Explore America’s Southwest hot spots along this awe-inspiring 1,870-mile road trip.
From surf to saguaros, this incredible adventure starts in San Diego where you can sink your feet into palm tree-lined beaches, peruse the Gaslamp District’s boutiques and trendy restaurants and explore the San Diego Zoo.
Then leave the Pacific Ocean behind in your rearview mirror as you hit the open road to the gateway to the Southwest—Yuma, Ariz. Hailed the sunniest city in the world by Guinness Book of World Records, Yuma offers farm tours and incredible kayaking and tubing down the Colorado River.
Continue east to Saguaro National Park in Tucson to stroll among the Southwest’s iconic saguaros, some of which stretch 50 feet into the desert sky. Two hours north, get your city fix by exploring the incredible museums, shops and sporting events in Phoenix and Glendale, Ariz.
Farther north lies the Verde Valley where neat rows of deep green grapevines race up and down dry, rolling hills. Discover Arizona wines at one of the inviting tasting rooms lining the historic streets in Jerome, Cottonwood, Cornville and Clarkdale. In the distance, you’ll see the red rocks of Sedona, some of which are believed to have special energy fields. Hike to one of these vortexes in Sedona en route to the breathtaking Grand Canyon.
As you return to San Diego, take the road to Prescott, a classic western town with a lively, family-friendly downtown and the oldest saloon in Arizona. With so much to see on this road trip, discover our top picks as you read on.
Tip: Every year California goes to Daylight Savings time, but Arizona does not. Remember this one-hour difference as you travel between the two states.
Road Trip Itinerary
Start: San Diego, Calif.
Before you leave town, stop in Balboa Park. Spanning 1,200 acres, the park is patched together by nine gardens, 17 museums, a miniature railroad, a carousel and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Stop 1: Yuma, Ariz., the Real Farm to Table
Yuma produces 90 percent of North America’s leafy vegetables during the winter. Pick them yourself, then eat the culinary-student-prepared meal.
Stop 2: Tucson, Ariz.
Explore the great outdoors at Catalina State Park, a museum that is 85% outside, and Biosphere 2, an enormous glass terrarium.
Stop 3: Phoenix, Ariz.
Our top 13 things to do in Phoenix include watching Spring Training, touring a botanical garden, climbing Camelback Mountain, visiting museums, and more.
Top must see: Musical Instrument Museum
Stop 4: Glendale, Ariz.
Home to one of the nation’s finest sports & entertainment districts, voted as best shopping, plus outdoor recreation in a desert fairy tale.
Stop 5: A Toast to Verde Valley, Arizona’s Wine Country
Winemakers in Verde Valley between Sedona, Cottonwood and Jerome, pour their passion into their work. Read about Glomski’s and Predmore’s path to winemaking.
Stop 6: Sedona, Ariz.
Sedona is just a 2-hour drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Hike or bike 100 red rocks trails, visit a spiritual vortex in the mountains, or browse one of 40 art galleries.
Stop 7: Flagstaff, Ariz.
Stop 8: Williams, Ariz.
Ride the train to the Grand Canyon on the Grand Canyon Railway, get up close to animals at Bearizona, a drive-through wildlife park, savor locally-made beer at the Grand Canyon Brewery, and experience a thrilling zipline adventure in Williams.
Stop 9: Grand Canyon National Park – South Rim
Open 365 days a year, the South Rim offers plenty of activities, restaurants and, of course, gorgeous views.
Stop 10: Prescott, Ariz.
Experience the Old West in Prescott. Stop at America’s oldest saloon, The Palace Saloon in Prescott. Wander Whiskey Row, then stay the night at comfy hotels.