30 Essential Arizona Bucket List Ideas for Adults & Families

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Arizona is known for its endless sunshine, desert landscapes, and the Grand Canyon. One of the Four Corners states, this is the ultimate gateway to the American Southwest. From Native American culture to early European settlers, why not escape to the Wild West for your own adventure? If you’re looking to make a trip, here is your essential Arizona bucket list. 

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A visit to Arizona is like stepping inside a Wild West film from old Hollywood. Though you’re less likely to see cowboy shootouts and ranch towns, you will discover some of the most awe-inspiring natural sights on the globe. Not to mention, Arizona is home to a bustling artistic community and rich culture that spans back centuries.

With that in mind, pack your bags and create your own travel bucket list for Arizona. With nothing but blue skies and sunshine ahead, here’s your essential Arizona bucket list for adults, families, and adventure-seekers. 

Arizona Bucket List Destinations

Known as the Grand Canyon State, Arizona features so many must-see destinations in Arizona. Though it’s hard to narrow down the list for your own bucket list, don’t miss these ideas below. 

1. Visit the Grand Canyon

Of course, the first thing on any Arizona bucket list is the Grand Canyon (and rightly so). This is a must-see for people all over the globe. The majority of the Grand Canyon National Park rests in Arizona, and you can spot the Rim Trail, Bright Angel Trail, and the West Rim Trail all within the state lines of Arizona. 

2. Explore Monument Valley

For a different side of Arizona, venture three hours from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley. Known as Valley of Rocks, this is home to a large Native American population of Navajo people. If you explore the area by foot or car, you’re sure to see the impressive sandstone formations up close. 

3. Drive along the Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Though less popular than other canyons in Arizona, this is guaranteed to be one of the most breathtaking drives of your life. The sandstone walls rise over 1,000 feet, and you can see views of Ancestral Puebloan ruins. The best route along the canyon is between South Rim Drive and North Rim Drive. 

4. Experience the grittier Wild West at Tombstone

Tombstone, Arizona, is one of the top sights for anyone interested in older towns of the Wild West. Notoriously known for its 1880s gunfights, this was once a rough place, home to gamblers, prospectors, and gunslingers. 

5. Spend a weekend in Tucson

An oasis in the desert, Tucson is worth a weekend break (or more). Sitting only 60 miles from the Mexican border, this city offers so much to do. From exploring Mexican-American culture to Saguaro National Park, this is a top destination for a reason. 

Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Park Bucket List Ideas for Arizona

When you think of Arizona, you most likely think of big-name national parks and wide open spaces. An outdoor activity wonderland, Arizona has more diverse climates and terrain than you think. 

6. Take in the beauty of Horseshoe Bend

Aptly named, Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped twist in the Colorado River within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The best way to take in the panoramic views is by hiking. 

7. Venture to Havasu Falls

Though you’ll find a lot of different waterfalls in Arizona, few are as awe-inspiring as Havasu Falls near the village of Supai. Flowing over the Havasu Canyon, these 100-foot falls cascade into a beautiful blue pool. 

8. Scuba dive in Lake Mead

If you’re a licensed scuba diver, you must visit the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Though mostly known for the Hoover Dam, this is also one of the top freshwater lakes for scuba diving in the entire country. 

9. Hike in a petrified forest

To see some of the best collections of petrified wood, visit the Petrified Forest National Park near Flagstaff. Famous for petrified trees that turned to stone over millions of years, this is a landscape you won’t forget. 

10. Get lost in Antelope Canyon

Finally, don’t be afraid to get (a little bit) lost in Antelope Canyon. Completely made of sandstone, this canyon got its artistic shape from water and wind over millions of years. For an extra challenge, get here by kayak. 

Kid-Friendly Bucket List Activities in Arizona

A gem in the American Southwest, Arizona is also the perfect place for families. From the quintessential road trips to educational discoveries, here are some kid-friendly bucket list activities for Arizona. 

11. See North America’s largest cacti

For anyone interested in majestic plants, you must stop near Tucson at Saguaro National Park. This is where you’ll find the nation’s largest cacti. While there, visit an information center to learn more about the native plants and wildlife. 

12. Learn about 19th-century history at Tumacacori National Historical Park

Arizona is a history-buff capital for a reason. At the Tumacacori National Historical Park, you can explore a 19th-century Franciscan mission. Though never fully completed, this is still a testament to early Spanish settlement life. 

13. Experience cowboy culture at Goldfield Ghost Town

Perfect for families, Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction has a family-friendly approach to the Wild West. Explore the Mammoth Gold Mine, historic buildings, and the historic Apache Trail. 

14. Spend a day on Lake Powell

For a relaxing day that doesn’t compromise on scenery, visit Lake Powell with the whole family. This man-made reservoir is shared with Utah in the north of the state. With over 90 canyons on all sides, this is one of the prettiest lakeside spots in Arizona. 

15. Ride the Grand Canyon Railroad

One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon is actually by train. The Grand Canyon Railroad is more than just a train ride, however. It includes historical reenactments, cowboy shoot-outs, and some of the best views of nature. 

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Arizona

Your food bucket list might be just as long as your activity bucket list, especially in Arizona! Home to some of the most culturally diverse foods, there is no limit to what you can try here. 

16. Try an Arizona-style burrito

Though you’ve likely tried burritos before, you’ve never had them like this. Unlike Mission-style burritos, Arizona burritos are much simpler. With meat, cheese, and a simple flour tortilla, sometimes simpler is better. 

17. Sample infamous chimichangas

Another Arizona classic is the chimichanga. This is essentially a deep-fried burrito. Though it might have been invented in Mexico, it’s hard to beat the offerings at Phoenix-based Macayo’s. 

18. Chow down on an Arizona hot dog

All states seem to have their own twist on hot dogs, and Arizona is no exception. Known as a Sonoran dog, this is a hot dog that’s wrapped in bacon. The bun is stuffed with beans, onions, tomato, and salsa. It’s easy to see how Arizonians put a Mexican twist on American favorites!

19. Sip on a tequila sunrise

Did you know this famous drink was reportedly created in Phoenix in the 1940s? Said to be made as a way to beat the Arizona heat at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, the original tequila sunrise has come a long way. 

20. Experience real prickly pear

You can find prickly pear just about everywhere in Arizona, especially in the late summertime. From prickly pear margaritas to candies, this is the best way to add a bit of natural agave to any tasty creation. 

Phoenix Bucket List Ideas

As the capital of Arizona, it’s no wonder that Phoenix is a must-visit. The hub of Arizona’s thriving art and culture scene, this bustling city has endless things to offer. 

21. Float down the Salt River

If you need to cool off from the Phoenix heat, grab a float and head down the Salt River. The perfect way to spend the day on the water, this is something you can do during the summer months. 

22. See the bat cave

Did you know thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats fly to Phoenix each year as they migrate south for winter? They gather within a specific cave in Phoenix during the day, filling the sky at night. 

23. Explore the nightlife in Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale is much more than a few bars. Whether you’re a fan of country music or EDM, you can find something here. There’s a reason this area is known as the vortex. Once you get sucked in, it’s hard to get out. 

24. Hike Camelback Mountain

Hiking is a must-do in Arizona, and it’s even a popular pastime in the cities. Camelback Mountain is one of the best hikes within the city, and you can also see some sweeping panoramic views from the top. 

25. See local blooms at the Desert Botanical Garden

With over 50,000 plant displays showcased in outdoor exhibitions, this is a must-see botanical garden. Experience the best of Arizona’s great outdoors in Phoenix’s backyard. 

Sedona Bucket List Ideas

Last but not least, no visit to Arizona is complete without a trip to Sedona. This desert town near Flagstaff is surrounded by steep canyon walls, pine florists, and New Age culture. 

26. Experience Cathedral Rock for yourself

Said to be one of the most powerful places on earth in terms of energy, Cathedral Rock is a staple of Sedona. This natural sandstone butte is also one of the most photographed sights in the United States. 

27. Traverse Devil’s Bridge

Surrounded by red rocks, this short climb is well worth the trip into the Coconino National Forest. If you dare, you can walk out onto the top of the infamous arch. However, to avoid tourist crowds, try to visit early in the morning or on a weekday. 

28. Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross

This architectural wonder is built right into the red rock landscape. Inspired by a local sculpture, this chapel came to life in 1956. Today, you can light a candle in the church or even take a tour up to the top. 

29. Soak up the views at Oak Creek Canyon

You don’t have to travel far from Sedona to see the best sights. Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge located between Flagstaff and Sedona, and it’s also one of the most scenic drives in the USA. 

30. Absorb local culture at Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

Much more than a tourist attraction, this is a quaint village designed after traditional Mexican villages. Since the 1970s, this has been one of the best places to shop, explore architecture, and spot local artists. 

Find Your Wild West Adventure in Arizona

In conclusion, it’s time to plan a trip to the Grand Canyon state. Known for the sprawling canyons, top hiking spots, and thriving art scene, Arizona is one of the most popular tourist states in the nation. With no shortage of things to discover, who knows what you’ll find here next?

Is Arizona on your bucket list? If not, now is the time to get inspired. Whether you like to take things slow or uncover hidden gems, this bucket list is full of Arizona must-dos for all ages. When you know how to make a travel bucket list, you build memories to last a lifetime.

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