How to See Northern Arizona in One Day


Arizona day trip

Having visitors out here in Arizona is always a blessing! It gives us time to reconnect with distant family and lets our kids see how amazing our loved ones are. 

After 8 years in the desert, we have a tried and true route that will leave your visitors feeling like they got to see it all!

First, take your time getting up and ready. There is no need to rush. We usually head off around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., sometimes catching breakfast at a local joint, of which Phoenix is blessed to have many. Head up I-17 towards Flagstaff, Arizona. Stop at Montezuma’s Castle. Montezuma’s Castle is a cliff dwelling well preserved and gives guests a glimpse into our Native American history. This is an easy loop to walk and the kids love one more stretch of the legs! There is even a Sonic as you leave as a treat for no one pushing or shoving their brothers or sisters (that goes for adults, too). I recommend cherry limeades for everyone. My 6 year old would tell you to go for the ocean water. If you are with people who don’t do well with heat, the walk is mostly shaded with an air conditioned visitors center.

Next, head towards beautiful Flagstaff, but keep going because you are going to the Grand Canyon, the most breathtaking wonder you will ever see. Enter the South Rim park and enjoy the drive in. Be sure to look for deer and Phantom Ranch. It really gives you a sense of the scope of the depth of the canyon. Take pics at the South Rim and enjoy the films at the visitor center. Let your guests take some quiet time just to sit in awe. After about an hour and a half, grab a quick bite eat at a local fast food joints. Don’t worry. You’ll get amazing grub later.

Travel to Flagstaff and consider shopping in beautiful downtown for about an hour. Flagstaff is a mountain town with cool air, beautiful sites of the peaks and a college town vibe.

Travel back via 89A and get ready for lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ because this road is one of the most scenic in the United States. It follows a crystal clear river along a valley lined with steep cliffs and pine trees. Eat in downtown Sedona or Oak Creek. We love 89Agave Cantina.

As you leave Sedona, travel to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It is stunning, no matter what religion you are and the views are breathtaking. 

Head home to Scottsdale just in time for everyone to crawl into bed. Enjoy a glass of wine and pat yourself on the back for being the best tour guide in Arizona!

If your visitors have already done this route, be sure to check out this post