Bordered by the Golden State in the west and the Land of Enchantment in the east, Arizona exudes a look that contains both the rugged appearance of California and the suntanned landscape of New Mexico. These features make Arizona consistently rank among the most beautiful states in the United States. According to the Thrillist, for instance, Arizona ranks ninth in the country for most beautiful states. Arizona's desert scenery is surreal, and straddling the Colorado Plateau is a geographical marvel that features among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World: The Grand Canyon. And adding to the appeal of this state are the many charming towns that dot this extraordinary state's vast expanse. In this article, discover some of Arizona's most charming towns ideal for a weekend escape.
Curled up in a landscape world-famous for its red-rock formations and just about 29 miles from Flagstaff, Sedona is perhaps Arizona's most famous small town. Boasting a population of just under 10,000, Sedona is amazingly colorful and alluringly picturesque. These twin features will leave any visitor to Sedona completely blown away. Aside from its vividly colorful scenery, Sedona teems with several attractions that make it a perfect weekend getaway. Whether one wants to plunge himself into the many natural swimming pools around Sedona, lace up for the trails that are world-famous for their mind-bending scenery, or enjoy the jeep tours the town is famous for, a weekend in Sedona will be time well spent.
Founded as a mining town in the late 1800s, Bisbee offers a repast of history that can fill up a weekend. The town, for instance, stakes a claim in the Gold Rush and was once among the world's wealthiest mineral sites. At the dawn of the 20th century, Bisbee had rapidly become the largest city in Arizona because of the production of gold in ounces that numbered millions, in addition to other minerals such as silver and lead. During a weekend trip, visitors can learn about Bisbee's mining history at the Smithsonian-affiliated Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. Moreover, the Mule Mountains, which then acted as the base of the Bisbee's mining activities, is just where the town is. What's more? Today, Bisbee offers visitors gorgeous views of Victorian-style houses, several eclectic art galleries, and the not-to-miss Copper Queen Mine Tours, an underground adventure no one will want to miss.
With a population of only 470, Jerome is a small city by every definition in the book. Yet its population belies its history, one that is amazingly rich and simultaneously fascinating. Nestled on the side of Cleopatra Hill, Jerome and the area around were once among the world's largest copper-producing regions. In its heyday, the town was a bustling beehive and had a population of nearly 15,000. While the town's glory days are firmly in the past, the light has not completely gone out on one of Arizona's finest cities. Today, visitors will enjoy amazing views that stretch down to the beautiful Verde Valley as well as the spectacular red rock cliffs of the Mogollon Rim. Besides, the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum will be worth checking out — as will Jerome State Historic Park.
Some call it an "urban laboratory." Others, "an architectural UFO." Arcosanti has also been referred to as "the city of the future." Whatever its name, set in the blazing, almost inhospitable landscape of Arizona's Sonoran Desert, Arcosanti might be the nearest one will come to a utopian city. The town is the fruit of Paolo Soleri's fecund imagination. A long-time protegee of Frank Lloyd Wright, arguably America's most celebrated architect, Soleri dreamed up a sustainable, car-free city that would be closely connected and ecologically tenable. The result is a gorgeous complex, a mesa if you may, that features broad domes, an amazing amphitheater, and massive arches. Today, Arcosanti still deliberately integrates architecture and ecology into its design. Visitors will learn about the project's 50-year history and appreciate why Arcosanti continues to influence urban planners from across the globe.
For starters, Chloride is considered the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in Arizona. A town that lays claim to such a reputation would be quite an adventure, especially for history buffs. With a name that immediately makes it an object of wonder, Chloride boasts several other attractions worth lacing up for. The town's downtown, for instance, with its historic architecture, artsy allure, and laid-back look, provides the perfect menu for a weekend getaway. Besides, the town is framed by the naked grandeur of the Cerbat Mountains, imbuing the town with a subdued, almost somber look — ideal for a weekend getaway. According to estimates by World Population Review, Chloride has a population of 217 as of 2023. The beautiful murals painted on several rock faces in the hills a few steps from Chloride's quirky downtown are often a particular draw with visitors.
Snugging up to the Historic Route 66 at the end of the Grand Canyon Railway— about 33 miles west of Flagstaff is the city of Williams. It is close enough to a fairly big city, Flagstaff, and hence, to all attendant conveniences, yet far enough to enjoy the calm and serenity that a big-city escape should entail. Besides, "the Gateway to the Grand Canyon" is serene and laidback, making it an ideal place for winding down. Williams also boasts a decent number of restaurants where one can pop in for a delectable bite. For other purchase items, the town teems with several authentic shops where one can pick any item of need or fancy. Above all, Williams has a long holiday tradition and is hands-down among the best Christmas towns in the state. And serving as the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway, riding on the train, as tourists did a century ago, is an adventure that should be on everyone's bucket list.
With a population of 8,810, according to estimates by World Population Review, Winslow is a small, charming town ideal for spending a quiet night or two. Known as "The City of Ten Thousand Friendly Faces," Winslow will easily disarm any type of visitor with its palpable geniality. Visitors to Winslow will gasp at the colorful badlands that snug up to Route 66, a route the celebrated American novelist John Steinbeck once proclaimed as the Mother Road. It is almost inexcusable to come to Winslow and drive back without a detour to the famous Standin' on the Corner Park. And for history buffs, the Old Trails Museum, conveniently situated in the same block as Standin' on the Corner Park, will prove an irresistible temptation.
Although Arizona's most famous nickname is "Grand Canyon State," and for a good reason, traveling through its small towns will reveal why Arizona is also known as the "Copper State." Originally discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean by the Egyptians around 8,700 BC, Copper has played an oversized role in Arizona's history and economy. For instance, many of Arizona's small towns started as mining towns. While quite a number have shed the mining label, their storied past lingers on — like the rays of the sun after the sun has gone down. Needless to say, the state's suntanned landscape and its fantastic desert scenery make it one of the most beautiful in the country.