Street view in Bisbee, Arizona. Image credit Cheri Alguire via

8 Picturesque Small Towns in Arizona for a Weekend Retreat

The name Arizona is often synonymous with the Grand Canyon for many tourists, as this geological landmark is a renowned feature across North America. However, the Grand Canyon State offers more than just its iconic red sandstones, boasting a variety of natural attractions across its small towns. Visitors will be amazed to discover enchanting lakes, mountains, rivers, and forests in places like Sedona, Payson, and Prescott, making a weekend getaway an ideal way to explore these sites. Consider a retreat to these eight picturesque Arizona towns for a memorable weekend experience.


Street scene with classic car in front of souvenir shops in Williams, Arizona.
Street scene with classic car in front of souvenir shops in Williams, Arizona.

Known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, Williams is situated about an hour's drive from the park's south entrance. Before embarking on the ultimate Grand Canyon adventure, visitors can explore several local attractions. Bearizona allows guests to drive through over three miles of pristine wilderness, encountering wildlife such as American Badgers, black bears, wolves, mountain goats, and bison. The Grand Canyon Deer Farm offers a unique opportunity to interact with deer and other animals, including goats. Cataract Lake County Park features a scenic lake ideal for fishing, along with picnic areas, walking trails, and a playground. For a unique experience, the Grand Canyon Railway offers scenic train rides from Williams to the Grand Canyon. Accommodations like La Quinta by Wyndham Williams and Red Garter Inn provide excellent lodging options for the weekend.


Jail tree. Wickenburg, Arizona
Jail tree. Wickenburg, Arizona, via Paul R. Jones /

Wickenburg, a town that embodies the essence of a postcard-perfect retreat, is unforgettable for many reasons. Near the Hassayampa River Preserve, visitors can encounter a rich desert ecosystem, home to Fremont cottonwoods and wildlife such as hooded skunks, rock squirrels, gray foxes, and mountain lions. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, dedicated to preserving Arizona's history and art. The Dell E Webb Center for Performing Arts offers a 600-seat auditorium showcasing dance, comedy, and other performances. History buffs will find the 200-year-old Mesquite Jail Tree, which once served as a makeshift jail, fascinating. For accommodations, Ranchos de Los Caballeros and My Place Suites are excellent choices for a weekend stay.


Buildings lining Main Street in Bisbee, Arizona.
Buildings lining Main Street in Bisbee, Arizona.

Bisbee stands out as one of Arizona's most charming towns, with a rich mining history nestled in the Mule Mountains. Though the Copper Queen Mine is no longer in operation, visitors can tour this historic site to learn about Bisbee's significant role in early American industrialization. The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum provides further insights into the town's copper mining heritage. Downtown Bisbee, with its Victorian houses set against mountain backdrops, art galleries, and quaint shops, offers a picturesque exploration. Canyon Rose Suites and Eldorado Suites Hotel are recommended for accommodations during a weekend visit.

Camp Verde

Aerial view of Camp Verde in central Arizona
Aerial view of Camp Verde in central Arizona

Camp Verde offers an exciting weekend filled with adventure and unique experiences. At the Out of Africa Wildlife Park, visitors can encounter a range of animals typically found on an African safari, including tigers, lions, hyenas, and zebras. The Verde River invites thrilling water activities such as kayaking, fishing, boating, and canoeing. A 22-mile journey to Fossil Creek reveals crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming, bird-watching, and waterfall hikes. History enthusiasts will find fascination at Fort Verde State Historic Park, preserving the legacy of the Apache Wars. Accommodations like Ranch House Retreat and Fort Verde Suites make for a perfect weekend stay.


Historic Hotel Connor in Jerome, Arizona
Historic Hotel Connor in Jerome, Arizona, via randy andy /

Perched on Cleopatra Hill above the Verde Valley, Jerome offers visitors a variety of engaging activities. Audrey Headframe Park, home to Arizona's oldest surviving headframe (built in 1918), showcases the state's mining heritage. Adjacent to this, Jerome State Historic Park, nestled within the mountains, offers a glimpse into the mining roots of the state through the Douglas Mansion and Museum. Don't miss the Sliding Jail, a testament to Jerome’s past as the "Wickedest Town in America." The Jerome Grand Hotel and Connor Hotel are recommended accommodations for a memorable weekend.


Fountain in Payson, Arizona.
Fountain in Payson, Arizona.

This charming mountain town is surrounded by the stunning landscapes of the Tonto National Forest, home to wildlife such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, and bald eagles. The Tonto Natural Bridge, a magnificent natural travertine arch, offers four hiking trails leading into a breathtaking cavern. Green Valley Park, featuring three man-made lakes, is ideal for fishing, kayaking, and enjoying sunset views. History comes alive at the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin within the park, detailing Payson's early days. For accommodations, consider the Majestic Mountain Inn or Payson Inn and Suites.


Historic downtown in Prescott, Arizona
Historic downtown in Prescott, Arizona, via randy andy /

Prescott, the county seat of Yavapai County, prides itself on being a welcoming town for everyone, and even a weekend might not be enough to explore all that this town has to offer. Surrounded by mountains and dotted with creeks, rivers, and lakes, Prescott is an adventurer's paradise. The Granite Basin Recreational Area, located within Prescott National Forest, offers opportunities for camping, fishing, picnicking, boating, rock climbing, and hiking. Granite Creek Park is a popular location for outdoor activities, providing a lush setting for relaxation and hiking. Watson Lake offers scenic beauty for kayaking, camping, canoeing, fishing, and boating.

A stroll through Prescott’s Historic Downtown Area reveals the town’s Victorian-style architecture, with stops at notable sites like the Yavapai County Courthouse and the Sharlot Hall Museum. For a comfortable stay, consider the Hampton Inn Prescott or Prescott Pines Inn.


Downtown Tourist Marketplace in Sedona, Arizona.
Downtown Tourist Marketplace in Sedona, Arizona. Image credit Lynne Neuman via Shutterstock

Nestled against red sandstone cliffs, Sedona is celebrated as one of America's most beautiful towns. Simply staying at one of the town’s top accommodations, such as the Enchantment Resort or Casa Sedona, offers a picturesque retreat, with beauty around every corner. Enhance your weekend by visiting attractions like Oak Creek Canyon, known for its dramatic cliffs and the clear waters of Oak Creek, a tributary of the Verde River. This canyon is perfect for fishing, while hikers have access to numerous trails offering breathtaking views.

The Sedona Wetland Preserve is an ideal spot for strolling, birdwatching, and enjoying pristine nature. History enthusiasts will appreciate the Sedona Heritage Museum for insights into the town's pioneers. Don't miss the Montezuma Castle National Monument, where you can delve into Native American culture.

In Conclusion

Arizona boasts many picture-perfect towns, enriched by its stunning landscape of red sandstones, streams, rivers, and mountains. To fully appreciate the scenery and adventures, a weekend getaway is recommended. From camping and hiking in the mountains to boating, fishing, and canoeing in the lakes, every moment spent in these charming Arizona towns is sure to be memorable.

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