I love vacationing with friends: you have endless hours together catching up on all the good times and funny stories and still get to experience new things together building upon your friendship. One of these great mini trips was with my best friend from college to Scottsdale, AZ. We live on different coasts and only get to catch up a few times a year so it made the time together all the more precious.
Check out my top tips and recommendations below to max out your time and memories on a super quick (mine was just 2 days!) trip to Scottsdale.
ADVENTURE APPEAL’S 2 DAYGETWAY GUIDE TO SCOTTSDALE, AZ
♦ Know Before You Go
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦How to Get There
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Get your fill of the Saguaro! Southern AZ and parts of Mexico are their natural habitat.
Bring sunscreen and a swimsuit — the sun is strong and when we visited there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so we spent every afternoon chatting and lounging by the pool.
There’s incredible visibility at night in the desert, so don’t forget to look up at the stars. 🙂
Frequently resorts offer packages for discounted prices that include spa credits and breakfasts. Choose one of these for the ultimate luxury escape!
Many resorts also have a car service that you can utilize to take you on hikes and into town. Just be sure to bring cash for a tip.
Springtime is one of their busiest seasons for Scottsdale with visitors escaping cold weather and coming in town for baseball’s spring training.
Scottsdale is the new Caribbean for baby-moons! Thank you, Zika.
It’s too easy to be active in Scottsdale. Resorts have a slew of classes free of charge with small numbers. Reset with a yoga class, or power up with bootcamp (don’t worry the pool is your reward later!).
Also be sure to check out the many accessible hiking trails. Two of our favorites were the very steep 2.5 mile climb up Camelback Mountain and the meandering Saguaro-filled Quartz Ridge Trail . Each were within 15 minutes of our resort, which you really can’t beat! See my review for the Quartz Ridge Trail trail here: http://adventureappeal.com/quartz-ridge-trail-8a/
Pick international and eclectic small plates with locally sourced ingredients at the flavor-packed FnB. Request patio seating at dinnertime for a charming experience!
Poolside breakfast and lunch at the Sanctuary. We absolutely loved their kale salads with shrimp and a glass of rosé, the breakfast omelets and fresh smoothies.
Iced matcha tea lattes, cactus cookies and rose colored / scented / flavored everything at the adorable Růže Cake House right on Main Street.
VIEW FROM ABOVE
Besides the view from the pool 😉 my favorite view from the trip was at the top of Camelback Mountain.
We absolutely loved staying at the Sanctuary Camelback Resort and Spa! Each room was in a casita and felt very modern and stylish. The poolside service, massage packages and grounds were top notch too.
Including Sanctuary, here are our top picks are listed below to find your desert oasis:
Scottsdale is a quick trip from the Pheonix Airport and I found it so easy to navigate using ride share services, skipping the cost and hassle of a rental car. Also, check Southwest Airlines for cheap flights in and out — there are some genuine steals out there!
I really loved my mini trip to Scottsdale and I hope these tips help you to max our your quick trip there. Add any places I should bookmark for next time to the comments section below!
Long weekend trips with friends are some of my favorite! This past weekend my husband and I joined our friends in Banff for a little ski, snowshoe and relaxation.
Each day had a rhythm: get caffeinated, get active, aprés ski and end with a big group dinner. This format worked so well for a big group, where there were different interest areas and schedules. Our group loved skiing at Sunshine and Lake Louise (don’t miss Boomerang!), snowshoeing (my favorite!) and seeing all the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon. Below you’ll also find our favorite bites and sips of the trip.
All in all I was so thoroughly in love with the trip, and can’t wait to come back in the summer or fall! Check out my recommendations and insider tips below, and add your favorite spots in the comments section below.
ADVENTUREAPPEAL’S BANFF WINTER GETWAY GUIDE:
♦ Know Before you go
♦ Get Active
♦ View From Above
♦ Other Hot Spots
♦ How to Get There
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Explore 3 day ski packages to save money and time buying lift tickets.
Activities where there aren’t a lot of operators (like dog sledding) fill up quickly, so be sure to book in advance.
Temperatures in Banff are no joke. Bring lots of layers and glove liners so that you can operate your phone and camera without exposing your digits to negative digit temps.
If you have a big group, consider booking reservations 3-6 weeks in advance. The restaurants tend to be smaller and if you hate waiting in line this advice will be key.
Standing room in bars doesn’t really exist, as establishments are required to have a seat for every person.
Don’t forget your swim suit! Most hotels have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities and there are a few fancy spas you may want to check out too.
In the winter, renting a car isn’t necessary or smart if you aren’t used to icy conditions. Opt for using the Airporter, Banff bus routes, shuttles to the ski lifts and private taxis / cars. If your hotel is in town, there are plenty of walkable options for shopping, dinner and drinks.
Weekends (especially Saturdays) are busiest, so try to tack on a couple of weekdays to your stay if you can.
There are tons of options to stay active while on your winter vacation to Banff, the most obvious choices being skiing and snowboarding. Other favorites from our group were snowshoeing, taking hikes and signing up for group workout classes at the Fairmont (drop in fees are available for classes if you’re staying elsewhere in town).
Through this Ice Walk Hike we got up close an personal with multiple frozen waterfalls, noshed on hot cocoa and cookies and watched the adventurous ice climbers (an activity for next time!).
Our group had the best tour guide, Saul, and we clocked in 3.6 miles along a railed pathway leading to the Upper and Lower Falls. These massive structures look like moments frozen in time. Pun intended!
Snowshoeing at the Continental Divide
About 45 minutes from Banff, we spent the morning snowshoeing through the trees at Kootenay Park.
Snowshoeing is the BEST way to stay warm! It was -10 C, and we all shed layers as we shuffled through the powder along the Continental Divide. A couple of tips for new snowshoers: take small steps and try to stay on top of the snow; don’t worry if you fall, it’s fun making snow angels; and lastly stretch afterwards as you’ll be using stability muscles you might not normally workout.
The Bison Restaurant and Terrace // Upscale feel without being pretentious. Our group rated this the best Bison burger in town and we paired it with Caymus’ sister wine the Conundrum Red. My husband loved the escargot bone marrow appetizer too.
Rundle Lounge at the Fairmont Banff Springs // Seats are first come first serve, so be sure to snag a spot by the windows. Luckily, there are a few rooms and you can either stay for drinks (coffee, tea, cocktails, etc) or a meal.
Park Distillery // This establishment is just 2 years old, and makes all of their spirits using glacier water. Try a custom cocktail (they also have mocktails), a spirit sampler tray or just go for the food and distillery tour.
Whitebark Cafe // My favorite spot for morning almond milk lattes, cheddar chive bacon scones and homemade granola bars.
Wild Flour Bakery // Indulge on super sized breakfast sandwiches with homemade focaccia bread and add peanut butter to the yogurt parfait for a little extra protein and the most PBJ-tastic experience.
VIEW FROM ABOVE
Everywhere you turn in Banff is another gorgeous mountain view. Besides at the top of the slopes, some of the best places to take in the views are via the Banff Gondola and the view from the Fairmont Banff Springs, specifically outside the Rundle Lounge.
We loved taking over the suites at the new Moose Hotel! Everything at the hotel was new and clean, and the heated pools, hot tubs and fire pit all had great views of the mountains. Insider Tip: the pictures on the Moose Hotel’s website don’t do this property justice!
Looking for a family friendly hotel? Opt for the Fairmont Banff Springs, where there are lots of options for kids and adults alike, several restaurants on property, and a collegiate / historic feel. Plus, the views are pretty phenomenal!
Our group landed in shifts so we all met at the Yakima Social Kitchen + Bar (Marriott’s downstairs lounge restaurant) for bites and craft cocktails while we waited for the shuttle van. It sounds odd, but this airport terminal gem is not to be missed.
OTHER HOT SPOTS
Banff really has endless activities: dog sledding, sleigh rides, hot springs, ice skating on Lake Louise, cross country skiing and more!
I hope you enjoy every second of your trip and be sure to comment below with your favorite not to miss wintertime adventures in Banff!
Breckenridge is the perfect combination of charming town and epic skiing and I really can’t recommend it more!
My husband, dog and I piled all our gear in the truck and headed to Colorado from San Diego. It was a long drive, but completely worth it. I also loved seeing the landscape change and the snow on the ground increase as we drove each mile.
We were missing our friends from back east so we rented a big house and had guests come in and out, keeping us laughing and exploring nonstop. Our house was close to the gondola that was walkable to bites, bars and boutiques which satisfied everyone who stayed with us.
The skiing and town of Breckenridge was heaps of fun, but another perk of making your home base there is that it is within quick driving distance of a bunch of other mountains including Vail and Keystone. This makes adventure always on the horizon and no one gets cabin fever.
Below are my highlights, I hope they lead you to fun times at Breck:
NOT TO MISS
The skiing and snowboarding can’t be beat. There are runs for every ski level and classes for newbies and advanced alike. Our group was mixed levels, so we started together in the morning and then split up after our mid-mountain chili break.
Après ski is often my favorite part of a ski trip, where the whole crew unwinds and shares stories from their days. Whatever you’re indulging in — beer, hot toddies or hot cocoa — be sure to partake in the fun!
There are also plenty of activities for times when you aren’t on the mountain. Check out my Top 7 Non-Ski Activities here.
Breckenridge does not disappoint in the restaurant and bar department. We ate through the whole town and these were our top picks:
Kava Coffee kept us caffeinated and happy with lattes and breakfast wraps
We rented a big house in Breckenridge complete with rooms to spare, a fireplace and hot tub — the perfect retreat. It was made all the better by the location, just two blocks from the gondola and one street over from main. Using VRBO we were able to secure a deal and hope to return to this same house next year.
Insider tip: keep location and activities in mind when booking a place in Breckenridge. Our location allowed guests to ski or play in town without having to worry about cars and transportation in the snow.
Like all great ski towns, Breckenridge has no shortage of stores specializing in souvenirs, ski gear and leather goods. Check out my top 5 stores here.
MORE HOT SPOTS / INSIDER TIPS
Book out activities and restaurants around Christmas and New Years well in advance as things book up.
Look into an Epic Pass versus individual ski days if you plan to stay 3 days or more.
If you have non-skiers in your group, have them take the gondola one day to meet you for lunch in the lodge. It will include them more and
Half day classes are perfect for those skiers that need to brush up on skills. Be sure to encourage people in your group so they get the most out of the trip!
Every January / February there is a giant snow sculpture competition located at Riverwalk Center at 150 West Adams Avenue, Breckenridge, CO 80424.
Check out dogsledding and snowshoeing for more mountain fun. Our favorite ski shop, Carvers also rents snowshoeing equipment.
Comment below with your Breckenridge favorite memories and not to miss adventures!
Travel is my ultimate adventure, keeping my adrenaline pumping and eyes wide open trying to soak in as much as possible. Last month I visited my 34th country and am dreaming about the day I move from 6 to 7 continents visited.
One of my favorite recent getaways has been Big Sur — nothing quite compares to the beauty of this place! We had the most incredible visit, taking in this California escape along Route 1. Our days were filled with hiking and relaxing at the pool, and our nights with cocktails and star gazing. Below are some of my favorite memories and travel tips for your next adventure.
NOT TO MISS
Spectacular views from McWay Falls Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This is the quintessential viewpoint for Big Sur and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The trails were very easily marked and you can’t miss the entrance due to the small crowds and parked cars. If you’re lucky there will even be some seals splashing around below.
VIEW FROM ABOVE
Besides our hiking views, we couldn’t get enough of the infinity pool at the Post Ranch Inn, where the pool met the Pacific in the most relaxing atmosphere.
There are so many trails to explore when visiting Big Sur. Our two favorites were the McWay Falls and Ewoldsen Trail. Ewoldsen Trail was a great recommendation from a friend because we pretty much had the trail to ourselves and there were heaps of great views of the mountains and ocean. Insider tip: If you come to a fork in the trail with one path leading to your right (and seemingly straight up) – definitely follow it – as incredible views away just 200 yards up.
Don’t forget to stretch those sore muscles from hiking with a yoga class in a yurt. This was a bucket list item for me, and a great way to start the day.
Coffee at Big Sur Bakery with delicious cinnamon buns.
Grab a glass of wine with lunch at the Nepenthe for the best view in town.
If you don’t stay at the Post Ranch Inn, consider joining for breakfast or a sunset dinner, as the edge of the restaurant is all windows and gives the appearance of floating over the ocean.
We couldn’t recommend the Post Ranch Inn more! Every detail was considered and it was truly a memorable splurge. The outdoor tub was one of my favorite parts of our room where you could relax and look at all the stars. The Post Ranch Inn books up quickly and several other places in town come highly recommended by my friends including: Ventana for luxury, Adobe Motor Lodge at Glen Oaks BigSur where you can rent your own mini cabin and Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn for the romantics.