Sunday, March 1, 2015

Summer vacation in Arizona? Yes! #FamilyTravel

Would you ever consider a summer vacation in the hot desert in the summer? We did!

Looking back at past family travel  photos this week, I was reminded of the fun we had in Arizona (June 2011). If you seek out specific locations and fantastic swimming pools, Arizona can be an enjoyable and kid-friendly family vacation. If you are from a non-desert area like the southeast or northeast, Arizona provides a unique landscape and an experience that isn't your same-old summer beach trip.

How did we decide to do a summer vacation in Arizona? I was looking for a kid-friendly US resort with a great pool area. Several travel articles popped up in my Google search which led me to The Arizona Grand Resort - a hotel with an attached waterpark!  Amelia was only three years old at the time, so swimming and light sightseeing were the only things on our summer vacation agenda. Phoenix was also an easy flight from Atlanta, so it seemed like a perfect summer vacation choice. We began searching for things to do with kids in the Phoenix area and ended up with a fantastic summer trip.

Water is a must for summertime in the desert, so start your vacation search by looking for water activities and inviting family swimming pools.  We began our Arizona summer vacation with a few days at the Arizona Grand Resort enjoying their attached Oasis Waterpark and on-site dining.

Arizona Grand Resort and Oasis Waterpark
We took a drive one day to Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona where visitors can climb over red rocks and venture into a valley with a natural slippery rock water slide.

Slide Rock State Park, Sedona

We also spent two nights at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. Summer tends to be an off-season, therefore rates are quite reasonable for the impeccable service and amenities. We were able to get a great rate on an upscale and comfortable room plus a $100 daily resort credit which helped cover the cost of the pricey but amazing food.  The swimming pool area at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain tops our list of favorite pools with a large shallow wading area for a young Amelia and a kid-friendly water slide built into the natural landscape. We were also greeted by servers throughout our pool day; they offered to bring drinks, snacks, and lunch. It was truly delightful and one of the most relaxing experiences I've had with a small child around.

Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

 The desert offers some unique sights you won't see anywhere else, so I would also recommend some short road trips to take in the scenes. We were all fascinated by the cactus dotted over every hillside. Saguaro National Park has a lovely driving loop and some short and easy hiking trails which were ideal for a small child and the heat. We enjoyed pointing out the bird holes in the saguaros and using our imagination to envision "people shapes" on each giant plant. We also made a quick visit to San Xavier Mission in Tucson, Arizona. The architecture was unlike anything we had seen before in other US areas, and the history was interesting. For a three-year-old Amelia, it was dubbed "Snow White's Castle". I could see how she believed it was a glorious castle - truly breathtaking. And who can miss a peek at a genuine wild west town? We enjoyed meandering the dusty streets of Tombstone and eating lunch at a real saloon. Amelia was tired and fell asleep for a bit, but she was awake to enjoy the saloon girls in costume and visit a shop or two.

Road trips from Phoenix

If you are trying to come up with a unique summer vacation destination, don't be afraid of 105-degree temperatures! A summer vacation to Arizona can provide some life-long family memories, just stay near water or air conditioning. It is beautiful out there!

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