13 Best Winter Activities to Do in Arizona!

It's hard to beat winter in Arizona. With Phoenix temperatures regularly in the 60s, many snowbirds flock south to hibernate in the warm weather and sunshine. Head just a few hours north, snowy Flagstaff looks like a winter wonderland. With that said, there are seemingly endless possibilities of activities in Arizona during the winter. Here are 13 great things to do if you find yourself in the desert this winter.

ZooLights, Phoenix, AZ

Over the last 25 years, ZooLights has become Phoenix's de facto holiday tradition. Hosted by the Phoenix Zoo and presented by SRP, ZooLights is an epic display of holiday lights in an exotic setting. Come to the zoo after dark, grab some hot cocoa, and walk around as millions of lamps illuminate the park. ZooLights has hundreds of light displays, including a three-story holiday tree and a lakeside music-in-motion show. ZooLights runs annually from Thanksgiving until early January, and ticket prices vary.

Arizona Snowbowl and Sunrise Ski Park, Flagstaff and Greer, AZ

Grab your skis and hit the slopes of Arizona Snowbowl and Sunrise Ski Park! Spend a fun and memorable ski vacation with terrain for all levels and plenty of apres ski activities - from local lodging to an excellent ski school. Make the mother of all winter getaways and enjoy the best the snow offers!

The Polar Express Train Tour, Williams, AZ

Treat yourself and your loved ones to an enchanting ride on The Polar Express! Venture through the picturesque Arizona night and bask in the wonder of the North Pole, where Santa and his reindeer are waiting with a special surprise. Delight in hot cocoa and treats while watching the children's eyes sparkle with excitement. Make this the holiday season to remember.

Las Noches de las Luminarias, Phoenix, AZ

Las Noches de las Luminarias is an annual festival at the Desert Botanical Garden. The garden is lit up by thousands of luminaria bags in celebration of the holidays. Visitors can stroll through the garden as the lights enhance the desert scenery. For music fans, various concerts are held nightly ranging from Mariachi bands to the classical crossover band Simply Three.

The North Pole Experience, Flagstaff, AZ

Follow Santa's trusted lead and teleport to his 400-year-old workshop. Uncover secrets hidden within Mrs. Claus's Bakery, Elf University, and the Sleigh Hanger, and meet Jolly Old St. Nick himself. See the wondrous beauty and make a few cherished memories in this historic place.

Winter sleigh rides

Yes, Arizona has sleigh rides. Every winter, Flagstaff's Windmill Ranch offers private sleigh rides to guests looking for a tour of a winter wonderland. The horse-drawn sleigh rides are an hour-long tour of northern Arizona's snow-covered Coconino National Forest. Once the sleigh bells stop ringing, guides will finish the time by building a campfire and serving up hot cocoa to the guests.

Arizona Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

Get ready to rock the azure skies of AZ with the 20th Edition of Rock 'n' Roll Arizona! Enjoy a tri-city tour of music featuring live bands, DJs, and entertainment to keep you going. Take in the scenic views and red sandstone formations of Papago Park as you go to the Finish Line Festival at Tempe Beach Park.

The Winterhaven Festival of Lights, Tucson, AZ

The Tucson Winterhaven Festival of Lights is one of the longest running lights festivals in the country. For several weeks each December, the residents of the Winterhaven community open up their neighborhood to thousands of visitors. Nearly every house is decked out with a spectacular Christmas lights display. Tours of the lights are available via hayride wagon, bus trolley, and even a pedal-powered bus group bike.

Hiking Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ

Camelback Mountain is an oasis in the desert of Arizona, located between Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley. With an elevation of 2,704 feet, it is the perfect place for all hikers to experience a scenic view of the entire Phoenix Valley. Whether local or a tourist, enjoy a quick and fulfilling hike through the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area!

Visit the Grand Canyon

Arizona is the Grand Canyon state after all. The famous national park gets fewer visitors during the winter due to cold and snowy conditions. However, the less crowded conditions allow visitors to experience a calmer and more in-depth exploration of the park. Plus, the fallen snow makes views of the canyon even more picturesque.

Visit Sedona

Sedona is one of Arizona's best tourist destinations. One of the benefits to visiting in the winter is that it's the offseason—meaning it's not quite as pricy. With temperatures regularly 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix, it often gets forgotten in the winter. But between the downtown shopping district, scenic red rocks, and many resorts there are enough reasons to make a trip.

Glendale Glitters, Glendale, AZ

Glendale Glitters is the largest free holiday light display in Arizona. The display features over 1.5 million LED lights across 16 blocks of the historic downtown area of Glendale. Visitors can enjoy holiday entertainment, food, shopping, a snowfield, and a petting zoo. The event kicks off the day after Thanksgiving until early January each year.

NCAA bowl games

Attending a bowl game is a rite of passage for any college football fan. Fortunately, Arizona hosts the Fiesta Bowl, Cactus Bowl, and Arizona Bowl each year. These spectacles bring competition, tradition, and crowds to Arizona that make for an exciting event whether your team is playing or not.

This text was created by the author with the assistance of GPT-3, a large-scale language generation model developed by OpenAI. The author reviewed, edited, and revised the draft language to their satisfaction and is fully responsible for the content of this publication.

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