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Phoenix and Scottsdale Summer Survival Guide Part 2 | Best Day Trips from Phoenix

Photo credit: Bearizona

(10-15 min read)

Summer Survival Guide Part 2

We’re back and this time around we’re sharing all about our favorite Arizona day trips. Perfect for exploring “cool” areas and attractions, and a fun and inexpensive way to recharge your batteries and introduce your family to more of this spectacular state.

1. Jerome, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 2 Hours from Phoenix)

Jerome sits atop what was once the largest copper mine in Arizona. When the mine closed, the town became one of the largest ghost towns in America. Now there is a vibrant art scene with quaint inns and restaurants, lively saloons, and museums full of culture and history. Jerome sits at 5,200 feet and is 15 to 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix. Fun tip: Make sure you check out the Haunted Hamburger, Jerome Grand Hotel, Cellar 433 Winery, Audrey Headframe Park and Haunted Tours led by professional historians.

2. Biosphere 2 in Oracle, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 2.5 Hours from Phoenix)

Tour one of the world’s most unique facilities dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues. Now owned by University of Arizona, the Biosphere 2 facility serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies, and an arena for scientific discovery and discussion. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching and life-long learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe. Biosphere2 is located in Oracle, AZ, just 2.5 hours southeast of Phoenix. Daily tours are $21 for adults and $14 for children ages 5-12.

3. Verde Valley Wine Trail in Cornville, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 1 Hr 48 Min from Phoenix)

Looking for a unique Arizona wine tasting experience? Well look no further. Explore Oak Creek Vineyards, Javelina Leap Vineyard, and Page Springs Cellars. All three vineyards are located along the same road within 1 mile of each other. Remember to sip responsibly!

4. Tucson, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 2 Hours from Phoenix)

Tucson is a big city with a small town feel. Our Must Do’s: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, combined in one place. Old Tucson has been used as a movie set for over 400 westerns and is now one of Arizona’s top wild west attractions, featuring live action stunt shows and entertainment, and genuine southwest BBQ. Old Tucson also has western themed rides and games for the kids, and of course plenty of souvenir shops for your shopping enjoyment. Don’t forget to stop for a bite to eat at family-owned favorite Café Poca Cosa in downtown Tucson. Trust us, this Mexican restaurant is worth the stop!

5. Saguaro Lake (Drive Time: Approx 1 Hour from Phoenix)

Named for the many tall cacti surrounding the shores, beautiful Saguaro Lake is perfect for boating, kayaking, fishing, and water skiing. Or take a more relaxing route on a narrated cruise aboard the Desert Belle, where you can soak in the views and learn about the lake’s unique history.

6. Bisbee, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 3.5 Hours from Phoenix)

In 2016, USA Today ranked Bisbee the “Best Historic Small Town in America”, and they own that quirky small town vibe. Temperatures average highs of just 89 degrees in the peak of summer. Located in Southern Arizona, Bisbee is a city perched on the hillside of an old mining town, where you will find gourmet restaurants, antique shops, book stores and restored neighborhoods with European and Victorian Style homes. Our Must Do’s: Take a Mining Tour in the Queen Mine or an Old Bisbee Ghost Tour and definitely visit the Brewing Company. Fun Fact: Bisbee’s Copper Queen Library is the oldest continuously operated library in Arizona.

7. Tombstone, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 3 Hours from Phoenix)

A neighbor of Bisbee, Tombstone is an authentic old western town that has museums, gunfights, underground mine tours, ghost hours, great restaurants and more! Truly something fun for the whole family.

8. Sedona, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 2 Hours from Phoenix)

No surprise there that this destination is on our list! Sedona’s stunning scenery, red rocks, pine forests, mild temps and vibrant arts community is a year around tourist draw. It is also known for its powerful spiritual vortexes and transformational energy centers. Our Must Do’s: Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, eat at Elote Café and shop at Tlaquepaque. Day Trip Bonus: Oak Creek Canyon – Cool off at Slide Rock State Park, home to natural waterslides make out of the slick red rock, or go on a shady hike at the popular West Fork Trail, featuring 13 creek crossings.

9. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park in Pine, AZ (Drive Time: Approx 2 Hours from Phoenix)

Just a few minutes north of Payson on Highway 87, the Tonto Natural Bridge is an easy drive and a spectacular place for a picnic or day of exploration. The natural travertine bridge is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world. It’s a half-mile hike down to the back of the creek, then several steep steps to get to an observation point. The Tonto Natural Bridge offers a shady retreat usually at least 25 degrees cooler than Phoenix during the height of the summer.

10. Kartchner Caverns State Park (Drive Time: 2.5 Hours From Phoenix)

USA Today readers have named Kartchner Caverns one of Arizona’s best attractions. Located outside Benson, the drive from Phoenix is about 2.5 hours. They offer daily cave tours and plenty of hiking trails to explore above ground. Fun tip: Kartchner Caverns is also a designated International Dark Sky Park.

11. Bearizona Wildlife Park (Drive Time: Approx 2 Hrs 45 Min from Phoenix)

At Bearizona, visitors drive through more than three miles of Ponderosa Pine Forest while viewing North American animals like bears, wolves, bison and mountain goats, in their natural habitat. More animals are exhibited in Fort Bearizona, a beautiful 20-acre walk-through area with winding paths in more of a “zoo” type setting. Located near Williams, AZ and about 30 minutes west of Flagstaff.

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