Three Days In Arizona: Where Epic Food and Adventure Meet
Adventure & Storyteller
3 Days In Arizona: Where Epic Food and Adventure Meet
Start / End
246 miles / 396 km
At least three
Arizona is bursting with flavor, from award-winning restaurants that require reservations months in advance to historic Mexican restaurants that welcome walk-ins. Whether you’re traveling to the Grand Canyon State to enjoy its abundant outdoor recreation or are traveling specifically to dig into its tasty fare, you’re sure to depart fully stuffed. This three-day itinerary does it all with great food and fun exploration of some of the Southwest’s greatest hits.
This itinerary offers a combination of decadent eating for the trendiest of foodies with outdoor adventure to burn off all those calories. Pack accordingly. Phoenix and Tucson have laid-back style, and you’ll find it acceptable to visit most of the suggested restaurants below in your hiking clothes. But don’t be afraid to dress up, either. For adventures in Saguaro National Park, Chiricahua National Monument, and beyond, always pack double the amount of water you think you would need. Technical layers and sunblock are non-negotiables for exploring the desert, year-round. Keep in mind that monsoon season runs between June and September and can cause flash flooding on backroads and many outdoor areas. Stay alert to changing conditions and always check the forecast before heading out.
ARRIVE IN PHOENIX
You’ll want to arrive in Phoenix hungry, as the first part of the itinerary is focused on sampling the diverse flavors of Arizona! The capital of Arizona, Phoenix is a bustling urban hub with lots of healthy competition. Translation? The food is great, the nightlife wild, and there’s always something going on! Get checked into your lodging, perhaps somewhere walkable downtown, or at any number of Phoenix’s hospitable lodging options.
Afterwards, you might opt for a quick bite to tide you over until dinner. Tacos Chiwas, which was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, offers authentic Chihuahua-style tacos with any kind of topping your heart desires. Or, you could head to The Farm Kitchen and enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade of a tree in the Pecan Grove, and then head to South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the U.S., where you have your pick of 50 miles of trails—easy loop trails or more technical trails—all with stunning views of Phoenix.
28 MINUTES – 9.3 MILES / 15 KM
That evening, unleash your tastebuds downtown. Phoenix has plenty of options for all kinds of foodie travelers. You can opt to keep it casual, or make use of those reservations you’ve had for months at one of the trendiest spots in town. Kick off the evening with a hoppy beverage at a local brewery, or jump right in with a prickly pear margarita. The options are endless, but we can’t recommend Bacanora or Pizzeria Bianco enough. Pa’la is another beautiful, wood-fired (not just pizza!) option for discerning eaters.
1 HOUR 55 MINUTES – 104 MILES / 167 KM
Fuel up the following morning at one of Phoenix’s classic brunch spots. Luci’s at the Orchard serves all-day breakfast in a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere that will make you feel like a local, or dig into a scramble at Matt’s Big Breakfast. Then, travel south to Phoenix’s sister city, Tucson. Unlike Phoenix, the architecture, food and character are heavily influenced by the Spanish, Mexican, and indigenous residents. It’s also a UNESCO First City of Gastronomy. Spend the morning at Saguaro National Park, where you can see towering cacti play against the beautiful desert backdrop.
20 MINUTES – 14.3 MILES / 23 KM
That afternoon, sample some true Arizona history at El Charro Cafe. It’s here that purportedly in the 1920s, the chimichanga was accidentally invented when a burrito fell into a deep fryer. We’ll let you decide if their legendary fare lives up to its reputation! Afterwards, consider a hike in nearby Tucson Mountain Park: a 20,000-acre wilderness area with 62 miles of non-motorized trails. The Brown Mountain Trail offers a leisurely five-mile route with only 650 feet of elevation gain. Then, check into your lodging for tonight.
16 MINUTES – 8 MILES / 12.8 KM
You’ll want to plan ahead to nab a table for dinner that evening at Boca. Known for their gourmet tacos and innovative salsas, you can also find plenty of non-cheesy plates with fresh produce and flavor. Reilly Craft Pizza is another cool locale, offering a beer garden and underground speakeasy with hand-thrown pizzas and craft cocktails. Feeling adventurous? Let the evening be your guide and see which of one of Tucson’s unique eateries crosses your path.
FULL DAY IN TUCSON
11 MINUTES – 3.5 MILES / 5.6 KM
It doesn’t take a second glance at the menu at Baja Cafe to get the stomach rumbling! Select a savory bacon-forward dish or choose the snickerdoodle pancake—you really can’t go wrong. The Cup, a part of Hotel Congress, is a stellar option especially if you stayed in a historic (and possibly haunted) room upstairs the night before. Afterward, take a guided walking tour through downtown, or visit the Arizona History Museum.
12 MINUTES – 2.5 MILES / 4 KM
If you have any room left, try Seis Kitchen for one last Southwestern-inspired meal before departing for home. What’s with the name? Seis Kitchen features cuisine from six different regions in Mexico. Keep things light with a fresh salad, or follow your heart and go for the heaping pork nachos. Afterwards, choose your adventure. Southern Arizona features a number of incredible options for hiking and sightseeing. Chiricahua National Monument is only two hours east, and the stunning Kartchner Caverns State Park is within an hour from downtown Tucson.
You might just extend your stay and continue southwards to do it all!