5 Best Small Towns to Visit in Arizona

A place of spectacular scenic beauty, rich in Native American history, and Wild West stories, Arizona has many hidden gem small towns that are ideal for a quick getaway.

Check out our list of the best small towns to visit in Arizona:

Camp Verde

Montezuma Castle is a five-level cliff dwelling nestled into a limestone alcove. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Montezuma Castle is a five-level cliff dwelling nestled into a limestone alcove. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in Yavapai County, Camp Verde is a small town known for its many annual festivals and the Fort Verde State Historic Park. This park preserves parts of the Fort Verde, an Apache-Wars era fort that is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The fort provided protection to the former mining town and surrounding settlers from the local Native American raids. While need for the fort is now long past, what is left remains for those history lovers out there.

Don’t forget to visit the Montezuma Castle National Monument and the Out of Africa Wildlife Park.

Summerhaven

The Mt Lemmon Sky Valley chair lift runs all year round. It will take you to one of the highest points on the mountain. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Mt Lemmon Sky Valley chair lift runs all year round. It will take you to one of the highest points on the mountain. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

North of Tucson, you’ll find Summerhaven, a small community on Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. A truly tiny town, in 2010 it had a permanent population of 40. Originally used as a defense against the Apache people, Summerhaven is deep in the mountains and surrounded by pine and spruce—you’ll find it almost 25 miles from the base of the mountains.

Come for an awesome scenic drive and a true mountain retreat away from the city. Rediscover small town charm at the Mount Lemmon General Store, a true blast from the past, and the Cookie Cabin, where homemade cookies and pizzas are sold. It’s also a lovely winter destination for those who love the mountains in the snow. Come up here to hike through the mountains and take photos, or fish and hunt. You could even ski at the Mount Lemmon Ski Valley or run the Mount Lemmon Marathon!

Williams

From Williams, after a short 59-mile drive north, the Grand Canyon will lie before your eyes. Once there, you’ll grasp why this 277 river miles long, one-mile deep, and up to 18 miles wide canyon is hailed as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From Williams, after a short 59-mile drive north, the Grand Canyon will lie before your eyes. Once there, you’ll grasp why this 277 river miles long, one-mile deep, and up to 18 miles wide canyon is hailed as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

West of Flagstaff in the Coconino County, Williams is on the historic Route 66 and at the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Williams is named after a mountain man called William “Old Bill” Williams. A popular destination for tourists, there are many fun activities to keep you entertained here in Williams.

Tour historic Route 66—Williams was the last town to have its section bypassed. Check out the Williams Depot and see a steam locomotive before wandering the historic Business District.

Tubac

Tubac is an exquisite, brightly painted town with more than 100 galleries, shops, and restaurants lining its meandering streets. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tubac is an exquisite, brightly painted town with more than 100 galleries, shops, and restaurants lining its meandering streets. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located on the Santa Cruz River, Tubac was originally the first Spanish colonial garrison in Arizona before the O’odham uprising. After the Spanish, Tubac was later repopulated by miners, farmers, and ranchers in the 1800s but is more currently known as being a converted artists’ colony.

Now, you can visit Tubac and experience the art colony created in the 1930s-1960s, where Dale Nichols opened an art school and restored some of the town’s historic buildings. The town founded Tubac Festival of the Arts in the 1960s. Explore the Spanish garrison at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and check out their art galleries and specialty shops.

Holbrook

Spend the night in the very cool Wigwam Motel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Spend the night in the very cool Wigwam Motel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located at the convergence of Interstate 40, U.S. Highway 180, and State Highway 77, this roadside town feels more like a real place than a ghost town like other destinations on the Mother Road. Wander out to the nearby Petrified Forest National Park for some gorgeous hiking and check out the Agate House, a ruin that demonstrates the ancient Puebloan practice of using the petrified wood as a building material. The desert location makes it perfect for snapping some gorgeous photos and building your portfolio.

Spend the night in the very cool Wigwam Motel. The motel is composed of fifteen individual concrete teepees. A big attraction is the gorgeous vintage cars that decorate the grounds.

A little off the beaten paths we use nowadays, Holbrook had maintained some good old-fashioned charm and hospitality.

Worth Pondering…

To my mind these live oak-dotted hills fat with side oats grama, these pine-clad mesas spangled with flowers, these lazy trout streams burbling along under great sycamores and cottonwoods, come near to being the cream of creation.

—Aldo Leopold, 1937

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