Exploring Nearby Attractions and Landmarks

If you’re looking to add a bit of adventure and scenic exploration to your Arizona vacation, Scottsdale is an ideal home base for exploring several other scenic destinations and sights around Arizona. From towering red rock formations to historic mining towns, there’s no shortage of day trips and adventures awaiting travelers that want a day excursion from Scottsdale. Here are 5 unforgettable day trips that we think perfectly capture the diversity and beauty of Arizona’s landscapes and culture.


Red rocks of Sedona AZ

Renowned for its stunning red rock formations, vortexes, and abundance of spiritual energy, Sedona is a scenic two hour drive north of Scottsdale. Along the way, you will be treated to panoramic views of the desert landscape, eventually giving way to the dramatic red cliffs that define Sedona’s skyline.

Upon arrival, visitors can explore the quirky shops and art galleries of downtown Sedona or embark on a scenic drive along the Red Rock Scenic Byway. Sedona is an outdoor paradise, with endless trails for hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing amidst the ethereal rock formations surrounding Sedona. Climb the trails at Airport Mesa or Cathedral Rock for sweeping views of the red rock landscape. On your way back to Scottsdale, stop by the Montezuma Castle National Monument to see ancient cliffside dwellings and learn more about the native inhabitants of the area.


Carefree Desert Gardens at Sunset

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and unwind in the serene desert oasis of Carefree, located just 45 minutes north of Scottsdale. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning desert scenery, Carefree offers a peaceful retreat.

Visitors can explore the town’s charming shops, art galleries, and cafes lining the pedestrian-friendly main street. You won’t want to miss Carefree Desert Gardens, where you can stroll through lush botanical gardens and admire the iconic Carefree Sundial, one of the largest sundials in the world. Outdoor activities abound, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing in the nearby Cave Creek Regional Park and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. As the day winds down, head to the top of Black Mountain, where panoramic views of the Sonoran Desert stretch out before you in every direction, before heading back to your Scottsdale vacation rental.


Historic Jerome Arizona

Perched high atop Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley, the historic mining town of Jerome offers a glimpse into Arizona’s past, only two hours north of Scottsdale.

Once a thriving copper mining town, Jerome is now known for its quirky charm, eclectic art scene, and stunning views. The steep, winding streets are lined with boutiques, art galleries and cute cafes. Visitors can explore the town’s historic sites like the Douglas Mansion, Audrey Headframe and the Mining Museum, which offer insights into the town’s mining heyday. For a deeper look into Jerome’s Wild West era, join one of the history walks or ghost tours exploring the town’s hidden past.


San Xavier del Bac Mission in Tucson

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and rich history of Tucson, a bustling city two hours south of Scottsdale, surrounded by majestic mountains and the Sonoran Desert. The town’s eclectic neighborhoods and close proximity to nature make it a perfect day trip.

From the historic adobe homes of Barrio Viejo to the hip boutiques and restaurants of downtown’s Fourth Avenue, Tucson has plenty to explore. Learn about Arizona’s Spanish colonial past at the iconic San Xavier del Bac Mission or take a step back into the Wild West at Old Tucson Park. Visit the Pima Air and Space Museum to see over 300 military aircraft and spacecraft up close.

Nature lovers will have plenty to explore at Tohono Chul and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, both living botanical collections showcasing the beautiful native landscapes of the Sonoran Desert. There are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure in the surrounding desert and mountains, where you can hike the trails of the nearby Santa Catalina mountains or explore the otherworldly landscapes of Saguaro National Park, home to the nation’s largest cacti.

National Parks and Monuments

Organ Pipe National Monument

Arizona is full of spectacular natural beauty and it is on full display at the state’s national parks and monuments. Although these destinations are all more than 3 hours away from Scottsdale, they could be an excellent long day trip if you get an early start, or a perfect destination to tack on before or after your Scottsdale stay.

Petrified Forest National Park – Journey back in time at Petrified Forest National Park, where ancient petrified wood and colorful badlands tell the story of Arizona’s prehistoric past. Marvel at the vibrant hues of the Painted Desert, hike among fossilized logs in the Crystal Forest, and explore ancient petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Named for the unique cactus that thrives in this rugged desert terrain, the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is an expanse of untamed Sonoran Desert. This pristine wilderness features towering cacti against a backdrop of mountains and desert vistas, where you’ll encounter breathtaking overlooks, ancient petroglyphs, and desert wildlife like javelinas and desert bighorn sheep.

Grand Canyon National Park – The awe-inspiring grandeur of Grand Canyon National Park is accessible from Scottsdale, although it is almost 4 hours each way. If you’re up for the drive, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking along the rim trails, taking a mule ride to the canyon floor, or enjoying a scenic picnic overlooking the vast expanse below.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor thrills, a step into the past, or a scenic drive through Arizona’s stunning landscapes, there’s something for everyone just a short drive away from Scottsdale. Book a luxury Arizona vacation rental with GoodNight Stay, offering accommodations in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Cave Creek, Sedona, and more, and start planning your next adventure in the American Southwest!