I’d been wanting to do a road trip in the west, but taking two or three weeks to cover all the spots also just doesn’t seem realistic. I’ve got a freshman in high school and definitely want to squeeze in some more family trips before she graduates. Plus we had some Southwest Airlines credit that expires in June.
Given all those circumstances: Greg and I looked to see where Southwest flew and where we could go for Spring Break. We landed on Arizona. As we talked through destinations, we decided to fly into Las Vegas, so we could start with the Hoover Dam. (I know that’s Nevada, but, really, we were barely there!) We continued to Grand Canyon and Sedona so we could fly home from Phoenix.
Greg already had a surprise boys’ trip planned for Ben the first weekend of Spring Break. Considering those plans and flight availability and prices, we ended up scheduling our southwest road trip for Tuesday to Saturday.
Admittedly, as the trip approached, I wondered if staying in three different places in the four nights would feel like too much. I also wondered if five days was too quick for a westward trip.
I’m here to tell you: Take the trip. Sure, take this trip. Or take whatever trip it is you’ve been thinking about. This is one of my favorite vacations yets.
I loved the different destinations and packed for them accordingly. We stayed in Sedona the last two nights, so that gave us a good place to regroup and repack. I brought extra, easy-to-pack bags (these specifically) so we could throw our dirty clothes in there rather than continually repack our suitcases. We used one for a snack bag in our rental car too. And now I like to keep them in my trunk for when I have to haul things in the house.
Five days for this leg of a westward trip was plenty. Yes, we hit the ground running, thanks to an early flight on Tuesday and a time change that put us in Vegas at 8:30 am Pacific time. We never really fully adjusted to the two-hour time difference and found ourselves ready for bed around 8 or 9 pm. We generally woke up around 6 am.
I say “this leg of the westward trip” because I’m already thinking about the next trip. For our family, seeing the west with our kids seems to work well like this.
Now, here’s what we did each day:
Day 1 – Hoover Dam
We left home at 3:15 am, flew out of Nashville to Las Vegas, and arrived at 8:30 Pacific time, meaning in time for a second breakfast with my friend Kayse. We ate a delicious meal at The Broken Yolk and wished we lived closer because our kids got along well.
Team Taylor headed about 40 minutes away to Hoover Dam, which was so interesting! We saw Lake Mead, did the Power Plant tour at the dam, and soaked in the warm sun on a windy day. I honestly didn’t know I would be so impressed with Hoover Dam and didn’t realize it was built during the Great Depression. We also got to stand in Nevada and Arizona at the same time!
We stayed the night in Kingman, Arizona, which had Radiator Springs’ vibes along historic Route 66. (Disney’s Radiator Springs was actually based on Seligman, AZ, which wasn’t too far away from us!) Kingman also gave us a delicious meal at El Palacio. We were asleep by 8 pm Mountain Standard Time after a long but good day.
Day 2 – Grand Canyon
We made our way to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday. It sure was, well, grand! My mind and camera really couldn’t capture the vastness. We started at the Visitors Center and walked to Mather Point and around Rim Trail to Grand Canyon Village. Then we rode the shuttle and got off at a few stops on the way to Hermit’s Rest. We walked 13,000 steps!
Some tips: I wish I’d packed reusable water bottles for everyone. We also should have brought more snacks and lunch options with us because those options were limited in Grand Canyon National Park. We did have dinner at Yavapai Lodge, where we also stayed the night
Day 3 – Bearizona / Sedona
We left Grand Canyon National Park that morning, ate breakfast right outside of the park at Foodie Club, and headed to Bearizona in Williams, Arizona. Yes, Bearizona is overpriced for a couple of hours, but we really enjoyed it anyway. It’s a drive-thru, walk-thru wildlife par. They seemed to rehab a lot of the animals. We saw lots of native animals and especially enjoyed the bears who were active and playing with each other. Rachel and the spotted jaguar shared a playful moment too.
We arrived in Sedona about lunchtime and ate at Sedona Pizza & Pasta then explored the Uptown area. Our Pink Jeep Tour that afternoon was the only activity we reserved ahead of time. It was such a fun outing! We did the two-hour Coyote Canyon tour and got to see Dry Creek and lots of red rocks. We had dinner at Oaxaca, which was yummy Mexican food with a southwest twist. Everyone was excited about the two-bedroom condo we are staying in after two nights in the tight quarters of hotel rooms.
Day 4 – Sedona
We had a great day exploring Sedona and ended the day with 16,000+ steps!
We started the day with a 4.13-mile hike on the trail that goes around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte red rock formations. We enjoyed the scenery and challenge together. The condo we have been staying in is just south of Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek, so we spent a lot of time down in this area, which has worked out well. We got our fill of Uptown the day before.
This day of exploration that unfolded as we went along asl included a brief swim in their clothes for Rachel and Ben, lunch at Tortas de Fuego in Village of Oak Creek (although there’s another Sedona location too), site seeing at Chapel of the Holy Cross and Airport Scenic View, dessert at Rocky Road Ice Cream Co., an impromptu scenic drive to Tuzigoot National Monument in Camp Verde, some downtime at the condo, and delicious dinner at Colt’s Grill in Village of Oak Creek.
Day 5 – Sedona / Phoenix
We enjoyed a little more of Sedona on this last morning of vacation before we began the trek home via Phoenix. We hiked 2.43 miles on the Baldwin Trail near Cathedral Rock. It was a great hike with ups and downs, flat sections, a quick detour to see Oak Creek, and lots of beautiful scenery. We had 7,000 steps by 10 am!
I took a lot of pictures (of course!) and I shared them on Instagram and saved the posts in a Southwest highlight. Be sure to check them out if you want to see more of our adventures.
Another way we make traveling rewarding is using our Capital One Venture credit card. There are travel discounts and rewards. We get a higher percentage back in rewards when we make travel-related reservations, can cash rewards in to cover travel purchases, got reimbursed for our TSA Pre-Check application when we used this card as payment, and can book hotels and rental cards often with discounted rates directly through the credit card website. Win-win, I tell you. (Learn more here!)