It's easy to be smug when you're home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and Arizona's license plate succinctly sums it up: Grand Canyon State. However, there is more to this Southwestern state than the vast canyon of the Colorado River. Stately saguaro cacti and rugged red-rock landscapes have served as backdrop both for Western history and Western movies. Cowboys and Indians are still at home on the range here in Arizona, but it is as a seller of sunshine to the winter-weary that Arizona has made its fortune.
Cities—In Phoenix, the nation's fifth largest city, Ford Mustangs far outnumber wild mustangs and the golf course greens of luxury resorts have long since tamed the desert. Set against a craggy mountain backdrop, Tucson strives to preserve both its Hispanic heritage and its forests of saguaro cacti. College-town character and a historic downtown make Flagstaff a lively gateway to the Grand Canyon. Jerome and Bisbee, once booming mining towns, have once again struck pay dirt, this time in the guise of galleries and boutiques.
The Great Outdoors—Take a hike, ride a mule, or hang on for a rip-roarin' raft ride. No matter how you approach it, a Grand Canyon adventure is world class. In the state's northeast corner, the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley compete with the canyon for the title of the state's most astonishing landscape. In southern Arizona, explore the Sonoran Desert, one of the greenest deserts on earth. In scenic Sedona, rumble through the red rocks in a Jeep, or search out some quiet on a hike or mountain-bike ride.
Eating & Drinking—With Mexico for a neighbor, it should come as no surprise that Arizona relishes south-of-the-border flavors. From street tacos, Sonoran hot dogs, and air-dried carne seca to the complex Southwestern and Nuevo Latino dishes served at such celebrated restaurants as Kai, Cafe Poca Cosa, and the Turquoise Room, there's a regional dish for every palate. Native American fry bread tacos are a local guilty pleasure not to be missed. Wash it all down with a margarita, microbrew, or even an Arizona wine.
National Parks—While millions of people come to Arizona each year to visit Grand Canyon National Park, the state is also home to more than a dozen other national parks and monuments. Massive saguaro cacti are preserved in Tucson's two units of Saguaro National Park, while to the west of Tucson, more cacti are preserved in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. In such national monuments as Canyon de Chelly, Montezuma Castle, Navajo, Wupatki, and Tonto, cliff dwellings and ancient pueblo ruins can be explored.