My family recently returned from the Adventures by Disney Southwest Splendors trip (also known as Cowboys & Canyons) to Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park and Moab! This was our 3rd ABD, so I knew to expect a hassle free vacation with magical Disney touches. It was also our first domestic Adventure (we’ve traveled to Central Europe and Costa Rica with ABD), so I wondered whether I would appreciate guided travel right here at home in the US. I can wholeheartedly say that Adventures by Disney is the most amazing way to see this magical part of the country.

Adventures by Disney Grand Canyon

This Adventure was planned about a year ago. We often cruise over spring break and traveled to Costa Rica with ABD last year, but my husband really wanted to see some of our own country. My husband and children (ages 17 and 14) had never seen the Grand Canyon, and I had not been since I was a teenager, so this itinerary was appealing. We were also thrilled to have some great friends join us with their 17-year-old daughter.

Saturday arrival (T-2 nights)

We arrived in Phoenix on Saturday, two nights before our Monday Adventure start date. We always like to arrive on vacation a day or two early to adjust to the time change and to account for any travel mishaps. This trip, we most importantly wanted to visit with some family living in the Phoenix area.

Unlike other Adventures, ABD does not offer any pre or post hotel night options for this itinerary. After splurging on the Adventure, we chose the Hampton Inn- Phoenix Airport North. We had a fantastic room category for families, a 2 bedroom suite. This room had a single entrance leading into a traditional hotel room with two queen beds and a bathroom. A door led to a small bedroom with a king bed. While the location was convenient to the airport and the hotel quite comfortable for a short stay, in retrospect, we should have stayed in Scottsdale. We ended up driving to Scottsdale several times in two days, and we had plenty of time to meet our group on the first day.

One option in Scottsdale would have been the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. We met family for dinner at the Kitchen West restaurant at the Scottsdale Resort . The resort recently completed a $10 Million renovation and it was reflected in the welcoming grounds and beautiful interior. We ordered a range of appetizers to share and enjoyed them all with the warm flatbread provided with many of the dishes.

The KW Farm “Fries were actually roasted fingerling potatoes served with a fried egg and a trio of dipping sauces. The egg made sharing a bit messy, but the sauces were delicious. My husband is a huge Mole sauce fan so we had to try the Mole Meatball appetizer as well. We all soaked up the extra sauce with that warm soft flatbread. Another hit was the smoked ham flatbread with ricotta and arugula.

Despite being landlocked, Kitchen West served some amazing seafood! And my son’s steak was eaten so quickly, I could not get a photo! The colorful vegetables made for one of the prettiest plates I have ever seen.

Sunday (T-1)

The next morning, we stayed closer to the hotel for a beautiful brunch seated on the outdoor patio at Chelsea’s Kitchen. A pitcher of sangria loaded with fruit started the day off right along with a Bloody Mary for my husband. We shared some great shrimp ceviche and deviled eggs before digging into breakfast specialties like Eggs Benedict, short rib hash and Santa Fe style eggs. We then explored Scottsdale a bit.


Sunday evening, we met our dear friends who would be joining us for the Adventure. We were resigned to wait over an hour for a table at Barrio Queen, but as we wandered around nearby, we lucked out with a table for 6 outside along the canal at Tapas Papa Frita.  We proceeded to order more sangria and a feast of tapas!A standout was the Datiles con Cocino, apple bacon wrapped Medjool dates stuffed with rosemary queso (1st photo, below left). And of course we tried the paella! It was a lovely, perfect night to catch up and prepare for our Adventure which would start the next day!



Our Adventure begins tomorrow! Click here for Part 2! 

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