I will start with one of our family favorites. Start early in the day and head north on highway 87 towards the Payson area. Continue north to Tonto Natural Bridge.
On hot days the water can be refreshing. The falls and the bridge are beautiful and the hike to reach them is not long at all and quite easy.
After stopping for lunch, head on up into Sedona and at the main round about in town, go to the right and head on up into Oak Creek Canyon to Slide Rock State Park.
Now from Slide Rock you can either head back home to Mesa if you just want a day trip, or find a hotel in the area and stay the night. Hotel prices will be higher in Sedona, but there is Oak Creek Village or Cottonwood that has more reasonable rates and both very close by.
Day two: Spend the morning in east Sedona visiting the shops and galleries. The scenery is breathtaking. Sedona is really one of the most beautiful spots in Arizona but also one of the most expensive, so just look. Save your money for later. There are also many trails to hike if your family enjoys that. After spending the morning in Sedona, drive over to the west side of town and continue out of town on highway 89A towards Cottonwood. When you get to Cottonwood, follow the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. It is only about 10-15 minutes from Cottonwood.
Tuzigoot National Monument are some great Native American ruins. My kids used to call it the original condominium complex because that is what it looks like. The prices are $5 per person, kids under 16 are free. They are open from 8-6 daily.
Jerome!Jerome is an old mining town that in the past 20 years has had a rejuvenation as a spot to visit. You can spend a few days here or a few hours. Here is where you will find everything you wanted to buy in Sedona but at half to a third less expensive. There are galleries, museums, fun shops and many markers around town to read and learn about the history of the town. Unfortunately, I read that due to budget cuts, the Jerome State Park is temporarily closed which is too bad because it is a great little museum with many historical treasures from Jerome’s past heyday.
You will still want to drive over to it so you can get a great view of the town from a distance. You will want to walk through the streets, from the former red light district to the main street and on up the hill to the asylum.