Arid deserts and vast landscapes are always first to mind when you think of Arizona, but you’ll soon discover there is much more to this four-corner state than a mere desert oasis. From zip-lining through the Grand Canyon to Mexican-inspired culinary delicacies, there is something for everyone. Here’s what’s on our Arizona to-do list…
1. Get your kicks on Route 66
The landmark road that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles is a key symbol of American culture. Arizona is lucky enough to be one of the eight states the ‘Mother Road’ passes through on its way to the Pacific. If this features on your bucket list – like it does for so many – then driving even a part of it will be essential for your trip to Arizona.
2. The Grand Canyon
In a size and scale of its own, the Grand Canyon is prestigious enough to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world. With an average depth of 1.6km and a vast expanse to explore, there’s good reason why people flock to it. And this year sees the landmark celebrate 100 years as a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are a bunch of ways to explore it. The cheapest is dusting off your walking shoes and asking the locals for their favourite trails. More of a thrill seeker? Take to the skies with a helicopter tour, or alternatively, you can soar 3,200ft through Grand Canyon West on a zip line.
3. Petrified Forest National Park
If you’re after the unusual, then the Petrified Forest National Park may just fit your bill. This national park in Navajo and Apache counties offers a range of hikes, driving routes and photography hotspots. Extending into the Painted Desert, it’s best known for its forest which fell a mere 225 million years ago and now lies fossilised. Whether you like your guided tours on foot, bike or by horseback, this is one for you.
Top tip – try and time your trip for sunset, where the views of the Painted Desert and the layers of coloured rocks are particularly spectacular.
4. Foodie galore
Like most US cities there’s something to delight the most travelled of foodies. Of course, you couldn’t be in Arizona without chasing down its culinary classics, but it’ll be the innovations on those dishes that are worth travelling for. Gallo Blanco in the Garfield neighbourhood is no exception. Focusing on bringing quality ingredients to inexpensive dishes, it ranges from ceviche de pescado to deconstructed tacos, and will mean you still have dollars left over for dessert.
5. Keeping it cool
One thing to watch out for: Arizona is hot. Whether you’re coming back from a long hike or just looking for respite, they have a wide range of ice cream and refreshments on offer. From MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain to ice cream sandwiches, nitrogen frozen ice cream and even vegan ice cream at Nami; if it is one of the 299 sunny days of the year, you’ll be covered.
6. Unwinding in style
If luxury, wellness and being waited on hand-and-foot is your thing (or perhaps you just deserve a relaxing treat after hiking through the desert) then Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Spa is your answer. As well as boasting a spa and an expansive golfing resort (and meeting rooms for the more industrious among us), it can also sort any excursions and activities for you, so you can just get on with your time in Arizona while they do all the heavy lifting.
Book with your Global Hotel Card.
7. Head to the Heard Museum
A quarter of Arizona is made up of Indian reservations and houses 27 tribes. The Heard Museum, founded in 1929, is a great opportunity to get a first-person perspective of the American Indian people. It has a great selection of artwork from contemporary Native American artists, including paintings, basketry, pottery and jewellery. Plus, as an added bonus, if you are visiting in early February, the museum hosts the annual World Championship Hoop Dance Competition!
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