There is always something fun to do in Phoenix, considering it’s the 6th largest city in the country. However, every once in a while you need to escape the heat and see what else the great state of Arizona has to offer. From the majestic Grand Canyon to colorful Sedona, you will never run out of places to take a road trip! Make it your New Year’s resolution to go someone you haven’t been before, and have an adventurous and happy year ahead. Here are six day trips that will make that resolution a reality, or just give you new places to explore:
Best Day Trips Around Phoenix
Grand Canyon National Park - Image Credit: Ashley St. John
1. Bearizona Day Trip
Bearizona brings a unique experience to see bears and other North American wildlife up close and personal. Only 30 minutes from Flagstaff, this is a fun day trip for the whole family. You can drive through their three mile wilderness exhibit and experience goats, wolves and bears-Oh my! Don’t worry though; as long as you stay in your car, you’re safe and sound. They also offer courtesy vehicles if you don’t want to drive your own. Bearizona hosts a walk-through exhibit as well as a petting zoo and more. Another not to be missed attraction is the daily Birds of Prey show, which features hawks, owls and falcons. Bearizona is open year round, however hours vary depending on the time of year. Try to arrive early to experience everything because their typical hours are 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Trip Tip: On the way back from Flagstaff, stop by Rock Springs Café & General Store for some of the best pie in Arizona. It is located in Black Canyon City on I-17.
Distance from Phoenix: 130 miles / approximately a 3 hour drive
2. Lake Havasu Day Trip
Lake Havasu is somewhere you can hike, bike, boat, fish, golf, shop and more. You have to see the London Bridge while you’re there, which was moved from London and opened in Arizona in 1971. You can get that iconic telephone booth photo without ever leaving the state! Rent a kayak for under $50 and see the lake from an all new perspective.
Trip Tip: If you are looking for a relaxing weekend getaway, avoid Lake Havasu during spring break time in March and April. Or, become a spring breaker at what claims to be the “West Coast’s Largest Spring Break Event”. Make sure to bring sunscreen and water no matter what time of year you go.
Distance from Phoenix: 158 miles / approximately a 3 hours and 40 min drive
3. Sedona Day Trip
Sedona is known for its beautiful red rocks, mesmerizing sunsets and eclectic culture. Slide Rock State Park features a natural slide and a cool creek to spend your summer days. The cost is $10 per vehicle and is located 7 miles outside of Sedona. Bell rock is a popular hike great for any amateur hikers and nature enthusiasts. The trail is about 4.5 miles long, so be sure to wear some good shoes! The Pink Jeep Tours is a must if it’s your first time in Sedona. The off-roading experience takes you to beautiful views, ancient ruins and famous Southwest film sites. The average tour takes about 2 hours. If you have time, you will also want to check out Jerome, a ghost town about 45 minutes from Sedona. Located high in Cleopatra hill, this old mining camp is now a great place experience historic Arizona.
Trip Tip: Be prepared to get dirty in Sedona, the red dirt is everywhere!
Distance from Phoenix: 103 miles / approximately a 2 hour and 30 minute drive
4. Grand Canyon Day Trip
You can’t go to Arizona and not see the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Grand Canyon is over 277 miles long, and so even if you’ve seen it before, there’s always somewhere new to explore! Many choose to see the Canyon from their cars on the South Rim, which is the most accessible part. The North Rim is harder to access but offers amazing views at a higher elevation. Hiking can be strenuous for anyone, so always be prepared with water, snacks and other hiking necessities. For a unique experience, take a mule trip. You can either take a three hour ride around the rim or stay overnight at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. The one-night ride can be pricey, but you will never forget the experience.
Trip Tip: If you are planning to stay overnight at Grand Canyon National Park, be sure to book several months in advance.
Distance from Phoenix: 223 miles / approximately a 3 hour and 40 min drive
5. Kartchner Caverns Day Trip
This limestone cave, located an hour south of Tucson, features 2.4 miles of stunning passages. The park was discovered in 1971 and includes one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Big Room tour is a ½ mile long and takes about 2 hours. This tour is open from mid-October to mid-April. Children under seven are free on the Rotunda Tour but cannot go on the Big Room tour.
Trip Tip: It is recommended to reserve tickets in advance and you must pick up your ticket an hour before the tour.
Distance from Phoenix: 166 miles / approximately a 2 hour and 30 minutes drive
6. Out of Africa Day Trip
You can experience even more animals at this one-of-a-kind wildlife park. The giant snake show is like no other, and you will actually be holding giant snakes. The African bush safari is included with the general admission and includes free-roaming giraffes, zebras and more. The narrated tour lasts about 40 minutes. The full zip line tour goes over the safari park and gives you a unique view of the animals; you can even race your friends on the triple line. The zip line bundle includes general admission, the African bush safari and all daily shows. You can also feed a Siberian or Bengal tiger up close for an additional cost
Trip Tip: You get free admission on any day in your birthday month if you show your ID.
Distance from Phoenix: 82 miles/ approximately a 1 hour and 40 minute drive
7. Antelope Canyon Day Trip
This is a bit far for a day trip, but the unbelievable photos you will get from this trip will be worth it. The colors of the canyon are amazing in both summer and winter, but because of the beams of sunlight it’s more colorful in the summer. The canyon is a part of Navajo Nation and can only be accessed by tour. There are different tours to take and it depends on what experience you are looking for. There is a two hour photography tour is for adults only (no children allowed). A regular tour does allow children and has discounts for kids, depending on the age. The regular tour does not include the Navajo Park entrance fee which is a separate fee.
Distance to Phoenix: 277 miles / approximately 4 hours and 45 min
This article was written by Taylor Bishop.