downtown: Live Performances

Downtown Phoenix is no slouch in the live performance scene. From bass-thumping rock or hip-hop to an elegant ballet to live theater, Phoenix runs the gamut for creative entertainment. 🎸💃🏻

Every night is a unique artistic experience, where passion and creativity take center stage. Check out these terrific venues to find your performance of choice.

1. Footprint Center

An anchor in downtown Phoenix, the Footprint Center arena delivers an electrifying fusion of entertainment, sporting action, and local culture.

In addition to year-round sporting events (see below), this arena host an ever-changing array of BIG events. Whether it’s the Ringling Brothers circus, Tim McGraw or Megan Thee Stallion, there’s something heart-stopping for fans of all ages and tastes.

Attending an event at the Footprint Center can form the lynchpin for your exploration of Phoenix’s downtown scene.

2. Arizona Financial Theater

Despite the confusing name (they do NOT put on plays about mortgages 🙃), the Arizona Financial Theatre offers up a great lineup of all sorts of entertainment.

This 5,000 seat entertainment venue is equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment. I like to think of it as either an “intimate arena” or a “whompin’ big theater.”

This is the place to see comedy acts like Bret Goldstein and Bill Burr and multiple music genres, including latin, hip-hop, rock and country. You can even attend boxing matches here! 🥊

3. Phoenix Symphony Hall

If you’re craving a little high culture, Phoenix Symphony Hall will fix you up right.

This spectacular venue serves as home to a myriad of renowned organizations, including the illustrious Phoenix Symphony—the Southwest’s largest full-time symphony orchestra—as well as the Arizona Opera and Ballet Arizona.

Ballet dancers at Phoenix Symphony hall-one of the more cultural things to do Phoenix downtown
Attending a ballet is one of the more cultural things to do Phoenix downtown Photo: Ballet Arizona

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4. Herberger Theater Center

The Herberger Theater Center, serves as a cultural hub offering an immersive live arts experience. This captivating hive of creativity showcases a wide variety performance genres, encapsulating the city’s thriving arts scene. Events include thought-provoking plays, musicals an interactive art exhibitions.

For a change of pace (and budget ) try out the Lunch Time Theater program: One-act plays lasting 45 to 50 minutes, with tickets at $10 each, PLUS guests can bring a lunch (or pre-order one from the Herberger Theater’s caterer when ordering tickets.) Now that’s a great deal!

5. The Orpheum Theater

Every great city needs a grand old theater in it’s repertoire. The Orpheum Theater fits that bill for downtown Phoenix. It opened in January 1929, at the peak of the Roaring 20s-no expense was spared. The massive stage made it a popular stop for traveling vaudeville shows that changed weekly back in the day.

The elegant 1920s interior of the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix
The elegant interior of the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix dates from the 1920s

This historic performance arts venue is a bit of an architectural show-off with its magnificent Italian Renaissance Revival design. It even had an early form of air conditioning!

Today the Orpheum plays host to a diverse range of performances that cater to every artistic taste. Performances range from the mesmerizing Broadway musical Wicked to showings of vintage silent films accompanied by live orchestra. The Orpheum Theater is indeed a crowning jewel in Phoenix’s vibrant arts scene.

6. The Van Buren

People standing in a music venue waiting for a concert to begin
The Van Buren offers an intimate spot to see live music in downtown Phoenix

If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate and edgy in the heart of downtown Phoenix, the Van Buren might just fit the bill.

Originally built in 1939 as an automotive showroom for the Phoenix Motor Company, it was repurposed into an eclectic music venue in 2017. Recent performances include Grammy-nominated artist, Leon Bridges, and indie rock band, The Arctic Monkeys, showcasing the Van Buren’s commitment to diverse and high-caliber entertainment.

Click here for upcoming events at the Van Buren.

7. The Crescent Ballroom

Part live performance venue, part Southwestern scratch kitchen, the Crescent Ballroom provides entertainment and sustenance at the western end of Phoenix’s downtown in a historic setting.

exterior view of the crescent ballroom in downtown phoenix, with people eating at outdoor tables
The Crescent Ballroom features live music & great Southwestern grub (Photo An T. Pham)

Housed in the F.L. Hart Garage, which was built in 1917, it sits along the original Dixie Overland Highway, more commonly known as US Highway 80. As a member of the inaugural class of US highways commissioned in 1926 [the same “class” as its neighbor to the north, Route 66], US 80 ran through Phoenix along Van Buren Street.

This route was often referred to as the “Broadway of America,” with motor lodges and automobile garages, catering to tourists. Today, the Crescent Ballroom showcases a wide variety of live music and related activities.

And the Arizona tapas, margaritas and more at onsite Cocina 10 are a welcome treat for a hungry wayfarer! 🌮🍹

What to do in Downtown Phoenix with Kids 🧒🏻🧒🧒🏽

Ignite your child’s curiosity with engaging museums, interactive exhibits, captivating live events, lush parks, and more. Designed for their endless amusement, downtown Phoenix has fun-filled adventure awaiting in every corner. Create unforgettable memories with these things to do Phoenix downtown today!

8. Valley Youth Theater

group of children putting on a play-things to do phoenix downtown
Potential future Oscar winners (photo: Robert Kneschke)

The Valley Youth Theater cultivates raw talent into masterful, world-renowned performers. This hub of artistic excellence proudly counts award-winning artists like Jordan Sparks and Emma Stone among its notable alumni.

Fun for kids and grownups alike, catch a performance at the VYT and you might just get a glimpse of a future Oscar winner. You can say, “I saw them when they were just a kid!”

9. Arizona Science Center (and Create! Annex)

Tweens in front of a giant mock-up of skin at Arizona Science Center
Arizona Science Center, (photo by Brad Olson)

Encourage your child’s curiosity (or your own!) at Arizona Science Center, featuring over 350 interactive exhibits.

Dive into the mind-bending Dorrance Planetarium or traverse the simulated Mars landscape. In the Create! annex, innovate with hands-on learning in design, 3D printing, and robotics.

My husband is not usually a “science guy,” but he definitely engaged with the Under the Hood, Engineered by Subaru! exhibit. He got to get up close and personal with a Boxer engine, and then “test-drive” wooden Subaru model cars on a track. Boys will be boys. 👦🏻👦🏻

The Science Center also offers a series of adults-only events, called “Science with a Twist.” These include a happy hour 🍸 along with an adults-oriented science program.

10. Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Who wouldn’t want to play in the Noodle Forest?

Housed in a beautifully restored, historic school building, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix offers engaging, interactive exhibits for children to learn through play.

Popular attractions like the Noodle Forest, the Climber, and the Art Studio captivate children’s imaginations, fostering curiosity and creativity. This award-winning museum encourages hands-on exploration and discovery, providing delightful experiences for young minds and making it a must-visit destination for family fun and learning.

11. Go on a City Mural Scavanger Hunt

Experience the vibrant street art throughout downtown Phoenix. This colorful explosion of creativity transforms buildings into kaleidoscopic canvases featuring everything from sprawling surreal landscapes to enchanting abstract pieces.

(I like to see if I can incorporate someone into the scene . . . see my husband, who has become “one with the cactus,” below 🤣)

man standing in front of cactus mural in downtown Phoenix
See if you can become part of the street art in Phoenix downtown murals

This interactive open-air museum provides a fun, educational activity for kids, provoking discussions about art and expression. Explore the dynamic world of Phoenix street art, where imagination meets urban landscape.

Delve into local History

Although downtown Phoenix is vibrant and modern, the area is rich with history. Snippets of the city’s (and the state’s) past are hiding in plain sight for anyone curious enough to take a peek.

Anyone with an interest in the past should include these on their list of things to do Phoenix downtown.

12. Heritage Square Walk

Take a peek at Phoenix’s vibrant Victorian Past at Heritage Square. Located on Block 14 of the original townsite of Phoenix, the Square dates back to the late 1800s.

Embark on a fascinating walking tour, which showcases the evolving history of the Phoenix area. From the pithouses of the Ancestral Sonoran Desert Peoples to the construction of the 1895 Rosson House and beyond, this walk will teach you much about how the city of the past shaped the downtown Phoenix of today.

13. Rosson House Museum

The crown jewel of Heritage Square, the Rosson House Museum, is preserved Victorian-era beauty that brings the past to life. Uncover Phoenix’s rich history with guided tours through the authentically-restored rooms.

Be transported back to the late 1800s as expert guides weave tales of past residents and the city’s early days. Explore Rosson House Museum, where every corner whispers untold stories.

14. Arizona Capitol Museum

Arizona Capitol building in downtown Phoenix
The Arizona Capitol Museum, walking distance to downtown Phoenix (photo © Corbis)

As the state’s capital, Phoenix holds treasures not just from the city’s past, but from all of Arizona as well.

This free museum, which is housed in the original Capitol building, provides an excellent glimpse into all facets of Arizona History-including from when it was just the “Arizona Territory.”

Explore four floors of interactive exhibits, antique artifacts, and historical records that weave a rich tapestry of statewide heritage. From early Native American origins to the ground-breaking Buffalo Soldiers to present-day politics, the museum offers a captivating journey through time.

✻The museum is located adjacent to the Arizona State Senate and House of Representatives. If you’re lucky (or you time it right), one of the houses will be in session and you can pop in and observe State Government at work.

15. Bolin Memorial Plaza

Bolin Memorial Plaza, located in a sprawling park just east of the historic state Capitol building, brings history to life through its captivating monuments.

man standing in front of giant anchor from USS Arizona (sunk at Pearl Harbor)
The anchor from the USS Arizona is a poignant memorial from the Pearl Harbor attack

A collection of stirring tributes such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, remind us of heroic stories and sacrifices. Unique attractions include artifacts from the USS Arizona (sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack), which provide a tangible connection to our past.

This memorial plaza is not just a place, but a journey through time, commemorating those who dedicated their lives for our freedom.

16. Phoenix Police Museum

old western Arizona marshall brass badge, surrounded by vintage bullets and rifle
Learn about law enforcement history from the Arizona Marshalls to modern CSI techniques at the Phoenix Police Museum photo by zim286

Experience the history of regional law enforcement at the Phoenix Police Museum, showcasing a rich collection of vintage police vehicles, artifacts, and memorabilia. It’s got a fitting location, set in the old City Hall.

Highlights include the exhibits through time, beginning with Phoenix’s first Marshall and jail, through the Arizona Rangers of the wild west, all the way up the sophisticated C.S.I. techniques of present day. Of particular note is the Phoenix connection to our famous “Miranda Rights:” Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix in 1963.

Kids will love that chance to try on a police uniform & get their own (sticker) badge to take home. Learn more at Phoenix Police Museum.

Be a Sport -Watch a Game . . . Right Downtown!

Experience exhilarating professional sports just steps away from downtown Phoenix. Thrilling games, outstanding athletes, all within easy reach of urban amenities. Your unforgettable sports journey starts here.

17. Pro Basketball Year Round at the Footprint Center 🏀

If you love hoops, you can spend just about every month of the year at the Footprint Center.

In winter & spring, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns take to the court, with heart-stopping shots, adrenaline-fueled dribbles, and astounding blocks.

Watch pro basketball year round at the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix

Then, before you’ve had a chance to say “time out,” the ladies of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury 🔥 are swishing threes and setting up sweet layups. (And if you’ve been following women’s college basketball lately, you know that these gals can play!)

No matter which team you follow, you’re sure to be in for an electrifying atmosphere, packed with athletic thrills and off-court spectacle.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field ⚾️

Experience the exhilaration of Arizona Diamondbacks baseball at Chase Field.

Little kid cheering at a baseball game at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix
Root, root, root for the home team right in downtown Phoenix

Perfectly positioned in downtown Phoenix, this extraordinary stadium offers more than just a game. Its innovative retractable roof provides year-round comfort for spectators, making every a memorable experience.

Listen to the crack of the bats and cheer on the D-backs through spring, summer and fall. Be captivated by the raw energy, immerse yourself in the excitement, and feel the pulse of the city’s heart as it beats in rhythm with the home team’s performance. Chase Field delivers exceptional baseball, up close and personal.

Enjoy the Funky Neighborhood Vibe on Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row runs along Roosevelt Ave. on the northern end of Phoenix downtown and is a vibrant epicenter of art, culture, and community.

Experience its innovative galleries, inspiring murals, delectable restaurants, and trendy shops. Fostering creativity and diversity, this walkable urban district is a fascinating fusion of historical charm and modern chic.

mural at the entrance to Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix

Roosevelt Row is downtown Phoenix’s walkable arts district, home to art galleries, restaurants, bars and boutique shops in a landscape dotted by colorful street art.

19. First Fridays Art Walk in Downtown Phoenix

Experience Phoenix’s creative soul at the First Fridays Art Walk , which runs all along Roosevelt Row. The first Friday of every month the street becomes a kaleidoscope of color (and culture!) with artwork, music and crafts at every turn.

People shopping for art at street fair on roosevelt row, phoenix
First Fridays on Roosevelt Row

Ignite your senses and explore local artists’ unique expressions. Experience art in motion, in vision, in sound. Don’t just see art, live it.

20. Shop for Chic and Funky Goods

shelves at a shop filled with artisan pieces of pottery and prints in downtown phoenix
One-of-a-kind items by local artisans at Made Art Boutique

You’ll find unique blend of niche boutiques and eclectic shops along Roosevelt Row.

Made Art Boutique showcases one-of-a-kind works from local artisans and craftspeople (okay, I’m fessing up on my fascination for funky earrings here 😊). Whether you’re searching for handcrafted jewelry, hand-drawn notecards or unique pottery pieces you’ll find them here.

Dialog is the go-to spot for high-end home design, while Straw and Wool is the place to go for absolutely stunning hats.

This strip is a haven for the artsy, fashion-forward, and design-savvy. It’s a great place to shop if you’re looking for something that’s beautiful AND unique.

21. Sip your Beverage of Choice 🍺 ☕️🍸

As your ambling down Roosevelt, shopping for cool stuff and admiring the murals, there are plenty of spots to stop and “refresh yourself.” And there is variety . . . so you can opt for your cocktail, brew, coffee, or even mocktail of choice.

Watch the world go by with an artisan microbrew at either woman-owned Greenwood Brewing (that’s owner Megan Greenwood hoisting a glass at the top of the post!), Pedal Brewhaus or Wilderness Brewing, all of which are locally owned. 🍺

Image of a non-alcoholic cocktail alongside a cup of cappuccino
A unique selection of non-alcoholic cocktails and coffees at dialog. (Photos: dialog, Getty Images)

Enjoy your latte or macchiato . . . or chai in the soothing setting of Songbird Coffee & Tea House (plus their housemade pastries are definitely worth a stop!) Or go for the coffee & cocktails setting at Kahvi Coffee & Cafe.

If you prefer to stay completely alert, check out the unique “zero-proof” bar at Dialog (yep, the same folks listed above as carrying swanky home furnishings.) In addition to a selection of coffee & tea, they serve a unique selection of non-alcoholic beverages, including craft cocktails, wines and beers.

Nibble, Munch or Chow Down in Downtown Phoenix

Prepare yourself for a day of exploration of things to do Phoenix downtown by fueling up at one of many unique eateries in this district. Whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner (or my hubby’s favorite: a snack), the restaurants of downtown Phoenix have got you covered.

PRO TIP: Take a Food Tour of Downtown Phoenix . . . you’ll get to sample some yummy treats while walking by many of the historic sites listed here!

Here are a few tasty samples (see what I did there? 😉):

22. Snag a Whompin’ Breakfast 🍳

overhead view of a restaurant breakfast, with eggs, potatoes, coffee in downtown phoenix
Ready for anything after this! (photo by Matt’s Big Breakfast)

Get the perfect start to your day of exploring things to do Phoenix downtown with a monumental morning meal.

Try Matt’s Big Breakfast for the “chop & chick” (shown above) or indulge in fluffy blueberry pancakes. At Breakfast Bitch, enjoy a lil’ bit o’ sass with your avocado toast and an iced caramel macchiato.

No matter what you choose, these spots will have you fueled up for the day!

23. Sample some Legendary Pizza 🍕

Pizzeria Bianco, in Phoenix’s Heritage Square District, is one of the city’s culinary gems. It’s right here-at this humble spot in the Heritage Square District-that artisan pizza in American became a thing.

Margherita pizza topped with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil at pizzeria bianco
The “OG” of artisan pizza in America

Established by James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco, its artisanal pizzas are revered. From the Margherita’s sweet tomato finish to the Rosa’s tantalizing blend of Parmigiano-Reggiano and red onions, it charts a historic journey of Italian cuisine, redefined by the Arizona landscape.

Snagging a pie at Pizzeria Bianco is a way of merging 19th- and 21st-century downtown Phoenix together.

24. Get Crusty at Cornish Pasty Company

Everything tastes better wrapped in flaky pasty crust (photo by Andrew1Norton)

There’s just something about wrapping food in a yummy, flaky crust to make it taste even better. Enter the Cornish pasty: a handheld, crimped pastry, brimming with hearty fillings, which originated in Cornwall, England.

What, you might ask, does this have to do with downtown Phoenix? It turns out, plenty.

Owned by natives of Corwall, Cornish Pasty Company does a bang-up job of bringing that Cornish tradition to the valley of the Sun. With over 40 varieties to choose from, the menu caters to every palate. Savory offerings range from the traditional steak and potatoes to the exotic Moroccan-spiced lamb. Sweet pasties, like tangy apple or opulent chocolate, are the perfect finales to an epicurean adventure.

I also have it on good authority that the peanut butter & jelly with banana dessert pasty is delish (she said as she wiped the crumbs off the side of her mouth 🫢😍).

They make the pasties right next door–for a little foodie adventure, you can watch them rolling and crimping before or after your meal.

25. Go Local at the Churchill

people dining at the Churchill food hall Roosevelt Row downtown Phoenix
Eat (& shop) local at The Churchill (photo by Visit-PhoenixAn-Pham)

Can’t decide what to eat? Check out The Churchill.

Part food hall, part shopping destination, and overall neighborhood gathering spot, The Churchill showcases local businesses from downtown Phoenix in a communal environment, fostering a neighborhood atmosphere. Its mission revolves around promoting sustainability, education, and community growth.

Options abound, from satisfying pizza at Freak Bros. to nutritious acai bowls at InFruition to burgers & bagels at Stoop Kid. You might want to save room for a deep-dish cookie sundae (yes, I did say cookie and sundae in the same sentence 🍪🍨!) at The Scookie Bar.

Find ways to relax and chill

If all the excitement of things to do Phoenix downtown has you itching for a little peace and quiet, we’ve go some ideas for that too.

Explore these options to unwind at the end of a busy day-or just find some serenity in the midst of a bustling city.

26. Japanese Friendship Garden

Immerse yourself in an calming oasis at the Japanese Friendship Garden. 🌸

Japanese garden with statue, bonsai and water in downtown phoenix.
Serenity amidst the bustle of downtown Phoenix (photo courtesy Japanese Friendship Garden)

With meticulously manicured landscapes, tranquil waterfalls, and vibrant koi ponds, it’s a beautifully crafted haven offering a peaceful escape in the middle of the day.

Discover tranquility and embrace cultural enrichment in this picturesque Zen sanctuary, just a block or two away from the city’s bustle.

27. Sip from on high at a Rooftop Bar

cocktail at a rooftop bar with downtown phoenix in background
Sip something special at a rooftop bar high atop downtown Phoenix (photo courtesy Visit Phoenix)

Phoenix’s spectacular weather makes doing anything outside a no-brainer–particularly as the sun begins to set. What better way to celebrate the end of a busy day (or start off a fab evening) than with something sippable at a rooftop bar?

There are several hotels who have made the most of their upper stories. Check out the Eden Rooftop Bar at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, Floor 13 atop the Hilton Garden Inn, or From the Rooftop at the Cambria Downtown.

No matter which you choose, sipping something special high above the bustle of downtown Phoenix is a fitting way to unwind after the day’s adventures. I might add that it’s also a fun spot to watch the planes taking off and landing at PHX. But then, I’m a plane-spotting geek 🛫🤓 (If you love aircraft as well, check out my guide to the Arizona Plane Graveyard (aka “the Boneyard”) in Tucson.

Conclusion

From art and culture to food and entertainment, downtown Phoenix has it all. These 27 experiences are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring this vibrant city center. Make sure to add these to your itinerary and discover even more amazing things to do in Phoenix’s downtown core.

What are your favorite things to do Phoenix downtown? Hit the “contact us” button & let us know–we’ll add it to the list! And don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family who are planning a trip to Phoenix.

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SUMMARY: A visit to this charming former mining town in southwest Arizona makes a delightful getaway. We share 17 things to do in Ajo AZ.

Ajo was such a pleasant surprise! An Arizona small town that manages to embrace its past while still looking to its future in creative ways.

My introduction to Ajo began at the coffee shop on the plaza. Not the usual line of zombies waiting for their morning caffeine infusion–this crowd was only semi-comatose. The barista was keeping things lively by asking if anyone had some spare wood she could use for her latest art project.

In between grinding beans and frothing milk she a found sculptor who had some leftover wood in his studio (she was an expert multi-tasker). Problem solved, she got back to making coffees in earnest, whipping up “the usual” for customers who’d brought their own travel mugs.

When I picked up my “un-usual” (in that she didn’t know me), I apologized for not having any wood for her project (or, for that matter, my own travel mug). She smiled and said “it’s all good–welcome to Ajo!”

I decided I was going to like it here . . .

A Little Background on Ajo Arizona

front view of Curley School in Ajo AZ-1916 Spanish revival building

Ajo is one of our new favorite Arizona small towns! It’s located in southwestern Arizona, not far from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

If you’ve ever driven down to Rocky Point (aka Puerto Penasco, Mexico), chances are you’ve driven right through Ajo–perhaps without stopping. I know several folks with a house in Rocky Point who have never. stopped. And they’ve totally been missing out. 🤷‍♀️

Because, as you’ll see, there’s a lot more to Ajo than just a traffic light & a pit stop!

How Ajo got Started

Ajo has been known as a mining town since the 1700’s, when Spaniards mined first mined silver in the area. Scientific studies eventually indicated there was more copper in them thar hills, so industrious miners switched gears.

Through most of the 20th century the New Cornelia Mine became one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. Dropping copper prices and a bitter strike eventually caused the mine to close in the 1980s, and Ajo has been working to re-invent itself ever since.

Why is Ajo Arizona called Ajo?

Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, the area was inhabited by native peoples. They mixed up a red body paint made from the copper-rich soil, calling it “au’auho,” which became “Ajo.”

Today, Ajo is has become a charming artist’s enclave, with several programs to welcome and encourage the arts, thanks to groups like the International Sonoran Desert Alliance. So a name that means “red body PAINT” seems totally fitting! 🎨🖌️

Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway from Phoenix or Tucson, or are just passing through on your way to Pureto Penasco, take some time to explore the many fun things to do in Ajo!

PRO TIP: Ajo is only a 2-hour drive from either Phoenix or Tucson–it makes a great weekend getaway!

1-12: Things to Do in Ajo AZ

A colorful past and even more colorful (artistic metaphor!) future, coupled with its location amid spectacular Sonoran Desert scenery means there will be plenty of things to do in Ajo for just about everyone!

Arched portico of ajo plaza with tiled cupola above-things to do in ajo az

1-Ajo Plaza

Any visit to Ajo should begin here. This magnificent Spanish Colonial Revival plaza forms the core of the town, filled with park benches and shaded by palms. It’s fronted on 3 sides by a blinding white arched portico–providing a perfect shady spot from the Arizona sun.

2-The Flagpole

Okay, this might seem like an odd entrant in a list of “things to do in Ajo,” but humor me on this. The flagpole in the center of the plaza forms the focal point that anchored the town layout.

Ajo was planned in 1914 to create a pleasant place for miners to live. So . . .no standard “grid” for the fine people of Ajo–no siree.

Instead, streets radiate out from the central axis like “the wings of a bird,” with two similarly white churches anchoring those wings. Pretty cool, huh?

3-Visit the Historic Train Depot (Ajo Visitor Center)

Look for the tiled coupola at the far end of the plaza–this once housed Ajo’s train depot. But, in the words of Warren Zevon, “the train don’t run by here no more,” so the depot has been converted to Ajo’s Visitor Center.

Inside, you’ll be able to see vestiges of the former train station, as well as get information about the town and regional attractions. The folks in there are friendly and helpful. (No word on whether they can help you out with materials for your latest art project 😊)

4-Take a Historic Walking Tour

One of the helpful bits of information you’ll get at the Visitor Center is a handy map of Ajo’s Historic District, pointing out significant buildings and landmarks. This is a great way to get your bearings and view the town’s unique layout from different perspectives.

The tour is roughly 1/2 mile long, and will take you 20-30 minutes.

5-Check Out Artists Alley

Beyond the Murals highlighted on the art tour, you can seed additional creative works lining the walls of this alley behind the plaza.

You know a town is values artistic expression when the alleys sport colorful designs!

wall mural in ajo az-coyote and desert design with words "artists alley-Ajo, AZ" surrounding design

6-Explore Curley School Art Complex

As you’re exploring the town and it’s unique layout, you can’t help but notice that cool old domed building perched where the “wings of a bird” (i.e. the streets) open wide.

That’s the former Curley School, which has been transformed into a unique art complex/hotel/public space. It exemplifies Ajo’s commitment to both the arts and the town’s future.

The original 1916 schoolhouse (very cool Spanish revival architecture!) has been transformed into a multi-purpose complex with studios, a gallery and apartments specifically for artists. The 1930 school annex is now a hotel & conference center (see below).

front view of Curley School in Ajo AZ-1916 Spanish revival building

7-Stay in a Historic Schoolhouse (and Classroom!)

Courtyard of Sonoran Desert Inn with frog sculpture in foreground-Ajo Az
Art is everywhere in the courtyard gardens of the Sonoran Desert Inn

The 1930’s annex of the Curley School (see above) is now the Sonoran Desert Inn. It makes a charming place to stay while exploring Ajo.

We stayed here during our visit, and it really helped us get into the Ajo vibe.

The 11 guestrooms are in former classrooms, which all open onto a large courtyard. They’re decorated in a modern style, with a bit of Ajo artistic flair: funky sculptures and ceiling fans made from re-purposed light fixtures (remember those old fluorescent lights with the little metal grids in them?).

And fuzzy little javelina pillows adorn each bed (made by a local artist, natch). How cute is that?

hotel room bed at Sonoran Desert Inn, with yellow javelina pillow

The courtyard is filled with a collection of welcoming garden spaces that highlight the Sonoran Desert. And of course, there’s art everywhere!

8-Self-Guided Art Tour

Ajo’s support of the arts is evident all over town, in the form of murals, sculptures, and other installations. For a more in-depth understanding of the local works, take a self-guided art tour.

A brochure (available at the Visitor’s Center) provides a map with photos and brief descriptions of nearly 25 works that provide that little something extra to an already pretty town layout.

9-Visit the New Cornelia Open Pit Mining Lookout

A stop at this lookout point is one of THE things to do in Ajo AZ. It’s the mine that put Ajo on the map, and a peek into The New Cornelia Open Pit Mining Lookout gives you a chance to see what all the fuss was about.

Perched at the edge of the (now defunct) open pit, you’ll find a safe (i.e. fenced-off) area to look down into the depths to see just how deep (and wide!) that famous copper ran. A small museum with photos and a short video describing the mining process is also on site.

10-Ajo Historical Society Museum

Ajo Historical Society Museum, housed in a white adobe Spanish Revival church.

This museum is located just up the hill from the open pit mining lookout in the old St. Catherine’s Indian Mission (it’s hard to miss this pristine white building!).

The Ajo Historical Society Museum is a great place to get a sense of Ajo’s past. It contains many artifacts and mementos, including mining paraphernalia, a complete blacksmith shop, and an early print shop. 

11-Browse the Ajo Copper News (Bookstore/Gallery)

man standing in front of building with large desert mural, plus sign for ajo copper news

Ajo is definitely the kind of town that multi-tasks (remember my tale of the artistic barista? ☕️👩🏻‍🎨).

Nowhere is it more evident than the Ajo Copper News: the offices of local weekly newspaper also houses a fabulous used bookstore, a gallery of work by local artists, AND it’s got an awesome giant mural on the front!

Ajo multi-tasking at it’s best!

12-Chill with the locals on the Plaza at Oasis Coffee

The portico on that gorgeous Ajo Plaza is super hangout-able. (is that even a word???) Anyway, it’s a lovely spot to sit in the shade of the arches and watch the world go by.

You might even say it’s one of the musts among things to do in Ajo AZ.

Oasis Coffee (we’re back to the multi-tasking barista again) is the place on the plaza to chillax and soak up the vibe, watching the comings and goings of all and sundry.

And who knows, you might just find a source of materials for your latest art project. 😉👩🏻‍🎨

people sitting under the portico on Ajo plaza enjoying coffee

PRO TIP: Ajo makes a great stop on a road trip through Southwestern Arizona. Check out our Road Trip Planner for more ideas!

13-17: Things to do NEAR Ajo AZ

When considering things to do in Ajo Az it’s important to remember just how rich the region is in scenery nearby. Consider these:

13-Drive the Ajo Scenic Loop

One of the best things to do in Ajo AZ to get your bearings of the surrounding landscape, this 9-mile drive will give you a taste of the Sonoran Desert (with an Organ Pipe twist!)

The drive makes you feel like a star in your own western movie! 🤠. It skirts around the mine and the mountain to the west of town, and cuts through washes drive as it crosses BLM roads that seem to extend forever. Along the way you’ll see Saguaro and Organ Pipe cactus, and the vestiges of a few old homesteads.

Download a copy of the Ajo Scenic Loop Map here, or pick up a copy at the Visitors Center.

14-Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Sign at the entrance to Organ Pipe National Monument near Ajo AZ

Although you’ll see a few Organ Pipe cacti dotting the hills around Ajo, check out Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to get a real sense of these beautiful succulents.

This southwestern part of Arizona is the only place in the US that you’ll find the Organ Pipe Cactus 🏜️, so exploring this park is a special experience.

This park is one of 18 National Monuments in Arizona, and it’s a real beauty!

15-Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

The main entrance to Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge is just north of town. The Visitor Center there has a small museum explaining the local flora and fauna.

You’ll also be able to get info on what you can experience in this vast preserve (over 800,000 acres! 😲). This area is managed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, and offers lots of space to “rough it.” If you’re into camping, hunting, hiking, birding, etc. this is the spot for you!

16-Go Mountain Biking around the local hills

Map of Ajo Az biking routes and Scenic Loop

The wide-open spaces surrounding Ajo are a mountain biker’s dream. 🚵🏻‍♀️. If you love hitting the trails, this should be one of the things to do in Ajo AZ for you.

The town has created 17 trail segments covering over 30 miles that cater to cyclists of all abilities. Mix and match segments to suit your spirit for adventure, whether it’s the easier “Old Faithful” trail, or the “Lower Chain Breaker” (that one is self-explanatory 😱.

A handy map explains each trail, with elevation changes and sights along the way. Download the Ajo Mountain Biking Map here, or pick it up at the Visitor Center.

17-Visit the Tohono O’Odham Museum & Cultural Center

The Tohono O’Odham Nation sits just east of Ajo, covering an area approximately the size of Connecticut (that’s BIG!)

Stop into the Museum & Cultural Center tucked into a magnificent setting of Sonoran Desert outside the town of Sells. There you’ll learn about the history of the O’Odham people, and the traditions that continue to this day.

Take some time to enjoy the spectacular view of Baboquivari Peak, which is of special cultural significance to the O’Odham people.

man standing in front of entrance to Tohono O'Odham cultural museum

Restaurants in Ajo, AZ

Ajo has a small collection of restaurants and coffee shops to satisfy your hunger pangs. There’s a strong focus on Mexican food-kind of like the rest of Arizona! 🌮

Keep in mind that many restaurants are only open on the weekends. Others may close at 6 or 7pm. So it’s always best to check opening hours of your dining choices.

Here’s a list of restaurants in Ajo, AZ:

  • Agave Grill: Casual, friendly full-service restaurant that offers a little bit of everything . . . steaks, chicken, burgers, all sorts of share-able appetizers, along with daily specials. Full Bar.
  • Ajo Farmers Market & Cafe: Simple breakfast and lunch menu focused on local ingredients. (Try the corn & tepary bean breakfast burrito 😋.) Onsite market features local farmers and food purveyors.
  • Arriba Mexican Restaurant: Full-service spot serving traditional Mexican fare on the north end of town. The red and green chile sauces are lovely. Full Bar.
  • Curley Coffee Roasters: Small cafe in the Curley School Arts Complex offering freshly roasted brews and simple pastries. Closed Monday, Tuesday.
  • Granny’s Kitchen: Down-home diner with a decidedly Mexican flair, located at the crossroads of charmingly named “Why, AZ”. Breakfast, lunch only. Good value.
  • Oasis Coffee: (Home of the multi-tasking barista!) Great place to hang out on the Plaza. All sorts of fun & fancy coffees, plus pastries and breakfast/lunch sandwiches.
  • Olsen’s Patio Cafe: Cafe adjacent to the IGA supermarket. Burgers, sandwiches & fried chicken daily, but the real draw is the Carne Asada specials on Tuesday & Thursdays. Closes by late afternoon most days, so check before going.
  • Roadrunner Java: Coffee shop and bakery on the north end of town. Open weekends only.
  • Sonoran Desert Inn: The hotel does not have a traditional restaurant on site, however they do have a fully-equipped catering kitchen and offer limited food options on a nightly basis. During our stay we enjoyed Chef Lucia’s excellent street tacos! (photo above 😊)
  • Tacos El Tarasco: Traditional Mexican fare right on the Plaza. But you’ll have to come early–they close at 6pm.

Hotels in Ajo Arizona

We recommend spending a night (or two!) in Ajo to really soak up the culture and see the sights. There are a few small hotels/motels to meet your needs and provide a good night’s sleep. Some have rooms with kitchenettes; all are equipped with fridges & microwaves. All, are locally owned and managed; it’s nice supporting the local economy by staying here 🤩.

List of Hotels in Ajo, Arizona:

  • La Siesta Motel & RV Resort: Traditional roadside motel, plus cute cabins, on the north side of town. Beautifully landscaped grounds with lots of shade and desert flowers. Several barbecue/picnic areas scattered around the property. NOTE: despite the name, they no longer accept RVs.
  • Marine Motel: Small and basic, but comfortable roadside motel on the northern end of town. A few rooms have full kitchen.
  • Sonoran Desert Inn: Courtyard rooms in a former school in the historic Curley School Arts Complex (see above), 2 blocks from the Plaza. Rooms overlook gardens and artwork. No restaurant, but hotel offers limited food options in the evenings.

NOTE: RV campers will find several options here. For a more complete list, check Ajo Arizona RV Parks.

Our recent visit to Ajo clearly demonstrated that this town was worth spending time — more than a simple drive-through on our way to somewhere else. With an intriguing mining history, colorful artsy vibe, and sprawling desert scenery, we’re glad we chose to stay a while.

We hope you do too! 😊🌵

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INSIDE: Kingman AZ is more then a Route 66 drive-thru & an awesome drive-thru sign! There are also plenty of terrific things to do in Kingman Arizona.

Yep, Kingman’s an old town on Route 66, but what else is there to do here? It 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.

(Spoiler Alert: we won’t be suggesting riding as camel as one of the things to do in Kingman Arizona, but you gotta admit, it would be sorta cool!)

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 it all into perspective, and also explains some of the unique things to do in Kingman Arizona. It is one of the truly charming small towns in Arizona. Activities and attractions range from sights related to the town’s history to ziplining over the Grand Canyon.

1. & 2. 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!)

1-Get your bearings at the Visitor Center & Gift Shop

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 (see below). On top of that, there’s an awesome gift shop (with a terrific collection of Route 66 memorabilia).

A visit here will help you just which things to do in Kingman Arizona are best suited to you.

And to keep young ones occupied while you stock up on brochures (and shop!) there are two model trains on tracks that circle the inside of the building 🚂

2-Drive through the Route 66 Sign

Kingman may have create the most awesome Route 66 sign on the whole Mother Road! If there were one thing that was tops on the list of things to do in Kingman Arizona, this has got to be it!

Perched outside the Powerhouse parking lot, it’s a giant light-up Route 66 sign that you drive through! It is the BEST photo op! (Full disclosure, I tried to get a photo at night with the sign lit up, but then you couldn’t see the car driving through, so I settled for the one below 🤷‍♀️. Please share one if you’ve got it!)

Best Route 66 photo-op. Ever.

3. 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 the visit ends 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.

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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. & 7. 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 the 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.

8. 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.

Electric vehicle museum-corbin sparrow car

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.

9. 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!)

10. 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. 😊🚂

11. & 12. 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!

*Check out more at SouthwestRailCams.com–these guys do awesome stuff!

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.

13. 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.

14. Cool Off in Hualapi Mountain Park (15 miles)

This county park sports majestic views (it’s at 8,000 ft elevation!), and a climate that’s super-cool in summer and downright snowy in winter.

There is an abundance of activities up here, including hiking and biking with 16 miles of trails, picnicking and wildlife viewing. Local residents (i.e. animals!) include mule deer 🦌, elk, foxes , mountain lions and oodles of birds.

This is one of the nice day trips from Kingman, Az. Or you can stay overnight in cabin or campsite. For something a little cozier, book a room at the Hualapai Mountain Resort.

15. See Route 66 Kitsch: Giaganticus Headicus (20 miles)

C’mon! Route 66 is known for it’s odd-ball, larger-than-life landmarks, so why not a big green faux Tiki head?

A giant green tiki head–classic Route 66! Courtesy Explore Kingman

Giganticus Headicus was completed in 2004 by artist Gregg Arnold on the Antares curve, north of Kingman. There’s a gift shop where you can buy a replica of this magnificent statue. (And admit it, you know you want to . . .)

The shop also carries the requisite amount of other Route 66 memorabilia, and there’s a cafe on site serving simple meals.

This may be one of the corniest things to do in Kingman Arizona, but it’s also a lot of fun!

16. Get into the Spirit at Desert Diamond Distillery (4 miles)

Spend an afternoon at Arizona’s oldest distillery, makers of award-willing rum, whiskey and vodka. It’s probably the most “adult” of things to do in Kingman Arizona.

Sign up for a tour of the distillery (limited availability), or just head over to the tasting room to sample the, er, distillates 🥃.

There’s also a vintage Pullman rail car on site, which makes a nice location for a cafe that serves charcuterie boards, a fitting accompaniment for with Desert Diamond tipples. Desert Diamond Distillery

18. Visit the “Living” Ghost Town of Chloride (25 miles)

Many former mining towns are now empty, but Chloride still has a beating heart . . . full of art.

In its heyday, Chloride had 75 mines and 2,000 people. Today there are about 300 residents, many of whom are artists and craftsmen–the town is know for its creative yard art.

Mosey around the historic buildings (because “mosey” is what you do in a darn tootin’ ghost town! 👻), including the old jailhouse (with two whole cells!), and the Santa Fe railroad station. Mixed in are antique and gift shops and a few spots to eat.

Don’t miss the Wild West gunfights, which are re-enacted every Saturday afternoon.

19. Drive the most “untamed” section of Route 66 to Oatman AZ

The sign indicates this just might be a bumpy ride

If you are a Route 66 “completist” (like a certain husband who shall remain unnamed 😉), then this should absolutely be on your list of things to do in Kingman, Arizona.

Just west of Kingman, Route 66 officially merges with I-40 until the California border. But there’s a section that’s unimproved, known as a “Back Country Byway.” It’s the original road that climbs through the Black Mountains: a bumpy, twisty, and sometimes hair-raising 17 miles to the town of Oatman (that’s the place with the wild donkeys!).

RVs are not allowed, and 4-wheel drive is encouraged. It’s not a true “off-road” experience, but the last time we went there were some pretty deep, muddy puddles from a monsoon rain the day before. And there are potholes. Lots of potholes 🕳️. And NO guardrails. So you might want to leave your Ferrari at home 😉

But all of the warnings aside, it is totally worth it! 🤩🤩

No potholes in this stretch of Route 66–but no guardrails either 😱

There you have our list of almost 20 things to do in Kingman Arizona. I think you can see that there are plenty of activities in the town and nearby to keep you busy for a day or three. So when you’re planning your next trip along Route 66, or even to the Grand Canyon, consider using Kingman as a base. You’ll be happy you did!

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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.

Things to do IN Winslow Arizona

1: 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.

2: 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.

3: 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.

4: 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! 😊)

5: 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 😉.

6: 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”!

7: 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.

8: 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.)

9: 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

10: 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

Things to do NEAR Winslow Arizona

11: 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.

12: 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.

13: 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 (with good kayak shoes!) 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.

14: 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!

15: 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.

16: 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.”

Since it’s closed, watch this video to see Grand Falls on Navajo lands. Hopefully it will open again soon. 🤞

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.

17: 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.

18: 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?

Complete list of 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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Inside: We explored the area to provide you with what to do in Page Arizona. Our list of what to see (& why it’s the perfect base for visiting Northern AZ!)

We expected to spend a quick overnight in Page on a visit to Horseshoe Bend. But . . .surprise! It turns out there was more to see . . . a LOT more.

We ended up spending 4 days in Page, and we were so glad we did. Its location makes it an excellent base for exploring this scenic section of northern Arizona.

Here we share our (exhaustive!) list of what do to in Page Arizona, as well as the interesting sights nearby.

What is famous about Page 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.

What to do in Page, Az for Free

The good news is there are a lot of great free things to do in Page AZ 🤩! You could spend your entire time here just exploring the scenery, going on hikes and never spend a dime.

We suggest starting your visit by checking out a couple of the areas stunning viewpoints to get your bearings. Then you can focus in on areas that interest you most (and where you might want to splurge for a tour or outing).

1: Get your bearings with the Glen Canyon Conservancy 3-D Model

To learn what to do in Page Arizona, vier this 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.

2: Horseshoe Bend Overlook, the “MUST DO” in Page

view of horseshoe bend, red rocks with colorado river snaking through page arizona
Horseshoe Bend: tops on the list of what to do in Page Arizona

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 use the Horseshoe Bend parking lot, 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! 😱

3: Glen Canyon Dam Overlook: Stunning views and totally free!

Are you 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 2-for-1 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.

4: 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!) It’s truly one of the unique things to do in Page, Arizona. And it’s totally free!

5 & 6: Tour Glen Canyon Dam & Bridge

When considering what to do in Page Arizona, 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.

Explore 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. (In the past you could take a tour of the dam itself. Sadly, those tours are now closed 🙁.)

Outside, there are multiple viewpoints of the bridge, and an excellent view of the dam from a walkway on the Glen Canyon Bridge itself.

Open Thursday thru Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round (closed Tuesday & Wednesday). The visitor center is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day and Independence Day (July 4). Tour hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are limited to 20 persons each tour.

7: John Wesley Powell Museum

man standing in front of the Powell Museum, one of the things to do in Page AZ

When exploring the general area, don’t forget to check out what to do in Page Arizona itself. Right in town 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 May 2024). Check the website listed above prior to visiting

8-10: View Lake Powell from Several Scenic Overlooks

view of lake powell, one of the things to do in page az
Lake Powell from Navajo Mountain Viewpoint: tops in Page Arizona attractions

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.

  • 8: Wahweap Overlook is free to access and offers a 360-degree panorama of the whole region.
  • 9: Wahweap Viewpoint (not to be confused with the “overlook” of the same name) provides a terrific view eastward over lake powell and the many buttes in the distance
  • 10: Navajo Mountain Viewpoint, as the name implies, also faces east toward Navajo Mountain in the distance, with awesome Tower Butte in the distance.
  • NOTE: These Wahweap & Navajo Mountain Viewpoints are within the fee area of the Lake Powell Marina and Campground.)

What to do in Page Arizona: Tours and Paid Activities

11: 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 Tribal 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

12: 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.

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

13: 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.

Looking for a beach? Due to changing water levels, the beach locations have changed. Check online to find the latest location for the Wahweap Swim Beach.

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.

Day Trips from Page, AZ

Page makes a great base for exploring northern Arizona. There are multiple unique attractions within a few hours’ drive. Many of these have no hotels (or limited lodging options), which makes Page a great “base camp” for your adventures.

There are three National Parks that can be reached via a day trip from Page: Zion in Utah, as well as both the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon. (Technically the two rims of the Grand Canyon are part of one park, but they’re too far apart to visit in the same day 😲, so it’s really like two separate parks.)

Add in some of the fantastic National Monuments nearby, along with some historical curiosities, and you’ve got plenty to keep you busy during your stay in Page. Here are some day trips from Page, AZ:

14: Zion National Park (Utah): 105 miles northwest; 1 hour & 45 minutes

Page sits only a few miles south of the Utah border: Zion National Park is the closest. It’s also the only major Utah park that’s reachable for a day-trip from Page.

Zion is Utah’s oldest National Park, designated in 1919. Inside the park you’ll find stunning rock formations, soothing green canyons full of trees, a museum dedicated to the peoples who have occupied this land, and even a historic tunnel!

Enjoy hiking, cycling, rock-climbing, or just gawking at the magnificent views on one of the park’s scenic drives. (I’m a strong proponent of gawking! 🤩).

The (east/west) Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway is open to cars year-round. The (north/south) Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is only open to cars during the off-season. The remainder of the year (and most weekends) visitors must park their cars and take the free shuttle, which makes several stops on its 9-mile journey.

PRO TIP: Zion can get crowded in summer, and parking lots fill up early. Plan accordingly if you are visiting during peak times.

15: Historic Navajo Bridge: 39 miles west; 42 minutes

This bridge is credited with linking the northwest portion of Arizona–and the state of Utah, with the rest of the state. Before Navajo Bridge was completed in 1929, anyone traveling between Utah and Arizona had to travel 800 miles west around the Grand Canyon-yikes!

Building this bridge was a big deal–it now holds pride of place as a National Civil Engineering Historic Monument.

The bridge spans the Colorado River (yep, the one that runs through the Grand Canyon), just south of the twisty part that makes up Horseshoe Bend. Technically, you’re viewing the beginning of the Grand Canyon, only here it’s just a ravine, with the river about 470 feet below.

The dual bridges at Navajo Bridge in northern Arizona
Dual spans at Navajo Bridge. The historic bridge (left) is now just for pedestrians.

There are actually two bridges–the original and a more modern replacement, opened in 1995. Drive over the modern bridge; the original is now for pedestrians.

Shop for Navajo crafts on the eastern side (which is Navajo lands). The western side is the Navajo Bridge interpretive center, which has informational panels and small gift shop, along with a self-guided walking tour of historic points along the way.

16-20: Historic Lee’s Ferry: 45 miles west ; 52 minutes

Lee’s Ferry is a surprisingly diverse and interesting section of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and it makes a terrific day trip from Page, AZ.

16: Lonely Dell Ranch

Old wooden wagon with yellow spoke wheels at Lonely Dell Ranch at Lee's Ferry near Page, AZ
Remnants of the rugged homestead at Lonely Dell Ranch

Historically, Lee’s Ferry was the main crossing point of the Colorado River, before Navajo Bridge was built. It’s the site of the Lonely Dell Ranch, the homestead of John D. Lee, the Mormon pioneer who established the Lee’s Ferry crossing in 1873. Today, explore the historic buildings, and orchard, whose trees still bear fruit.

17: Lee’s Ferry Boat Launch

The Lee’s Ferry Boat Launch is the spot where Grand Canyon rafting trips begin. Even if you’re not one for taking a 1-2-week rafting trip (full disclosure, it’s not my jam), it’s still fun to watch the outfitters preparing to head out.

18: Paria Riffle: Where two rivers meet

Just downriver, hang out on the beach at the Paria Riffle, the first mini-rapids those rafters will encounter.

19: Walking & Hiking Trails: Stroll the Historic District or Hike to great views

For walkers/hikers, there are several day hikes, such as the (easy) Historic District River Trail, or the (challenging) Spencer Trail that begin at Lee’s Ferry.

20: Get out of this world at Balanced Rock

As your driving through, be sure to stop at Balanced Rock for some fun photo ops. It looks like a giant rock mushroom from right out of a Star Wars film! 🛰

There are no food concessions at Lee’s Ferry, but it’s a great place to bring a picnic lunch.

21: Grand Canyon-North Rim: 124 miles west; 2 hours, 20 minutes

View of the Grand Canyon at sunset taken from the North Rim
View an alternate perspective of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim

Although this is a looong day trip, a visit to the Grand Canyon North Rim is definitely worth it! The views are spectacular, and there are no crowds!

Because of its remote location, the North Rim only gets 10% of the visitors that you’ll find at the South Rim. That means minimal wait times at the entrance, giving you more time to enjoy all the stunning vistas in the park.

(NOTE: The remote location also means limited lodging options, which is why a day trip from Page, Az is a good idea.)

Take a short (1/2 mile) hike along the paved Bright Angel Point trail, which begins right behind the historic Grand Canyon Lodge. The trail brings you to a promontory out in the canyon. Views, views and more views!

Sign at Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center

For more amazing views (did I mention there are LOTS of them? 😊), take the North Rim Scenic Drive to Cape Royal. This 23-mile road (each way) winds along the top of the plateau, with plenty of amazing stops along the way. Be sure to visit Walhalla Overlook, and allow time for a picnic at Vista Encantada (because there are limited restaurant options as well–so don’t get HANGRY! 😡)

PRO TIP: Due to its high elevation (8,000 feet), the Grand Canyon North Rim is closed from mid-October to mid-May. Be sure to check the website for exact dates. And prepare for snow if you’re traveling near the opening/closing dates . . . on our last visit (in early October), we drove through 8 inches of snow 😱 ❄️!

22: Navajo National Monument: 75 miles southeast; 1 hour, 20 minutes

Navajo National Monument is one of the most spectacular cliff dwelling sites in the American Southwest. Because it sits on Navajo tribal lands, access is limited and the site has been extremely well-preserved.

Visitors can take any of 3 self-guided trails in the park (only one trail has a long-distance view of the cliff dwellings).

To see the cliff dwellings up close, you must sign up for a ranger-led tour, which are 3-5 hours and have limited capacity.

23: Oljato-Monument Valley: 120 miles east; 2 hours

Monument Valley is for anyone who loves jaw-dropping scenery, John Wayne western movies, or who has always wondered where all those cool car commercials were filmed.

Yep, it’s the place with those giant stone mittens.

Monument Valley makes a great day trip from Page AZ

Monument Valley straddles the Arizona-Utah border, but sits firmly within Navajo Tribal Lands. Pay a small admission fee to drive a 17-mile loop through the giant rock formations (and pretend you’re ridin’ the range with “the Duke” 🤠).

(For a longer stay in this part of Arizona, consider a road trip to 4 Corners and Monument Valley.)

PRO TIP: Touring Monument Valley and Navajo National Monument together make a nice day trip from Page, AZ.

24: Grand Canyon-South Rim: 109 miles southwest; 1 hour, 45 minutes

Great news for day-trippers from Page: it has easy access to both the North AND South Rims of the Grand Canyon! (Although do NOT try to see both in one day–too much driving 😝)

When coming from Page, you enter Grand Canyon National Park at the eastern (or Desert View) entrance. This entrance gets 80% LESS traffic that the main (southern) entrance, so wait times are minimal.

standing at an overlook of the Grand Canyon November
The Grand Canyon viewed from the SOUTH Rim

From here, you can view the geological beginnings of the Grand Canyon at Desert View Point, and explore the architectural marvel of Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower.

From here, you can continue west along Desert View Drive, stopping at multiple viewpoints as you travel the 23 miles to Grand Canyon Village. Or, if you’ve got cranky passengers 😵‍💫, you can turn around at any point, knowing you’ve seen some incredible vistas of the Grand Canyon.

(BTW, we like visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in November, when there are less crowds everywhere.

25 & 26: Wupatki & Sunset Crater National Monuments: 99 miles south; 1 hour, 33 minutes

Take the 35-mile scenic drive linking these two National Monuments (and–BONUS! your admission fee covers both parks 🤩).

View the remains of six (yes-6!) different ancient pueblos perched on the open plain at Wupatki National Monument, glimpsing how native peoples lived 900 years ago. (Spoiler alert: they were pretty sophisticated!)

Continue as the high desert gradually morphs into a Ponderosa pine forest and you’ll emerge at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and the youngest volcano in the region (a mere “toddler” at about 1,000 years old 🤣)

Now that you’ve seen how many interesting things to see and do, it’s not really a question of “what to do in Page Arizona.” It’s more a question of “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.

Then the song came along and 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 rallied and 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:

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 18 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

1. 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

2. 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.


3. 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

4. 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!)


5. 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

6. 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!

7. 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 Arizona Small Towns

8. 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

9. 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! 🕷😱


10. 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

11. 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

12. 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: 6 Small Towns that are western, funky & fun

13. Ajo: Creative, Folksy & Outdoorsy

Ajo is a small town in southwestern that is in the midst of a revitalization. A former copper mining town (like Bisbee, below), Ajo is the nearest town to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It also gets a lot of traffic from people headed down to the beach at Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco) Mexico.

The cupola in the former train station anchors Ajo’s pretty plaza

In recent years Ajo has embraced an artistic culture, with several creative programs to attract artists. The result is a mixture of mining history with a creative culture, all centered around one of the prettiest plazas in Arizona.

organ pipe cactus with brittlebush at the base

14. 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.


15. 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

16. 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.

17. 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

18. 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 (alphabetical order)

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

three photos of charming arizona small towns, with text overlay