We arrived into the Phoenix airport where we had booked a car. One thing to keep in mind is the car rental location is a shuttle ride away and it is a fair distance. This wasn’t a problem for us arriving as we were in no hurry, but keep this in mind when dropping off your rental vehicle and then getting the shuttle back to the airport! Give yourself an extra hour at least just to make sure you’re not too rushed.
On our way to Tucson, which was our first destination, we ate at this cute Mexican restaurant in Florence. Yummy!!
We got to Tucson and spent 2 nights there. We stayed near the University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!) which is a great location. We chose a B and B which was very quaint…there are a lot of accommodation options here! The campus is really pretty for a stroll around and there’s a desert garden in the middle which shows off many of the native plants. I was a bit surprised at how beautiful the different cacti are!
We knew that our one full day would be spent on the road exploring locations close by so to enjoy more of Tucson I’d say stay an additional night. We got up early and drove to Mission San Xavier del Bac. This church from the 1700’s is beautiful outside and has amazing original statues and artwork on the inside. Great for photo ops!
From here we headed to Tombstone…a Wild West town made famous by the Earp brothers and the OK Corral. Although touristy I would suggest going to the Corral and watching the performance. It’s a fun way to spend some time there.
After a day of travelling we headed back to Saguaro National Park just outside of Tucson to see these enormous cacti in the evening light.
The next day it was time to head up north. Our destination was Sedona where we were spending a couple of nights. On our way we first at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum just outside of Tucson. This museum has a lot to offer and we could have spent hours there, but we unfortunately had to keep moving.
We then stopped at Montezuma Castle National Monument where you can see cliff dwellings that are 700 to 900 years old. Fascinating to look at and wonder how they managed to live their lives on the sides of these hills. This site closes by 5:00 so give yourself some time to wander. We got there just before closing so didn’t have too much time to explore.
In Sedona we had booked 2 nights at Cozy Cactus Bed and Breakfast. This B and B is located just south of the town and is just WOW!! It boasts amazing views of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte and the owners prepare the most delicious breakfasts! Sedona is located in a gorgeous setting surrounded by red sandstone rock formations. The hike we chose while we were there was the Courthouse Butte Hike and the views as you travel around this rock are absolutely stunning!
Sedona offers fantastic hiking, biking, golfing, shopping, spas, and a variety of restaurants. We could have spent 4 or 5 nights there and would love to go back one day. The sunset reflecting off the rocks is something to see!
After our too short of a visit in Sedona we headed up Hwy 64 to the East Entrance of the Grand Canyon. We decided to enter this way so that we would have the canyon on our right as we drove along the southern rim and this would then make for easy access to any view points and pull outs. The Grand Canyon is really something to see…it’s breathtaking, and awe-inspiring, and humbling! Enjoy taking your time along here and really soaking up those views. Try and find a quiet spot and just soak in the immense beauty of this national park. There are free shuttle buses that transport visitors between the visitor center, hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, and parking lots so take advantage of these buses once you’ve settled yourself in for a night or two.
On our way back to Phoenix we stopped in the town of Williams on the historic Route 66. This was actually the last town to be bypassed by the new highway. This city has historic buildings and lots of stores selling memorabilia. It’s worth a stop to check out the diners and grab some lunch before continuing back down south.
Once back in Phoenix there is lots of accommodation to choose from. We stayed 3 nights in the Scottsdale area of Phoenix which is a bit quieter and has many spas and resorts with lots of different amenities to pamper yourself. We spent our time here doing some shopping in the Old Town area of Scottsdale and relaxing by the pool.
I would definitely go back to Arizona and explore more of this state!
The best time to visit southern Arizona is in the spring and fall when temperatures are more moderate…this area is a desert and can be unbearable in the summer. Also, when visiting the Grand Canyon bring a warm sweater or jacket. It cools down a lot in the evenings and you’ll be glad you have something to bundle up in.