Arizona's Must-Do Guided Tours
Forget everything you know about tours. In Arizona, guided adventures not only offer a behind-the-scenes look at the state's treasures—winemaking, dark skies, ghost towns—but they also range from quirky to epic, cheap to extravagant, one-hour to multi-day. This handy guide helps you pick the tour that's right for you.
Lowell Observatory Lunar Legacy Tour
Go where a select few have gone before. Here, you'll learn about the observatory's role in astronaut science training, instrument development and lunar mapping in preparation for the historic 1st Apollo mission. Tour also includes access to Lunar Legacy exhibits.
• Nearest city: Flagstaff
• Perfect for: Families, history buffs, outer space junkies
• Adventure level: Safe to move about the cabin
• Duration: 1 hour
• Cost: $22 adults, $20 senior/military/college, $14 ages 5-17
• How to book: (928) 774-3359, lowell.edu/lowells-lunar-legacy
Tucson Bike Tours
Pedal on lightweight city bikes alongside knowledgeable guides as you pass through historic and revitalized neighborhoods and vibrant barrios in downtown Tucson. See a restored train depot, a Spanish fort, colorful adobe homes, spiritual shrines, a historic farming center, artful murals, quirky shops and collegiate life all on this informative, casual 9-mile to 11-mile bicycle ride for all ages.
• Nearest city: Tucson
• Perfect for: Active families and urban sightseers
• Adventure level: Easy rider
• Duration: 2.25 hours
• Cost: $60 per person
• How to book: (520) 488-4446, tucsonbiketours.com
Arizona Fresh Foodie Trail Tour
Experience agritourism and scenic landscapes on the Arizona Fresh Foodie Trail Tour, a culinary expedition highlighting local flavors in the neighboring towns of Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek, in the greater Phoenix area. Think olive oil sampling and a tour of the family-owned Queen Creek Olive Mill, organic lunch at urban farm Agritopia, and a pitstop for "new wave Mexican soul food," barbecue and salsa tastings at Jalapeño Bucks.
• Nearest city: Mesa
• Perfect for: Foodies, chefs, agricultural enthusiasts
• Adventure level: Huge appetite for farm-fresh dining
• Duration: 6 hours
• Cost: $185 per person, ages 13 and older
• How to book: (866) 438-6877, detoursamericanwest.com/arizona-fresh-foodie-trail-tour
Queen Mine Tour in Bisbee
Arizona owes a great deal to its mining past. Travel 1,500 feet below the surface on an ore train with your hard hat, headlamp and yellow slicker into the famous copper mine of Bisbee, a town literally built on mineral production. Retired miners turned tour guides share the history, techniques, dangers and drama of working in subterranean tunnels in this historic mine experience.
• Nearest city: Bisbee
• Perfect for: Families, Old West fans, historians
• Adventure level: Adrenaline lite
• Duration: 1 hour
• Cost: $13 adults, $5.50 ages 6-12
• How to book: (866) 432-2071, queenminetour.com
Sedona Pink Jeep Tours
Buckle up in a famous, state-of-the-art Pink Jeep® Wrangler for an off-roading adventure amid the craggy backdrop of the Sedona red rocks. The backcountry tours provide diverse day trips to ancient tribal ruins and other scenic outposts. You'll have opportunities to hike, observe wildlife and native plants, view panoramic vistas and visit vortex sites.
• Nearest city: Sedona
• Perfect for: Families and outdoorsy folk
• Adventure level: Scenic outing meets bumpy, winding roads
• Duration: 1.5 hours to 6 hours
• Cost: Starting from $65 adult, $58 child
• How to book: (800) 873-3662, pinkadventuretours.com/tours/sedona-tours
Page Springs Cellars' Vineyard Tour
Credit: Page Springs Cellars
Learn about winemaking at the source—literally—during this viticulture-focused tour at Page Spring Cellars' House Mountain Vineyard in the small town of Cornville near Cottonwood. Guests get a ground-level lesson in terroir wine operations: what soil types are the best for grape growing, canopy management, pruning and farming practices. Tour fee covers ground transportation to the vineyard from Page Springs' tasting room, a peek inside the cellar and barrel room, flight of five select wines and gourmet food.
• Nearest city: Cottonwood
• Perfect for: Wine connoisseurs, wine newbies, lifelong learners
• Adventure level: Leisurely
• Duration: 2 hours
• Cost: $68 - tour, food, glass of wine; $44 - tour, food, no wine; $44 under age 21 - tour, food, no wine
• How to book: (928) 639-3004, pagespringscellars.com
Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Tour
Greet the morning with a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the majestic Sonoran Desert, plus incredible aerial views of Phoenix, Tucson and surrounding landscape. Pilots are FAA-certified and your post-flight celebration may include a Sonoran sunrise breakfast with a signature prickly pear mimosa and local Arizona treats. Bonus: The fly-over comes with a commemorative flight certificate.
• Nearest city: Phoenix and Tucson
• Perfect for: Couples, wildlife-spotters, early risers
• Adventure level: Thrilling with a side of relaxation
• Duration: Varies
• Cost: $158-$199 per person
• How to book: (800) 725-2477 / rainbowryders.com or (800) 831-7610 / hotairexpeditions.com
Chiricahua National Monument ranger-led walking tour
The 12,000-acre wonderland of unusual rock formations and amazing plant and wildlife is a hidden gem in southeastern Arizona. The national park is home to a ranger-led tour of the pioneer homestead Faraway Ranch, a 1800s cabin at the mouth of Bonita Canyon where Swedish immigrants Neil and Emma Erickson raised their family. The house contains authentic artifacts and provides a glimpse into life on the Western Frontier.
• Nearest city: Willcox
• Perfect for: Families and nature-lovers
• Adventure level: Parks-and-rec meets the Old West
• Duration: 1 hour
• Cost: Free
• How to book: (520) 824-3560, nps.gov/chir
Shoot the Colorado River rapids in an exciting whitewater rafting adventure with experienced guides from Hualapai River Runners. As an alternative way to see the Grand Canyon, the one- or two-day rafting trips offer activities such as hiking Travertine Cavern Falls, seeing local wildlife, dining on the banks of the Colorado and camping at Spencer Canyon. Fees include transport to the Skywalk, lodging at Hualapai Lodge and a helicopter ride out of the Grand Canyon to Hualapai Ranch. There, you can take part in additional activities like ziplining and horseback riding.
• Nearest city: Kingman
• Perfect for: Fitness buffs, active families, once-in-a-lifetime vacations
• Adventure level: Adrenaline squared, times 10
• Duration: 1-day or 2-day trips
• Cost: Starting from $470
• How to book: (888) 868-9378, grandcanyonwest.com/explore/colorado-river-rafting
Look for signs of paranormal activity in quirky Jerome, (unofficially) the world's largest ghost town. A blend of history and mystery, the walking/shuttle tours include readings done with ghost detection meters and visits to unsolved murder sites, as well as tales of haunted hospitals, ghostly guestrooms and present-day spirit sightings in the "West's Most Wicked Town." Should you fail to encounter any apparitions you can still get your fill of spirits at any one of the tasting rooms serving award-winning wines.
• Nearest city: Jerome
• Perfect for: Ghost-chasers, thrill-seekers, dare-devil families
• Adventure level: Ready for mountain elevations and meeting strangers with a past
• Duration: 1 hour to 2+ hours
• Cost: Starting from $34.95 adult, $17.48 child
• How to book: (928) 634-6118, ghosttowntours.org
Insider Public Art
View installations from one of the best public art programs in the country on this walking tour in the greater Phoenix area. You'll start from the iconic Hotel Valley Ho and be guided by art expert Ace Bailey. The walking tour features several permanent works by noted artists including two pieces by Paolo Soleri—the Goldwater Bell and the Soleri Bridge and Plaza—as well as the photo-worthy LOVE sculpture created by Robert Indiana. Your ticket includes a discount at Hotel Valley Ho's ZuZu restaurant and VH Spa.
• Nearest city: Scottsdale
• Perfect for: Patrons of the arts, artists, couples
• Adventure level: Cultural pedestrian
• Duration: 2 hours
• Cost: $25
• How to book: (480) 376-2600, hotelvalleyho.com/hotel/hotel-events/public-art-tour