Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In


Arizona Stops on the Way

5 Ways to Connect With the Outdoors in Peoria, Arizona

Start your Grand Canyon road trip in Peoria, a suburb of Phoenix with a decidedly outdoorsy bent.

Just north of Phoenix, vibrant Peoria is a great place to connect with the outdoors and find inventive restaurants spearheaded by chefs from around the world. Located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, saguaro cacti dot the landscape, palm trees break the skyline and the beautiful Arizona sun shines brightly over Lake Pleasant. Here are five of our favorite things to do.

Get Out on the Water at Lake Pleasant

Wakeboarding on Lake Pleasant in Peoria
Wakeboarding on Lake Pleasant in Peoria (Photo: Courtesy Peoria, Arizona)

This 11.5-square-mile reservoir is an oasis in the Sonoran Desert. Sparkling blue waters are surrounded by hillsides dotted with saguaros, attracting wildlife like burros and bald eagles. Head to the Scorpion Bay Marina to spend a day out on the water. You can rent everything from pontoon and sport boats to jet skis and kayaks. Add on water toys like tubes and wakeboards to up the fun. If you’re traveling with kids, Paqua Park, a floating playground at the marina, is a must. Kids have to be older than seven, at least 45 inches tall and wear a life jacket. It’s a good idea to make advanced reservations.

For dinner, stop at Scorpion Bay Grill with indoor tables or a dog-friendly patio right on the water. The chef-driven menu includes burgers, salads, flatbreads and seasonally rotating dinner specials, plus a full bar. For a totally unique experience, spend the night at the lake in a floating cabin. These modern and spacious accommodations include full kitchens, sleeping space for four and a big patio with a grill.

Go on a Scorpion Hunt at the Lake Pleasant Discovery Center

Wild burros in Lake Pleasant Regional Park in Peoria, Arizona (Photo: Getty Images)

Stop by the visitor center and dam observation area at Lake Pleasant to learn more about the natural and human history of the lake. Take part in a ranger program like a morning wildflower walk or a blacklight scorpion hunt after dark. Programs vary, so check for the schedule at the visitor center.

Take a short, 1.5-mile scenic hike from the visitor center on the Roadrunner Trail which overlooks the lake. Keep your eyes peeled for wild burros that can often be seen near the shore. If you want to spend the night at the lake, two campgrounds are available.

See a Padres or Mariners Spring Training Game

Baseball spring training game
Baseball spring training game (Photo: Courtesy Peoria, Arizona)

Peoria is the spring training home of two Major League Baseball teams: the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners. Visit the Peoria Sports Complex known to locals as “P83” to catch a game in February and March, though you’ll find baseball events here throughout the year. Tickets are usually available on a walk-up basis, or you can buy in advance online.

Afterwards, grab a bite to eat at Revolu Modern Taqueria next door. This authentic Mexican restaurant gives Mexico City a run for its money with a fresh and inventive menu. Think street tacos, elote and beef short rib enchiladas. The restaurant seems fated to exist in Peoria, as the husband and wife team who own and operate it are from San Diego and Seattle respectively: the same cities the teams playing next door call home.

Go Horseback Riding at Cibola Vista Resort and Spa

There’s no place quite like Cibola Vista. One part upscale and relaxing resort, one part dude ranch, you’ll find a juxtaposition of two worlds you’d never expect. The gorgeous, palm-tree-dotted property has beautiful pools, spacious gardens and rooms with a luxurious Southwestern flair. You can opt for relaxation at the full service spa, or adventure at the cowboy town. Walk across the street and you’ll find a replica Old West town where you can attend a cowboy cookout, go horseback riding or catch reenactments. The property encompasses the best of Arizona: western charm and modern amenities.

Spend a Morning Walking and Dining in Peoria

Festival in Old Town Peoria
Festival in downtown Peoria (Photo: Courtesy Peoria, Arizona)

Stroll through historic downtown Peoria where you’ll find a palm-tree-lined park and historic buildings like a schoolhouse from 1906 and a fire station that’s now an event center. Grab a coffee at 808 Social, a taste of Hawaii brought all the way to Arizona. Using 100% Kona coffee, you’ll find espresso beverages, pour overs and cold brews, but also inventive sweet drinks with banana, coconut and macadamia nut syrups.

If you’re looking for a festive spot for brunch, Hash Kitchen is the place to be. Disco balls turn breakfast into a party and dishes with a Southwestern flair like Birria Hash and Huevos Rancheros are menu highlights.

Peoria's Pioneer Park at sunrise
Peoria’s Pioneer Park at sunrise (Photo: Courtesy Peoria, Arizona)

Afterwards, enjoy more than 35 miles of trails connecting the city’s many beautiful parks. Pioneer Park is especially fun on a hot day with an amazing free splash pad.

Learn more at