The Top 15 Best Weekend Trips from Phoenix (Plus hidden gems!)

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Whether you’re a local, or just visiting the city for a little while looking for a change of scenery, I’ve got the best weekend trips from Phoenix!

The more I travel to the Southwest, the more I urge to back again and again. There’s something about those Arizona sunsets, cacti as tall as buildings, and so many hidden gems down long sandy roads.

There is SO much to this area, making Phoenix one of the best places to take epic weekend getaways from.

With lakes, canyons, beaches, or larger cities with more entertainment options- there are a lot of options to choose from. 

Below there are 15 of the best weekend trips from Phoenix along with their drive times and the best things to do while there! contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I believe in. Read my disclaimer for more information.

Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!

Accommodation – to find the best deals on hotels.
FlightsSkyscanner to look for the best prices and deals on flights.
Rental carsDiscoverCars to shop around at multiple car rental agencies.
Travel insurance Safety Wing; keep your trips insured to protect yourself while traveling.
Tours/experiences – Viator or Get Your Guide are excellent sources for tours.

Map of all the Best Weekend Trips from Phoenix

Best Weekend Trips from Phoenix

1. Prescott (1 hr & 20 min drive)

The closest weekend trip on this list is to the small town of Prescott, AZ. Located just under an hour and a half North of Phoenix, Prescott holds onto its Wild West vibes. 

With one weekend in Prescott make sure you spend a few hours at Watson Lake to go kayaking or paddle boarding. Bring your own gear or get rentals from Prescott Outdoors

Visit one of the many famous saloons on Whiskey Row, such as The Palace- the oldest bar in Arizona. Or head to the rodeo, touted as the World’s First Rodeo

If you’re a foodie- you’ll find an endless amount of places to try in this small town. Visit El Gato Azul for tapas, Rosa’s Pizzeria for amazing Italian, and Lone Spur Cafe for great breakfast. And Grama’s Bakery for mouth watering baked goods. (I’ve tried all these places and wholeheartedly recommend all of them!)

Best Hotels in Prescott, AZ

body of water near rocky land in arizona
Watson Lake in Prescott, AZ

2. Sedona (2 hour drive)

Sedona, a 2 hour drive North of Phoenix, is the most picturesque weekend getaway in the middle of Arizona’s red rock country.

There are plentiful hiking and outdoor opportunities here, or you could relax and enjoy the views from downtown or a luxurious resort. 

Some of the best day hikes in Sedona are: Keyhole Cave, Merry Go Round Rock, Subway Cave via Boynton Canyon, Fay Canyon, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Devil’s Bridge, and Doe Mountain. Red Rock Crossing is a great viewpoint for sunset.

If hiking isn’t your thing- try a Pink Jeep tour to see the sights of Sedona’s backcountry.

Sedona is also known for its vortexes, or areas of supposedly high energy that can cause emotional and spiritual feelings in people. Some like to do meditation or yoga while at these vortexes since it is so calming.

Some of the main vortex areas are: Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon.

Best Hotels in Sedona, AZ

sedona at sunset, a view from red rock crossing with red rock mountains in the background. sedona makes for one of the best weekend trips from phoenix.

3. Flagstaff (1 ½ hour drive)

Flagstaff is a cute small city in the midst of acres of pine trees, a 1 ½ drive North of Phoenix. 

Flagstaff sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, a mountain range which includes Humphreys Peak- Arizona’s highest point. Hikers can climb Humphreys Peak; it is a challenging 10.7 mile round trip hike with 3,400 ft of elevation gain. 

Go to Flagstaff during early October to experience the Aspen trees turning golden. Hike the Inner Basin trail and take the scenic gondola ride at the Arizona Snowbowl to see all the glowing trees from above.

Flagstaff has a nice downtown strip, with many local restaurants, shops, and breweries. Go to the Lumberyard Brewery and enjoy a drink outside facing the high peaks.

Best Hotels in Flagstaff, AZ

view of flagstaff's changing aspen leaves to golden yellow from the gondola. flagstaff makes for one of the best weekend trips from phoenix

4. Grand Canyon National Park (2 hr & 15 min drive)

Driving up to the Grand Canyon makes for one of the best weekend trips from Phoenix. The easiest and most accessible entrance will be to the South Rim which is open year round.

The North Rim is typically open mid May through mid October, closing for snow. The North Rim does offer more solitude for those seeking a break from the crowds of the South Rim. It is cooler at the North Rim as well since it sits at a higher elevation.

With one weekend on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, be sure to catch a sunrise or sunset and stay up late to do some stargazing, as it is a designated Dark Sky Park.

The best day hikes to leave the rim are: the South Kaibab trail to Cedar Ridge or the 1.5 or 3 mile Resthouse via the Bright Angel trail. Hike in the early morning or evening hours to avoid heat, and carry extra water with you. 

Best Hotels Near the Grand Canyon

view of the grand canyon while hiking rim to river along the south kaibab trail, morning light. the grand canyon makes for one of the best weekend trips from phoenix
View of the Grand Canyon along the South Kaibab trail, doing the Rim to River hike.

5. Page (4 hrs & 20 min drive) 

A little over 4 hours North of Phoenix is the town of Page, Arizona which makes for a very adventurous weekend getaway. 

In one weekend you can stop and hike to the infamous Horseshoe Bend. The 1.5 mile trail leads you to an incredible overlook of the Colorado River. Many suggest this spot for sunset, but go during sunrise for great views with less crowds.

You can also kayak Horseshoe Bend along the Colorado River and camp down along its shores! I did this in May 2023 and had an incredible time. You take a backhaul ferry up, usually 15 miles, and can kayak back in one day, or camp overnight. Book your trip here.

Head to Antelope Canyon, located on Native Navajo land, and take a guided tour through this beautiful slot canyon. It is one of the best natural wonders in Arizona. Note that you must have a Navajo guide to enter; you can go to the Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon.

You could also enter a small portion of Lower Antelope Canyon that is a part of Glen Canyon by way of Lake Powell. Take a kayaking tour and experience the beauty of both Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon. 

One of my favorite experiences in Page is to rent a boat for a day on Lake Powell. Cruise through the clear blue- green waters of the lake with orange and yellow buttes and canyon walls towering around you. If you rent a boat in early May or October you can get better prices while still having warm boat weather.

Best Hotels in Page, AZ

girl kayaking down the colorado river in glen canyon, sunlight is lighting up half of the canyon on the water. Page, arizona is one of the best weekend trips from phoenix
Kayaking the Colorado River around Horseshoe Bend.

6. Kanab, Utah (5 ½ hour drive)

Another adventure hub, Kanab is located a 5 ½ hour drive from Phoenix so this makes for a better long weekend trip from Phoenix. 

Hike to the Kanab Sand Caves, a short 1.2 mile trail off of Highway 89, near the Moqui Cave museum. Another short hike is to the Toadstool Hoodoos

If you have a 4×4 high clearance vehicle, head out to Cutler Point, or the Great Chamber. This is an epic cave that makes for a great photo spot.

Hike the Buckskin Gulch trail to one of the longest continuous slot canyons in the world. When the road is dry, you can take any vehicle here. But if it is wet it can become like mud and make the road impassable. Be cautious and check the weather as well before- rain can cause flash floods and make slot canyons deadly.

Another famous hike from the same trailhead of Buckskin Gulch is The Wave, or Coyote Buttes North. You must have a permit for this hike that you enter via a lottery system. These permits are well known for being hard to snag. Try your luck at entering for a month like January that is a bit easier to win permits for.

Best Hotels in Kanab, UT

girl is standing in the middle of a cave/ arch in utah. kanab, utah is one of the best weekend trips from phoenix
Cutler Point, aka the Great Chamber near Kanab, Utah.

7. Monument Valley (5 hour drive) 

Monument Valley is a 5 hour drive Northeast of Phoenix. It is one of the most quintessential Southwest views, with the red rock buttes standing tall in the desert landscape.

Try to book a room at The View hotel that has the absolute best view you can imagine of the valley. Or book a private cabin or a campsite at The View campground. 

With one weekend in Monument Valley, do the 17 mile loop scenic drive around the park taking your time soaking in the views.

Stop for lunch at the food stand near the John Ford Point to grab a Navajo taco on fry bread! Of course watch a sunrise and sunset if you can; they can’t be beat here.

With extra time, drive one hour North to Valley of the Gods, a mini Monument Valley on free, public land. You can camp for free in Valley of the Gods and do the scenic drive there.

More great stays near Monument Valley

brown rock formation mountain over blue clear sky during daytime
Monument Valley

8. Tucson (1 hr & 45 min drive)

Heading a little under 2 hours South from Phoenix is Tucson. Going South is often overlooked by many who opt in by going North hitting the popular spots of Sedona and the Grand Canyon. But don’t sleep on Southern Arizona!

On a weekend trip from Phoenix to Tucson, you should definitely make time to visit Saguaro National Park. Saguaro cacti can live to be up to 200 years old and reach heights of about 40 feet! (Listen guys- I’m passionate about cacti, I’ve even got a huge one tattooed on the back of my arm!)

Saguaro National Park is divided into 2 parts, separated by the city of Tucson. There is an East and West side. Saguaro East is more mountainous and covers a larger area with paved roads. Saguaro West has dirt roads and is smaller, but has a wider variety of cacti and plants. So if you have the time it is definitely worth visiting both sections.

In Saguaro East, take the Cactus Forest scenic drive, walk the Desert Ecology Trail, and hike the Mica View Trail for Saguaro cacti and mountain views.

In Saguaro West, do the 6 mile Bajada Loop scenic drive, see the Signal Hill petroglyphs, and watch the sunset from the Valley View Overlook with the cacti forming picturesque silhouettes against the changing sky.

While in Tucson, head to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the Reid Park Zoo, or the Pima Air and Space museum. San Xavier del Bac Mission church is a beautiful Spanish Catholic church with an intricate interior worth a visit. And stop by Los Tacos Apson for some of the best tacos in Tucson!

Best Hotels in Tucson, AZ

dawn landscape nature sunset

9. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (3 hour drive)

Take a weekend trip from Phoenix to the Southwestern corner of Arizona to visit this unassuming National Monument. This is an UNESCO biosphere reserve and the only place that organ pipe and the senita cacti grow in the wild. 

This is the perfect place for those looking for wide open vistas and solitude, especially in the cooler winter months. You’ll see the most insane desert scene with all the cacti you can imagine. Think ocotillo, cholla, organ pipe, senita, and saguaro cacti all in one viewpoint- pretty spectacular!

There are two campgrounds here, the developed Twin Peaks campground and the more primitive Alamo Campground. 

While in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument for the weekend, do the 2 scenic drives around the park: Ajo Mountain Drive and the Puerto Blanco Drive. Hike the short Desert View trail or the short but steep Arch Canyon trail.

Best hotels near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

photo of organ pipe national monument, the organ pipe cactus is pictured here as well as some saguaro cactus with a mountain the back. this is one of the best weekend trips from phoenix
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

10. Lake Havasu City (3 ½ hour drive)

If you’re up for a weekend trip from Phoenix to relax on a beach or out on the water, head to Lake Havasu. Lake Havasu City is located 3 ½ hours Northwest of Phoenix, right on the state border with California.

The best thing to do while in Lake Havasu is to get out on the water. You can rent a boat for the day, take a jet ski out for a little bit, or hop on your kayak or paddle board.

If you explore the lake by boat, check out the many secret coves and beaches like Topock Gorge and Copper Canyon.

Don’t feel like getting out on the water? You can also relax at the beach. There is a beautiful sandy beach at Rotary Community Park open to the public. 

There are also some hiking and mountain biking trails to explore around town. One of the best is the Crack in the Mountain trail that’s about 3 miles long and leads you to a small slot canyon.

You can’t miss the London Bridge here. It was imported to Lake Havasu city 1967 after it was dismantled in London. Yes- it really was made in London and then made its way all the way to Arizona! 

Best Hotels in Lake Havasu

11. Lake Mead (4 hour drive)

Lake Mead is located just outside of Las Vegas and is a 4 hour drive from Phoenix. Lake Mead is the largest U.S. water reservoir, right on the border of Arizona and Nevada.

There are amazing outdoor opportunities around Lake Mead, on both land and water. 

One of the best unique things to do on Lake Mead is to kayak to Emerald Bay. This bay gets its name due to the emerald green color of the water in the full sun! It gets its bright green color from the algae resting on the bottom which reflects off of the sun down in the canyon.

During the months of September- May you can hike 7 miles to Arizona Hot Springs, a primitive hot spring near the banks of Lake Mead. You’ll also get views of Lake Mead on the trail. Soaking in hot springs makes for the perfect activity for a winter road trip!

Or hike 6 miles to Gold Strike hot springs, a smaller primitive hot spring also with an amazing Lake Mead view.

Of course you could also rent a boat or jet ski to have some fun out on the water. And you can’t miss a stop at the Hoover Dam!

Best Hotels near Lake Mead

lake mead on colorado river
Lake Mead

12. Las Vegas (4 ½ hour drive)

Las Vegas- the city of bright lights and nonstop entertainment. Vegas makes for one of the best weekend trips from Phoenix for people of all ages.

If you’re strictly there for entertainment and nightlife, you can find plenty of things to do along the strip. You can try your luck in a casino, catch a comedy or magic show, see live performances, and so much more. Don’t forget to grab a photo with the iconic ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign!

There are also great outdoor opportunities around Vegas, including Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park, if you’re looking to do some hiking and exploring.

Best hotels in Las Vegas, NV

buildings near body of water
Las Vegas

13. Joshua Tree National Park (3 ½ hour drive)

Joshua Tree National Park in the golden state of California is located just a 3 ½ hour drive West of Phoenix.

This National Park is in Southern California’s desert and has a high concentration of Joshua Trees. These trees are native to this area, some parts of Nevada, Arizona, and Baja California. 

While in Joshua Tree for one weekend, hike to Arch & Heart rocks, Skull rock, watch the sunrise at the Cholla Cactus garden, and the sunset from Key’s View. Rock climbers will find plentiful climbing opportunities in the park as well.

Best Hotels near Joshua Tree National Park

photo of joshua trees during golden hour. joshua tree is one of the best weekend trip from phoenix
Joshua Tree

14. Palm Springs (4 hr & 15 min drive)

A little further from Joshua Tree is the desert resort town of Palm Springs. Palm Springs makes for the perfect weekend trip from Phoenix for those seeking a little relaxation in a beautiful place.

You’ll find many hotels with a vintage, retro flair and bright colors that pop in the desert. And of course many palm trees. There are hot spring resorts here to relax and recharge, as well as several golf courses.

For those looking for some hiking, the Andreas Canyon Trail in Indian Canyons is a great option. A river runs next to the trail and there are many California fan palms.

Or hike the Tahquitz Canyon trail to see a small waterfall. You could also check out the beautiful grounds of Sunnylands Center & Gardens desert garden, free to enter!

Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway that will give you amazing views of Palm Springs and Chino Canyon. And head to Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs for plentiful restaurant and shopping options.

Best Hotels in Palm Springs, CA

palm trees under blue sky
Palm Springs

15. San Diego (5 hrs & 15 min drive)

San Diego makes for one of the best long weekend trips from Phoenix. San Diego is located 5 ½ hours East of Phoenix, or you could take a quick 1 hour flight. 

You have many options on how to fill up your weekend in San Diego. Some of the must stops are: Balboa Park for amazing Spanish architecture & free museums, La Jolla to see the seals & sea lions, and watch a sunset at Sunset Cliffs

Torrey Pines also has great hiking trails, and the gliderport makes for a great sunset spot. Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach are also worth a stop and have more of that SoCal surf vibe if that’s what you’re looking for. 

If you have time, fit in going to the world famous San Diego Zoo. It’s easy to spend most of a whole day here seeing all the animals! 

And head into Little Italy for great Italian food for lunch or dinner one day. Of course the tacos here can’t be beat, you can’t go wrong anywhere you go but our favorite is Tacos El Gordo. 

Best Hotels in San Diego, CA

scenic photo of sea during dawn
San Diego, California

Wrap up: Best Weekend Trips from Phoenix

Phoenix offers a plethora of weekend getaway options that could cater to anyone’s interests. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or culture, there is something for everyone within driving distance. 

From the red rocks of Sedona to the beautiful beaches in San Diego to rock climbing in Joshua Tree, these destinations offer a perfect escape from Phoenix. 

With so many places to explore, it’s no wonder why Phoenix is one of the best cities in America for weekend road trips. So pack your bags and hit the road – your next adventure awaits.

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