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Life > Experiences

A Local’s Guide to Arizona

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GCU chapter.

It might be easy to think that Arizona is just a desert with cacti and tumbleweeds. However, that is not entirely true! Arizona has a wide range of climate and terrain diversity. While most of the state does have desert terrain, there are parts where it snows and has large amounts of ponderosa trees.

I have lived in Arizona my whole life. While the weather can be gruesome, Arizona has so much beauty, history, and culture for people to explore. For those who want to visit the 48th state on vacation, go to school here, or become a permanent resident, here are some beautiful places I would recommend adding to your Arizona bucket list that are not just the Grand Canyon.

Antelope Canyon

By far, Antelope Canyon is my favorite place I have gone to in Arizona. It is located on the Navajo reservation in Page, Arizona. The walls are made of beautiful, smooth sandstone formed into unique shapes. It is believed that the canyon was formed thousands of years ago because of water erosion over many years. Since this site is on the reservation and extremely popular, you must sign up for a tour several months in advance, but it is totally worth it.

If you have time, I also recommend visiting Horseshoe Bend. It is about a 13-minute drive from Antelope Canyon. This was also a fascinating place to visit!

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Unfortunately, not many Arizona natives have ever heard of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, but this little hidden gem should be recognized more. This arboretum is Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden located in Superior. It has a collection of about 19,000 plants from all over the world, including Africa, the United States, India, and the Middle East. If you plan on visiting, you can hike around the place. You can also take art and yoga classes in the gardens! So, plan to bring some comfortable walking shoes.


If you want to escape the heat (at least a little bit), visit Flagstaff for a couple of days. Flagstaff is a small mountain town north of Phoenix. From shopping at cute little boutiques to snowboarding at the Arizona Snowbowl, there are many things to do there. Flagstaff is also home to the largest ponderosa pine tree forest. The best part about Flagstaff is that temperatures average in the low 80s in the summer and the town receives snow in the winter.

Montezuma’s Castle National Monument

Montezuma’s Castle is a national monument located in Camp Verde. This is the third national monument dedicated to preserving Native American culture. Essentially, this is a large apartment nestled inside a mountain. It is believed that it was used by the Sinagua people, which people may identify as the Hohokam people. Montezuma’s Castle is worth visiting because it shows Arizona’s rich Native American history and how they lived a long time ago.

Phoenix Area

The Phoenix area comprises of several cities, including Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, and Scottsdale. Scottsdale is known for its luxury and high-end shopping. In Phoenix, there are many nightclubs, museums, and sporting events. Gilbert is a more agricultural small town with a lot of fine dining and a passion for the arts. Each city has its own unique qualities to them, perfect for whatever you are looking for.


Sedona is a desert town near Flagstaff, most known for its canyons and beautiful red rocks. According to many, Sedona has been regarded as sacred, powerful, and even a place of healing. Sedona is a great place to visit because there is so much to do. You can hike, admire nature, attend many art galleries, and shop downtown.

If you plan on visiting Arizona during the summer, please do NOT underestimate the heat. In July and August, the weather can get up to 110+ degrees. To enjoy your time in Arizona, the most important way to prevent heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses is by always carrying a water bottle. Even when you are indoors, you must drink a lot of water. Also, please ensure you don’t wear too many dark colors. The sun is attracted to black and dark blue colored colors. Make sure you dress lightly.

Arizona is such a beautiful state with so much to do and explore. As a local, I hope you have the opportunity to visit Arizona and discover what we have to offer.

Ireland has always loved words, telling stories and being creative. This is why she is majoring in Professional Writing with a minor in Advertising and Graphic Design at GCU. When she is not writing (which is rare), you can usually find her nose inside a book, crocheting, drinking chai tea lattes or spending time with her tight-knit family and her dog named Lilly.