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Who Wants to Go to Phoenix?

Guest Blogger Amanda Farr discusses her discovery and new love of her home in Arizona

Phoenix is a city I never imagined visiting. However, as I was working towards my MBA someone offered me a job out there and my husband and I said, “why not?” Since then, we have had many visitors so I thought I would put together a few of our favorite places to take people when they come to the city.

The Frank Lloyd Wright house, Taliesin West, is one of my favorite places to take people in Phoenix. It is the house and workspace Frank Lloyd Wright built towards the end of his career. He would spend the winters in Arizona while traveling back to Wisconsin in the summer. The tour of the house and grounds is very interesting in that you not only get to learn more about Frank’s architectural style towards the end of his life, but you also get to learn about how Frank believed in teaching his students, and in how Arizona has changed over the years. The great thing about Taliesin West is that it is still an architecture school which gives it a unique element. The tour lasts about an hour and the house and grounds are close to the city. It is easy to visit this place in the morning before it gets too hot.

The second thing I always recommend for people in Phoenix is a hot air balloon ride. These leave really early in the morning, 5AM, so you definitely need to plan for this. Though I was nervous at first, I was pleasantly surprised at how safe and gentle the whole experience was. After showing up at 5am and signing a bunch of waivers, you head out in a van to the launch site. You can either help the crew blow the balloon up or watch (I watched and took photos). Then you climb into the basket and take off. You float gently above roads, Arizona desert and fields and watch as the city wakes up. You are in the air about an hour before coming down and having a champagne breakfast. It’s a great experience that really shows you a side of Arizona most people don’t get to see.

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Since Arizona is hot in the Summers (and Fall…and Spring) people like to do indoor activities during the hottest part of the day. A museum I always take people to visit is the Musical Instrument Museum. The space has instruments from all over the world and from all time periods. Also, if you are up for a fun concert, you can catch some interesting groups playing at night. Last time we went we saw Feufollet, a southwest Louisiana Cajun band.

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By now, you are probably hungry. If you haven’t ever been to the west, you may want to try In ‘n Out Burger. It is a pretty iconic place that local people love. However, the best cuisine Arizona has to offer hand down is Mexican food. My favorite restaurant is Filiberto’s. It’s not fancy, but it is cheap. You can get two chicken tacos, rice, beans, and a drink for under $10.

If you are in Arizona for a few days, the scenery is spectacular and should definitely be experienced. Inside the city, some of the best hiking can be found at Camelback Mountain. The walk isn’t too strenuous but you definitely need to bring water + a snack. Another hike that offers great views, though is east of the city a bit, is Pinnacle Peak. Again, bring water. Truthfully though, it’s Arizona so you should always bring water wherever you go.

If you are up for some traveling, Flagstaff offers cooler temperatures and a mountain-like climate and snow and it only two hours north of Phoenix. Another fun place people visit to hike is in Sedona. The views are spectacular and the red rocks always amaze.

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Good luck on your visit to Arizona and remember, always bring water!

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Testimonial Tuesday: Carolyn + Allison Walsh

Q: Why did you sign up for your trip? What were you looking to get out of it?

A: My sister and I decided to try a Pack Up and Go trip when we couldn’t decide on a location for our annual “sister’s trip.” We decided it would be fun to try something new, as well as to explore a city we hadn’t visited before. We wanted to spend time together while seeing all that a city had to offer, so we chose “action” and “culture” as our travel styles and then selected a variety of interests, from visiting museums to live music to fitness.

Q: Did you have any hesitations about taking a surprise trip? Were you nervous?

A: Not really! Our only fear was that we might end up somewhere colder than where we already were (we traveled in December and are from the north east), But we stated that somewhere warmer would be preferable so we weren’t too worried.

Q: Where did you guess you were going to travel? Were you surprised by the destination?

A: We had guessed that we would be going to New Orleans, and we ended up going to Nashville! We were surprised!

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Q: Upon discovery of your destination, what were some of your perceptions about the city prior to your trip?

A: We knew that there would be a LOT of live music, as well as good barbecue! Outside of that, we didn’t know much about Nashville.

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Q: What made the trip feel unique and tailored to you?

A: When we completed our survey we had included that we love donuts, and we opened our packet there was an entire insert dedicated to donut shops in Nashville! This alone made the trip worth it to us :) We also felt that the destination city was thoughtfully picked based on our survey selections. We were able to explore museums, local shops/restaurants/breweries, live music, and historical sites. Our packet even included a recommendation for a yoga studio, which we was great because we had indicated fitness as an interest!

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Q: What did you like most about your travel accommodations?

A: Our hotel was centrally located right in downtown Nashville. We were one block away from the Grand Ole Opry, and were able to easily walk to museums and restaurants.

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Q: What was your favorite experience that we recommended for you?

A: Our absolute favorite was the list of donut shops, but we also loved the Johnny Cash museum! Our packet also included a walking tour of local breweries, which made for a really fun afternoon.

Q: What did you discover on your own (not on your itinerary) in your destination that you feel is share-worthy?

A: We happened to be in Nashville when the Porter Flea Market was open for the weekend. We loved perusing all of the local products. We found a local artist who creates wall pieces made from wood from old Nashville homes, we both bought pieces and are reminded of our great trip every time we look at them! The artist recommended a bar to us that was opening that weekend – the Public House in the Urban Cowboy B&B. We got some great drinks here, and also ran into the cast of the TV show Nashville!

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Q: What was your favorite part of your trip?

A: We honestly loved the whole trip, but I think having the recommendations from the local guides in our packet lead us to our favorite places!

Q: If you could do the trip over again, what would you do differently?

A: I’m not sure that we would do anything differently. I’d like to try the road trip version soon!

Q: What did you learn on your trip, or from your trip?

A: We learned to be flexible! We usually plan every last detail of our vacations, so it was hard going into this blind. However, we had so many suggestions in our packet that we were able to leave feeling like we saw and did everything that we would have planned to do if we had known the destination all along! It was nice learning not to worry about trying to plan every last detail before we left!

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Q: How would you describe Pack Up + Go and your experience to your friends and family?

A: I always tell them that it’s the perfect option when they’re looking for a quick getaway. You choose a price that you’re comfortable with and then get to explore a new place with recommendations from locals so you don’t miss anything! I always emphasize the value of the information in the packet – it was all so thoughtful and detailed that our trip would not have been the same without it. Pack Up and Go doesn’t just choose where you’ll be vacationing, they take the time to plan out what you can do during your time away in a way that is very thoughtfully tailored to your own interests.

Q: What would you say to someone who is hesitant to go on a surprise getaway?

A: Just do it! You won’t regret it.

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Ready to rock into your next adventure? Sign up today: http://bit.ly/2ynCWl5

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