It seems that in any film featuring a classic American road trip, Arizona will be one of the stops. The skyline of Monument Valley is one of the most famous views in America, the state attracts many visitors to the Grand Canyon and its national park, and lone quarter of the area is made up of Native American reservations, all of which point to the fact that Arizona is one of the all-American states.
Natural beauty is this part of the world comes in spades, from world famous spectacles like the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, to the Saguaro cacti native to the Sonoran Desert, to the wildlife such as mountain lions, elk and black bears. The Grand Canyon National Park was named in 1979 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the main feature of the park, the Grand Canyon itself is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, alongside sites such as the Great Barrier Reef and Mount Everest. There is more than just one way to experience the Grand Canyon, including multi-day excursions white-water rafting down the Colorado river, helicopter rides above the canyon to get a view from a different view point, or even taking a trip on a mule! But be careful if you’re planning on taking pictures on the edge of the canyon – there are an average of 2 or 3 deaths per year due to people accidentally falling into the canyon, and some as a result of people trying to take impressive photos of themselves very close to the edge!
If you need a break from the extraordinary views and need to come back down to earth, the state capital Phoenix is, naturally, a cultural hotspot with plenty of things to do and a wide variety of hotels and resorts. If the performing arts are your scene, Phoenix is buzzing with theatres and arts centres, including the Phoenix Symphony Hall, home to the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arizona and the Arizona Opera. The ‘Valley of the Sun’ is also home to dozens of museums and art galleries, such as Phoenix Art Museum which is the largest art museum in the southwestern United States, and the Musical Instrument Museum, which is home to the biggest musical instrument collection in the world, to name just a couple. Or, if golfing is your thing, there are specific holiday packages all over Arizona, particularly in Scottsdale, to cater to those who love the sport, and Phoenix is home to some of the most well manicured golf courses in America.
Tucson is another major city in the state, and plays host to many cultural events, many of them annual and traditional. Tucson Folk Festival has taken place in El Presidio Park on the first weekend of May for 25 years, with nationally famous acts, and is one of the biggest free festivals in the country. The Fiesta de los Vasqueros, or rodeo week, is another annual event held in February in Tucson, for which many schools get two ‘rodeo’ days off. During the event many places of work forego dress codes and western wear is seen throughout the city, with the event also marking the beginning of the rodeo season in the USA.
Many films are shot in Arizona, and if you’re a cinema-lover you may want to visit some of the filming locations for well-known films. Some of the most famous include the opening sequences of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which was filmed in downtown Phoenix, the shots of Arizona’s freeways in Little Miss Sunshine, and even parts of Star Wars was re-shot in Arizona, as a substitute for Tunisia, the original shooting location.