Summer is the perfect time to break free from the norm and head out for a little adventure. And when living in Arizona, there are so many fantastic destinations to check out. Sure, the heat can be brutal, but there are plenty of ways to cool off along the way (including with a frosty cold eegee beverage in hand). So, if you’re looking to have an epic summer, here is a top 10 summer bucket list for teens and adults.
Of all the ideas for a summer bucket list, Yuma might not be something you considered. Tucked into the southwestern corner of the state, it’s away from the national parks and other touristy spots. However, it receives more sunshine than any other city in the country, and stopping by the historical Yuma prison (made famous in moves like 3:10 to Yuma) is fun. Plus, for you Star Wars fans out there, the Jabba’s Sail Barge scenes in Return of the Jedi were filmed on the outskirts of Yuma as well.
Going from the southwest to the southeast corner of the state, Bisbee is full of charm and whimsy. Cut into the rocky sides of a mountain range, the former mining town is also cooler this time of year. Locals like to say that Bisbee is “Mayberry on Acid.” This is an apt description because it’s homey and safe with all kinds of little nooks and crannies to check out. There are also some fantastic bed and breakfasts here to stop in for the night.
Before you hit Bisbee, you’ll drive past Tombstone. The Tucson to Tombstone drive is about an hour, and it’s great if you haven’t been to the famous Wild West town. Take in an O.K. Corral shootout reenactment, or toss open the double doors of a local saloon and order yourself a sasparilla and steak. It’s fun to play cowboy, even if it’s only for a few hours.
Lake Havasu City might be the most interesting, or at least unique, cities in all of Arizona. And that’s saying something. Located on the Colorado River right along California, Lake Havasu City not only has one of the best spring break destinations in the state, but it is home to the original London Bridge.
Yes, the actual bridge, when it was bought by a billionaire who founded the city back in the 50s and shipped over from London brick by brick (London needed to upgrade its bridge because the London Bridge was never designed to handle the kind of automobile traffic it was seeing). It’s the only place in the world where you can sit by the London Bridge, eat fish and chips, drink a margarita, and bask in the sun.
Maybe you want to stay closer to town. Old Tucson is a great spot to visit. There have been dozens of western movies filmed here over the years, and there are events going on in Old Tucson throughout the year. But even if nothing is going on, it’s fun to just walk through. And, it’s close to home, which makes it easy enough to grab an eegee’s sub and set out to some western film sets.
Just outside of town is San Xavier. It’s a beautiful example of Spanish Catholic mission architecture. Its official name is San Xavier del Bac Mission, and there are few other locations like it in the United States. And as it is only 10 miles to the south of downtown Tucson, your entire trip will only take a few hours.
Lakes are at a premium here in Arizona. Lake Havasu City is great, but it’s a bit of a drive. Havasupai Falls is breathtaking, but if you don’t have your spot booked for the world-class waterfalls already you won’t be able to visit this destination either.
There are spots around Prescott as well, but this is a super touristy spot that will be flooded with snowbirds that haven’t returned home yet. Instead, why not head out to Canyon Lake for some gorgeous canyon views? To the east of the Valley, this spot is just outside of Tortilla Flat. The manmade lake is perfect for taking in a relaxing day on the water without the overwhelming number of visitors. Head here with your eegee’s in tow when you want to beat the heat and the crowds.
Do you need to beat the heat? Make the drive up Mt. Lemmon. Oftentimes the temperature is 20 to 30 degrees cooler at the top than in Tucson. And, when the temperature is 110 in the city, those 30 degrees feel amazing. There are literally hundreds of places to pull over, hike, and explore on the drive.
You can go on a weekday or the weekend and it’s still possible to find your own slice of tranquil comfort on Mt. Lemmon. Just make sure to grab some eegee’s grinders and French fries beforehand, because food options are extremely limited.
This is probably the most underrated national park in all of Arizona. When thinking of National Parks in the Copper State, you’ll automatically think of the Grand Canyon (more on this later), but there’s also the Petrified Forest, and Monument Valley (which isn’t a national park, and it is located on tribal land, so make sure you check to see if the tribal land is open before a visit, as it has been closed due to COVID).
Saguaro National Park is a great spot as it’s next to Tucson and you can take in the finest example of the saguaro cactus. These are the famous cacti you see in western movies that go straight up and appear to have arms. These cacti only grow in this part of the world, so, if you’re ever watching a western that takes place in Nevada or Texas and the cactus is present, you know they’re either on a set (probably the Old Tucson set), or set design brought them in.
Williams is just west of Flagstaff, but the small Route 66 town is a hidden gem. The downtown strip is quaint and fun. It also has a train that heads directly from Williams up to the Grand Canyon, stopping just outside the main hotel within the national park. It’s a fantastic day trip, or you can spend a few nights there. The choice is yours.
These are just some of the fantastic destinations you can visit this summer. And, best of all, you can grab some eegee’s before heading out. So pack some eegee’s grinders before your drive up to Mt. Lemmon, or swing by your closest location for some cold eegee beverages before your road trip to Lake Havasu City. Whatever you do, make sure to enjoy your 2022 summer, because you definitely deserve it.