Looking for the best weekend trips from Phoenix? This collection of 13 beautiful destinations has got you covered!
Phoenix, Arizona is considered a paradise in its own right. Visitors flock to this southwest city every year for mild winter temperatures, desert landscape, and ultimate relaxation.
However, there is much to be explored outside of the state’s capital city itself.
Arizona’s prime location in the United States Southwest makes Phoenix a great leaping off point for several iconic road trips.
Within a 5 hour drive, you can experience wonders like the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, and even neighboring Las Vegas.
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Phoenix Weekend Trip Planning Details
Getting to Phoenix
The most common way to get to Phoenix is through flying into Sky Harbor International Airport. However, several incredible Southwest locations make it a drivable trip.
If you live near Phoenix or you are taking a southwest road trip, the following driving options are doable:
Las Vegas to Phoenix: 4.5 hours
San Diego to Phoenix: 5.5 hours
Los Angeles to Phoenix: 5.5 hours
Phoenix Car Rental
Majority of the best weekend trips from Phoenix are easiest to complete with car access. I highly recommend a rental car for Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon.
Phoenix Public Transportation
To save money and be environmentally conscious, it is possible to use public transportation to get to some of the best Phoenix weekend trips.
Each destination in this guide features the best transportation options.
Two well known public transportation shuttles and buses in the Phoenix area include Greyhound and Groome Transportation.
Best Weekend Trips from Phoenix
The following round-up guide features 13 recommendations from travel bloggers about the best weekend trips from Phoenix.
From iconic Arizona destinations like the Grand Canyon to the coast of California, there is a weekend trip for everyone!
Weekend Trips from Phoenix: National Parks
Distance from Phoenix: 3.5 hours
Best time to visit: The most popular time of year to visit Joshua Tree is in the fall when temperatures are mild. Summers in Joshua Tree are hot with the average high temperature of 98°F and the winters are cold with the average low temperature of 37°F.
I personally have visited both in the summer and winter and enjoyed both experiences. Both Winter and Summer are the low season at Joshua Tree.
A Joshua Tree weekend in Southern California is a great weeeknd trip from Phoenix.
If you are short on time, it is doable to visit Joshua Tree as a day trip from Phoenix. However, I recommend at least two days to not feel rushed and fully enjoy the experience.
There is no direct public transportation route from Phoenix to Joshua Tree. I recommend renting a car and driving the route. However, there is a new shuttle that operates with limited availability within Joshua Tree National Park.
Top features at Joshua Tree National park include its Cholla Valley, Keys View, and of course the ever famous Joshua Trees. Stargazing here is an incredible experience, so I highly recommend camping.
Stay: Consider camping at Joshua Tree National Park for the ultimate stargazing experience. There are 500 campsites throughout the national park.
Distance from Phoenix: 3.5 hours
Best time to visit: Arizona weather cools down in its northern region. The high season at the Grand Canyon is summer and the low season is fall and winter. Winter temperatures can be as low as 34°F during the evening. Summer high temperatures can reach 95°F.
The northern region of Arizona is known for overall cooler temperatures so plan accordingly during any season.
Known as one of the wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is an amazing weekend trip from Phoenix.
The Grand Canyon itself is absolutely amazing. To make things even better, it pairs as a beautiful road trip with stops like Sedona and Flagstaff.
An entrance fee is required to enter the Grand Canyon. Entrance protocols are consistent with all national parks. It costs $35 per vehicle to enter or entry is free with an annual national parks pass.
Groome Transportation provides daily transportation services from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. Check Groome scheduling availability here. Greyhound Bus Services also operate on this route. Check Greyhound scheduling availability here.
Alternatively, rent a car and make other scenic stops such as Sedona and Flagstaff along the way.
Stay: Bright Angel Lodge is known to be one of the most affordable accommodations within the national park. It is located at the South Rim.
Saguaro National Park
Distance from Phoenix: 1 hour 30 minutes
Best time to visit: Fall through late spring is considered the best time to visit Saguaro National Park. Summer temperatures in the desert are hot!
The Southwest region of the United States has striking mountain and desert views coupled with endless outdoor adventures. There are a number of great weekend trips from Phoenix to consider, but Saguaro National Park tops the list.
Saguaro National Park is located about two hours from Phoenix. There is a $25 fee to enter the park. Alternatively, consider purchasing an annual America the Beautiful National Parks Pass.
Both portions of the park offer visitors the chance to enjoy the gorgeous Arizona landscape and reconnect with nature.
Perfect for those in need of a recharge. Travelers with accessibility concerns should plan ahead, as some portions of the park are paved and accessible, and others are not.
The hikes in Saguaro National Park are some of the very best things about the park. Especially those that feature ancient petroglyphs along the way!
The hikes vary in levels of difficulty, so there’s something for everyone.
Stay: Hilton Tucson East is a wonderful place to lay your head after an amazing day in Saguaro National Park. Enjoy your weekend trip from Phoenix!
Recommended by Candice of CS Ginger
Petrified National Forest
Distance from Phoenix: 3 hours 30 minutes
Best time to visit: Spring is best for spotting wildflowers. Fall is ideal for weather.
Head out on a weekend trip from Phoenix filled with history and outdoor adventure!
You’ll find this and more in Holbrook, Arizona, and the surrounding area. Located on Route 66, Holbrook is an excellent base off of I-40 from which to explore nearby Petrified Forest National Park, Homolovi Ruins State Park, and Winslow, Arizona.
You can easily get an overview of Petrified Forest National Park in one day, which offers stunning views of the southern end of the Painted Desert, several easy hikes through ancient petrified forests, and a beautiful 25 mile drive through the heart of the park.
Start at the northern end of the park and work your way south. This route will have you just a few miles from Holbrook at the end of your park day.
Homolovi Ruins State Park is another great place to learn about local history.
You’ll walk around and through multiple Native American dwelling ruins while exploring the culture of the people who lived here. Winslow, Arizona, is only a few miles from Homolovi Ruins State Park, and it’s a must visit in this area.
Pay homage to the Eagles’ classic song, “Take It Easy” at the Standin’ on a Corner Park on Route 66.
Stay: Holbrook/Petrified Forest KOA offers tons of amenities. Comfortable bonuses include a heated swimming pool and daily breakfast and dinner options.
Recommended by Natalie of Camping Kiddos
Weekend Trips from Phoenix: Adventure
Distance from Phoenix: 2 hours
Best time to visit: Winter in Sedona is my favorite season to visit. Winter is the low season. The temperatures are mild and there are less crowds.
Sedona is internationally known for its incredible red rock formations. It makes an amazing full day or weekend trip from Phoenix. With a drive time just under two hours, it is doable and absolutely worth the drive.
Some of the best outdoor activities in Sedona include hiking, rock climbing, and taking a pink jeep tour.
One of my favorite things about Sedona is its accessibility to its outdoor wonders. You don’t need to complete any long treks to experience the red rocks. Amazing views are experienced from the moment you enter Sedona.
There are also many amazing easy hikes in Sedona with major beauty to be experienced.
I recommend renting a car in Phoenix in order to have the most flexibility around your route. Alternatively, you can take a Greyhound Bus or Groome Shuttle from Phoenix to Sedona.
Sedona has a new shuttle that brings you to some of the top trail heads. This option can keep costs down. Confirm Sedona’s shuttle availability here.
Stay: Three of the top rated campgrounds in Sedona are Manzanita, Cave Springs, and Rancho Sedona RV Park.
Distance from Phoenix: 2 hours 45 minutes
Best time to visit: Jacks Canyon has limited crowds throughout the year due to its off the beaten path location. The best weather in this region is during fall and spring with the most mild temperatures.
Jacks Canyon is a very underrated weekend trip from Phoenix. It is most recommended for rock climbing due to the excellent variety of routes throughout the canyon. Visitors also love it for trail running.
The local campground is free! You need to physically step out of your car and open the gate in order for your car to get through. Then, get back out of your car to close and latch the gate after you are through the entrance.
No, it’s not luxurious but that’s what makes Jacks Canyon off the beaten path! This lesser known destination makes for less crowds and more outdoor relaxation.
There is no public transportation line that runs to Jacks Canyon. Plan to rent a car and drive.
Stay: Camping is the top recommendation. There is one bathroom at the campground with no running water. Each campsite is equipped with a fire pit. Plan to bring your own firewood.
Distance from Phoenix: 5 Hours
Best time to visit: October – April is known for the most mild weather and least crowds.
As a Phoenix local, I’ve taken dozens of weekend trips around Arizona. One of my absolute favorite weekend trips from Phoenix is to Page!
Page is a small adventure town on the border of Arizona and Utah. It is home to Lake Powell, unique rock formations, and famous slot canyons.
Page is a great weekend destination for adventure travelers and anyone who enjoys the outdoors.
There are many amazing ways to spend a weekend in Page! Consider the infamous Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, or boating on Lake Powell. Downtown Page also features local shopping and small restaurants.
The great news is all of these popular activities are close together and easy to fit into a weekend itinerary!
To maximize your Page weekend trip, I recommend flying into the Page Airport. However, the drive is also easy and only takes 4-5 hours.
Stay: There are a few chain hotels in Page, but my favorite place to stay is a nearby glamping resort. Under Canvas Lake Powell is conveniently 20 minutes by car from Downtown Page. It features lovely canvas tents! Additional amenities include luxury furnishings, bathrooms, and a restaurant on site.
Recommended by Lauren of The Traveling Moore
Weekend Trips from Phoenix: Relaxation
Distance from Phoenix: 5 hours 30 minutes
Best time to visit: San Diego offers warm, sunny weather year-round! However, I recommend visiting May through September. This is best for beach visitors!
A weekend trip from Phoenix to San Diego is the perfect beach escape! San Diego is a quick one hour flight from Phoenix or a 5.5 hour road trip.
Along a road trip, visitors can stop at the Yuma Historic Park or the Imperial Sand Dunes, near Glamis, with interesting, sandy slopes!
Once in San Diego, get ready for unique, laid-back beach culture along Pacific Beach or Mission Beach. Visit the iconic Balboa Park with museums and gardens.
In Downtown San Diego, visitors can walk along the bayfront, enjoying the naval history of the city. Take a ride on a harbor tour or visit the USS Midway Museum.
Park at your hotel or accommodation. It’ll be easy to use your car throughout the city. Almost all major attractions are a 10 to 15 minute drive.
If you choose not to drive, Uber is affordable in the area. San Diego is dog-friendly along some of the boardwalks, downtown, and outdoor eateries but not all beaches.
Stay: The Gaslamp Quarter is a boutique hotel catering to business travelers over the weekend. However, it provides good discounts during the week.
Recommended by Eleanor of Elevate your Escapes
Distance from Phoenix: 5 hours 45 minutes
Best time to visit: La Jolla has ideal weather year round.
Just 15 minutes north of San Diego is La Jolla, worthy of a weekend trip in its own right! Consider combining both San Diego and La Jolla for a weekend trip from Phoenix, or experiencing just one.
Known for its beaches, sea life, and beautiful views, La Jolla is a terrific spot for a weekend trip from Phoenix.
A trip to La Jolla offers a range of outdoor activities for the whole family.
From relaxing on the beach to surfing, kayaking, and watching sea lions play on the beach, there is never a shortage of things to do in La Jolla.
Most visitors stop at La Jolla Cove, where the clear blue water reveals nature’s secret. Popular with scuba divers, snorkelers, and sea lions, the area is teeming with marine life. However, there is more to La Jolla than the ocean.
The town of La Jolla is also home to art galleries and museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Downtown La Jolla also offers boutique shops and delicious restaurants. Whether you are in the mood for a fancy dinner at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood or a casual breakfast at The Cottage La Jolla, the area has numerous tasty dining options.
For a unique dining experience, book a table at the Marine Room at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Under the right conditions, the waves crash against the windows of the restaurant.
Stay: La Jolla Cove Hotel & Suites
Recommended by Michelle of the Trav Nav
Distance from Phoenix: 3 hours
Best time to visit: Fall and Spring
Visiting Willcox is one of the best weekend trips from Phoenix for travelers to take, especially if you are a wine lover. As a bonus adventure, you can explore Tucson on the way!
Arizona is a more recent entrant to the wine scene, but the main attraction is wine tasting in Willcox. 74% of Arizona’s grapes are grown in the Willcox region. Several times a year, they hold festivals which make for a fun weekend.
There is no public transportation in the area, so you will need to rent a car or hire a driver.
There are also some wine tasting tours you can take around the area. Each winery has plenty of free parking and it is easy to get into the tasting rooms. Some of the wineries are even dog friendly!
Willcox has about 10 wineries to visit. Wilcox wineries are unique because many include a keepsake tasting glass!
You will want to make sure to taste at Bodega Pierce Vineyard and Tasting Room and Strive Vineyards.
Stay: There are not many places to stay in Willcox. I recommend staying in nearby Tucson. If you do want to stay in Willcox proper, the locals recommend Sunset Inn.
Recommended by Francesca of Homeroom Travel
Weekend Trips from Phoenix: City
Las Vegas and Lake Mead
Distance from Phoenix: 4.5 hours
Best time to visit: Las Vegas is an extremely popular tourist destination year-round, but spring and fall are known as the best times to visit.
Glitzy Las Vegas is less than 5 hours by car from Phoenix, Arizona.
Some of the best things to do in Las Vegas are: riding the High Roller Ferris Wheel, exploring The Strip, and taking a gondola ride through St. Mark’s Square.
Most of my time in Las Vegas has been spent exploring the surrounding natural area. Las Vegas is 40 minutes from Lake Mead located in Boulder, Nevada. Lake Mead features tons of outdoor activities like hiking, boating, camping, exploring canyons, and more.
Lake Mead requires an entrance fee per vehicle or alternatively accepts the America The Great National Parks pass. I always recommend the national pass because it pays for itself with just two visits to any national park.
Stay: Consider saving money and camping at Lake Mead. There are over 900 camping and RV sites within Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Distance from Phoenix: 2 hours
Best time to visit: Northern Arizona is enjoyable all seasons of the year. Fall brings beautiful foliage, and winter features outdoor adventures like skiing and snowboarding.
A Phoenix weekend trip to Flagstaff is unique! The weather and scenery are drastically different from central Arizona.
Adventure lovers can hike Mount Humphreys and visit the Wupatki National Monument. Winter visitors can ski the famous Arizona Snowbowl. Wupatki National Monument.
After a fun day of exploring, consider stargazing. Flagstaff was named the first dark sky city in the world, so you can expect some amazing views.
Fact: Did you know Pluto was discovered right from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff?
Some of the best restaurants in Flagstaff include NiMarco’s for pesto pizza or Lumberyard for the best cheese fries. For early risers, visit The Place. It’s the most popular breakfast spot in town!
There is free public parking all around the city.
While public transportation options are available, the best way to get around Flagstaff is by car.
Many of the activities are spread out, so it is most convenient to have car access.
Consider extending your Flagstaff trip into an incredible Arizona to Utah road trip.
Stay: Hotel Monte Vista is a historic hotel in Downtown Flagstaff. It is located near all the best restaurants and nightlife.
Recommended by Alanna of Periodic Adventures
Distance from Phoenix: 36 miles from the Apache Junction to Phoenix
Best time to visit: November – April
A road trip on the Apache Trail is the perfect weekend trip from Phoenix for outdoor lovers.
The Apache Trail is a 40-mile (64 km) scenic byway just outside Mesa.
It’s also known as State Route 88. It will take you through the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest. There are so many things to see along the way:
- Goldfield Ghost Town: Step back into the 1890s at this reconstructed mining town near Mesa, AZ. It’s a Wild West experience with mock gunfights, mine tours, and train rides.
- Lost Dutchman State Park: The Native Plant Trail is a short, easy walk. The Treasure Loop Trail offers a moderate challenge with stunning desert views and glimpses of the Superstition Mountains.
- Canyon Lake: This beautiful reservoir is ideal for fishing, boating, swimming, and scenic cruises on the Dolly Steamboat.
- Tonto National Monument: Explore ancient cliff dwellings dating back to the 13th-15th centuries. The hike to the Lower Cliff Dwelling is moderately challenging but rewards you with panoramic views and a glimpse into ancient architecture and history.
- Tortilla Flat: This former stagecoach stop now boasts a Western-themed restaurant, gift shop, and museum.
Stay: While you can do the entire Apache Trail in a day trip, I recommend taking your time and staying overnight. The Apache Lake Marina and Resort is a good option.
Recommended by Emilie of Family Road Trip Experts