February in the Midwest is one of four months of below freezing temperatures and enough snow to turn your world gray. So what do you do when cabin fever takes over? Go to Phoenix, Arizona. Well, at least I do.
In the midst of a particularly bitter winter last year, Sky Harbor International was waiting to greet me with a beautiful 60 degree evening. Heaven? Pretty close but more like a nice break from the snow hole back East.
From the airport, I took a free shuttle to my hotel, dipped my feet in the pool for a second, and promptly went to bed to rest up for the adventures ahead. The following morning, I didn’t waste any time. I headed to Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe to shop around for a little while before giving myself a tour of the ASU campus. Tempe is quite the college town, let me tell you, it almost makes me wish I had gone to school there.
Downtown Phoenix was my next stop, and the city itself had a combined essence of California and Florida except there weren’t any beaches to be found anywhere.
On my second day, I ventured up to Sedona which is unlike any place I’ve ever been or seen. If you ever go to Arizona, leave the big cities behind for a few days to visit this beautiful red rock countryside. It’s absolutely stunning, and I had perfect weather for the Pink Jeep Tour which takes you up through the red rock mountains. The money you spend on the tour is well worth the laughs, two hour adventure, and the views. Next time I go to Sedona, I’m definitely going hiking.
Before heading back down to Phoenix, I stopped in a small town up in the mountains called Jerome, which reminded me a lot of Kennicott, Alaska. I ate at a tiny restaurant called Grapes that had a gorgeous 180 degree view of Sedona, and the people were especially friendly.
The final day in Arizona consisted of shopping at the outlets, visiting the “mystery castle” filled with knick knacks that one woman lived in her whole life until she passed away in November 2010, and finishing the night with shopping and dinner in Scottsdale.
How do I get around?
Let’s face it, you’re in desert country so you’re going to need a car. Make sure your rental comes with air conditioning and a GPS system. I’d also recommend renting a camper or RV of some sort so you can sleep under starry skies.
Places to Go/See
- Visit the Grand Canyon
- Take the Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona or go hiking. While you’re up there, walk around in all the little shops. You might find some cool stuff.
- Go shopping for some off-the-grid souvenirs in Jerome and eat at Grapes or The Asylum.
- For high-end shopping, the Scottsdale Fashion Square is the place to be, and every Thursday evening, take a stroll through the Art Walk
- Road trip to Los Angeles, California
- Walk around downtown Phoenix
- Bar hop around Tempe with all of the Arizona State students
- Go camping
“This City” Sundays will introduce you to a new city every week, showcase what I’ve learned and love about that city, and attempt to persuade you to visit on your travels.