First Timers Guide to Arizona

Arizona is such a beautiful and magical place to visit! Between the rich history and vibrant culture, you'll never be short of anything to do. You can learn about the Native American tribes who have lived in the area for thousands of years at the Heard Museum in Phoenix or visit historic sites such as the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tuscon. Arizona is also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike, bike, or horseback ride in the many state parks and national forests, raft or kayak in the Colorado River, or go on a hot air balloon ride. Arizona is the place to visit for all ages and groups! Read more from our Arizona travel guide to Learn more about what makes the Grand Canyon State so amazing and how to prepare for your next trip! 

When to Go 

The best time to visit Arizona depends on what you want to see and do. If you’re looking to avoid crowds and save a little money, you might want to consider visiting during the off-season. The off-season is typically from June to August. However, if you plan on visiting during the summer months, you will need to be prepared for temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  

If you don’t mind crowds and higher prices, visit during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November.) The weather this time of year is mild and pleasant; perfect for hiking and exploring one of the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon State. 

Weather in Arizona 

The weather in Arizona varies greatly depending on the season and the region you are in. Largely, the state has a hot and dry climate, with temperatures reaching well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. However, in Northern Arizona, including Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, we can experience snow and colder temperatures in the winter months. Monsoon Season occurs from June to September. Monsoons bring heavy rainfall and can cause flash flooding. 

Planning for the Weather in Arizona

It’s a good idea to look at the weather when packing for your next vacation in Arizona. If you plan on visiting for the summer months, pack sunscreen or plan on purchasing some when you get to your vacation rental. Hats and sunglasses are also good items to pack to help keep the intense sun out of your face. Additionally, you'll want to plan your outdoor activities for early in the morning or late in the evening during the summer to avoid any heat-induced illnesses.  

If you plan on visiting Arizona during the spring or fall, we recommend that you pack a light jacket. After the sun sets the air can cool off very quickly so it might be good to have one in hand, just in case.  

Getting to Arizona 

Arizona is a large state with more than one way to travel here. If you are planning on flying to Arizona, there are several major airports that you can fly into, including Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Tuscon International Airport, and Flagstaff Pulliam Airport. Depending on where you are coming from, you may be able to find direct flights to one of these airports. If not, you may have to connect through another city or drive part of the way.  

You can also drive to Arizona. There are a variety of major highways that run through the state of Arizona. Interstate 10 and 40 both run across the state from east to west. Interstate 10 connects Los Angeles to Phoenix and Tuscon while Interstate 40 connects Flagstaff to Albuquerque.  If you are interested in driving from Flagstaff to Phoenix or vice versa, you’d want to take Interstate 17.  

Top Destinations

Arizona is home to a great number of destinations, from bustling cities to thriving mountain towns to grand national parks and landmarks. With the Grand Canyon being the most famous attraction in Arizona, there are also many other natural wonders to explore, such as Sedona's red rocks. The state also has several cities worth visiting, such as Phoenix, and Tucson. 

Grand Canyon 

The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world and is one of the most visited attractions in Arizona. Over millions of years ago, this stunning canyon was carved out by the Colorado River. The canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep. Visitors can take in breathtaking views of the canyon from several vantage points along the South Rim, including Desert View, Yavapai Point, and Mather Point. For those who are wanting a better look at the canyon, you can hike down into the canyon or schedule a mule ride or helicopter tour. With its stunning vistas and natural beauty, the Grand Canyon is a must-see destination for any visitor to Arizona. 


Sedona is a unique destination located in the heart of Arizona's Red Rock Country. Known for its stunning red rock formations and spiritual energy, Sedona attracts visitors that seek relaxation and rejuvenation. There are several hiking trails that wind through the stunning red rock formations, including the well-known Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. For those who do not wish to hike or have limited mobility, you can view the beautiful rocks from a hot air balloon or enjoy a Jeep tour through the rugged landscape. In addition to its natural beauty, Sedona is home to several wellness spas, art galleries, and new-age shops that reflect the town's spiritual and holistic lifestyle. This is a great day trip from Phoenix or can be a stop on your road trip to or from the Grand Canyon. 

Phoenix Valley 

Phoenix is the largest city in Arizona and is known for its vibrant culture and number of attractions. The city is home to several museums, including the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum, which showcase the region's art and history. Phoenix also boasts several outdoor attractions, such as the Desert Botanical Garden and Camelback Mountain, where visitors can enjoy hiking and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. There is also a large shopping scene within Phoenix Valley with numinous high-end shopping centers.  Whether exploring the city's cultural attractions, enjoying outdoor activities, or shopping through the city, Phoenix offers something for everyone. 


Tucson is a city located in southern Arizona and is known for its rich history, stunning desert landscape, and unique cultural offerings. The city is home to several museums, including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which offers a glimpse into the region's natural history, and the Pima Air & Space Museum, which showcases a collection of around 400 aircraft. The historic district of downtown Tucson is a great place to visit for guests. This part of town features adobe buildings and unique shops and galleries. Tucson is also a great base for exploring nearby attractions, such as Saguaro National Park, where visitors can hike among the towering saguaro cacti. Additionally, the historic town of Tombstone is not too far away. Here, guests can have a true Wild West experience. 

Food in Arizona 

Arizona offers a unique blend of culinary experiences, reflecting the state's diverse cultural influences. Mexican cuisine is particularly prominent, with dishes like tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and chimichangas available at local restaurants and food trucks. Southwestern cuisine is also popular, featuring dishes like green chili stew and Navajo fry bread. Visitors can also enjoy Native American cuisine, which highlights traditional ingredients like corn, beans, and squash. The state's craft beer scene is also thriving, with several breweries and taprooms offering a range of unique and flavorful brews. Of course, we cannot forget Arizona’s Prickly Pear. This edible fruit is used in jams, jellies, and syrups. You can also get this in a delicious margarita at many restaurants here.

Safety Precautions 

Arizona is generally a safe place to visit, but like any destination, visitors should exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings. However, visitors should be aware of the risks associated with outdoor activities, such as hiking and exploring the desert, which can be dangerous in extreme heat or during flash floods. You should always stay on marked trails and carry water and sunscreen with you.  

Stay hydrated 

No matter if you are spending your day outside or if you are going in and out of stores or museums, you should always carry water with you! Between the dryness and the heat, your body doesn’t tell you when you need water as easily as it may when you are home. Additionally, if you plan on hiking one of the many trails, you should bring twice as much water as you might think. Dehydration can be a wild beast and many visitors that do not prepare appropriately end up needing to be rescued and taken to the hospital.  

Wear Sunscreen 

The Arizona Sun is a nasty and powerful beast. The sun index here is usually high all year round so it is highly recommended that you put on sunscreen every time to go out and about. Every couple of hours you should be sure to reapply sunscreen especially if you are out hiking, swimming, or any other activity where you are in the sun for an extended period of time.    

Book your First Trip to Arizona

Overall, Arizona is a beautiful state with a lot to offer visitors. Take the time to explore and enjoy the natural beauty and cultural attractions that make Arizona unique. To make the most out of your next Arizona vacation, stay in one of our luxury vacation rentals in Northern Arizona or the Phoenix Valley