Easy Arizona day trips Super Bowl visitors will love: Grand Canyon, Sedona and more

Michael Salerno
Arizona Republic
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If you're coming to Phoenix for the Super Bowl, have you thought about how you'll spend your time when you're not at the game? Consider a day trip or an easy overnight away from the Valley of the Sun: Arizona is loaded with historical downtowns, desert and mountain outdoor recreation and great local wine and beer.

You can see spectacular red rock landscapes, sip wines made with grapes grown in the Verde Valley or southern Arizona, adventure in the saguaro-dotted Sonoran Desert landscapes, or if you have more time to kill, cross the Grand Canyon off your bucket list.

Just know that while Phoenix winter temps are mild, other parts of the state experience frostier conditions. Bring warm clothes and sturdy shoes if you plan to venture to northern Arizona.

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Tortilla Flat

Distance from Phoenix: 53 miles via U.S. 60 and the Apache Trail.

Why you should go: This relic of an Old West town along the Apache Trail, which started life as a stagecoach stop in 1904, lies on the southern edge of Tonto National Forest. Today it welcomes people looking for an authentic taste of the Old West, plus those looking to sample the prickly pear gelato at the Superstition Restaurant and Saloon.

Easy day trip from Phoenix:Here's why you should drive the Apache Trail to Tortilla Flat


The Palace Saloon and Restaurant, November 6, 2017, 120 S. Montezuma Street,
Prescott, Arizona.

Distance from Phoenix: 100 miles via Interstate 17 and State Route 69.

Why you should go: In Prescott, you can drink where the Old West cowboys and outlaws drank. Whiskey Row, a stretch of Montezuma Street named for its high concentration of saloons, thrived in the culture of the 1880s mining boom as a place for prospectors to enjoy a drink after a day of searching for ore. A lot has changed since the Old West — these days the saloons coexist with boutiques and art galleries — but you can still get whiskey on Whiskey Row.

Palace Saloon:Oldest bar in Arizona still serving whiskey, beer, legendary stories

Cottonwood and the Verde Valley

Distance from Phoenix: 103 miles via I-17 and SR 260.

Why you should go: Cottonwood is a magnet for those who like to imbibe. It's renowned for its plentiful wineries and breweries, with 10 tasting rooms located along historic Main Street in Old Town. From there, the Verde Valley Wine Trail spreads out with destination wineries and tasting rooms in nearby Jerome, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cornville and Sedona.

Also in Cottonwood:Dead Horse Ranch State Park has horseback rides, lagoons and hikes


Distance from Phoenix: 111 miles via I-17, SR 260 and SR 89A.

Why you should go: If you end up taking the wine trail into Jerome, stay for the history. Jerome was once a copper mining hotspot with a population of 15,000 people, but then the mines closed and only a handful of residents remained. An effort to preserve Jerome's historic structures, such as the Douglas Mansion — now Jerome State Historic Park — ultimately led to the town's designation as a National Historic Landmark. The Spirit Room bar at the Connor Hotel packs in fans of beer and live music. Check the website for the performance schedule.

Arizona's Verde Valley:This road trip includes wineries, hikes, a train ride and more


Distance from Phoenix: 114 miles via I-10.

Why you should go: Tucson draws visitors whose idea of natural beauty is a cactus-filled desert, drawn to places like Tucson Mountain Park, Tohono Chul botanical garden and the fascinating Mission Garden, which preserves 4,000 years of Tucson's food history. But it's Saguaro National Park, whose west and east sides bookend Tucson, where people can see the tallest of the saguaro cactus that characterizes the Sonoran Desert, plus wildlife like javelinas and black-tailed jackrabbits.

Best Tucson hikes:Where to see waterfalls, mountains and a rare crested saguaro cactus


Distance from Phoenix: 116 miles via I-17 and SR 179.

Why you should go: Sedona is considered one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., in no small part because of its spectacular red rock landscapes. The sandstone buttes of Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock are popular with hikers, while off-road tours like the famous Pink Jeeps give visitors a view of the red rocks from a different perspective.

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Distance from Phoenix: 144 miles via I-17.

Why you should go: If you need a break from the mild climate of Phoenix and want to experience the seasonal cold temperatures (or even snow), Flagstaff is among your best bets, averaging about 100 inches of snow annually. If you plan to hit the slopes, Flagstaff is a short drive from the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. Or simply spend your time exploring the stores, restaurants and bars of the historic downtown. Don't miss the cool establishments south of the train tracks, or the many homegrown breweries in town.

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Grand Canyon National Park

Distance from Phoenix: 228 miles via I-17, Interstate 40 and SR 64.

Why you should go: Whether you go just to catch a glimpse of the overlook views from Mather Point or take a mule ride to the canyon bottom, Grand Canyon National Park is a bucket-list destination for many people. Photos and videos rarely do it justice. You could go to the South Rim and back in a long day, but if you can stay overnight you'll have more time to enjoy the views and take advantage of the walks, historic buildings and visitor programs. Just know that snow and ice are possible this time of year. Bring warm clothes.

Phoenix to Grand Canyon:How far is the drive? It depends on your route. Here are 4 ways to go

Reach the reporter at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @salerno_phx.

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