6 Arizona road trips for beating the summer heat (and the crowds)
When school lets out and temperatures top 105 degrees, desert dwellers start looking for weekend reprieve from the grueling Valley heat.
Yes, but: While Flagstaff and Sedona are classic summer destinations, they quickly get crowded on the weekends.
- Here are six other northern Arizona spots that are just as cool (temperature-wise and otherwise) to try out instead, in order of distance from the Valley.
99 miles: Prescott
Prescott, the former territorial capital of Arizona, is built around a quintessential small-town, courthouse square and famed for its Whiskey Row of western saloons — many of which are still cash only.
- Average June temperature: High of 85, low of 51.
- Where to stay: Try the vintage Hassayampa Inn or one of these Airbnbs that are stumbling distance from Whiskey Row.
- 1 fun thing: Watch the sunset with a craft beer or glass of wine on the roof of the Raven Cafe.
- 1 yummy thing: Sample quirky mead flavors (like the Peanut Butter Jelly Crime) at Superstition Meadery's Prescott Tasting Room.
103 miles: Cottonwood
Now boasting almost a dozen tasting rooms on Main Street, Cottonwood has blossomed into a mecca for Arizona wine lovers.
- Average June temperature: High of 98 (still better than 105!), low of 60.
- Where to stay: Try the Tavern Hotel downtown or one of these Airbnbs.
- 1 fun thing: Take a kayak tour down the Verde River that ends with a glass of wine at Alcantara Vineyards.
- 1 yummy thing: Get the prickly pear-infused mac & cheese at Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room & Osteria. Pairs nicely with the Chupacabra red blend.
111 miles: Jerome
Jerome is a former copper mining town that juts out from the side of Cleopatra Hill, nicknamed the "Wickedest Town in the West" and known for its ghost-story lore.
- Average June temperature: High of 87, low of 64.
- Where to stay: See if you can spot a ghost in the supposedly haunted Jerome Grand Hotel or try one of these Airbnbs.
- 1 fun thing: Check out the Jerome Sliding Jail, a tiny lock-up cell from the early 1900s that slid 225 feet down the hill after dynamite explosions from local mining operations unsettled the ground.
- 1 yummy thing: The Haunted Hamburger offers some of the best burgers in the state and boasts a panoramic view of the Verde Valley.
130 miles: Pine/Strawberry
These two tiny towns have charming downtowns with mom-and-pop restaurants, bars and shops surrounded by cozy cabins.
- Average June temperature: High of 86, low of 55.
- Where to stay: Try the very Instagrammable Strawberry Inn or one of these Airbnbs.
- 1 fun thing: Visit the Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm.
- 1 yummy thing: Grab a scoop of ice cream or an iced coffee at Pine Creek Fudge & Espresso.
175 miles: Williams
Williams is known as the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon" and was the last town on Historic Route 66 bypassed by Interstate 40. It's in Arizona's high country — about 30 miles west of Flagstaff.
- Average June temperature: High of 81, low of 49.
- Where to stay: We recommend staying walking distance from downtown to fully enjoy all the town has to offer. Here's a list of some nearby Airbnbs.
- 1 fun thing: Take the family on a drive through Bearizona — a wildlife park with bears, wolves, goats, jaguars and more.
- 1 yummy thing: Grab a slice of pie for breakfast (or dessert, if you insist) at Pine Country Restaurant.
184 miles: Pinetop-Lakeside
These cabin-heavy towns, surrounded by lakes and hiking trails, are a nature lover's dream.
- Average June temperature: High of 82, low of 46.
- Where to stay: Cabins are the way to go in this part of Arizona. Try these Airbnbs.
- 1 fun thing: Take a hike! There are more than 200 miles of trails in the White Mountains Trail System near Pinetop-Lakeside.
- 1 yummy thing: Baked in Pinetop offers fresh bread and baked goodies — perfect for carbo-loading before a hike.
Sound off: What other Arizona road trips would you like to see us profile in future Axios Phoenix newsletters? Email us at [email protected]
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