This past May I was standing at the brink of responsibility. I was about to quit a job that I hated, take on a job that I hoped would become a career, and move out of the room I rented to sign my first lease with my boyfriend. Everything was about to get very grown up, very quickly, so Andy and I decided to do something spontaneous before it all set in. We booked a flight and traveled to one of my favorite places in the world for my 26th birthday—Arizona.
I’ve been lucky enough to plan a few trips in the past few years, but I’ve never done so as completely off-the-cuff as we did in May. Google Docs with different lists of locations, attractions, activities, and restaurants packed our drives, but we finally settled on Phoenix, Cave Creek, and Sedona for our trip.
The Phoenix area was our home base, since our hotel was located just outside the city in Litchfield Park. We stayed at the Wigwam, a historic resort known for its golf courses, and didn’t set foot on them once. When we weren’t out exploring the desert, we basically lived poolside. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place, and Andy got some incredible photos while we were there.
The morning of my 26th birthday we set out to climb Camelback Mountain, an iconic peak located right next to Downtown Phoenix. A quick tip if you plan on hiking the mountain: there is one lot available for the Echo Canyon Trail and it fills up very quickly, so aim to hike early in the morning or in the late afternoon to miss the crowds. Also, be sure to bring more water than you think you should. You will need it.
The views from the mountain are incredible and were the perfect way to start our day before we headed over to Cave Creek.
In my opinion, this is one of the coolest spots in the area. Scottsdale gets a lot more attention and definitely has more going on as far as restaurants and shopping, but Cave Creek has a very eclectic vibe that I just love. Growing up, my family visited Arizona multiple times, and we always ended up spending most of our time in this unique little town.
We had dinner at El Encanto, a phenomenal Mexican restaurant with a duck pond right in the middle of the dining area. There was actually a wedding ceremony going on during dinner in their event section, which was an interesting sight to take in while eating fajitas. The food was some of the best Mexican that I have ever had, and I cannot even tell you how good those margaritas were. I recommend the house margarita on the rocks (though the flavored ones looked unbelievable).
I have to say that Sedona was the most unique stop on our trip. The natural beauty of the area is breath-taking, and like nothing I have ever seen. The famous red rocks do not disappoint, and though we didn’t have time to do as much hiking and outdoor adventuring as we would have liked, it was still an unforgettable experience to be in the midst of those red mountains.
Sedona is also famous for its vortex. VisitSedona.com describes their vortexes as “swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration.” In practice, what this means in that Sedona is a mecca for New Age Spirituality. In between the western saloons and desert tour offices, the storefronts are almost entirely comprised of psychics, holistic healing centers, New Age shops, and crystal stores. Ads for aura photography and palmistry clutter the windows and a cloud of incense flows from every doorway. It is unlike anywhere else I have ever been, and if you are someone with an interest in any sort of New Age Spirituality, Sedona should be at the top of your bucket list.
I also want to quickly mention two little spots we really enjoyed. If you happen to be in the area, definitely check out Bad Ass Coffee Company. They are an awesome California based chain, and their iced coffee beverages come with coffee ice cubes! And if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, swing by Sandwich Masterz. This sandwich shop looks like your standard Jersey Mikes-style deal, but their sandwiches are unreal. The menu is massive, and they have a ton of vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore options. I went with the Vegan Thanksgiving sandwich and was on cloud 9.
Final Thoughts and Shots
Even though Arizona may not be at the top of your dream vacation destination list, you shouldn’t overlook this amazing state. The natural splendor is unlike anywhere else on earth, and the weather is unbelievable. Most of the year, the daytime temperature hovers around the 70’s and 80’s, and while it can get pretty hot out there in midsummer, the dry climate makes it far more bearable. If you’re looking for a resort vacation that won’t cost you an arm and a leg (plus some incredible hiking and sightseeing), Arizona can be the perfect getaway.
Here are a few more of my favorite photos from the trip that I wanted to share with you.