Arizona boasts a rough, craggy loveliness with jutting rocks, rolling forests, and a deep blue sky. Experience the state’s beauty by exploring the exciting areas around Scottsdale. After settling into your Scottsdale vacation rental and exploring the big city for a day, head off to the neighboring cities and towns. Enjoy destinations situated off-the-beaten-path. Take a look at the most noteworthy weekend getaway spots just a short drive from Scottsdale.
Bisbee is a little over three hours south of Scottsdale located in southern Arizona. The former mining town has an eclectic art community that comes alive in the historic downtown area. The town’s just small enough that you can do it all in a weekend and just big enough to offer perks such as the Old Brewing Company. After enjoying a frothy pint, tour the historical sites starting with the legendary Copper Queen Hotel. It’s just as famous for being haunted as it is for being a favorite stopping place for John Wayne. Next move on to the Bisbsee Mining and Historical Museum before touring the mines themselves. The Copper Queen Mine and Lavender Pit are the two to see. Spend at least one day browsing the art galleries, including PanTerra Gallery and Belleza fine art gallery, and picking up a memento for home. If you have any extra time, make a side trip to Tombstone for some Wild West fun.
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2. Camp Verde
Located in Coconino National Forest just 90 minutes north of Scottsdale, there isn’t much you can’t do at Camp Verde when it comes to the outdoors. First, visit the Montezuma Castle National Monument, which has Sinagua cliff dwellings that date back to the 1200s. If you have the family with you, take a safari through the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. The park has white tigers, lions, zebras, giraffes, wolves, and more. Round out your trip with a hike through Fossil Springs Wilderness. The Toilet Bowl hike has beautiful waterfalls and crystal clear waters where you can relax for a few hours.
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Roosevelt lies on the banks of the Theodore Roosevelt Lake in the Tonto National Forest less than two hours from Scottsdale. Once the summer heat hits, this is the perfect place to grab a vacation rental and cool down. The minuscule town is the ideal location for solitude, reconnecting with nature, and getting to know your family again. Get a place on the water and spend your time swimming and kayaking. If you don’t have a boat, rent one at Roosevelt Lake Marina. While there hike the Arizona Trail, a path that meanders along the hilly shore, making for some scenic shots. Be sure to tour the Roosevelt Dam and the Windy Hill Recreation Site.
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Located in the Black Hills of the Coconino National Forest, Jerome is only about two hours north of Scottsdale. It combines the best of small-town charm, history, and nature. Like Bisbee, it was established as a mining town and has since made the transformation to a thriving art scene. Explore the town’s heritage at the Jerome State Historic Park, Douglas Mansion Museum, gold King Mine and Ghost Town, and the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum. Jerome, however, has just as much to offer when it comes to the outdoors. Imagine watching the leaves change color in the fall as you hike the Seven Mile Gulch Trail or horseback ride along the 6-mile Black Canyon Trail.
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5. Village of Oak Creek
The Village of Oak Creek, a two-hour drive north from Scottsdale (or three if you want to take the scenic route through the Tonto and Coconino national forests), is just close enough to Sedona for all the great outdoor fun and far enough away to give you the solitude you crave. Head to Red Rock State Park for some serious nature play from kid-friendly geology hikes to the Eagle’s Nest Loop. One of the most popular trails, though, is the Lime Kiln Trail. This 15-mile trail is shared between wheels, feet, and hooves and goes from the Red Rock State Park to the Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Book a trail ride with Trail Horse Adventures for a leisurely exploration along the trail.
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What Benson lacks in size and amenities, it makes up for in solitude and proximity to the Kartchner Caverns. Only 2.5 hours south of Scottsdale, it’s an easy drive. Once you settle into your vacation rental, head to Kartchner Caverns State Parks. Its extensive living limestone caves feature the whimsical Rotunda-Throne Room formation, 21-inch soda straw stalactites, and bird’s nest needle quartz. However, the park is more than just a fascinating underworld, it’s also a wilderness area with hiking trails, a dark sky park, and tons of wildlife. As an international dark sky park, there are no lights to interrupt your view of the stars above, so definitely stop by at night for a rare opportunity to glimpse the heavens.
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7. Cave Creek
Cave Creek is less than an hour north of Scottsdale. This former stagecoach village is tucked along the mountains of the Tonto National Forest. Although it’s not far from home, its kid-friendly, Old West feel takes you years back to a simpler time. Take the kids horseback riding with Cave Creek Trail Rides, Spur Cross Stables, Cowboy U, or Cave Creek Outfitters, and explore the area as the early settlers did over 100 years ago. Learn all about the West at Frontier Town and the Cave Creek Museum before catching a meal at one of the western-themed saloons such as Buffalo Chip Saloon or The Horny Toad.
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