31 Spontaneous Day Trips That Are Less Than 3 Hours Away From Phoenix - Narcity

31 Spontaneous Day Trips That Are Less Than 3 Hours Away From Phoenix

There's more than just desert to explore!

Anyone who's not from Arizona may think the state is just a massive chunk of desert and palm trees, and while they're not entirely wrong, there's a lot more to it than that. Arizona is easily one of the most beautiful states in America and there's so much to do and see.

If you live in Phoenix and you're in the mood to hit the road, we've got a comprehensive list of some amazing road trip destinations that are no more than three hours away from your hometown! Whether you're looking to hike through the desert, cool off by a waterfall, or explore a ghost town, Arizona has got it all:

Explore the creepy caves of Kartchner Caverns State Park

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Have you ever wanted to live out an Indiana Jones movie? Well with a visit to Kartchner Caverns State Park you can. Kind of. You can partake in a 1.5 hour guided tour of the intricate cave system or go it alone to witness the beauty and mystery the caves have to offer.

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Spend the whole day in your swimsuit at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 50 minutes

If anyone knows how to deal with extreme heat it's those who live in Arizona. The weather here gets hotter than Chris Evans' arms, and when it's this nice outside, you have no reason not to spend the whole day in your swimsuit. At Tonto Natural Bridge State Park you can spend the day splashing around in Pine Creek and exploring the natural wonders nearby.

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Face your fear of lava at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 30 minutes

I think it's just human nature to have a fear of lava to be honest. The odds of us ever encountering it are slim (unless it's the floor), but there's still a very real fear that exists depending where you live. If you want to get a little too close for comfort to a volcano, head out to Sunset Crater. You can partake in a guided tour or go it alone and explore the sights!

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Get a photo at the top of the beautiful Mogollon Rim

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 10 minutes

If you want to see one of the best views that Phoenix has to offer, be sure to head to the Mogollon Rim. The view overlooks the entire state and shows off all the beautiful greenery and mountains that lie below. Hope you're not scared of heights!

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Explore the former ghost town of Jerome

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Time from Arizona: 2 hours

The town of Jerome definitely has an interesting history. At one point, it was a thriving copper mining community, but after the Great Depression the community fell apart and became a ghost town. Today, it's become a vibrant tourist destination where visitors can learn about its history, do some shopping, and enjoy a tasty meal.

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Get in touch with outer space at the Meteor Crater National Landmark

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 45 minutes

You can deny that aliens exist all you want, but there's no denying that this massive crater in Arizona was created by something from out of this world. Meteor Crater National Landmark is home to 24 interactive exhibits which will help you understand just what happened when it was created 50,000 years ago. I want to believe.

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Snap some photos of the beautiful San Xavier Mission

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 50 minutes

If you're looking for a place that's sure to pique your IG followers' interest, look no further than the San Xavier Mission. The beautiful Spanish-style building is beyond eye-catching and is definitely worth a pit stop. They also offer mass to the public.

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Go for a hike through the Sonoran Desert

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Time from Phoenix: 50 minutes

If you're like me, odds are good that you're too broke to go on a vacation this summer. If you live in Phoenix, though, you can head to the Sonoran Desert, which feels pretty close to a trip to Mexico. Paved paths allow you to hike along and take in the beautiful scenery or you can drive if that Arizona heat is too much for you to handle.

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Go cliff jumping at Saguaro Lake

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Time from Phoenix: 50 minutes

If the Phoenix heat is getting to be just too much, hop in your car and head out to the beautiful Saguaro Lake. Whether you just dip your toes in the water or go all out and cliff jump into the deep end you're sure to have a day to remember.

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Hang out at the top of Mount Lemmon

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Time from Phoenix: 3 hours

It's no secret that Arizona has a lot of incredible views but by far one of the best that the state has to offer can be found at the top of Mount Lemmon. If you're in the mood for more adventure, the town of Summerhaven is not too far away and is a great spot to explore and grab a bite to eat.

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Make your way across the Devil's Bridge Trail

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 10 minutes

If you're a hiking newbie this trail is the perfect start. It's not too difficult but definitely not too easy either. If you climb across the infamous 'Devil's Bridge' the views are amazing, and you'll be able to snap a seriously cool photo to post on your IG feed.

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Spend the day boating on Lake Pleasant

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Time from Phoenix: 45 minutes

What better way to spend a hot summer day than on a boat with your favorite people? Lake Pleasant is just a 45-minute drive from Phoenix and is the perfect body of water for not only boating but also swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking. There's plenty of wildlife to be seen nearby as well as picnic spots and hiking trails.

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Do some drinking and dining in the city of Flagstaff

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 15 minutes

While Flagstaff may be a popular tourist destination, it's also a favorite day trip for many people from Phoenix. Flagstaff is known in particular for their restaurants where you can drink and dine in class after a long day of shopping and sight-seeing around the city.

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Take your dog for an adventure in Coconino National Forest

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 30 minutes

As much as your dog loves to snuggle up to you and watch Netflix all weekend, he also loves to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, so you should take him. There's an abundance of trails to be explored, but you can also go fishing, boating, and horseback riding.

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Check out the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour

In photos, it may not look like much, but the Casa Grande Ruins are actually one of the largest prehistoric structures in the United States. The monument contains an intricate irrigation system that was built almost two thousand years ago—the sheer fact that it's still standing today for us to admire is amazing.

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Go for a dip in Oak Creek Canyon

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 10 minutes

If you're looking for somewhere to go for a swim this summer Oak Creek Canyon is the perfect spot. Bring along some SPF so you can spend some time baking in the sun, then hop into the water to feel relaxed and refreshed afterward!

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Check out the old-west town of Tombstone

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 50 minutes

If you want to see what life is really like in the wild, wild West be sure to make the trip out to Tombstone. This Arizona gem is about as Southern as it gets, and is home to many famous sites, including the Bird Cage Theatre, and the O.K. Corral. We going straight to the Wild, Wild West!

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Explore the beautiful red rocks of Sedona

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours

Sedona has been called one of the most beautiful spots on earth and when you go check it out for yourself you'll see why. It's a great spot for hiking, biking, kayaking, and everything in-between.

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Visit the Montezuma Castle National Monument

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 30 minutes

If you feeling like getting your learning on and you love the great outdoors we highly recommend you make a trip out to the Montezuma Castle National Monument. This gorgeous cave dwelling was carved by the Sinagua Native American tribe more than 600 years ago. There's also an on-site museum where you can pick up some more interesting knowledge. 

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Check out the Titan Missile Museum

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours

If you're a history buff a trip to the Titan Missile Museum should be at the top of your bucket list. This museum is an iconic reminder of the Cold War. Guests of the museum will be given a guided tour and get to watch a simulated missile launch.

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Admire the beauty of Tucson Mountain Park

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 50 minutes

When you've had a particularly long and stressful week sometimes a walk in nature can be just what you need to de-stress. Make the drive out to Tucson Mountain Park and spend the day hiking or biking through over 62 miles of trails. There's plenty of beautiful sights to be seen so be sure to bring your camera along as well.

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Hike around the cactuses in Saguaro National Park

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Saguaro National Park was designed to protect the Saguaro cactus so there's definitely no shortage of the massive beauties around. If you're in the mood for a longer adventure you can turn your day trip into a weekend trip and camp out in the park and spend your days hiking through those gorgeous mountains.

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Hangout by the river in Slide Rock State Park

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours

As it turns out, Slide Rock State Park was actually once an apple farm, but it has since been turned into a massive water slide and swimming pool. How do you like them apples? It's the perfect spot to cool off while working on your summer tan, or do some hiking, have a picnic, or go fishing.

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Learn about the history of Arizona in Prescott

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Do you ever find yourself sitting around and wondering how the place you live came to be?Well, a quick drive out to Prescott may teach you more than you'd think. Prescott was once the capital of Arizona and it's still home to many historical landmarks and buildings that show what Arizona was like years before you were born.

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Take a drive along the Red Rock Scenic Byway

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 40 minutes

If you're the kind of person who likes going driving with the windows down while blasting your favorite songs, this is the kind of day trip for you. The Red Rock Scenic Byway will take you through the Coconino National Forest and into the beautiful Red Rock Country. Get ready to take in some amazing views!

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Explore the infamous Apache Trail

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 10 minutes

The Apache-trail is world famous and was once used by the Apache Indians to cut through the mountains. Follow their journey as you hike through the beautiful mountains and massive red rocks and take in some astounding sights including volcanic debris, cliff-side canyons, and sparkling lakes.

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Pay a visit to the Pima Air & Space Museum

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 50 minutes

If you were one of those kids who dreamed of being an astronaut one day, we've got good news—you can live out your dreams with a visit to the Pima Air & Space Museum. The museum has a variety of exhibits, all of which are dedicated to the history of flight not only in the sky but also in the heavens.

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Take your bike out to McDowell Mountain Regional Park

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Time from Phoenix: 50 minutes

Anyone who's gone mountain biking knows how intense of a workout it is. Now imagine doing that in the midst of a hot, Arizona summer—I don't know about you but I've been known to get tired making plans to go to hot yoga. But if mountain biking is your thing though, and a little sunshine and sweat don't scare you away, McDowell Mountain is one of the best spots to go for a ride.

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Spend the day with your favorite animals at Bearizona Wildlife Park

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Time from Phoenix: 2 hours and 40 minutes

If animals are involved, the nearly three-hour drive is definitely worth it. Bearizona Wildlife Park is home to an abundance of animals which you can get up close and personal with, including bear cubs, goats, and otters! Did you know otters hold hands when they sleep? How adorbs is that?

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Hop on a train at the Verde Canyon Railroad

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Time from Phoenix: 1 hour and 55 minutes

Many of us grew up watching shows about trains, planes, and automobiles. Now that we're adults, a lot of us get to experience the planes and automobiles part, but our opportunities to check out trains are often limited. At Verde Canyon Railroad, you can hop on a train for a four-hour ride that will fill you in on all kinds of Arizona history.

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Check out the infamous Grand Canyon

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Time from Phoenix: 3 hours and 30 minutes

The drive may be a bit over three hours but the Grand Canyon is definitely a site that every American should see at least once in their lives. Bring along your camera to capture some seriously captivating images that you'll want to keep in your mind forever, as well as a picnic lunch for you to enjoy before heading home.

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