Arizona is a big state, so don't expect to see it all in 7 days. If you want to take in some of my favorite spots in just a week, you'll need to do a lot of driving and get up early most mornings. (As an added incentive for early rising, let me tell you that sunrises at most of the destinations listed in this itinerary are absolutely awe-inspiring.) This itinerary is best from fall through spring. During the summer, Phoenix is just too hot for hanging out or playing golf (unless you do your swimming at night and tee off at dawn). In the hot months, you may want to head straight to Sedona after touching down in Phoenix, and, if your return flight isn't too early, it's possible to spend your last night in Sedona or Prescott and still have a fairly short drive to the airport in Phoenix.
Day 1: Phoenix
Head straight for the pool at your resort -- after all, lounging in the sun is one of the main reasons to be here. If you've got time, visit the Desert Botanical Garden around sunset. This garden has an amazing variety of cacti and is an excellent introduction to the Arizona desert. Head to Scottsdale for dinner, and, if it happens to be a Thursday night, check out some of the art galleries, many of which stay open late on Thursday. The next morning, visit the Heard Museum, which is one of the nation's premier museums of Native American art and culture. Grab a bite to eat at the museum's excellent cafe or nearby at the Sacred Hogan Navajo Frybread, where you can try a fry-bread taco. These filling meals are a standard on Indian reservations across the state. After lunch head north to Sedona, and, if you leave Phoenix early enough, take the scenic route through Wickenburg, Prescott, and Jerome. If you take this route, stop in Wickenburg at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum or in Prescott at the Phippen Museum. If you time it just right, you can catch the sunset over the Verde Valley from the artsy historic town of Jerome, which is perched high on the slopes of Mingus Mountain.
Day 2: Sedona
Sedona may be touristy, but the red-rock cliffs, buttes, and mesas that surround the city make this one of the most beautiful places in America. To get out amid the red rocks, take a jeep tour or hike the 4- to 5-mile loop trail around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. Although this trail sees a lot of hikers, it is just about the best introduction to the amazing hiking that can be done in the Sedona area. Head to Crescent Moon Picnic Area or Airport Mesa for the sunset. If you don't do a jeep tour this day, plan to do one the next morning.
Day 3: Grand Canyon
Drive north to the Grand Canyon by way of scenic Oak Creek Canyon. Take U.S. 89 from Flagstaff to the east entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. It's worthwhile to make the short detour to see the Sinagua pueblo ruins at Wupatki National Monument. Also be sure to stop at the Cameron Trading Post to see the gallery of Native American artifacts in the historic stone building across the parking lot from the main trading post. If you've developed a taste for fry-bread tacos, be sure to have lunch here. Stop at Desert View, just inside the park entrance, and also Lipan Point, and catch the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Check into your hotel. The next day, get up early to catch the sunrise, and then do a half-day hike down into the canyon.
Day 4: Monument Valley
It's a long drive from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, but it's worth it. Arrive in time to take an afternoon jeep tour of the valley with a Navajo guide, and stick around to take pictures of the sunset on the Mitten Buttes.
Day 5: Canyon de Chelly
Even if you're not an early riser, I highly recommend getting up for sunrise on the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley. Next, drive to Canyon de Chelly National Monument, which is still inhabited in summer by Navajo families who farm and raise sheep much the same way that their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Make reservations in advance for one of the truck tours of the canyon. If you don't have reservations, you may be able to hire a Navajo guide to take you into the canyon by jeep or on horseback. Alternatively, drive one of the rim drives. I recommend the South Rim Drive because it provides an opportunity to hike down into the canyon on the White House Ruins Trail.
Day 6: The Painted Desert & Petrified Forest
The next day, head west across the Hopi Reservation and stop in the village of Walpi, where you can do a guided tour of this ancient mesa-top pueblo. Also be sure to stop at Tsakurshovi, a tiny crafts shop that specializes in traditional Hopi kachina dolls. Have lunch at the Hopi Cultural Center. Continue south to Holbrook and Petrified Forest National Park, which preserves both the petrified forest and parts of the Painted Desert. End your day in Winslow at the historic La Posada hotel.
Day 7: Phoenix
On the way back to Phoenix, stop to see the cliff dwellings at Montezuma Castle National Monument near Camp Verde. If you've got a sweet tooth, also stop at the Rock Springs Café for some of the best pie in the state. After this whirlwind tour of Arizona's highlights, you'll probably want to park yourself by the pool for the rest of the day.
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.