An Expert Travel Guide to Arizona
Steakhouses, art galleries and boutiques sit between the world's most magnificent desert terrain.
So, the first we’re going to suggest on this Arizona travel guide is that you stay in the historic and charming city of Scottsdale, where you’ll be surrounded by some of the finest natural landmarks known to humanity. If you use it as a base, you’ll be a boulder’s throw from the Grand Canyon, which is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, as well as a great range of forests and parks. Speaking of wonders of the world, don’t forget Plum Guide has some pretty spectacular homes for your idyllic holiday.
The region has a proud Native American culture and history, as well as a grand influence from Mexico, just south of the border. As with much of the U.S., you’ll probably need to rent a car (rather than walk around the 277 miles (445 kilometres) of the Grand Canyon, for example). That said, there are all manner of hiking trails that’ll let you be at one with nature, and forget your angry boss, ex-partner or… children… back home.
We weren’t kidding when we said we’d stay in Scottsdale. But, Scottsdale is more than just a base for exploring the parks. It’s a beautiful city with a scenic waterfront area overlooking the Arizona Canal. Marking the side of the water is the Stetson Plaza Shopping Center, flanked by palm trees.
The Downtown district is also pretty lively, packed with bars and restaurants that light up the streets come evening. Of course, if you're a little too civilised for all that night-time fun, get some shut eye and prepare for a trip to the 36-hole golf course at the Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center. There’s also golf at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa and the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort and Casino. As their names suggest, those places also have spas and casinos.
Wait, we haven’t even mentioned the art galleries for which Scottsdale is famous. Just on the western side of the Downtown district lies a flurry of galleries showcasing local and international artists (and their works). Go on one of the Scottsdale Art Walk events on Thursday evenings for a guided look at the art pieces and a glimpse into the local culture.
Phoenix and Scottsdale seem to be eating each other, as the two cities lie side by side in central Arizona. And the former is the capital of the state, no less. As part of the Sonoran Desert, it gets pretty hot in summer, so bring some shades and sun cream, before investigating some of the skyscrapers that make up the city centre. Rummage through the historic streets of the Midtown area and visit Papago Park and Phoenix Zoo in the affluent Camelback East zone. If you’ve been tiring yourself out in the surrounding parks, then treat yourself with a meal at one of the most exclusive eateries in Arizona. The Capital Grille is a fine-dining steakhouse, while Binkley’s Restaurant, Steak 44 and Tarbell’s continue the American cuisine tradition. For something a little different, try the Spanish dishes at T. Cook’s or the French menu at Vincent’s on Camelback.
The Grand Canyon
As if we’d do a travel guide to Arizona without covering this Wonder of the World. Its ridges, colours and gorges have inspired countless poets and writers before us, so we couldn’t possibly do its unparalleled justice beauty in these short lines. However, we will say this: it’s a bunch of big mountains with red and yellow colours. Seriously, it looks as though someone has smeared red dust over the moon. Know that the North Rim is a little harder to reach, making it the most secluded part of the park. The South Rim is a little busier, but it’s a pretty big park, so you should be alright for space. Take the park shuttle system to get around the park, or try something a little more romantic, like a horse or mule ride.
Between the Grand Canyon and Scottsdale lies the red mountains and valleys of Sedona, which is one of the most stunning parks in the United States, and a must-visit on any Arizona travel guide. We’d wager it’d be up for a World Wonder nomination itself, if it weren’t for its pesky Grand Canyon sibling. Drive through the Village of Oak Creek for awe-inspiring views and stop in at the village of Sedona’s boutiques, art galleries and eateries along the way. Embark on a jeep tour to explore the surroundings, incorporating visits to Native American dwellings. It's hot out there, so check out our list of homes with pools in Arizona.