My First Time in the Southwest: Part 1

This year started out with a trip for my first time in the Southwest and it was seriously the best. Keep reading to find out where we visited and what we did!

It was the beginning of January and I received a call from one of my best friends Courtney who was nervously and excitedly telling me that The Voice auditions were happening over the next month or so. She had promised herself that she would audition this year, but didn’t realize it would be so soon. She was panicking about how to plan a trip to one of the cities. I told her to relax and focus on the music, while I looked into the travel details.

The most affordable option was Phoenix, Arizona. I had found a flight for $150 round trip, but she found one even better that was $87 round trip bundled with an affordable hotel. She booked it and told me that she wished Brian and I could come with her. It was a four day trip, so it was totally doable. After discussing it, we booked the trip. We couldn’t pass up the deal. This ended up being one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever taken.

We arrived in Phoenix late on February 4th and picked up our rental car before driving to the hotel. The moment we stepped out of the airport, I was in love. The warmth of the air was all I needed for a break from the frigid Pittsburgh winter.

We rented our car from Thrifty and didn’t have any issues, despite all of the terrible reviews I had read prior to our trip. Every employee we encountered was so nice.

Once we were checked into our hotel, we decided we wanted to eat and stop at Walmart for a couple of things. We ate at a Mexican restaurant that was totally unsuspecting and oh, so good. There’s nothing better than authentic Mexican food.

When we got back, Courtney wanted to go out (bless her 22-year-old energy). We took an Uber to a club in downtown Phoenix that I can’t remember the name of. It had a rooftop area which was neat, but it was really small bar/club. Next time, we’ll check out Tempe for that kind of scene.

The next morning, I woke up before my alarm because it would have 9AM back in Pittsburgh. I got ready before anyone else was awake and called Courtney on my way down to breakfast at the hotel. I was actually impressed with the breakfast food available and they were continuously restocking. There was a waffle station where you made your own waffles and that was my favorite.

After breakfast, Courtney got ready for her audition while Brian and I went to check out Scottsdale. The drive there was absolutely beautiful. Deep blue skies and at one point there were mountains on one side of the road and the city on the other in the distance.

We walked around the different shops in Scottsdale and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine. I want to go back and explore more!

The next thing on our agenda was taking Courtney to her audition. Once Brian and I dropped her off, we headed back towards our hotel and made a stop at Maria’s Frybread & Mexican Food for lunch. Once again, authentic and delicious. The employee working the counter was also extremely nice.

When we got back to the hotel, we got ready for our hike at Camelback Mountain. For whatever reason, I didn’t put into my GPS the exact location of a trail, so I let Brian search for one. Of course, he chose the hardest trail: Echo Canyon Trail.

Within the first two minutes of walking up the pathway, my heart was pounding. I knew I was in for a difficult hike, but I didn’t realize how difficult until we reached the first section of (basically) rock climbing. If I remember correctly, we hiked about a third of the trail, but unfortunately did not make it to the summit. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of hike haha.

Want to test your relationship? Hike a mountain, seriously. Regardless of how difficult the hike was, the views were absolutely amazing.

When we started making our way back down the trail, the sun was just beginning to set. We got to experience the golden hour. It was absolutely beautiful.

After we picked up Courtney, we found out that she didn’t make it to the second round of auditions, but she was totally okay with that! She was glad she got to have the experience, but learned that she doesn’t want to take that route again. This also meant that she could go to Sedona with us the next day 😉

For dinner, we ate at Bobby Q. We were pretty much the only people there. When we walked in, we were concerned that they were closed. The manager excitedly welcomed us and our server was absolutely amazing. We sat outside on the patio that was beautifully decorated. Since our server didn’t have other tables to wait on, he hung out with us periodically and we talked about Arizona and our lives.

This is where I need to mention something… every. single. person. I met in Phoenix was so incredibly friendly. I can’t say enough good things about the people we met there. I think we had one Uber driver who was kinda weird, but that’s normal for Uber drivers. It makes me want to move to Phoenix, like, now. Why are you all so friendly!? It has to be the constant sunshine.

Anyways, back to our dinner… The BBQ was incredible and I highly recommend going there!

After dinner, we decided to head back to the hotel and drink two bottles of champagne to celebrate Courtney’s audition. I’m incredibly proud of her for auditioning! One tip of advice: follow your dreams…even if it means you “fail”, because it really isn’t failure, it’s just another sign of which direction to go.

Check out Part 2 for our day trip to Sedona


  1. Hanna Soto
    March 28, 2018

    Awesome post, Jessica! I love the photos you included. I’m from the midwest and have never been before, but totally want to go! I’m a little nervous to go hiking, but that view makes it seem like the struggle was totally worth it.

    1. Jessica
      March 28, 2018

      Thank you, Hanna! I highly recommend checking out Arizona. It is absolutely beautiful. Hiking was totally worth it for the view 🙂 Part 2 of this post will be up next week with pictures from my hike in Sedona. It was incredible and terrifying haha

      1. Hanna Soto
        March 29, 2018

        Awesome, I can’t wait to check it out! “Incredible and terrifying”- haha love that!!

  2. […] This post is Part 2 of my first time in the Southwest. If you haven’t read the first part, go here! […]


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