A Wonderful One-Day Drive

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Often, we like to take one-day drives from Payson to scenic and interesting parts of our state.

Recently, we departed town on Highway 87, driving north through Pine and Strawberry, then took the cut-off on the Lake Mary road to Flagstaff. The drive is most beautiful no matter what time of year you take this route.

You pass Happy Jack, Mormon Lake, Lake Mary, and then head into Flagstaff.

This is one of the more beautiful drives in Arizona, in my opinion. There is usually little traffic and it will take about one hour and 45 minutes to reach Flagstaff from Payson.

Flagstaff itself holds interest in several areas. It is home to Northern Arizona University, which now has more than 18,000 students and a beautiful campus; tasty restaurants; bookstores; and antiques of great variety. Old Route 66 is the main thoroughfare through town running west to east and on which can be found hundreds of businesses.

Old Town Flagstaff is worth taking some time to stroll the streets, look in the store windows, snoop around and perhaps to enjoy lunch. You’ll find several little eateries of interest.

Being a university town makes Flagstaff more interesting than many of the same size. There are little theaters, museums and, of course, the famous Lowell Observatory, which is worth a visit. This is where the small planet Pluto was discovered.

As we mentioned, there are quite a few interesting places to dine. There are Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants; Italian; and several other ethnic eateries such as Indian and Latin. It is best to check out places to dine on the Web before departure from home.

From Flagstaff take route 89-A south through Oak Creek Canyon. This drive is very special with thrilling views, lookout points and multi-colored rock formations along the way. Depending on traffic and weather, this portion of your drive will take about one hour. Then you are in Sedona. This is another beautiful Arizona community, with dazzling colored rocks rising high above the ground framing a most unique town.

If you begin your drive early in the morning from Payson, then perhaps you will want lunch in Sedona. I recommend a fine Chinese restaurant called Szechuan, located at 1350 W. Highway 89-A, Suite 21. All interior glass and wood panels were made in Taiwan and shipped to Sedona for the restaurant. You think you are in an upscale Asian eatery in a major city when you are here. You won’t be disappointed!

It’s always fun to explore Sedona with its interesting shops with fascinating merchandise filling the shelves and tables along with art studios, museums and churches. The crystal people are here with their interests and you may find these beliefs interesting.

Before taking this drive, check out things to do in Sedona on the Web for suggestions and facts.

When it’s time to return to Payson, take Highway 89-A out of Sedona to the 260 through Camp Verde, then moving up to the mountainous terrain again to connect with 87 and down through Strawberry and Pine.

We arrived back in Payson at 6 p.m. and ready to have dinner before going home.

What a great day’s drive through thrilling scenery. The roads are good and usually traffic is light with the exception of the stretch from Flagstaff to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon.

Take a camera and be ready for beauty!

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