On Labor Day weekend we usually avoid venturing out of our street. We don’t trust the crazy traffic. We dislike how busy everything gets and how prices go up. This year we decided to do things differently….
For who lives in Phoenix, you can probably relate to the fact that after 3 full months of triple digits, there comes a point where you are done with the heat and you need to find refuge in a cooler place for a couple of days.
Where did we go?
We were lucky to find last-minute Airbnb in Prescott which didn’t charge an arm and a leg. We did not want to travel too far. However we were 100% sure to find cooler weather there, since we were closer to Flagstaff. I actually went out shopping for extra long pants for the kids!
Wishful thinking!!! It was not in the triple digits but still in the 90s! Mornings and evenings were cooler but daytime was still burning hot. Anyway we were out-of-town, so why not make the most of it?
We have recently started preferring vacation rentals to hotels. It is so much easier with 3 kids, because we don’t have to go out for every meal. Best of all, we can put them to bed and actually have an adult conversation until late at night!
When picking a house, this is the order in which I check out the information about it. Based on the options we get, we then decide which house works best for our needs:
- Price: I try to get an idea of what the prices in the area are. I want to stay in a decent price range, not too cheap but not even luxury expensive.
- Photos: I love when they have many photos because I can see better what the property looks like. If there is too much decor or stuff in general I definitely avoid it because with a toddler there could potentially be many broken objects by the end of the vacation. Plus I don’t want to spend all my time hiding everything!
- Location: depending on where we are going, we like to be central or far out.
- Reviews: opinions are very subjective, so I do read them but always keep into mind that this is someone else experience and opinion. Of course if everyone writes down that the place is dirty, I will keep that into consideration!
With this property, I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t read carefully the description. I didn’t realize that the owners lived on the property as well This was ok other than for the fact that we couldn’t lock our doors when going out. Another aspect I didn’t notice from the photos was that there were windows EVERYWHERE. The problem was that there were no curtains! We were surrounded by houses so at night there was not much privacy!!!!
Before leaving for any trip, I look up the main things to do with kids. I don’t want to plan everything beforehand. We do like to improvise and see where the day brings us, but I like to have an idea what are the possible options of things to do so I can always propose them. For this trip our main goal was to start our kids to some hiking adventures. So we were going to spend our time into nature.
Hiking around Watson Lake
Due to the house full of windows, we were up bright and early. We took advantage of this, had a good breakfast, packed up enough lunch for 10 people and started off our hiking day at Watson Lake. This lake is about 4 miles from Prescott. It is distinguished by huge granite boulders with protruding vegetation that surrounds a very large body of water. People can go fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, camping and day picnicking.
We had this crazy idea of walking all around the lake. We did not make it all the way! We did enjoy walking part of it and seeing how the vegetation changed. We went from grassy areas, to woods to the boulders, it was pretty impressive.
The best part of the trail was that we could do it with the stroller. Luca actually liked to walk, until at one point he got tired and fell asleep. During his nap the four of us got to enjoy lunch in a lovely quiet spot that we found along the way.
Watching a paramotor fly in Chino Valley
In the afternoon our landlord invited us to watch him take off with his paramotor in Chino Valley. Mass has been a paraglider for many years, but he hasn’t been flying for a while now. Any excuse to play with a wing for a bit, is ok for him. We drove for a while until we got to a field off the main road. While the two friends were preparing their gear, my husband enjoyed preparing the wing and testing the wind. This is one of those typical moments that we love because it is unexpected but always enriching in some way. Our kids enjoyed watching their dad play with the wing. They had fun running after the two guys once they took off and started flying around us.
Enjoying the sunset at Goldwater Lake
Every beautiful day needs to end with a beautiful sunset. I had been told that Goldwater Lake was definitely the place to be!
This lake is a reservoir formed by a dam on Bannon Creek. It is smaller than the lake we went to in the morning However it has great views and perfect waters for canoeing and kayaking and features a great hiking trail. Lake Goldwater is a little over four miles from downtown Prescott. The drive to get there is also very impressive. You have great views on the valley as well as downtown.
Walking around Prescott market
That first day really wiped us out. It had been a while since the last time we spent so much of our day outside and although we loved it the next day the start was a little rougher. We did sleep in also with the sun coming in our house very early!
While we were driving towards our next trail, we got sidetracked by a little Sunday market in Prescott downtown. Of course I convinced Mass that we should stop and take a walk. We definitely needed to browse around and maybe get a little morning snack. How many of you would have done the same?!
While we were there, we enjoyed some music, good iced coffee, cool vendors (some with really creative things for sale!) and a little peek in the heart of Downtown Prescott.
Hiking Lynx Trail
After our little distraction we headed to our next stop: Lynx Lake. However as mentioned earlier, we like to change our plans as we go……
Once we reached the site, we realized that we had seen enough lakes and decided to go a different way. We found a trail in the woods. A change of scenery was defiantly needed! In this case the stroller was definitely a no no, but the trail wasn’t hard. Actually it was a lot of fun for all the kids. Luca loved to jump in the little streams along the way. Cosimo of course decided that it would be really cool to throw rocks. The bigger they were, the better! Emma apparently was so tired that she needed a good stick to help her get to the end of the trail!
Enjoying sunset at Lake Willow
Of course also this day had to end with another beautiful sunset! For some reason I was drawn to the water for this trip. However this time we headed to Willow lake to end our day.
This lake is very close to Watson Lake. Just like the others we visited, also Willow Lake is an ideal place for fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and bird-watching. Or like in our case just sitting on the rocks of Granite Dells and enjoying the sunset. I feel like there is no need for words the photos speak for themselves……
Final stop to Montezuma Castle
Our lovely weekend was over, but not before stopping to Montezuma Castle.
Be aware! When you explain to your kids that you are going to take them to see a castle built up in the rocks and you think you are telling them the coolest thing ever, they will find a way of being disappointed because you can’t actually go in it!
For who don’t know anything about this amazing place, let me explain. Montezuma Castle is in the Verde Valley of central Arizona. About 50 miles south of Flagstaff. It is the remains of a settlement inhabited by the Sinagua people from the early 1100s to around 1425. Here are a few interesting facts:
- Montezuma Castle was a cliff dwelling consisting of about 20 rooms, housing about 50 people. Residents used long ladders to reach their high-rise homes.
- Until 1951, visitors to Montezuma Castle National Monument also used ladders to get access to the dwelling. However, thousands of tourists trekking through the site began to wear down the adobe structure. Ladders were removed and visitors cannot access the castle anymore.
- The ruin faces south, a characteristic of most cliff dwellings that allows them to catch and keep as much warmth from the sun as possible.
- The cliff face into which the structure is built consists of a whitish, fairly soft limestone that has weathered to produce many alcoves and caves, many of which have been walled off to create living or storage spaces.
- For unknown reasons, the Sinagua abandoned its habitat in the 1400s. Maybe they had over extended agricultural pressure on the land. Or maybe there was a prolonged drought or most could have been eliminated through conflict with ancient Yavapai Indians.
Our short trip out-of-town was awesome! We spent time together, enjoyed the fresh air, slept a little, saw new places, saw some beautiful sunsets. But to confirm what our fear was of traveling on such a big holiday, we did spend an extra 2 hours in the car to get home………..
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