Winter Day Trips In Arizona

In Arizona, you can see a bit of everything. Phoenix offers fine dining and big-city comforts. Flagstaff has cool snowy getaways. Wickenburg brims with true cowboy adventure. Sonoita pours fine wine. And the back roads in between beckon with romance-kindling adventure.

Sunrise in Wickenburg

Wickenburg is a quick and painless drive from the Phoenix area — jump on U.S. 60 and head northwest. Really, it is a perfect destination for an early-morning sunrise hike. I suggest the Hassayampa River Preserve, which is a lush stream-side oasis. I also have enjoyed hiking Vulture Peak trail. It is well maintained and a relatively easy hike. The trail is filled with interesting rock formations, plus Saguaro, Cholla, Palo Verde, Mesquite, Ocotillo, and Jojoba. Sunrise should be gorgeous from either location.

After your sunrise hike, get breakfast at one of the many cafes in downtown Wickenburg. Just pick one — I haven’t stumbled on a bad one yet. From here, amble over to the Desert Caballeros Museum or a dude ranch like Rancho de Los Caballeros. Wickenburg has more dude ranches than any other city in the U.S.

Arizona Jeep Tours

azThis stretches the idea of a day trip. Technically, it’s a tour, but the best type of day trip is one where neither of you have to drive. Instead, you can snuggle up in the backseat and let Arizona Jeep Tours’ Fred Amator do the hard work. Spend a day learning about Arizona history, geology, and desert wildlife. Pick from five different trips — personally, I took the Castle Hot Springs trip and learned much about the area. The two of you will have a new appreciation for Arizona, and neither has to worry about arguments over who will drive or why you got lost. Leave the maps and the GPS to Fred. All trips are spun with the good-old-boy charm of a real Arizona native. You can arrange a meeting with Fred on his side of town or yours.

Sledding and a Snowball Fight

It may seem strange to my friends on the East Coast, but sometimes, you just want to feel cold, which is why we have Northern Arizona just a short trip away. Much like Northern California is wholly different from Southern California, so is true in Arizona. There have been years on record where Flagstaff was the snowiest city in the country. Yes, a city in Arizona was the snowiest! Wing Mountain Snow Play Area is an easy spot to find and filled with good sledding. You can rent a sled at almost any general store on the way there. Truth be told, if you head toward Snow Bowl Ski Resort from downtown Flagstaff, there are plenty of good spots to stop, have a snowball fight, then build a snowman.

Picnic in Arizona’s Little Tuscany

The rolling grassy hills of Elgin and Sonoita are something to behold and decidedly un-Arizona. You’re rolling down the I-10 in Creosote Desert, but when you exit for Sonoita, suddenly everything changes. I smile and feel a bit like I’ve been transported to Tuscany every time I take that exit. Speaking of Italy, grab a bottle at Lightning Ridge Cellars. They specialize in Italian-style wines and craft earthy reds that scream out for good food, particularly the Montepulciano. Next, head to one of Arizona’s original wine makers, Sonoita Vineyards, for a picnic. Resting atop a beautiful hill, it’d be a great place to pop the big question or even stage your own wedding. In the meantime, they sell picnic food, or you can bring your own. Throw out a blanket or use one of their tables.

Horses, Hiking, and Hohokam

Simply said, chicks dig horses. So a day of riding at White Tanks Riding Stables is an easy way to keep the woman in the relationship happy. But let’s pretend that maybe one of you is allergic to horses (sorry about that). Well, the White Tank Mountains offer a variety of trails and excellent wildlife viewing. Enjoy Arizona’s mild winter, and feel fit. Keep a lookout for rattlesnakes, deer, coyotes, mountain lions, Gila monsters, and more. Also, the White Tank regional library offers plenty of books on the Southwest. The library has huge windows and a view of the entire valley. It would be a great spot to hit up on a rare rainy day. Just find a corner seat and snuggle up with a good book on the Hohokam or Arizona’s native cacti.

Tips If Your Flight Is Cancelled

flightCancelled flights aren’t as uncommon as you think. Anything from mechanical problems, unfavorable weather, or other factors can lead to a flight cancellation. Take a deep breath and relax. What’s so bad about an extra day of vacation? 🙂

1. Reschedule your flight.

Check to see if you can reschedule the next flight out with your airline, or see if other airlines have any open seats for that day. You should have some options, but if not, reschedule to the next flight out the following morning.

2. Check if the airline is offering you a free hotel stay.

This varies and depends on your situation. Last year when my flight from Germany to the USA was cancelled, Lufthansa offered a free hotel stay with dinner, breakfast, and transportation included.

3. Express your concern

Believe it or not, letting the people at the ticket counter know about the inconvenience of your situation (ex.: having to work the next day) could score you an upgraded ticket on your next flight. I was upgraded to business class on my rescheduled flight for no extra cost AND I got free chocolate. Now that’s great customer service on Lufthansa’s part!

4. Don’t stress

If you’re confused, lost, or overwhelmed, ask for help! Remember, you will make it to your destination. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the airport, then stay there — it has everything you need and more. If you do leave, make sure you’re back early before your flight.

Does Your Other Half Need Convinced To Travel?

So you are ready to cast off the chains of modern life and hit the road, but your better half is less enthusiastic. How do you get them onboard with the whole long term travel or living abroad thing? First, be honest and up front with them. If going abroad is a dream or passion of yours, tell them so. They should be supportive. Help them to understand that long term traveling is feasible, and that many other couples have done it.

Second, compromise. Talk about what your partner’s dreams and goals are in life. Then make a life plan that incorporates the things most important to you both. Maybe after your time living abroad you will come back and do something your partner has been wanting to do (get married, buy a home, have a family, move closer to family, etc.).

seaAs you plan your time abroad, make sure that whatever you are going to do, your partner will enjoy it too and won’t just be miserable the whole time. If your dream of spending a year without modern convenience in Timbuktu living with a tribe of naked hunter gatherers isn’t your significant other’s idea of a good time, you’re going to need a plan B. Perhaps you could do some volunteering with your significant other in a more modern city with more of the creature comforts they are used to, and then you can go hang out with your naked tribesmen on your own for a couple of weeks.

In the end, if you try and keep the other person in mind you can have a great experience and will find that the hardships and difficulties you sometimes encounter will bring the two of you closer as you learn to depend on each other. Traveling with your significant other will result in some epic arguments over such vital issues as someone using the last of the toothpaste, forgetting the water bottle, or other equally dire occurrences. There are likely to be a few long bus rides where neither of your will deign to give the other the satisfaction of speaking to each other. But in the end you will make up and move on. After a while you will learn how to travel together and survive, and will grow much closer than you would have if you had stayed home. And the memories and experiences you have shared in your travels will bind you two together for a lifetime.