February 14 is the perfect time to pay homage to the great state of Arizona for its birthday, and while there are plenty of well-known attractions to visit for your celebrations – like the Grand Canyon or Taliesin West – there are also some hidden gems in Arizona you should consider too. As the country’s sixth largest state, there is plenty to see from the red rocks of Sedona and the mountains of Flagstaff in the northern part of the state all the way to the majestic desert of Tucson in the southern portion of the state.
To help inspire your Arizona Statehood Day celebrations, we rounded up five of Arizona’s top little-known destinations to explore.
Tortilla Flat is a charming piece of Arizona’s western history nestled in the Superstition Mountains. It was first established as a freight station to support the construction of the Roosevelt Dam in 1904, which was Phoenix’s first reservoir! Over the years, Tortilla Flat has had several famous visitors including Teddy Roosevelt, Clark Gable, John Wayne and even Barbara Streisand who stopped in to experience its Old West charm. Now, over a hundred years later, a devastating fire, and several floods later Tortilla Flat remains one of Arizona’s best-keep secrets and is a fully independent town with a population of six people. A trip to Tortilla Flat isn’t complete without visiting the Superstition Restaurant and Saloon for the town’s famous chili, a stop at the museum, a scoop of prickly pear gelato from country store and some shopping at the mercantile which sells a variety of locally produced art pieces and gifts.
2. Pumpkin Spring Pool, Littlefield
While Arizona is well-known for its stunning natural rock formations, the pumpkin spring pool is one-of-a- kind. Located at the bottom of the iconic Grand Canyon, the hot spring is a must-see for visitors wanting to experience a little-known wonder. The spring is formed by an orange-y limestone structure that resembles a gourd with murky green water flowing into it. And while the water might look inviting, it actually contains large amounts of arsenic, so it’s best to admire from a safe distance!
3. Cinder Lake Crater Field, Flagstaff
The southwest is no stranger to crater sites, with Arizona being best-known for being home to Meteor Crater and Sunset Crater. However, Cinder Lake Crater is unique in that these craters were man-made to replicate the surface of the moon for astronaut training in the 1960s. While not all of the 47 craters remain today, it’s still a stunning and historic Arizona destination that’s offers a great photo opp.
4. The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, Tucson
Love all things miniature? This is the museum you’ve been waiting for. The museum was established in 2009 to provide its visitors the opportunity to explore a variety of different eras and locations. To get the full history, visitors can also utilize the guided audio tour for details on each of the 500 dollhouses and roomboxes.
5. Area 66, Yucca
Among Arizona hidden gems, this one is out of this world. For a piece of extraterrestrial history, it’s worth heading to the western part of the state to see Area 66 – a staggeringly large dome structure dedicated to an alleged UFO crash that took place in 1953. While it was originally a residence and office, the unique, cosmic structure now serves as a home to a UFO museum and gift shop. It is also the only dome of its kind to be elevated by a single pole in the world.