Arizona

Tempe-ted To Never Leave!

Tempe, AZ is a city we knew relatively little about. We knew it was a college town, and had heard from friends that it’s a “foodie” city (reason enough to plan a visit) - but that’s about it! As we started planning our road trip up to Colorado, we figured this was the perfect opportunity to explore Tempe… and we LOVED IT!

Here’s why:

IT’S BEAUTIFUL.

Tempe is STUNNING - just look at the view from our room! The rolling hills, the colorful foliage, the rustic, desert terrain… photos don’t do this place justice. Our first morning in Tempe, we hiked the Kiwani’s trail to Dobbins Lookout in South Mountain Park - and the views were jaw-dropping. Even our dog Sally was in awe!! At least, she looked like it ;)

While we’re on the topic of jaw dropping-beauty, let’s talk about the sunsets in Tempe. They’re unreal. Both nights we were there we witnessed some of the most vibrantly colorful sunsets our eyes have seen in a long time. We recommend heading to the Mill Avenue Bridge and catching the sunset over the Tempe Town Lake. Only way it could get better if you’re on a boat during the sunset. We’ll make that a goal for next time.

THE FOOD SCENE IS UP AND COMING.

You can tell a lot about a destination by the food. What we learned from Tempe’s foodie scene is that it’s just getting started. There are so many new, unique and notable restaurants popping up in Tempe that it honestly overwhelmed us. We needed to stay at least five more days to eat at all the spots we read about! A few of the places we DID get to check out are:

  • Pedal Haus Brewery: If you love a good brewery, you’ll love this spot. Solid beers, a killer happy hour, and a hummus plate we’re STILL raving about. (If anyone knows their recipe, please share.)

  • Postino Annex: A hip wine bar with incredible bruschetta, paninis, and (of course) wine. You’ll likely find us here!

  • Culinary Dropout: Creative cocktails, delicious gastro-pub fare (get the pretzel bites!), and a variety of lawn games. Culinary Dropout is a great spot to not only dine, but hang out for the whole afternoon!

  • Morning Squeeze: Fresh, hearty and delicious breakfast spot. Their menu is extensive (almost too much to choose from!!) and their servers are SO friendly. Plus they have a dog menu. Any place that has a dog menu is basically a winner to us.

  • Cartel Coffee Lab: Some of the best coffee we’ve had in awhile. Get an oat milk latte with a little honey and your life will be changed. (Or be like Bobby and get a pour over - simple and smooth.)

  • First Watch: This breakfast and lunch spot has it all - but what we really love there is their green juice. It’s so tasty you’ll forget just how healthy and packed with nutrients it really is!

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THERE’S SO MUCH TOO DO!

We thought we had lucky timing when we planned our trip to Tempe. There was a plethora of events and things going on in and around the city - but we later learned that’s normal here! No matter the time of year, there’s something fun to do, see, and explore. There’s great shopping, headlining shows, beautiful trails… However - if you’re planning on coming next November/December, here are two things you need to make sure are on your list:

  • Desert Botanical Garden: Open year-round, this is a botanical garden that is thoughtfully curated with a spectacular living art collection. If you happen to be there between now and mid-2019, you MUST come at night to visit the ‘Electric Desert’. The light show uses three-dimensional projection mapping to wrap animations around the cacti and other plants, simulating motion. It is mind-blowing! It feels as if you are walking in a dream, or hallucinating. Go, and thank us later!

  • Tempe Festival of the Arts: This is only the largest craft show in the nation (no big deal). There are over 375 vendors, live music, and all kinds of food and drink options. This festival is an all-day affair, and takes place along Mill Avenue, one of the main streets in Tempe. It’s a HOOT! It’s the perfect place to Christmas shop, make new friends, and sip on small-batch peppermint hot cocoa. 


IT’S DOG FRIENDLY

(Sally approves this message) We were honestly so impressed by how dog friendly Tempe is. Whether we were walking to coffee, hiking up South Mountain, or grabbing breakfast at Morning Squeeze, Sally was welcomed with open arms. Literally - everyone wanted to pet her!! Since we can’t always take Sally with us on our adventures, we really appreciate when we can. And we really appreciate a hotel that goes above and beyond for their four-footed friends. The Graduate Hotel Tempe did just that. She even got a Bark Box when we checked in!

IT’S AFFORDABLE

Something that’s really important to us, especially when we’re planning weekend getaways, is the affordability factor. We don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for a 48-hour trip. We’re happy to report that Tempe is as easy on the wallet as it is on the eyes! There are a lot of activities you can do that are FREE, hotel rooms are moderately priced, and there are a ton of fun, casual restaurants that won’t break the bank. 

All in all, go to Tempe. You’re bound to have a blast. You might even be Tempe-ted to move. ;) (And keep your eyes peeled for a Tempe guide - we’ll have it up soon!)

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Quick Southwest Road Trip: Exploring Horseshoe Bend and Zion National Park

Since our big “Month Long Roadtripping Extravaganza”, we’ve been itching for an excuse to get back on the open road. After stumbling upon some photos and doing some research, we decided to do a last-minute trip to Page, Arizona and Zion National Park. The amount of natural beauty and grand landscapes that we saw in four days still has us shaking our heads in awe… this trip was life-giving to us in so many ways, and it’s SO DOABLE. Here’s what we did!

Let’s start with Page, Arizona.

You’ve probably never heard of this little town before, but bear with us. It’s located next to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, and countless hikes and areas to explore. It’s an affordable town to stay in, and it’s incredibly close to all of the action. We stayed at the Hyatt Place Page/Lake Powell, and it was great. Big, clean rooms, hearty breakfasts, stunning views, and a helpful staff. We highly recommend it!

From there you’re just a quick ten minute drive to Horseshoe Bend, and we recommend going early, especially in high season. (Expect crowds year-round, but November-February are generally considered to be slower.) It’s a good 20 minute hike from the parking lot, so be sure to wear good shoes and bring water. And brace yourself for…


THE VIEWS!!


Words don’t do this place justice - so we’ll let the photos do the talking. We happened to be there during some pretty intense rainstorms… We did see some sun break through for an hour (WOO!), but we definitely were soaking wet by the end!

Now because of the rainy weather, we weren’t able to explore Antelope Canyon on this trip, which we were definitely bummed about. (Keep that in mind when planning your trip: rain = mud and/or flash floods, and if it’s muddy they close the canyons!) But we made the best of it and explored other spots - including the Glen Canyon Dam and lookout points. All incredibly breathtaking - especially if you’re scared of heights like we are!!


TIP: We think two nights in Page is perfect. That gives you ample time to see the sights, hike around, and explore. Beyond that there isn’t a whole lot to do there, and dining options are pretty limited. Pack snacks!

Zion National Park

Just two hours northwest of Page, Arizona is Zion National Park - and it just might be our favorite national park yet. We spent the last two nights of our trip at the Cliffrose Lodge, located just steps from the entrance to the park. Not only was the location phenomenal, but the newly remodeled rooms were gorgeous, and the mountain views from our balcony left us in awe. We couldn’t have picked a better place to stay!

There are several stunning hikes in and around Zion National Park, but the big “bucketlist” one for us was “The Narrows”. It’s anything but a typical hike - as you squeeze through slot canyons and wade through a river… and it was absolutely the highlight of our trip!

Things to know:

  • Rent equipment. We went when the water (and air!) was cold, so we rented waterproof pants along with boots and a walking stick. In the summertime, all you need are good water shoes and a walking stick. You might even find yourself jumping all the way in!

  • Go early. We left on the first shuttle bus at 7am (it’s only accessible by shuttle), and it was perfect. We almost always had the hike to ourselves!! But on our way back it quickly became a zoo, as it’s one of the most popular hikes in Zion. The earlier you go, the better chance you have at avoiding crowds.

  • Pack water & snacks. No matter how you do it, it’s a long hike. Plan on being gone at least five or six hours, so plan accordingly. We brought a big canteen of water and some Clif Bars to hold us over, and that was perfect.

  • Make sure you go to the bathroom. Like we said, it’s a long hike. And there’s no porta potties or rest stops along the way! There’s a bathroom where the shuttle first drops you off - so take advantage of it. ;)

Our time in Zion was limited. Unlike Page, two nights definitely wasn’t enough for all that we wanted to see and do! We recommend going for at least three nights, so you have enough time to hike, drive, and explore. Oh, and the dining options are great. Some of our favorites were Zion Pizza and Noodle Co, Thai Sapa, and Oscars Cafe!

This road trip was quick, and had a fair share of “bumps” in the road - but it’s one of our favorite ones we’ve done yet. We can’t wait to get back to Page and explore Antelope Canyon, and adventure through Zion National Park again… and maybe even bring our pup next time!