With so much to explore in Arizona, you might struggle to create the perfect itinerary – I know I certainly did!
On this post I wanted to share our day-by-day itinerary in Arizona with the hope that will help you craft your own trip and make the most out of it. We did this road trip in April when the weather was still mild and it was all about seeking beautiful sceneries. The highlights of our trip were the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Antelope Canyon so if any of those are under your radar, then keep on reading!
I’ve included links to other blog posts if you’d like to learn about a location more in detail.
Ready? Let’s go!
Day 1: Scottsdale (Phoenix)
We decided to start our Arizona trip from Phoenix because we figured it would be more efficient to travel in the north direction and also because we wanted to see the saguaro cactus that can be found on the scenic route from Phoenix to Sedona. Yes, we love cactus that much!
We stayed in Old Town Scottsdale (kind of the upscale side of Phoenix) and it turned out to be the perfect place to relax after an early flight and start adjusting to the dry and hot desert weather.
Where to stay: We booked Motel 6 Scottsdale because this was one of the cheapest alternatives in this area and we just needed a place to sleep. The hotel is clean and basic and most importantly, felt safe. It is within walking distance to the main shopping and dining area of Scottsdale so we were happy with the choice. Check reviews and book here.
- Read more: 24 hours in Scottsdale
Day 2 – 3: Sedona
The following morning, we picked up our rental car in Scottsdale, checked out of the hotel and headed to Sedona. It is a 2-hour drive but it took us a bit longer as we made a few stops along the way to see the majestic saguaros! The largest concentration of saguaros was around a town called Bumble Bee (1hr away from Scottsdale on Highway 17). Totally worth pulling over to snap a few pictures.
We also visited Arcosanti, a unique urban experiment by architect Paolo Soleri. We did a self-guided tour around the property for about 30 minutes and continued our journey. I recommend this place only if you feel you have spare time and running on schedule, I wouldn’t really go an extra mile to see it.
- Read more: Visiting Arcosanti
As we approached Sedona, we were in awe of the red rocks formations and could barely hold our excitement. We quickly checked into our Airbnb and went to Bell Rock – just in time for sunset!
Day 3 was dedicated to hiking in Sedona. We did the Oak Creek Canyon West Fork Trail in the morning and the Airport Mesa Trail in the afternoon (the latter one was the highlight of the day for me). Overall Sedona was much more than we expected and in hindsight it would have been nice to stay an extra couple of days to go on a few more hikes and maybe do some yoga near a vortex!
- Read more: 3 Stunning Hikes in Sedona
Where to stay: We stayed at this beautiful Airbnb in the Village of Oak Creek. While the house is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Sedona, Bell Rock and other red rock trails are within walking distance. The house is clean and quiet – totally recommend it! Read reviews and book here.
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What to pack for Arizona
Day 4: Page (Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon)
We left Sedona early in the morning and headed towards Page. It is a 3-hour drive and went pretty smoothly: we were at Horseshoe Bend by noon. Horseshoe Bend was absolutely stunning! A short hike will take you from the parking area to an overlook 1,100 feet above where the Colorado River makes a massive bend through a deep canyon. We probably spent about 1 or 1.5 hours there (mostly taking pictures).
- Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Horseshoe Bend
We then rushed towards the Antelope Canyon, which is 10 minutes away by car. The night before we booked a guided tour at Canyon X by Taadidiin Tours, which was recommended to me by someone on a travel Facebook group as a great alternative to popular Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tours. I’m so glad we went for it because the whole experience was beyond amazing! Not so crowded and equally beautiful as the other canyons. If you’re planning to visit during high-season, I would suggest booking the tour far in advance (not the night before like us…) to avoid disappointment.
After our tour to Antelope Canyon, we decided to go explore this area a bit more and visited the Glen Canyon Dam, Wahweap Overlook and enjoyed the sunset at Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas.
Where to stay: We stayed at Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Page Lake Powell and we loved it! The room was spacious and comfortable. Amenities included: free breakfast, free WIFI inside room, coffee/tea maker, iron board, free toiletries, fridge, in-room safe. Other safe bets: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Page, and Best Western View of Lake Powell Hotel.
Day 5 – 6: Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon: the reason why we planned this trip in the first place…so you can imagine how excited we were at this point! The South Rim is a 1-hour ride from Page so we had the full day to explore. We figured it would be good to cover all the major vista points on the first day and go hiking on the 2nd day so that’s what we did. Having a picnic overlooking the impressive canyon was an unforgettable experience. My favorite view was definitely Mohave Point, don’t miss that one!
On the following day, we hiked the Bright Angel Trail. It was quite exhausting but totally made our day. No Grand Canyon visit is really complete without a hike to witness the inner canyon beauty.
When we visited in April, the North Rim was closed for winter. If you visit from mid-May through mid-October, you may want to check out the North Rim too.
Where to stay: We booked a room at Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams (Unlike all the other accommodation options mentioned on this article, I would not recommend this hotel for two reasons: it was quite far from Grand Canyon and secondly, we felt the hotel was a bit too run down and not good value for money. I suggest trying to find accommodation either inside the park or in the vicinity). Check out other hotel alternatives via Hotels.com
Road Trip Essentials
Bonus (because we ended our trip in Las Vegas, Nevada)
Day 7 – 8: Las Vegas
Vegas, baby! We figured we would end our trip in style so Vegas seemed like a suitable option. But for real, it was quite an adjustment going from dusty hiking boots to fancy heels. Las Vegas felt overwhelming but still manageable because we didn’t force ourselves to go to casinos or nightclubs. Instead we enjoyed walking around Fremont St, eating yummy pancakes at some old school diners and hopping around the beautiful hotels.
From Vegas, we flew back to San Francisco with a huge smile in our face and a newly found love for Arizona.
If you have any questions about this trip, please leave me a comment down below – I’d love to hear from you.
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