Roadtrip: Vegas to Tucson and Everywhere in Between
This past week I spent my time traveling across the southwest with my parents and my aunt. I planned the road trip around things I wanted to see and things I thought they would like to see. We had the most amazing time. If anyone is planning a trip on this side of the country, here is a suggested itinerary.
Days 1 & 2: Las Vegas
We spent two full days in Las Vegas, just enough time for me, considering I will be going back again next week.
Where to Stay: We chose to stay at Paris Las Vegas. I had never stayed here before but chose this particular hotel because of its location in the middle of the strip and the great pricing. We were extremely pleased with the service we received and the layout of our rooms. We had a giant bathroom with a walk-in shower and large garden tub. Room service was exceptional and we even received a welcome call right as we were walking in the rooms. Pros: Free Parking, Great Restaurants, Welcoming Casino, Nightly Entertainment, Exceptional Staff. Cons: None.
NOTE: Traveling to Vegas in the winter months during the week is great. You can get some amazing hotel and show deals.
What to Do: Since we stayed at Paris Las Vegas, going up in the Eiffel Tower was a must. We decided to go up at night so we could see the Bellagio water show. The price was very reasonable and definitely worth it. I suggest going up at night rather than during the day if you have to choose one or the other.
We also took advantage of the great show pricing and saw VEGAS! The Show. Full of dancing, singing, glitter and glam, this show re-creates some of the most memorable moments in Vegas history. The talent of the cast in this show is incredible. Pros: Family Friendly, Talented Cast, Intimate Setting-no seat is a bad seat, Cast Interacts With Crowd, Great Length (90 minutes). Cons: No Photography.
Just walking around in Vegas is entertainment in itself. We spent time checking out some of the hotels as well as people watching on the strip. Step into The Venetian and take a gondola ride, browse the shops on Fremont Street, admire the Roman themed Caesars Palace while sipping on a hot chocolate from Payard Patisserie & Bistro or take a ride on The Big Apple Coaster at New York, New York. Don’t forget to get your photo taken at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign!
A quick trip from the strip is Hoover Dam. If you have time to squeeze this adventure in please do, you will not regret it. You can take a short tour of the dam for approximately $14 per person. Walk from Nevada to Arizona and back again admiring the views then grab a burger and fries at the cafe for lunch. Don’t forget to stop in the gift shop and get some souvenirs and picture-perfect postcards to remember your trip!
Day 3: Zion National Park
En route to Page, Arizona we passed through Zion National Park. I could have spent a whole day here taking pictures-absolutely breathtaking. If I had to plan the trip again, I would include more time for Zion National Park and also drive through Bryce Canyon National Park. We only had a few hours at Zion but I did get some great pictures while we were there.
Day 4: Page, Arizona -Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon
Where to Stay: This was our first time staying in Page. We opted for Best Western View of Lake Powell Hotel. Don’t let the name fool you, there isn’t much of a view of Lake Powell from this hotel. It was clean and had a friendly staff so no complaints.
What to Do: Page, Arizona has always been on my bucket list. Not very many people have heard of Page, but you may have heard of Horseshoe Bend or Antelope Canyon, two of Page’s most visited sites.
To get to Horseshoe Bend from Page, drive south on 89. You will see the sign for Horseshoe Bend along with a parking lot on the right hand side of the road between mile markers 544 and 545. It is about a 3/4 mile hike from the parking lot to the rim.
Antelope Canyon was probably one of my favorite stops on the trip. To tour the canyon you must have a Navajo Guide. We chose to use Dixie Ellis Tours and were very impressed with them. Our guide helped everyone adjust their cameras to get the best pictures for the lighting that day. Not only was he informative with photography, he also helped us understand how the canyons were formed along with neat canyon facts along the way. We did the basic tour, but for photographers out there, you can do the photography tour and get extra time in the canyon as well as awesome photography tips to get the best photos you can.
Day 5: Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
What to Do: En route to the Grand Canyon from Page, be sure to stop off at Cameron Trading Post for a coffee or Kool-Aid Pickle. Browse the handmade Indian baskets and rugs and admire the jewelry before hitting the road. When entering Grand Canyon National Park, make sure you stop at Desert View and walk up to the top of the viewing tower for an unforgettable view of the Canyon. Stop off at the Visitor’s Center and walk the Rim Trail. Go as far as you can west and then take the bus back if your feet are tired. We only had a day to explore the park, but for those with more time, take a helicopter tour of the canyon, walk the trails or take a relaxing Grand Canyon railway tour.
Where to Stay: We booked our rooms at The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon for this stop. We loved everything about this hotel. They have a bar and hotel restaurant with delicious food and great entertainment, the lounge area by the fire place is probably one of the coziest places I have been this trip and the hotel gift shop also has some great deals. Our rooms were very spacious with large bathrooms. The hotel also has an indoor pool and spa as well as a fitness center. No cons about this place. A+++
Day 6: Sedona
What to do: Sedona isn’t too far of a drive from the Grand Canyon. We stopped in Flagstaff for a quick lunch and then grabbed some ice cream for dessert once we arrived in Sedona. Be sure to drive down Oak Creek Canyon for some great views of the beautiful city. If you are a shopper then now is your chance to get some goodies. The main strip has tons of shops and cute restaurants. Make sure you stop into Coffee Pot Restaurant one morning for breakfast, absolutely delish! Whether you want to shop, relax at the spa, take a hot air balloon ride or go for a hike, Sedona has something for everyone to enjoy.
Where to Stay: We stayed at Sky Ranch Lodge during our time in Sedona. This hotel definitely has some of the best views of the city but it also reminded me more of a summer cabin resort. It was very rustic and beautiful, but when visiting in the winter it would be nice to have something a tad bit more cozy with a fireplace. We did enjoy the bar area that was enclosed in a clear tent so we could see outdoors but keep warm by the heaters. This would be the perfect location for a summer wedding so if you are a bride-to-be, consider checking it out.
Day 7: En Route to Tucson
When leaving Sedona and heading to Tucson, make sure you stop off at Montezuma Castle, just outside of Sedona. Here you will find remarkable Puebloan Cliff Dwellings and a neat little gift shop. If you are in a hurry, don’t worry. This stop doesn’t take up too much of your time.
There is a lot to do in Phoenix for those interested in stopping there on the way to Tucson. We decided to bypass the city and skip lunch so we could make in back to Tucson in time for the Broncos playoff game. They won!
In Tucson you can find quite a bit to keep you busy. Some of Tucson’s most popular visitors attractions include the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios, Reid Park Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and a number of hiking areas. In the summer, one of our favorite things to do is drive up to Mt. Lemmon to cool off, take the ski-lift up the mountain for some great views and grab a cookie at the Cookie Cabin. This time of year we try to stay away from the cold so we decided not to venture up the mountain. We did end up taking a lovely drive through Saguaro National Park though. Such a beautiful site to see!
Where to Stay: I am currently living in Tucson for a quick minute no need for a hotel for me. For those venturing down this way, here are some of my favorite hotels/resorts in the Tucson area: Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, Miravel Arizona Resort & Spa, JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and White Stallion Ranch, just to name a few.
Day 8: Tombstone
Tombstone is just over an hour south of Tucson. My parents are very big in to Westerns so this was something they said they had to see. Big Nose Kate’s Saloon has an amazing reuben sandwich so be sure to stop in for lunch. Their piano man is absolutely hilarious and had us laughing through most of our meal.
Tombstone is a great place to find some unique souvenirs to take home. They have everything from postcards to t-shirts to cowboy hats, indian headdresses and even moccasins. The entertainment is pretty neat too, with several gun fight shows held throughout the day. Be sure to get a tour of Bird Cage Theatre while you are there. The Bird Cage Theatre is one of Tombstone’s most authentic attractions and is full of history as well as quite a few bullet holes from the cowboys back in the day. Supposedly the building is also haunted and has been featured on several shows including Ghost Hunters and Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files.
From Vegas down to Tucson, along with everywhere in between, we had an amazing trip. At times the weather may have been colder than we liked or the roads a tad bit icy, but overall we rate the trip EXCELLENT in our books. If only we had more days to explore more parts of the southwest… Until next-time. 🙂