My Southwest Road Trip: Las Vegas - Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Albuquerque
When my friend from England messaged me and asked if I wanted to go on holiday in the US, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. First off, she had only been to the US once (to the NYC), so I knew I wanted to show her another part of our incredible country. Second, I had a few places on my bucket list I’ve been wanting to check off and figured this was the perfect opportunity! A little bit of research, a few text messages and one rental car booked later - we were ready for our Southwest Road Trip Adventure!
We started in Las Vegas, NV and ended in Albuquerque, NM. Here’s a quick list of our road trip:
Las Vegas, NV
Hoover Dam (NV/AZ)
Grand Canyon South Rim
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do a big road trip! I was super excited to take on a part of the country that I haven’t been able to explore much, and to see it by car is really one of the only ways you can do it. We only had a few days to hit three states but it is totally doable but be warned, make a good playlist and stock up on snacks because you’ll be in the car for quite a while!
We spent five days in Las Vegas and finally hit the road for our road trip on Wednesday night. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Las Vegas to Flagstaff. It’s a fairly simple drive and you do go over the Hoover Dam. If you’re hitting this drive during the daylight, definitely stop at the Hoover Dam, it’s so cool! It costs $10 to park but then you can walk around for free - or you can also opt to pay for a tour and go farther down into the Hoover Dam. It’s worth an hour or so walking around both sides.
Once you pass the Hoover Dam, it’s pretty much a straight shot down to Kingman and then you hop on I-40 all the way to Flagstaff. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Flagstaff because it was conveniently located off I-40. It was a new hotel and decorated nice and modern and everything was clean and fresh. They had complimentary breakfast, free parking, and free wifi too which is always great. Because we got in so late (we didn’t arrive until almost midnight) we just went to bed and didn’t get to explore much sadly. However, we wanted to get up bright and early to head to the Grand Canyon so it was worth heading to bed.
We woke up around 6 a.m. to head out to the Grand Canyon South Rim. We wanted to get to the Canyon for sunrise but we just moved too slow for that to happen, ha. However we still made it in pretty good time, I think we were on the road by 7:30 a.m. and at the South Rim by 8:45 a.m.
If you’d like to know more about making the most of one-day at the Grand Canyon South Rim, check out my previous blog post here.
Following an incredible and awe-inspiring day at the Grand Canyon, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed shower and to change clothes before heading out into ‘downtown’ Flagstaff to look for dinner. Flagstaff is obviously a college down, so the downtown was cute and pretty trendy. We drove past several cool restaurants, bars, shops, breweries etc. The first place we went into (a brewery) had almost a two hour wait so we ended up walking down the street and settling on an Irish Pub for the evening. Extra plus - they had gluten free buns! Score!
It would’ve been nice to have one more night in Flagstaff in hindsight. There looked like there was some cute Route 66 stuff that would’ve been nice to see, but when you’re on a tight timetable to catch a flight in a different state you gotta do what you gotta do.
Another day, another freaking early morning wake up and drive time! Ha. We got up around 6 a.m. again and after having breakfast at the hotel, started our drive to Albuquerque, New Mexico! It’s a pretty easy and straight job, literally miles and miles of desert. Oh and side note - there are tumbleweeds everywhere so beware! Ha. We got hit by a few and it totally freaked us out (literally screaming in the car like we were going to die haha) but it turns out, they’re just like twigs and explore upon impact.
Though a long and boring drive, it was beautiful! Like being an Eastcoaster + a Brit, we never get scenery like that in our areas of the world so it was incredible to see the sandy hills and whispery dessert scenes and sleepy towns along the way.
I do have to say I was a little worried about Albuquerque because every person I told I was going there they said eh, there’s nothing there - go to Santa Fe instead. Honestly I just didn’t have it in me to drive another hour and our hotel was booked in Albuquerque so we took a gamble. All I have to say is I don’t know where all those people had visited in Albuquerque, but we had a blast! We stopped by our hotel and checked in and dumped our bags and then went into the old historic part of town for lunch. The historic area of town is a traditional square-style ‘town’ which has been converted into little shops, lots of Mexican food, and a few coffee shops and historical museums. Make sure you stop by San Felipe Church, the oldest church in Albuquerque. If you’re looking for an address to put in your GPS, I’d suggest the church. Everything is paid parking lots around there just a heads up.
After having lunch (which was the most expensive Mexican lunch I’ve ever had in my life lol) we went to the Albuquerque Museum. It’s a great museum for a taste of the history of this beautiful area, and they have a super cool sculpture garden that is free! Did I mention the town of Albuquerque has free wifi too - great for those international travelers who always need wifi!
It was nearing 5 o’clock on Friday and things were beginning to close, so we had to find something else to do. We wanted to do the aerial tram that we read about but it was one of the windiest days ever so we thought twice on that, ha. Instead we opted to stay on land and go sip instead! Thanks to yelp, I found a winery literally in the middle of Albuquerque! This place does NOT feel like you’re 10-minutes from a CVS and a Target that’s for sure. Casa Rondeña Winery was one of our most unexpected finds of our trip, and we had an absolute blast! We did a wine tasting and then ordered a bottle of wine and split it while sitting in the wonderful gardens.
I wish I could say we had a super crazy night out in New Mexico or got to partake of some of the amazing food in Albuquerque, but since we ate so late and drank wine and nibbled on snacks, we didn’t do anything like that! We headed back to the hotel and crashed for the evening.
Our last day in Albuquerque, so sad! My friend Beth had a super early flight in the morning because she was heading back across the pond, but my flight wasn’t until much later so I spent the morning/afternoon exploring! I spent the morning mural and wall art hunting in downtown which I was pleasantly surprised to find tons and tons of options!
Then I stopped at this adorable coffee shop that had a travel theme (ummm in love!!!) called Humble Coffee Company. I sat there for a few hours and got a coffee and a snack (gluten free pre-made snacks for the win) and was able to work on my blog for a while actually. I love people watching so it was a great spot to do a little multitasking.
I went to Radish for lunch. Though i't’s not a typical restaurants, it’s actually, a pre-made allergy friendly (gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian options) shop that you can purchase a meal and microwave right there on-site in a grab and go type fashion! I grabbed a meal to go, microwaved it, and then hit the road towards the airport to catch my flight so it was the perfect meal on the go!
It was a crazy whirlwind of a trip but it was so cool and we made some incredible memories along the way! This is a daunting itinerary to tackle but if we can do it, you can do it! Drop me a comment below for specific questions or anything I can help with! Happy travels!