A Month-to-Month Guide to Making Family Memories

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it's easy to get caught up in routines and forget to prioritize quality time with our loved ones. However, building lasting memories as a family is essential for fostering strong connections and creating a sense of unity. This month-to-month guide is designed to inspire families to embark on a journey of intentional togetherness throughout the year, with each month offering unique opportunities for creating cherished moments. Feel free to change things up and add your own personal family flare to it!



The Ultimate Safari Packing List for East Africa: What We Packed for 3 Weeks in Africa in a Backpack!

I must confess, I spent far longer thinking about what to pack for our three-week long safari adventure in East Africa than I would like to admit. I was very intentional about every item we packed, because it felt like we had to be. This was my third trip to East Africa and the thing that I love about it is that it is so diverse. There are beaches and mountains and savannahs and everything in between! On this trip, we went gorilla trekking in Uganda, took many safari game drives in parks in both Uganda and Tanzania and spent relaxing beach days in Zanzibar. And we did it all by packing in a backpack since we had several small airplane flights we were told limited bag sizes and weight {more on that!}. I think in the end, with three trips under my belt, that this is the ultimate safari packing list. It will cover everything that you need for your bucket list trip so you will have everything that you need and you will be able to pack in a carry on!



Books I'd Recommend to Friends

I'm a voracious reader. Always have been. I love our local public library. And honestly, it doesn't have to be my current local library, I just love all local libraries! I have lived in a handful of different places in my life and I can distinctly remember every single library in every single place I've lived. Being surrounded by books makes me happy. If I hear a conversation about books, I have the hardest time not diving in. I take notes when people tell me what they are reading and I jump in and share my favorites too. This end of the year book recap has become a reader favorite here at RachelTeodoro.com and I look forward to sharing my favorites with you. I'm sharing all the books I read this year, and breaking them down into categories. I even made a running list of books the were recommended to me, but that I just thought were meh, so you can use your own discretion on those! So get out that list and take some notes...you'll find some good ones to read in the coming year. I promise!



Underrated Destinations to Put on Your Must Travel List

The world is full of breathtaking destinations, each with its own unique charm and allure, waiting to be explored by adventurous travelers. While popular tourist hotspots are undeniably enchanting, there's a whole realm of lesser-known treasures that often go unnoticed. These underrated destinations hide in plain sight, waiting for intrepid travelers to uncover their secrets and create unforgettable memories. You're going to want to take notes!



Gifts Teens and Young Adults Really Want!

As the holiday season starts to quickly approach, maybe you are starting to break out in a cold sweat because you aren't quite sure what to get the teens and young adults in your life. They are notoriously hard to shop for with their ever-evolving tastes and preferences. Trends change at a lightning-face pace and something on their wish list last year that was a hot item you couldn't get your hands on, has likely fallen out of fashion! I know I've been shopping with my teens before and something I thought they'd like they turn their nose up at. I honestly feel so out of touch. Teens are humbling like that. But fear not, I'm going to dive into some fantastic gift ideas to help ensure that you choose presents that will bring joy and delight this holiday season. I've got you covered with a wide range of gifts that will help you be a hero with those teens and young adults in your life!



15 Ways to Spend Quality Time with Your Young Adult Children During the Holidays

My three kids are spread out all over, but I can almost always count on the holiday season being a time when we can all be together, if only just for a day or two. It's important to make the most of the time we do have with our young adult children. It's important to remember that we worked hard as parents to launch our kids and it's important to remember that they are busy creating lives and traditions of their own, but it's still important to make the most of the time we have together. Here are 15 creative and meaningful ways parents can spend quality time with their young adult children during the holidays.



Advent Calendar Gift Ideas for Teens and Young Adults

As the holiday seasons starts to draw near, you can get a real sense of anticipation filling the air. For many, this is a time that is synonymous with cherished traditions, gathering with loved ones, and a time for togetherness. As our children grow into teenagers and young adults, these traditions might start looking different. The toys they once wanted are replaced by different desires, and the cozy family moments can be elusive when they're away at college or starting their own family traditions. In the midst of these traditions, one tradition that can bridge that gap and continue to foster the holiday spirit is the advent calendar. 

An Advent calendar is more than a simple countdown to Christmas; it's a ritual that helps to pull the magic of the holiday season together. I've noticed a real takeover of the Advent calendar tradition with teens and young adults in the past few years, and this post is going to explore a fun new spin on the holiday tradition of counting down the days. Even if your teens or young adults aren't home with you, they can still be a part of the holiday tradition. You're sure to find something for everyone in this list!

advent calendar gift ideas for teens and young adults


Removing a Stuck Wedding Ring: DIY Methods and Ring Saving Tips

Even for the least sentimental person, there is a lot of symbolism and emotional significance to a wedding ring. It may just be the only piece of jewelry you wear, and it's likely been a part of you for many many years. Which is why, like me, you might find yourself with a very stuck wedding ring that can no longer be removed! The prospect of cutting it off can be daunting, and you might not have to! I've got various DIY methods and ring-saving tips that you can try to safely remove your ring, before you need to reach the last resort of cutting it off. 



The Ultimate Guide to Using a Cricut Machine

Cricut machines are such a versatile tool to help empower you as a crafter and DIY enthusiast and to help you bring your creative visions to life with ease. Whether you're a seasoned crafter or a beginner looking to dive into the world of personalized crafting, learning how to get started with your Cricut machine is the key to unleashing your creativity. I've had various cutting machines since 2010, and there is always a learning curve. And of course, there's always a chance to learn more even if you already think you know what you are doing! So dive in with me and check out this ultimate guide to using your Cricut cutting machine!



How to Celebrate the Holidays on a Budget

I know, I know, it feels a little early to start writing about the holidays. But friends, it's the perfect time to start thinking about the holidays. Especially if you want to celebrate without falling into the trap of overspending. I'm here to show you that you don't need to break the bank to have a memorable holiday season with your loved ones. You can be generous and frugal all at the same time! I'll be sharing creative tips and ideas on how to celebrate the holidays in a budget-friendly way without compromising the holiday cheer! The secret is to start planning now!

how to celebrate the holidays on a budget


How to Find Cheaper Produce

If you’ve been around the produce section of your local grocery store, then it’s not a secret that food has gotten outrageously expensive! Getting inexpensive produce is not as impossible as it might seem, and you can avoid paying full price for the fruits and vegetables on your meal plan. Here is how to find cheaper produce no matter when you’re looking!



A Beginner's Guide to a DIY Bathroom Update

You know how everyone on those TV house hunting shows is looking for an open concept home? You know, one that has flow and doesn't feel boxed in with small rooms breaking everything up? Well, those are great. But when it comes time to remodel or replace something, you often have to replace all the things since one thing flows to the other. That was the case when we recently remodeled our kitchen

We had a half bathroom downstairs that needed updating and it was shockingly easier {and less expensive!} to DIY than we thought. In fact, I took over the majority of the DIY on my own to save money. This isn't the first time I've updated a bathroom. In fact, they are pretty darn easy spaces if you are just getting your feet wet in DIY. I've got a full beginner's guide on how to update your space without breaking the bank. Even if you aren't touching the rest of the home, this will give you a quick refresh that will help you gauge the level of your abilities if you want to progress on in DIY projects. Are you ready?

beginners guide to diy bathroom remodel


Fall Dog-Friendly Fun in the San Juan Islands

I went decades living in the greater Pacific Northwest not ever visiting the San Juan Islands, but after my first visit, now I can't get enough! This time, we are taking our two favorite furry family members to enjoy this beautiful island in the fall. I will inevitably get some confusion about the San Juan's. Many people will assume that we are headed to Puerto Rico. The San Juan Islands are actually nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and offer an incredibly picturesque destination for travelers wanting to experience the natural beauty of the islands. The islands are often hopping with visitors in the summer, but the fall season offers the chance to experience a quieter, more intimate charm that is perfect for travelers with four-legged companions! Come explore San Juan Island with me {and Milo and Frankie!}. 

fall fun in the san juan islands


Exploring the Hidden Gem: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

I recently took a cross country road trip with my youngest son to get him settled into his new home in Grand Forks, North Dakota where he is studying commercial aviation. When I was chatting with friends about our trip, I had at least a handful of people tell me that we needed to make it a point to stop at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Had we not had the National Park game, I would not have even known there was a national park in North Dakota, let alone one named after a president {the only one!}. I think the general consensus of those who told me about the park was that they didn't have high {or any} expectations and then they got there and they were blown away! After taking a detour to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, I'd have to agree. This is THE most underrated National Park that literally no one seems to know about! I've never had so many wild animal encounters at a National Park, seen such diverse and rugged landscape and in the end felt like I stumbled on a true hidden gem! You are going to want to read this and then book a trip immediately before the secret gets out!



DIY Projects You Can Tackle Yourself

Whether you’ve just purchased a new home or your home of 10+ years could use some sprucing up, it can be overwhelming sometimes. If the list of house projects is starting to give you anxiety, this is your opportunity to tackle some DIY projects, even if you feel like the least handy person around the home. You don’t need someone to paint your walls or tile a backsplash! With patience and a little time, you can tackle all of these yourself! Making practical and stylish additions to your home can feel intimidating. But these DIY projects are simple enough that you can tackle them yourself!

diy projects you can do yourself


Sending Your Child Out of State to College: A Comprehensive Guide from a Mom Who's Done it 3 Times!

Sending your child off to college is a huge milestone in not only the parents life but in their life as well. That toddler who wouldn't let go of you leg and screamed bloody murder when you left them with a sitter, now wants to go to college in a whole different state. It's a lot! As a mom of three, each of my kids chose a school out of state for various reasons. I've learned a few things through the years and have a few tips to offer parents who find themselves trying to help their students navigate their next decisions. With careful planning and consideration, this transition can be a good and rewarding experience for both you and your child. In this blog post, I'll discuss important factors to consider before your child chooses a college out of state and offer practical tips on packing and preparing for their departure and how to stay connected with your kids, even when they are hundreds or thousands of miles away.

sending child out of state to college parents guide


Fall Finds for a Cozy Home: Transition Between Summer and Fall

Fall is a great time to really start to focus on home. There's a cozy factor I think people fall in love with as the weather starts to turn and there is a real desire to take advantage of the cooler weather to feather your nest so to speak and get ready to enjoy being inside those four walls you've created. I know I always put off a lot of home projects during the spring and summer because I would rather opt to be outside, but this time of year always has me turning my focus back on home inside my walls. Here are some of my favorite fall finds.

cozy home finds for fall


Day Hike Colchuck Lake Without A Permit

Nestled deep within the enchanting Wenatchee National forest in Washington State, just outside of the cutest little Bavarian town, you'll find the Colchuck Lake hike. You've probably seen images of this beautiful alpine lake hike and wanted to know more about it. It's one of the most unforgettable day adventures for you can take! With its crystal-clear alpine waters, breathtaking mountain vistas and serene surroundings, Colchuck Lake is a destination that beckons hikes to embark on an unforgettable journey. You may have heard lots of rumblings about permits and maybe even something about the longer trek, The Enchantments, I'll cover everything you need to know about this popular trek.



Thinking of Remodeling Your Kitchen? Start Here First!

A kitchen remodel can be an exciting venture, but it can also be overwhelming without the proper planning and understanding of the process. And even then you should expect the unexpected! We spent several years planning and researching and we still ended up having to fire our general contractor weeks into the project and we lived in a construction zone for months! These are just a few things that we learned when we took on a kitchen remodel. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes and take away a few things that will help you along the way too!

thinking of remodeling your kitchen, start here


A Beginner's Guide to Cruises

We have spent a fair amount of time on cruises. Whether it’s a romantic getaway or a family vacation with our kids, we are huge advocates of taking cruises. You get to cover a lot of ground and get a taste of several different locations. This handy beginner’s guide to cruises will give you everything you need to know about this nearly all-inclusive floating vacation.



The Best Thrift Shops in Tacoma, Washington

I've been shopping at thrift shops for decades. In a world of fast fashion and disposable trends, I love that there is a shift towards second hand. Not only is it great for the environment, it can also be a great way to save money too. Many of these shops are a fun treasure hunt for one-of-kind pieces while embracing sustainability and maybe getting a deal too! I love exploring the thrift shops in my area and thought this blog post from 2013 needed an update! We will also explore the differences between each of the different retail destinations from resale boutiques to consignment and vintage shops. I'll even share my local favorites. No gatekeeping here! Come along for the ride!



Dorm Essentials Hand-Picked by College Students

As a parent, seeing your kids go off to college is an emotional milestone. It honestly doesn't feel like it was that long ago that I was the one full of excitement and nerves headed off to live in the dorms with a roommate I'd never met before! As a parent you're probably filled with a little nostalgia and a lot of worry! You want to make sure they have everything they need to thrive before starting this next chapter of their lives. I sat down with my daughter who is headed into her senior year of college, and made a list for her brother who is heading off to live in the freshman dorms. This is the comprehensive list of TRUE dorm essentials that you've been looking for!

dorm essentials list


Exploring Bothell, Washington: A Charming Retreat at Anderson School Hotel

I'm going to let you in on a secret hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest that offers the perfect blend of small-town charm and urban amenities. Whether you're seeking a relaxing getaway, an adventure-packed vacation or a tucked away town that's close to Seattle, but isn't in the heart of it, Bothell has something to offer for everyone. In this blog post, I'll introduce you to the delightful Anderson School Hotel. You aren't going to want to miss visiting this historic junior high school turned hotel property! I'll even share some tips to help you make your trip to Bothell unforgettable.



7 First Time Cruise Tips For Your Best Vacation at Sea

You’re thinking about taking a cruise, or you’ve just hit book now! Congrats! Now comes to fun part of a cruise, planning out your trip! Just like any first trip, a cruise is no exception, you’ll want to get all the tips and tricks you can before your trip to make sure you don’t miss anything! If you are a first time cruiser, here are my expert tips from a well-seasoned cruiser to make sure you have the best first trip ever!



10 MORE Books I Always Recommend to Friends

I feel like maybe I missed my calling as a librarian. One of my favorite questions to ask people is "what are you reading?" I read a lot of books. I always have. But sometimes when I get asked about books I draw a blank. Does that ever happen to you? A few years ago, I created a list of 10+ books I always recommend to friends and that list has exploded! It's been shared and read and pinned hundreds of thousands of times. I thought it was time for an update! Here are 10 more books I always recommend to friends. 

10 books I always recommend to friends


Do You Really Need to Hire an Interior Designer for a Kitchen Remodel?

When we bought our current home nearly 13 years ago, I never really liked the kitchen. It was a custom home, it just wasn't our custom home. The kitchen was spacious and had a lot of upgrades, but the cabinets were dark and when the weather is dreary nine months out of the year in the Seattle area, dark is the last thing I wanted! But the home was relatively new, and I had a really hard time coming to terms with ripping out perfectly good materials just to replace them with something different. I spent years trying to come up with alternatives to create a space I would like better {paint the cabinets?, add a cabinet box?, remove the tile?, add new accessories?}, but the discontent was still there. The years passed and I started to get more serious about doing a kitchen remodel. I had a few different eyes on the project and took advantage of free consultations from interior designers, to contractors to kitchen designers with a cabinet company, because I wanted to try to see what my options were. Here is how I ultimately decided to hire an interior designer for our project and I have zero regrets! You might choose a different option, and I'll lay out some thoughts on what might work best for any budget during a home remodel.

hire an interior designer for kitchen remodel


How to Find What to Read Next

Have you just finished up a series you’ve been reading? Maybe you are looking for a good book and don't have time to waste on something you can't get into. Like Goldilocks, it can be a challenge to find the perfect book. However, there are so many great ways to get some help on where to find your next best read! If you’re looking for inspiration to help you discover what to read next, here are my top picks!

how to find what to read next


Easy Tips for Saving More Money

Do you ever feel like despite your best efforts it can feel like your bills just keep going up? Life gets in the way, you need new tires for the car and before you know it, you’re back at another drive thru. The truth is, that you don’t have to have all your ducks in a row to start saving money. Here are a few easy tips for saving money that go a long way, but require very little effort.

money saving tips


How to Plan a Cheap Staycation That Feels Expensive

Have you ever found yourself desperately in need of a vacation, but you can’t actually travel? Our family loves traveling and exploring the world as a family. But sometimes, traveling away from home just isn’t in your budgeting cards. If it feels like everyone is headed out of town, but you can't leave your backyard, I've got some tips so that you can help plan a cheap staycation that feels expensive and can give you that break that you need!

planning a cheap staycation that feels expensive


Top Beach Reads and Tips For Picking a Great Beach Read Book

During the summer months, I spend a lot of time on the beach. Having the perfect book to read while soaking up the sun is a must for me, and having a great beach read is essential in every beach bag I pack. After all, why waste your time in the sun with a boring book? Because people know I'm a reader, I often get asked about my top picks for books. It' beach read season and these are my top beach reads I'd recommend!

top beach reads and how to find the best beach book


25 Things We've Learned in 25 Years of Marriage

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. It's funny, because only old people are celebrating their silver anniversary and we are still young kids just learning how to adult. At least that's what it feels like! We married young {I was 19, he was 20} and we immediately started our family {ahem...I was 26 weeks pregnant when we walked down the aisle}. We were the first of our friends to get married and we've seen our fair share of couple friends get divorced. We've had a lot of good years and some bad years in there, but overall, I think at 25 years we have a few things we've learned that we can share to those coming up behind.



Easy Off Refinishing Furniture Stripper

After remodeling our whole downstairs last year, we knew there would be some furniture we would need. If you've ever done a remodel, you'll know that you basically just bleed money for months on end. The idea of paying upwards of $3-5 thousand dollars for a table, had me reconsidering my options. I kept going back to my DIY days and thinking I could make that! Like Goldilocks, I spent last summer hunting for the perfect table that I could refinish in the raw wood finish I was looking for. I bought and sold no less than six tables in about six weeks. I ended up refinishing most of them, and kept two tables. Both of which I took to the raw wood finish look but ended up using two different methods. I already shared how I used Citristrip and bleach to finish the table in our dining room. This time, I'm sharing how I used Easy Off oven cleaner {yep...oven cleaner!} to refinish our kitchen table. A year later and I'm still obsessed with it!

oven cleaner refinishing technique


Best Tips to Know Before Traveling Out of the Country for the First Time

International travel can be a stressful experience, even for a more experienced traveler such as myself. However, for the first time, it is scary and confusing. After a long flight, you’ll find yourself in a foreign country, hoping you remember enough language to ask for the bathroom! But even the most seasoned traveler can be caught off guard when traveling out of the country. Preparing for an international travel experience out of the country can help improve the whole experience and make it smoother. Here are my top tips for traveling abroad for the first time.



10 Packing Tips from a Recovered Overpacker

You guys remember the days when your checked suitcase was free and it could be up to 75 pounds? I used to pack just about darn near everything I could think I might need for a trip. I started traveling more and realized I needed less. Oh, and airlines started charging me to check my suitcase, and I'm cheap, so I learned quickly how to pack light! I'm not going to lie, it's a struggle every time I pack to not over pack, but it makes travel so much easier. I can pack for several weeks in just a carry on suitcase. Here are a few things I've started doing to help me be a reformed {recovered} overpacker.

packing light tips on how to pack from a recovered overpacker


How to Host a Flower Arranging Party On a Budget

I love fresh flowers. It's often a splurge of mine. Several years ago, my husband built me two raised garden beds for growing vegetables, and I do love vegetables, but I love flowers even more! I turned one of them into a flower bed I can use for cuttings and it brings me so much joy! Knowing I had all these flowers growing, I decided to take a flower arranging class to learn how to arrange the flowers. I took two classes, from two different locations and I can't say that I learned any earth-shattering tips to flower arranging, but I did come away with more confidence when I'm creating arrangements. I recently hosted a flower arranging party for my mother-in-laws birthday and thought I'd share a few things so that you can host one yourself too and stay on budget!

flower arranging party on a budget


Everything You Need to Know to Bleach Furniture to Get the Raw Wood Look

Last year, we remodeled the whole downstairs of our home. We updated the orange wood tones that were all over the house with a much more neutral look. If you've ever done a home remodel, you know that you are basically just bleeding money for months on end. And when our remodel stalled and we had to fire our contractor, we weren't sure how we were going to move forward with a new plan and how much that was going to cost us. Being on the frugal side of things anyway, I like to buy cheap and save the difference. But I was willing to splurge on a few things, a new table being one of them! After searching around and not being able to stomach the many thousands of dollars a new table was going to cost, I started looking into some DIY options. I came full circle, and while it took me buying and refinishing about five tables, I finally settled on two that I absolutely love for our dining room and kitchen nook. And in the process, I learned a lot of lessons on how to bleach furniture to get the coveted raw wood look that's so hot right now. Here is what I learned.



The Best Clothing Brands to Resell

I've been reselling clothing on-line for more than 20 years. I started by selling my oldest son's outgrown baby clothes. Kids grow so quickly, that clothes purchased second-hand and worn by them, still had a lot of life left in them. It was a great way as a young couple to basically clothe our children for free for many years. Anything I paid for the clothes, I gained back in the reselling and then put into buying the next season of clothing. For years I only sold items we used personally, but I've since moved on to buying and reselling things I find at Goodwill Outlet and once garage sale season starts again, I'll start reselling items from there too. There are brands that sell well and brands that just aren't worth wasting your time on. Today I'm sharing the brands that I keep my eyes peeled for and you should too. These are the brands that have the best resell value and the ones that will sell quickly and easily so you aren't holding on to any inventory.



Brands for Resale that Just Don't Sell

One of the most common questions people ask me is how I know what brands to buy to resell them. So to all you resellers purchasing clothing brands to try to resell, you may be shocked to find the ones that make this list! One of the best places to start is by figuring out what brands not to buy. This is why I put together this list of not only the brands to avoid but the reasons why I pass them up every time I see them. Here are six brands that have little to no resale value.



My Teenager Wants to Be a Pilot: Now What?

My youngest son Owen has always been into airplanes. He started drawing and designing them in his school journal when he was in elementary school. While my oldest son was looking at fast cars on the highway, Owen was looking up in the sky identifying aircraft. As parents, we look for ways to support our kids in their passions, and Owen's passion for airplanes just kept growing. He really pushed us to let him apply to an aviation high school out of district and then continued to explore extra curricular programs that would allow him to start flight training about the same time he was learning to drive a car. He narrowed his focus, and he's pursuing a career in commercial aviation. After the pandemic, the flight industry had a little shake up, and we've all heard about the pilot shortages. It's a great time to head into the industry, but where do you even start? Here is what we've learned as parents so far.

MY teen wants to be a pilot now what


Thoughtful Graduation Gifts to Give Any Graduate

Are you a sentimental person? Are you looking for the perfect gift for all those special people? Oh good! Me too! If you know or have a grad preparing for graduation this year, it might be time to start thinking about a killer gift idea for them to kick off graduation with!  Graduation is one of the happiest moments in your kid’s life. So why not find the perfect gift to remember this moment forever? Here are some thoughtful graduation gifts to give to any graduate.



What Hotels to Stay in Around Seattle for Your Cruise

Seattle has the two busiest cruise terminals, with more than a million passengers embarking on their next adventure to Canada and Alaska. After taking a cruise to Alaska, I was flooded with people asking me where they could stay, especially if you don’t have a car handy. So, to help you out before your next cruise, here are the best hotels to stay in and around Seattle before your cruise.

where to stay in seattle before or after a cruise to alaska


Everything You Need to Know About Passports

Traveling can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll do with your kids, and when it comes to traveling internationally, there is nothing more important than one tiny little booklet. Your passport is your key to the kingdom, so to speak. Without this, you won’t be able to board a plane, much less get to your desired country. Here, I’ll let you know some of the most frequently asked questions I get and hurdles that you might have to face when dealing with a passport.

everything you need to know about passports


Preparing Your Home for Vacation

Preparing for a vacation can be a lot of work. Whether packing up the car, hitting the road, or dusting off your passport for a long flight, taking a vacation requires more than just preparing an itinerary. Your home will be left vacant while you’re gone, and you want to ensure your home is ready for it! Here are my best tips to help you prepare your home for vacation.



Splurge or Save on Cruise Extras

If you are planning on taking a cruise, you might feel lost with all the extras you can book with your cruise. From fine dining to excursions, you can spend a lot of additional costs to make your cruise better, more relaxing, and so much more! Here are some of the best cruise extras to splurge on and a few you should skip.



Stop Asking High School Grads This Question

College has always been a priority for our kids. It's been on their radar from a very young age and all three of them have had career aspirations that are met with a college degree. One thing I noticed a few years ago when we were starting to go to more and more graduation parties is that the assumption that a new high school grad is going on to college. It can be one of the hardest questions for a kid to answer if their path looks a little different. College has gotten hard to afford and there are many different paths a teen can take as they enter into adulthood. Here are some things I learned the hard way {from awkward conversations where I assumed!}, and some questions you can ask instead.



Phoenix, Arizona Visitors Guide: Beat the Crowds and See the Highlights

Phoenix, Arizona is the perfect escape, especially for those of us in the Pacific Northwest. When the sun is hiding in Seattle, you are sure to find it in Phoenix! Not only that, Phoenix has plenty of outdoor adventure, the perfect combination of city life and lots of southwest culture. You can easily balance a quick trip with relaxation and plenty of recreation making it the perfect vacation destination. It's always important for me to make the most of my trip and beat the crowds. Read on for the best tips on how you can do that!


Phoenix, Arizona Visitors Guide: Beat the Crowds and See the Highlights

phoenix arizona visitors guide beat the crowds

When to Visit Phoenix

Phoenix is known for it's more than 300 days of sunshine a year! A true delight from the dreary grey gloom in the Pacific Northwest. Phoenix has some extreme temperature swings to be aware of. It gets hot in the summer {the average high in July is 106 degrees!} so keep that in mind. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit if you want warm dessert days. Though be aware that it can get cold in the mountains during those times. October-May are generally great months for weather, keep in mind that during the winter months, it could be a bit cold for lounging poolside. Spring is the high season and prices for plane tickets and hotels/accommodations often reflect that. There's nothing more special than seeing the cactus bloom though!

Monsoon Season

Arizona's monsoon season runs from June-September. It's often a quick heavy rain but it can also bring flash flooding which can be dangerous if you are hiking in unfamiliar territory. 

phoenix visitors guide thats less crowded

How Many Days To Spend in Phoenix

You can easily get a good taste of Phoenix over a long weekend. Three-five days will allow you time to rest and explore the area. You can add extra days if you want to continue to explore more of Arizona and road trip to the Grand Canyon or head down towards Tucson or even the Mexican border.

Beat the Crowds

If you are flexible, you can beat the crowds by visiting mid week and not over a weekend. Not only will flights be less expensive, so will accommodations. 

How to Get to Phoenix

The Phoenix Sky Harbor airport {PHX} is your best option if you are flying in. There are a few small airports in the area, but you'll find the most options flying into and out of PHX. Renting a car is easy and often most helpful if you want to explore the city. Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the US, but it's not really great at public transportation, so you'll likely need a car to get around.

Where to Stay in Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix is an easy choice if this is your first visit to the city. It's close to lots of activities and restaurants. Tempe is close to Papago Park and is a good option if you are combining a visit to Arizona State University. Scottsdale is another favorite area with lots of great dining and unique shopping as well as historic districts to explore. Mesa is home to the Superstition Mountains and a great place if hiking is at the top of your to do list.

backyard pool in arizona

Private pool with hiking in the backyard? Yes please! Favorite sunscreen for teens is Coola. It smells great and doesn't break them out!

Beat the Crowds

If you want to stay close to Phoenix for a quick visit in but not be in Phoenix proper, consider Chandler or Goodyear. Both are about a 30 minute drive from the city, but these are great options if you want more family-friendly affordable options with less people!

We stayed in Goodyear a few years ago, and rented a house with a private pool. It had hiking out the back fence with plenty of trails to explore. It's a good option if you want to spread out a little but still benefit from the landscape and beauty of the desert.

Find a VRBO in Phoenix and surrounding areas!

Pro Travel Tip

If you are traveling to the Phoenix area and are booking a home with a pool, make sure that the pool is heated. You won't think that you need it when the days are in the 80's, but you do! It makes an incredible difference having a heated pool to swim in. It's often noted in VRBO listings, but it's worth inquiring about if it's not. And it is often an extra charge to have the pool turned on. Again, it's totally worth it and needed with the exception of summer.

beating crowds in phoenix

Things To Do In Phoenix

Desert Botanical Garden

I'm a big fan of the Desert Botanical Garden. Not only is it one of the most Instagram worthy spots in all of Phoenix, it's got plenty of opportunities for you to learn more about the variety of desert plant life. There are more than 140 acres and 50,000 plants and plenty of room to wander. It does get hot, so pack some water! Plan to spend a few hours wandering the gardens and don't miss the Gertrude's, probably my favorite restaurant in the city! You'll find seasonally grown farm to table favorites on the menu. Don't miss the garden 'rita! I still drool when I think about it!

Beat the Crowds

Go early! Get to the Botanical Garden just after it opens or right before it closes for fewer crowds. Head to the back of the Garden property and work your way to the front to beat the slow moving crowds.

Hike the Trails

There are plenty of popular hiking spots like Papago Park, which is actually very close to the Desert Botanical Garden so you could combine a trip! Piestewa Peak or Camelback Mountain both have amazing views and can be a bit more challenging. South Mountain is a more urban trail you can't go wrong on! North Mountain is paved but steep and makes a great place to watch the sunrise in the morning.

Beat the crowds

I enjoy some of the lesser known hiking options since the popular ones can get busy! Check out Pinnacle Peak Trail for a less popular hike. And if you drive further out to Estrella Mountain, there are great hiking and biking trails that are very well marked and less trodden. 


Find a Game

Baseball fans will love catching a Cactus League Spring Training game. Every February and March, more than 200 games are played by 15 major league teams all within a 45 minute drive! Games can sell out, so make sure you buy tickets early if there's a game you want to catch!

Beat the Crowds

Not going to lie, it will be harder to beat the crowds at a spring training game. There are people who intentionally come to Arizona only to see a game. Skip this option if you want to miss the crowds.

Wander in Old Town Scottsdale

Walking the streets in Old Town Scottsdale is such a great way to explore this neighborhood. There are great restaurant options, fun boutique shops and public art sprinkled throughout. 


This is my favorite option! I love soaking up the vitamin D and sitting poolside in the sunshine. There are plenty of luxury resorts and even retreat-like backyards in VRBO rentals! Keep an eye out for resorts that offer spa treatments. You can often use the resort amenities if you are getting a treatment even if you aren't a guest. 



Things on My List Next Time I Visit Phoenix

Hot Air Balloon Ride
Taliesin West-Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and desert lab
Musical Instrument Museum-doesn't sound super exciting, but gets great reviews!
Salt River Tubing
Heard Museum-Lots of southwestern Native American Art
Day trip to Sedona

Phoenix is the perfect getaway for most of the year. You can often find flight deals and sunshine making it a quick getaway if you are trying to escape less than ideal weather in your hometown. 

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