Fall is the perfect time of the year for a road trip. The brisk fall air and many outdoor events make it a prime time for exploration. Here in Arizona, there’s no shortage of pit stops you can make during a weekend road trip. It can be hard to decide upon a route but fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Here is your guide to the perfect fall road trip for a weekend of fun around the state. Fill up your gas tank and hit the open road with this handy road trip guide.
Let’s face it: you’re going to need some energy for the long drive. What better way to kick off a fall day with a warm cup of Joe? If you’re looking for a caffeine-kick, there’s no better place in the Valley than Infusion Coffee and Tea. It’s conveniently located in the East Valley (right next to the legendary Four Peaks brewery.) The locally owned coffee shop has an endless selection of coffees from all over the world. Even better, the coffee is brewed in house with a number of different roasting methods. The team is experts at their craft—and is usually happy to provide a suggestion for their favorite blend. Don’t forget to grab a pastry on your way out.
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No Arizona road trip is complete without a trip to Sedona. Located only 50 minutes from Flagstaff, it’s famous for its beautiful Red Rocks. Hop on the windy AZ-89A and make your way over to this charming city. Once you’re about eight miles from Sedona, you’ll see signs for Slide Rock State Park. This recreation area is home to some serious hidden gems. You can take a trip to the Pendley Homestead, a now defunct apple orchard from the mid-20th century. Though the orchard has long since closed, you can still pick 13 varieties of apples on the 43-acre farm. It’s the most unique apple picking experience you can find in Arizona and is sure to add some excitement to your trip.
Before heading into town, you’ll want to make a pit stop at Kachina Trail, one of Flagstaff’s most famous hikes. It’s located about 17 miles north of Flagstaff deep in the heart of the Coconino National Forest. Once there, you’ll be greeted by beautiful fall foliage compliments of the many Douglas Fir and Aspen trees. You’ll also encounter canyons, lava cliffs, and more than one picture perfect views during this five-mile trek.
There’s no doubt you worked up an appetite on your hike. Now it’s time to treat yourself. Downtown Flagstaff is home to a vibrant bar and restaurant row. You’ll have your pick of the litter for a lunch spot, but you won’t want to miss Café Daily Fare. It’s an expansion of renowned local catering company “Simply Delicious,” who decided to open their own brick and mortar location in a historic downtown building. It’s home to tasty soups, salads, and unique southwestern entrees in addition to the best patio in Flagstaff.
Why hike when you can drive? Flagstaff is home to some of Arizona’s best fall foliage and nothing does it justice like the San Francisco Peaks Scenic Loop Drive. This 2-3-hour drive takes you on a 44-mile loop around the Arizona’s highest mountain, the San Francisco Peaks. The gorgeous drive shows off Flagstaff’s fall colors in the thick of Coconino’s pine forest. Get your camera ready. There’s a good chance you’ll run into some wildlife during the drive or at one of the many recreational areas located along the drive. Take your time and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you on this epic drive.
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Sky Ranch is charming. It’s home to lodge-style rooms, serene gardens, and even koi ponds. The real treat, however, are the views. Located 500 feet above Sedona, this hotel overlooks the city and its majestic red cliffs. You can grab a glass of wine at their happy hour and head to one of their scenic overlooks to enjoy a Sedona sunset.
Looking for a night cap? There’s no better place in Sedona than Tii Gavo. It’s located at the legendary Enchantment Resort, which is surrounded by Sedona’s natural beauty. This late-night spot offers your best chance to enjoy Enchantment’s atmosphere without breaking the bank. They have a large selection of craft beers, wines, and signature cocktails in an otherworldly setting. Post up around the fire pit on the patio to take in the stars and enjoy a night cap you won’t soon forget.
There aren’t many places like Mesa Grill. This southwestern style restaurant is known for its views as much as it is great food. Located a quick walk from Sky Ranch Lodge, this restaurant overlooks a vast red rock canyon. It’s also right next to the Sedona airport, which means you can watch local pilots take off while you eat your eggs. Their delicious southwestern menu includes spicy options like huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos.
There’s no shortage of scenic views in Sedona. You can’t go wrong by visiting any of their landmarks, vortexes, or hiking trails. No landmark, however, is quite as famous as Cathedral Rock. Its unique geological landmark is located amid a sea of red buttes and sandstone cliffs. Located four miles from Sedona, it’s off the AZ-179 on many local’s routes back home to the Valley. Access to the view requires a .7-mile hike and a 600-foot elevation change. It might be strenuous, but it’s well worth it for the picture-perfect views of the Sedona skyline.
You don’t have to lose the fall spirit just because you’re headed back to southern Arizona. The air may be warmer, but there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy fall activities. If you’re looking for a Halloween scare on your way home, head to Field of Screams in Glendale. It’s a fully decked out haunted cornfield that was planted over an “old cemetery.” This renowned scare fest is sure to test your courage and get you in the mood for some Halloween fun.