Romantic Road Trips

Continued (page 2 of 5)


Greater Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

Arizona may not be as rowdy as it was in Wyatt Earp’s era, but wide-open spaces still abound. No matter how urbane the Phoenix-Scottsdale metroplex (a.k.a. the Valley of the Sun) becomes, the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert awaits just outside. So before heading down the highway, take a day to immerse yourselves in the region’s culture. You could join a Jeep or horseback tour and learn about the Valley’s early inhabitants—rather resourceful folks who turned the area’s prickly plants into everything from snacks to shoes. Or you could spend an afternoon at the Heard Museum, home to one of the country’s premiere collections of indigenous art. And you can channel your inner cowboy with a dinner at Roaring Fork restaurant, where the chef puts a gourmet spin on everything from pork shank with apple chutney to seared scallops with jalapeño vinaigrette. Afterward, unfurl your bedrolls at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, a posh, Asian-flavored resort where honeymooners who’ve picked a spa suite can follow their in-room Japanese tea ceremony with a tub soak on their private terrace. Doubles from $395, January through May; 800-245-2051, sanctuaryaz.com.

Properly sated and spa’d, you’re ready for the 244-mile scenic drive to the ultimate road-trip destination: the Grand Canyon. Zip north along I-17 for 99 miles, until you reach the turnoff for AZ 179; there, we suggest that lovers take a 15-mile detour to spend a night in the earthy, arty town of Sedona. The deck of Javelina Cantina is a great place to ogle the spiritually charged red rocks while partaking in tacos, fajitas, and some truly awesome margaritas. As your eyes begin to droop, head to Enchantment Resort, where earth-hued casitas blend so artfully with the canyon walls, you won’t notice the main clubhouse until you’re practically at check-in. (Tip: If your shoulders are knotted from logging too many hours in the car, book a Table Thai massage at the famed Mii amo spa for the next morning.) Doubles from $295, February through June, September through December; 800-826-4180, enchantmentresort.com.

Back on the highway, the leafy, vertical stretch through Oak Creek Canyon is known as one of the state’s most gorgeous drives. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the vista awaiting you at the end of the road: the Grand Canyon. Here, Mother Nature takes center stage—and what a show it is. This spectacle has drama, depth, and subtlety, most notable as the light shifts over the vast abyss at different times of day. The best seats in the house? You’ll find them in the rustic dining room of El Tovar Hotel, where you can sup on roasted duck with sun-dried cranberry ancho glaze as a curtain of stars falls on the day’s final show. Doubles from $123, year-round; 888-297-2757, grandcanyonlodges.com.

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