If vegging by the pool is already old news for your family, check out these 11 day trips from Phoenix.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go too far or spend too much to find a little reprieve from the Arizona summer doldrums.
Get out of Phoenix and support local business!
All day trips below are family friendly, but unfortunately not many are dog friendly (see my last post for dog friendly spots in southwest Colorado). But I’ve notated the few that are.
Some of these ideas are completely free, while all are relatively inexpensive.
In the very least, they are worth your sanity in escaping those eye-twitching words, “I’m bored.”
Located off Highway 169 in Dewey, Arizona, Mortimer Farms is a family-owned operation celebrating their 10 year anniversary.
Their grounds and country store are open daily from 7am-7pm. While the area is well-maintained and there are shady areas, visitors should wear appropriate outdoor attire and sun protection, especially during the summer.
Throughout the year, the farm hosts Friday night barn dances, special occasion farm-to-table dinners, and several seasonal festivals. The most popular festival is the Pumpkin Festival and Corn Maze which runs every September and October.
Tickets are usually less than $15 per person for these events, which includes the activities and family-friendly shows. Check their calendar for upcoming events and ticket info!
Families with little ones will especially enjoy the $12 Pick ‘n Play option during regular hours, which gives access to 40+ farm-inspired rides, the chance to feed farm animals, and pick your own produce.
Mortimer Farms is also available to rent for large parties and wedding events. I’ve worked a photo booth there for such an occasion. I’m convinced there are few venue that compare, and so close to the Phoenix area, too.
While many probably still consider Carefree part of metro Phoenix, this tea room could technically be an hour drive for some people, depending where you hail from. That’s Phoenix for ya!
If getting all gussied up, daintily devouring scrumptious scones, and tipping your teacup sounds like the best girls’ date ever, a visit to the English Rose Tearoom is in order.
All menu items are English inspired, like the crustless tea sandwiches, scones with lemon curd, and petit fours. The tea list is so unfathomably long it’s hard to imagine there are any teas they don’t have.
Throughout the year, the English Rose hosts special events like a tea party with Santa, or the “Princess On the Patio” tea that sold out last month! They also offer etiquette classes if you really want to learn true
Reservations are recommended due to limited space, especially if you are planning a group function or private event. They are able to host baby showers, wedding showers, birthdays, and other celebrations with advanced notice.
(Hint, hint, I wouldn't deny an invite if and when you did...)
The tea room is closed Mondays, but open Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 4pm. They offer both curbside pick-up and in-house dining right now.
Note: the tea room will be closed July 26th – August 9th for some TLC; it will be 20 years old next year, after all!
Did you hear?! As of Monday, July 12th, Antelope Canyon is officially open for tours again! Since it is located on Navajo reservation land, booking a tour through a company like Ken’s Tours is required.
Located four hours north of Phoenix, these sandstone slot canyons really do live up to the hype. The canyon is beautiful and otherworldly at any time. However, if you’re a photographer, the ideal lighting is when the sun is at its zenith.
I’d also recommend visiting during shoulder seasons, avoiding the coldest and hottest months. But if you do head up there in summertime, stay hydrated!
If you’re already in Page to tour Antelope Canyon, visit Horseshoe Bend just seven miles down the road. This roadside attraction saw an immense boom in tourism since I first visited in 2015.
The dirt path from the parking area takes about 10 minutes to reach the viewing platform, which now has a railing installed. Dogs are allowed on leash but be mindful of their paws as the ground can get extremely hot. Primitive bathrooms are also onsite in the parking area.
Additionally, visitors to Horseshoe Bend are now required to pay a parking fee unless they take a shuttle or arrive with a tour group. Check that link for all the details and alternate options.
I mentioned this attraction in my birthday freebie post, and I think it’s worth mentioning again for families and wildlife lovers.
Just over an hour north, Out of Africa is a great day trip from Phoenix. Not only is Camp Verde a few degrees cooler than Phoenix, the wildlife park itself is way more unique than normal zoos.
Most of the park’s animals have been rescued from tragic circumstances. The park staff is happy to point out such adopted animals while you visit. Educational bulletins about conservation are also available, making Out of Africa a great place for field trips and homeschool groups.
Unlike a zoo, this wildlife preserve gives visitors up-close encounters with the animals. There are various shows throughout the day. You can feed giraffes, pet a sloth, or watch tigers splash in a giant pool.
Only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, the park is open daily from 9:30am to 5pm. Click here for $2 off your general admission ticket (or get it for free any time during your birthday month)!
San Xavier Mission
Located just two hours south, Tucson isn’t nearly as big and booming as Phoenix, but it has an advantage for that reason. With plenty of open land and places to explore along the Santa Catalina Mountain Range, Tucson is rich with history, scientific sites, and natural charm.
While you’re in the area, take a free tour of the San Xavier del Bac Mission built in the 18th Century. Rising among the desert sands, this well-preserved and inspiring structure is best admired just before sunset, otherwise known as golden hour.
If nothing else, it’s worth a visit just to buy some fry bread from the Native American food stalls in the parking area!
The mission reopened to the public earlier this year. However, check their site for church times and for updates on mission hours.
They do ask that guests practice social distancing and wear a mask while on the mission grounds.
You don’t have to be a complete science fan to enjoy your visit to Biosphere 2 in Tucson.
Side note: if you’re wondering where Biosphere 1 is, you’re standing on it.
A couple years ago, Andrew and I took a day trip from Phoenix to visit this attraction. While the tour doesn’t extensively cover the human experiment that occurred here in the early 90s, it does explain the ongoing research conducted by University of Arizona programs.
Open from 9am-4pm daily, visitors now tour Biosphere 2 with a self-guiding app that leads one-way through various climates and ecosystems within the dome. Our favorite part was the pressurizing room (probably not the official name).
Due to COVID19 protocols, masks are required at all times. All tickets must be pre-purchased online, as availability is limited each day.
If you are looking for a more adventurous activity in Tucson, I highly recommend exploring Sabino Canyon recreational area.
Day passes are only $5, and there are many versatile hikes for all levels. Dogs are not allowed in Sabino Canyon at all.
The most popular and arguably most rewarding hike is Seven Falls, which, as you might guess, ends at seven waterfalls and golden pools. Although it is 8 miles roundtrip, the path manageable for most hikers.
Just pack adequate water and be mindful of the forecast. You definitely don’t want to be on the trail (any trail for that matter) during heavy flooding.
Take a three hour drive and find yourself transported to the old wild west. While it is known for the infamous OK Corral shootout, Tombstone’s history runs even deeper.
On a day trip from Phoenix, visitors can choose from a number of things to do. Watch the gunfight reenactment, tour an underground mine from the 1800s, ride in an antique stage coach, or test your own sharp shooting with vintage revolvers at a nearby (paint)gun range. The latter was definitely my favorite activity!
There are several places to eat in town, as well as some cute souvenir and gift shops to peruse.
Similar to Tombstone, Goldfield is an abandoned mining town in Apache Junction, right up against the Superstition Mountains.
Visitors can pan for gold, ride Arizona’s only narrow gauge train, take a Goldfield mine or ghost tour, experience a vortex at the Mystery Shack, review the reptile exhibit, and much more.
The steakhouse and saloon is open daily from 11am to 9pm while the bakery hours are from 9am to 5pm. There are about a dozen merchants of jewelry, pottery, photography, artisan décor, and more, all located in old west style buildings. These are open from 10am to 5pm.
Always at least 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix, Tonto Natural Bridge area outside Payson is a great day trip to escape the summer heat.
You really never know what the weather will be like here, actually. We went up during a weekend in May and got caught in a snow storm one afternoon! So, pack for anything.
Adult entrance fees are $7, youth ages 7-13 pay $4, and children under 6 years old are free to enter. Besides the Thanksgiving and Christmas Day holidays, the park is open year round from 9am-5pm.
Trails in this area are only a bit challenging (note, it is higher elevation), but the surrounding scenery is so refreshing. Red rock walls, a natural bridge formation, trickling waterfalls, pools to splash in, and green shade trees are exactly what you and the family need to reset.
Heads up, dogs are only allowed on the paved paths and viewpoints in Tonto.
However, at Water Wheel Falls about 30 minutes away, leashed dogs are allowed on the trail to the waterfall and swimming hole.
This out and back path is under 2 miles long and therefore extremely popular. Due to the crowds, I recommend visiting during weekdays or shoulder season months.
At the time of this post, the area is open for visitors. But check the AZ national forest site for forest fire closures and traffic alerts.
You have most likely seen this sign while heading south on I-17 back into Phoenix. A giant pie slice is hard to miss, really.
But if you haven’t yet stopped, or yet tasted a slice of Rock Springs pie, you owe yourself a treat.
In business since 1918, historic Rock Springs sells more pie than any other Arizona location, and they aren’t afraid to brag about it.
My southern hubby exclaimed their banana cream pie is the best he has ever tasted, and that’s saying something. I, for one, am looking forward to their seasonal strawberry-rhubarb pie. I prefer my pie on the less sweet side – guess that means I’m sweet enough already 😉(I joke).
All pies, including take-n-bake, are available for order pickup, delivery, or for purchase on-site but subject to availability. During the holidays, you can also pre-order Rock Springs pies from Elevate Coffee.
The café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sunday through Thursday, 7am-9pm, and 7am-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Besides good grub, the nearby shops and grounds are family-friendly and a great place to stretch your legs after a long day of road travel.
Sign up for their newsletter to receive a coupon for a free slice of pie!
While this post is not an extensive list of day trips from Phoenix, it does cover a lot of my favorite places and attractions on my Arizona bucket list.
Plus, most of these locations are either free or reasonably priced for groups. You all know how I like to save money, but we all have to get out of the house at some point and live a little, right?
I’d love to know your favorite day trip ideas in via my social media pages (@missaniss._), since my blog comments section is still broken…
Hope you all have a wonderful rest of your summer!