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You could spend a lifetime exploring Arizona -- an important fact to keep in mind when planning a trip to this vast and incredibly diverse region of the American Southwest. Maps just don't give you a clear picture of how big this state is. It's roughly 400 miles from north to south (about as far as from New York City to Raleigh, North Carolina, or Brussels, Belgium, to Bern, Switzerland), and 300 miles from east to west (think New York to Richmond, Virginia, or Paris, France, to Bonn, Germany). It could easily take you 9 hours to drive from one end of the state to the other, and if you want to see it all, you'll be doing just that -- driving for hours and hours. Even if you just want to hit the highlights, reconcile yourself to doing a lot of driving. Luckily, the speed limit on interstate highways here can be as high as 75 mph.

Where should you go? What should you see? What's the best route? How do you maximize your time? I know all these questions well. I've asked them myself when I've been planning research trips around the state, and I've been asked them countless times by friends, family, and total strangers planning trips to Arizona. This section helps you answer those questions. I'm not going to get down to the nitty-gritty details such as where to get gas (just keep that tank topped off; it can often be 60 miles to the next gas station), but I do mention the occasional not-to-be-missed or out-of-the-way restaurant.

If you read through all these itineraries, you'll notice a bit of overlap. There are some attractions that just should not be missed on any visit to the state. Also, try to think of these as general ideas. Because Phoenix and Tucson are less than 2 hours apart, you could easily swap days I mention for Phoenix for time spent in Tucson (or vice versa) and not add too much extra driving to your vacation. Personally, I prefer Tucson's more low-key character to the congested streets of Phoenix and Scottsdale. However, because these two cities have the state's two main airports, you'll likely end up starting and/or ending your trip at one or the other.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.