Visiting Central Arizona with Kids
Since moving to the west coast, we have opened a whole new section of the country that is easily accessible for family trips. After some research on where to spend the Thanksgiving vacation week, we landed on visiting Arizona with kids. This was the perfect spot to spent a week in November because it was warm and sunny. Also, a big plus that we had never visited the state before. We drove from Las Vegas to Phoenix and saw a lot of landmarks in Arizona between the two cities. Our first stop in Arizona with the kids was Page. You can read all about that trip in this blog post: 24 Hours in Page, Arizona. And after Page, we drove on to Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona, and then Scottsdale, Arizona.
Grand Canyon National Park
Driving to Grand Canyon National Park
We drove to Grand Canyon National Park from Page, Arizona with the kids. The drive alone brought tons of beautiful landscapes as we approached the popular national park. We entered Grand Canyon National Park from the east and stopped at just one vista point as we entered. Once you enter the park you will get a map that will list all of the areas where there are safe lookouts. We got off at Grandview Point, which was crowded but the views were out of this world.
The kids were beyond anxious to get out of the car at this point and only could think about swimming in the hotel pool. But luckily the drive into the National Park also provided some excitement for them, as they spent some time looking for mountain lions and elk.
Where we Stayed in Grand Canyon National Park
Just over 7 miles south of the Visitor’s Center in Grand Canyon National Park (south rim) there is a town called Tusayan. It is here where you will find the more commercialized businesses and hotels. We stayed at The Best Western in Tusayan, Arizona with kids. Despite the positive reviews, the hotel was not very nice, but it was clean and did the trick for a night. The kids did enjoy the indoor pool though, and it was in a great location.
On the main road through the town you will find a few restaurants, gift stores, and gas stations. It worked for us for one night, but don’t expect five star accommodations or a gourmet meal ;).
What we Did at Grand Canyon National Park
So bear in mind, at this time we are traveling with a 3 and 7 year old. And as much as we love adventure, we are only your emerging beginner level hikers. So seemed like the options were to hike INTO the Grand Canyon, or around it. So we chose to stick to the Rim Trail, which is more just a paved 5.4 mile path along the southern rim. This was perfect for with young kids and our current hiking level.
So don’t get me wrong, the Grand Canyon is a sight that you just have to see to understand. It is absolutely breathtaking and awe-inspiring to think about the vastness of this canyon. And it is really incredible to see how the colors of the rocks and sky change with the time of the day. This always had been a bucket list destination for me, so I was really excited to experience The Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona with kids.
When you are 3 and 7 years old you may not get to this magnitude of feelings on this giant “hole in the ground”. My kids were completely underwhelmed by the Grand Canyon. We only spent about 45 minutes walking along the Rim Trail before we just called it quits because they were so bored. Honestly, I was okay with this decision and decided this was more of a reason to return when we increase our level of hiking so we could take a more serious hike down into the canyon.
Sedona with Kids
Driving from Grand Canyon NP to Sedona with Kids
This was the last “longer” leg of our road trip and it took just over two hours. As soon as we left Grand Canyon National Park, the landscape got a little less interesting. However, after we passed through Flagstaff and got closer to Sedona we drove down into Oak Creek Canyon. The drive down in started with some switchbacks on the road with some awesome views. It is along this road (89A) where you can stop off and play at Slide Rock State Park. We chose to skip it for this particular visit because it was a bit cold outside. However we already know we want to return to Sedona with kids, so I am sure we will on our next trip!
Where we Stayed in Sedona with Kids
As you may, or may not know, we are big Hyatt fans ever since we started focusing on earning travel rewards. So naturally, our first search when looking for a hotel is to see if there is a Hyatt in the city. To our luck, Sedona had one Hyatt property, and it was a residence club. This was our first stay at one of these types of hotels, and it was beyond perfect for our family. We stayed at the Hyatt Pinon Pointe in Sedona with kids. We were able to redeem our World of Hyatt points for the stay at a mere 15,000 points per room. Upon check-in, we also asked if there were any available room upgrades. And to our surprise, we ended up with a gigantic suite! Our suite had a full kitchen, dining area, fireplace, pull out sofa, king size bed, and best of all LAUNDRY in the unit! We were stoked we got this complimentary upgrade but were also sad because we only had planned one night here.
Another reason we loved staying in this hotel in Sedona with kids, is because of the awesome pool. The views from the pool were perfect and it was a perfect place to warm up the sun. There was also a clubhouse next to the pool which offered lots to do as well.
The last great reason this hotel was a perfect place for us to stay in Arizona with kids was its proximity to Sedona! We parked our car when we arrived and didn’t touch it until we left. We were able to walk everywhere because this hotel was perfectly central in Sedona. So if you happen to be staying Sedona with kids, make sure you consider this family-friendly property.
Where we Ate in Sedona with Kids
Cute restaurant with a diverse menu to satisfy all. The portions are huge and the staff is super friendly. But my favorite part is getting to sit outside and enjoy the amazing evening view.
This little restaurant was further from our hotel, so we actually stopped on our way into Sedona. They have a tasty Mexican food menu and the service is quick.
Momo’s was a food truck that we grabbed a bite to eat as we walked around Sedona shopping. The food was pretty good!
This fast food restaurant was right next to our hotel so it was perfect when we needed to eat a quick early breakfast. The food was ready fast and there were tons of options for the family.
What we did in Sedona with Kids
We only were in Sedona for just about a day. So we had to pick and choose what we would be able to see, and what activities would have to wait until we returned to Sedona with kids.
Our first half of a day was mostly spent hanging out by the amazing pool at our hotel. If you find yourself in Sedona with kids and its warm enough, make sure to schedule in some pool time. We also spent some time wandering through the shops in Sedona. There were countless shops with native crafts and souvenirs. The kids and I could spend all day strolling through these stores, but my husband maybe not so much, so we kept it fairly brief.
The Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona with Kids
The first morning we were in Sedona with kids, we went on a Pink Jeep Tour. After comparing many different jeep tour companies, we ultimately chose the Pink Jeep Tour because of their unmatched reviews. The tour started right across the street from our hotel, which again was another reason we loved that Hyatt property! You have to show up a little early to check in, and then wait for them to organize you into groups for each Jeep. We had 6 people all together and were lucky to get one Jeep to ourselves.
My youngest (3 at the time) was provided with a car seat for the Jeep by the company. This was nice not to worry about, especially since we knew it would be an off-road bumpy ride!
The tour guide/driver was very informative and was ready to answer all our questions as he drove us through Sedona and out into the rocks. The tour is off the road and definitely rough which makes it even more fun. The views on the tour are unbeatable! They really take you up close and personal with the Sedona red rocks. I would recommend this tour to anyone wanting to really experience the Sedona landscape. And if you are traveling to Sedona with kids, this is totally family friendly. My kids may have said this was their favorite thing to do of the whole trip!
Unforuntately we didn’t get a chance to take any hikes, but if you check out my friend’s blog post here she has lots of other information on hikes and things to do in Sedona with kids: 24 Hours in Sedona.
So after a long, but also a quick week of driving through Arizona with kids, we decided our final place to stay would be Scottsdale. We timed up the trip so that we ended in Scottsdale for Thanksgiving day. This part of the trip would be all about doing nothing but hanging at the hotel. Being our Hyatt loving selves, we decided to spend two nights at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch. Yup, and that’s about it for things we did in Scottsdale because we only left the hotel once for Thanksgiving dinner. Other than that, the time was spent in the pool. The kids loved the multiple pools at this resort, and the only thing that would have made it better was warmer weather. In addition to the pool, the hotel offered lots of different activities for the holiday. The kids spent time rock climbing, decorating cup cakes, making corn husk dolls, creating beaded necklaces, and so much more! We are adding this to our list of places we would love to return to for a longer period of time.
These three places are serious must-dos if you are visiting central Arizona with kids. And add in Page, Arizona with kids and you have yourself a very packed week! I personally think it is a great place to spend a week if you are trying to escape the cold dark winters of the north. Arizona is an amazing state, full of endless adventure, but here are some other USA Family Vacation ideas!