If you told people you were going on a weekend break to Arizona, they’d all assume you’d have the same destination in mind: the Grand Canyon. There’s no doubt that the Grand Canyon is absolutely stunning; it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the US for a reason. It’s so important to Arizona that they have even gleaned their state nickname from their most famous geographical feature.
However, there is more to Arizona than the Grand Canyon; delights that may not be able to compare to its sheer scale, but which offer plenty to the eager visitor on their own merits. So the next time you head to the Grand Canyon State, why not skip the canyon altogether, and head for one of these tourist haunts instead?
Desert Botanical Garden
Botanical gardens always make for a good day out when you’re on holiday, but the Desert Botanical Garden is extra special. As the name implies, it focuses on the plants and creatures found in Arizona’s distinctive desert landscape; quite the different experience to the standard botanical gardens you can find throughout the US. Definitely worth the day trip.
Pima Air and Space Museum
If museums are more of your thing, then Arizona isn’t going to let you down. This huge lot receives no government funding, allowing an eclectic mix of planes to be assembled. Take a bus tour through the huge outdoor lots, then head inside for interactive experiences — such as “how to build a rocket” — that the young, and young at heart, will adore.
The canal system is the crowning glory of Arizona’s state capital, Phoenix. Spend an afternoon walking along the canals, seeing the wildlife, and stopping in the stores that are dotted along the canal routes. Finish off the day by settling into a local bar as you admire your purchases, then enjoy being in the heart of the always-lively Phoenix nightlife.
If you want to go to Arizona and still enjoy a geological wonder — that isn’t the Grand Canyon — then a day trip to the imaginatively named “Meteor Crater” could be just what you need. As you might expect with a name like that, the crater is the result of a historical meteor site, producing the most complete and easily-explored crater on the surface of the earth.
Flagstaff is probably the nearest big population point, so stay there and then take a guided tour for the 40-mile trip to the crater. You don’t have to walk the distance, of course; guided tours can drive you right to the rim, then leave you to explore. Just remember to use sunscreen; the sun is hot and there’s little shade in such an isolated location, so take along plenty of water too!
So Arizona isn’t just about the Grand Canyon. There’s plenty of other delights to enjoy in this southern state that can delight visitors of all ages and interests. The only question you have now is: when are you going to go?