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Escaping to Somewhere Warm – Phoenix, Arizona
Two years ago Jared and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We had planned on going on a trip for our anniversary but Raeca was going through a fair bit of separation anxiety at that time so it never happened. So, with last week being our 12th anniversary we finally got a chance to get away.
This was actually our first time having time away with the two of us since Raeca was born (eight years ago), it was about time that it happened.
When trying to figure out where to go we knew our options were to either drive to somewhere in Saskatchewan where it would still be cold, not very interesting and who knew what the roads would be like, OR we could fly somewhere. The cheapest places to fly to from Saskatchewan are actually Vegas and Phoenix and since neither of us are interested in Vegas and Phoenix has been on my bucket list for years it was a very easy decision.
My only problem with our time in Phoenix is that it left me with a longer to-see list than I came with. I really enjoyed our time, the weather was a perfect 20 degrees (Celcius, 68-ish Farenhiet), had we been just wanting to sit around that may have been a little chilly but we walked 10+ kilometers most days so it was the perfect temperature.
Because we were only there for a few days we just stuck around Phoenix but we definitely want to go back and check out Sedona and the Grand Canyon with the kids.
I had seen tons of pictures of Arizona and all the cacti over the years but there is just something amazing about seeing them in person. Plus, I was incredibly surprised to find that Phoenix has so many palm trees, it looked a lot more like Los Angeles than I was expecting because of that.
Phoenix has been on my bucket list for the past 12-ish years, I have always felt it was a place I could move to and this trip definitely helped cement that feeling. Sure, the intense heat in the summer may be a bit much but I still think I would prefer that to the intense cold we experience in the winters.
This last year I have done a lot better with budgeting for trips. Prior to saving for them ahead of time we still used to go on trips but then afterwards we would come back and look at how much money we spent and it would stress Jared out, so, actually taking the time to save and budget ahead of time has been very helpful. I have also been saving for a Europe trip for the last year, if my savings continues on track we will hopefully go next fall.
I am planning a post for next month with tips for budgeting for travel, stay tuned for that!
Okay, so I just wanted to share a little recap of our trip and some recommendations on where to stay and what to do when you go!
WHERE TO STAY
One of my favorite things about Phoenix was actually our “hotel”. We stayed in a Stay Alfred which is actually run like a hotel but they are apartment suits. The place was beautiful, centrally located downtown and it was so great to have a full kitchen and living room, especially with our food sensitivities. For two of our suppers we picked up gluten free pizzas from Target and just baked them in the oven back at our place.
The Stay Alfred was also good for downtime. I feel like I can never rest when I’m at a hotel because whenever you are there and awake you need to awkwardly sit on the bed or one of their incredibly uncomfortable chairs. But here we had a full living room with a couch so we could sit there and watch some TV or just veg. There was also a small kitchen table which Jared used to play games at.
I enjoyed our Stay Alfred so much it’s kind of annoying because it has totally ruined hotels for me. I understand that this is going to sound completely sponsored but it’s not, I truly just enjoyed our time there. Now I just can’t travel anywhere again unless there is a Stay Alfred . . .
WHERE TO EAT
Because of Jared having celiac it comes to eating we generally try to stick with chains or restaurants with websites and/or reviews so we can make sure there are gluten free options and Jared won’t get sick.
Ncounter was super convenient to eat at because it was actually below the Stay Alfred, on street level right downtown Phoenix. We only ate there for breakfast one day but they had gluten free options and their bacon was cooked to perfection. Plus, the interior is so unique and quirky, I loved it!
OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY
When there is an Old Spaghetti Factory around I like to try to eat there. I was really surprised though to find out they didn’t have my go-to spicy meat sauce, I’m not sure if it is just in Canadian Old Spaghetti Factory’s? They have a gluten free pasta option though our waitress didn’t seem as knowledgeable about gluten free eating as we’ve had in the past, but it all ended up working out and Jared didn’t get sick.
Red Robin is one of Jared’s favorite restaurants and we don’t have any close to us at home so when we are close to one we always try to go. Their burgers are gluten free and they have great gluten free buns. My only downer is that they have the most delicious milkshakes but my body will no longer accept such dairy so that’s always a little sad.
We actually only ate out at those three places, other than that we had our other meals at our “hotel” with pre-purchased fruit and other food from a grocery store. I had read really good things about a pizza place downtown but we ran out of time/were tired of walking and didn’t feel motivated to check it out, maybe next time!
HOW TO GET AROUND
We did a lot of walking (the benefit of staying downtown) and other than that we just used Uber. Actually, that’s not entirely true, we took a taxi from the airport to downtown when we first got in, but it would have been cheaper to use Uber.
This was our first Uber experience since they are currently not operating where we live, and even if they do get the green light I am not sure how well used it will be because we live in a place where everyone needs to own a vehicle. Though it would be very convenient for airport drop offs and pick ups . . .
We had wanted to use their Valley Metro Rail system but it the way it worked out we would have needed to use the rail and then also hop on a bus and we just didn’t feel up to figuring that all out, especially since we didn’t have internet on our phones when we weren’t in places with wifi.
Anyway, our Uber experiences we great, I soooo prefer Uber to taxis, we had some great chats with our drivers and they gave us some good background information of Phoenix and suggestions on what we should check out.
WHAT TO DO
Okay, here’s where I feel like this post will be lacking. We only got to Phoenix at lunch on Tuesday and we left Friday morning so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to do things. There is a lot more on our to do list for next time. Though, I thoroughly enjoyed what we did do!
DESERT BOTANICAL GARDENS
The Desert Botanical Gardens was an interesting walk and we learned a lot. This was the first thing we did which I think was a great idea, we were still just so in awe of being around a bunch of cacti (that feeling actually never wore off). I don’t think I would go back here with the kids because I could see it being a little long for them but I’m glad we did it.
Also, they hire the nicest people there, everyone was knowledgeable and super friendly.
Oh, and the Desert Botanical Gardens has free wifi in most places which was information I was trying to figure out prior to getting there because we weren’t sure how we were going to get an Uber back to our next place so that was very helpful.
HOLE IN THE ROCK
From the Desert Botanical Garden we walked to the Hole in the Rock. This was another time I was thankful the weather was what it was because I imagine it feels very hot up there in the summer but it was perfect when we were there. It only takes a couple of minutes to walk to the hole and you get an amazing view of Phoenix.
Also, right next to there they have a Community Fishing Water which looks like I imagine the Garden of Eden looking. We walked over and saw a man and his daughter feeding the birds and I was just in awe of all the palms surrounding the water. (I suppose there probably wouldn’t have been palms in the Garden of Eden since I don’t they are native to Israel but can we just image there could have been?)
Can a Canadian go to the US and not go to Target? I think not. The Tempe Marketplace is a big marketplace with over 100 shops and restaurants. We bought some Christmas gifts for the kids and Jared and I bought a few clothes. Funnily enough, the clothes I ended up buying for myself came from a store we also have locally . . .
We spent quite a bit of time just wandering around the downtown area. There are a lot of neat things to see. We saw a lot of cool artwork on buildings, noticed that the nicest, greenest grass grew on the lawns of law offices (someone is making good money), and just enjoyed different scenery than we are used to and nicer weather than we would have been experiencing at home.
There are a number more things that I still have on my Phoenix (and Arizona) to do list that we didn’t get to – hopefully next time!