Arizona is one of the most jaw-dropping places to live or visit in the United States. Visitors rave about the fantastic saguaro cacti and mountainous landscape, but the locals have so much more to say! In this post, we go into extensive detail about the top ten tips we have learned from locals all across the state. Learn some fun facts about Arizona and better yet, go check these places out!!
#1. Ski Resorts
Skiing, in Arizona? You heard that right. Believe it or not, Arizona has four total ski resorts. We recommend these two major ski resorts to get your gnar on:
Snowbowl and Sunrise are both located in Northern Arizona, outside Flagstaff and Pinetop. That’s only about 3 hours from Phoenix. Both resorts have high-speed lifts and multiple mountains to conquer.
Here’s the difference between the two resorts:
- Snowbowl is the more popular of the two and located on the scenic San Francisco Peaks in the Coconino National Forest. Flagstaff is only 14 miles away.
- Sunrise Park Resort is Arizona’s premiere family ski resort in the heart of the White Mountains. 65 trails spread over 3 mountains and a vertical drop of 1,800 ft.
Luckily for college students, Sunrise has a rockin’ deal for a season pass for $479. They also have great deals for the Military and their families. Snowbowl’s prices are higher overall.
We recommend Krissie’s Snowboard and Shop for any rentals you might need if you head up to Sunrise. Krissie is the nicest, the equipment is always great, and there is always a dog in the lobby (always a win, right).
Don’t like to ski?
Up in Williams, Arizona, is Elk Ridge. Elk Ridge is a family oriented ski, snowboard, and tubing recreation area situated minutes away from Williams, Arizona and about 30 miles west of Flagstaff. Tubing and sledding is another great way to enjoy the gorgeous Arizona snow!
Onthesnow.com echoes our acclamations of Arizona skiing with saying:
"Arizona skiing is not an oxymoron. Despite the tourism spin that paints the desert state as the golf and sun capital of the world, Arizona actually does have skiing, and those that live in the state would say it’s pretty darn good."
#2. Mexican Food
There is no place for Mexican food in the United States like Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is about 2 hours from the border and the culture is rich with Mexican heritage. Tucson is known as the ‘Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food’ for a good reason.
Locals can find authentic taco trucks late at night outside their favorite bars or enjoy date night at a local joint in downtown for moles.
These are the spots you can’t miss in Tucson:
Seis Kitchen is located in two locations, but we recommend checking out the location at ‘Mercado San Agustine’ . It’s located in the beautiful open courtyard above. Down the street, boxed car shops are open for drinks and shopping local goodies. We love Why I Love Where I Live which is a tourist-y place to get all Tucson merchandise. (T-Loc approved!)
P.S. ‘T-Loc’ is what out of state students at The University of Arizona call Tucson locals (haha!).
#3. Sonoran Hot Dogs
If you are in Arizona, you must find your closest Sonoran Hot Dog. Arizonians LOVE their Sonoran hot dogs. These are bacon wrapped hot dogs with all the good add-in’s.
Named after the Mexican state where they were originated, these are different than normal hot dogs because of the pinto beans and jalapeño sauce. Their buns are also a little different as the sides are more connected and the hot dog is more snuggled in.
If you are in Tucson, check out Papa Locos. They don’t have an official website so be sure to check out the address: 8201 South Rita Road, Tucson, Arizona.
#4. Haboobs and Monsoons
While the rest of the country is struggling with hurricanes and tornados, Arizona has its own set of wacky weather. In the summer months when it’s very dry, Arizona experiences these intense wind storms that push dust into the air called Haboobs. Haboob in arabic means ‘blown’.
Haboobs are insane to drive through especially in the Valley (aka Phoenix). It’s hard to see even a few feet in front of you. Haboobs are horrible for driving, but fun to look at!
If you find yourself in a Haboob, pull over and wait it out.
Monsoons are super common between late June and late September all throughout Arizona. During monsoon season, mornings will be a bit more humid than usual and around 4pm, rolling sounds of thunder will fill the sky accompanied by torrential rain and heavy winds.
Monsoons are known for causing flashfloods in the mountains, and even cause rivers to form over roads making them unable to pass.
If you find yourself in Arizona in the summer/early fall, be cautious of hiking on days with rain forecasted. Flashfloods can be deadly if not avoided.
#5. The Wild Wild West….or Not.
Old Town Scottsdale is a hub for art, culture, and the Wild West.
All across the country, people associate Arizona with the wild wild west. Stereotypically, this means cowboys, shoot-outs, country music and beer.
No, it’s not cowboy central here. Arizona has grown into a metropolitan paradise with top fashion, jobs, restaurants, and outdoor adventure. Think cowboy-chic meets modern, metropolitan culture-scene.
If you want a true wild west experience, visit the place known as "The Town Too Tough to Die", Tombstone, Arizona.
#6. Coffee Hotspot
Phoenix is the coffee capital of the Southwest, as stated in Forbes article ‘Is Phoenix the Coffee Capital of the Southwest?‘ by Kristine Hansen.
But seriously, Phoenix is known for being the first to market products with trendy terms like seed-to-cup and fair trade. Leading in this race is Press Coffee. Press Coffee is committed to serving their communities while paying due respect to the communities the coffee comes from.
They even have a fun latte art tutorial if you want to learn how to do latte art like the pros. Click here.
If you want a high-quality cup of coffee and a wonderful environment, go check out any of Press’ locations in Phoenix. Look for Press in Sky Harbor International Airport.
In Tucson, we recommend Cartel Coffee for the same principles in sustainable trade with delish coffee. Grab a chai latte or vanilla latte!
#7. Arts and Culture
Art and culture is incredibly relevant in Arizona and is spreading across the entire state. With a strong influence of American Indian Tribal art and innovative art immersions at the art museums in Phoenix, Arizona, you don’t want to miss out.
The Phoenix Art Museum features ‘pay what you wish’ on Wednesdays from 3-9pm. This means if you can afford to donate, please do, but if you are looking for a free option, this is it. As always, do what you can and it will all work out.
#8. Native Americans
Arizona is home to 21 Native American Tribes! All throughout the state there is massive representation and homage to be paid to the original lands. The best way to get involved and explore the tribal communities is to attend Native American hosted programs.
Visit Arizona has some awesome options for large community events you can attend that will immerse you into the culture. Be sure to check their latest forum postings for ways to learn more.
Eegee's is a cult-favorite in Tucson Arizona as a slushie and sandwich joint.
Every Tucsonian will happily educate you on why Tucson loves Eegee’s so much. Eegee’s is a fast food joint that serves sandwich, fries, and slushies. Their chain has grown all throughout Tucson and Casa Grande.
What is an Eegee?
An eegee is a frozen slushie-like drink with little fruit pieces inside. They have 3 flavors year round: Strawberry, Lemon, and Pina Colada. Every month is a new special. July is the month people go crazy for with Eegee’s watermelon flavor.
If you are in Tucson, please, do yourself a favor and check out Eegee’s.
#10. Water Sports
Arizona is just a bunch of sand and desert…. NOT!
Due to the beautiful mountains in Arizona, there is relief to the hot desert with natural occurrences of water. In the Southern cities like Tucson or Phoenix, water is mainly found in the mountains at the end of a hike. We recommend you checking out Romero Pools in Catalina State Park.
Up north, you can find iconic bodies of water like the Colorado River, Lake Havasu, and Lake Powell. There isn’t a party like a house boat party on Lake Powell! In the White Mountains or in Prescott, you can easily spot lakes off the side of the road. People engage in water sports all over!
As you can see, Arizona truly has it all. From skiing in Flagstaff to grabbing an iconic Sonoran hot dog in Tucson, this guide will help you get more connected with Arizona and you'll feel like a local in no time!
Don't forget to tag us in your adventures - you can find us Instagram or Tiktok at @wildjoyexperiences.
Have fun finding your Wildjoy!
- Team Wildjoy