This past Thanksgiving, my family, Alex and I made a trip to Arizona to celebrate with my Uncle Jimmy and family. Our three days were filled with family, tons of food, and loving on their two dogs. Seeing the kids all together is always a fun experience, but there's a pretty large age gap between me, my sister, and then the rest of our siblings and cousins.
So when we needed a break from the slight chaos that is small children, Alex and I took my sister around Arizona and showed her how we like to take advantage of travel opportunities.
Whether you have a couple hours during a layover, you're in a place that you might think is boring, or if you're just driving through somewhere, there are always places to explore in every corner of the world.
My sister didn't think there would be much in Arizona, but if you look up a list of things to do, quite a few options come up. When I hunt for a quick itinerary, the first thing I do is Google "things to do in____" , then I'll read some personal reviews, and finally I'll Youtube it. When it comes to Youtube videos I look for the ones that say something along the lines of "____ in 72 hours" or watch one of the shorter videos. My favorite on Youtube is also looking up "Best Food Stops in _____". We were way to full from Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers to make some foodie stops in Arizona, but from previous trip experience, it never disappoints.
Now on to the travel adventures! My family lives in Peoria, AZ where there isn't very much to do, but just a short drive away and you'll end up in Phoenix and some pretty great nature and hiking places. Before getting too far into nature, we made a stop in the Melrose District and checked out some vintage furniture and art deco stores. These places made for some great, Instagram worthy backgrounds which were Alyssa's favorite part.
Then we made our way into the mountains and stopped at Phoenix Mountain Preserve and Papago Park. Also some great backgrounds and what surprised me is that they were very different from each other. Of course it's still desert, but the rock structures were total opposite and the landscape varied significantly as far as sand and plant life. There were hiking trails at both of these locations and even more located all across Arizona.
Next, before heading back home, we stopped at the State Capital Building, also adjacent to Bolin Memorial Park. In every single trip, I always try to make it a point to learn more about the history of the area and visit a historical location. Even though your destination might not have a history that's known worldwide, every place has an interesting story behind it and I believe that learning about even a little piece of it will take your experience to the next level. Seeing the memorial and capital building gave us a greater appreciation for our trip, and with the full day of stops, visits, and photos under our belts, it was time to go home and eat more leftovers.
Within a morning and afternoon, literally 9a-3p, we were able to explore some of the best places in Arizona and made memories that we will never forget. After filling our stomachs and spending the last of our stay with our family, we started making our way back west. We stayed overnight with my parents and siblings at a Hilton brand hotel (I want to say a Springfield Suites but I could be wrong) and made a sleepover night ordeal to hang out with the kids to make up for leaving them at the house during the day. And if you're wondering, Alex and I stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn during our stay that was only a few minutes from my Uncle's house. It was a beautiful hotel and had the most amazing pool area. Part of our hotel stay was due to not having enough room in the house, and part of staying with just the two of us was to ensure we wouldn't catch a case of the "I love my family but they're driving me crazy" holiday blues. It worked because if we had to hold one of those sleepover ordeals the every night we were there, we would've lost our minds.
The next morning we woke up and Alex and I were on our way back home. Like I said, some of the best memories happen when you make stops while driving through. Our first visit, the Ass Kickin' Hot Sauce Store where we bought some hot sauce souvenirs and got to hang out with their mascot... donkeys! We got back in the car and before we crossed the state line, we visited the Yuma Territorial Prison. I was able to see this place with my mom when I was a little girl. We love the paranormal and haunted stories so this was one of our haunted bucket list destinations that we created when I was about 12. However, I didn't tell Alex that it was supposedly haunted until we were already half way through the tour and he couldn't get a refund ;). Ghosts aside, this is a place full of history and one that's inspired many movies. I definitely recommend visiting here if you're in the Yuma area; another stop in Yuma- Ninja Sushi. I know what you're thinking... sushi in the dessert? BUT it really is so good and was a great stop before finishing our road trip back home to sunny San Diego.
Always look for potential pit stops that you can make while travelling through places and don't be afraid to explore the hidden gems of a city. No matter where you are, there are always wonderful things to see and memories to make.
Since I was a little girl, writing was always my go- to way of expressing myself and escaping from the rest of the world.