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How to Plan a Perfect Arizona Getaway for an Authentic Southwest Experience

Destination Arizona

Signs of warm weather and longer days mean only one thing: winter is coming to an end and spring is well on it’s way. Spring is also one of the best times to travel with reasonably priced airfare and plenty of breaks and holidays.

With so many travel options choosing a destination can be hard. Visiting Arizona can be the perfect getaway, whether you’re the kind of vacationer to crave an adventure, you look to get more in touch with nature through hikes and camping, you want a small town experience or big town scene, or you just simply are looking for some rest and relaxation.

In order to help you plan your perfect Arizona getaway we’ve found some of the best places to stay, things to do, and places to visit. And, if you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, we give you all the tips you’ll need to take a trip back to the old west and get an authentic taste of the wild west. It’s all here, so learn how you can make your vacation destination Arizona!

Places to Stay

They say “home is where the heart is,” and when you visit Arizona you have the chance to fill your heart’s desire with unique lodging that’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Maybe you’ve always wanted to experience the life of a cowboy – watching the sunrise cut through the desert, wrangling cattle and riding horses. Arizona’s dude ranches and guest ranches offer something for anyone looking to get a taste of the cowboy life.

Or perhaps instead, you’re looking to escape from the familiar and cozy up with nature, sitting by a crackling campfire under star-lit night skies, and listening to the sound of the Arizona breeze. If that sounds like you, then Arizona’s camping and RVing is just what you’ll need to escape from the daily grind and become one with western landscapes. You’ll never feel closer to nature than when you’re pitching your campsite or stepping out of your RV.

If you want to be pampered, you needn’t look any further than Arizona’s resorts and hotels. Stay by shopping and entertainment in Scottsdale, find a small town by Tucson, or stay off the beaten path and forge your own adventure in one of the smaller inns or hotels. The choices are limitless, and so is your opportunity for adventure.

We Recommend: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort, Scottsdale

Enjoy one of the four Arizona top-ranked restaurants, play a round of golf at the site of the PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open, or enjoy one of the six pools – all without ever leaving the resort. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort is the perfect way to catch a little R&R while taking in the surrounding Sonoran Desert. And if you’re looking to get an early peak on baseball action, 15 MLB teams will be participating in Spring Training just 15 minutes away at the Salt River Fields!

Experience the Old West

When President Theodore Roosevelt saw the Grand Canyon in 1903 he called it “a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.” And the nature-carved canyon has stayed intact for you to marvel and explore when you come to Arizona. Whether you see the Canyon by hiking, rafting, or flying, the unmatched beauty of Arizona will instantly give you the feeling of the old west.

Visit Sedona if you’re looking for more adventure into a time from long ago. The red rocks tower in the distance of this city, adding a backdrop to your visit that you would have thought only existed in Hollywood. Whether you take hikes to these wonders, enjoy the art galleries of downtown, or having your aura photographed, you’ll understand why the energy and sights means there’s no other place like Sedona.

Though your thoughts of the old west may be the romantic, open plains of an Arizona desert with tumbleweeds and cactus dotting the landscape, the Sonoran Desert has so much more to offer. Local wildlife will come out to join you as you gallop through this desert on horseback, guided tours in off road vehicles will enrich you with the Desert’s history and geology, and if you’re looking for a bird’s eye view you can take a hot air balloon tour across this sprawling landscape. If you’re looking to cool off, there’s also plenty of lakes and rivers nearby to take a dip or a ride in a kayak!

We Recommend: White Stallion Ranch, Tucson

Want to dive into the feel of the old west, but don’t know where to start? Why not take a trip to the White Stallion Ranch, which owns of the largest private herds of horses in Arizona. Whether you’re a beginner getting on the horse for the first time or a seasoned vet on horseback, there’s a horse at this ranch for you. The ranch also offers ways for you to reconnect with nature through hikes and adventures. The True Family has worked operated this ranch for five decades and when you visit you’ll see that this is as real as it gets to the old west.

Places to Visit

No matter how long your stay will last in Arizona, there’s always a new place to discover. Tucson is a great place to start – just off the beaten path of your traditional Arizona locations, Tucson offers mountain ranges, pine forests, and caravans. When you’re ready to step away from nature and soak up the arts and culture, Tucson offers a vibrant art scene to it’s visitors as well as observatories and the Pima Air & Space Museum. And if you’re ready for some shopping, be sure to take a ride on the Sun Link Streetcar into Main Gate Square.

Check out Visit Tucson for more tips on how to get your adventure planned!

If small batch spirits get your attention, then head to Prescott where the Thumb Butte Distillery was the first legal distillery in the city to open when prohibition ended in 1933. Whether you want a taste of whiskey, gin, vodka, or rum, the distillery has a spirit for everyone (of legal age!). They use local grains, herbs, and fruits to make their limited spirits, so be sure to ask about the latest batch when you stop by.

We Recommend: White Tank Mountains Conservancy, West Valley of Phoenix

If you’re looking for an adventure in nature right by a major city like Phoenix, the White Tank Mountains Conservancy is perfect for you. Home to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park and the Skyline Regional Park, the conservancy focuses on preserving the natural beauty that surrounds the lands and protect local wildlife such as mule deer, mountain lions, and javelina, among other animals. Come see the wildlife, natural beauty, and awe-inspiring landscapes – they’re all less than 45 minutes away from Phoenix!

Things to Do

If you’re still looking for things to do in Arizona, fear not – the spring is a great time to visit with plenty of things to see and do throughout the state.

You can’t think of “spring” in Arizona without thinking of “spring training!” This year will be even more special as the 2016 World Series Champions will be in state for their spring games – and it’s the first time we can say that about the Chicago Cubs in 108 years! The Cactus League is in full swing right now, and tickets are still on sale, so be sure to catch one of the 15 teams while you’re visiting!

If it’s a unique journey through time you want, then the 29th Annual Arizona Renaissance Festival is just what you’re looking for. The medieval-themed festival features a 13 stage theater, 30 acres of activities, a jousting tournament, knights and maidens, crafts, and so much more! Whether you’re looking for something unique, or you just need to scratch that Game of Thrones itch, you’ll want to stop by this festival!

There’s so much wildlife to see throughout the state, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale! See sharks up-close-and-personal, hang out with otters and penguins, and get a feel for marine life in the touch pools. This is a must-see when you’re looking for a fun outing, and is open 7 days a week.

Finally, take a stroll through Prescott to check out all the spirits and liquors the town has to offer. Thumb Butte Distillery was mentioned above, but there’s plenty more to check out as well. Matt’s Longhorn Saloon will take you back to the wild west days of drinking and stands as one of the last true honky tonks on Whiskey Row.

Our Recommendation: Thumb Butte Distillery, Prescott

What is it that makes the Thumb Butte Distillery so special? Is it the distillery tours that not only expand your knowledge of the spirit-making process, but also keep you entertained and engaged? Is it the craft cocktails they’re able to whip up on the spot, or the small batch liquors they produce so you know you’re getting something special and unique when you go? Maybe it’s the live music you can catch while you’re there, or the warm welcome you’ll get from owners/master distillers Jim and Dana, or bartenders/master mixologists Ben, Jima, and Ramona. We’re certain it’s a combination of all the above, but make sure you stop by and find out for yourself what makes this Prescott hot spot so fantastic!

Our Recommendation: Whiskey Row in Prescott, Prescott

Speaking of Whiskey Row, did you know that at one point there were 40 bars on a single bar in Prescott? It happened after a fire burned down the entire block in July of 1900. When the town rebuilt the block they found there was an inordinate amount of bars that had been built, partly due to the gold rush hitting at the time and drawing settlers from all over. Rather than redistribute the bars elsewhere, this block became known as Whiskey Row and is there for tourists to stroll down (and enjoy a drink or two along the way!). But don’t let the name fool you – Whiskey Row is also home to art galleries, candy shops, and restaurants.

Whether you’re stopping in for a drink, a great meal, or just looking for an experience, make Whiskey Row a part of your Arizona getaway.