Sometimes untamed and always unforgettable, Arizona is home to one of the USA’s most jaw-dropping sights: the Grand Canyon. Over five million visitors come here every year to admire the steep cliffs of this American icon. Yet this sun-drenched state won’t leave you high and dry for other activities: stand in the desert at sunset among America’s largest cactuses, walk through an Old Western town, and check out the museums and galleries of cities like Phoenix for a change of pace. Check out our Arizona hotels below and a little taste of this state will leave you thirsty for more.
Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led an expedition to Arizona in 1540, and missionaries and settlers followed in his wake. For 30 years, Native American chief Geronimo fought with Mexican and American settlers, before he finally surrendered in 1886. Theodore Roosevelt declared Arizona a state in 1912. Today Arizona has the biggest amount of designated Native American land in the States, and a population of over six million.
Things to see and do
The Grand Canyon has some of the country’s most sweeping views, as well as some of its freshest air (always a bonus!). You’ll see 277 miles of rock walls, some of them descending a mile deep, with the Colorado River snaking along the bottom. The South Rim and the Skywalk both have amazing views, but you can also get away from the tourists by hiking one of the canyon’s trails or taking a ride on a mule. Some mule rides go deep into the depths of the canyon, with overnight stays at rustic Phantom Ranch.
A smaller, less famous but almost as beautiful canyon is the Oak Creek Canyon. Here you’ll find red rocks and cliffs, tall oak streets and the sparkling waters of Oak Creek.
The Saguaro National Park is in the Sonaran Desert of Tucson and is home to giant cacti – the largest in the country!
Stay in Phoenix, the capital of Arizona and a terrific place to begin your trip. The Desert Botanical Garden is, like the name suggests, a place where cacti and other desert-dwelling plants of all shapes and sizes grow in the arid landscape under the Arizona sun. Visit at night in December to see them lit up by thousands of twinkling lights too. While you’re in town, swing by Heard Museum and Phoenix Zoo and have a go conquering the climb on Camelback Mountain.
Take a look at our Flagstaff hotels to check out the Lowell Observatory and the Arizona Snowbowl, which has skiing in winter, hiking in summer and scenic chairlift rides all year round. A 40-minute drive away is the Barringer Crater, a 4000-foot crater caused by a meteor hitting the earth.
For a taste of the Wild West, drop into Tombstone, a town where old-fashioned buildings still stand and you can tour the town on a horse-drawn wagon. It’s the home of the OK Corral, where one of history’s most famous gunfights broke out in 1881.
Shopping and dining
Arizona’s cities have plenty of shopping options, from malls like the Arizona Centre in downtown Phoenix to high-end fashion boutiques like the ones you’ll find in Scottsdale.
To sample some of Arizona’s best dining options for less, come here during Arizona Restaurant Week, a twice-yearly event when over 100 restaurants across the state offer pre-fixe dinners with a range of fantastic cuisines.
Check out our cheap flights to Phoenix for a flaming good deal to go with your Arizona accommodation. From big holes in the ground to succulent meals, you’ll have a grand time here indeed.
Image credit Cody escadron delta under Creative Commons
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