The valley is pretty much an urban sprawl with a bunch of cities connected to the boundaries of Phoenix proper. The best day trips are all within one to three hours of Phoenix. And since Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the country and the largest city in Arizona, there are tons of things to do, but there are also some amazing places to explore beyond the city limits.
Montezuma Castle National Monument – 90 min. from Phoenix
Montezuma Castle National Monument, located near Camp Verde, is a quick stop on your way to Prescott, Sedona, or Cottonwood/Jerome day trip.
Tonto Natural Bridge – 2 hours from Phoenix
The world’s largest natural travertine (a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs) bridge. It is 183 feet high, 150 feet wide, and 400 feet long with a cave beneath it and a small waterfall. The Pine Creek Trail takes you directly under the bridge.
Jerome – 2 hours from Phoenix
Get spooked in the former copper mining town at one of the preserved buildings that have been transformed into shops, restaurants, wineries, and museums. There are hotels including one converted from an old mental hospital that is supposedly haunted!
Cornville – 1 hour from Phoenix
Go wine tasting for the day via the Verde Valley Wine Trail then pop by Page Spring Cellars for some local food with a beautiful view. Be sure to visit D.A. Ranch Winery and make the short drive to the neighboring town of Cottonwood to experience the most charming downtown.
Strawberry – 2 hours from Phoenix
Dating back to the 1970s,The Strawberry Inn might be the cutest hotel in Arizona. The unique accommodations are designed for road trippers, adventure seekers, romantic getaways, and nature-lovers. Stay in the main inn, or opt for a multi-bedroom guest house, luxury cabin, bunk house, tiny cottage, or airstream trailer!
Lake Pleasant – 1 hour from Phoenix
Hike, bike, boat, camp, swim, or fish for bass! There is a marina, restaurant, boat rentals, and tours with catered food from the marina restaurant. Be sure to check out the water obstacle course too!
Pine Creek Lavender Farm – 2 hours from Phoenix
Located in Pine, the farm has been around since the 1900s when they were looking for fertile soil to plant crops. The farm has been renovated and is a great family outing. They also have a cooking school and store.
The Perfect Weekend in Payson and Pine:
- Picnic and stroll Green Valley Park — don't forget your fishing pole!
- Dinner at Macky's Grill, a Payson staple for more than 20 years
- Kohls Ranch Lodge for the night
- Watch planes while enjoying breakfast at the Payson airport. Be sure to order the cinnamon roll.
- Drive 13 miles to Pine and hike Tonto National Bridge.
- Lunch at That Brewery, home to amazing pizza
- Honey Stand or The Pie Bar to grab some local treats
- The Strawberry Inn for the night
- Coffee at the Windmill followed by breakfast at The Randall House
- Woods Canyon Lake for paddle boarding and bird watching
- Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery on your way back to town
- Lunch at El Rancho
- Fudge from Sweet Country Charm Fudge for the drive home
The dry and hot climate of Arizona makes it the perfect place to grow lavender!