Road Trips

Old West Meets New West on this Arizona Road Trip

Take a moment to sip a cuppa at Copper Star Coffee on your Arizona road trip. (Photo: Wendy Rose Gould)

Arizona is one of the few states where you can enjoy city life, the Old West, stunning desert views, and one of the world’s greatest natural wonders — all within a 5-hour drive. And this multi-stop road trip samples the best of the Grand Canyon State, from the New West of Phoenix to the prehistoric Grand Canyon and everything in between.

Start: Phoenix

Phoenix is fast becoming a cultural hub, offering adventurous food, world-class art, music, and a revival of mid-century modern architecture that has design fans swooning. Before you hit the road, stop by Welcome Chicken and Donuts for a donut breakfast sandwich (a fried egg and your choice of breakfast meat between two halves of a donut) that will make all your friends back home jealous (be sure to take a photo). Then, wander the art scene at Roosevelt Row (RoRo) and snap some pics of the vibrant murals that span the entire length of historic buildings.

Phoenix-Roosevelt-Row
Get an art fix in the hipster-friendly Roosevelt Row. (Photo: Wendy Rose Gould)

On your way out of town, stop and do some vintage shopping in the Melrose District along 7th Avenue. From mid-century furniture to charming housewares, jewelry, clothing, and salvaged goods, you’ll find it here. Fuel up with an espresso or smoothie at Copper Star Coffee, housed in an old converted gas station. You’ll be instantly taken in by the shop’s funky atmosphere, from it’s vintage pump outside to the industrial piping inside, coupled with live music and all the free magazines to read wile fueling up on some caffeine.

Prescott

From Phoenix, drive two hours north to Prescott, an Old West town that claims Arizona’s oldest saloon along the infamous Whiskey Row, and folklore legends such as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Whiskey Row developed after a fire in 1900 wiped out an entire block downtown. As the locals recovered, they built an unusually large number of saloons — as many as 40 at one time. Most have since been converted to other businesses, but the Gold Rush-era vibe remains.

After you explore downtown, head up the road for Prescott’s real treasure, Prescott National Forest, home to millions of acres of evergreen forest etched with trails. Here you can bike, hike, kayak, rock climb, camp, or just go out for a quiet stroll to escape the desert heat.

Sedona

After Prescott, make your way another hour north to Sedona, the state’s epicenter for spas, wellness, and new age practices. Framed by red rock towers and walls, Sedona is known for its “vortexes,” which are sacred sites where it’s believed the earth’s energy is particularly strong. Many visitors claim you can feel the vibrations beneath your feet and that vortexes have healing powers.

In Sedona, you’ll have a full menu of activities to choose from. Try one of the desert nature treatments at Sedona New Day Spa, lace up your sneakers for a vortex yoga hike, or buckle up for a rollicking Jeep tour over the red rock landscape.

End: Grand Canyon National Park

Saving the best for last, you’ll continue north another two hours through the tiny town of Tusayan to the majestic Grand Canyon. At a mile deep, 277 miles long, and 18 miles wide, this chasm will take your breath away. Each layer represents a prehistoric era as the Colorado River carved its way through the earth.

The South Rim is open all year for driving tours, or explore below the rim along the Bright Angel Trail, accessible from the historic main village. Grab a drink and watch the sunset to top all sunsets at El Tovar Lounge.

This article was published through a partnership with Visit the USA, inspiring travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities.

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