Thanksgiving in Phoenix

November 30, 2006 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Travel, Travelogues | Leave a comment

Still catching up.  I will try to proofread better this time. Despite my Chicago report, I DO know the difference between the words road and rode.

This year our family decided to get out of the cold, wet weather and away from the big-production Thanksgiving dinners, and the spend Thanksgiving in Phoenix, Arizona.  This was a good choice from a travel standpoint because it was fairly short flying times for us coming from Seattle and for my sister and brother-in-law coming from Chicago.  We went for 5 nights leaving on a Tuesday, coming back on a Sunday.  Interestingly the airport in both Seattle and Phoenix going there and back were not crowded and the security lines were very short.  Coming back on Sunday we expected the Phoenix airport to be crowded.  I intentionally booked us a flight in the early evening hoping that most of the mid-West and East Coast visitors would have cleared out by then.  The airport was practically empty!  At least the Alaska terminal was.  No line at the security checkpoint what-so-ever.

My Mom found us a great 4-bedroom house with a swimming pool and hot tub in Scottsdale.  The house was a little quirky because the owner was new to the vacation rental business but it was in an excellent location in a good neighborhood.  The pool and hot tub ended up being the highlight of the trip for the kids.  They would have been content never leaving the house.

But we did eventually leave the house.  We stayed off the freeway for a lot of the trip as the traffic in Phoenix, especially around rush hour is terrible so if you go there plan your times that you are flying in and out carefully.

The other highlight of our trip was the Lone Ranger Show at Rawhide Pass.  I’m not sure how Rawhide Pass got on our itinerary as I just looked up Phoenix on Tripadvisor.com and it doesn’t show up in the first 30 or so top attractions for Phoenix?  The Lone Range Show may be an indication why.  It was probably one of the corniest things I’ve ever seen in my life.  But because of that, probably also one of the funniest and definitely most memorable experiences we had in Phoenix.  So even though the whole Raw Hide Pass was pretty cheesy, the Lone Ranger show made it worth it.  Plus that is where Jordan decided he wanted to be a Cowboy.

The other attraction we visited was Castles & Coasters.  They had a very impressive video arcade especially their pinball collection (we didn’t spend time in it.)  They also had a very small amusement park with a decent selection of rides.  This is where the kids got to ride on their first looping roller coaster.  Jordan and I did the free-fall drop ride – it was pretty scary.  They also have an awesome and enormous miniature golf course.  It is actually 4 different courses.

One night we went and saw the Zoo Lights which is when the Zoo puts up a bunch of Christmas lights for the Holidays.  It is similar to what the Wild Animal Park does outside of San Diego.  It was okay.   

In looking at the list of attractions on TripAdvisor.com it appears there is quite a bit there that we have yet to see.  We did manage to make it to the Science Center on the last day.  I’d say this was the best attraction overall for the entire trip and it was free since we belonged to the Pacific Science Center! 

One thing that disappointed me about the trip was the Scottsdale restaurants we went to.  I won’t go into details as your experience at a restaurant can vary greatly depending on what you order, who your server is and how crowded the restaurant is.  The two restaurants I picked from the Zagat guide (which has never failed me until then) fell far short of the rave review they got on Zagat and definitely overpriced.  We did have some of the best margaritas I’ve ever had at a Mexican restaurant Erika & Todd recommended called Frank and Lupes (and the price reflected that) and my dinner was decent, but nothing to write home about.  Your typical decent Mexican food at a reasonable price, in a cutsie little Scottsdale location.  I’d recommend it and go back, but have had considerably better Mexican in Tucson and San Diego.  But then I’m basing my opinion on only one visit.

We deifnitely like the idea of going somewhere warm for Thanksgiving, especially Hawaii.  But Phoenix turned out to be a great choice also.  Overall I like the lower-key (and less traffic) in the smaller Tucson area better, but there’s more to do and see in the Phoenix area it looks like.

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