It’s Always Sunny in Phoenix!

March 1, 2011

Pretty much, anyway…after the winter we’ve had on the East Coast, I’ll take 70 degrees and sunny every day. We spent our time outdoors, as you can imagine.

Continental flies direct from Newark to Phoenix, and unless you have an insane headwind (like we did), it’s generally a 5 or so hour trip there. (We had another hour added. But on the way back, that same wind got us home in 3 hours and 37 minutes…suck it!)

Once there, there are all kinds of things to do, and I would make heading out to the desert or seeing the red rocks of Sedona a priority. Given that we have friends and family there and have been over 15 times (seriously, I think it may be over 20 for me), we don’t feel the pressure to rush anywhere. That in itself is a luxury, on vacation or not.

This time, we took the kids to the Phoenix Zoo. It’s a nice zoo, and I hadn’t been in years, since my sister threw up given the extreme heat when our parents took us there in the summer. (If I have one tip for Arizona, NEVER go in the summer.) In February the only bad reaction we got was my daughter holding her nose from the stench of the animals’ poop.

You know who loaned John Lennon's piano to the MIM? That's right: George Michael himself. Thanks George!

We also went to the brand new Musical Instrument Museum, which is in a beautiful building and was very cleverly put together. It’s broken up into continents, and then there are displays of instruments from each country. And then, this is the best part, you wear headphones and as you approach any exhibit, you automatically hear the music being played with those instruments. It really makes the exhibits come alive. Plus there’s a hands on room where you and your kids can play everything from a harp to a gong. Very fun!

Cracker Jax has 3 different miniature golf courses, go karts, batting cages, bungee jumping domes, paddle boats and a whole host of video games. You can pay for a 4 hour pass or just buy tickets as you go — you decide your threshold.

The Cactus League’s spring training is always a good time, if only to see the crazy rabid fans. The stadiums are smaller so there really isn’t a bad seat, and you can get up close to the dugout and feel a part of the action. We went to see the Diamondbacks play the World Champion San Francisco Giants on a lovely day. My only recommendation would be to eat before you go — the food options are pretty poor. (Lots of beer and cotton candy!)

My husband and son went to a Phoenix Suns game one night. If you’re a basketball fan I recommend this because they sat in seats that cost over $200 in Madison Square Garden, but were only $18 in Arizona. You could almost fly there, take in a game and fly home with change left to spare.

In the mood to shop? Of course! I like Biltmore Fashion Park. The shops are just ok (MAC, Apple, Saks, Macy’s, Cole Haan, etc.) but it’s a lovely outdoor mall with nice courtyards that you can just chill in. There’s a Cheesecake Factory and a California Pizza Kitchen that both have good outdoor seating for a nice al fresco lunch.

I scored some great deals on Vince sweaters at Neiman Marcus in Scottsdale Fashion Square. Since no one in Arizona seems to need sweaters, their loss was my gain! If you head there at the end of the winter season, definitely worth checking out. Ken once got an insane deal on a really thick cashmere sweater that no Arizonan wanted.

My friend Ilene had us over for a lovely evening barbecue, and she got the kids a pinata to bust open, which was a highlight of the trip for them. She got it at Ranch Market on 16th and Roosevelt, and we went to check the place out for ourselves. It’s a Mexican market with shelves of Mexican baked goods, produce piled high, tortilla making machines running a mile a minute, and Mexican products that can be hard to find like Salsa Verde Doritos and Jarritos Lite soda. There was a whole restaurant section that looked tasty, but unfortunately the timing didn’t work for us to grab lunch.

Next time!!

Etc.

I am desperately trying to hang on to my vacation high. I think my kids are too — Austin wondered why it always goes so fast. Just wait — it gets worse!

Hope you survived the February blahs…get ready for March!

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