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A few weeks ago I posted my 11 Bucket List Travel Destinations, and I wanted to update you on my latest adventures – Phoenix and Sedona.
Over Labor Day weekend, Tyler and I (boyfriend) headed to Arizona. Neither of us had ever spent a substantial amount of time in the desert state but we were excited to escape the monotony of every day life for a while.
We stayed in an Air Bnb in Old Town Scottsdale which was THE CUTEST little area. There were tons of shops, great places to eat, and a few different bars scattered about. My absolute FAVORITE PLACE EVER was ChopShop. If you go, which you must, I suggest ordering the “Spicy Korean Steak Bowl” and a “Cool Down” to sip on.
Our first real adventure started at 5:00 AM, 5,000 feet in the air! We hopped in a hot air balloon and took off over the Arizona desert. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be as scared as I was. You start to realize (a little too late) that you’re literally floating through the air in a wicker basket… Once you get over that initial shock though, it’s truly a blast. We ended our morning adventure with mimosas in the desert. It was panning out to be one heck of a day already.
After the hot air balloon ride we headed to Camelback Mountain for a ridiculously hot hike. It took us about 2 hours total, which doesn’t sound long, until you take the 107 degree heat into account. Not to mention the blazing sun and utter lack of shade. But we both made it to the top and got to soak in the amazing views.
Side note: we actually saw a rescue helicopter searching for someone that day. They later discovered his body at the bottom of a cliff. 1st – my heart goes out to that family and his friends. 2nd – please don’t hike alone! It doesn’t matter how well equipped you are, it’s always best to hike with a buddy.
Exhausted, and potentially suffering acute cases of heat stroke, we headed back for a quick bite to eat (ChopShop obvi) and an afternoon nap.
To end the night, we drove across town and got dinner at Capital Grille. They had a special on a filet and let me tell you right now… WOWZA were my taste buds happy. We also ordered Sam’s Mashed Potatoes which were exactly what mashed potatoes should be. To make the experience even better, they followed up with a handwritten postcard in the mail 2 weeks later just to say “hello.” Capital Grille, whoever your customer relations person is, they deserve a raise. #MVP PS: Request Scott as your server and tell him hi from me!!!!
I woke up with a sore throat and a stuffy nose (yuck), but wanted to make the best of the day. We decided to drive the 2.5 hours from Phoenix to Sedona to check out some red rock. Once we got on the highway we realized what a massive mistake we’d made. Have you ever seen stand still traffic in the desert? Me neither, until now.
The 2.5 hours drive quickly extended to 3.5 hours, but all was well with the world when we finally pulled up and were greeted with the most vibrant, beautiful red rocks. Our first stop was Devil’s Bridge Trail.
Devil’s Bridge is much easier than Camelback. I’d say it’s about a 3/10 on the difficulty scale. However, the trail markers are few and far between when you first head out – so be careful and pay attention. It took us about an hour or so to reach the “bridge,” and when we got there we realized there was a 30+ person line to take your selfie on the bridge. I’ll admit, the bridge is pretty neat, but I wasn’t going to wait 30 minutes to take a picture on a rock. Lucky for me, the scenery around the bridge was equally stunning.
I was still feeling pretty crappy, so we decided to escape the heat with açaí bowls from a local juicery. 100% organic and 100% delicious (although it was a bit too sweet for my liking).
Next, we drove up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Neither of us are catholic, but we could appreciate the sheer beauty and architecture of this church on a hill. By this time, we were both overheating, a bit crabby, and ready to head back to Phoenix. So we set out the opposite direction (thankfully missing all the traffic) and you guessed it – took a nap when we arrived.
Full disclosure: we ended the night with frozen pizza, chips & salsa, and watching Peter Rabbit. It’s important to remember that vacations aren’t meant to be “go go go” the entire time, you’ve got to slow down a bit and relax.
By Sunday my flu-like symptoms were at their peak. We were supposed to attend a pool party at Maya, but I knew immediately upon waking that there was no way I’d make it through. Instead, we visited the restaurant right next to ChopShop called Farm & Craft. Though it wasn’t nearly as life changing as ChopShop, it had this totally relatable wall.
Our Sunday adventures included checking out Top Golf (10/10 recommend), getting dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant (so authentic you could barely understand our server), and laying out by the pool soaking up the sun. My favorite part of today was simply being. There were no expectations, no reservations, and no rush. We laughed a lot, drank a little, ate great food, and thought about how good it is to be alive. To end the night, we went to Sugar Bowl, a restaurant completely dedicated to dessert. CAN I GET AN AMEN!?
Going into this trip, I didn’t have any expectations aside from sun, sweat, and a few good hikes. All of which were met and then some. I did learn a few things about myself and the world though:
- Hiking gloves are a thing, and if I plan on hiking in blazing hot places again, I need to buy a pair.
- 0% chance I could live and thrive in Phoenix – I just can’t handle that heat.
- Red rocks will never get old.
- I’m crabby when I’m sick. Sorry Ty.
- Putting down my phone and visually soaking up my surroundings, instead of getting the perfect shot, is totally worth it and way more fulfilling.
- ChopShop till I die.
If you’re planning an AZ trip anytime soon and want some advice or to hear more, shoot me a message and I’d be happy to chat! Happy travels and…