A Beginner’s Guide to Arizona

You must have heard about the Grand Canyon, of course. But let me tell you, there are so many other beautiful reasons to visit Arizona apart from the Grand Canyon. Having lived there for 18 months, I got ample time to explore the Grand Canyon State, as they call it. I was studying at the University of Arizona which is located in Tucson. For people who don’t know about Tucson (don’t worry, I didn’t know about it either before I got admitted to this University), it’s a small city. Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and Scottsdale is one of the city-like touristy places.

How do you get there?

There are three ways to get to all the major places in Arizona:

  • If you live in and around Arizona, driving is a great idea. The roads are well-maintained and the drive is scenic.
  • Flying into the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX).
  • There are shuttles from the PHX airport to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and Sedona.

It’s a real cactus that you can actually pet!

Where did I stay?

Whenever I traveled to other places in Arizona, my friends and I usually booked a couple of rooms in Motel 6 (because we were students and it’s cheaper). At other times, we just took a road trip and didn’t really stay anywhere.

Where did I eat?


There are many good places to eat in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

  • Pastries N Chaat at Tempe – Indian
  • True Food Kitchen at Scottsdale – Healthy food
  • SOL Mexican Cocina at Scottsdale – Mexican
  • North Italia at Scottsdale – Italian
  • Culinary Dropout at Tempe – American
  • Woops! Bakeshop at Tucson – Desserts

What did I do there?

There were six major places that I went to. You must be wondering – this girl was in Arizona for 18 months and only ended up visiting six places? College keeps you busy, guys! ๐Ÿ˜›


The Grand Canyon


The Grand Canyon –ย  South Rim

From the time we were kids, we have seen the Grand Canyon on the front page of our notebooks and have always been enticed by its beauty. We also know it as one of the natural wonders of the world. The canyon is carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries for two billion years. The South Rim of the canyon is more easily and widely accessible than the North Rim. Let’s talk about the South Rim first. You can either tour the South by yourself or take one of the guided tours. Some of the options that you have for guided tours are bus tours, mule trips, guided hikes, raft trips, jeep, and van tours and air tours. When I was there, I went to the South Rim by road. There are scenic points like the Mather Point from where you get an amazing view of the canyon. Talking about the North Rim, you can either drive up there, take shuttles or take a flight. Try visiting the canyon during sunrise or sunset. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Horseshoe Bend


The Horseshoe Bend

The Horseshoe Bend is a famously unusual curve, shaped like a horseshoe in the Colorado River. You can drive up to the parking spot close to the U.S. Route 89 and hike till the Bend. It’s a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) round trip from the parking spot. There are various spots from where you can take pictures and again, the golden hour is the best time to get a picture here!

The Antelope Canyon


The Lower Antelope Canyon

The Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in Page, Arizona. A slot canyon is basically a narrow canyon. The Antelope Canyon consists of two sections – the Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon. Both the sections are accessible only by guided tours. Remember seeing the famous Windows wallpaper? It’s the Lower Antelope Canyon. The hike isn’t bad but initially while going to the bottom, the steps are steep. For those who are afraid of heights (just like me), hold on to the railings on both sides. The guides also help people navigate through the steps in case someone is really scared (ME). Once I reached the bottom of the canyon, it’s the most beautiful one I have ever seen! This canyon was formed due to flash flooding and over time, the corridors became deeper and the hard edges became smoother in a way that it looks flowy. It’s a bit cold there so carry a jacket! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The traditional once-in-a-lifetime Grand Canyon trip includes the Horseshoe Bend and the Lower Antelope Canyon and the Antelope is my personal favorite!

Lake Havasu City


The London Bridge at Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu is a large reservoir on the border between Arizona and California. Lake Havasu City is a popular spring break destination for the young folks. We first went to see the famous London Bridge. It was built in the 1830s in London, England over the Thames River and dismantled and relocated to Arizona in 1967. Interesting, right?! The area around the bridge is nice to walk around.


Lake Havasu State Park

We then headed to the Lake Havasu State Park that’s well-known for camping, fishing, kayaking, and boating. It’s serene and the water is pure and transparent. The coast is just like a beach so you can play any beach-sport that you want to!




Hole-in-the-Rock is a geographical structure which is naturally formed in the Papago Park in Tempe. The hole (main chamber) is easily accessible through a climb that’s behind the hill. It’s possible to hike up to the hole from the front of the hill as well, though this is more dangerous and not for inexperienced hikers. You’ll see a breathtaking view of the city of Phoenix from the hole and you don’t want to miss this!

Sabino Canyon


Hiking Trail at the Sabino Canyon

The Sabino Canyon is located in the Catalina Mountains in Tucson. It’s well-known for hiking and bike-riding. The hike isn’t that bad and once you reach the top, the view is purely astonishing with the cool wind blowing all around. When I went, there was a shuttle service that dropped people off at certain locations which made the 3.8-mile one-way hike easier. Recently, they shut the shuttle service.

Apart from these, here are some more places that you can visit:

  • Flagstaff –ย ย One of the coolest places (in terms of temperature) in Northern Arizona
  • Havasupai Falls – To get to this beautiful place, it’s a 4-7 hour hike one-way around the Grand Canyon and no drinking water for 8 miles
  • Mount Lemmon – This mountain is at a 9.159 feet elevation in Tucson which is known for skiing during the winters
  • Seven Falls – This is a 4-hour hike in Tucson unless you take the tram that cuts your time into half

Papago Park in Tempe, Arizona

Things to keep in mind!

I hope you’re not having any second thoughts of visiting this beautiful Grand Canyon State anymore. Comment below and let me know if you have been to any of these places! ๐Ÿ˜€

10 Comments on “A Beginner’s Guide to Arizona

  1. Lovely blog with pictures and maps.
    Beautifully presented.
    Liked the section “Things to keep in mind”.

    Liked by 1 person

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