5 great Phoenix day trips
Your family and friends have come to Phoenix for your commencement, and they want to be wowed by the beauty of Arizona. No problem — the Copper State has so many great towns to visit and sights to see, your day trip may turn into a long weekend.
Those who want to stick close to the city might enjoy checking out this experimental community about 70 miles north of Phoenix and designed in the 1970s by the late architect Paolo Soleri, who employed “green” building practices before they were fashionable.
Visitors come from around the globe to gaze at the bronze-casting apse, a semi-circular dome, as well as the community’s oddball architecture, storefronts and stunning outdoor amphitheater. Too tired to head back to town? A two-bedroom “Sky Suite” is available for overnight guests.
Arizona visitors often head to cooler climes when Valley temperatures hit triple digits, and this city known for its red rocks, about 120 miles north of Phoenix, is a popular must-see. The area’s natural beauty is as easy on the eyes as it is on the pocketbook, since taking in the stunning vistas is free. If you want to park or hike on U.S. Forest Service land, however, you must buy a Red Rock Pass.
Slide Rock State Park, about 7 miles north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon, offers a natural water slide eroded into a slick creek bed surrounded by massive red rock walls, a 43-acre park and a gorgeous apple orchard.
And no trip to this city would be complete without a stop at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, a chockablock outdoor shopping center fashioned after a traditional Mexican village and featuring art galleries, New Age shops, jewelry boutiques and restaurants.
About 30 miles west of Sedona, this historic city, built on a vast copper deposit in the late 19th century, is now a bustling tourist stop. You can visit the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town museum, where rare cars, trucks and farm machinery are lovingly displayed, and then head downtown to check out dozens of art galleries.
Not far from Jerome, this community is worth a visit, particularly to ogle Eliphante, a unique, 3-acre sculpture garden featuring work by artists Michael Kahn and Leda Livant Kahn. More prosaic charm can be found 16 miles away at the Camp Verde Historical Society museum in downtown Camp Verde, where written and oral histories and artifacts tell the story of the Verde Valley.
Visitors who crave an Old West experience can travel about 180 miles south of Phoenix to this popular destination. Stagecoach rides, gunfights and a tour of an authentic “bawdy house” are all de rigueur for tourists.
A visit to Boothill Graveyard, filled with grave markers of infamous bandits, is another highlight, as is re-enactment of the renowned Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, staged where the actual shootout occurred in 1881. Gentler fun can be had at Rose Tree Museum and Books, featuring a rose tree planted in the late 19th century, which today is the world’s largest.