There’s a lot about summers in Arizona that aren’t my favorite, like having at least one lipstick melt in my car each year, being told by people ‘but it’s a dry heat’ and being benched from daily walks after 7 a.m.. But there are a few great things about summer I try to embrace: pool season, Bahama Bucks and staycations.
If you’ve lived in the area for any amount of time, you’ve heard that the incredible resort properties offer highly discounted summer rates for locals because, let’s be real, nobody else is traveling to 120 temps to vacation in July and August here. Here’s a cheat sheet from Scottsdale on all the incredible summer savings at resorts this summer!
We kicked off the summer season with a family-focused weekend staycation and had so much fun getting out of our routine, exploring a different area of the Valley and letting our routine go for just a few days.
My first staycation with Maverick, I totally get why contributor Kira loves staycations with kids—the zero travel time is a legit game changer with little ones, and Cara and I are already planning another staycay for later in the summer.
Read on for our full staycation stay in Scottsdale!
I had heard that The Phoenician was kid-friendly, but until staying here firsthand with Maverick, I had no idea just how family-focused the resort is. From on-property dining having the best kid’s meal I’ve seen thus far, to complementary kids programming throughout the day, it was a lovely experience for both Maverick and me.
Upon arrival, the Phoenician gifted Maverick a desert bunny stuffed animal and a book all about the bunny character ‘camping’ at the resort.
The highlight of most staycations (at least in my view) is the pool. The Phoenician’s impressed me once again with how kid-friendly the pools were. Kept at an even temperature of 84 degrees, there was no screeching or tears getting in a cold pool from my little guy or Cara’s four and six year-olds.
There are three pools that kids have full reign over, then, beyond a fence there’s an adults only pool. As a parent, I loved knowing there was an alternative for resort attendees who wanted a quiet, serene pool time. It enabled me to not worry about our kids interrupting someone’s peaceful retreat, because there were options to opt-out of a kid’s pool.
Beyond the pools, the kids were delighted to discover an epic splash pad (complete with water cannons!) and a water slide. Again, Cara and I had no clue these amenities were part of the Phoenician pool experience.
The Phoenician has summer staycation promotions starting at $199/night with a $50 resort credit added per night, bringing the total down even more! Details on the summer offer here!
Childcare on property
The on-property kids programming was a great option to break up the day for Cara’s older kids. From supervised lawn games to crafts to donut decorating, kids can pop into complementary programming for fun between rides down the water slide. (In pre-COVID operations, there’s a full day camp programming option if you’d like, but that has not come back yet, so we found an even better childcare alternative!)
We wanted a few hours childfree, and Trusting Connections is an award-winning local nanny agency that has been helping families across Phoenix (plus Tucson and Dallas-Fort Worth) connect with nannies and childcare providers since 2011. What’s unique about Trusting Connections is their resort/hotel care which provided sitter service in the comfort of our own resort room.
I booked Miss Jennifer, one of their nannies, to hangout with Maverick for the evening so we could have a later dinner–he’s at the age where he takes full attention at a restaurant, ha! Jennifer was lovely and made me feel so comfortable leaving Maverick with someone who wasn’t family for the very first time ever. (Trusting Connections puts each nanny through a meticulous 21-point screening process.)
Using Trusting Connections was a perfect balance of having a kid-focused staycation with a mini-break from the kids as well.
For Maverick’s schedule, Miss Jennifer simply played with him in the room and fed him dinner before getting him ready for bedtime. However, for longer periods of time, Trusting Connections nannies can entertain children on-site and can also take them on fun, off-site excursions to places like parks and museums.
When I came back to relieve Miss Jennifer after dinner, she provided me with a ‘report card’ that recapped Maverick’s and her time together, including what time he went to bed, how many dirty diapers he had, what fun activities they did, etc. This level of communication was so appreciated to have written down for me to reference so that I didn’t feel like I was asking a million questions. (She also was available to text throughout the evening to check-in on how they were doing, another great communication option making this first time mama feel super comfortable.)
Scottsdale dining with killer kid’s meals
Typically, when we head to Scottsdale for dining, we have a babysitter booked. I was pleasantly surprised with the family-friendly dining options we tried both on and off property, including the most epic kids meal I think Mav has had yet!
On-property at The Phoenician:
- The Phoenician Tavern: Overlooking the golf course, this is the more casual full-service dining and I’m still talking about their kid’s meal here; it was incredible! Kids can choose two sides in addition to the entrée they select, plus fruit and a beverage. I ordered Mav the kids fish sticks and they were hand-battered cod pieces—adult fish’n’chips-worthy!And, children three and under eat free of charge from the kids menu when an adult entrée is ordered. (Children 4-12 receive 1/2 price when ordering from the standard menu when an adult entrée is ordered.)
- Kalio Kabobery: The full-service pool restaurant and bar at The Phoenician is a Mediterranean-inspired that may scare those of you with picky eaters, but all three kids (with varying levels of pickiness) devoured their lunches on our pool day. The chicken quesadilla and Kalio burger were big hits with the older kiddos, and I got grilled shrimp kabobs with cucumber salad and quinoa tabbouleh.
- Farm & Craft: As part of our Strong as a Mother year of wellness and health, we’re always looking for wellness-focused dining that is joyful and crowd-pleasing (because kids pouting about eating healthy ruins it). Farm&Craft delivers on all this! It’s the perfect mix of wellness-focused and fun, for both the kids and adults. The kids oatmeal is not like any other oatmeal I’ve ever seen—highly recommend for kids of all ages (okay, I may have eaten more than my share of Mav’s oatmeal!)
*Parent tip: You can’t come to Farm + Craft without getting a forbidden fruit cocktail! Served in a mini watermelon, these are super yum and unique. It’s all about balance, right?
- Hula’s Modern Tiki: Any restaurant whose server brings the kids ‘cherry caterpillars’ when they drop off the parents cocktails is a win in our book. They also made the children’s lemonades tiki-themed with little umbrellas that were the hit of the night. (Cara and I kicked off the night with a scorpion bowl, vacay, right?). Don’t miss their pineapple wine, either!
Hula’s has been a favorite of mine for the better part of a decade and so we were thrilled that their Scottsdale location is minutes away from the resort. I had never looked at the kids menu before then, and it’s safe bets for most kids, priced around $6-7/plate. The servings are generous, I think we got three meals out of the kids chicken teriyaki!
Locally, sometimes I find that I don’t explore as much as I do while on vacation because I’m stuck in my daily/weekly/weekend routines. A staycation was the perfect time to play tourist for some of the kid-friendly attractions that aren’t too far for us, but we hadn’t ever been to.
- The Arizona Boardwalk: I’ve heard about the ‘boardwalk’ for a while but wasn’t really sure what it was, so this gave us a great excuse to explore and play tourist just 35 minutes from home. It really does feel like a beach-side boardwalk experience!Home to seven different attractions from OdySea Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland, which we explored both, this has something for kids of all ages (including a virtual reality experience). There’s shopping and dining, too, and lots of fun photo opps throughout the space.We spent more than an hour inside OdySea Aquarium where floor-to-ceiling windows invited Maverick to engage with the 30,000+ marine animals at his own pace without needing to be lifted to view each exhibit.
- Next, we went into Butterfly Wonderland and I’m not sure if there’s anything sweeter than a toddler chasing butterflies in the rainforest atrium full of gorgeous, budding flowers that are the most fragrant florals out there. It was also a great opportunity for Maverick to stretch his legs outside of the stroller. Older kids will also enjoy the 3D feature film all about monarch butterfly migration, a butterfly gallery where caterpillars are cocooning in various phases, and other animal exhibits—we especially liked the honey bee exhibit!
- Desert Botanical Garden’s Cactus Clubhouse: Open just through May 28 (dang heat), this pop-up experience (included in general admission) provides a brand-new nature play space for kids to play with the outdoors. The five play area stations provide unstructured, child-led activities for kids to discover the fun of the natural world.Each child receives their own basket of toys and tools to use throughout the stations for a one-hour time block. Maverick was a little young for some of the activities, but I brought my parents along for this and we had so much fun just watching him navigate the stations and enjoying exploring at his own pace. The docents were very sweet and helpful and said that kids ages 2-5 enjoy the space the most, although children all the way through aged 12 are welcome.
- McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park: A classic in the Valley for a reason, this park is much larger than it’s Gilbert counterpart. This park boasts the Scottsdale Railroad Museum where kids can see model trains to full-size rail cars, too, after riding the near mile-long mini train that seats adults and children.The Western-themed playground here is a can’t-miss! With a stagecoach kids can climb on and a full Western-town to flex even the tiniest cowboy’s imagination, this was a hidden gem for our first time here.*Parent hack: this park is just minutes away from The Phoenician, too.
If you’re like me and already are dreading summer, I hope maybe this inspires you to play tourist in our own area, even for just an overnight! Especially those of you who are new to the valley, there is just so much to explore.
Thank you so much to Experience Scottsdale for hosting our staycation; all thoughts/opinions are based on our own personal experience.