The 6 Best Day Trips from Scottsdale
With world-class golf courses, fine dining, and luxury resorts, we know that there is enough to do in the Scottsdale area to fill an entire trip. However, Scottsdale travelers would be missing out if they never embarked on any day trips from Scottsdale during their time in the Grand Canyon state.
Scottsdale is an excellent home base for adventurers who wish to explore famous landmarks, historic sites, and attractions within Arizona.
From hiking in the red rocks in Sedona, kayaking in the gorgeous lakes in Prescott, or exploring vibrant downtown Tucson, there’s an abundance of unique and exciting day trips for visitors to enjoy.
Here are a few of the best day trips from Scottsdale to experience during your time in Arizona!
1. Wine Tasting in Sedona
Scottsdale to Sedona Distance: 126 miles
Drive Time: 2 hours
Sedona’s gorgeous red rock scenery and fascinating Native American culture attract millions of tourists each year, making it one of the most popular day trips from Phoenix or Scottsdale. In addition to the stunning landscape, Sedona and the surrounding Oak Creek Canyon area offer a wide variety of wineries and wine tasting rooms.
Enjoy wine tasting at one of these local Arizona wineries while you enjoy the gorgeous scenery:
Sedona Wine Adventures
Are you looking for a unique wine experience in the Sedona area? Enjoy a private, personalized wine tour with Sedona Wine Adventures to try the best wineries and tasting rooms in Arizona.
Decanter Tasting Room in Sedona opened in 2019. They are passionate about the wine they serve and the experience that they provide to their guests. They serve a variety of Arizona red and white wines and are located in the Village of Oak Creek.
Flying Leap Vineyards Tasting Room
Founded in 2010, Flying Leap Vineyards specializes in premium wine and distilled spirits that are grown, produced and bottled in the southwestern United States. Their tasting room is located in Uptown Sedona.
Pair this Drive with a Hike
Before you drive back from Sedona to Scottsdale, enjoy a gorgeous hike through the red rocks. No matter your experience level, there is a hike for everyone in Sedona. Some of the most popular Sedona hiking trails include Devil’s Bridge, West Fork Trail, or Cathedral Rock.
2. Slide Rock State Park in Sedona
Scottsdale to Slide Rock Distance: 131 miles
Drive Time: 2 hours 12 minutes
If you visit Scottsdale during the summer, you can’t miss the opportunity to take a day trip to Sedona to visit Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon.
Slide Rock State Park is best known for its 80-foot long natural sandstone water slide. The algae on the rocks and 7% decline creates a fun, slippery ride down!
Slide Rock is also a great spot for swimming and lounging in the sun on the red rocks that surround the area.
Entrance to Slide Rock in the summers is $20 per vehicle on Monday – Thursday and $30 per vehicle on weekends and Monday holidays.
Pair this Trip with Tlaquepaque
After an adventurous day at Slide Rock, enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Tlaquepaque.
Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village offers an authentic southwestern shopping experience. The magnificent shopping center is modeled after a traditional Mexican village.
If you are looking for unique artwork, boutique shopping, or a stunning selection of jewelry, Tlaquepaque is an excellent spot to add to your Sedona day trip. With over 50 shops and art galleries to peruse, there is sure to be something for everyone!
3. San Xavier del Bac Mission in Tucson
Scottsdale to Tucson Distance: 118 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
San Xavier del Bac is a National Historic Landmark that is located in the Tucson area. Founded as a Catholic mission in 1692, San Xavier is the oldest European building that is still intact in Arizona.
San Xavier del Bac has a rich history and is a unique example of Spanish Colonial Baroque architecture within the American Southwest. You are welcome to join a guided tour or attend weekly mass when visiting this church.
This Arizona day trip is free of charge, but donations are accepted to preserve this beautiful mission.
Pair this Day Trip with Downtown Tucson
After visiting this National Historic Landmark, drive to Downtown Tucson to experience a taste of southern Arizona culture. Explore Congress Street District, where old history meets modern restoration, or Fourth Avenue District, the colorful, artsy, and hip epicenter of the city.
4. Ghost Town Tour of Jerome
Scottsdale to Jerome Distance: 120 miles
Drive Time: 2 hours 4 mins
In the 1920s, Jerome was a bustling mining town and the fourth largest city in Arizona at a population of 15,000. Now, with a population of 500 residents, this abandoned town is known as the largest ghost town in America.
Built straight up the side of Cleopatra Hill, visitors to Jerome can experience incredible views while learning about the ghost town’s interesting history.
Ghost Town Tours offers visitors several spooky and informative ghost tours to learn about Jerome’s haunted history.
Pair this Day Trip with The Haunted Hamburger
After walking around Jerome on a fascinating ghost tour, you’ll likely work up an appetite. End your spooky day with a bite to eat at the Haunted Hamburger.
The Haunted Hamburger is a popular restaurant that got its name after the staff noticed that hammers and other tools would disappear and reappear in the building.
No one knows if the restaurant is actually haunted. Still, you can watch for spirits while enjoying a Haunted Burger or Ghostly Burger as you overlook the gorgeous Verde Valley.
5. Kayaking in Prescott
Scottsdale to Prescott Distance: 108 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour 53 minutes
Prescott is a mid-sized town in the middle of Arizona known for its historical, western roots. In addition to the old west atmosphere, Prescott is located near one of the most extensive ponderosa pine forests in the United States. The town is home to beautiful lakes that are excellent for water activities like kayaking and paddleboarding.
Watson Lake is a beautiful reservoir that is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Prescott. The lake features stunning scenery and magnificent boulders and is home to multiple unique bird species. Adventure through the open waters or find hidden nooks in the rocks to relax in while you kayak across the gorgeous lake.
Prescott Outdoors offers affordable kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard rentals at Watson Lake from the beginning of May to mid-October.
Pair this Day Trip with Whiskey Row
After enjoying a day on the lake, drive back to town and explore the art galleries, homemade ice cream shops, historic hotels, and famous saloons on Whiskey Row. Whiskey Row is home to a history that dates back to before Arizona became a state in 1912.
6. Fishing in Payson
Scottsdale to Payson Distance: 80 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
If you are looking for a peaceful trip from Scottsdale to surround yourself in nature, travel to Payson to experience the gorgeous, natural beauty of the Mongolian Rim.
The “Rim Country” is filled with dozens of gorgeous lakes, creeks, and streams that make Payson an excellent spot to go fishing or relax by the lake. You may even forget you are in Arizona after a few hours of enjoying the green trees and fresh air in this stunning area!
Additionally, Payson has a rich western heritage. If you visit in the summer, be sure to stop by the world’s oldest continuous rodeo.
Pair this Drive with the Apache Trail
Take the long way back to Scottsdale on your way back from Payson on the Apache Trail, a 40-mile drive between Apache Junction and the Theodore Roosevelt Lake.
This steep, winding former stagecoach trail runs through the Superstition Mountains and is one of Arizona’s most scenic drives. The trail is mostly unpaved but is suitable for driving year-round to enjoy the unique desert scenery.
What about the Grand Canyon National Park?
You might be wondering why the Grand Canyon didn’t make our list of the best day trips in Arizona.
Most visitors need much more than a day to explore all that Arizona’s most famous attraction has to offer.
The Grand Canyon National Park is 237 miles from Scottsdale and is nearly a 4-hour drive away. For this reason, visitors should stay at least one night in the area to fully enjoy this natural wonder.
Enjoy Relaxing in Your Luxury Vacation Rental After These Day Trips from Scottsdale
After adventuring all across the state of Arizona, we know you’ll want to return to a comfortable place that you can relax and unwind.
Make the most of your trip to Arizona with the perfect vacation home. Contact us today to reserve one of our stylish, signature vacation rentals in Scottsdale!