I love Arizona. I’ve been here twice with my family, twice for work conferences, and once for fun with Mike. Each visit has been a new and exciting experience, and all very WARM experiences (it gets really hot in Arizona). I remember it being over 110 degrees multiple times.
Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway is a train we took to the Grand Canyon when I went with my parents as a teenager. I thought that it was really cool because they had two Cowboys on horses ride along side the train, trying to pull the train over. I’ll never forget that. I would highly recommend it for anyone with kids of any age. I wish I had a digital photo of the train, but I will have to dig through my printed photos one day to find a photo of this fun experience.
My first thoughts when seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time was that it looks fake. It is so hard to comprehend and gain an understanding of what you are looking at. It is so massive, and so beautiful, your brain does not want to believe that it is real. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and 1 mile deep, with the Colorado River winding through the middle of it. We learned that the Colorado River was never wider than it is currently, which I thought was pretty amazing.
The South Rim has many view points of the Grand Canyon, and we decided to start in the South Rim Visitors center to learn a little bit about the history, and then we walked along the Rim trail. I was surprised how many tourists climbed outside of the fences in some areas down into the canyon on dangerous rocks to take a “cool” photo. There are plenty of amazing views right along the edge without risking your life.
We were lucky to catch a ranger talk, where he talked about the different rocks in the canyon, and taught us about the history of the canyon. The Grand Canyon was made of many native American Tribes: Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Navajo, Paiute, White Mountain Apache, Tusayan, Yavapai Apache, and Zuni.
Also, there are also buses that can take you to other major viewing points (Mather Point, Yaki Point, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point, Navajo Point, and Desert View), or you can take your car and drive to the major viewing points as well.
Desert View is about 40 minutes east of the South Rim Visitor Center. We visited just before sunset, and we climbed up the watch tower at the desert view point to look out at the beautiful 360 view of the canyon and Colorado plateau, and we were able to finally have a good view of the Colorado River. Desert View also has a gift shop, general store (with ice cream), and we really thought it was worth visiting!
Horseshoe Bend is located about 2 hours north of the Grand Canyon, and it is technically located in Glen Canyon. Visiting the viewpoint is free, and the trail is a 3/4 mile hike in and out, which takes about 20 minutes each way, and it overlooks one of the most spectacular views on the Colorado River. It is 4 miles south of the Glen Canyon Dam, and 7 miles north of mile zero of the Grand Canyon. I would highly recommend coming here early in the morning because there is a decent decline on the way down, and then incline on the way back up. We went at sunrise, and it was the perfect time to visit (it also was not too crowded yet).
Lower Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon is located east of Page, AZ, and it is a very popular location for both tourists and photographers. I did not realize at first that there are 2 sections of the Canyon; the Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon. You must take a tour to visit either part of the canyon because this is located on protected Native American Navajo land. Since it’s so easy and safe to access, expect a lot of crowds, but the tours do space you out a little bit so you definitely get time to enjoy the beautiful views.
We did a tour with Ken’s Tours, which run every half hour on the hour, and the tour lasts a little over an hour. I did not realize that we would have to climb down four flights of stairs into the canyon, and then we walk through it and come up about 3/4 mile down the canyon. The tour cost $40 per person, plus fees and taxes ($100.80 due when we got there). Our guide was an 18 year old, and he was really enthuastic and sweet, and he showed us the many awesome views of the tour where people say they see faces and animals (e.g. lion, cow, bird, chief, woman, seahorse).
Lake Powell is located in Page, AZ north of the Glenn Canyon Dam. We tried to visit, but we turned down a road where it cost $30 to enter into the Marina, and it ended up being so hot we decided to drive down to Sedona for the rest of our day instead. I would love to come back and visit this beautiful lake in the red rocks some day.
Sedona is known for its meditation and healing vortexes. Some of the most popular are the Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Airport Area. We started hiking to the Bell Rock, which is a 1 mile in and out trail with 318 feet elevation gain, however, it was over 90 degrees when we were hiking, so we decided to turn around. Cathedral Rock is also a 1 mile in and out trail with 500 feet elevation gain and some scrambling. Definitely plan ahead and try to go early in the morning if you want to visit one of these beautiful vortexes.
Pink Jeep Tours
Pink Jeep Tours is a popular tour company in Sedona, and they offer a variety of off-roading tours. We did a 1.5 hour tour that down Schnebly road to Merry-Go-Round Rock, and it was the perfect quick trip to experience the beautiful views of Sedona. Our guide was great and told us a lot of history of the area. We loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in an off-roading experience.
Vortex Hike, Yoga, Meditation with Yogi Blair
Mike and I participated in a very unique vortex hike, yoga, meditation, and Qi Gong with Yogi Blair. He brought yoga mats, and we set off on a hike at the Mystic Vista during sunrise, and we watched the hot air balloons and then started our yoga and Qi Gong practice, which was so peaceful and relaxing. We learned about the Sedona Vortexes, and how Sedona sits on a bed of crystals. On our hike back, we we took part in an intention setting meditation with essential oils and a walking chocolate meditation. It was such a positive and awesome experience.
Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
Downtown Sedona is full of art shops. We stopped at the beautiful Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, and we loved walking around to view the beautiful art, and we had a really lovely brunch there as well.
The first time I went to Arizona, my parents took my brother and I to The Phoenician resort, which is a AAA Five-Diamond resort. This is probably one of the nicest hotels I have ever been to, and I am sure it was very expensive for my parents as well. The décor was exquisite and unlike anything I had ever seen before. I loved seeing the cacti for the first time, and was amazed with the scenery. The resort had seven pools, and two water slides. My brother and I had a competition for who could go down the water slides the most times. I will never forget this resort. (Refer to 2019 below for an update on this resort!)
My freshman year of high school, My parents, brother, and my friend Chelsea and I came here for spring break. We stayed at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort, and it was truly a 5 star resort with lagoons, fountains, fire pits, colorful desert plants and expansive green spaces, multiple swimming pools, a basketball court, and delicious food. I’ll never forget how hot it was there, it was 100 degrees’, but it was a dry heat; that meant we hung out in the water a LOT! Chelsea, Nick, and I probably went down the water slides 100 times each. We also enjoyed the lazy river, and just lounged around in it all day.
In 2010, I was one of 5 accounting students from Michigan State University selected to attend the Deloitte National Leadership Conference (DNLC) in Scottsdale, AZ. It was an honor to be selected to attend this conference, and this conference ultimately is the reason I choose to work for Deloitte once I graduated from college.
Over 500 college freshman and sophomore from around the country were selected to attend the DNLC to learn about Deloitte’s culture, as well as the different service lines (Tax, Audit, and Advisory). We stayed at the Scottsdale Conference Center, and we had plenty of time in the class rooms listening to keynote speakers, performing team building activities, working on our personal branding, and attending fun networking events.
I was on the 1st place team of the 2010 MSU Deloitte Case Competition, and we were selected to attend the Deloitte National Case Competition in Scottsdale, AZ. Each student was awarded a $500 scholarship for attending from the Deloitte Foundation. We stayed at the Scottsdale Conference Center, and it was a great learning experience!
I came back to Scottsdale again with my family in October 2019 for my 30th birthday.
Since we loved the Phoenician so much when we stayed here before, we wanted to stay here again to celebrate. The Phoenician grounds were so beautiful. We enjoyed walking around them to take in the iconic scenery.
My favorite part of the grounds is the beautiful cactus walk that they have with over 50 varieties of cacti and succulents. It is so peaceful to take a quiet stroll through the pathway.
For our room, we got a Casita Suite, which was gigantic and had a beautiful view!!
I arrived at the hotel early with my parents, and my husband flew in later, and he called the hotel to surprise me with some birthday treats! 🙂
We took advantage of the amenities that are included: daily morning yoga, tennis courts (1 hour per day), bikes (2 hours per day), and 50% off of fitness classes. They also offer free yoga classes every day, so we participated in a morning yoga hike, and a water yoga class; both were so much fun! We also took advantage of the beautiful spa and got massages, it was super relaxing!
We also ate breakfast at the restaurant by the pool every morning (I always got a delicious acai bowl – to die for!). They have a halk on staff every day at the pool so that birds do not fly up and try to steal food off of your plate. I’ve never seen this before, but we thought it was a really good idea!
We also ate in the tea-room for a tea party, and it was so much fun. They even sang happy birthday to me!
Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is a really nice shopping area filled with Restaurants, Cafe’s, Shops, and Art Galleries. It is only about 5 to 10 minutes from the Phoenician, so we visited often. I loved every place we went!
Geisha A Go Go
We just stopped by to take a photo in front of the Saguaro cactus and sunset.
Citizens Public House
They are known for their famous chopped salad. It was delicious! Definitely recommend.
Olive and Ivy
Olive and Ivy has a very fun vibe. We met friends that were also in town here and we really enjoyed the night!
Maple & Ash
Maple & Ash’s environment was very fancy, but very fun. This restaurant is new to Scottsdale, so it was very crowded. My favorite part was the ice cream dessert bar that we got at the end where they bring all the different toppings to your table.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
We also stopped at the iconic Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel one night for dinner at the La Hacienda. The grounds at this resort are just as beautiful as the Phoenician. The food was delicious, and the staff even all signed a birthday card for me. We had a wonderful and memorable experience.
Tempe was the first college town I have been to, home of Arizona State University. It was so hot there, they had misters everywhere, which I thought was so cool at the time since that is a rare occurrence to see in Michigan. Growing up after that, I always thought maybe I would go there, if I didn’t go to Michigan State.