Wow, it has been a hot minute since I've done a travel recap blog post! (Of course, the big reason why being due to COVID-19.) But honestly, I've also been in a bit of a slump when it comes to creating content and writing over the past few months. Nothing wrong with it.. motivation comes in waves just like everything else in life! But when life and work gets busy the first thing that I put to the side is content creation for my own social media. I have social media and this blog as an outlet for my creativity and I never want it to feel like a chore or something to just check off my to-do list, ya know? Anyways, I am definitely feeling some motivation for writing this blog post so here we are!
We started planning this trip over a year ago because I had a flight voucher from American Airlines that was getting ready to expire. I LOVE Arizona and spent a decent amount of time flying there for a company I worked for a few years back, but never really got to explore much. John (my now fiancé!) was born in Nogales, AZ and has always wanted to go back- hence why we decided to take a road trip through Arizona! We flew into Las Vegas on Saturday April 3rd and flew out the following Saturday April 10th from Tucson, so total about 7 full days.
Las Vegas, Nevada
We decided to start at the northern most point and work our way south for our road trip. No particular reason why, but I'm sure thankful we did! (Which I'll explain a little bit later) We flew into the Las Vegas airport on Saturday evening at about 7pm. Flights were smooth but man did it take FOREVER to get our bags and rental car. (Since we were staying a week we used our bigger suitcases and had to check them. I literally hateeee checking bags, but it is what it is.)
So I've been to Vegas previously, but again never actually spent time and explored Vegas. The airport is literally 10 minutes from the main strip so it didn't take too long to get to our hotel after we got our bags/car. We stayed at the new Virgin Hotel part of the Curio Collection by Hilton that had opened up literally a month prior. (It used to be the old Hard Rock) It's about a mile off the strip and honestly was super nice! Our room was spacious, bed was comfortable and the hotel had a decent amount of restaurants to choose from. The first night we were exhausted from traveling all day so we just ate at the Night & Market restaurant in the hotel. Its like a new-age California twist on Thai food that was pretty good. I'd give it a 7/10.
On Sunday we debated between walking around the Vegas strip or driving out to the hoover dam for the day. We decided to stay and explore because we had so much driving planned for the rest of the trip and I'm sure thankful we did! It was SO much fun walking around the strip, seeing all the famous hotels, sight seeing and gambling here and there. Due to the pandemic there weren't any shows available, which was kind of disapointing but that just means we will have to come back! That evening we had dinner at the NOBU restruant in our hotel and it was PHONEMONAL. The best sushi I've ever had in my entire life. 10/10!
South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Monday morning we were up pretty early because our bodies were still adjusting from the time change. So we decided to get a kickstart on our drive over to the Grand Canyon! We had breakfast at the Commons Club in our hotel and headed out on the 4 hour drive. Initially when planning the trip, I didn't think much of the longer drives, but boy did we have an absolute blast! Top off on the jeep, music playing, clear skys and absolutely beautiful weather. We couldn't have asked for anything more relaxing and fun. We stopped on occasion when we saw signs for cool look-out spots or things to see and got to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon around 2pm.
As for the Grand Canyon... it was absolutely breathtaking. The pictures can't do it justice as to just how magnificant it is and I'm not sure I have the words to describe it well enough. We went to the main lookout spot and hiked around the top of the rim for about 3 hours. I HIGHLY recommend walking away from the crowds along the paved path. You don't need to go far to see some more beautiful views without a ton of people around you. I would have loved to do a hike that went down into the canyon, but we wern't quite equipped time wise. But honestly, what we saw was more than beautiful! Just means we have to come back to this spot too.
The Star Gazing Dome
Once we finished up at the Grand Canyon, we made our way about an hour south to our AirBnB for the night. Since it was early evening (5pm-ish) we decided to call ahead and order burgers to pick up from a restruant along the way that way we could be at the dome before the sun went down. As you can see from the pictures below, the star gazing dome was so freaking cool and such an incredible experience. This spot is typically booked up but we were able to snag a night and it was 10000% worth every penny! We made a fire, ate our dinner, drank wine and star gazed all night. I'll tell you what- I have NEVER seen so many stars in my entire life. What an incredible experience and I would recommend staying here if you have the opportunity! Trust me- It's worth it!
In the morning we both woke up a little after 5am because the moon was shining so brightly through the front of our dome! We watched the sun rise, John went and got coffee from the gas station down the street, we made another fire and continued to watch the day start. Around 9am we started to get ready and pack everything up for our 2.5 hour drive down to Sedona!
So now its Tuesday morning and after another wonderful, peaceful and fun drive we made our way to Sedona! We made it to Sedona around noon and walked around the downtown area for the afternoon. There were so many botique shops and places to eat you can easily spend an entire day walking around. We planned on spending Tuesday night, all day Wednesday and Wednesday evening in Sedona and stayed at the L’Auberge de Sedona. It was right down the hill from the downtown section so we were able to easily walk back and forth if we wanted to go back downtown. The resort was so beautiful and peaceful right along the creek and our room was a literal full cabin equipped with an outdoor shower! Awesome! You bet your bottom dollar we took advantage of that and regardless of how windy and chilly it was we showered outside. Lol! We were both pretty tired and decided to order room service for the evening (which was so delicious) and I was able to plan out our hikes for the next day.
Wednesday we were up around 7:30am and went to Creekside Coffee to grab some breakfast and coffees before our day hiking. The coffee there was fantastic as well as the breakfast so you should definately check it out if you're in the Sedona area. We then went to our hiking spot for the morning right before 9am and there were still a few parking spots left. We were hiking the Broken Arrow trail system to Hog Wash Loop and High On The Hog. This wasn't one of the main spots to hike in, but had some GREAT reviews on all-trail so we decided to give it a go and I am SO glad we did! We hiked over 5 miles around the area and saw some of the most incredible views. If we have one piece of advice make sure you bring a LOT of water. I'm talking at least 3 liters per. person. Even though the weather was cooler (70's to low 80's) the sun is straight on you and you'll get warm. We finished up there around noon and headed back into town for some lunch and mimosas!
I read online that one of the other popular spots called Devils Bridge is absolutely chaotic in the morning so we decided to try it out in the early afternoon around 2:30pm. We were told by a family friend that the first 1-2 miles of this trail bascially a trudge on the off road vehicle trail to the start of the trail head. Since our rental was a nicer jeep wrangler John decided we would give it a go. I kid you not- I was so nervous the whole time I almost peed myself. It was a pretty intense trail for us to drive down but we made it safe to the trail head! Honeslty looking back, it was such a cool experience getting to go off roading and John said that was his favorite part of the day so it was worth it. :) The trail itself to the main spot was no joke. I would recommend some solid hiking shoes for this one, although as long as you're in decent shape and have good footing you would be okay. Another trail that was 1000% worth the trek! Just see some of the breath-taking pictures below!
That evening we had dinner reservations at the restruant at our hotel and it was a pre-fixe menu. The views were beautiful with it being next to the creek and the romantic lighting, but the food was okay. Not trying to slam it, but just not my favorite dinner.
Thursday morning we checked out around 9am and started our drive down to Tuscon! I know I keep saying this, but I truthfully think the drives were my favorite part of the trip. No worries in the world, top down, sun shining and music playing with my best friend by my side. What else could you need?
Anyways, John kept mentioning how much he wanted to stop for some In-n-Out Burger while we were on the west coast so of course we had to make a stop! I've never had it before so we got two burgers animal style with fries and drinks. I can't remember the last time I've had fast food but it was pretty good. I kind of wish we had one in Florida now!
We had planned to do a short hike on our way to Tuscon so after we fueled up with some food we made our way to the starting spot. I found the Picacho Peak Summit hike on AllTrails and it had a 5 star review. It was shorter in length but had a decent incline so I thought it would be a good one that wouldn't take too long but also get some great views! But wow... we underestimated it! It was THE COOLEST hike I have ever done, but it was also probably the most challenging too. It was bascially an uphill trek to the base of the "saddle" and then from there we traveresed the back side of the mountain with the help of set cables up to the summit. The views at the top were worth it! The hike took us about 3 hours so if you're going to plan on doing it you'll need a minimum of 3 liters of water per. person. Don't underestimate it like we did and remember to bring gloves! You'll need them for the cable sections.
After we finished up with the hike we finished our drive down to our next spot in Tuscon as the sun was going down. We stayed at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort for the rest of our stay. It was a spot John had always wanted to stay at when he was younger, not to mention it was absolutely beautiful! Sadly though.. that evening we had dinner at the bar outside and I ended up getting food poisoning from the tacos. John was fine, but I was up vomiting at 2am. No it wasn't COVID. Trust me, I know food poisoning and it was definitely that. After emptying the contents of my stomach and then some I was feeling just well enough to rally for our final day of the trip!
Friday we drove down to Nogales, Arizona to the exact spot John was born. I'm not going to go into much detail here but we had a lovely time and it was such a personal and intimate experience being able to do that with John. <3
Overall, this trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Getting to see what we saw, just the two of us hanging out for a week, loosing cell service and simply spending quality time together. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. This trip made me realize how overly connected we are to the world and that the only things that really matter are the people we love most and the memories we create with them. If you're still reading this, I am honored to share my experience with you and hopefully it sparks inspiration of some kind into your life.
Protect your energy.
Love those around you.