Road Trip to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona

April 7, 2015
The Grand Canyon in November

We went on a five-day road trip over the Thanksgiving holiday last year. We wanted to use our free days off of work and take a trip somewhere. We needed a break from work and our daily lives and this road trip was just what we needed.

The Grand Canyon is amazing to see and WAY bigger than I pictured it. It looks fake and flat as I stare at it, but in reality I’m looking at things that are miles away. My eyes aren’t used to looking that far.

It was pretty cold in November, especially at night. We only needed sweaters when out hiking during the day but at night it dropped to around 30 degrees fahrenheit. We saw a ton of elk and deer roaming around, some even attempted to cross the road with cars speeding by. I can say at least twice we, or the car in front of us, has to slam the brakes to avoid certain turmoil.

Here’s us, enjoying the view behind our backs.


I like to write about my travel experiences and I also like to tie in the food experiences I had while on my trip (this is a food blog after all). Let me fill you in on our roadtrip snacking and our eating out experiences through California and Arizona.

On the Road

Road Trips can be less expensive than traveling somewhere by train but eating out every meal on the road can add up. That’s why we have go-to foods we like to bring on road trips, including:

  • Crackers and packs of flavored albacore tuna – great for small lunches on hikes
  • Peanut butter, jelly and a loaf of bread – great for those mornings we just want to get up and drive, without stopping for breakfast
  • Instant oatmeal, instant coffee and hot chocolate – Especially great when we have a microwave in the hotel
  • Granola bars, oranges and apples for snacking
  • Lots of water
  • If I really feel like planning ahead, I’ll make a bunch of chicken breast, chop it, freeze it, then bring it along in an ice chest along with lettuce, pre-chopped tomatoes, avocados, hummus and tortilla for instant, on-the-go chicken wraps

Cool things you see on a road trip:

Bedrock in Arizona

Bedrock City was complete with Wilma’s Laundry Mat and giant Dinosaurs behind the fences that you weren’t allowed to cross unless you were actually camping there. We saw this on the road from the Grand Canyon toward Sedona.

Wait, is this mountain flipping us off?

Is that mountain flipping us  off?

Eating out at the Grand Canyon

Overall my eating-out experience was less-than-noteworthy at the Grand Canyon. It was just average, Americanized food. At least the places outside of the park that we visited were. I hope that the hotel restaurants with lines out the doors, located steps from the Canyon, were better. That’s one thing  about traveling on Thanksgiving – plan your big dinner ahead of time.

Our hotel was just outside the Grand Canyon – about a 10 minute drive from the canyon. There was nothing but a couple of fast food places, BBQ places and a Mexican restaurant that was just okay.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at our hotel’s restaurant. It was my first time eating out on a holiday. Should I complain about how the hostess told us to wait 15 minutes and we ended up waiting over an hour, even though we had a reservation? Should I complain that our waters were never filled or that the waiter completely forgot to bring us rolls? No. I was a little frustrated but it was Thanksgiving, these people are working on a holiday and I was happy to be there, enjoying my time with my husband. And we really didn’t need to eat those rolls anyway. Also, the prime rib was delicious.

Sedona, Arizona

Next, we drove to Sedona – just a couple of hours away. Sedona had the food scene I was craving and made up for the lack of quality we had at the Grand Canyon. For our first lunch, we literally fished for trout then ate the trout we caught! It was the coolest thing ever! This was honestly my first time eating a fish that had eyes looking back at me… and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The place is called Rainbow Trout Farm. I definitely recommend a visit. The fishing part was kind of cheating because you’re pretty much guaranteed to catch a fish, but it was a great place for people like us who don’t know the first thing about fishing but wanted to try.

Here’s Matt catching a fish. Me, I’m proudly looking over at that the couple on the bridge who are worse than us at fake fishing:

Fishing for Trout

We also ate at a delicious organic Italian restaurant and had pizza. It was thin crust with figs, arugula and balsamic. Yum! There were a lot of tourists in Sedona and a lot of gift shops for the tourists to go. I made an effort to avoid those shops but I did find a couple hidden gems that I would recommend.

Organic Italian Restaurant in Sedona

First, the Sedona Olive Oil Company. Matt waited for me outside as I spent a little too much time trying out the different oils and balsamics. You can taste everything in the store! Bottles are around $20 each and I just love the fig balsamic I brought home.

Second, I loved Trailhead Tea. They had rows of jars of fresh tea flavors that you could smell and pick which one you wanted to drink. I wish I could have tried them all.

The hikes in Sedona were a little difficult to figure out. The first day we were frustrated most of the time looking for entrances, parking and sitting in traffic. A lot of the trails seemed to follow along the highway which really was not appealing. We got tired of trying and went back to the hotel to watch TV.

Terrible directions in Sedona

It’s hard to see but in this photo someone wrote in “<- Devil’s Bridge” under the name “Chuckwagon that meant nothing to us. So many times we’d follow a sign that said, “This way to [Insert name of landmark here]” only to come to a fork in the road a 1/2 mile later that says, “This way to some random trail name that isn’t even on the printed map in your hand.” Thank you to those people who brought along Sharpies to tell us the truth!

On the second day we hiked to Devil’s Bridge. If you do one hike in Sedona, do that one. It took a couple of hours, most of it was flat except near the end where you have to do some climbing. Check out the cool sight you get to see at the end!

Devil's Bridge in Sedona


In Summary

The Grand Canyon is a must-see, but unless you’re planning on hiking down to the bottom and back, one full day is enough. You can see Sedona in one or two days. The best sights to see are on the drive (make sure you call “passenger” on that part of the trip!).

Eat good food, take a hike or two, shop if that’s your thing and move on to the next stop on your trip.

On a hike to devils bridge

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  • Reply Drew May 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The pictures look amazing! Good advice on only spending a day at the Grand Canyon. No need to waste extra days with nothing to do.

  • Reply Semy October 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Can you tell me what hotel and restaurant you stayed at? we’re doing the same road trip this year for thanksgiving.

    • Tessa
      Reply Tessa October 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      We stayed at the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon. It was about a 10-15 minute drive into the actual canyon but it never was a problem for us. We had our Thanksgiving dinner at the our hotel’s restaurant. It was delicious, but busy. The restaurants next to the canyon looked even busier so whatever you choose, make a reservation! Have fun!

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