Phoenix is an ideal base for desert adventures and day trips to Sedona or the Grand Canyon. From land tours to aerial sightseeing, there are many ways to enjoy three days in and around Arizona’s largest city—including shopping and dining in nearby Scottsdale. Here’s what you need to know to plan the perfect 3-day Phoenix itinerary.
Day 1: Metro Phoenix in Your Pocket
Get to know downtown Phoenix, aka the Valley of the Sun, with a half-day sightseeing tour of landmarks such as the State Capitol, Camelback Mountain, and Wrigley Mansion. Alternatively, visit the fashion outlets or head to the boutique shops of Old Town Scottsdale. When you’ve worked up an appetite, set off on a food-tasting tour of its culinary delights. For a bit more adventure, zip around on a Segway or zoom around the desert on an ATV with a guide to show you the way. If temperatures are too hot, cool off at the Sea Life Arizona Aquarium for a family-friendly afternoon with the kids. As night falls, Wild West–style saloons and hip bars beckon on a pub crawl. If serenity is what you seek, ride the skies in a hot air balloon at dusk and toast the sunset with Champagne.
Day 2: Further Afield
With so much to experience beyond metropolitan Phoenix, spend your second day outside of town. A driving tour through the Sonoran Desert takes you to the red rock country of Sedona via the Navajo Nation. You can soar across much of Arizona on a Monument Valley air and Jeep tour. Or follow the Apache Trail on a tour through the legendary Superstitious Mountains to the former mining town of Goldfield and then cruise Canyon Lake aboard a steamboat to get a sense of Arizona’s Old West. Ride a Hummer into the desert in search of nocturnal creatures at Tonto National Forest, home to bighorn sheep and other wildlife. Or float past desert cliffs and canyons on a scenic boat ride across Saguaro Lake. There are options to suit everyone, including quiet stargazing through a telescope for budding astronomers.
Day 3: The Grandest Canyon of All
The proximity of Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is hard to beat. From full-day tours and flights to multi-day explorations, there are all kinds of ways to experience the national park, counted among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. To get there quickly with top-down views, plan a combo tour by land and air, with your choice of helicopter or airplane tour narrated from above by the pilot. You soar over the emerald ribbon of the Colorado River, or view Tonto National Forest and the Red Rocks of Sedona by flying direct. Fly over the South Rim and explore the highlights on a scenic drive around the canyon. Or combine a West Rim helicopter flight with a stroll on the breathtaking Skywalk.