1) Walk the Rim Trail. This is where you see all the postcard worthy views as this trail runs along the edge of the south rim. There are shuttle bus stops all along the trail. I would recommend parking at the Visitors Center. Walking the length of the trail to Hermits Rest. Take the shuttle to the opposite end of the trail (South Kaibab Trailhead) and then walk back to the Visitors Center. One way the Rim Trail is 12.6 miles.
2) Eat at the El Tovar Dining Room. El Tovar is an architectural masterpiece located directly on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Arguably it is the finest hotel in the National Park system. The El Tovar Dining Room has incredible views to go along with delicious food and an extensive wine list. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough.
3) Get a drink at the bar at the North Rim. Many visitors to the Grand Canyon only visit the South Rim. Don’t make that mistake. The drive from the North Rim to the South Rim takes about 4 hours, but you will be awed by the scenery around you the entire time. The pace at the North Rim seems to be a little slower and the people a little friendlier. After spending time hiking, taking time to chill at the Roughrider Saloon with a cold beverage is hard to beat.
4) Hike down to the Colorado River. Or if you have to, ride the mules down. As amazing as the vistas are from the rim, looking up from the Colorado River is even more memorable. I would recommend going down the South Kaibab trail and returning via Bright Angel Trail. This can be done in a day during the shoulder seasons if you are in shape, but don’t try it in the heat of the summer. The NPS recommends you get an overnight permit to camp at the bottom. Round trip this is close to 16 miles (with 8 of it seemingly straight up) so it is difficult to do in a day.
5) See the sunrise at Mather Point. Mather Point is the iconic place to see the Grand Canyon. It is on the Rim Trail and basically right behind the Visitors Center. Crowds here can be very heavy with everyone trying to get that perfect selfie. Beat the crowds and get here early for sunrise. At sunrise you can have the place all to yourself.
6) See the movie at the South Rim Visitor Center. Normally I skip the Visitor Center movies, but I was glad I watched this one. The history of the canyon is interesting and if you can’t make it to the bottom, you can at least see what it looks like in the movie.
7) Watch for wildlife. I have been fortunate at the South Rim to see California condors, mountain goats, elk, deer and coyotes. At the North Rim they have an entire bison herd. It’s really exciting to see wildlife up close.
8) See the stars on a clear night with a new moon. In the majority of the USA, you cannot see the Milky Way or even pick out more than 40-50 stars in the sky because of all the light pollution. That is not a problem in most of the National Parks out west. If you are fortunate enough to visit during a new moon, set your alarm and come out at night to be amazed by the millions of stars you can see.
9) Tour the Hopi House. The Hopi House is right across the street from El Tovar. It is in a historic building and seems something like a cross between a museum and a gift shop. It is a pretty cool place.
10) Stay onsite. Whether you stay at El Tovar or one of the other lodges onsite or camp at Phantom Ranch at the bottom, stay onsite to beat the crowds and to get the full Grand Canyon experience.