Among all the options for an after labor Day getaway, one of the most popular scenic trips for Angelenos is Arizona’s Grand Canyon. Whether you are looking for an opportunity to take in the natural sights, participate in an organized tour/hike, or are just in need of a change of pace, the Old West is alive and less than a day’s drive away. The Grand Canyon’s stunning views and neighboring cities’ attractions make it the ideal destination for any Los Angeles-area traveler.
The quickest route out of LA is to take the 15 North for 490 miles, passing through Las Vegas and merging on to the 9 East in Utah, and finally the 59 East. This option should take about 11 hours and the best place to stop, rest and sightsee would be Vegas, the midway point.
Another popular, yet longer route, is to drive directly through Arizona, passing scenic cities such as Lake Havasu and Sedona. Take the 15 North to the 40 East, continuing to Flagstaff (travel time: about 13 hours). From Flagstaff, make your overnight arrangements and continue North on the 89 for 75 mile (90 minutes).
Related: Field Trip: Phoenix, AZ
Where to stay:
England House Bed & Breakfast
614 W. Santa Fe Ave.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Price: From $129 per night with discounted rates for three night stays during the winter months
For those who are not interested in camping around the Canyon, the nearest major city is Flagstaff, which is about a half hour away from the Grand Canyon Railway. The England House B&B offers an Old West feel in the Historic downtown area. Since this home only features four themed rooms, reservations should be made at least two weeks in advance. Guests are made to feel like visiting royalty in this two story Victorian house furnished with late 19th century French antiques. Due to the historic detail, this location is not recommended for children under 12. Breakfast is served on the outside deck or on the sun porch, and includes locally baked pastries, an egg dish, fresh fruit, and freshly ground organic coffee.
Related: LA’s Best Bed & Breakfasts
The Little America Hotel
2515 E. Butler Ave.
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
Price: From $99 per night
If you require a more family-friendly location with the same Old West ambiance, the Little America Hotel sits on 500 acres of forest, with trails winding throughout the property. Each room features a small private balcony for guests to enjoy the natural scenery. The rustic surroundings are complemented by luxury amenities such as down pillows and 31” flat screen televisions. The hotel also hosts one of Flagstaffs most popular restaurants, the Western Gold Restaurant, where guests can choose from various steak cuts, fresh trout, and traditional comfort food such as mac and cheese.
Bright Angel Lodge
9 Village Loop Drive
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
Price: $83 per night and up
10 Albright St.
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Price: $180 per night and up
If you want to stay in the thick of it all, the Grand Canyon’s South Rim offers a few lodging options in addition to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, including Kachina Lodge and Bright Angel Lodge. Kachina offers many rooms with stunning canyon views and family-friendly layouts. It’s also located within walking distance of a few restaurants, so you can get out and enjoy the nightlife a bit. Bright Lodge is in walking distance from Kachina and offers guests a rustic charm and exposure to Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s beautiful architectural details. One of its cabins even served as the Grand Canyon’s post office in the early 1900′s.
What to do:
Grand Canyon Railway
233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd.
Williams, AZ 86046
Price: from $75 per adult round trip ticket and $40 for children ages 2-15
For those who choose the scenic route through Arizona, plans can easily be made to tour the Canyon aboard a passenger train. With trains leaving twice daily from Williams, just east of Flagstaff, and arriving at the Canyon’s South Rim, the 60 mile journey will be a treat. Once you arrive, excursions from guided tours, to helicopter rides, to rafting are easily available. Seasonally themed experiences with the Railway include The Pumpkin Patch Train, running throughout October, and the Polar Express Train, running select nights in November and December. The Grand Canyon Railway also doubles as a hotel, and you can even book vacation packages that include hotel stays, meals, train trips and motorcoach tours.
Village Loop Drive (Next to El Tovar)
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Located on the South Rim of the Canyon near the El Tovar Hotel is Hopi House, one of several structures in the Canyon designed by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter. The structure, which opened in 1905, was designed to mimic the adobe pueblos that the native Hopi Indians of old Oraibi lived in. The multi-level “house” is made of stone and features fireplaces and adobe walls. This historic landmark is a must-see. Colter also designed Hermits Rest and Lookout Studio, which also sit on the South Rim.
The Museum Club
3404 E. Route 66
This taxidermy business turned live entertainment venue features some of the best nightlife in Flagstaff. Aside from hosting rising country stars on the weekends, dance lessons and karaoke are regular weeknight activities. Guests enjoy affordable prices and drink specials seven nights a week. Make sure to explore the history that surrounds this one-time museum and hunting club. The list of things to do and see around the Grand Canyon is endless, so be sure to check out the park’s list of sights to see while you’re there.
Where to eat:
El Tovar Restaurant
1 El Tovar Road
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Widely agreed as the best dining option at the Canyon, the El Tovar is located in the Grand Canyon Village. The affordable menu features gourmet options for the whole family. The rustic interior design, view of the scenery, and proximity to hiking trails make this a popular location. Reservations can be made online up to six months in advance by calling 928.638.2631, ext. 6432.
Danielle Farve is a freelance writer covering all things Los Angeles. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.