Seeing the uniquely beautiful deserts and otherworldly scenery of Phoenix, Ariz., can easily be done on a budget — you just have to know where to look. Active families, be prepared to get physical as seeing the sights in Phoenix requires a lot of walking, hiking, light climbing and traversing the impressive landscape for a better view — but then again, that’s kind of the beauty of this destination.
Begin with a morning hike at Camelback when the crowds will be low and the weather is cooler. Inspire the kids for the hike with a thought of a hearty breakfast after, but be sure to pack a couple snacks for younger children so they don’t get too cranky. Think granola and berries. As one of the more popular destinations in Phoenix, Camelback offers exquisite views from the “hump,” an iconic picture point, so don’t forget your camera or phones.
Rent a bike for $2 from Grid Bike Share and hit Papago Park for some incredible sightseeing. While there, be sure to check out Desert Botanical Garden and some 50 acres of cacti, towering desert plants and unique blooms against the red rocks in the distance. The landscape is so uniquely beautiful and your family will love the Wild West-style plant life.
Learn about indigenous cultures that inhabited this amazing land at the Heard Museum, $18. See Native American art and learn about history, culture and incredible stories. Plan to attend one of the rotating events from museum yoga and the Indian Fair and Market to a student-run art show, perfect for your aspiring artists, history buffs and culturally curious children.
On a sunny day, opt for lunch or snacks at the museum and sit outside in the courtyard. Enjoy hummus, $9, and a variety of salads, $13–14, or go big with a southwestern entrée, $12–14. Pack a family picnic and enjoy a typical Phoenix day of sunshine and clear skies.
Conveniently, the museum is centrally located and offers easy access to more of the city’s attractions on foot (for free) or by bike. After an active day exploring for free, or close to it, check out the booming restaurant scene and nightlife and feel free to splurge at T. Cook’s or Chelsea’s Kitchen.
Read more about the bustling city and desert atmosphere here and plan your family trip during one of the city’s many fun festivals and family-friendly events.
Nestled in California's Santa Ynez Valley is the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, a picturesque dude ranch-style resort that made a name for itself as a luxurious family getaway. For decades, this beautiful hideaway has been a favorite of the rich and famous from around the world.
A selfie is a fun source of memories, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. You can help your children — who are lucky enough to actually travel — maintain some of the memories of what they experience. Among these few simple activities, one or more may enhance their memory banks by assisting them to identify, classify and remember what they have seen and done. It may also facilitate their ability to distinguish between why they liked one thing and not another, which is in itself an important learning experience.
For when you’re feeling rundown and need a solo getaway, holistic couple’s retreat, health and wellness refresh, or just a mindful getaway with friends, family or yourself — the West is calling. Arizona, New Mexico and California’s deserted, ruggedly beautiful landscape can sometimes be just the thing your mind and body need for a healing vacation.
Before you tick off the same sights on your Paris itinerary, consider adding one or more of these activities. Amusez-vous bien!