A Quick Trip Reference Guide To Famous Southwest Destinations

If you’re looking for things to do around the American Southwest, this quick reference guide will help you. 

The American Southwest is some of the most diverse in the world, ranging from deserts to mountains and to the beach. While there are plenty of posts and guides of things to do in the cities, this guide is designed for something to do outside the towns that are fun and memorable for you and your family. 

From Utah to Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, to California, the American Southwest is a destination loaded with scenic vistas and history unlike any other place in the US. And if, like more and more families are doing, you happen to be making the road trip in an electric vehicle, have no fear: There are countless places in the Southwest to charge your car’s battery, from first-come, first-serve options in some parking lots to subscription-based services like these EVgo Tesla service.

So let’s get started planning your itinerary, shall we?


Utah is one of the best states for outdoor activities, from ski resorts to numerous national parks and vistas unlike anywhere else in the world. The diverse elevation creates some incredibly scenic drives and unique destinations for you and your family. 

The highlights of the scenery in Utah include; 

    • Zion National Park
    • Arches National Park
    • Canyonlands National Park
    • Bryce Canyon National Park
    • Salt Lake and Salt Lake City
    • Salt Lake City Temple
    • Park City, Snowbird, Alta, Sundance, and Powder Mountain ski resorts 


Ah, the Las Vegas Strip’s bright lights and dizzying heights command so much of people’s imaginations when they think about visiting Nevada, but the state offers so much more. 

Of course, as a destination, Las Vegas offers so many things for people to see and do. You can catch top-rated Las Vegas shows from David Copperfield, Rouge, Tournament of Kings, Jabbawockeez, Criss Angel’s MINDFREAK, and so many more. 

But outside of the Las Vegas Strip, there are a ton of things to do and see throughout Nevada. 

For more outdoorsy, family adventures, check out; 

    • The Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
    • The Nevada side of Lake Tahoe
    • Valley of Fire State Park
    • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
    • The “Biggest Little City In The World,” aka Reno, Nevada
    • Great Basin National Park
    • Death Valley


Experience the differences in climate between the deserts and high deserts of Arizona. But, of course, in cities like Phoenix and Tucson, there is plenty of entertainment and venues like the famous Phoenix Zoo to have an afternoon of fun and diversion. 

Still, it’s outside the city lights that Arizona really shines. 

Outdoor activities include canoe trips down the Colorado river or hiking through the Grand Canyon. However you slice it, the landscape throughout Arizona is breathtaking, highlighted by the following destinations; 

    • Grand Canyon
    • Tonto National Forest
    • Sedona
    • Monument Valley
    • Lake Powell
    • Jerome
    • Horseshoe Bend

New Mexico

As the backdrop in the famous show, “Breaking Bad,” there’s more to New Mexico than the suburbs of Albuquerque. 

The diverse scenery and landscape that makes up New Mexico are what makes the state known as the “Land of Enchantment.” In addition, the historically preserved communities and ancestral areas throughout New Mexico give a lesson on the past. 

    • Carlsbad Caverns
    • White Sands National Monument
    • Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
    • Bandelier National Monument
    • Petroglyph National Monument
    • Taos Pueblo


From the Sequoias to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, California is a vast state with plenty of things to do and see. As California is the second largest state by land mass in the US, we’ll break up this guide into two sections, Northern California and Southern California. 

Running through the state is the Pacific Crest Trail, made famous by conservationist John Muir. The expansive trail runs from the Mexico border through the state all the way north to the Canadian border. 

Northern California

In the northern part of the state are some of the more unspoiled scenery and breathtaking views than in the southern part of the state.

In Northern California, you can visit the piers and hills of San Francisco, Sausalito, Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and Sequoias National Park. 

Southern California 

Loaded with amusement parks, “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” and amazing beaches, deserts, and beaches. Southern California has the most diverse range of activities to do anywhere in the US. 

    • Glamis
    • Lake Arrowhead
    • Big Bear
    • Mammoth Lakes
    • Mount Whitney
    • Salton Sea
    • Newport Beach
    • Venice Beach
    • Hotel Del Coronado
    • La Jolla Cove

Of course, any visit to Southern California isn’t complete without mentioning the things to do around the cities. 

Attractions to consider throughout Southern California include Disneyland, Magic Mountain (Six Flags), Knotts Berry Farm, the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, and SeaWorld. 

And there are world-famous golf destinations like Torrey Pines, Pismo Beach, La Jolla, Avalon, and more. 

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