Boy oh boy this post has been a long time coming. We took our first trip to Phoenix last month and due to all kinds of phone/computer issues I’ve had THE most complicated time getting all of my photos into one spot. So here we are, better late than never!
This was probably the most organized and well planned trip we’ve been on yet. The possibility/option of moving to Phoenix (to be closer to the majority of my husbands business) made this trip different than most because rather than going with just the intent of having a good time, there was also the intent of feeling it out to see if it could potentially be a good fit for our family in the future (don’t worry family and friends, this would be way further down the road, if at all). While we are going to have many many more visits before we make up our minds, I wanted to make sure that our first experience with this city was as positive as it could be since we will be spending a lot of time there regardless.
To give you a little insight on my trip planning, I have a pretty simple 3 step process. Here’s a brief glimpse at the workings of my planning/organizing obsessed brain:
-I am a major lover of yelp. There is no place I go to that I haven’t thoroughly explored on yelp before I go. It allows you to not only read reviews, but you can also see photos of the atmosphere and menu, which are super helpful when trying to find places that will make the whole family happy. It’s great for hotels too because rather than getting the fluffed up professional photographs that the hotel websites offer, you get to see real life images of what the room will actually look like when you get there (great for if you’re on the fence about a hotel). I spend several days combing through all the possible hotels and restaurants to choose from, and narrow down the best by bookmarking them.
-once I’ve narrowed down our hotel(s) and top restaurant picks , I run them all through maps to see how far they all are from each other. This helps when it comes to making the itinerary because it’s far easier to stick to exploring one area each day, rather than dodging all around in a new city (especially a big city like Phoenix). If you are really unfamiliar with the area and don’t even know where to start, Yelp can be really helpful for this part as well. Often times I will just enter the address of my hotel into yelp, filter my results based on distance, and sift through the places that I had bookmarked. Combining this method with maps will get you a really accurate idea of where everything is at and will make the adventure a bit less complicated.
-after I have my spots picked and have them all grouped based on proximity, I start my itinerary. I break it down by day, followed by a list of several potential activities and a restaurant choice for each meal of that day. I know there are plenty of people out there that prefer the spontaneity of a less organized trip but when you’re planning around your husbands meetings + your toddlers mood swings, an organized itinerary makes everything so much smoother and less stressful. We have run into situations far too often where we have no idea where to eat lunch, barely ate breakfast because my husband had a meeting, and now come 1pm we are all cranky and irritable because we are starving and have no idea what restaurant options are even in the area. Itineraries completely solve that problem and allow you to actually enjoy your time. We don’t always stick exactly to the plan, but having that plan as a backup to go off of is a total life saver.
Our first two days in Phoenix we stayed at the Arizona Grand resort. The rooms and service weren’t exactly my favorite but the grounds were really sprawling and beautiful. There’s a Mexican restaurant on the property with amazing enchiladas (and sangria). Sadly the hotel’s water park was closed during weekdays because we went after the high summer season but there were several pools that were still accessible and still plenty of fun for the little dude.
The second half of our trip we stayed at the AC hotel in Tempe, and I absolutely loved it. The property has only been open for a few months so everything is nice and new. There is a rooftop pool with beautiful views and the location is prime. There is a long walking path along the water and tons of restaurants within a 5-10 minute drive.
…Which leads me to one of my favorite parts of traveling: the food! Phoenix has a ton of amazing spots to choose from. My favorites included:
1. Snooze AM (fun/hip/eco friendly college student breakfast spot with an awesome staff)
2. Culinary dropout (unique/trendy decor and delicious small plates/appetizers)
3. Olive and Ivy (great ambiance, even better food and cocktails)
4. The Hash Kitchen (quirky breakfast spot with an interesting twist on classic dishes)
5. Zu Izakaya (traditional Japanese. Lots of sushi, Saki, and grilled teriyaki to choose from)
As for activities, we checked out Scottsdale quarter (which has a really cool/unique splash pad area and tons of shopping), explored the downtown Phoenix area, and checked out a couple of pretty parks. We did a ton of driving to just get familiar with the area and had a lot of fun looking at the versatile range of adobe-esque houses in the area. If you’re as into home design as we are, I highly recommend just driving through the neighborhoods of Scottsdale for a while, even if you have no intent of ever moving there…if anything you’ll spot some really pretty houses and some of the biggest cacti you’ve ever seen.
We left the trip with a good feeling about Phoenix and all of the possibilities + adventures that it holds. It is such a cool desert city with so much to do and so much that we have yet to explore. While this is just the beginning of our Arizona travels, our first taste was certainly a sweet one.
The Whine Connoisseur