Trip Ideas - 12 min read

The Best Time to Visit Arizona (Weather, Festivals & Events)

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated October 18, 2022

Arizona is a popular vacation destination. Drawing millions of visitors each year with its hot, dry desert climate, the Grand Canyon, Sedona’s red rocks, the Hoover Dam, there is plenty to see and do in Arizona. Whether you travel with family or make it a solo trip, here’s the best time to visit Arizona.

The best time to visit Arizona is between September and April. Spring and fall are the best seasons to plan a trip to Arizona because the weather is pleasant, about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. September and October have flights that are 25% cheaper than usual. At this time, there’s the Arizona state fair as well as the Horror festival, Nightfall.

Arizona’s most famous feature is the Grand Canyon, a mile-deep canyon carved by the Colorado River. Flagstaff, a pine-covered mountain town, is a major Grand Canyon gateway.

Another natural region is Saguaro National Park, which preserves the cactus-filled Sonoran Desert. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is in Tucson, and home of the University of Arizona – all of these which you won’t want to miss.

When Should You Not Go to Arizona?

The sweltering summer months are not the best time to visit Arizona. The hottest months are June and July, with temperatures regularly exceeding 100°F. For some people, especially those who reside in colder areas, the summer heat can be intolerable.

It can be difficult to adjust to the heat, which will make your trip less enjoyable. The hottest months are June through September, when daytime highs of 120°F are common.

What is the Hottest Month in Arizona?

With an average high temperature of 106°F and low temperature of 85°F, July is the hottest month of the year in Arizona.

In Phenix, Arizona, for example, there are about 3,872 hours of sunshine every year in total. Every year in July, Arizona has an average of around 25 days of pure sunshine.

Cheapest Month to Go to Arizona

January is the cheapest month to go to Arizona. This is due to the quiet period after the holiday and the lack of tourists. The busy season in Arizona as far as tourists coming and going happens in spring.

January is the best option as a cost-effective month to vacation in Arizona. Make your reservations at least three weeks before you are scheduled to depart to ensure lower prices on your reservations.

Related Read: 40 BEST Things To Do In Arizona

Best Time to Visit Arizona to Avoid Crowds

The spring and summer months are traditionally considered to be Arizona’s busiest travel times. If you want to avoid crowds in Arizona it’s best if you visit in September, October or November.

In the fall, the temperatures and the tourists start to decrease. Fewer crowds can be seen around this season and the hotel rates aren’t as expensive compared to summer rates.

Best Time to Visit Arizona: Monthly Breakdown – January – December

January: Best Time for Exploring

Winter is a great time to visit Arizona. January’s pleasant weather makes it attractive to explore the state. January is Arizona’s second coldest month (after December), averaging 46°F (20°C).

January is cold but enjoyable. 67°F (8°C) is average. In January, visit the Old Town Farmers Market in Phoenix or the Arizona Snowbowl for snow activities and mountain resorts.

Desert Botanical Garden showcases Arizona’s natural splendor. Classic car fans will like Arizona’s auctions. Collectors from throughout the world visit the auction location in January.

Things to do in Arizona in January: 

  • Mild weather
  • Old Town Farmers Market
  • Arizona Snowbowl
  • Mountain resorts and snow sports
  • Desert Botanical Gardens
  • Classic car auctions

February: Best Time for Unique Events

After January, the February temperatures climb a bit. Highs average 71°F (22°C) lows 49°F (9°C). February offers good Grand Canyon weather.

In February and March, Phoenix hosts Cactus League Spring Training. Baseball lovers from throughout the nation visit this sunny location. Currently, the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Dodgers come to the Valley for spring training.

Gold Canyon hosts the Arizona Renaissance Festival in February and March. Whether you’re a knight or not you’ll enjoy food, festivities, and good weather.

The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is held in February in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event now boasts over 2,200 horses and 1,300 trainers/owners.

Things to do in Arizona in February: 

  • Baseball events
  • Cactus League Spring Training
  • Grand Canyon Exploration
  • Renaissance Festival at Gold Canyon
  • Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show

Related Read: 15 BEST Brunch Spots in Scottsdale, AZ

March: Best Time for the Arts

March temperatures soar as spring approaches. March weather averages 77°F (25°C) high and 53°F (12°C) low.

People can meet nationally acclaimed, award-winning, and up-and-coming artists at the Arizona Fine Art Expo in March and watch them work in over 100 open studios.

The Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market features 600 famous American Indian artists and crafters.

Each year they sell their handmade items including baskets, jewelry, paintings, weavings, sculptures, blankets, figurines, ceramics, and pueblo art. The market features kid-friendly activities, music, and dance.

Things to do in Arizona in March: 

  • Arizona Fine Art Expo.
  • Indian Fair & Market
  • Rodeo Scottsdale
  • Phoenix Scottish Games
  • M3F Festival
  • Chandler Ostrich Festival

April: Best Time for Parks and Music

April highs approach the 80s in Arizona. Overnight, it’s 60°F (16°C). Arizona is really beautiful in April.

April is great if you want to see Arizona’s northeastern Petrified Forest National Park. In the park’s Rainbow Forest, petrified wood seems surreal. Rainbow Forest Museum features paleontology exhibits and trail access.

The park’s core contains Newspaper Rock and Puerco Pueblo. The 1930s adobe Painted Desert Inn houses Hopi murals.

The Chandler Jazz Fest features local performers performing smooth jazz, traditional jazz, and fusion rhythm. This multi-month event features classical, chamber, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, country, bluegrass, and pop musicians.

Things to do in Arizona in April: 

  • Petrified Forest National park
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Chandler Jazz Fest
  • Arizona Musicfest

May: Best Time for the Great Outdoors

May is the sunniest month in some Arizona cities. Highs average 95°F (35°C) lows 69°F (21°C).

May is an excellent time to check out the Western ghost town of Tortilla Flat. Tortilla Flat is in Tonto National Forest’s Superstition Mountain Range.

Tortilla Flat, which started as a horse and carriage depot in 1904, has never been destroyed by any fire or flood that Arizona has suffered.

Pink Jeep Tours offer Sedona, AZ, and Grand Canyon tours for decades. Pink Jeep Tours offers a different perspective of Arizona wildlife. Through this voyage, you’ll see Arizona off-road and the planet’s most spectacular scenery.

Things to do in Arizona in May: 

  • Take a Ride to Tortilla Flat
  • Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona
  • Visit the Diamondbacks Stadium
  • Go kayaking on the Verde River

June: Best Time for Water Attractions

June and May are the sunniest months. June averages 104°F/40°C. As the temperature rises, visit Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.

Lower Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon in Arizona’s Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park. Lower and Upper Antelope Canyons, both in the Navajo Nation, need guided tours. Guided tours reveal the beauty of Emerald Cave on the Colorado River.

Visit the WaterWorks at Arizona Falls. Since the 1800s, travelers have flocked to the Arizona Canal’s 20-foot drop. The “water-room” combines public art and a hydropower plant.

Things to do in Arizona in June: 

  • Lower Antelope Canyon
  • WaterWorks Arizona Falls
  • Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
  • Kayak in Emerald Cove

July: Best Time for Spas & Resorts

Phoenix’s hottest month is July, with average highs of 104°F (40°C). July has the most rain, with an average of 1 inch (27 mm). Lows average 83°F (28°C).

The summer is the best time to visit resorts and engage in activities that you might not normally indulge in during the winter.

In the summer you can book an early tee time at acclaimed golf courses that you would normally have to pay hundreds of dollars to play. Arizona is really big on golf!

You can also make a spa package reservation for a day of relaxing by the pool at resorts like Arizona Grand Resort & Spa’s/Oasis Water Park.

Things to do in Arizona in July: 

  • Visit a resort
  • Fireworks Show at Chase Field (4th of July)
  • Spas and pools
  • Schedule tee time at a golf resort
  • Hopi Festival of Arts & Culture (visit in July as a Fourth of July tradition)

August: Best Time to Visit a State Park

In August, the overall average daily temperature drops to 104°F (40°C). In contrast, the average low temperature remains constant at 83°F (28°C).

Lake Havasu State Park, which is about 11,000 acres, is by far the largest park in western Arizona. Patagonia Lake State Park is a sparkling paradise hidden among the rolling hills of southern Arizona.

At Patagonia Lake you can swim, boat, fish, hike, camp, and explore beautiful Arizona nature – making this the perfect spot to visit in August.

Cattail Cove State Park takes care of a long, beautiful stretch of beach that is open for swimming just at the southern end of Lake Havasu.

Things to do in Arizona in August: 

  • Lake Havasu State Park
  • Patagonia Lake State Park
  • Cattail Cove State Park
  • Woods Canyon Lake
  • Lava River Cave
  • Summer Scenic Sky Ride
  • Annual Hopi Arts and Culture Festival

September: Best Time for Festivals

September, the final of the summer months in Phoenix, sees a further drop in average high temperatures to 100°F (38°C). 

The festival season in Arizona kicks off in September every year. The Arizona State Fair 202 begins in late September and runs through the end of October annually.

With tons of other festivals and art fairs whether you travel solo or with your family, you’ll be guaranteed to have a ton of fun.

Things to do in Arizona in September: 

  • Arizona State Fair
  • Faire on the Square Arts & Crafts Festival
  • Annual International Film Festival Tucson, AZ
  • Tucson Family Festival
  • Fall Fest in Prescott, AZ

October: Best Time to Get Spooked

October averages 89°F (31°C). The monthly low is 65°F (18°C). If you want to have Halloween thrills, visit Old Tucson.

Old Tucson is an American film studio and theme park. This attraction is just west of Tucson, near the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park.

“Nightfall”, which is an iconic immersive horror experience in Arizona premieres at Old Tucson annually in October.

If getting scared is not your thing you can check out the 27-mile Catalina Highway. This road goes through the Coronado National Forest to Mount Lemmon.

At Mount Lemmon, the hillside trees have amber, crimson, and gold foliage, and there are several trails and turnoffs for exploring.

Things to do in Arizona in October: 

  • Nightfall at Old Tucson Studios (Immersive Horror Experience)
  • Drive to Mount Lemmon for Fall Foliage
  • Ghost Hunting in Jerome
  • Hike the Trails of Red Rock Country
  • Flagstaff Oktoberfest

November: Best Time to Experience Culture

November through April is great in Arizona. During these months you’ll see beautiful skies and reach temp highs in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Arizona’s Canal Convergence is an annual art show. Water, lights, and art make it truly special. Every November, the Scottsdale Waterfront hosts Canal Convergence | Water + Art + Light.

Annually, Pioneer Park hosts the “Mesa Feastival Forest”. Every Saturday in November from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m., enjoy gourmet food trucks, live music, and a new playground and splash pad.

Things to do in Arizona in November: 

  • AZ Barrels, Bottles & Brews
  • Mesa Feastival Forest
  • Chuck Wagon Cook-off
  • Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Phoenix Pizza Festival

December: Best Time to Celebrate the Holidays

Arizona winters are truly unforgettable. During the holiday season, Flagstaff is a winter wonderland.

Phoenix has a holiday tradition of winter ZooLights. Tour the zoo at night when millions of lights shine. ZooLights offers a music-in-motion performance and a 3-story holiday tree from November – January.

Greer’s Sunrise Ski Park is famous for skiing, sledding, and tubing. Arizona Snowbowl offers 777 skiable acres and 260 inches of snow annually.

Grand Canyon Tour Company offers a Polar Express-themed train experience. The 1.5-hour round-trip train voyage from Williams Depot to the North Pole. Kids will be able to see the classic narrative unfold.

During the ride, youngsters can drink hot chocolate and nibble cookies before Santa’s visit.

Things to do in Arizona in December: 

  • The Polar Express
  • Phoenix Zoo Lights
  • Winter Sleigh Rides
  • Snowboarding & Skiing
  • Sledding & Tubing
  • Sunrise Ski park

Related Read: 60 Things To Do in Phoenix, Arizona

Best Time to Visit Arizona with Family

The ideal time to visit Arizona with family is late winter or early spring. Temperatures are mild, wildflowers are in bloom, and desert hiking won’t result in heat exhaustion.

If your family makes it to the area in the late spring, the Saguaro cacti will show off their short-lived blooms.

When it comes to family fun in Arizona, there are loads of activities for adults and kids alike.

Some of the year-round family attractions that Arizona has to offer are the Heard Museum, Arizona Science Center and the Musical Instrument Museum. There’s also the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Horseback Riding, Schnepf Farms, and so many more!

The best Native American museum in the country is the Heard Museum in Phoenix. It has ten galleries containing artwork and artifacts created by American Indians.

Kids will appreciate the hands-on activities, such as crafting a bandolier bag or a paper flower inspired by the Yaqui culture.

A ranch in Northern Scottsdale called MacDonald’s Ranch provides activities like horseback riding, cookouts, pony rides, a seasonal pumpkin patch, a petting zoo, and ranch games.

At MacDonald’s Ranch, children can begin horseback riding on gentle horses at age 5, making it a wonderful family vacation spot.

Related Read: 25 BEST Things to Do in Sedona, AZ with Kids

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