Ah Arizona. A trip Hannah didn’t even know she wanted before I convinced her of the beauty of AZ …. Our Arizona road trip was emotionally overwhelming, full of scenic landscapes and unforgettable views. We packed A LOT into these three days. Brief overview - We flew in to Phoenix, drove 2 hours South to Sedona fora hike, then another 1 hour South to Flagstaff were we stayed our second night. The next morning, we drove 1 hour to the Grand Canyon, and then another 3.5 hours back to Phoenix. The last day, we explored local Phoenix and Scottsdale hikes, shops, and eateries.
DAY 1 : Sedona
We flew in late to Phoenix and stayed the night in the outer suburb of Desert Ridge at the Cambria. Excellent and convenient exit, and a great hotel! Travel money saving tip: If you are not loyal to one hotel chain which allows you to earn points, you're doing it wrong. Cambria is part of Choice Hotels. We belong to Choice hotels and use them when we get the chance (especially Hannah for work). For each 10 nights, you earn 1 free. Our 2 nights at the Cambria were both free.
After late night In-N-Out fries and full night of sleep, we woke up early the next morning for a two hour drive up to Sedona. Immediately as you drive north, you can see mountains, cacti, rolling hills and valleys. Unparalled beauty. It was (other than California's Highway 1) the most beautiful drive we’ve encountered. After a lunch at the UNREAL Mariposa (unbelievable views), we spent the day hiking in Sedona. We hiked the Devil’s Bridge trail. It was about 4 miles to the top. The ultimate view, where you can stand upon the “Devil’s Bridge” with a 360 view of the mountains as your backdrop, is a surreal experience. Be warned, the temperature drops dramatically with elevation gain. When we started our hike, the temperature was a comfortable 64. At the top, it was 34 with trace amounts of snow ablaze the path.
After our hiking adventure, we checked out downtown Sedona, which is quite touristy. We took a short stroll and then left for Flagstaff. Flagstaff is a mountain town about an hour north of Sedona, that has a small town feel with larger town amenities. Sedona was marked by red rock and catci. Flagstaff was surrounded by pine forests and snowy mountains....amazing how quickly the landscape changed! We ate at a local Arizona chain, The Wildflower Bread Company, which is essentially a local Panera Bread with a more interesting menu. Flagstaff seemed to have a myriad of amazing, trendy eateries, but we were too hungry to do the diligence of finding the best downtown spot. Luckily, the Wildflower was in a cute, quaint area of Flagstaff, and the food was delish. Hannah got some hippie bowl with like 28 different vegetables in it. Safe to say, she was a happy wife. Too, it was around $10 each! Win.
DAY 2 : Flagstaff and Grand Canyon
Early the next morning, we felt like locals grabbing coffee at the Tourist Home Cafe. Next, we headed another hour and 15 minutes to the unequaled Grand Canyon. Mesmerized by the views, Hannah and I stood in the frozen Grand Canyon air speechless. Vast, expansive views were jaw dropping. As you drive throughout the park ($30 entrance fee, but good for a week), there are an inordinate amount of pull offs, each of which yields new and unique perspectives on the GC. We began at Mather Point, and then walked around. This area was quite crowded. We got back in the car to keep driving the rim, and found there to be less tourists the further we drove, until we were completely alone with the views. After a few hours of trying to wrap our heads around the transcendental beauty of the canyon, we drove back to Phoenix, hitting Flagstaff's Whole Foods for a quick, cheap bite on the way.
DAY 3 : Phoenix and Scottsdale
We woke up early to fit as much of Phoenix and Scottsdale as we could into one day before hoping on a plane that evening. In Phoenix, we climbed Camelback Mountain. This hike is for those who are in good shape… that said, I’m not sure how I did it. It’s a short hike, only 2.4 miles roundtrip, but for a fair portion of it, one must crawl on their hands and knees. Still, the hike was an immense workout that left my body reeling for a week. From atop Camelback, one is granted panoramic views of the entire city of Phoenix, with layered mountains behind. We couldn't stop staring at the beautiful combination of cacti, palm trees, and mid century houses.
Scottsdale is a city about 15 minutes from Phoenix that offers high end living, restaurants and walkability. Hannah and I immediately fell in love with Scottsdale as the place we would likely live in we ever moved to AZ. There is a “riverwalk” with one of the coolest pieces of wind art we’ve ever seen. Hannah fell in love with the Original Chop Shop, which was a cute, healthy downtown eatery. Cartel Coffee Lab offered plenty of seating and served dang good coffee. What more do you desire? Lastly, the Creamistry is a little ice cream shop worth stopping by (this is a small chain out West, we were introduced to the sweetness in Cali...though, be warned, it is not inexpensive)
On the way to the airport, we stopped by Papago Park. Easily accessible with free parking, we hiked (okay, probably 1/4 mile) to the "Hole in the Rock," which is a unique rock formation with gorgeous views. Had we the time, it would have been the PERFECT little spot for a picnic.
Arizona is astounding. You ought to plan a road trip. It’s WELL worth it. We will certainly be back soon. We're already missing this unique, and active desert town. Here's to 2018 being YOUR best travel year yet.
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