Arizona Travel Guide

Happy Monday! After spending an amazing week off in Arizona last week, I am heading back to work (and back to reality) this morning. But before I officially get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d take a DIY time-out & share the highlights from our extra special Spring Break.

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-19One of the “perks” of being a teacher is still having the opportunity to enjoy Spring Break, and in our household that time off is multiplied by 2. As most of you already know, Matt & I work at the same high school and beyond having the opportunity to drive to work together everyday, we are also very, very fortunate to share the same “breaks”. Spring break, winter break, summer break…. we are extremely grateful to have this time off together.

We always try to make the most of this time off BUT last week’s mini break was a little extra special because it was also Matt’s 30th (!!) birthday. We decided a while ago that instead of giving gifts to each other for this milestone b-day, we would each choose a place to visit and celebrate.

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-14Matt chose to celebrate his big day in the sunny, warm, and beautiful state of Arizona. (…and after being stuck in Chicago’s cold over the last few months, I definitely didn’t object — whatever the birthday boy wants, right?!). Here are the highlights (and rookie tips) from our travels.

Phoenix —> Grand Canyon

Arizona_camera_bridget-001We started the trip off by flying into Phoenix, renting a car, and driving up to the Grand Canyon (per the birthday boy’s request of course). It took about 3 hours to get to the South Rim but the drive was super easy and really pretty. We drove into Grand Canyon National Park ($30 per car admission) and wow…. the views of the Grand Canyon were mind-boggling.

Literally insane. The fact that you could walk right up to the edge and take pictures or look over the edge just fascinated me. You could literally spend all day exploring the canyon, but we ended up just walking around the rim a bit and taking in the views from there. Breathtaking stuff.

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-2Rookie Tip: Don’t forget to pack some layers because the temperature at the canyon was significantly cooler than the Phoenix airport, and I was really glad to have a jacket and scarf with me!

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-3Grand Canyon —> Sedonaarizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-4arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-5

After the Grand Canyon, we got back into the car to drive to Sedona & stay the night. The scenic ride from the Grand Canyon to Sedona was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I think I would go as far as to say Sedona was one of the prettiest places I have ever visited. Top 5 for sure. The weather was GORGEOUS and the backdrop of the red rocks reminded me of something you only see in the movies — ah-mazing.

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-12arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-17We stayed the night in Sedona and got up early to catch the sunrise and take a mini hike at Slide Rock Park, which is about 10 minutes from downtown Sedona. This was another request from the birthday boy and the scenery did not disappoint. Apparently this place doubles as a natural “pool/water park” of sorts during the day when it’s warm. Swimming and literally sliding down these rocks in the summer with these views around you, can you even?! If you’re into rookie level hiking, I would recommend stopping here (and bringing your suit if it’s warm enough).

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-16arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-13Rookie Tip: Go early… Slide Rock gets crowded.

Because we got there so early, we were literally some of the only ones here. It was a little too chilly to swim that morning, but enjoying our coffee with these views was just as refreshing.

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-20arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-19After leaving Slide Rock, we headed back to downtown Sedona and took a Pink Jeep Tour up one of the Red Rock Peaks (warning: very bumpy… and don’t forget to bring water!). The views from the top of the mountain were stunning and the “fun facts” we learned throughout the tour were pretty interesting and well worth it. Although we only spent about 24 hours in Sedona, we would give it an A+ and felt like that amount of time was plenty for us.arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-21arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-6arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-9

Scottsdalearizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-23

After Sedona, we traveled to the Scottsdale area for the next few days. When we got there, we changed gears from “road-trip-outdoorsy” vacay to “sit-by-the-pool-and-relax” vacay. We grabbed dinner in Old Scottsdale one night and really just enjoyed relaxing by the pool after a few busy days of exploring.

Arizona_pool-001arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-22arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-25arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-8Phoenix (for the Sports Fan)

arizona_travel_mountains_canyon_scenery-26Matt love, love, loovesssss visiting and touring new football/baseball/basketball stadiums, like that’s his “thing” when we travel. And for all the blog “stuff” he puts up with (and is so patient about) on a daily basis, the least I could do is make a point to tour/visit these new stadiums with him when we are in new cities. So of course when we’re in AZ for the first time together… for HIS birthday… we had to check out the stadiums there. <— yes that’s plural.

Arizona_Chicago_cubs-001We first toured the University of Phoenix Stadium (where the AZ Cardinals football team plays). And even though the “gift” for the 30th was the travel in itself, I haaaaaddd to sneak in a little birthday surprise for Matt’s big day. Matt is a huge Cubs Fan and part of the reason he chose to visit AZ (outside of the outdoorsy stuff and warm weather) was because he knew his beloved Chicago Cubs were playing the AZ Diamondbacks in Phoenix last week. So not only did he get to see the Diamondback’s stadium, I also surprised him with tickets to the game from seats we would NEVER usually splurge on. We got to the game super early and were able to watch batting practice from right above the dug-out. To say it was a HAPPY birthday is quite the understatement.

Arizona_Bridget_matt-001Our trip to AZ was so. much. fun and really was the perfect way to celebrate Matt’s 3-0! I don’t turn 30 for another two years but I’m already thinking about where I should celebrate. If that celebration is half as fun as this one was, I’d call it a big success.

Bridget Signature

Before we head back in to the reality of Monday, let’s take a moment to daydream because I’d really love to hear your thoughts. What city would you choose to celebrate a milestone birthday?!

 

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  • Heather

    I LOVE Sedona! It is so pretty and so different from Phoenix. And the Grand Canyon is so much bigger than you expect it to be!! We went a few years ago and I could not get over how HUGE it really was. Pictures do not do justice!

    • I agree — the size is INSANE and pictures don’t even come close to doing it justice. Have a great week, Heather!

  • shawnna griffin

    hey girl So glad y’all had a lot of fun! Love the pics so pretty! My family and I went to the Grand Canyon years ago ( back in ’89) it was so much fun to ! We drove from our home in northwest Arkansas to Arizona! Stopped quite a few times on the way there! Never forget the trip!

    • Aww, thanks Shawnna! That drive sounds awesome… so fun to stop and explore along the way!

  • Erin

    so pretty! we are hoping to try a family trip to the grand canyon when my sister’s kids are a little older.

    For my 30th, i happen to be getting married that year so there was no big trip. But for my 35th, we planned on greece! it was a month and half later but completely splurge worthy and unbelievable!

    • OMG GREECE!!! You go girl!!! That’s amazing and I love that you still think it was worth the splurge. I’m feeling inspired =)

  • Trang

    I love your travel blogs Bridget. So chalk full of beautiful photos and tips. Looks like you and Matt had a great time! Well deserved break for teachers!

    • Thanks so much, Trang!! You are too sweet. We were lucky to get away and definitely came back feeling refreshed to get back to work.

  • Jennifer

    You have just increased my excitement for our similar trip to Arizona this summer! Flying into Phoenix, Grand Canyon, and Sedona are almost the same, but we will continue to Antelope Canyon before ending in Vegas. You pictures are stunning. Thank you for sharing!

    • Yay… I’m SO excited for you!! And taking it all the back to Vegas, that sounds awesome!! Have fun =)

  • Delighted Dwelling

    Crazy we are on the same va-cay schedule this year! We went to Beaver Creek shortly after Casey and are going to Scottsdale for a wedding in June and are planning to spend a day in Sedona!! Where did you stay in Sedona? And where did you eat in Sedona and/or Scottsdale? Any recommendations?

    • That is so crazy!! We stayed at the Best Western in Sedona, which had great balcony space (with fires at nights/cozy couches outside) and was a great location. The breakfast and room was just okay — I guess you get what you pay for (this choice was the most economical). We ate at a really good place in downtown Sedona where the patio had a PERFECT view of the rocks. I can’t remember the name, but it was “nice” pub-ish food and was on the east side of the street in one of the strip malls (kind of hidden half way down the block).

      Scottsdale: We stayed at the Chaparral Suites in Scottsdale, which again was a great location and a great price. The breakfast was good and the pool was nice but they had some unexpected construction going on (it’s turning into an Embassy Suites). But the room was VERY spacious and nice. In Scottsdale we ate at two Mexican places (one in old Scottsdale and one right next to our hotel) both were very good! And we also ate at this really good brunch place called the Daily Dose which was affordable and delicious!

      Hope this helps!! As you can tell, we are not big foodies and don’t have glamorous expectations when staying the night, so keep that in mind when taking my advice. haha #rookie

    • Delighted Dwelling

      Thank you for the tips! I just like to get first hand reviews when possible… nothing like spending a bunch of money and then hating your room or meal. TripAdvisor is usually my go to, but I trust you girls when it comes to DIY advice, so I thought it’d be great to have your advice on travel as well! Thanks again!!!

  • No expenses spared I’d say Paris or Hawaii for a big birthday. In actuality, I spent my 30th at the family lake cottage which was wonderful (and cheap). High on my reasonable to-visit list are San Fran, Mackinaw Island, and Acadia National Park. I was just making a list this morning of our intended vacations through 2020…

  • Lisa, thanks so much! How lucky that you live in such a gorgeous place! We are big fans of your state’s amazing views and warm weather 🙂