I still can’t believe how in love we were with Arizona. It was such a stunning state and we were surprised every time we turned the corner to see mountains and weird little cacti. We had 5 days to explore and we definitely used that time wisely. We took the scenic route across the state and saw as much as we could.
Life has been going 100 miles an hour since we got back, so I wanted to share some pictures and a quick recap before I have a chance to dive in to some long posts and give some specific travel details.
Tonto National Forest
Our first day we drove up through the Tonto National Forest on our way up to Sedona. It was such a stunning drive and we got to see a lot of different aspects of Arizona. From huge cacti to stunning mountains, this forest was a perfect introduction to the state. We stopped at Roosevelt Lake and took in the views of the mountains and the water, and all the boats out for Labor Day weekend.
We finally made it up to Sedona in the afternoon and we were not disappointed. My sister kept raving before the trip, and it looked beautiful in pictures, but once we got there I saw what all the fuss was about. The red rocks in every direction were absolutely stunning, the trails were awe inspiring, and we got to see the sun rise over the rock and hit the little town. We only spent one day there but I know we will be back to Sedon’aaah’.
After Sedona we took the scenic drive north out of town and headed up to the Grand Canyon through Flagstaff. We knew going at labor day weekend and not being up at the crack of dawn to get there that it would be packed. It definitely was, but here’s my little trick with busy parks: keep going along the trails, people usually stop exploring about 5 minutes from the start of the path.
I was getting so stressed with tourists everywhere and people making dangerous decisions, but just 5 minutes down the Ridge to Ridge Trail we had the whole canyon practically to ourselves. We only had a few hours here, but it was enough to take in the spectacular views and plan our next trip back.
Desert Botanical Gardens
After we finally made it back to Scottsdale, we checked out the Desert Botanical Gardens. I knew we had to stop after I heard such awesome reviews on Tripadvisor, and it was also voted one of the most beautiful botanical gardens by Conde Nast. We spent the morning strolling the different paths and constantly asking ‘what is that?!’ to another crazy cactus or agave plant.
I was worried because of the heat, but they had a water bottle filling station in every section and a spot almost every 10 feet with a bench and some shade to relax and enjoy the gardens. Plus afterwards they had a great restaurant called Gertrude’s with yummy cocktails and fantastic food.
We didn’t spend too much time exploring Old Scottsdale, for the most part everything was closed because of Labor Day. We struck out at 3 places before finding some where open. We actually picked Diego Pops at random, they were across the street from a brewery we were going to check out, but I’m really happen their pink neon sign brought us in. Great margaritas and award winning salsa was exactly what we needed to relax and enjoy the afternoon.
Besides those big items, we spent the time exploring new happy hours (The Vig is a great option if you’re in Scottsdale) and taking pictures of every cactus we could find. I’ll post more about some aspects of our trip that I have to so much more to share, so check back soon.
Did we miss anything in Arizona that’s a must? Let us know in the comments below for next time we visit!