This year we decided pretty soon after returning from our Honeymoon in Oahu that we wanted to go on a road trip between Christmas and New Years since Aaron was off of work. We played around with a few different routes but ultimately decided on St George, Utah to Flagstaff, AZ to Kingman, AZ with National Parks and fun stops in between. I used the Roadtrippers app to map everything out and it helped so much! It shows you how much time between each stop, helps you search for stops in between destinations and even estimates your total gas spend. Personally, I feel like 5+ hours a day driving is too excessive for a trip where you want to have fun but also not be drained, so we kept our driving days at about 4 hours of driving or a bit less. Also, keep in mind things always take longer than expected on road trips!
Our first stop was Peggy Sue’s Diner and dang what a dream. The inside was just as good as the exterior and the food was diner perfection. Highly recommend sitting at the counter and admiring all of the details, pies and food coming out. Will definitely be returning!
Next stop was the Seven Magic Mountains. I’ve been wanting to stop here since I started seeing it pop up on Instagram last year. Two things I didn’t expect: how big it was and how many people were there! Seriously, major props to those of you who got a picture with no one in the background (or have the patience and skill to edit everyone out). It really was breathtaking, especially as we approached it from a few miles away and all I could see was giant neon rocks against the desert landscape. Worth the stop if it’s on your route definitely. Bonus points if you match your dress to the rocks!
After that we made a quick stop in Vegas to see my instagram friend Tammy who manages the Buffalo Exchange out there. I’ve been following her for awhile and she is ALWAYS finding the best vintage kitsch out there so I knew I had to stop. She pulled a rack of vintage just for me at Buffalo (so special!) and we got to chat for a bit. I genuinely wish I had more time in Vegas to shop & eat so I think I’ll make that happen soon. She suggested I stop over at Glam Factory around the corner as well which was also sooo good!
We made it to St George that night and got a solid night’s sleep before trekking to Zion National Park the next morning. One major bummer here was the construction happening on the road leading up to the entrance. We sat in our car waiting to get in for over an hour in dead stopped traffic. I recommend going as early as possible! Since we had Mochi with us, there was only one trail we were allowed to walk, but that’s okay! It was so beautiful and not very busy at all. Weather was also crisp and perfect for a hike.
As soon as we got back to St George we stopped in at the adorable Larsen’s Frostop. I mean, how cute is this place?!
The next day we packed up and got on the road to head to Horseshoe Bend in AZ. Sooo gorgeous in person and a great place to stop if you’re traveling with a pet. It’s about a 20 minute walk round trip to see the actual horseshoe once you get there. Oh, also it’s free! Maybe not the greatest place for kids or off-leash pets as there isn’t a rail around the edge. I read online it’s one of the most photographed places in the country and I can definitely see why.
Next stop was Flagstaff and I can tell you that we were thrilled to be in a city with more than a few food options! Spent the afternoon vintage shopping at Incahoots, buying too much candy at Sweet Shoppe Candy Store and then eating dinner at Pizzicletta (mmmm).
The next morning we got up early, grabbed a smoothie at Local Juicery (the only healthy meal I had on this trip, ha) and hauled ass to the Grand Canyon. I wanted to get there before the rush and we got there with only four cars in front of us in line, YAY! We parked with ease and walked over to the rim of the canyon and proceeded walking around for about 2 hours. The path around the rim of the canyon is 13 miles long and dog-friendly so it was pretty perfect. It’s true what they say: photos don’t do it justice. In person it’s like you’re looking at a 3-d multi-colored painted backdrop that is somehow real. I wish we could have seen the colors change at sunset but I’m so happy with what we saw. Also, it’s very draining walking around with a cute dog in a sweater at a place like that! By the end, Aaron was joking that we were walking Beyoncé because we couldn’t get 10 feet without someone stopping us to take a picture or pet her lol. When we drove out of the park there was a line about one mile long of cars waiting to get in! So glad we missed that rush..
Next stop was the Bedrock City about 30 minutes back towards the highway. I’ve wanted to go here for awhile and it was exactly what I imagined: a rundown roadside attraction with equal parts kitch and creep. Unexpected bonus: dogs are allowed since it’s an entirely outdoor park. The $5 admission is definitely worth it for the photo ops. Must stop if you’re in the area!
The rest of our route was along the historic Route 66 which was so great for kitschy spots like this that pay homage to yesteryear. Sadly, many spots were closed due to it being the week between Christmas and New Years. If you’re driving this road, you have to stop in Seligman, AZ.
By the end of our trip we were more than ready to get home and sleep in our bed with a nice meal, but we really had the best time! Tips below:
How to keep your road trip within a budget: Research & be flexible! Our original plan cost almost double what this trip cost us and would have required way more driving so we adjusted accordingly. I used TripAdvisor to book everything because I like their interface and find that they offer the best pricing aggregate. I didn’t always book the cheapest option since I read reviews and looked at photos. I think it all depends on your priorities and ours were mainly in our experiences on the road since we knew we weren’t spending much time in the actual hotel rooms. For meals, we kept it cheap or even free when possible with RX bars & pretzels in the car and taking advantage of included continental breakfasts. We indulged when we had the option but really tried to not spend too much on mediocre food. Another cool part of our trip was that after visiting two large national parks ($30 entry to each) we splurged the extra $20 and got a year pass to any national park! I’m all for spending on experiences rather than things and I love that this is sort of a challenge to see where we can go next.
How to travel with a dog: Mochi is so easy to travel with but Georgie isn’t so he stays back when we go out of town. It’s pretty easy to find dog-friendly hotels and also see what sort of fee they have. For the National Parks, some are more welcoming than others but we had no issues. There was one place I wanted to stop that I couldn’t because we had her and they don’t allow dogs (Lower Antelope Canyon) but I don’t regret bringing her at all. Just research ahead of time!
How to pack: I’m genuinely thrilled with myself on this one, haha. This is probably the first time that I got back home and all I had still clean was 2 pairs of underwear and 2 pairs of socks. Since everything was pretty mapped out, I knew when I would want to wear a cute dress or leggings for a hike or to be comfy in the car, and I packed just that plus extra undies and socks. I also usually make a few vintage purchases on the road. Also, bring things that you can easily change into on the road if you want since most time won’t be spent in a hotel. Get yourself a good lil duffel bag if you don’t already have one for trips like this so it can squish behind your seat if need be.
What I could do differently: research more and bring more healthy snacks. The cute exterior motels aren’t always cute inside (duh, haha).