I love to travel. My husband does not love to travel but we are slowly changing that. I traveled a good amount as a child and I wanted that for my children. My plan is to take a family vacation every year. To me a vacation is to go someplace and explore. It does not mean visiting family. This year we decided Northern Arizona mainly because I had a conference there and was already going to be in Arizona. My husband and son did not go to the conference so I picked them up at the airport a few days later. I’ll break up our trip day by day and include traveling with little one tips. This was my sons 6th flight so we should be pros but we are not since every age group brings different problems. I also need help in deciding on where we go next year.
Also, everything I mention, I paid for.
My flight was early in the morning so my husband and son dropped me off because my son’s school was not open yet (it was his last day there until middle of August). My conference was in Phoenix and we were staying at the Arizona Biltmore. This is an awesome hotel. Highly recommend it. My first meeting wasn’t until the afternoon so I had some time to lay by the pool. They have like 8 pools on the property and one of them is pretty big with a slide. The rest of the day I was in meetings.
Right outside of the Biltmore’s property is a canal trail system that goes over 20 miles. It crossed some busy streets but nothing terrible at 6 am. The trail was mostly crushed granite but there was some cement where I ran. You could see mountains in the background. I started the day by doing a 3 miler. I am use to running in hot humid weather and now I was running in hot dry weather. I was so thirsty my entire run. Luckily, the Biltmore gave me a little water bottle before I left the property and another when I got back on.
Canal Trail Views
I had to shower and get ready because I had more meetings all day. I did carve sometime for more pool time.
I will say something really nice about the hot weather is that I could watch my running clothes in the shower and they would dry in no time outside.
I went back out the trail and ran about 4 miles. I walked by the property’s little shops and they looked really cute. I had meetings the rest of the day but again carved out some pool time and went to the lobby to enjoy some popsicles. Our conference had The Spazmatics play that night so I danced the night away. The Spazmatics are an 80s cover band.
My conference held a 5K that went throughout the Biltmore’s property. It was nice to see parts I hadn’t explored yet. We only had meetings in the morning due to we were leaving at around noon. I rode with everyone to the airport and then picked up our rental car. I also had to stop at Target to buy diapers and snacks.
We only pack enough diapers for the day of travel. We would rather buy once we get there to save some room in our suitcases. I was nervous because it was my husbands first time flying with our son by himself. My son did what he always does, had some milk and went to sleep.
My husband flew Southwest as that is our airline of choice with traveling with a little one. We love them because they are family-friendly, offer family boarding and you can check bags for free. My husband only had to check his bag as we never bring a car seat and we left the pack n play home too.
We always rent a car seat for the rental car place and have never had issues with them. They have always been super clean and in great shape. We only stayed at hotels that offered free crib service (this was new for us). We try to bring as little as possible to make traveling a little easier. We always bring a stroller though because you can gate check that.
They had an uneventful flight so we took our 2 hour drive to Sedona. We ate a little local cafe called Blue Moon Cafe because it was the first one we saw open. They gave my son some army men to play with while we enjoyed our meal.
We stayed at the Arabella. I choose this hotel because of the free crib service and free breakfast (a must). Their breakfast was continental. Our room was a pretty good size but a pretty small bathroom. We did have a balcony which had a nice view of the red rocks. Our room also had a little fridge which was perfect for milk.
View from our room at the Arabella
My husband went trail running on a trail that starts right by our hotel room. We also were taking family photos that morning at Courthouse Butte which was gorgeous. One of our family traditions is we take family photos on our vacation just to get new views. We did it last summer in Taos and now in Sedona. To find a photographer, I do a google search and then e-mail all the photographers to see who is available, what they offer, etc. I have not seen our photos yet but our photographer was great. Our son was not having it that day but she was nice and calm. Very patient. Her company is Photography by Janise.
After our photos and my sons nap, we ate at Oak Creek Brewery and Grill. We both really enjoyed the food and beer. We also shopped in the shopping center that our restaurant was in. We went to the cutest toy shop that only sells toys made in the US. My son picked out a monkey stuffed animal as he went around and hugged every animal. We also went to a jewelry store and bought a few pieces made by locals or Native Americans in the area.
For dinner we ate at Javalina Cantina and we didn’t really enjoy the food or drinks. The only thing we both liked was the view and the fried ice cream.
Red Rocks in Sedona
We checked out of the hotel and drove to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Rookie mistake: I did not do much research on the canyon. It was packed! However, it was gorgeous. I recommend parking in Lot 4 as it is actually closer to the Visitor Center. We spent a couple of hours there taking pictures and exploring. My son has a National Parks Passport book that we bought in the Outer Banks, NC. Every time you visit a National Park, you stamp your book. The Grand Canyon has multiple stamping locations so we were not able to collect all of them. We decided we have to go again when my son is older but stay at one of the hotels in the park. We heard you have to book a year in advance. The pictures make the Grand Canyon look amazing but it does not compare to actually seeing it in person. We even saw some wild Mule Deer on our way out.
Sidenote on the Passport Book: It is pretty awesome. Our goal is to get our son to as many of these parks as possible. So far we have a couple from the Grand Canyon, 4 from the Outer Banks and one of the Ulysses S. Grant house in St. Louis.
On our way to the freeway to take us back to Phoenix, we stopped at the cutest town off of Route 66 called Williams. We ate and drink at the Grand Canyon Brewing Co. Great food and drinks.
In Phoenix we stayed at a very modern boutique hotel downtown called The Clarendon. This hotel was made for single young professionals but the staff was amazing. They offer free snacks at check-in too. For dinner we ate at NYPD Pizza which was really nice.
Flew home. My son fell asleep probably one hour into the flight. We bring plenty of snacks with us but we cut it close this time and couldn’t buy an extra milk. A little warning: my son eats those fruit/veggie pouches, like the Plum Organics which are 4 oz. They will make you open them which means you have 24 hours to use it before it goes bad. We bring toys for the flight as well but we try to tire him out as much as possible before the flight like letting him walk around the boarding area. Since we can walk, he had to go through the metal detector by himself.
We got home, went to our car and unpacked. We also had to get the dogs back from the kennel.
Northern Arizona is amazing and I wish we had more time to stay there. So now begs the question: where do we go next?