Top “To-Do’s” in Phoenix

For eight years we have made the trek south for a winter get away and have yet yo get sick of it for many reasons. Though our activities have changed from sunbathing and drinking our days away to keeping busy with two little ones we still manage to have a ton of fun.

We primarily go to see family but even without that I always recommend Phoenix as a family trip to others? Why? The flights are inexpensive and short – under 3 hours! Β And short flights are key with little ones. The weather is almost always good, in 8 years we have gone there for usually two weeks at a time and have only had rain two days. There is so much to do not only in Phoenix but in surrounding areas that might be a day trip or an overnight trip away.

I wanted to share some of the things we have enjoyed doing as a family while holiday-ing in Phoenix so in case others are considering heading south you know what you can get up to. These are in no particular order.

Legoland Discovery Centre (Tempe)

We just found this one this year as it opened only a year ago in the Arizona Mills mall. It was a rainy day so I went to Google and found this little gem! This would appeal from ages 2+ I would say. Chloe was a tad small for most things but still had her share of fun. When I asked Chad the ages that might like this he said 2-50 πŸ˜‰ If you have a child under 5 I would recommend going Monday-Thursday as they have Toddler Time and it is only $16 for an adult and toddler, extra people are only $11, so we paid under $30 for our family.

There are two rides that reminded me of ones you would find at Disney, you can go on them as much as you want and Avery loved both. There is a 4D theatre that plays movies every 30 minutes and again, go to as many as you want as they change.

The coolest thing was miniature land in my opinion. They had a whole room of cities, an airport, a stadium, landmarks and more built out of Lego.

There are buttons to animate different pieces, so Avery loved pushing all of those.

In the main area there are so many Lego stations, ones for girls (Lego Friends), ones where you can build and test Lego cars, a Duplo area, bins of Lego to just create and more.

There is also a play zone area that kids can go into – we avoided it since I knew I might never get Avery out of there πŸ˜‰

You could spend hours here for sure!

World Wildlife Zoo

This Zoo is near where we stay (Surprise, AZ) and we have been a few times. It never disappoints! I do find it pricey, but that seems to be most zoos. We always seem to find 2 for 1 coupons though so it is a worth a look around for those.

I feel like this zoo goes on forever and has every type of animal. Every time we go there are more! From birds, monkeys, lizards, sharks (there is a aquarium), baby animals, bears, rhinos, giraffes, kangaroos, sea lion, tigers you could not ask for much more from a zoo!

You can feed some of the animals but do need 50 cents – so bring your quarters! A highlight is feeding the giraffes:

I find this zoo rarely busy, especially in the afternoons. The mornings are filled with schools but they all seem to leave after lunch and it feels like you have the park to yourself.

They have some rides throughout the zoo and a newer area with more rides. Though these do cost extra $$ and you need cash! We did not know this and only had enough for a carousel and train ride. The train ride goes through some animal enclosures and is okay but at $6/person I am not sure it is worth it. I just had a very insistent toddler that HAD to ride the train.

We spent 5 hours there and did not even get to any of the animals shows or encounters this year since there is so much to see without going to those, but I really regret not taking a break to sit and watch an encounter/show.

Children’s Museum of Phoenix

This is located in downtown Phoenix and another gem we visited for the first time this year thanks to Nicole’s recommendation. We went after lunch and it closed at 4pm so just to note for others – but I did find a few hours to be enough time, though you could spend much more time here.

Where to start?! This is great for kids of all ages, babies to 12 for sure. The coolest thing about it is that every play area and room they have, there is an enclosed area for babies!

There is a giant play structure right as you come in and some play areas for the smaller kids, from there you can go up to level two and/or three and there are endless activities and stations for kids.

Avery’s favourite was probably the grocery store where kids could get there own cart and “shop” from the shelves, checkout and do it ten times over.

There was play houses to play in, fort rooms to build every fort imaginable, play cars to drive, art studios, an outdoor play area, a “noodle farm” – see the family photo below, a play cafe and a ton of sensory play areas.

Avery cried when we left and asked to go back the whole 45 minute drive home in case you wanted to know how much she liked it πŸ˜‰

Out of Africa – Wildlife ParkΒ (Camp Verde)

This is about 90 minutes north of Phoenix but worth the trip as it is a completely unique zoo experience. I actually would recommend going to this zoo, staying in Sedona (another must see with the scenery!) and then heading north to the Grand Canyon for a 2-3 day trip.

This zoo is designed to be like a safari, so you can take an open air bus through the animal enclosures where the animals come right up/in to the bus! I got to pet a giraffe when we went through. These tours run throughout the day and from their website I see they know offer upgraded ones as well that I would try for sure.

Scottsdale

Whenever we visit Scottsdale I feel like I am in California more than Arizona for some reason. It is the trendy spot to go, with great shopping, cool restaurants and lots of window shopping. I will never forget the one year we went and grabbed fro-yo (this back when you could not get it here!) and went for a walk only to find a doggy yoga class in a park! If nothing else it was great entertainment πŸ™‚

Fashion Square Mall is a must go to if you want to shop, it has every store you could want and a lot of higher end stores you might not find all together elsewhere.

Sports Games

Almost every time we go we find one sport game to go to, from Spring Training games that are all over Phoenix to NHL games ( there is also good shopping and restaurants around the arena), basketball and University sports you can easily find a game to go to and usually for really good price. I actually really enjoyed both basketball and baseball games in the past!

There is so much more I have not touched on, hiking, golfing, more great shopping, and endless day trips! Going to Phoenix never gets old for us with so much to see and do and I owuld go back every year if I could!

Lindsey

Holidays Part II

Our second week of holidays we had some not so nice days, one day it poured all day! In 8 years of going to Phoenix that was only the second day of rain we ever had there. But this allowed us to explore and find fun new things to do. I will do a post later this week on our top to dos in Phoenix! – family friendly of course πŸ™‚

Highlights – our race (recap here), a weekend visit with my friend Priscilla, a zoo trip and Legoland!

It was a great two weeks with very little to do, we made plans on the go, and were rarely rushing around. I have always loved Phoenix and never get sick of visiting there!

Lindsey

Weekend Recap

We had a quiet weekend back at home – it felt good to just hang out after two weeks away!

Saturday

We made a much needed Costco trip in the morning. Felt good to stock the fridge back up! Our afternoon was un-pictured, but involved a visit with some friends, fort making, playing and then we headed to a friend’s house for a dinner party. By the time we got home it was 10pm and we all went right to bed!

Sunday

We all slept past 7am! Chad and I both worked out, I just did a 3 mile run and some weights. I am taking a much needed running break and ready to do some other things before I jump into Sea Wheeze training.

We took Avery to yoga class and had coffee while she was in class – hopefully we can get her more now than we do not have long runs Sunday mornings.

At home I did a bunch of meal prep. I need to get better at doing this on Sundays, I made energy balls, banana bread and then prepped food for lunches and suppers.

Is that Slate Plate not awesome?! I need to get better at my designing on it but so excited to see if for photos and entertaining!

The girls painted, Avery told me “I love making messes!”, yes I know that πŸ˜‰

Not much else to report on our weekend, hope everyone enjoyed their weekends!

Lindsey

Foodie Friday

Dropping in for Foodie Friday since I am sure one person out there is missing our weekly meal planning πŸ˜‰

Saturday – Friend’s Party

Sunday – Sweet Potato Kale salad (Skinny Taste) & Honey Lime Salmon

Monday –Buddah Bowl with shrimp – The Healthy Maven

Tuesday –Β Mushroom Barley Soup & cheddar biscuits

Wednesday –Β Tuna Wraps & sweet potato salad

Thursday –Β Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps (but in taco shells) – Joy Food Sunshine

Friday –Β Chicken Taco Salad

Have a great weekend!

Lindsey

Phoenix Marathon Recap

On the weekend Chad and I ran the Phoenix Half Marathon, it marked my 10th and Chad’s 4th half marathon. It was a about a year ago that at 8 months pregnant I signed us up on whim. But I knew I needed motivation at that point to start running post-partum. From the very start I had a goal in mind but honestly deep down I felt that goal was pretty far fetched since it was almost 3 minutes off my PR from 2010, since then life has changed a little πŸ˜‰

My goal was to run the race in 1:45. So in the fall I started to research training plans to learn more about training in general so that this goal became more attainable. I also knew that running more than 3 days a week was not going to happen 90% of the time so I needed flexibility. I came across the 80/20 Training and instantly knew it would be the key to running a 1:45 half. Disclaimer – I modified the half plan in the book to work for me and then stuck to that plan 80% of the time, I rarely ran more than 3 days a week (4 max) and my max weekly mileage was maybe 34km.

Now onto the RACE!! I absolutely love big races, the energy of them are just amazing. With over 10,000 runners this was fairly large but so well planned. The day before the race we went to the race expo which was at a Mariott conference centre.

I probably could have parked walked in, got my stuff and got back to car in 15 minutes if I wanted to – WIN! We looked around at the expo, grabbed some samples, then got our shirts and headed out. I am not one to stick around expos too long. Oh the shirts – women had tanks! Something I will actually wear versus a t-shirt. Only downside is the XS is still massive on me but still a great tank for sure.

Race Day

So I never looked until a week before the race where the race start was – haha. Turns out it was an 1+ hour drive to the start and the last bus from the parking area was at 5am which meant a 3am wake up call. I broke this to Chad only days before πŸ˜‰

Despite an early wake up and drive went well until we went to merge off the interstate and the traffic was backed up, so what should have taken 5 minutes it took us 30 minutes. Luckily we had a ton of time still. We parked then ran over to where to half marathon buses were. Everything was very well signed so it was almost impossible to get confused.

I made a slight error when I only wore a tank top and shorts and brought nothing to wear beforehand thinking it is a race in sunny Phoenix! ha. I should have known better than the dessert gets darn cold at night until the sun comes up. Luckily they had a ton of heaters which we huddled by until 10 minutes before the race.

Once we made our way to the start it was very weird since the race had thousands of runners but there was nobody at the start line! Everyone was by the heaters.

It was not until they gave a one minute warning that people finally filled the shoot. I was shocked the start was self seeded but also really liked it. We started near the front since we could and that way there would be less dodging of people that way too. The fireworks went off and away we went!

I was FREEZING COLD you guys. My hands were numb and turning red from the cold for the first 5km. Since it was still dark out I figured once the sun came up I would warm right up.

Chad and I agreed to run together but he had to keep my pace πŸ˜‰ I figured out approximate paces and times to meet my goal and after the first 5km I was feeling more confident since we were running a 4:45min/km (5min/km was to meet our goal). I made sure I was sipping water throughout the race regardless of if I was thirsty and taking sport (jelly) beans every 15 minutes as well.

At 10km I planned to slow down if needed but felt great still so kept my pace at 4:50 and told myself I could do that to 15km and then re-evaluate again. Around 13km I started to doubt that I could hold that pace much longer and nudged Chad to see how he was. He felt good so I knew I had to keep going. By 15km I felt good again and at that point I was really excited as a calculated our finish time if we could maintain that speed. At that point I knew there was no slowing down and found some good songs to keep me going and just did not think about much else.

The last 2km I stopped checking my pace and just ran hard. I felt great crossing the finish line and told Chad after I had more kms in me πŸ˜‰ I really think it came down to the weather. It was the perfect running temperate once the sun came up and the sun was never in our face running – for me this makes me feel almost sick sometimes!

I had started my watch a bit late so was not sure our time but the clock when we crossed the finish was 1:43:14 so I knew we were sub 1:43!!!!

Here are my stats:

How on earth we ran a faster second half of the race baffles me still!

We grabbed our medals then headed over to take some photos:

Then to the food – I expected the usual, fruit, water, bagels and cookies but was blown away at all the free options. Our restaurant was giving out free french toast – brilliant! We grabbed some other things then sat down to eat. It was so good I did not remember a photo until it was all gone!

The race start and finish was at different points which I really liked since you did not have that mental mid way turn around and then we ended right where we had parked to catch the bus to the start – so smart! We had a 2 minute walk to our car, changed and headed back home.

In all honesty never did I think I would beat my goal by over 2 minutes and my previous PR by 5 minutes. And now I am ready to push myself a bit harder – who knows one day maybe I will run a sub 1:40!

Lindsey