When your BFF's live, literally in different states strewn across the USA, you make it a PRIORITY to meet up in a designated city every single year. Enter scene:
Yes, you read that word correctly. The majority of my biggest support system are smart, educated, ride-or-die, blondes. (don't worry, I have a perfect brunette and a crazy redhead in the mix too) One of the most stand out trips we have taken together was to the rocky desert town of Sedona Arizona. Surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests, this area is noted for its mild climate and vibrant arts community. Uptown Sedona is dense with New Age shops, spas and art galleries. On the town’s outskirts is Red Rock State Park, which hides trailheads to some breathtaking views and hikes.
The best time to visit Sedona is from March to May when the temperatures are warm (but not scorching) and the area is in full bloom. We loved visiting during April, as desert flowers add a pop of color to the rusty orange trails. September to November is another ideal time for outdoor activities due to more mild weather.
While Sedona is a little off the beaten path, the journey to your destination is always half the fun! all five of us airlined into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (KPHX). Just about every airline you can think of services this airport; you can find a complete list here.
PRO TIP: Airline tickets are usually cheapest 6 weeks from your trip and booked on a Tuesday or Wednesday during the day!
Rental vehicles are a must in this area since the drive to Sedona from the airport is a two hour drive. TRUST US! Its worth every minute! Between grabbing a bite downtown Phoenix waiting for all the girls' flights coming in, to the awe-inspiring views on the drive up to Sedona, the drive allows for some much needed catch-up conversations in the car ride!
ROAD TRIP-TIP: If you're rolling east or west on Interstate 40, Sedona is 5 miles south of this route AND Sedona only lies 2 hours South of the Grand Canyon.
Hosting a group event, especially for best friends that get to hang out only a few times a year, calls for an AirBnB and Sedona is Laced with some spectacular roomy places enriched with window views that attempting to describe to you wont even do it justice. The average 4 bedroom place runs about $130-$175 per night.
PRO TIP: Check with the host about secret local hikes and Vortex areas. If you want to learn more about the amazing energy this place has to offer, check this out!
Goodness get ready for some EPIC excursions! The first night we were there, I surprised the girls with a birthday present for everyone! We bundled up and headed out to a remote location and met with an Astronomer for Star Gazing! I found a Groupon and it was sooo memorable to celebrate all of our birthdays at once!
DEVILS BRIDGE HIKE
There's nothing like a team effort of packing lunches, pointing to a map and hitting the open trails. We chose an intermediate hike to Devils Bridge. despite its name, the bridge is actually an arch and created by wind and weather erosion instead of by flowing water.
A girls trip wouldn't be complete without shopping! An afternoon ride to downtown Sedona proved to be fruitful and filled with all sorts of rock and crystal shops along with many Art Villages. We totally kept it basic with a Starbucks stop after our hike for a jaunt around town.
This natural sandstone butte on the Sedona skyline is a more popular spot for tourists, and a visit there will show you why. After learning about "Vortexes" during our shopping venture, we chose this particular one to absorb the earths energy at, and lit a candle in the sanctuary for my Dad who had recently passed. Chills.
We have a sweetie in our bunch that is obsessed with horses so what better time than to visit a Dude Ranch for some horseback riding, gun shooting, ax throwing cowgirl-type-of-adventure! Canyon Creek Ranch was the ultimate Old-Western Experience.
HOT AIR BALLOON
These girls pulled off a grand finale outing particularly for me. It brought me to tears to experience my first balloon ride with Northern Lights. Watching the sun rise, sipping warm coffee, chatting with the pilots as their balloons are being filled with hot air, take me back please! The sights of this ride left me aching for more! Because of this trip, I now want to be a balloonist!! Totally on my bucket list to fly those amazing airships!
*BONUS: When you land, you are treated by the pilots with mimosa's and pancakes! Its all part of the package so one less meal to plan.
Planning food for large group trips is always best done ahead of time. Create a list, have everyone add or take away from the common things they like or dislike, budget a few meals out and get creative with recipes for hikes and excursions.
HEALTH & BUDGET TIP: Plan breakfast, snacks and a picnic meal or two by ordering a head for Walmart Grocery Pick-Up. It doesn't always have to be Walmart, since most other stores are catching on to this trend, I just know they always deliver on the goods for me!!! You will spend way less on groceries than at restaurants, you will have access to healthier options (your waist line will thank you post travel) and you will also have a fun option to picnic during some of your excursions!
*BONUS: Some of the excursions we booked hosted meals along with the journey.
PRO TIP: HIRE A CATERER! Do some research in the area and find a locally owned company (or even some restaurants offer catering) and get pricing! Catering companies will usually fit YOUR budget if you communicate well enough. Its also cheaper if you opt for pick up and skip on the delivery fee. Try out Lynn's Casual Catering. While we didn't get to personally experience this particular caterer, She has rave reviews through my research.
While theres always a craving for local food and drink (and a reason for us to get dolled up), we headed into town to Salt Rock Southwest Kitchen. Margaritas, and Western Cuisine totally put us in the mood for some hard laughs and sweet stories.
TIP: If you are more of a "hotel" kind of crowd, Salt Rock is connected to Amara Resort and Spa. I haven't personally stayed there, but if your checkbook doesn't mind, I think this place is worth a romantic get-away for the adventurous couple!
My latest group of Copilots are the actual brains behind my braun of Collecting Copilots. I want you to [finally] meet the Blondetaurage (think entourage, but you know, all blondes). From triathlete winners to product designers for the International Space Station, and living over 1700 miles away from each other, this collective group of women is a force to be reckoned with...