There are a variety of destinations to explore in Arizona beyond the Grand Canyon, which for this trip, is omitted. Scottsdale outside the urban sprawls of Phoenix and Sedona (Red Rock Country) are the highlights of this short 4 day adventure.
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Flying out of New York City, Delta Airlines has convenient directly flights from JFK to Phoenix throughout the morning and afternoon. From Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, we grabbed a rental car and headed towards Scottsdale – shout-out to Avis for providing an awesome Ford Mustang rental for this excursion. It’s a short 15-20 minute drive from the airport to Scottsdale. Coming from NY, it is a treat to travel traffic free. Everywhere one goes is predictable and a short hop away.
Scottsdale was named in 1984 after its founder Winfield Scott, although the town was first established in 1951 with a population of 2,000. Today, it has a population of 250,000 and growing.
Tom’s Thumb is one of the more heavily trafficked trails in the Scottsdale area. It is an in-and-out trail that’s a leisure hike after the initial climb during the first mile of the trail. There are intersecting trails to extend the day hike. Like all hikes in Arizona, bring along plenty of fluid and keep an eye out for reptiles on the trail.
Max elevation: 3863 ft
Min elevation: 2794 ft
Total climbing: 1699 ft
Things To Do
Desert Botanical Garden – located in Papago Park, Desert Botanical Garden is an educational and picturesque experience. Botanical garden simulates different desert like environments to culture many of the desert thriving plants.
Papago Park – Papago Park is the Central Park of Phoenix. Here you can go on many of the nature trails, visit desert botanical garden, zoo and more.
Penske Racing Museum – for the race fans out there, Penske Racing Museum is the perfect stop. Penske has a rich history and successful history in motorsports. This museum features exhibits from NASCAR, Indycar, Rally and other forms of motorsports.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park – rail road park is perfect stop for families with children. There is a fairly large and detailed scaled model train exhibit, rail road museum, rail rides around the park and plenty of space to hang out with the family on the lawn.
Old Town Scottsdale – mix of the old and new. Place to go for shopping and dining.
Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours – preserved abandoned mining town. Old buildings maintain the heritage while be repurposed for souvenir shops and a quick bite. Get a glimpse on life during the gold rush.
Our experience is Scottsdale for breakfast and dining has been excellent no matter where one stopped. As we’ve had a great experience at all our stops, it’s best to pick what you like best in town!
Sedona is well known for red rock country. We stayed in West Sedona and recommend visiting Sedona proper and Village of Oak Creak. At Sedona Downtown, there are many places to grab a bite and read about the history of Sedona and the surrounding land.
Give we only had one day to squeeze in hiking at Sedona, we were looking for the best bang hike. With that, chose to go on Easy Breezy to Baldwin to Hiline to Slim Shady hike. This is a wonderful 9.3 mile hike which includes the scramble up Cathedral Rock and many great views. Outside the scramble to Cathedral Rock (which can be omitted), it is overall an easy trail with moderate elevation gains. Highly recommend going on this extended trail, come prepared with plenty of fluids for this extended hike.
There are several access points to get on to the trail and any of the parking spots along the loop trail will serve you well. Next time I will start the Cathedral Rock trail head parking lot and do the scramble twice before calling it a day.
Max elevation: 4764 ft
Min elevation: 3978 ft
Total climbing: 2263 ft
At Sedona we striked out for a good breakfast outlet open early enough to hit the hiking trails before the heat. We stopped by Coffee Pot Restaurant as it was highly rated on Google and exited with disappointed.
Rocky RD Ice Cream Co – Want a great scoop of ice cream too cool off? Rocky RD Ice Cream Co is a popular ice cream chain with a small yet delicious selection.
Mesa Grille at Sedona Airport – grab a tasteful dinner with great views of the surrounding scenery. Highly recommend this location for the views it has to offer. On the ride up to the airport there are two great pull overs to view the Sedona landscape.