Arizona is a fantastic place to go for a long-term winter getaway. The housing prices are affordable, so you can stay in the warm weather for longer and dive into the state's best outdoor activities. Arizona is also home to a lot of excellent golf courses, so golf lovers will particularly delight in an escape here. We have put together a list of the most affordable destinations for snowbirds in Arizona, ranked from least to most expensive. Happy travels!
Most Affordable Arizona Snowbird Destinations
1. Green Valley
Noted for its 13 different recreation centers with golf courses, swimming pools, and fitness centers, Green Valley knows how to provide travelers with ample activities. It also has a bustling little restaurant and entertainment scene that enhances the community’s offerings. Over 80% of Green Valley residents are retired, which means you’re likely to be in good company while you vacation. Stay in a condo like this one, with easy access to the swimming pool and restaurants.
Playing spring training home to two Major League Baseball teams, the Kansas City Royals and the Texas Rangers, Surprise is the place to go for some early MLB action. The town is nestled into the small mountains of the Sonoran Desert. The town holds Second Sunday in the Park from September through the spring months. This free event provides live music, picnic areas, food vendors and much more. There’s always something to do in Surprise, and more often than not, it’s affordable. There are plenty of vacation rentals with a private pool, so that you don't have to go far to relax in the sun.
Mesa is a mecca for arts, culture, and entertainment. From movie nights on Main Street to free pancake breakfasts, farmers markets to Mexican Winter Baseball League’s version of Spring Training games, Mesa is guaranteed to have what you’re looking for in a winter vacation. The best part about it is that most of the free events take place outdoors so you can soak up some rays on your getaway. Stay in Mesa's historic district at a house that will make you feel like a local.
4. Sun Lakes
Packed with five adult country club communities with tubs, tennis courts, and lake-side views, this place will make you want to take up residence, especially in a lakeside home. Sun Lakes is located just a short, fifteen-minute drive to Rawhide, an 1800s old western town, and Firebird International Raceway, where anything from motorcycles to horses can be seen racing around the track. Make sure to check out all the walking paths that Sun Lakes offers visitors and residents, and take a stroll around the ground of one of the country clubs for some beautiful views.
The land Sun City West is built on was once farmland growing mainly cotton. Today, it is living a community developed by Del Webb, former co-owner of the New York Yankees. The town has some great, affordable food joints, Little Sicily being one of them. The restaurant has all different types of pizza, including deep dish style which would make for a perfect dinner date. You can also relax at the outside patio at your vacation rental in the sun, or go to one of the golf courses in the area.
6. Sun City
While it’s technically located in Peoria, Arizona, the Peoria Spring Training complex is just a stone’s throw away from Sun City, less than a 10-minute drive, to be exact. The complex houses the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres spring training facilities and provides cheap community events like a Halloween Monster Bash and a 4th of July celebration. The town also has a slue of golf courses, so don’t forget your golf clubs - especially if you're staying right on the course!
As its name hints at, Fountain Hills has the world’s fourth tallest fountain. In fact, when it was built it was the world’s tallest and held that titles for over a decade. The fountain sprays water about for 15 minutes every hour between 9am and 9pm, reaching a height of 560 feet under perfect conditions. In addition to this attraction, the town also holds 3 annual local art fairs and houses the Fountain Hills Theater which has been around for 38 years of productions. Stay in a home with a view to watch the sunset each evening.
One of the bigger suburbs of Phoenix, Chandler is a great place to go to for free entertainment. The Vision Gallery, a cultural hub in downtown Chandler, embraces the local art scene and provides the community a space to experience it together. The Veterans Oasis Park and Environmental Education Center is a mixed-used facility. Its primary purpose is to recharge reclaimed water into the ground for later use, but the park also has walking trails, an urban fishing lake, and a free education center with four classrooms for wildlife preservation and environmental awareness. You can even stay in a lakefront home. Whatever mood you’re in, Chandler has something to pique your interest.
9. Oro Valley
Oro Valley’s motto is “It’s in our nature”, and the town definitely doesn’t shy away from the outdoors. With an aquatics center, an archery range, and a drive-in movie theater, the town knows how to use the temperate climate to its advantage. Stop by the farmer’s market or take a public art tour, or play a round of golf at one of the top-rated resorts before retreating to your poolside home.
The home of Arizona’s premier outlet mall, this city offers visitors everything under the sun - and is one of the safest cities in the country. Aside from all the outlets at SanTan Village, there are plenty of fine dining options, a natural preserve to explore, and even a dog park where you can play outside with your pooch. Don’t forget about all the events the city puts on, like the Inaugural Gilbert Off the Street Art Festival which is set to take place this coming October. You’ll find live music, street performers, artisan and craft vendors, and so much more. Just because it's Arizona doesn't mean that you have to live without plants, either - this home is surrounded by gardens and will make you feel completely at peace.
When you think of the saguaro cactus, you probably think of Arizona deserts. Visit Tucson and you’ll get an up-close and personal look at the cacti in Saguaro National Park. The city is surrounded by multiple mountain ranges, including the Santa Catalinas, which makes for a picturesque sunset view from your vacation rental. The University of Arizona is located in Tucson, as are the restored mansions of the city’s El Presidio Historic District. Tucson is located in the southern part of the state, just an hour and a half from the Mexican border.
The largest city in Arizona, Phoenix also happens to be the state capital. The Desert Botanical Garden puts on display the desert’s beauty while preserving it through exhibits, while Heard Museum provides a space for Native American culture to be showcased. At the Musical Instrument Museum you can explore the history of instruments around the world. Catch a baseball game at Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks, or check out the Pueblo Grande Ruin where remains of pre-Colombian archeological sites are open to the public. There truly is no limit to what you can explore in Phoenix, and it is a great destination with many things for active seniors to take advantage of. If you choose to stay near downtown, you can have all the action at your fingertips!
13. Sun City
Named after a poker game between two players, Show Low is the largest city in the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona, where you can stay in a beautiful and woodsy cabin. The city boasts the Hon-Dah Casino on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and gives visitors a look at the city’s history through the Show Low Historical Society Museum.
Tempe is home to the Sun Devils of Arizona State University. The university’s ASU Gammage is considered to be the last public commission of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and is a great place to catch a show while taking in the beautiful workmanship of the building. Along with the college-town feel, the city also has Tempe Town Lake, a beautiful reservoir that runs right through the heart of the city, and Tempe Center for the Arts, a 3-story performing arts venue. Stay in a villa like this one - it's more affordable than you think!
Voted “America’s Best Historic Small Town” by USA Today readers, Bisbee’s roots run deep, dating back to the 1800s when it was discovered to have numerous copper ores. Today, the town is a hot spot for film festivals, car and bike shows, turquoise hunts, and music fests. This is the place to go to get a taste of everything, but without the crowds of a city. You can also stay in a historic rental home in Old Bisbee, very close to the heart of town.
Glendale is the home to two professional sports teams: The Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Coyotes. What goes better with sports than…shopping? Glendale has ranked in the top ten places for shopping by both USA Today and Sunset Magazine. Historic downtown is comprised of two neighborhoods, both worth a stroll through, and you can stay in a centrally-located home that is walking distance to Cardinals Stadium. Glendale also boasts theaters, scrumptious dining choices, and the 22-year-old Front Porch Festival where shops in historic downtown turn inside out and display hundreds of their items on their lawns and front porches. Glendale is a hidden gem, so get there before others find out about it!
As we mentioned before, Peoria houses the Peoria Sports Complex where the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres hold their spring training. The complex hosts much more than just those two MLB teams, though. The Bites and Brews invites over 20 local and national breweries along with local food trucks to come together and provide the foundation of a good time inside the complex. Live music events also take place at Peoria Sports Complex, as do Hispanic Heritage festivals. You never know what you might find when you visit Peoria, so be sure to check out their calendar of events! You can stay at a vacation rental condo on a golf course with a pool - a perfect place to relax in the sun.
Prescott boasts over 20 parks, open space nature preserves, and lakes, making it a great place to spend some time outdoors. The city has a combination of rustic abodes and beautiful Mexican casitas. Watson Lake provides visitors access to the Granite Dells, a geological structure of exposed bedrock and large granite boulders. Rent a canoe or kayak and get close enough to touch one of the structures, or simple weave through them and admire their unique aesthetics.
Scottsdale is known for its spa resorts and gorgeous golf courses - we recently ranked TPC Scottsdale as our #1 favorite golf course in the Phoenix area. If you really want a relaxing vacation, Scottsdale can provide just that. Golf courses litter the city, so you can’t go wrong in choosing one for 18 holes. Try TPC Scottsdale for the ultimate golfer’s paradise. For a luxurious stay, try the Phoenician Scottsdale which has an on-site spa, multiple restaurants and lounges, an outdoor fire pit, and, of course, its own golf course. Live the high life in Scottsdale in a vacation rental like this one.
Mountain towns probably aren’t synonymous with Arizona, but Payson will make you think otherwise. This beautiful town surrounded by dramatic cliffs, dense forests, and grassland has been home to the Native Americans, cowboys, farmers, and many more. Its main attraction is the Mogollon Rim, a canyon-like formation that presents a drop of over 2,000 feet, and has been preserved as a national forest. It’s quite a sight to see. While you’re in town, walk the Payson trails, go under the Tonto Natural Bridge, or learn how the Mogollon Rim inspired Zane Grey at the Zane Grey Museum. The town is truly a mix of history and outdoor wonder, which you can enjoy from your rustic cabin just minutes from town.
The Wupatki National Monument is just one of the many things you’ll find in Flagstaff. These Native American ruins give visitors an idea of exactly what pueblo villages looked like, and nearby Walnut Canyon National Monument shows cliff dwellings which other pueblos made their homes. If you love ruins, take a day trip to one of five interesting ghost towns in Arizona, several of which are near Flagstaff. The city also houses the famed Lowell Observatory, the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, and a downtown with dining and nightlife options. In addition, the Grand Canyon is just over an hour away, so you can easily make a day trip out of it before coming back to your condo in a lakeside community.
Sedona is known for its natural beauty, and that comes in many different forms. Oak Creek Canyon is actually a river gorge and is often described as a cousin to the Grand Canyon. Palatki Ruins is a display of the homes built into the town’s craggy cliffs more than 1,000 years ago by the Native Americans. The Red Rocks of Sedona are perhaps the most iconic attraction in the city. Most of these formations are over 6,000 feet high and are best appreciated from the sly (try a hot-air balloon ride!) Sedona offers both a peaceful and breathtaking experience to visitors, even in the quiet of your own private casita.
23. Lake Havasu City
Lake Havasu City is often referred to as “Arizona’s Playground” and is one of our top five favorite lake vacation destinations. Lake Havasu itself is one of the best boating lakes in Arizona and its bordering beaches allow everyone to enjoy the water from whatever location they choose, especially from a vacation rental with easy lake access. The city has three separate shopping districts, so you won’t have to worry about a lack of options. An extensive amount of bars and restaurants fill the city, so find exactly what you want with all of Lake Havasu City’s choices.
24. Bullhead City
An affordable city located within just a few hours of Las Vegas, Southern California, and Phoenix, Bullhead City has more than just its convenient location going for it. The place is also ideal for water sports enthusiasts, as the Colorado River runs through the city. The annual Christmas parade, Winter Visitor Expo, and Colorado River Bluegrass Festival are among the other activities available to visitors. The city’s 360 days of sunshine per year doesn’t hurt either, especially when you spend it by the pool outside your condo!
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This article was written by Julianne Aiello.