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Pocket-Friendly Trips: 10 Fun, Free & Cheap Things to Do in Arizona

Cheap things to do in Arizona

Are you thinking of fun cheap things to do in Arizona for your next getaway? Well, worry not because we’ve rounded up 7 exciting yet budget-friendly activities you can do in Arizona! The state offers lots of great vacation activities that are perfect for budget-conscious travelers. From hiking adventures to interesting museums, The Grand Canyon State has it all! Find out the best budget- friendly activities to do on an Arizona road trip.

Want to get into the Arizona Zone? Check out the slides below for a quick glimpse into the best cheap things to do across the state:

Budget Vacation in Arizona: Fun & Inexpensive Things to do… from Rental Trader Inc

Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Grand Canyon Village

Grand Canyon Hiking Trails - Budget Arizona

Topping our list of fun cheap things to do in Arizona is an exciting hiking adventure at the Grand Canyon National Park!

The Grand Canyon National Park is Arizona’s main landmark destination which is around 4 hours drive from the Bartlette lake at the tonto forest. A visit to the state isn’t complete without visiting this iconic natural wonder – even if only once!

Start your amazing Arizona journey by heading over to Grand Canyon Village. It’s located in Northern Arizona, specifically on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. You can go to the Visitor Center before your hike to learn more about the magnificent canyon surroundings you’re about to experience.

A plethora of picturesque hike trails await you at the Grand Canyon National Park. These include:

  • Bright Angel Trail – 19 miles roundtrip
  • South Kaibab Trail – 14 miles roundtrip
  • North Kaibab Trail – 14 miles
  • Havasupai Trail – 10 miles
  • Hermit Trail – 15.4 miles

These trails all feature breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon that will surely blow you away! You can hike them in 2-3 days or you may also allow up to 5 days if you wish to combine any of these trails. Also, note that these trails range from moderate to difficult, so you must plan accordingly before you hike! If you are traveling with kids, Arizona offers great kid-friendly hiking options in the Petrified forest region. So don’t forget to check it out.

Desert Botanical Garden

Location: N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

A visit to the Desert Botanical Garden is among the fun cheap things to do in Arizona. This garden celebrates the vibrancy of desert plants in Phoenix!

Desert Botanical Garden offers lovely desert plants arranged in a beautiful outdoor setting. You can see more than 50,000 arid plants on display inside the gardens! The plants are spread out on five thematic trails you can explore:

  • Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail
  • Center for Desert Living Trail
  • Desert Discovery Loop Trail
  • Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail
  • Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail

Admire the plants, wildflowers, and the breathtaking mountain views you’ll encounter on the trails!

The garden also features several exhibits throughout the year. Some recent exhibits include Cactus Clubhouse and Wild Rising by Cracking Art. You can also partake in different exciting events such as Dog Days at the Garden, Sonoran Sippin’, and Flashlight Nights!

There’s also a garden shop, dining options, and the Schilling Library where you can find thousands of plant guides, botanical art prints, resources, and landscaping books!

Desert Botanical Garden is open at varying hours all week long. It’s closed during Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. General admission rates are $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for youth (3-17 years). Active military personnel and kids under 3 years old can visit the gardens for free! Note that exhibits and special events may be charged with additional fees accordingly.

Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Location: Camp Lowell Drive, Tucson

Miniature Doll House - Budget trip ideas in Arizona

On with our list of fun cheap things to do in Arizona is a visit to the wonderful Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.

Be enthralled by numerous collections of realistic miniature items inside lovely dollhouses! The museum has over 400 dollhouse collections split into three categories: History Gallery, Exploring the World, and The Enchanted Realm. You can view the tiny rooms for each dollhouse or small building, revealing intricately-made pieces with no single detail missing. It’s really an entire world shrunk down to a tiny scale!

The museum features the United States’ oldest miniature dollhouse which was created in 1775. There are also collections from other countries such as Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Holland.

Temporary exhibits and seasonal collections also abound in the museum. Holidays such as Christmas and Halloween are depicted in themed dollhouses appropriate for the season. Temporary exhibitions recently installed include Circus Parades, Fairy Houses, Miniature Silver, and 19th Century Ladies’ Fashion collections.

What sets the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is its enthralling realism. Each item – from the piled-up sink dishes to lovely garden flowers – is undoubtedly relatable in all terms!

Timed-entry tickets are available for those who want to visit the museum. Adult rate is $10.50, while senior citizens 65 years and up pay $8.50. Students and youngsters aged 4-17 pay $7. Kids under 3 years old enter the museum for free.

Phoenix Zoo

Location: North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix

Phoenix Zoo, Inexpensive Arizona Attractions

Come to the Phoenix Zoo for some animal fun while you’re in Arizona! You won’t run out of fun adventures to do inside this zoo, and little kids will certainly be entertained as they explore the nature around them!

The Phoenix Zoo features 2.5 miles of walking trails divided into four distinct themes:

  • Africa Trail – Has animals that are mostly seen in Africa
  • Tropics Trail – Features animals form the rainforests
  • Arizona Trail – Displays animals, flora, and fauna distinct to the American Southwest areas
  • Children’s Trail – Features a place where kids can pet friendly animals

Some of the interesting animals you may find on the zoo include Sonoran pronghorn, Mexican wolf, Asian elephant, Masai giraffe, Arabian oryx, Andean bears, and golden lion tamarins, to name a few.

Other fascinating zoo attractions include the Wallaby Walkabout, Harmony Farm for kids, Stingray Bay, Giraffe Encounter, 4-D Theater, and Safari Train.

Entrance to Phoenix Zoo costs $24.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids 3-13 years old. Kids 2 years and below may enter for free. Note that extra activities such as the Safari Train and the 4-D Theater have additional costs and are not included in the admission fee.

The Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting

Location: Phoenix

Stop by and explore The Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting. It’s among the fascinatingly fun cheap things to do in Arizona!

This one-of-a-kind museum offers a glimpse into America’s firefighting history and experience. The Hall of Flame features 6 exhibit galleries showcasing different kinds of lithographs, photos, engravings, prints, fire engines, motorized pieces, fire department arm patches, aerial trucks, and many more related pieces. The museum also pays tribute to the numerous American firefighters who risked their lives while in service through the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes.

Most of the artifacts housed in the Hall of Flame are from American firefighting departments since 1725. However, they also display artifacts from France, England, Japan, Germany, and Austria.

You can also visit the Fire Safety Area inside the museum! This space includes a mini-theater, a practical application area, and a Safety House. There’s also a children’s area and a gift shop for interesting souvenirs you can take home.

The admission rate for adults is $10. Seniors over 62 years old pay only $8. Entrance fee for students 6-17 years old is $8, while for kids 3-5 years old it’s $4. Kids under 3 years old are admitted for free.

KOLI Equestrian Center

Location: Chandler

KOLI Equestrian Center, Arizona's Unique Attractions

Fancy riding a horse on your trip to Arizona? You can do just that at KOLI Equestrian Center!

The center is located inside Gila River Indian Reservation and is a few minutes away from downtown Phoenix. KOLI Equestrian Center offers guests an enjoyable time with their horseback riding trails and picturesque landscapes!

The center provides rides for all kinds of riders, amateurs and experienced riders alike. Even kids can ride any of their well-behaved and kind horses! Experienced wranglers will guide you and your family in maneuvering the trails with their gentle horses.

Experienced horse riders can go on an adventurous Private Ride. These rides allow you to see where the wild horses are freely roaming!

You can also enjoy the following activities on-site:

  • Carriage rides
  • Hay wagon rides
  • Cattle drives

Try the hay wagon rides – they cost $25 per ride. Horseback rides start at $50 and up, but they’re definitely worth the price!

Chiricahua National Monument

"The Wonderland of Rocks” - Arizona

Location: Willcox, Cochise County

Chiricahua National Monument is a popular hiking site that features amazing rock formations! Nicknamed “The Wonderland of Rocks”, the wonderful natural formations came after a large volcano eruption several million years ago.

Marvel at the rocks and at the overall beauty of the natural surroundings by going on a day hike at any of the approved hike trails. Easy trails include Bonita Creek Trail, Bonita Creek Loop, Echo Canyon Grottoes, and Massai Point Nature Trail. These trails all provide stunning rock formation views from different vantage points!

Moderate hikers may try hiking from Echo Canyon to the Visitor Center, the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail, and Natural Bridge Trail. Adventure-seeking experienced hikers can go on all-day hikes to The Big Loop or The Heart of Rocks Trails.

Learn more about the Chiricahua’s history by joining the Faraway Ranch Tours. It’s a 45-minute ranger-led program where you’ll visit the Erickson family’s guest ranch. The family advocated for the establishment of the Chiricahua National Monument.

More activities to explore at the Chiricahua National Monument include bird-watching, camping at the Bonita Canyon Campground, and driving around the park from the Visitor Center.

Mesa Arts Center

Location: Downtown Mesa

Take an enthralling art journey by visiting Mesa Arts Center! It’s a visual arts and performance complex located in downtown Mesa, Arizona. The center is the state’s largest comprehensive arts campus with a massive 212,755 square feet of space!

Mesa Arts Center is comprised of four theaters, numerous workshops, studios, offices, and classrooms. But one of the center’s main highlights is the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, a free-for-all place where lively art galleries can be seen. Come and visit the galleries to see contemporary arts and marvel at the beautiful exhibitions, all for free!

Mesa Arts Center’s museum is open all week except Mondays, at varying hours mostly starting at 10 am. It’s closed during most major national holidays.

Artlink First Fridays Art Walk

Location: Phoenix

Free visit to Artlink First Fridays Art Walk, Phoenix

Artlink First Fridays Art Walk is yet among the fun cheap things to do in Arizona! It’s one of the nation’s largest self-guided art walk tours, going through downtown Phoenix’s several art districts! Explore more than 70 art galleries and art-related spaces for an amazing taste of Phoenix’s culture and spirit. You can also purchase some artworks crafted by talented artists on-the-spot.

The First Fridays Art Walk also involves several street performers, musicians, local shops, and restaurants. You’ll get that carnival vibe especially at Roosevelt Row Arts District, where several art vendors and food trucks are lined up.

Navigate through the crowds by foot or hop onto one of the free shuttles to take you on three routes throughout the district. Admission is always free, and the Art Walk happens every first Friday of the month from 6-10 pm.

Fish Bowl Spring

Location: Oatman Road, Golden Valley

Fish Bowl Spring - Inexpensive Arizona

There’s a hidden roadside attraction along Road 66’s arid stretch – the Fish Bowl Spring! This is a small spring built by a man named Shaffer during the 1930s. The spring is located around mile marker 30. Watch out for the small uneven staircase built into one of the roadside cliffs – that’s your gateway to the Fish Bowl Spring!

Shaffer created this spring by building a basin of stones around a cliff where cascading water falls down. The stones surrounding the area formed a basin where the water gets collected. The spring was built during the construction of the “Gold Road Section”.

The water coming from the spring is kept fresh by the snails clinging to the stone walls, keeping the algae away. Locals also place live goldfish on the spring, leading to its name as the Fish Bowl Spring.

Find the secret stone staircase along your drive through Oatman Road! Be attentive as they could be easy to miss when gliding along the road’s hairpin curves.

Fun Cheap Things to do in Arizona Made Easy with a Rental Property

Now, a visit to the best attractions in Arizona won’t be complete without a reliable and stunning rental property. Find the right vacation home for you with the numerous listings at Rental Trader! Our platform allows you to connect with property owners in Arizona and book them directly for your upcoming trip.

Meanwhile, you can also post your property in Rental Trader’s free listing services. That makes it easy for you to find clients for your vacation homes in Arizona.

With that, we’re rounding up our list of 10 fun cheap things to do in Arizona. Stop by any of our recommendations and enjoy Arizona while keeping your pocket happy!

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