If you are lucky enough to have a day or two to explore Arizona, we have the best options whether it’s your first trip to the grand canyon state, or a local looking to discover something new in your own backyard. Each option is only a few hours away and offers a wide range of fun from jet skis on the lake to zip lining down a mountain, to arts, culture and music.
1. A Day at the Lake - Scorpion Bay Marina and Lake Pleasant Discovery Center
Enjoy a day at Lake Pleasant, the largest lake in the Phoenix and Scottsdale area, with over 10,000 acres of water surface with 116 miles of shoreline. The best part is it’s located only 35 miles from downtown Phoenix.
Ever wonder how Lake Pleasant got its name? Find out this and more at the Lake Pleasant Discovery Center. Learn about early settlers, see wildlife display animals and take home a trinket to remember your day.
Then head over to Scorpion Bay, Arizona’s premier floating playground, offering daily pontoon and ski boat rentals. Go for the fishing or go for the frolicking—either way, incredible mountain views, fantastic dining and world-class marina services await you at Scorpion Bay.
Head north from Scorpion Bay on Interstate 17 to Prescott. Prescott has a small town feel and a colorful history of the gold rush culture of the 1800s, with tall tales of settlers, cowboys, prospectors, gamblers and outlaws. There’s a courthouse square in the city center and lots of festivals throughout the year.
In town, visit the Sharlot Hall Museum, have a brew along Whiskey Row, shop at the unique stores around the Courthouse, stop by the Heritage Park Zoo or take in an exhibit or show at the Prescott Center for the Arts.
A little farther out, spend a day of fun at Watson Lake, Lynx Lake or Goldwater Lake. Feeling ambitious? Hit the hiking/biking trails around the lakes.
Courthouse Plaza: 120 S. Cortez St., Prescott.
Sharlot Hall Museum: 415 W Gurley St, Prescott.
Heritage Park Zoo: 1403 Heritage Park Rd, Prescott.
Prescott Center for the Arts: 208 N Marina St, Prescott.
Watson Lake: 3101 Watson Lake Rd., Prescott.
Lynx Lake: From Interstate 17, exit west on Arizona Route 69 toward Prescott. Before reaching Prescott, turn left (south) on Walker Road and follow the signs to Lynx Lake.
Goldwater Lake: 2875 S Goldwater Lake Rd, Prescott.
3. A Trip Along the 89A Highway, Runs from Prescott to Flagstaff.
Out of Prescott or off I-17, travel the 89A highway for several fun destinations. You’ll pass through the old mining town of Jerome, historic Clarkdale, Old Town Cottonwood, the red rock grandeur of Sedona and end up in Downtown Flagstaff. Experience the flavor of each city as you view a change from low desert cacti to high mountain pines along the way.
Haunted Hamburger: 410 Clark Street, Jerome. Enjoy terrific food while enjoying a view of the valley below.
Verde Canyon Railroad: 300 N Broadway, Clarkdale. Take a four-hour round-trip train ride and view the protected ecosystem of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area and Verde River.
Pink Jeep Tour: 204 N State Rte. 89A, Sedona. It’s a fun way to sit back and let tour guides take you on an off-road adventure. The guides undergo months of intense training to learn Sedona’s flora, fauna, geology and history.
Lowell Observatory: 1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff. It’s where astronomers discovered Pluto.
4. More Flagstaff and Northern Arizona Activities
Feeling adventurous? Take a trip to the Flagstaff/Northern Arizona area and enjoy some physical challenges. The Extreme Adventure Course is a chance to “Play with friends and family up in the trees. Enjoy the challenge, feel the sweat, and push boundaries. Forge new ground on the course, and in the relationships that matter most to you.”
Segway and Pedal Tours have great gear rentals to explore Northern Arizona. Book online before you go. It’s a fun way to see the area and take advantage of the knowledgeable staff and guides.
Fishing at Sedona Rainbow Trout Farm. Kids love to fish — especially if they can pretty much be guaranteed to catch a fish. If your family doesn’t have a favorite fishing hole, this is the place to get some fishing experience. It’s a great day trip, located off Highway 89A before you get to uptown Sedona. The trout farm has everything you need — bait, poles and easy-to-catch fish. Plan to get there mid-morning so the kids can catch their fish by lunchtime. Plan to pay $8 to $12 per fish, depending on the size. Then you can pay 50 cents to have your fish cleaned. Sounds good to us!
Bearizona is another Arizona favorite. It’s a fantastic way to see a varied collection of North American animals (Bears! Wolves! Bobcats!) from the comfort and safety of your own vehicle or in the exhibit area after the drive-through portion. A little bit pricey, but worth it. Here’s information to know Before You Go.
Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course: Fort Tuthill County Park, Flagstaff.
Segway and Pedal Tours: 19 W Aspen Ave, Flagstaff.
Sedona Rainbow Trout Farm: 3500 N State Rt. 89a, Sedona.
Bearizona: 1500 Historic Rte. 66, Williams.
5. Head South to Tucson
Spend a day at the Reid Park Zoo, founded in 1965 with a collection of birds, prairie dogs, farm animals, and a few squirrel monkeys, which has now expanded to a 24-acre campus that houses hundreds of animals in naturalistic exhibits. The zoo has education programs and special events throughout the year.
The Tucson Botanical Garden is a beautiful way to explore the wonders of the Southwest.
Or see a Tucson Roadrunners Hockey Games—the sports lovers in your family will love you for taking them to see a Roadrunners hockey game! Risk-takers will want to visit Arizona Zipline Adventures at Peppersauce Station, located at the base of the scenic Santa Catalina Mountains, just outside of Oracle, which is north of Tucson and Mt. Lemmon. Choose your specific option and make reservations beforehand. For kids? Zipline guests must weigh between 50 and 250 pounds and under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
Reid Park Zoo: 900 S Randolph Way, Tucson.
Tucson Botanical Garden: 900 S Randolph Way, Tucson.
Roadrunner Hockey: Tucson Arena, 260 S. Church Ave.
Arizona Zipline Adventures: 35406 S Mt Lemmon Rd, Oracle.
6. Mine Tours and Caves in Southern Arizona
Experience the rich history of Arizona by taking an informative tour through active and inactive mines in Southern Arizona. Be sure to visit the Copper Queen Mine in Bisbee. What beats getting dressed up in miner’s gear and riding a train into a copper mine?
Or go underground and take a tour through Arizona’s cool caves. Explore Kartchner Caverns, a rare cavern that offers visitors a look at the entire family of colorful cave formations: stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave popcorn, shields, columns, totems, drapery, bacon and the massive 58-foot-tall Kublai Khan column in the Rotunda Room.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park is an Arizona favorite, with 3.5 miles of mapped passageways. The water source has disappeared, and the formations are not growing, so it’s now called a “dry” cave, but it’s still an awesome natural wonder.
Wrap up the Day
Whether you travel north or south of Phoenix, consider winding up your day splashing around Lake Pleasant or dining in the grill at Scorpion Bay. We make it easy to rent the water toys and watercraft as you enjoy a beautiful Arizona sunset.
Scorpion Bay is Arizona’s premier floating playground, offering everything from daily pontoon and ski boat rentals to slips for harboring your yacht (or dinghy). Come for the fishing or come for the frolicking—either way, incredible mountain views, fantastic dining and world-class marina services await less than an hour out of Phoenix. https://www.scorpionbayaz.com/