Sunday, May 24, 2009

10 Cities to Visit in Arizona

Arizona is a really beautiful state with a lot that is interesting for a visitor to see. What is really great about Arizona, though, is that you can see many different types of things within a fairly small geographic area. There are mountains and valleys, deserts and forests, huge urban areas and deserted ghost towns. There is the hustle and bustle of Phoenix, one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the nation and there is the laidback life of Native American reservations and rural communities. There is snow for skiing and extreme heat during the summer. And there is, of course, The Grand Canyon, one of the natural wonders of the world.

The best way to plan a trip to see the most out of all of this different stuff in Arizona is to hit ten of the most interesting and diverse cities in the state. Here are the ten cities that you would want to put on your Arizona travel itinerary.

1. Phoenix. Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona and it’s smack dab in the middle of the state so it’s something that you’re not going to be able to miss on a tour of Arizona even if for some reason you wanted to. Because it’s such a huge, sprawled-out urban area, there are a lot of options for what to see and do here and in the suburbs surrounding here. Many people go to enjoy resort vacations filled with golf and spas. Other things people visit here are designer fashion stores, the Phoenix Zoo, art galleries, museums and the Desert Botanical Gardens. People interested in college towns can check out neighboring Tempe, home to Arizona State University which is one of the biggest party schools in the nation.

2. Tucson. Tucson is a great place for people who want to head to an urban area but who find Phoenix to be a bit too overwhelming. With a population hovering around one million, Tucson is a large city with a lot to offer to visitors but it’s also small enough to be a welcoming, laid back and friendly place. Outdoorsy people will find opportunities to go hiking in the mountains (try Mt. Lemmon) or the desert (check out Saguaro National Park). Urbanites can do window shopping in the Fourth Avenue, Downtown and University districts. There are many galleries, shops, museums and landmarks to see in Tucson for the visitor who wants to do it all. This is also the home to the University of Arizona, a campus which offers a lot to do including an impressive planetarium and science center.

3. Flagstaff. The third major university in Arizona, Northern Arizona University, is the main reason that people come to this small town in Northern Arizona but there are a lot of other good reasons to come here as well. For one thing, it’s really close to the Grand Canyon but far enough from it that hotel prices are good. Although this is a college town, there are some other things that can be done here including a lot of skiing in the winter. One cool thing to do during warmer weather is to explore the volcanic lava tubes that are a tourist attraction at this site.

4. Sedona. This is a really fascinating city unlike any that you’ll see anywhere else and therefore one that you should take the time to check out while you’re traveling through Arizona. It’s located north of Phoenix and south of Flagstaff in Northern Arizona. It is considered to be a mystical healing center where vortexes of energy come together so you’ll find a lot of stuff here about psychics and crystals. But you’ll also find a lot of really great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. There’s nothing quite like horseback riding in the red rock canyons of Sedona to make you feel like you’re truly living it up in the Southwest. Go to Oak Creek Canyon to enjoy natural water slides or explore the art galleries that are popular here.

5. Bisbee. This is an old mining town in Southern Arizona that should be explored because mining plays such an important role in the history of Arizona. There are many different abandoned and active mines throughout the state but this city is great because it’s a fun little place where you can take a tour of an old copper mine. In addition to taking that tour, take an architectural tour of some of the neat homes built on the hills here.

6. Nogales. This is a border town on the edge of Mexico and it’s something that you should experience while you’re in Arizona. You should also experience the chance to cross over into another country into the city of the same name on the Mexican side of the border. The Mexican culture plays a big role in the life of people in Arizona and it can be enjoyed as a tourist in this area.

7. Jerome. This is a town in the middle of Arizona that often gets overlooked by travelers because it’s a small place without a whole lot going for it. However, it’s also a really, really neat place. It’s built on a mountain and has some interesting panoramic views of Arizona. It’s filled with little shops and galleries and it’s one of those places that you should stop at for half a day, grab some lunch and explore for the sheer experience of seeing a neat part of Arizona that other travelers might miss.

8. Willcox. Willcox is a small town in southern Arizona. There are many small towns like it where farmers live out in the country of the state. However, Willcox is particularly of interest because many of the farms here are set up for tours. You can go to these places and pick apples or have a fresh pressed glass of apple cider on the farm where the apples where grown. A great time of year to go here is Halloween when the pumpkin patches are open to the public but you can go at almost any time of year.

9. Chinle. This is a really small town that you’re going to take one look at and wonder why you’re here. It’s a Native American town but there aren’t a lot of landmarks here to check out. Mostly it’s a residential place with a number of hotels. So why would you come here? Because Chinle is located near one of the coolest hiking spots in Arizona – Canyon de Chelly. Yes, you should head further north and see the wonder that is the Grand Canyon, but you shouldn’t miss the chance to see this smaller canyon that is beautiful in its own right and much less populated with other tourists.

10. Tombstone. You shouldn’t go to the Southwest without seeing at least one ghost town. Tombstone is set up for tourists and it’s a great place to go to experience a fun day of history in the Wild Wild West.

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