Arizona or Bust!
August 18, 2011 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Leaving tomorrow for Scottsdale. We are driving from Seattle, through Utah. We'll have at least one night in Zion, visit Bryce....and hopefully a night in Sedona. (Skipping the Grand Canyon, went there last year) Any suggestions on things we ought not miss? I love fun restaurants, food trucks, roadside attractions. Thanks for your help!
posted by jennstra to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Canyonlands and Arches are incredible if you have the time...
posted by schyler523 at 10:08 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: In Springdale, UT, just outside the entrance to Zion, you should definitely eat at Whiptail Grill. It's a converted gas station with amazingly good food. Most seating is outside, but there are fans and a few tables inside if it's too hot. Plus, it usually cools down quickly in the evening, so you can wait a bit later to eat and be just fine, too.

If they still have the chocolate/habanero creme brulee, you should try it. The guy will tell you how to eat it so you don't burn up if you're not into hot stuff.
posted by BlooPen at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Trip Advisor Reviews of Whiptail.
posted by BlooPen at 10:15 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: Are you going through the Tri-Cities to get on I-84 to Oregon and Idaho? Because I spent a night in Twin Falls, Idaho on my way to SLC, and I was completely charmed by a statue of Evel Knievel that commemorates the time he tried to jump the Snake River canyon on a motorcycle and failed miserably.
posted by adiabat at 10:26 AM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you find yourself in Kanab, Utah, I highly recommend the Rocking V Cafe. The food is exceptional. I had a bison tenderloin there that blew my mind.

Have an awesome time! You're going to one of my very favorite areas of the country. It's amazing there!! :) I second Arches if you can add that in.
posted by pupstocks at 10:36 AM on August 18, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the help so far.

Whiptail is exactly what we are looking for. Thank you!

Yes, going through Twin Falls,, we will stop and look for the statue.

I have info on Arches and Kanab, we might try to go that route. I am travelling with my teenage daughter, if we are still on good terms into Southern Utah, we may fit them in. :)

We are taking a car to Scottsdale for my sister and thought we may as well have fun along the way.
posted by jennstra at 10:50 AM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: Arches seems very much out of your way (approx. 6 hours between Arches and Zion and no real way to go between them without backtracking part of the way). It is great, but perhaps consider saving that for another trip. You could fit Kanab in fairly easily, but Arches is way the heck on the other side of the state. Plus it looks like it's going to be hot and rainy there this week, and it's likely to be crawling with people out with their kids for the last weekend before school starts around here.

If you stop in the Orem/Provo area, there's Pizzeria 712, a wood fired place that uses seasonal/local ingredients. If you have more time, you could also head up to Sundance, Robert Redford's resort. Fabulous but pricey food. It's 20-30 min. off the interstate. Or go the back way and take I-80 east from Salt Lake, visit (or bypass) Park City, take highway 40 into Heber, maybe visit Midway, and come into Sundance that way (or just back to the interstate if you want to skip Sundance). In Heber, Sidetrack Cafe is shop/cafe. I wouldn't make a trip to see it, but if you're there, it's on the main drag through town and you're likely to meet some local characters. Midway has the cheezy Zermatt Resort if you want some pics of you in a Swiss setting. They've tried to make their website really professional now, but it's a pretty cheezy place in many respects. They have a nice little bakery/gelato place that's worth a quick stop if you're there.

Another drive in the vicinity is Alpine Loop. Very pretty if you like looking at natural things. There's a cave (steep uphill walk to the entrance, though), waterfall, trees, etc.).

For roadside attractions/oddities, it's hard to beat Gilgal Garden in Salt Lake city, complete with a statue of Mormon founder Joseph Smith as a Sphinx. It doesn't take long to go through the garden, but get a good map of the area because it's easy to pass.
posted by BlooPen at 12:07 PM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: If you have any geeky astronomy tendencies, the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff is a must-see (even if its best known discovery has been demoted) Since it is something of a college town there are likely to be other sights/places to eat that a teenager would enjoy.
posted by TedW at 12:43 PM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: In Scottsdale/Phoenix: check out Food Truck Friday at the downtown Phoenix Public Market, particularly Short Leash.

Also, a fun afternoon/evening could be spent at the Clarendon Hotel pool (they sell day passes for the pool) ordering drinks and street tacos from Gallo Blanco.
posted by LyndsayMW at 2:27 PM on August 18, 2011

Best answer: Oh, I have another: Pizzeria Bianco is a well known pizza joint that is pretty awesome. Goodies are known to travel to Phoenix just to eat there. If you aren't feeling pizza, the same chef has an out of this world sandwich-ish shop too: Pane Bianco.
posted by LyndsayMW at 2:32 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Meteor Crater, near Winslow, AZ (and no, there will not be a girl, my lord, in a flat bed Ford, slowing down to take a look at you.)
posted by holterbarbour at 4:33 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was just there! Other good places for lunch or dinner in Springdale: Zion Pizza Noodle (have the pizza, not the noodles) and the Spotted Dog Cafe. The Spotted Dog is pretty fancy, but you wouldn't have to dress up or anything.

In Bryce, there's pretty much nothing nearby in nearby Tropic, I wouldn't really bother trying. BUT- I had a pretty decent dinner (vegetarian, even) at the lodge within the park. If you would like to do a hike but don't have much time while you are there, combining the Navajo Loop with Queen's Garden gets you below the rim and into some awesome stuff, and it's not at all overwhelming if you're in reasonable shape (3 miles or so).

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is an hour or so outside Zion and is neat to stop by on your way, depending on the direction you are coming from. It really does look that cartoony in real life. On the way between Bryce and Zion, I would stop at Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest and do one or two of the little hiking loops that leave from the visitor's center- it's pretty spectacular in its own way.
posted by charmedimsure at 5:27 PM on August 18, 2011

Seconding Spotted Dog Cafe in springdale. By fancy I think charmedimsure means a little more than you would normally expect to pay for mexican food. But it is sooo goood and the portions are generous. Springdale is brimming with great restaurants, so even if you don't go to Spotted Dog, plan on an evening in Springdale. The Zion Lodge is quite good, and atmospheric.

If you have time for a half day hike in Zion, the Narrows is the best one (perfect for hot weather]. Make sure to stop at the adventure shops and rent "water shoes" and a hiking stick. You don't have to go very far up the river to get to the pretty [stunning] part, but there will be many others there too.

I assume you're driving through Zion than down through Page to Flagstaff then Sedona? If so, stop at Antelope Canyon in Page. Just drive up and take the tour with the Navajos -- ask anybody in town for directions. It's AMAZING. Try to be there around noon if possible, light is prettiest then. In Page, the pink mexican restaurant (no idea the name, you can't miss it, it's pink and packed and surrounded by cars] is excellent and has great margharitas.

If you happen to be driving the other way from ST. George down through Las Vegas, then there are dinosaur tracks at Johnson Farm just east of St. George (signs on highway are easy to see - that you might like. There are also dinosaur tracks on the highway from Flagstaff to Phoenix/sedona, well, a little off the path, but still cool.

Jerome is a pretty cool little "ghost" town between Flag and Sedona.
posted by bluesky78987 at 9:33 PM on August 18, 2011

When you leave Sedona, take Hwy 89A toward Cottonwood, then up the hill to Jerome. Have lunch at the Haunted Hamburger - good food and great views. Then continue on 89A over Mingus Mountain and into Prescott. You can park near the courthouse and stroll down Whiskey Row, which is perfectly respectable these days. My teen loved the vintage clothing and jewelry shops around the courthouse square.
posted by kbar1 at 10:07 PM on August 18, 2011

A couple of Phoenix / Scottsdale recommendations:

Havana Cafe serves delicious Cuban food. Their pastelitos de carne (pastries stuffed with picadillo beef) are fantastic, and I've liked pretty much everything I've tried there. It's one of the places I miss the most since I moved from Phoenix to Seattle.

Barrio Cafe is fabulous upscale Mexican place that serves some unique dishes--the tamarind-chipotle duck breast is delicious, as are the desserts with goat milk caramel. There's nothing in Seattle that's even remotely close to the food they serve here. The decor is sort of kooky in a fun way, and it's got a pretty lively atmosphere.
posted by creepygirl at 10:28 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

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