From land tours to aerial sightseeing, there are many ways to enjoy three days in and around Arizona’s largest city—including shopping and dining in nearby Scottsdale. Here’s what you need to know to plan the perfect 3-day Phoenix itinerary.
Tonto National Forest, Arizona
An idyllic place to escape the heat and traffic of Phoenix, the 1,200-acre (486-hectare) Saguaro Lake is a hub of water sports, from all manner of boating to stand-up paddleboarding. Anglers also flock to the lake for its rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and more. Twenty-two miles (35 kilometers) of shoreline varies from dramatic rocky cliffs to desert shrubland, all with views of the saguaro cacti towering above.
Things to Know Before You Go
Before you leave the city, buy a pass (available at gas stations and stores) for your vehicle and watercraft.
Fishing licenses, supplies, snacks, and more can be purchased at the marina.
The paddleboat cruise is accessible to wheelchairs, and the lake has wheelchair-accessible restrooms.
How to Get There
Saguaro Lake is located outside of Mesa (a suburb of Phoenix). Take AZ-87 North, and get off at exit 199 for N. Bush Highway. Follow N. Bush Highway to the lake.
When to Get There
Arizona’s warm climate makes Saguaro Lake a popular year-round destination. The lake can become quite crowded on weekends and holidays, so arrive early to minimize wait times at the boat ramp and marina.
Overnight Stays at Saguaro Lake
Visitors wanting to hang out for the weekend can camp or stay at Saguaro Lake Ranch. Camping is boat-in only, and the Bagley Flat Campground is free and has a dock, grills, picnic tables, and vault toilets. Situated on the far side of the dam, the ranch offers quaint cabins.
- Things to do in Arizona
- Things to do in Scottsdale
- Things to do in Sedona
- Things to do in Flagstaff
- Things to do in Las Vegas
- Things to do in Palm Springs
- Things to do in Monument Valley
- Things to do in San Diego
- Things to do in La Jolla
- Things to do in Albuquerque
- Things to do in Anaheim & Buena Park
- Things to do in Long Beach
- Things to do in Santa Monica
- Things to do in New Mexico
- Things to do in Utah
- Superstition Mountains
- Apache Trail
- Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
- McDowell Sonoran Preserve
- National Comedy Theatre (NCT)
- Tonto National Forest
- Old Town Scottsdale
- Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)
- Scottsdale Fashion Square
- Desert Botanical Gardens
- Mill Avenue
- Phoenix Zoo
- Camelback Mountain
- Pueblo Grande Museum
- LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Arizona