Arizona may be best known for the iconic Grand Canyon and cities like Phoenix, but scattered across the state are charming small towns that offer a glimpse into history, culture, and nature. From old mining towns nestled in rugged desert terrain to resort havens tucked amid pine forests, these Small Towns in Arizona provide opportunities to connect with rich heritages, spectacular landscapes, and welcoming local communities. This definitive guide covers the top Small Towns in Arizona to visit across Arizona for unique travel adventures.
Best Towns in Arizona in 2023
The best towns in Arizona in 2023 showcase the state’s iconic desert panoramas to canyon-carved vistas, lush riparian habitats, and high country woodlands. Formed through a storied history of mining boomtowns, railroad depots, and Native American lands, these intimate destinations now captivate travelers as hiking, biking, and skiing havens with historic downtowns lined by local eateries and shops. Whether escaping the city or pursuing an outdoor adventure, wildlife watching, or cultural discovery, Arizona’s tight-knit small towns extend welcoming communities filled with memory-making experiences against stunning backdrops. They serve as gateways to the state’s hidden gems.
The best things to do in Sedona include hiking the numerous trails winding through the mystical red rock formations jutting from the desert, visiting the many art galleries and shops lining Uptown to find works showcasing the area’s natural beauty, and experiencing the radiating energy vortexes Sedona is known for by meditating in this sandstone-sentineled oasis. Also enjoy exploring the indigenous art scene at nearby Tlaquepaque village or partaking in abundant outdoor recreation afforded by Sedona’s mild weather and stunning scenery.
Top Activities: Hike among red rocks, gallery hop in Uptown, kayak Oak Creek
Nearby: Slide Rock State Park
Read more About New Mexico National Parks
Once a booming copper mine town, Jerome clings to Cleopatra Hill, with winding streets passing historic buildings now shops, hotels and restaurants. Below town stretch Verde Valley’s dramatic vistas. Designated a National Historic Landmark, Jerome offers a glimpse into its Wild West past, while serving as a funky arts community.
Top Activities: Tour Gold King Mine, ride Verde Canyon Railroad, photograph vistas
Nearby: Tuzigoot National Monument
From its Mule Mountains perch, the historic copper town of Bisbee delivers old-timey escapades. Downtown Victorian architecture twists to conform to the steep terrain, creating charm. Tour the Queen Mine, once a premier 1900s copper producer. Galleries and museums now fill former mines, rounding out amenities.
Top Activities: Tour Queen Mine, shop downtown Bisbee
Nearby: Kartchner Caverns State Park
At the Kaibab National Forest footsteps lies Williams, “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.” As the last Route 66 town bypassed by an interstate, Williams celebrates its highway heritage along the main street lined with 1950s-themed diners and shops. The railway also departs towards canyon vistas. Williams delivers big adventure against stunning backdrops.
Top Activities: Ride railway, drive Route 66 stretches
Nearby: Grand Canyon National Park
Cave Creek nestled at Phoenix foothills evokes an Old West meets artist vibe. Hidden gem features galleries, boutique lodges, riding trails beyond the mountains – perfect for weekend retreats. Launch cowboy culture and sublime Sonoran Desert adventures.
Top Activities: Shop Western stores, enjoy rodeos
Nearby: Tonto National Forest
In Verde Valley beneath the Mogollon Rim lies Camp Verde, splitting outdoor adventures and historic wonders. A gateway to Tonto National Forest’s trails, it offers hiking, biking, watersports and wildlife viewing. Montezuma Castle National Monument shows well-preserved indigenous cliff dwellings. Fort Verde State Park conveys the town’s Apache Wars role.
Top Activities: Hike Tonto National Forest, see Montezuma Castle, visit Fort Verde
Nearby: Out of Africa Wildlife Park
With 7,000 estimated trees, Prescott deserves its “Everybody’s Hometown” title. Its lively downtown filled with Victorian buildings centers on Courthouse Plaza and prominent Yavapai County Courthouse. As Arizona’s early territorial capital, Prescott celebrates cowboy roots with museums, whiskey houses and seasonal rodeos while offering pine-forested peaks for hiking.
Top Activities: Walk Whiskey Row, hike Peavine Trail
Nearby: Thumb Butte Recreation Area
In southern Arizona grasslands near Mexico lies Patagonia village. Shaded by cottonwoods, its galleries, shops and eateries fill adobe buildings. As an outdoor gateway, Patagonia Lake State Park provides beaches, paddling and birdwatching while mountains offer hiking. The migratory bird corridor creates a biologically diverse habitat.
Top Activities: Go birdwatching, hike in Coronado National Forest
Nearby: Sonoita Vineyards
“The Town Too Tough to Die” recalls legendary Wild West tales where warring cowboys skirmished. Costumed entertainers reenact shootouts on Allen Street lined with 19th-century buildings and shops. Tombstone Courthouse transforms into an immersive 1880s frontier look including its outlaws, mining and rough-and-tumble era.
Top Activities: Watch reenactments, explore Birdcage Theatre
Sonoran Desert wilderness surrounds Wickenburg on the Hassayampa River near Phoenix. Guest ranches and lodges cater to the wide-open spaces and fresh desert air. Historic Tegner Street glimpses into early ranching and mining days with rustic storefronts and cowboy motifs. The popular Desert Caballeros Western Museum reinforces Wickenburg’s cowboy persona.
Top Activities: Go Jeeping, hike Hassayampa River Preserve
Nearby: Vulture Mine Tours
So if seeking resilient Wild West history, spectacular desert panoramas or friendly small-town hospitality, be sure to navigate off busy interstates to discover Arizona’s captivating small towns!
Small Towns in Arizona – (FAQS)
What is the best small town to visit in Arizona?
Some of the best small towns in Arizona include Sedona, Jerome, Bisbee, Williams, Cave Creek, Camp Verde, Prescott, Patagonia, Tombstone, and Wickenburg. Each offers unique scenery, culture, history, activities and attractions. It depends on your interests and ideal vacation vibe.
What are the most romantic small towns in Arizona?
Sedona, Jerome and Patagonia are considered some of Arizona’s most romantic small towns. Sedona’s red rock panoramas, Jerome’s intimate B&Bs and Patagonia’s scenic streamside setting create irresistible backdrops for couples.
What Arizona town is known for wineries?
The Verde Valley just outside Jerome and Cottonwood contains Arizona’s wine country. This area is home to dozens of wineries offering tours, tastings and events with stunning red rock vistas surrounding vineyards.
Where are the best small town festivals/events in Arizona?
Beloved small town events Jerome Home Tour architecture, homes. Cave Creek Fiesta rodeo celebrates Western heritage. Bisbee Stair Climb mining gradients. Prescott Bluegrass camping, pickin’ parties. Sedona Arts red rock backdrop over 100 artists.
What small towns in Arizona are close to national parks?
Williams provides convenience for Grand Canyon National Park, while Benson allows access to Kartchner Caverns State Park’s stunning limestone cave formations. Camp Verde lies near Montezuma Castle National Monument containing well-preserved indigenous cliff dwellings.
Where can you stay in underground hotels in Arizona?
Bisbee’s Copper Queen Hotel offers underground accommodations in a 19th century copper boomtown, while Desert Cave Hotel in Coconino National Forest lets you bed down in excavated sandstone cave tunnels near the Grand Canyon.