Wednesday, January 9, 2019

my everyday style: Desert green + mini Scottsdale/Phoenix travel guide!

This year our family toned down the Christmas presents and instead spent the money on a family trip to the desert. (Let's just note... this is def aligned with my ONE New Years Resolution for 2019, which makes me happy that I was already on the right track before even making the resolution.  More gifts and stuff we don't need? Hell, no. A family adventure with lasting memories instead? Hell, yes!) It was our first time doing a trip over Christmas break and with a teen and a tween in the house these days it was definitely the way to go to spend a good part of the break AWAY from home. Sure there was still plenty of sleeping in and probably too much screen time, but getting everyone out of the house in the middle of winter was great.  And traveling together for a new adventure felt like a great way to end one year and start another.

As luck would have it, the weather did NOT cooperate.  With daily highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s it was a COLD trip. And since we were going to Phoenix to escape the cold, the weather was also a bit of a bummer. On the bright side it was sunny most days - minus a day of pouring rain (our luck continued!) - and it was nice to be outside in sunshine instead of cooped up at home.

I had been to Phoenix once previously for a girls trip and my husband is there quite often for work, but this was the first time we all went together. While we were there a lot of you commented or DM'd me on Instagram that you would love a mini travel guide for our time spent there with the kids.  Our main goal was to go and relax at the pool - the activity our family does best (wink, wink) - and maybe take a few hikes or see the Grand Canyon.  With the weather that just wasn't possible but here are some things we did instead...

What to do in Phoenix/Scottsdale with kids: 
- Hike Pinnacle Peak, this was actually a hike I did last time on my girls trip but it's very doable with kids.  It's an 'out and back' hike (not a loop) so if anyone gets tired you can always turn back.  This hike was up and down and up and down the entire time so it was a good pace with beautiful views. There are bathrooms on site here too.
- Hike Tom's Thumb, this was the hike we all did together on this trip. This hike is also an 'out and back' hike. But this one is straight upon the way out and then straight down on the way back.  The views are amazing and we did about half the trail (which took our family 1.5 hours) the up was challenging but the down was a little treacherous in some parts (yes I slipped and fell, but no one else in our family did so I call that a win).  There are bathrooms on site here also, but no water.
- Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens, this was one of the highlights of the trip for me. The gardens are GORGEOUS and they are also very educational.  We learned so much about cactuses, living in the desert and just tons of fun facts from our walk and reading the posted placards. Plus the docents were all very friendly and knowledgable.  The adults got in FREE with our botanical garden membership here at home - so if you are a member of a garden where you live don't forget to bring your membership card and take advantage of the reciprocal benefits. In addition, the gardens had a really great gift shop with candles and jewelry from local artisans, lots of books, TONS of cute kids and baby items and even succulents and cacti to bring home with you.
- Day trip to Sedona, we were really looking forward to this trip and doing a short hike here, but rain/snow thwarted our plans. The trails were PACKED with locals wanting to hike in the snow and trails weren't passable without some serious hiking gear due to the snow and ice.  Instead we had lunch and visited the Tlaquepaque artisan community for some shopping (more than half the galleries were closed from the snow) and then went home. It was kind of a bummer, but the views were amazing and Tlaquepaque is such a cool area.
- Shop! Our kids love to shop and really so do I and there is SO MUCH shopping in the area.  Some places we liked were: Kierland Commons - Anthropologie, Athleta, Madewell, Tocaya Organica, Fashion Square - Nordstrom, Zara, J.Crew, Madewell, Anthropologie, Free People, Lululemon, Sprinkles, Culinary Dropout, Scottsdale Corner - Warby Parker, Kendra Scott, Sephora, True Food Kitchen, Sol Cucina
- Pool! Of course the pools at the resorts in the area are top notch... we would've loved warmer weather to hang more at the pool, but definitely leave time in your plan for it. Lazy rivers, waterslides, you name it the pools there have it and our kids love that stuff.

Where to eat in Phoenix/Scottsdale with kids:
- Sol Cucina, delicious upscale Mexican but still approachable for families. I enjoyed fish tacos and a Froze drink.  The chips and salsa, bean dip and guacamole were amazing.
- True Food Kitchen, we LOVE this restaurant anywhere we visit it.  The kids enjoyed it too - even though they called it "super healthy." We ordered the guacamole and brussel sprouts for starters and then I got the salmon. It was all "lick the plate" good.
- Culinary Drop Out, this was probably my favorite. I would call it creative American. It's got great atmosphere and was close to shopping so it was the perfect pit stop after we shopped until we dropped. We ordered pretzel fondue and a cheese/meat plate to start and then I got the French Dip sandwich. It was all very, very delicious.
- Tocaya Organica, our family called this restaurant a "fancy" Chipotle. Think Chipotle meets California cool.  The food was AMAZING, the staff was super friendly and helpful with free refills and the ambience was very hip and fun. I can't remember the bowl I got, but it was amazing - I wanted to order one of everything on the menu.
- Sprinkles Cupcakes, in my opinion the best cupcake in the world. I always get a marshmellow cupcake, which is the best version of a hostess cupcake from my youth - it's heaven.
- Nekter Juice Bar, this was a great stop for acai bowls, smoothies and juices after hikes or just as a healthy start to the day. There are several locations in the area. I got juices one time (#healthy) and a dragon fruit bowl the other time. Everything here is really great and fresh!
- In N Out, our kids wanted to eat here everyday (teens!) and truthfully we might have actually swung though the drive-thru once a day. I only ate once (when we first landed) and I hadn't had In N Out for years and had forgotten how delicious it is.  So definitely worth the dietary splurge!


I had hoped to wear some shorts, dresses and swimsuits on this trip... but with the cold temps I pretty much wore what I would wear in Michigan, but with cactuses surrounding me instead of snow. Haha!  You've probably seen these black jeans before! It's no exaggeration that I wear them all the time. They are by far the most comfortable and flattering pair I own.  This sweater is from a recent Amazon haul... it looks like this color is sold out, but definitely check out the other colors available.  There are so many options and this sweater is AMAZING and under $30 - you can't lose!  It's so soft and warm without being stifling. I think it's a great classic to have on hand.

Outfit Details:
Sweater - true to size, under $30!

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