Vacationers in Phoenix have plenty of ways to spend their time in Phoenix, both indoors (shopping, sporting events, museums) and outdoors (hiking, outdoor markets, golf courses). But for those looking for day trips beyond the city limits, browse our list of sights and activities within driving distance of Phoenix.
Historic Old Town Cottonwood
Wine tasters, foodies, and antique bargain shoppers will be delighted by the variety of shops available in Historic Old Town Cottonwood. Located in the “Heart of the Verde Valley Wine Country,” the revitalized Old Town has 8 wine and spirit tasting rooms, 16 cafes and restaurants, 4 antique stores, 7 galleries, 3 boutique hotels, nature trails, live performances, and an art walk every 2nd Saturday of the month.
The video proclaims with flair, “This is Cottonwood.” Travelers appreciate the state parks, vineyards, annual chocolate walk in December, and the Old Town Center for the Arts. The weather is temperate and the townsfolk are inviting. Come see Old Town for yourself!
Tombstone, Arizona, and San Xavier Mission
Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday’s old stomping grounds have become one of the most famous step-back-in-time western towns in America. Tombstone is the location of the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Visitors to Tombstone can learn the history in the museums, take a tour on foot, in a stagecoach, or on a trolley, and even feel part of the action in an old-fashioned gunfight reenactment.
“This historic day trip from Phoenix to Tombstone is like traveling back in time from a busy, modern urban metropolis to the days of the old Wild West. Here in The Town Too Tough To Die, hear the tales of debauchery and crime from this legendary frontier mining camp, where wooden buildings and dusty streets make it feel like it’s still 1880.”
Plan your trip to start early if you’re coming from Phoenix; it takes 2 hours 48 minutes one way. However, you can include a stop at the Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson. This Catholic mission was founded in 1692, but the current church building was not completed until 1797. The Mission Church is open daily to the public, and includes a gift shop and museum, but keep in mind that this is a functioning church with regular services.
Traveling on Arizona’s oldest highway, visitors take in the scenic beauty of the Apache Trail. Officially established in 1915, it was named for the Apache Indians who used this trail in the 1800s. The route became a historic unpaved highway used for the construction of the Roosevelt Dam from 1902-1909. Today, the 120 mile circle route takes travelers through the Superstition Mountains. The old slogan still rings true: “Every Mile a Scene Worth While! Sunshine All the Way!” Along the trail you can find attractions like Goldfield Ghost Town and the Historic Mining Camp Restaurant and Trading Post, both in Apache Junction.
President Theodore Roosevelt is credited with these words: “The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the Rockies, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have. To me, it is most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful.”
1 hour 8 minutes in the car is all you need to get to Canyon Lake from Phoenix. Canyon Lake was created by the dams on the Salt River and is one of the scenic stops on the Apache Trail. Ideal weather, 950 surface acres of water, and an elevation of 1660 feet make this lake a wonderful spot for watersports of all kinds. Take a spin on a jet ski, catch some trout in a fishing boat, or windsail to your heart’s content. The rock formations and serene coves make this a great way to spend the day. You might spot some wildlife on the cactus-covered shores. Bighorn sheep and javelina (peccary or skunk pig) roam the mountains here.
Where to Stay
WorldMark Phoenix South Mountain Preserve offers comfortable accommodations amidst Phoenix, Arizona’s gorgeous desert landscape. The resort is located within South Mountain Park, one of the largest municipally operated parks in the United States that has more than 51 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails just waiting to be explored. Soak up the sun at either of the resort’s beautiful swimming pools, unwind in the invitingly warm waters of a hot tub, or enjoy a family cookout in the barbecue area.