Disclaimer: As much as I would like Lowe’s Ventana Canyon Resort to shower me with fifties for what I’m about to say, this post is completely independent.  All opinions are my own and, sadly, uncompensated.

Two years ago I became possessed.  There I was, minding my own business, when I was suddenly consumed by an overpowering urge to escape the Midwest and go somewhere for my spring break two weeks hence – somewhere warm, sunny, and snowless.  Somewhere that had healthy green plants thriving outdoors.  Someplace where I could linger outside without several layers of wool, flannel, and down.  Somewhere that didn’t simultaneously whimper “dreary” and scream “cold!”

 

Tucson 6
Not dreary.  Not cold.

Having perfected the art of spending my spring breaks puttering around the house alone – grey skies, dead grass, and dirty snow piles my only companions – the cause of this fixation is still a mystery.  In any case, the husband, who did not suffer from the same affliction before his own spring break two weeks earlier, could see that trying to stop me would only result in bodily harm.  For days, all household chores ceased as I found myself in the grip of a travel-planning frenzy the likes of which I had never experienced.

In the end, I found myself in Tucson, and it was exactly what I was looking for.

Tucson 7

Before I elaborate, let’s explore vacation styles.  Some people can quite happily plant themselves on a beach or poolside lounge chair, barely moving for an entire week.  Others, I have found, simply can’t abide these kinds of vacations.  Three minutes stretched out under the sun – even with a book and a cocktail – and they start to get antsy and look for an escape route.  Me?  I’m right in the middle of these two extremes.

With that in mind, I ended up booking a stay at Lowe’s Ventana Canyon Resort, which is nestled into the base of Arizona’s Santa Catalina Mountains.

Photo courtesy of https://www.loewshotels.com/ventana-canyon

As I alluded to a moment ago, I prefer to intersperse my poolside repose (fully slathered in SPF 50 with a massive umbrella overhead, of course) with bouts of physical activity, and that’s exactly what I got.  The resort has a fitness center, though you’ll probably find your smallest closet more spacious.  Nonetheless, it exists and I did use it once or twice.  But the greatest draw of this particular property, which ties into its proximity to a deserty-mountainous recreation area, is its shuttle bus.  Call the front desk, request a shuttle, hop on, and five minutes later you’re at the gates of the Santa Catalina Recreation Area, which abounds with hiking trails.  Add to that the resort’s two pools, two restaurants, hot tub and sauna, and my room with a balcony facing a cactus-studded hill, then throw in a ridiculously overpriced but-what-the-hell-I’m-on-vacation pay-per-view Oscar® nominated movie in bed each night and I was in paradise.

Tucson 19
This path leads to several trailheads in the Santa Catalinas.
prickly pear margarita
Post-hike prickly pear margarita

Fast forward to present day.  Without meaning to, I recently got infected with the late winter/early spring travel bug again.  The husband had invited some friends over to watch the Arsenal game, and one of them is a frequent traveler.  Listening to him talk about his recent journeys flipped my envy switch, and I could feel that pre-spring break tension appear out of nowhere and start zipping through my winter-weary veins.  For several hours – having dropped whatever it was I had planned on doing that day to scour travel websites – I was certain I was going to embark on another last-minute bank-balance-bruising vacation.  Eventually, though, I realized that all the deals that looked so amazing online were actually for the beginning of the shoulder season, which doesn’t start until right after my spring break (naturally).

Taking several deep breaths, I consulted my long-as-my-arm spring break To Do list, which contains such crucial and joy-filled activities as “wipe down kitchen cupboards” and “buy more pants for work.” (As someone who is perennially between sizes, always 10 pounds shy of that perfect fit, buying pants is a torturous experience – about as fun as swimsuit shopping.  Or knife-swallowing.)  After one more deep breath (more of a resigned sigh, actually), I gave in to the fact that I would be at home for this year’s spring break, awash in ill-fitting new pants, fingerprint-free cupboards, and Midwestern drear.

Tucson 8
The reward at the top of the 8-mile round-trip Seven Falls Trail

Though I officially – and tearfully – broke up with the idea of a spontaneous 2019 trip, I also put my hand on my heart and formally vowed that next year, dammit, I am going somewhere.  So look out bank account and look out world… nothing is going to stop me.

And that’s where you come in, helpful reader.  I am hoping you’ll be able to share some destinations you think I should consider.

When I asked for travel suggestions for our upcoming wedding anniversary trip, many of you weighed in with useful ideas and opinions.  In that post, I outlined certain parameters and then went further, narrowing down the list to about a half dozen places that were under serious consideration.

This time, I’m being a bit more flexible.

What I can tell you is that I’m looking for someplace reasonably comfortable, temperature-wise.  I realize that’s very subjective, so I’ll be more specific: at least in the 70s.  Like the place in Tucson, it needs to be very close to great hiking.  I’m not talking about full-day, set-out-before-dawn, Colorado 14er hiking here.  Just moderate hiking is fine. A shuttle service would be ideal, but I might be able to live without it, depending the circumstances.  A combination of beach and mountains would be great, but a warm place with a pool near mountains could do the trick as well.  It doesn’t have to be in the US, but I’ll probably go no further than the northern reaches of the Caribbean or Central America.  Probably.

Oh, and as an introvert looking for a quiet getaway, anything I saw on the travel deals websites that touted a “party vibe” got deleted straightaway.  Just sayin’.

And finally, I’m not being lazy.  I promise.  I’ve already given a cursory glace at a few possibilities:  Sedona?  Phoenix?  Santa Barbara?  San Diego?  It’s just that I know there must be places I’m not thinking of… I just don’t know what they are!

So, if this request is making that one perfect place pop into your head, please do share in the comments section.  I’m happy to return the favor if ever I can. 🙂

45 thoughts

  1. I’d say that if you haven’t been to Costa Rica, it was my first thought. Wasy to get around, friendly people, and beach plus mountains in close proximity. If you surf (or would like to learn), it’s a great place for that. Despite feeling like we were the last people we knew who had gone, it was not wildly touristy (disclaimer: we went in low season, in August), and we found it easy to not break the bank while there.

    I haven’t been to the greater Tulum area of Mexico, but that’s going to tick your swim plus active boxes as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. San Diego is one of my favorite places in the world so I’d say you can’t go wrong with that. I don’t know when you’re going but there is the “June gloom” that everyone says to avoid; the one month of the year where’s it’s cloudy and overcast but the rest of the year the weather is pretty much perfect. Sedona is also pretty fantastic if you like hiking and relaxing afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My brother lives in Santa Barbara and it was quite pleasant when I visited him there in April. Channel Islands National Park is right there and Santa Barbara is beautiful (and not as busy as LA or San Diego). Great hiking in the mountains there and amazing whale watching!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Santa Barbara looks stunning. I’m trying to figure out when the husband and I can find a time to road trip all the way to central CA – maybe right around Santa Barbara, and work our way up the coast, past wine country. Heck, why stop there? I’d want to keep going north. We did coastal Oregon a few years ago, so I’d like to try the Willamette Valley this time, then on up to Olympic National Park. So that should only take what, 2 months? Ha ha. When is retirement?!?!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That would be an AMAZING drive! Now that my brother lives in CA, we have been talking about that too. Big Sur is breathtaking, plus there is the rather new Pinnacles National Park. Then of course Kings Canyon/Sequoia/Yosemite.

        Now I want to go to California again this year 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Travel Architect, first do not forget the key to your recent staggering success- including a trivia question. Take the ramblings about spring break and throw in a “First Vegetarian President” question to take your fans to a whole new level. As to vacation suggestions, Kauai would offer dependable warmth and world class hiking and water sports. The southwest coast of Maui would be almost as good and cheaper. San Diego is also great. Now emulate Millard Fillmore and have a salad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dave C., I really think you should take the trivia question idea and use it on your own amazing future blog. The offer for free set-up and mentoring still stands.

      As for salads, the husband made one for us last night. Oh wait. It was pasta salad. Crap.

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  4. So here is my idea for a spring break trip that would satisfy activity/adventure and relaxation -Red Mountain Spa in St George, Utah. Google it and check it out. I would go too if you want!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I can only recommend Thailand but I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s out of range for you (we have mountains and beaches and a guaranteed 80-100 degree heat!)
    But to be serious I absolutely love walking (I’m in the same camp as you for a holiday – I like to do nothing and lots of things at the same time) but I’m getting restless with my walking routes at the moment…I can feel a change of scenery coming (I’m actually going back to the UK for 6 weeks next week so that should do it)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, unfortunately Thailand is a bit far for this particular trip, but it’s on my radar.

      Six weeks in England! That’ll be a change of scenery AND of temperature. Your sweat glands will get a much needed vacation! I hope you blog about it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have been wondering if I should keep blogging while I’m over there. Should I just post blogs about being in Thailand that I haven’t finished yet? Or try and share my UK experience? (it may be really boring if I don’t sweat!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m betting you’ll find a way to make England posts interesting. Heck – I’m going to attempt to after our UK trip. But you’ve got an insider’s perspective. That’s gold!!! If nothing else, you could blog about how cold it is there. Or make fun of the food, or… wait! I can’t give away all my UK blogging angles! You’re on your own. 🇬🇧

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hmmm. How do I put this delicately? England is the only country I’ve ever been in where I walk into a bakery – a bakery! – look around and think, “Nope. Nothing for me here.” And then you’ve got the husband waxing poetic about beans on toast, steak and kidney pudding, etc. Ugh! It’s all just too much to bear. On a positive note, the curry is standout, and I did just have some lovely Digestives an hour ago.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh I feel you! I’m hankering for some sun big time. Only problem is… I’ve been packed out at the weekends, and will be busy now until That Horrible Political Event In The UK That Won’t Go Away. If it gets delayed, I’m thinking of grabbing a plane ticket to Europe ASAP!!

    Mexico would be a good choice, or how about Belize? I have no idea how it is for hiking, but it looks really beautiful.

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  7. Unfortunately I’m not too familiar with places that are good for hiking in the US but Washington State is somewhere that I love visiting. The only downside is it might be a bit colder at the time of year you’re looking to go 😦

    On a slightly more random note – such a disappointment to read that your husband is an Arsenal fan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Washington would be great but you are right- too cold in early spring.

      Funny you should mention Arsenal on today of all days. It’s sports day at my primary school so I am wearing my Arsenal shirt, though most people ‘round these parts won’t know who they are. Which soccer – oops, I mean football – club do you support?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately. Definitely worth a visit another time though. I’ll be there in a few weeks.

        I am a Tottenham supporter so Arsenal is as bad as it gets as far as I’m concerned haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t normally do this, but I’m going to provide you with a link to my post from a few months ago in which I wrote about trying to support organized sports, including English soccer. It’s a bit on the long side, and the first half is all about my crazy Green Bay Packer loving family, so if that doesn’t interest you (though for a long flight to Washington state it might be just the thing :)) you can just scroll down to the picture of the two Marmite jars. Shortly after that I begin talking about my “conversion” to being an Arsenal fan (and Tottenham gets a not too favorable mention from the husband). You might find it amusing.
        https://thetravelarchitect.wordpress.com/2018/12/27/rooting-for-the-team-sigh-im-going-to-give-it-a-try/

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ll definitely give this a read shortly.

        Oh wow. I visited Minneapolis last summer and loved it over there so decided I’d actively root for the Vikings last season as I’d never had any specific American Football team.
        So between Arsenal and the Packers perhaps its best we stick to talking travel and not sports haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I have to keep up this ruse of being an Arsenal fan for the sake of my marriage (we’ll be visiting Emirates stadium this summer), but I loathe all American football, including the Packers, the Vikings, you name it. I live in the Twin Cities, so I’m glad to hear you liked it here. Nobody visits this part of the country – or so I thought. What drew you to this area?

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      5. Haha that’s understandable. It’s exciting that you’re visiting London this summer! That’ll be fun!

        I was in the USA for a month last summer. I’d already booked flights to Chicago and then Tottenham announced they were playing in Minneapolis a couple of days after I landed, so I figured I’d go and spend a couple of days in the twin cities too. I’d love to come back some time.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome post!!! I love spontaneous adventures!! And you can’t go wrong with the Tucson area. Saguaro National Park is breathtaking.

    Bummer that it didn’t work out again this year, but glad you are determined to go next year. Have you been to the Pacific Northwest? May not be as warm in the Spring as Arizona, but it is breathtakingly beautiful. I absolutely love the coast of Oregon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been to the Pacific NW, but it’s been a good many years. Coastal Oregon more recently. But, as a Midwestener yourself, I know you’ll forgive me for insisting on a slightly warmer destination for my spring break next year. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I know Carmel/Big Sur did not win this time but when you do go do not skip Cambria, the Paso Robles wine country, or Morro Bay. Not as populated but so filled with great people and beautiful scenery.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love your writing style! I feel like we would be friends if we ever met. I get the mid-winter travel bug too…basically I have it all the time. One place I always suggest to everyone is Gozo. It’s one of the islands of Malta but without the massive amount of tourists. It’ got views, history, and amazing people. I also recommend Nice and Ville-Franche in France. I fell in love with both and keep going back!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! You’ve made my day with your first two comments! If you’re ever in the Twin Cities, let me know – we can meet up! Gozo/Malta sounds lovely. A bit of a long haul for a 1-week trip, but I’ll keep it in mind for a longer trip (plus, the husband would kill me for going someplace like that without him). We love, love, love France. Of course I’ve heard of Nice but haven’t been there. (We’ve been mainly to Paris, the Loire Valley, the Alps, and part of Provence over several trips.) I’ve never heard of Ville-Franche, but you can bet I’ll be looking it up. Let me know if you have a blog post on it. (Nice, too.)

      Like

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