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Local Grub Hou

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48 Hours in Arizona



This past weekend I took advantage of a friend of mine living in Phoenix, and explored the Sedona Desert, Scottsdale and surrounding areas. I hope my post brings you ideas on how to not only make the best of each trip you take, but how to plan, implement and learn to make your next trip even better!

CHOOSING MY DATE


I chose to visit in February mainly because flights tend to sky rocket to this area between March and September because of the warm weather - but even though February is still considered "winter", the weather was almost perfect. When picking the best time to visit any city, look into going either right before, or right after, the tourist season. Odds are, you'll still get all the highlights of the busy season, but without the crowds and high price.


CHOOSING MY FLIGHT


Like normal 9-5 jobs, I don't have a ton of time I can take off through out the year, so I tend to plan my trips on the weekend. Sometimes it's hard to find the right price and time, but I found a flight that fit with my work schedule to where I only had to take a half day on Friday. So technically didn't have to "take off" work at all! The flight left at 2:55 pm on Friday and came back at 11:30 pm Sunday. There is a one hour time difference (they are one hour behind) and even though I didn't get home until almost 1:00 am Sunday night, it was still worth it.


PLANNING 


To me, half the fun of any trip is the planning. Finding the local spots, hidden bars, off the beaten road activities, you name it. My friend was relatively new to the area so he was more than happy to let me look into a few things for us to do. Of course I used my trusty Travefy website to put all the information in one place. I sent him the link prior to the trip to look it over and we were good to go.


THE FUN PART


FRIDAY


My flight arrived around 5:00 pm Arizona time on Friday and we decided to keep it low key and head to Chandler, which is southeast of Phoenix. Chandler is a small town that was busy enough with locals, but thankfully didn't seem to be a touristy area. For dinner we ate at San Tan Brewing Company where I throughly enjoyed seeing multiple Texas items on the menu - but I settled for shrimp tacos and their Grapefruit Shandy. (which you can get in Texas!)

After, we headed to Modern Margarita, a small cocktail bar that seemed to be the place to be on a Friday night. I decided to keep it simple and ordered the signature Modern Margarita, complete with my favorite - lucas salt on the rim.



I had originally planned on going out in Phoenix that night but between waking up at 4:30 am that morning, mainly because I hadn't packed yet, and working half a day, I knew I needed to wave my white flag. So we called it a night, knowing we'd have to be up at 5:30 am the next morning. And no, I'm not sure why I do that to myself.

SATURDAY


Up early, we headed into Sedona to hike to the Devil's Bridge. We got there at the perfect time, before it got too hot and too crowded. The hike wasn't bad at all, and the views were simply breathtaking. I felt like I was in a movie. Did I mention this was free? We got there around 8:30 am and by the time we came back down, around 10:00 am, there were waves of people coming up. It was tight sometimes with just the few people we did encounter, so I can only imagine how tight it got with everyone else.







Trip Tip: Go as early as possible and bring water. There are multiple places to sit down and take a break, so energy bars and light snacks are also encouraged, depending on how long you want the hike to take. There were multiple routes to take, so this could easily be an all day adventure.


After our hike, we were pretty hungry and had time to kill before our jeep rental at 1:00 pm, so we headed further into Sedona and found a local restaurant, Olde Sedona Bar and Grill with a small art and craft show going on in the parking lot. The views weren't too bad either. And you bet the second I saw fried Cactus on the menu, I had to have it. Verdict? It was delicious. I opted for the chicken tortilla soup as my lunch, knowing we still had a long and active day ahead of us.



After lunch, we headed across the street to Whole Foods and bought a few drinks and snacks for our afternoon excursion. Even though our rental at Barlow Adventures didn't start until 1:00 pm, we arrived around 12:30 pm to start the paper work process. Again, being early paid off because about 10 minutes after we started our paperwork, two other big groups came in. Thankfully we were almost done and on our way.




The jeep rental was for 5 hours so we decided on two trails, the easier one, Solider Pass and then the most popular one, the Broken Arrow trail. The first one took about an hour and half, going all the way down and stopping at different places on the way back.




The second trail took about 2 hours, going through some pretty rough areas, with a breathtaking payout. Both were amazing, but Broken Arrow takes the cake as one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. Renting a jeep vs. going on a guided tour makes a world of difference. We were able to take our time and stop and go as we please.







After finishing early with the trails, we ventured further into downtown Sedona to see what we could find. In addition to breathtaking views, there was an abundance of shops, restaurants and more. Refueling with pizza at Sedona Pizza Company, was the cherry on top of the ice cream of a perfect day.

Sedona is about 2 1/2 hours from Phoenix, so we decided to head back and take it easy by staying in, but at least we got to watch the sun set behind the mountains on the way back.




Trip Tip: My FOMO is real, and when I travel I tend to over plan and tire myself out before the end of the trip. But I knew that we had been gone for over 14 hours and my body needed to chill so I was more than happy to stay in.



SUNDAY



Now it was time for my part of the trip that I planned, and man had I planned it. I found Rainbow Ryders, a hot air balloon company (hello bucket list) and booked a flight for that Sunday morning, which ended with a brunch in the desert. But because Saturday was just too perfect, and life happens, the weather was not in our favor, and unfortunately, the flight was canceled. Yes, I had my moment of silence (planners, you know what I mean.) But I wasn't going to let that ruin my last day.

Before we even made it back to the office, I had found and booked a lunch food tour in downtown Scottsdale with Arizona Food Tours. Since it was still relatively early, we headed to Lux Central which is crowned as one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in Phoenix. Super cute and local, it reminded me a lot of a place you would find in Austin, TX. I ordered the biscuits and gravy and a cup of their house blend coffee.




Next we headed to Scottsdale and walked around until the food tour started. I have done a food tour before in Chicago, as well as a pub crawl in Denver, both I highly recommend wherever you go. It's a great way to not only sample multiple local favorites, but to learn local history and meet new people.





The food tour was 3 hours long and consisted of 5 stops, one of which included a drink - but we were more than welcome to buy additional drinks on the side. (which you know I did)





Around 2:00 pm, the tour ended, but thanks to suggestions from a few of the people we met, we made our way to Pedego Electric Bikes and for only $15.00 an hour, you can rent an electric bike and take it basically wherever you want. (There are other bike options for $25.00 per hour)

They had a few suggested routes, which lead us to the neighborhood down the street where some of the most amazing houses were. I know that sounds weird, just looking at houses on bikes, but it was really something! Plus, Camelback Mountain in the background wasn't too bad either. It was just fun to be on a bike and experience a side of Scottsdale not many get to.



Around 5:00 pm, after we were done with the bikes, and since the day was kind of a "play by ear day" - we headed to the airport to drop me off. I couldn't believe my wonderful weekend was finally coming to an end. It really seemed like it was longer than usual, and for that I am grateful.


RECAP



It was a great trip and even though the hot air balloon didn't work out, I had the time of my life and definitely plan on making my way back to that area someday.

And of course, shout out to my great host, Aron, for putting up with me for the weekend.




Overall Trip Tip: I highly recommend finding friends that live in cities you want to visit and see if they wouldn't mind hosting you (or you and a few friends) for the weekend. You'd be surprised at how they are more than happy to have visitors and show off their area, so don't be afraid to ask that friend you went to college with 7 years ago.

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