Planning a Family Trip to Arizona, Nevada and Utah!

Our trip to Arizona in January was so wonderful that within a couple weeks we started planning a return trip. We knew we wanted to take advantage of the longest spring break Jack has ever had, so we needed to get things booked before they got super expensive. Now is the fun stuff, deciding what we want to make sure to do on our trip!

To get you up to speed, on our last trip we stuck with just Arizona, visiting Phoenix, Pine and Sedona. You can read a recap here: All About Our 4-Day Family Trip to Arizona.  We only had a long weekend for that trip, so we were super bummed out that we weren’t able to make it to the Grand Canyon or visit other super cool looking places that were a bit too North to get to with our timeline.

For our spring break trip, Travis and I literally printed out a map and started circling places we wanted to visit:

Google Map shows: Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Kanab, Page, Grand Canyon

Here’s what we’ve come up with:

Day 1: Fly to Vegas.

We considered whether to fly into Phoenix again or to fly into the Las Vegas airport. We decided that Kanab, UT would be a good homebase, so we checked Google Maps. From Phoenix to Kanab is about 5 hours and 23 minutes. From Las Vegas to Kanab is about 3 hours and 16 minutes. Also, the Las Vegas route would take us through scenic areas we haven’t seen before AND the plane fare was less expensive. Vegas wins!

On our plan: We will be arriving in Vegas late at night. So, our plan is to take an Uber to our hotel and crash. We are staying at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino right on the Vegas strip, because it’s cheap and looks ridiculous.

Source: Excalibur Vegas website

Day 2: Vegas to Kanab, UT

On our plan: We will be checking out of our hotel, finding breakfast somewhere and picking up our rental car. From there, we will drive towards Kanab, where we have a condo rental for the rest of the week.

Possible things to do that day:

  • Eat. We need breakfast in the Vegas area before we go. We may hit up Saint Honore Donut Shop because I saw it online and it looks amazing. We will also need lunch and dinner somewhere between Vegas and Kanab.
  • Valley of Fire State Park: this state park is on the way between Vegas and Kanab and is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. They have a few different hikes we can easily do in the afternoon, which will also be a great way to stretch our legs.
  • Virgin River Gorge: this is also on the way between Vegas and Kanab, the gorge is supposed to be twisty and turny goodness.
  • Check into our condo rental and go grocery shopping.

Days 3 – 7: All the Exploring!

On our plan: We have a rental condo in Kanab and will be venturing out each day to visit nearby parks, hikes and overall cool places.

Possible things to do:

  • Zion National Park – about 30 minutes from Kanab, so we plan to spend one day exploring there. They even have e-bike rentals (like we did in Austin), so we may do that!
  • Bryce Canyon Park – About 1.5 hours from Kanab, so could be a day trip.
  • Antelope Canyon & Page – about 1 hour, 20 minutes from Kanab, so could be a day trip. You can only go with a tour group, so I need to figure out which one to book if we go there. Recommendations welcome!
  • Belly of the Dragon – about 20 minutes from Kanab.
  • Possibly booking a tour to somewhere nearby?
  • Eat ALL the food! We plan to have groceries available for easy breakfasts, lunches and snacks and enjoy going out for dinners. However, we will be there over Easter and anticipate places being closed, so we will at least need to make dinner on Easter.

If you have been to the Northern Arizona/Southern Utah area, I’d love to know any recommendations on things to do, see or eat!

Day 8: Kanab to Vegas

On our plan: We will wake up, have breakfast and pack up. Then, we will drive back to Vegas (about 3 hours), turn in our rental car, and check into our Vegas hotel. This time, we are staying at The Signature at MGM Grand.

Possible things to do:

  • We may stop somewhere between Kanab and Vegas if we want to stretch our legs, eat, or just explore.
  • Once we check-in to our hotel in Vegas, we plan to walk around the strip. Travis definitely wants to show Jack the Venetian because we have great memories from a past trip.
  • We will probably buy some sparkly souvenirs because my kid is a magpie.
  • Eat. If you have any lunch or dinner recommendations in Vegas, let me know!

Day 9: Come Home

On our plan: We have an early flight, so we will wake up and grab a taxi or Uber to the airport.

I can’t wait! If you have any recommendations for places we shouldn’t miss – whether it be food options, hikes, stores, or views – let me know!

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Jack is 11!

Each year, I do a Jack birthday post on his birthday. Last year, we celebrated double-digits with a trip to Universal Studios. The year before, we had a quiet pandemic birthday at home. Every year, I include a photo of my rapidly growing boy and I can’t believe how the time flies.

This year is no exception. Since the start of 5th grade, it seems that my baby has morphed into a pre-teen overnight. He’s so freaking smart and funny and caring. An amazing travel buddy and dang cute too. I’m so proud to be his mom.

Over the years, I’ve started asking him for permission to post his photo on social media. Sometimes he says yes. Other times he only allows a photo to go to our family text chat. I’ve also started to cut back on what I post here – focusing more on our family adventures and less on his growing stages.

With his permission, here’s my amazing 11-year-old:

He loves video games, Pusheen cats, his family, his friends, traveling to new places and being lazy on the couch in his robe. When he grows up, he says he wants to be a part time drummer and a part time tech programmer. He also says he never wants to move out of our house and that I’m forever Valentine.

Happiest of birthdays to my Jack!

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All About Our 4-Day Family Trip to Arizona

As I mentioned back in January, Jack had a random 4-day weekend off of school with didn’t align with any holidays or anything… so we figured it would be the perfect time for a little trip. We had never been to Arizona before and the weather looked pretty great for January, so I went ahead and booked it. We had a plan and then we had what actually happened, so let’s talk all about our Arizona trip!

Day 1: Phoenix

We left home super early in the morning and flew into Phoenix, landing around 10am Phoenix time (there is a 2 hour time difference between Maryland and Arizona). Once we landed, we picked up some fancy BMW car Travis rented through Turo and made our way to the hotel to check-in. We stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix Scottsdale, which was similarly priced to other hotels but also included a Happy Hour in the evening and a chef-made breakfast in the morning.

Once we were settled, we went on the hunt for food and found an In & Out Burger. We had never been and wanted something quick, so there you go. All in all, it was fine. I liked that the bread on the burger was toasted, but other than that it was just a fast-food burger with mediocre fries (#IsaidwhatIsaid).

We decided to drive over to Historic Downtown Scottsdale and spent the day exploring that area. It was that this point I because fully obsessed with the gigantic cactuses that grew everywhere. I WANT A CACTUS in my yard!

I picked up these gorgeous earrings at the The Merchantile of Scottsdale and I can’t wait to wear them:

We also checked out Shakes & Cones for a mid-afternoon snack and it was delicious. I went for a salted caramel sundae, but Jack got a cookie butter milkshake that was so amazing… and I know this because he gave up ¾ of the way through and gave it to me.

When we started to peter out, we headed back to the hotel for Happy Hour which was from 5:30pm – 7:00pm. Snacks were tortilla chips and salsa, goldfish (I guess for the kiddos…), and some absolutely delightful apple pie crumble cake. On the drinks list was stuff like Coors Light and rum to make anything you want. So it was a winner for us!

We had been awake since 3am, so we ordered a pizza to be delivered to the hotel and crashed in front of the tv for a bit before bed.

Day 2: Phoenix to Pine to Sedona

After we packed up, we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, which was a typical continental breakfast along with a chef who would make you pancakes, omelets or any kind of eggs you’d like. We decided to take State Highway 87, which is a more scenic route to Sedona and passes through Payson, Pine and Strawberry. The views were AMAZING!

We stopped in Payson and visited the visitor center, where the nice lady gave us all sorts of information and a great lunch recommendation. We had lunch at the Delicious Café in Payson and it was indeed quite delicious! From there, we drove to Pine and stopped off at the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park ($7 per adult and $4 per kid). The Anna Mae and Pine Creek trails were closed due to ice, but we were able to hike the Gowan trail down below the bridge and also to the viewpoint above it.

It was a medium-easy hike, but very steep, so we did see some people having issues with balance getting back up the trail. The view was spectacular though!

From there, we drove to Sedona and finally caught sight of those famous red rock mountains. The views were INSANE. In one day we went from flat city with houses and cactus’s in each yard, to mountains covered in tall cactus’s, to pine tree covered mountains, to Sedona’s red rocks.

We stopped at the Tlaquepasque Arts & Shopping Center for a quick looksie before they closed and I found a couple cute things to add to my collection:

We also stopped by an adorable bakery called Sedona Cake Couture and JUST LOOK at this adorable cactus cupcake!

For dinner, we headed out to the Cowboy Club where we enjoyed steak and ribs. The place was pricey (okay, all food in Sedona is pricey), but very yummy.

We checked into our VRBO rental and the place was so freaking cute we wanted to extend our stay. The best part… the outdoor hot tub! So, of course we ended our day with a nice soak.

Day 3: Sedona to Flagstaff to ? and Back to Sedona

We woke up in Sedona and picked up some totally decadent donuts from Sedonuts. Then, we bundled up to hit the road for the Grand Canyon. Our plan was to drive through Flagstaff to the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon… and that is what we started out doing. However, once we passed Flagstaff by an hour or so the roads were just COVERED in snow. We had a rear-wheel drive vehicle and anticipated the roads continuing to get worse as we were heading North, so we decided to turn back.

We returned to Sedona for the day, and grabbed lunch at 89 Agave Cantina. The Mexican Chopped Salad was super yummy and filling, although I still get sticker-shock at a $17 salad. We hopped in and out of a bunch of Sedona stores, as well as checked out the overlook to Snoopy Rock.

We decided to head up to the Airport Mesa Scenic Lookout, so we parked at the top ($3 per car) and did the overlook hike. It was very bumpy/rocky, so make sure you have good shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy! It was getting chilly as the sun was starting to go down, but we had some absolutely amazing views for the sunset.

For dinner, we had leftovers from the Cowboy Club and I also ran out to the Sedona Beer Company to grab a couple appetizers to split among us.

We ended the night in the hot tub again, which was heaven and worked well to warm us back up.

Day 4: Sedona to Phoenix to Home

Travis and Jack ran out to Sedonuts again to grab some treats while I got the rest of our stuff all packed up to go. We hit the road after breakfast and took the more direct route (I-17) back to Phoenix. We turned in our Turo rental car, took the shuttle to the airport and had a sit-down lunch while waiting for our plane. We ended up landing in Maryland around 11pm, so with the drive home from the airport we were all in bed by 12:30.

It was a super quick visit to Arizona, but we were able to hit a few of the ‘sweet spots’ and it enough for us to know that we need to return ASAP. In fact, we will be taking advantage of the longest Spring Break Jack has ever had from school and doing a Nevada/Utah/Arizona whirlwind trip in April!

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