Arizona Road Trip
Credit: Ken Grody

The Ultimate Arizona Road Trip Guide Through Scottsdale, Flagstaff and Phoenix

How to Make the Most Out of Your Next Arizona Road Trip Whether You’re Traveling With Your Significant Other, Best Friend or Entire Family

When my best friend and I decided to start this year off by taking a four-day road trip through three cities in Arizona (Scottsdale, Flagstaff and Phoenix), we weren’t completely sure what to expect—all we knew was that we were determined to see and experience as much as we possibly could while still leaving plenty of time to explore our hotels and relax after putting in some hours behind the wheel. Granted, leaving our Southern California home during a rainstorm wasn’t originally part of our plan. Still, even with our windshield getting pelted with rain, the drive on the 91, 215, 60 and 10 still proved to be an easy one with plenty of opportunities for rest stops and lots of gorgeous scenery to enjoy.

We decided to embark on this journey in the 2024 Ford Maverick from Ken Grody Ford, which proved to be a stellar choice of vehicle for this particular trip. This compact truck received several updates for 2024, including a 2.0-liter EcoBoost with 8-speed automatic transmission and the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist Package, which includes adaptive cruise control for easy driving. Another huge plus is the car’s hybrid technology, which is easier on the environment and saved us tons on gas money!

Although this journey has been girl-trip tested and approved, my friend and I agreed that there are lots of people who would simply fall in love with these Arizona cities and hotels. Here’s our guide on where to visit based on your party along with where to stay, eat and play!

 

For the Couple: Scottsdale

Stay: The Scott Resort & Spa
Do: Hot-Air Balloon Experience, Couples Massage at La Vidorra Spa
Eat: The Canal Club, Breakfast Club, Wine Girl, Diego Pops, Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar

Arizona Road Trip - The Scott Resort & Spa
Credit: The Scott Resort & Spa

After a 5.5-hour drive from SoCal in our functional 2024 Ford Maverick, we were more than ready to kick back and relax at our first stop: The Scott Resort & Spa. We instantly fell in love with the hotel’s lush, tropical decor and intimate vibes, and although we had an amazing time with each other, we couldn’t help but think how fun this hotel and Old Town Scottsdale would be with our respective significant others!

For those planning on taking a trip with their SO, The Scott Resort & Spa is perfectly romantic. As soon as we walked in, we were swept away by the boutique resort feel—we were tempted to take photos of everything around the property, from the boho-chic lobby and bar to the outdoor dining area and pool. Check in during the late afternoon, then indulge in a delicious dinner at The Canal Club (we ordered the queso dip, a Cubano and some perfectly sweet churro donut holes to go with our refreshing cocktails, the Helen & Maude and the Cubano Viejo). After dinner, you can extend your nightcap into the lobby with the talented bar staff and plenty of cozy, intimate seating or head back to your room for a toast on the patio or balcony.

Scott Resort
Credit: The Scott Resort & Spa

If you plan on exploring the surrounding area, we recommend making a quick trip down to Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar in Old Town Scottsdale to take in the moody, candlelit ambiance and sip on a craft cocktail for two. Other amazing restaurants in the area include Breakfast Club for almond cookie pancakes, Wine Girl for Insta-worthy bites and wine-based cocktails and Diego Pops for modern Mexican fare. 

Credit: Tanveer Badal / The Scott Resort & Spa

During your stay, be sure to take advantage of The Scott’s two sprawling outdoor pools, fitness studio and complimentary resort bikes that you can use to pedal around Old Town. Some must-visit shops in town include women-owned Rolling Rack Boutique, hidden gem Alcuin Books and the fun and funky Buffalo Boutique.

Credit: Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash

If you want a truly unforgettable experience, be sure to book an ultra-romantic hot-air balloon experience with Rainbow Ryders. Or, if you’d rather stay grounded, book a relaxing couples massage at The Scott’s La Vidorra Spa.

 

For the Best Friends: Flagstaff

Stay: High Country Motor Lodge
Do: Slide Rock State Park, Nordic Spa Experience
Eat: The General Store, Brix, Shift Kitchen & Bar, Proper Meats + Provisions, Tourist Home Cafe

Arizona Road Trip - High Country Motor Lodge
Credit: High Country Motor Lodge

For the BFFs, there’s no better place to go than Route 66’s High Country Motor Lodge! Take a two-hour drive along the scenic route to Flagstaff in your 2024 Ford Maverick, which features an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with a six-speaker sound system, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities. Turn the music up, roll the windows down and cruise to your next destination!

As we arrived at High Country Motor Lodge, we were welcomed by the hotel’s inviting staff and undeniably charming atmosphere. And after splitting a Margherita pinsa and a bottle of wine from The General Store in the lobby’s game room, we got ready for our Nordic Spa Experience: 10 minutes in a private sauna, a quick plunge in the main pool, 10 minutes warming up in the bubbly hot tub, then repeat as many times as possible within an hour. The spa experience left us feeling refreshed and relaxed—the perfect combination to prep us for a nightcap in the lobby bar and getting comfy in our cozy room.

If you find yourself hungry before or after your spa experience, Flagstaff boasts several places to wine and dine, including Tourist Home Cafe for boozy brunch cocktails and classic morning eats, Shift Kitchen & Bar for modern family-style dining and Brix, where you’ll want to try the roasted duck breast and barley risotto (trust us!). There is also Proper Meats + Provisions, Arizona’s first local, whole animal butcher shop, which is a great place to grab a patty melt or pastrami sandwich for lunch.

High Country Motor Lodge’s decor and overall vibe felt like our wildest design dreams came true. The color palette is rich and inviting and the materials pay homage to a chic, cozy cabin—the lodge truly achieved the balance of rustic and luxurious, and we were enjoying every detail of it. And we do recommend looking out for those details! From the artwork and boardgames to the radio and personalized cassette tapes on the bedside table (available as a souvenir to purchase!), you can tell this Flagstaff hotel thought of everything you need to comfortably escape and hide away from the outside world—in the trendiest way possible.

Speaking of the outside world, in the spring and summer, guests can enjoy hiking and biking along nearby trails, which leads us to our next stop!

 

Quick Stop: Slide Rock State Park

Arizona Road Trip
Credit: Ken Grody

After grabbing a quick bite from High Country Motor Lodge’s General Store, we set our GPS to Slide Rock State Park. Since it only added half an hour to our drive to Phoenix, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to see and explore a state treasure. It turned out to be a gorgeous day, and two hours allowed us to enjoy most of the park and soak in some truly breathtaking views. 

 

For the Family With Kids: Phoenix

Stay: Arizona Grand Resort & Spa
Do: Arizona Grand Golf Course, Hole in the Rock, Arizona Grand Spa
Eat: Lobby Grill, Rustler’s Rooste, Futuro at Palabra

Arizona Road Trip - Arizona Grand Resort & Spa
Credit: Arizona Grand Resort & Spa

On our last stop during the road trip, my friend and I eased into the stunning Arizona Grand Resort & Spa for some much-needed relaxation. Given the 2.5-hour drive from High Country Motor Lodge, our 2024 Ford Maverick proved it could go the distance. It also has some of the best storage solutions, with ample amounts of places to put our bags and belongings.

We were still in girl-trip mode, so for us, the evening looked like freshening up in our spacious suite (which had plenty of mirrors for us to get primped and polished), grabbing a bite to eat at the Lobby Grill, where we enjoyed the burrata and basil pesto appetizer, grilled salmon and a Cobb salad over a glass of wine. Then, we headed back up to the room to enjoy a movie and the warm cast-iron cookie that we took to-go. As we explored the property, however, we couldn’t help but notice all the different families visiting and seeing how much fun they were having!

For families that want to stay on property, we’re happy to share that there’s something for everyone. The Arizona Grand Resort & Spa boasts plenty of pools to splash around in, including a 7-acre waterpark with towering 8-story water slides for thrill-seekers. Family members interested in getting on the green will enjoy heading out on the Arizona Grand Golf Course, and the Arizona Grand Spa is ideal for parents who are looking for some pampering. And don’t worry—there are plenty of dining options, including Rustler’s Rooste, which sizzles up some of the best steaks in Arizona! Pro tip: For a taste of everything, order the Cowboy Platter, which comes with beef brisket, jalapeño and cheddar smoked sausage, rotisserie chicken, barbequed pork ribs, crispy shrimp, seasonal fruit, ranch fries, cowboy beans and corn cobbettes.

Should you and your family want to venture off-property to explore Phoenix, we recommend hiking one of dozens of trails across South Mountain Preserve, Papago Park and beyond. And for us, hiking around Hole in the Rock and then heading to the Arts District to enjoy coffee from Futuro at Palabra was the perfect way to enjoy Phoenix before hopping back on the 10 to head home.

Writer | Website | + posts

Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.

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