Top 24 Things To Do In Payson, Arizona

things to do in payson arizona
| 9 min read

For many, Arizona means scorching sun and desert lands. While it’s certainly true that most of the state features arid and semi-arid climates, there are still some areas there that allow people to enjoy all four seasons. One such example is Payson. The town is dubbed “the heart of Arizona” for its central location, but its moniker could very well work for how it has just about everything. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy all kinds of terrains and adventures, from skiing in the mountains to trekking in the forests to fishing in the lake. Make yourself at home at the top Airbnb vacation rentals and pet-friendly cabins in town, and check out this list for the top things to do in Payson, Arizona.

1. Visit the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin

Zane Grey Cabin on the Rogue River (15257540094)
Source: Photo by user Bureau of Land Ma... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Here’s what to do in Payson during your trip! This place may not be the hometown of Western author Zane Grey, having been born in Ohio, but he remains one of the most celebrated individuals of the town because he regularly vacationed there, largely to do some bear hunting. In fact, roughly half of the novels he has written are set in Arizona. Learn more about the author at the Rim Country Museum and at the Zane Grey Cabin, where he stayed during his holidays. While the original structure was razed by the Dude Fire in 1990, it was rebuilt to resemble the original.

Rim Country Museum

Address: 700 Green Valley Parkway, Payson, AZ

Website: Rim Country Museum

Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed from Sun - Tue)

Price: 5 USD for adults, 4 USD for seniors (55 years old and up), 3 USD for students (12 - 18 years old). Children below 12 years old have free admission.

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2. Go wildlife and bird watching at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery Filter Pumps
Source: Photo by Flickr user Robert D Bruce used under CC BY 2.0

What to see in Payson, you ask? As the name suggests, the fish hatchery is the biggest highlight of this destination, being one of the biggest production sites of trout in the state. What many people don’t know, however, is that it also features lush vegetation that serves as the home of a wide variety of wildlife. Once you’ve had your fill of bird and wildlife watching, you can go back to the hatchery to feed the fish there.

Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Address:3898 N Tonto Creek Rd, Ste 1, Payson, AZ

Website: Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Opening hours: 8am - 4pm (daily)

Price: Free admission

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3. Go on a picnic in the beautiful Green Valley Park

Source: Photo by Flickr user CopaDave used under CC BY-ND 2.0

If you want to enjoy a laidback vacation in Payson, head on over to Green Valley Park with a picnic basket so you can enjoy a meal outdoors where you can take in the greenery. It’s one of the best things to do in Payson this weekend. This is truly a family-friendly destination, with dogs also allowed here. There are on-site cooking facilities here if you want to have a barbecue. Before or after you enjoy your meal, you can explore one of the walking trails in the park, try a bit of fishing, or even go boating there.

Green Valley Park

Address: 1128 W Country Club Dr, Payson, AZ

Website: Green Valley Park

Opening hours: 6am - 10:30pm (daily)

Price: Free admission

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4. Try your luck at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Mazatzal Hotel and Casino may not be as big as the ones that you can find in Las Vegas, but that’s precisely one reason why this is worth checking out because its small size is in keeping with the quaint atmosphere of Payson. Besides giving you the opportunity to see whether Lady Luck will favor you, you can also visit the restaurant, which offers a buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Do note that the casino is a smoking area.

Mazatzal Hotel and Casino

Address: Hwy 87, Mile Marker 251, Payson, AZ

Website: Mazatzal Hotel and Casino

Opening hours: 24 hrs (daily)

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5. Enjoy fishing at the Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Ever wanted to teach your kids how to tickle a trout? Here at Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout, you can do just that, and even without the need to get a license. You and your kids can fish to your hearts’ content at this Payson attraction, and services are already inclusive of fish cleaning, packaging, and ice. The use of poles, nets, and buckets are already thrown in the deal. Do note, however, that coolers are not allowed to be brought in without permission.

Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout

Address: 2097 N Forest Service Rd 289, Payson, AZ

Website: Rancho Tonto Catch-A-Trout

Opening hours: Summer: 10am - 5pm (daily); Sat & Sun: 10am - 5pm (spring and fall)

Price: 1 USD per inch of fish caught

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6. Admire the Pennsylvanian Shale-Limestone deposits at the Paleo Site

Indian Gardens Paleo Site approximately 12 miles east of Payso Arizona on highway 260
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Richard N Horne used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Many people obsessed over fossils when they were younger. If you were one of them, make sure you don’t miss out on exploring this site and indulge your dream of being a budding fossil hunter. The area, which is located just out of Payson, was once covered by the sea, and you can see fossils of the aquatic creatures that once lived there, including shrimps and crabs, embedded in the rocks. Preserved shells may also be found here.

Paleo Site

Address: Az 260, Payson, AZ

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7. Explore the Shoofly Indian Ruins

Shoofly Village - Prehistoric Construction
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user LadeeInAZ used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re a history lover, here’s another attraction that you can sink your teeth in. The curiously named attraction is believed to have been occupied sometime between 1000-1250 AD. Today, the Shoofly Indian Ruins feature over 80 structures made of adobe, stone, and wood, remnants of this community. Some believe that there are more ruins left waiting to be discovered, with additional excavations being planned.

Shoofly Indian Ruins

Address: 1-5 Houston Mesa Rd, Payson, AZ

Website: Shoofly Indian Ruins

Opening hours:sunrise - sunset (daily)

Price: Free admission

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8. Sample the coffee at Common Grounds

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

We got some rain! Not alot, but every drop counts. Please continue to pray for rain, less windy days and always for our fire crews. #fireseason #localcoffeeshop #smalltowncoffeeshop #localbusiness

Posted by Common Grounds Payson on Wednesday, June 23, 2021

If you and your significant other are coffee lovers who want to veer away from the same old commercial establishments, why not try out a cup of joe at Common Grounds? This cafe features locally roasted beans that make delicious coffee, which you can pair with freshly baked pastries. The classic decors only add to the cozy ambiance, and there’s a patio if you fancy enjoying your cup outdoors.

Common Grounds

Address: 219 S Colcord Rd, Payson, AZ

Facebook page: Common Grounds

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 6:30am - 4:30pm; Sat: 8am - 12pm; Sun: 8am - 1pm

Price: Starts from 1 USD

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9. Hike to the top of the Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim near FR321
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Coconino National... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Mogollon Rim is perhaps the most distinctive of the tourist attractions of Payson, with its cliffs made of sandstone and limestone. There’s a lookout point for you to admire the beauty of the horizon. If, however, you want a closer look at the scenery, you can explore the terrain via its many trails that you can take by driving, hiking, or biking. There are also campsites around the area if you want to spend the night communing with nature.

Mogollon Rim

Address: Az 260, Payson, AZ

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10. Stroll down Payson's historic Main Street

Payson-(A) Main Street Payson
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marine 69-71 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

There was a point in time when Payson resembled the setting portrayed in Western movies, complete with saloons, livery stables, and a blacksmith’s shop. Today, you can still take a glimpse of this when you stroll down Payson’s Main Street, the town’s literal and figurative heart. Visiting this area will allow you to learn more about the town’s rich history.

Main Street

Address: Main Street, Payson, AZ

Website: Main Street

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11. Explore the Railroad Tunnel Trail

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

In the 1880s, a tunnel was excavated by the Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad through the Mogollon Rim to allow the transport of ore. Unfortunately, this plan to use this for the intended purpose was canceled when the company ran out of funds for the project. The tunnel, however, remains to date, and intrepid hikers can explore this cave-like structure and enjoy fantastic views of the Mogollon Rim along the way. If you want to check this out, be aware that the path is somewhat steep. Make sure you wear hiking shoes and comfortable clothes when you visit this attraction.

Railroad Tunnel

Address: 1009 E State Highway 260, Payson, AZ

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12. Go ATV-ing on the Rim Country Trail

ATV Tour Jaco Beach Costa Rica - Amazing views a Must Do tour
Source: Photo by user Costaricapro used under CC BY-SA 3.0

As mentioned earlier, you can go hiking or biking to explore the Mogollon Rim. If, however, you want to try a different kind of adventure, why not go on an ATV ride and explore the forests and dirt trails in and around Payson? One of the popular options is the East Verde River Trail, although there are other trails such as the Cabin Loop Trail, Pyeatt Draw, and Rim Road. Some ATV packages include the services of a tour guide.

East Verde River Trail

Address: Payson, AZ

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13. Visit the Payson Candle Factory and watch the making of candles

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Payson Candle on Saturday, December 1, 2018

Ever wondered how candles are made? At Payson Candle Factory, you can actually observe how each creation is produced. You won’t just see wicks being dipped repeatedly in wax, you will also get to witness the carving of each into creative shapes, each of which would tempt you into bringing it home as souvenirs. There are other gift items sold in the store as well if you’re thinking of getting something for a loved one.

Payson Candle Factory

Address: 620 N Beeline Hwy, Payson, AZ

Facebook page: Payson Candle Factory

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 10am - 4pm

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14. Stroll through the Payson Pioneer Cemetery

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Payson Pioneer Cemetery is the final resting place of over a hundred people who, in some way, have contributed to Payson’s history. The most famous of them is arguably John Meadows, who was the first to be buried there. He, together with his son Henry, were two of the last few casualties in skirmishes with Native Americans in the Rim Country. According to legend, the two were killed by renegade Apaches despite his statement that no bullet from the tribe had been made to kill him.

Payson Pioneer Cemetery

Address: Payson, Arizona

Website: Payson Pioneer Cemetery

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15. Enjoy a show at the Sawmill Theatres

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Sawmill Crossing and Theatres on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

If you’re going to be in town just when a movie that you’re looking forward to watching will start showing, you’re in luck, because you can simply head over to Sawmill Theatres to catch the latest flick. The theatre, which features six big screens, show about three films daily. Snacks, including popcorn, and ticket prices are reasonable.

Sawmill Theatres

Address: 201 W Main St, Payson, AZ

Website: Sawmill Theatres

Opening hours: 12pm - 8pm (daily)

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16. Enjoy a day at Rumsey Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

While Payson features more temperate weather compared to other parts of Arizona, it can still occasionally have hot days, especially during summer. You and your family can cool off in the outdoor swimming pool of Rumsey Park. Besides the pool, the park also features two playgrounds; a play gym; football fields; tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts; horseshoe pits, and other family-friendly attractions that the whole family will enjoy using. There’s even a dog park where you can bring Fido to play.

Rumsey Park

Address: 400 N Mc Lane Rd, Payson, AZ

Website: Rumsey Park

Opening hours: 6am - 10:30pm (daily)

Price: Free admission

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17. Play a round of golf at the Payson Golf Course

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Payson Golf Club on Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Golf enthusiasts, rejoice because there’s a golf course right in Payson. Players can choose between 9- and 18-hole games, and there’s even a practice range there for those who just want to practice their swing. Even those who don’t play will still appreciate the beauty of the area, which features lush rolling hills, picturesque pine trees, and a variety of wildlife.

Payson Golf Course

Address: 1504 W Country Club Dr, Payson, AZ

Website: Payson Golf Course

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat and Sun)

Price: Starts from 18 USD

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18. Dine with your dogs at the cowboy-themed Macky's Grill

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Macky's Grill on Thursday, March 5, 2020

Here’s another dog-friendly establishment in Payson that you can check out if you’re going to bring your furry friend to Payson. Macky’s Grill is a cowboy-themed restaurant that allows pet owners to dine with their dogs on the patio area. The food served here is what you can expect from a typical diner, including soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and steaks.

Macky's Grill

Address: 201 W Main St, Payson, AZ

Website: Macky’s Grill

Opening hours: 10am - 8pm (daily)

Price: Starts from 2.30 USD

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19. Get a pint at Jakes Corner Bar

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Jakes Corner Bar is a biker bar that showcases the talents of Western music artists. Food and drinks are cheap here, and you can grab comfort food such as burgers and fries from this watering hole. You can play a round of horseshoes just outside the bar. Fun fact: this bar once served as a shooting location of a 2018 film that carries the title of the establishment.

Jakes Corner Bar

Address: 57564 N Az Highway 188, Payson, AZ

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 11pm; Sat - Sun: 8am - 11pm

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20. Go horseback riding at Kohl's Ranch Stables

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Posted by Kohls Ranch Stables LLC. on Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Want to go horseback riding while in Payson? If so, head over to Kohl’s Ranch Stables, where you can tour Butterfly Canyon on horseback. This adventure takes you inside the forests, where you can get great views of the mountains and the surrounding areas. The horses are very friendly and the guides are quite knowledgeable.

Kohl's Ranch Stables

Address: 286 Kohl Rd, Payson, AZ

Website: Kohl’s Ranch Stables

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Sun)

Price: 30 USD

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21. Get pampered at Payson Day Spa

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

We have a variety of product available for purchase!

Posted by Payson Day Spa and Salon on Sunday, February 13, 2011

Being out and about can be tiring, even if what you’re doing is sightseeing. Be pampered by treating yourself to a treatment or two at the Payson Day Spa. Among the services offered here are massages, facials, and body scrubs. There are also beauty treatments offered here, including hair styling and manicures.

Payson Day Spa

Address: 815 E Hwy 260, Payson, AZ

Website: Payson Day Spa

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon & Sun)

Price: Starts from 30 USD

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22. Go shopping at the Bealls Outlet

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

It's tee time Tuesday! Which graphic tee is your favorite?

Posted by Bealls Outlet on Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Want to indulge your love for shopping while in Payson? If so, head on over to Bealls Outlet, which offers good finds at great prices. Some items are even sold at 70% of their regular prices here. The inventory is replenished practically daily, so you can find new items sold here every visit.

Bealls Outlet

Address: 305 S Beeline Hwy, Payson, AZ

Website: Bealls Outlet

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 9pm; Sun: 10am - 8pm

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23. Enjoy bowling with friends at Rim Country Bowl

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Rim Country Bowl on Friday, January 29, 2021

If you love bowling, consider visiting Rim Country Bowl, which re-opened in 2019. Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, this venue is still worth checking out because it offers other attractions, including an arcade and a pool hall. Food and drinks are served here. Alternatively, you can head over to the Arizona Bar next door if you want more options.

Rim Country Bowl

Address: 1109 N Beeline Hwy, Payson, AZ

Website: Rim Country Bowl

Opening hours: Mon: 12pm - 9pm; Tue: 9am - 9:30pm; Wed: 3:30pm - 9pm; Thu: 1pm - 9pm; Fri: 10am - 11pm; Sat: 12pm - 11pm; Sun: 8pm

Price: Starts from 2.89 USD

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24. Buy fresh produce at Payson Farmers Market

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Opening THIS Saturday! Posters are hung in businesses, Banners on the street, commercials start this week and we'll be...

Posted by Payson Farmers Market on Monday, May 24, 2021

Buyers will be more than satisfied with this seasonal farmers market. Besides local produce, you can purchase other items here, including but not limited to a variety of meats, freshly baked bread and pastries, honey, and different kinds of artisan food. You can even catch performances by local artists here.

Payson Farmers Market

Address: 816 S. Beeline Highway in Payson, Arizona

Website: Payson Farmers Market

Opening hours: Sat: 8am - 12pm (from 27 May to 16 September)

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Experience the four seasons in Payson

In a state that is best known for a seemingly endless summer because of its hot climate, Payson takes pride in featuring all four seasons. This means that visitors can have fun in town regardless of what time they visit, since activities are happening there all year round. Use this list as a guide to help you identify what to do in the area during your holiday there.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Melanie is a freelance travel writer. She considers freelancing for Trip 101 to be a combination of two of the things she loves: writing and traveling. She has gone sightseeing with family,...Read more

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