We just returned from 2 amazing weeks in the desert. What we thought was going to be a trip centered around Spring Training baseball turned out to oh-so-much more. When we first started planning this trip, it was mentioned (by someone who will remain unnamed) that, “there’s nothing to do in Phoenix. It’s just desert. What will we do for two whole weeks?” Obviously that someone was very wrong, and in case you have had similar thoughts on Snowbird Paradise, I have put together a list of my top ten must-do’s for your next trip to the Grand Canyon State.
|10| Sports! What better way to spend an afternoon (or evening) than taking in one of the many professional teams in the Phoenix area. If you happen to be there during Spring Training, make sure to check out a game. We also attended a Suns and a Coyotes game and loved them both!
|9| Golf & Top Golf. I am very new to the game of golf, but I couldn’t seem to get enough! Phoenix is home to some of the best courses in the country, but because the majority of our group were beginners, we steered clear of these and opted for the local municipal courses. When were in the mood for a few drinks and some food we headed over to Top Golf and worked on our drives.
|8| Taliesin West. Go have your mind blown at Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home. Buy tickets in advance here as the tours sell out pretty quickly. Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen as you spend a fair amount of time outdoors.
|7| Road Trip to the Grand Canyon. Just three hours north of Phoenix is a wonder of the world. Don’t miss a chance to see the south rim in all it’s glory. On your way there, drive through downtown Flagstaff, AZ and catch a glimpse of where Forrest Gump stepped in dog poop and pull off into Williams, AZ and cruise part of the original Route 66 — Main Street USA.
|6| Day Trip to Jerome. America’s most vertical city AND largest ghost town — Jerome is a short 2 hour drive from Phoenix and is worth the drive. The breathtaking views, the eerily old buildings and be sure to grab a meal at the Haunted Hamburger! Expect a bit of a wait, but you will forget that the moment your food arrives.
|5| Hiking. The area surrounding Phoenix is full of hiking trails. Take advantage! A nice easy stroll will get you the “Hole in the Rock” and Camelback Mountain’s Echo Canyon Trail will provide a challenge and equally stunning views. Tip: If it’s spring or summer, plan to start your trek early in the morning and finish up with brunch (and a mimosa or two) at Chestnut which is located right by the Echo Canyon Trailhead.
|4| Wine & Beer Tastings. We did a tasting at LDV Winery in Scottsdale, AZ and a tasting at Art of Wine in Sedona, AZ. Both were excellent and come highly recommended by yours truly. We also enjoyed flights of beer, pretzels and brats at Dubina Brewing Co.
|3| Pool Side Relaxation. This one doesn’t need any elaboration.
|2| Phoenix BBQ and Grilling School. Make sure to book a couple month’s in advance for this. The classes fill up quickly and for a good reason. We learned SO MUCH and left with enough food to feed us for the next two days. We did the Grilling 101 class which is perfect for everyone. Don’t forget to pack some snacks and BYOB — mimosas for those Sunday morning classes!
|1| Hot Air Balloon Ride. This is by far and away my favorite thing we did on this trip. It was made all the better by the amazing company we went with. Float Balloon Tours made our experience one we will never forget. From the coffee and cookies upon our 5:45am arrival, to the scenic tour over the Sonora Desert, and concluding with a locally sourced brunch and champagne cocktails served among the cacti in the middle of the desert. Only one word sums it all up — epic.