4 Day Golf and Hiking Arizona Itinerary

We often gift a family vacation rather than Christmas gifts to our kids. Sometimes the trips happen right away. Other times they are delayed. On Christmas morning 2020, we wrapped a few clue gifts for our kids to unwrap. We wrapped a cactus, a small toy airplane, and other small hints. Eventually they guessed we were headed to Arizona.

We spent Christmas Day packing to fly out the next morning. Our main goals on this trip were golfing and hiking.

Day 1: Fly to Phoenix, stop at In and Out for burgers, and climb Camelback Mountain to burn off the burgers. Ok Camelback was no joke. It was HARD! I was thinking it would be a hike, but it was definitely a climb. Reaching the top felt like such an accomplishment though.

Next we headed to our Airbnb in Cave Creek, which was just north of Phoenix. This rental was fabulous situated on acreage in the desert with a pool and beautiful views. I loved that you could walk right out of the house onto desert walking trails. I don’t have many pictures, but check out the listing pictures. It was gorgeous!

Cave Creek was such a fun spot to stay. It’s a true Western town. The town was super cute and fun, filled with neat shops and restaurants. I also liked staying just outside of Phoenix surrounded by the desert. Arizona in December was lovely.

We’d walk out of our rental and encounter coyotes and javelinas.

Day 2: Day trip to Sedona, AZ. This was a slightly last minute decision after talking to a friend who lives in Arizona. She convinced me that we would regret leaving AZ without spending time in Sedona. She was absolutely right! It was worth the 2 hour drive north.

We started after breakfast and went straight for a hike. We did the West Fork Oak Creek Trail, recommended by my friend. My boys love hikes with some sort of challenge, adventure, or risk. Otherwise, they call it a walk in the woods. This hike had beautiful views, but what they really enjoyed were the multiple water crossings which took quite a bit of concentration.


After the hike, we explored the charming town of Sedona.

Lunch was at the Hideaway House with the most amazing view from our table.

Day 3: We had a hot air balloon ride booked. However, due to windy conditions, our trip was cancelled. They had no availability to rebook us, which was disappointing. We spent the morning exploring Old Town Scottsdale  followed by a late afternoon round of golf at Starfire Golf Club.

This picture is one of my favorites. It was completely unposed, but each person’s expression captures their golf personalities.

It was hard not to take pictures at every hole because the views were simply stunning no matter where you turned.

We chose Starfire because it is a Youth On Course club. With a Youth On Course membership, kids play for $5 a round at golf clubs around the country. It’s truly incredible. At the time, all 3 of our boys were under 19 years old and had memberships, which only cost $20 a year. So playing golf was a very inexpensive vacation activity. To this day our boys say playing golf in Arizona is one of their top travel experiences. Having this membership has allowed us to play golf on several of our vacations.

Day 4: Hiking in Cave Creek. Hiking in the desert is a completely different hiking experience. When we arrived at the trailhead, we met the nicest couple working the gate area. They equipped us with trail maps and suggestions, even pointing out things for us to look out for along the hike that we wouldn’t know otherwise.

We learned about the Teddy Bear Cactus. I wrote an entire post about it here.

After our morning hike and lunch, we headed to Rancho Mañana Golf Club. This course was spectacular. After golf we ate at Tonto’s Bar and Grille  at the course. It was the coolest atmosphere, incredible service, and delicious food. The perfect end to a fabulous 4 day hike/golf Arizona trip.

Typically our vacations are 7 to 10 days. It was a nice change of pace to plan for a shorter trip. We can’t wait to go back to Arizona again!

Midwest 7 Day Road Trip Itinerary – Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota

In 2019 we embarked on a Midwest road trip from Omaha, Nebraska to Chicago, IL, to Sheboygan, WI to the North Shore of Minnesota. Today I’m sharing all the details with links to where we stayed, ate, and played.

Day 1-3: Chicago

Day 1: We hit the ground running and walked all over the city. We stayed at a Marriott and never moved our car. Walking or taking Uber everywhere was much easier.

We made our way to The Bean. We are suckers for the tourist pictures everyone takes.

For dinner we ate at Revival Food Hall where we met up with old friends. If you have followed my blog for a long, long time then you will recognize this face. Revival was so fun and perfect with food court type selections for everyone plus games and entertainment. A low cost meal option was nice too.

Day 2: Architecture Boat Tour River Cruise on Chicago’s First Lady. This was an absolute highlight of our trip. I have never taken so many pictures of buildings. The tour guide was fabulous and we learned things about these buildings and the history we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. I’m not one for group tours or anything guided. However, this was excellent, and I’m so glad we didn’t miss it!

Lunch was at Portillo’s. It was worth all the hype. Our boys loved eating hot dogs with all the unique toppings you don’t see often. Or ever.

The Field Museum was the next stop after lunch. If you love museums, you’d enjoy the Field Museum. We flew through it because none of us are big museum lovers. However, you could spend hours here, especially if you have younger children. I’m still glad we stopped in.

Navy Pier was next where we enjoyed a fun drink and snack at Bubba Gumps. It’s very touristy, but still a fun experience if you’ve never been. Both Navy Pier and Bubba Gumps! If you are a Forest Gump fan, you have to eat at Bubba Gumps at least once in your life. When you need service, you place a Stop Forest Stop sign on your table. If you are all good, keep the sign on Run Forest Run. The peel and eat shrimp soaked in garlic butter is our favorite.

You can’t visit Chicago without having pizza. Dinner was at Giordano’s South Loop.  It was everything you think a Chicago style pizza should be.

Day 3: Our final day in Chicago started with a walk to breakfast at Yolk. Breakfast might be our favorite meal so on each trip we try to find at least one or two great spots for a memorable meal. This picture would be the breakfast my middle son, Zachary, chose. Full of sugar.

We took in an afternoon Chicago Cubs game. I’ve never been more impressed by a stadium. Wrigley Field was so clean and had an old, classic look, yet felt so updated. I don’t even remember who they played, but I loved every second of being at that field.

We packed in everything we wanted with 3 days in Chicago. Next stop Sheboygan, WI.

Days 4-6: Sheboygan, WI

The drive from Chicago to Sheboygan is only a 3 hour drive. So we timed our drive in order to visit the Jelly Belly Factory on the way north. This was such a fun, quirky stop. I’ve recently learned this factory closed. So sad as it was so much fun!

Had we known how much we’d love the Airbnb and Sheboygan, we would’ve stayed more than 2 days. This was a nice change of pace from the city.

The house was spacious and spotless. The views of Lake Michigan were incredible. You walked right out the back door through the yard onto your own private beach. Lake Michigan is impressive. I describe it as a lake that behaves like the ocean.

The house was perfect for our family. My husband loved the record player and selection of vinyls. The boys loved the loft with binoculars and lots of board games, particularly Monopoly. I really dislike that game. They started a game that continued for the full 2 days we stayed here. My favorite part of the house was the backyard and beach. It was so nice to grill, sit around the fire, and watch the moon over the lake. This rental goes down as one of my favorites of all time.

Day 4 we simply enjoyed the home, grilled, and played at the beach.

Day 5 we explored Sheboygan. We walked the paths and enjoyed the views at Blue Harbor Resort. The South Pier District was so quaint! We played mini golf at Harbor Pointe, ate ice cream at South Pier Parlor, kayaked, and simply enjoyed the stroll along the pier.

Next we headed to Kohler State Park and raced up and down the dunes. It was an absolute blast.

Days 6-7: Lake Superior, Minnesota, and the North Shore

Day 6: We woke and began the 6 hour drive before dawn. We started our Minnesota portion exploring in Duluth, MN at the southern tip of Lake Superior. Our first stop was the Lake Superior Maritime Museum. This was informative and interactive. We all enjoyed it.

We stopped at pullouts along the drive enjoying the wildness of Lake Superior. We spent the night in Two Harbors. We wished we had not stopped here for the night. To do it over we would have driven straight up and stayed 2 nights at our final destination, Grand Marais.

Day 7: Gooseberry Falls State Park and Black Beach were both complete treats. We hiked through Gooseberry. It was beautiful. Black Beach was our favorite. We played in the sand and climbed rocks. We slowed down and took it all in.

We made it to Grand Marais, the most adorable harbor village. After checking into our hotel at The Best Western Plus Superior Inn (which we loved because the rooms came with incredible views of the lake), we hit the pavement once again to explore all the town had to offer. I quickly found an adorable bookstore, Drury Lane Books. I almost never travel without visiting a bookstore. Or several.

We ate dinner on the rooftop of one of the many restaurants and went back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before driving home the next day.

This was a perfect 7 day road trip and I wouldn’t add or take away a single day. My only change to what we did is that I would skip staying in Two Harbor.

The fun is in the discovery and the exploration. The memories you make traveling with the people you love last a lifetime.