Well, it’s September and this trip was in March, so I think it’s time I recap it … before I forget it all. (Kidding, AZ is so stunning AND we learned some amazing news there. I can’t forget it.)
My college roommate, Natalie, recently moved to Phoenix and chose to get married there. My brother-in-law, Brian, quit smoking over 2 years ago and I promised him a flight somewhere if he quit for a year. A few texts later, Brian and his wife, Jess, were joining us for a trip to Phoenix, Sedona and the Grand Canyon, ending in Vegas.
As co-matron of honor, I flew in Thursday night to stay with Natalie and get ready for the wedding. On Friday, we went to Scottsdale for a baseball game at Salt River Field, which is an amazing park. (Pro tip: Take a hat if you’re on the lawn! Thankfully, there’s free sunscreen throughout the park.)
Steve, Jess and Brian flew in Saturday morning and we checked into our amazing Airbnb that was only about 5-10 minutes from downtown Phoenix, in Coronodo. We had a 3 bedroom home with the most stunning backyard, complete with a hot tub, living room, fireplace, and TV. (Steve spent some time there watching March Madness games.) Steve and I left Jess and Brian to enjoy it while we attended the rehearsal dinner at Ocotillo (where we actually saw another wedding happen). Definitely recommend for cocktails!
While I was wedding prepping on Sunday, the trio visited Jess’ uncle’s bar in Scottsdale, Four Peaks Brewery. I grabbed breakfast AND lunch at the awesome Desoto Market, an open marketplace. (Breakfast was from Tea & Toast and lunch for everyone was delicious salads from RADish.) I have to mention Mercantile, the salon where we had our hair and makeup done, because it’s also the most perfectly curated shop. Mike and Natalie were married at the University Club, where the orange trees were the perfect wedding backdrop.
We were up very early on Monday morning to drive to Sedona. On the way, we stopped at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Camp Verde. Over 800 years old, MC is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. It’s really awe-inspiring.
We stayed at my family friends’ stunning home on the golf course with ridiculous views of the mountains. (Thank you again, Barb and Bill!) We didn’t want to waste a minute, so we immediately set out to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross and Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village and hike Cathedral Rock. The Chapel has floor-to-ceiling windows (so I’m not sure who could pay attention during service) and (fun fact!) overlooks the estate owned by the creator of LASIK.
Tlaquepaque (pronounced tlakeˈpake) is a Southwest-style open shopping center filled with small shops featuring local artisans. Jess and I tried to have our auras read, but the aura-ist(?) wasn’t in on Mondays.
We wanted to squeeze in a hike, too, so we quickly set off to Cathedral Rock, which Barb recommended. (That link says it’s a mile, but we added on a few more by connecting trails.) We stopped to take so many pics, and each one was more gorgeous than the previous. It was really jaw-dropping in a way that I didn’t expect.
I can’t recommend any restaurants in Sedona because we decided to take advantage of being in a beautiful home by making dinner and hanging out in the hot tub. WE ALSO FOUND OUT THAT JESS IS PREGNANT!! It was a total shock and Steve and I are SO excited to be aunt and uncle to our little niece. Learning the news in the home of people who I love while visiting a town I fell in love with with people who I love was pretty much perfect.
After an amazing day in Sedona, we drove to the Grand Canyon on Tuesday high on the most amazing views and baby news. The Grand Canyon did not disappoint. We ventured a little past the tourists and enjoyed space where it was a little less crowded — and without safety barriers. Brian and I immediately sprinted to the edge while Jess begged us to stay back, but the views were too crazy to not see up close.
We spent as much time there as we could, soaking up every view around every turn. We had a 4-hour drive to Vegas in front of us and wanted to at least be able to hit up the slots, so we set off. An accident re-routed us, so we missed the Hoover Dam, but next time!
I had just been to Vegas in February for Natalie’s bachelorette party and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. I booked a suite at the LINQ, overlooking the High Roller. It ended up a little more tame than expected because of the pregnancy news, but we got to take in some sites and lose plenty of money playing slots.
- Plan to spend more time in Sedona, if you go there! In the end, we wished we’d gone back to Sedona for a night rather than Vegas, but lesson learned.
- Phoenix was a lot cooler than I anticipated! (Not in terms of temps; there was a 90s+ heat wave when we were there.) There were a lot of cute shops and great food.
- Plan to hike. There are so many amazing trails. We only got a very, very small sample.
- Be really, really careful at the Grand Canyon. Steve spent the drive there reading us weird stories about how people died there, and many of them revolved around being startled by something like a chipmunk and stumbling over the edge. Really.
- Prepare for varying temps. Since it’s mostly desert, the daytime temps can soar and then the evening drops pretty quickly. Tank tops and sweatshirts are your friends.
Would I go back?
I didn’t think I’d be super into Arizona, but I ended up absolutely loving it. We didn’t have anywhere close to enough time in any location, so we’re definitely planning to return. Steve and I want to spend more time in Sedona, see Flagstaff, and hike the Grand Canyon. Have you been to Arizona? Are you as into it as I am now?
Want to read about my travels? Check them out and tell me where I should go next!