As a native Arizonan I have had the great pleasure of living in this state for nearly 30 years. I am blessed with a father who is also a native of our great state. He introduced me to many places around our state that can be easily overlooked by most out of towners. And as much as I love Sedona, everyone flocks there for a getaway.
So here are a few places to check out for your Spring weekend getaway that aren’t Sedona.
Located about a 3 hour drive North from the East Valley, and along historic Route 66, Flagstaff has a lot to offer year round. In the Spring, you can have snow up on the mountain or the start of a spring thaw. Snowbowl offers skiing and snowboarding and if there is no snow, ride the ski lift to the top of Humphrey’s Peak or take a gorgeous hike among the Aspens. If you’re traveling with some future astronauts or astronomers the Lowell Observatory offers tours, a planetarium show and nighttime viewings through the telescope. Walnut Canyon, Meteor Crater, Bearizona and the Grand Canyon are all within a short drive of Flagstaff and are an easy day trip.
Located just outside of Tucson, Sabino Canyon is a semi-cooler outdoor area that offers natural pools and waterfalls to enjoy. The kids will enjoy the Tram ride. The creek areas can offer pools to play in and crawdads to catch. The trails would be rough to navigate with a stroller, so it might be best to pack up the kids in a carrier or wait till they’re a little older before heading there.
On the way home, we stop to get Ranch Fries and the “Eegee of the Month” or Piña Colada flavored “Eegee’s” at Eegee’s.
Williams is located about 30 miles west of Flagstaff and is dubbed “The Gateway to The Grand Canyon”. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Williams itself. It is a cute,small, “old timey” town and offers some good antiquing. I’m including Williams because it offers a unique experience for families. Families can travel to the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway and experience a “train robbery” on the way back to Williams. We were lucky enough to ride in a Pullman car on our trip which added a sweet bit of extra nostalgia.
While you’re at the Grand Canyon take a day hike down Bright Angel trail a bit and back up. Some daring people (myself included pre-children) take a day hike to the bottom and back up. Be advised, it is not recommended and is considered risky. If hiking is a little too adventurous admire the canyon from the top and visit the El Tovar with all it’s “Harvey Girl” history and beautiful architecture.
The North Rim won’t be open until about Mid-May. However, it is a totally different experience than the South Rim and worth the wait. I loved the Grand Canyon Lodge and Cabins at the North Rim. It is a little more rustic than the South, but a great experience and beautiful.
There is a road to you can take to the North Rim, but it is a long drive. If you’re in great physical shape, the best way to experience the canyon is to hike it.
I hiked from Rim to Rim to Rim (again pre-children) and spent a day and half at the North Rim. I experienced so much of the beauty of the canyon by hiking the trails. There is also a place to stay and camp or stay in a cabin at the bottom called Phantom Ranch. I have yet to actually stay for more than a hour or so, but I can attest it’s beautiful and unique. Definitely a bucket list item for many people, myself included.