The sixth-largest state in the United States, Arizona, is an excellent destination if you’re looking for sunshine and incredible natural beauty. The last contiguous state to join the union in 1912, Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon and attracts millions of tourists every year just for that, but there’s more to it than one of the most arresting sights in the world. Its history and its various attractions make Arizona a great place to live, visit, or retire to.
What is Arizona known for? Arizona is the Grand Canyon state, with an economy built on the 5 Cs (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate). In addition to its natural beauty and renowned national parks, Arizona features fascinating history, vibrant cities, Native American heritage, and more.
Visiting Arizona means you’ll get to experience some first-class ski resorts, national forests and monuments, and the Navajo Nation’s customs. The primarily desert-like climate is excellent for those looking to get away from the cold or humidity, while quirky attractions like the Four Corners (where you can stand in four states simultaneously) make Arizona an exciting destination for all tastes.
Let’s look at the best places to go in Arizona and what makes it such a great state to visit.
What Is Tempe Arizona Famous For?
Situated just east of Phoenix, AZ, Tempe is the home of Arizona State University and has a fantastic social and cultural life. It is known for the Tempe Center for the Arts, which hosts concerts, dance and comedy shows, and has an interesting architectural style.
Tempe Town Lake welcomes visitors interested in water sports with its many opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, or pedal boating. And let’s not forget Hayden Butte, a mountain just above town, with its natural park. This mountain is known for the rock art images found here: there are around 500 petroglyphs believed to have been formed by the Hohokam between 750 and 1450 AD. The Hohokam were the prehistoric inhabitants of the area, and remnants of a large settlement were discovered.
There is also a traditional Lantern Walk done by students from Arizona State University, which is essentially a passing of the torch between second- and first-year students.
From the 25-acre park, you can see Papago Mountains, Camelback Mountain, Rio Salado or Salt River, etc.
What Is Tucson Arizona Famous For?
You’ve probably seen the giant saguaro cactus, a symbol of the American Southwest. It comes from the area around Tucson, AZ, in the Sonoran Desert. This old Spanish fort was Arizona’s largest city until 1920 when Phoenix gained the top spot. In 2017, Tucson was the first city in America to be named “City of Gastronomy” by UNESCO – which means you can sample some excellent food out there. Highlights would be Mexican food with a Sonoran twist and the Sonoran hot dog (more on that later).
Mount Lemmon, in the Catalina Mountains near the city, is the southernmost ski destination in the continental US. It’s also a popular destination with cyclists and ranked as the second most challenging climb in the world by Bicycling Magazine.
What Is Phoenix Arizona Famous For?
With sunshine all year round and an excellent climate, the state’s biggest city is a great place to visit or live. Its nickname is “Valley of the Sun,” and it makes the most of that with beautiful spa resorts and golf clubs (Phoenix has over 200 golf courses!).
Phoenix developed its economy thanks to the 5Cs, focusing heavily on the natural resources available. Construction then boomed in Phoenix after World War II, and it became the template for suburban development and retirement communities, with the building of Sun City.
Phoenix is also famous for its vibrant cultural scene, with lots of centers for performing arts and theaters and its great nightlife. You can also see Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs – his winter home, Taliesin West.
What Arizona Is Famous For
- Grand Canyon – The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Arizona is the Grand Canyon. Its stone structures and many red, orange, and yellow shades are one of the iconic images associated with visiting the United States in general. People generally visit the South Rim, where it’s easy to get incredible views from the roadside, and there are walkways along the canyon’s edge.
You can also visit the North Rim – but this is only accessible in summer. Other great sights can be seen from the Skywalk – the glass bridge from Eagle Point at Grand Canyon West.
The Grand Canyons is also a fantastic destination for hikers and climbers. Its trails go on for miles, and there are lots of popular climbing routes on the many walls. You can also take the simple option and go for a helicopter tour, taking it all in much quicker!
- Sedona – Sedona is a gorgeous destination surrounded by red rock mountains and buttes, full of tourist shops, galleries, and restaurants. It’s a popular place for a day trip and an ideal base for Jeep trips to explore Native American dwellings and the natural environment. Sedona is also famous for its spiritual connections, which has led to many New Age shops popping up. From Sedona, you can also hop over to Flagstaff for some downhill skiing at Arizona Snowbowl.
- Monument Valley – Monument Valley is another one of those iconic images of the American Southwest: red stone spires, dunes, jagged rocks. The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and its remarkable visitor center, is worth stopping for, as is its 17-mile self-drive route to help you learn more about the area.
- Hoover Dam – The Hoover Dam makes an appearance in lots of Hollywood movies and is one of the greatest feats of American engineering. It was finished in 1935 and linked Arizona and Nevada, creating Lake Mead – the largest artificial lake in the US.
Other Unique Attractions
Other notable visits are to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Antelope Canyon, Tucson, the old mining town – now a ghost town – of Jerome, the small town of Bisbee near the Mexico border, Havasu Falls, the Old West town of Tombstone, the Petrified Forest National Park, and many more!
The cities in Arizona are also great stops: Phoenix is not just a base for exploring; it’s a destination itself with many spa centers and golf courses. You should also check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and the Heard Museum.
What Is Arizona Known for in Food?
Arizona has a great blend of cuisine, bringing together Native American, Spanish, and Mexican influences. You’ll need to try cheese crisps and chimichangas and Navajo tacos – a true guilty pleasure.
There are the Sonoran-style Mexican food and the Sonoran hot dog: a hot dog wrapped in bacon and grilled, topped with pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, and condiments, which include jalapeno salsa.
Another local treat is Piki bread – a cornbread and a spicy soup called Posole.
What Famous Celebrities Live in Arizona?
Would you like to live near a superstar? Arizona has attracted many celebrities over the years, especially for holidays at some popular destinations like Scottsdale or Sedona. Here are some who are known to own a home in the state:
- Stephenie Meyer – the author of the Twilight book series was born on the east coast in Connecticut, but she grew up in Scottsdale and now owns a house in Cave Creek
- Bret Michaels – the singer from Poison, bought a home near Pinnacle Peak in north Scottsdale
- Daniel Bryan – the WWE star also lives in North Scottsdale!
- Rob Halford – the frontman of Judas Priest, bought a house in Paradise Valley back in 1985 and still lives there today
- Charles Barkley – the former NBA player and basketball commentator, has a $1.7 million villa in Paradise Valley
- Alice Cooper – the rock star also lives here
- Ice T – the rapper and actor bought a three-bedroom home in Chandler with his wife, Nicole Marrow aka Coco Austin
- Michael Phelps – probably one of the most famous Olympians of all time, the multi-medaled swimmer owns a massive property in Paradise Valley. He also acts as an assistant coach for the Arizona State University swim team (Arizona State Sun Devils).
Conclusion – What Is Arizona Known For?
Arizona is famous for so many iconic views and monuments mostly linked to its breathtaking natural beauty. Visiting the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley will be on most outdoors-minded people’s bucket lists, but they are also destinations for anyone interested in discovering the world. The great thing about Arizona is that, despite the pervasive desert-like, hot climate, the culture, cuisine, and social life are true melting pots bringing together Mexican influences, Native American heritage, and a genuine American willingness to try anything. It’s a great place to visit for an extended holiday or to move to if you want to live closer to nature. Arizona has attracted a significant number of celebrities, active or retired, and it continues to be an ideal retirement spot as well as a great place to raise a family.