TRAVEL || A GRAND TIME GRAND TOUR

Planning to take a day trip through the southern rim of the Grand Canyon? I’ve got a few tips and tricks for the perfect day!

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Even the Southern rim of the Grand Canyon is worth spending multiple days, but if you only have one day to explore this majestic wonder, here is a guide to hit all the high points! Tip: Some people get a week pass to the national park but don’t use all the days. Your hotel concierge might have extra passes you can use.

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When staying in Sedona or Flagstaff, take US-89 to AZ-64 through Cameron. This route takes you through the Navajo Indian Reserve. (Side note: Fill your tank up with gas before you leave, because there is no station in the reserve.) The land is dry, bare, and red but it is definitely a cool sight to experience. You get a little taste of canyon views with a few remote look-out points along the way. We pulled off at Marble Canyon of the Little Colorado River Gorge, which really psyched us up for our day of site seeing. The walk is only about 100 yards from the parking area on a gravel road, so it is accessible for everyone.

 

As you continue driving towards the Grand Canyon, you’ll enter on the eastern side of the South Rim. After going through the national park gate, your first stop is the Desert View Watchtower, also known as Navajo Point. This is where you can stamp your national park book, climb up steps into a watchtower to get an even higher view of the canyons, and scope out the landscape details with their telescopes. It is a very popular, touristy point so be ready for a large crowd. We went on Easter Sunday expecting a lower number of tourist, but we were wrong, lol! Luckily, the other stops were not as busy as this first one.

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Next, you’ll drive 22 miles west to the Visitor Center. On that drive, they have about three  points where you can stop to take a look. Lipan, Moran and Grandview are the main points. For time sake, pick one or two. The view is fairly similar to the watchtower at these points, but they are way less crowded!

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We had a cooler of waters in our car, but if you need to grab drinks or snacks, you can stop at the Park Store in the Visitor Center. They not only have a grocery store, but also a deli with sandwiches and pizza. I’m not the type to pass up pizza, so we got it to go and took it with us to the main area, aka the Village, for a picnic. This is where the hotels and restaurants are located and it is only a 2 mile drive from the Visitor Center. There were not many places to picnic in the Village, so we ventured to the edge and sat on a stone ledge. Many people passed by us saying we were brave for sitting there, but how many people get to say they ate lunch literally on the edge of the Grand Canyon?? That was by far our most spontaneous part of the day- I highly recommend it! They have restaurants where you can eat if that is more your style.

 

After lunch, we found a parking spot in a lot near the bus stop. The buses are free and rotate between nine different look-out points. You can hop on and off the buses as they pass. Again, you don’t have to go to all of them but pick about four to get off and venture. We stopped at Trailview Overlook, Hopi Point, the Abyss, and Hermits Rest. Hermits Rest is as far west as you can go on the South Rim. It is the only stop that has a bathroom or snack food option. The snack bar at Hermits rest closes an hour before sunset, so make sure you get there in time to grab some coffee. It will keep you busy and warm you up as you wait for the sun to set! Watching the sun set over the canyon was a dream of mine, and I soaked up every second. It was a once in a lifetime experience seeing the sky change colors- No filter needed! Catch the last bus back to the parking lot and head home.

 

As you leave, take a different route home by exiting through the South Entrance Station down AZ-64. You’ll come to the city of Tusayan, which is right outside of the national park. We stopped for dinner at Big E Steakhouse & Saloon and it was good eatin’! It is a western themed steakhouse whose serving sizes are like the Grand Canyon.. large. After all that hiking, you’ll want to refuel for the drive back.

 

We spent our one year anniversary day-tripping the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was April 1st, so the weather was hot during the day but cold out on the points and while watching the sun set. Be sure to bring a warm, yet light-weight jacket. I personally recommend this one!

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Happy Hiking!

TRAVEL || THE GHOST TOWN OF JEROME

There is a small city built into the side of a mountain known as Jerome, Arizona. It is a very old, unique, interesting place that I would highly advise visiting! If you drive towards Cottonwood and see the large white “J” built into Cleopatra Hill, you know you’re going the right way.

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A little Jerome history… It was built back in 1876 to be a residency for the workers of the booming copper-mining industry. Due to its high volume of murders and deaths, Jerome was known as the “Wickedest Town in the West”. Not only were people dying while working in the mines, but almost 100 people were shot quarreling in the streets in a single month. At it’s peak in the 1920s, the town had about 15,000 residence. When the mines closed in the 1950s, only 50-100 people remained. Jerome has since then been restored into a tourist town with local artisans, restaurants, and haunted tours. It currently has about 450 residents.

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Now that you have little back story.. Here are all the best places to go and things to do!

After arrival, we went to Ghost Town Tours to reserve a spot on their walking tour. Side note: This company was very accommodating and easy to work with. Since the tour was not until later in the day, we got to explore the local shops and galleries. Taking advantage of dilapidated buildings, artists have erected 3-dimintional sculptures in the middle of the rubble. One even displayed a toilet as a wishing well. Talk about flushing your money down the toilet, HA!

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With a variety of restaurants to choose from, we chose the Haunted Hamburger for lunch. It was such a beautiful day, outdoor seating was a no brainer. Couldn’t get enough of that view! We liked their deep fried pickles, twice baked potato, BBQ burger and most importantly their mudslide- a milkshake that tastes like the inside of an Oreo had a baby with a chocolate frosty. SO. GOOD.

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Our walking tour guide was great! As a local born and raised, he really knew his town’s history. I recommend doing a tour, as each building has its own crazy story. Definitely worth the time and money! Jerome is one fascinating town!

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For dinner, we went to The Asylum, which is the restaurant in the old Grand Hotel. We got there at 5:30 when they opened for dinner, which worked well for us as we got to sit at one of the two window seats. They have the highest view in the city, and watching the sunset over the red rock mountains as you eat dinner is a once in a lifetime experience. Casual attire is welcomed at this fine dining establishment. Their soup was great! We also enjoyed the pork tenderloin.

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Ghost Town Tours also has haunted night tours in the old high school. Rumor has it they are scary and fun! I feel like we got a good scope of the town in one day; but if you want to get scared on the night tour, they have haunted hotels available for stay!

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TRAVEL || DIEGO POPS IN SCOTTSDALE

Diego Pops is where it’s at! This was probably my favorite place to eat the entire trip. Y’all know I’m all about some tacos, so this place comes highly recommended. Sitting on the covered patio with perfect weather was definitely the way to go. The decor was cool- a very casual and relaxed feel with clever signs in each room. Thanks to their happy hour specials, we got half off an appetizer. The corn queso did not disappointed. Hashtag NOM.

We also got the Grilled Shrimp, Braised Pineapple Pork, Beef Machaca, and Braised Green Chili Chicken Tacos. Everything we ate was awesome, so you can’t go wrong!

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TRAVEL || TUZIGOOT NATIONAL MONUMENT

Shoutout to all my history fans out there- This National Monument is for you!

At the base of Jerome, between Clarkdale and Cottonwood, is an old Pueblo called Tuzigoot. A Pueblo is an American Indian settlement in the southwest consisting of multistoried adobe houses. Tuzigoot is Apache for “crooked water” as it is near a cutoff of the Verde River. They say this Pueblo was built by the Sinagua people between 1125 and 1400 AD. I mean, wow!

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It won’t take long to admire these ancient ruins, but it is worth the look. Plus, the view is quite beautiful! It’s crazy seeing the ruins of a civilization that existed so long ago and to picture how they lived during that time. I would recommend making a quick stop to Tuzigoot on your way to Jerome!

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TRAVEL || TAKE A HIKE.. IN SEDONA

Sedona is a great place to visit in Arizona, because..
A) It’s a cute town to explore
B) The location is prime

We stayed in Sedona for three nights and visited a different city each day. Our first day was exploring Sedona itself. The whole town is surrounded by incredible views of mountains and red rock. The street signs are even painted a dusty red, which really adds to the natural beauty. We stayed at the Sedona Rouge. The rooms were very nice and the staff was so accommodating. They even surprised us with chocolate covered strawberries and a sweet note on our anniversary!

Scott and I are not big hikers, (which is unfortunate for us because Sedona has amazing hiking trails) so we asked the concierge what he recommended for smaller hikes. He suggested Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf is a short trail with an incredible 360 view at the top! It is one of those secret spots not covered with tourists, but is growing in popularity thanks to its view. There are no parking/hiking fees and you get to drive through a residential neighborhood on the way. I loved that! It was cool getting to see how locals live as the architecture is completely different in Alabama.

This hike is still an hour round trip, so bring a water and wear comfy shoes! Pictures speak for themselves, but even photos can’t do it justice. This trail was my favorite on our Sedona adventures! PS: You can bring your dog!

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TRAVEL || DOUGH BIRD IN PHOENIX

Looking for great pizza in the Phoenix area? Head on over to Dough Bird! The interior decor is my kind of vibe with cool tiled flooring, shiplap walls, and exposed ceilings. It’s a popular place for locals to gather and has a nice sunset view through their large windows. If there is a wait, sitting at the bar is a great choice. You can watch them cook and prepare the food- dinner and a show!

We ordered the Pepperoni & Fresh Mozzarella Pizza with organic tomato and wild oregano. It was awesome. As a matter of fact, everything their kitchen was bringing out looked awesome. Hopefully when you eat there they will still have The Elvis for dessert! I’m talking chocolate, peanut butter, banana, whip, caramel, and bacon sandies. There is a reason why dessert is spelt with two S’s instead of one… because you always want more!

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TRAVEL || OLD TOWN SCOTTSDALE

Scottsdale, Arizona has an adorable western-themed Old Town! A few streets all intersect together  with tons of shops, art galleries, restaurants, and street performers. Spending an afternoon walking around, getting some souvenirs, and admiring local talents was so pleasant. Now, I know this is a very touristy thing to do, but sometimes it’s fun being a tourist! We went in late March/early April, so the weather was great (at a dry 75F during the day). Plus, it wasn’t swarmed with crowds. Score!

If you like fudge (or olive oils), you have to stop by Outrageous Olive Oils & Vinegars. It’s basically two different shops in one, but naturally I went straight for the fudge. Their cookies’n’cream flavor was divine!

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