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Best “homebase” city in Southwest for a family with two young kids??

Best “homebase” city in Southwest for a family with two young kids??

Old Mar 28th, 2021, 04:17 AM
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Best “homebase” city in Southwest for a family with two young kids??

Hi All!

My family and I are craving some desert beauty, stargazing and just overall magic. We live in GA. We have a week or so off in May 2021.

We enjoy short, safe scenic hikes (we have a 2.5 and 5 year old), charming towns with outdoor seating restaurants), stargazing, museums, wildlife, natural history, ufo/alien experiences 👽. We are thinking we don’t want a roadtrip kind of vacation but day trips are ok!

What city should be our home base? We literally know nothing about the region
Sedona?
Palm Spring?


Thank you for your advice!!

Last edited by sarasims2356; Mar 28th, 2021 at 04:39 AM.
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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 07:54 AM
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Santa Fe


and a day trip to:

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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 08:41 AM
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Let me be the first to welcome you to Fodors! I'll give you a couple to consider. With only one week, you'll probably only be able to choose one area. You can fly to Albuquerque NM and see several museums and even an arboretum and a zoo. Just west of the city you can walk and see some petroglyphs. Santa Fe is also nearby. Rent a car for anything outside Albuquerque.
The other city I would consider would consider is Flagstaff AZ. Sedona is an easy day trip from Flagstaff. I would not try to stay in Sedona. The other day trips from Flagstaff are the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and maybe Bearizona for the kids. Going east from Flagstaff toward Albuquerque, you can make a stop in Winslow Arizona. Yes, there is a flat bed Ford and a statue of Glen Frey on "the corner". There is a fair restaurant on the south side of the street in an old bank building.
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Old Mar 28th, 2021, 03:16 PM
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I vote against Palm Springs. Daytime temps would be too high for safe hiking, esp. with small children. You'd likely spend most of the day indoors with pool time in the morning and late afternoon. You could take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to a higher elevation to escape the heat and view the scenery, but it's a fairly expensive excursion for a family of 4... about $100.

If your trip includes Memorial Day, you may find that budget-friendly lodging everywhere is already pretty scarce.
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 06:12 PM
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Phoenix and Tucson will be very hot in May. Stay in Sedona and explore from there.
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Old Mar 30th, 2021, 06:36 PM
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You are asking a tall order -- I personally would not even consider true desert destinations - in May - with young children. I know you are in GA so are used to heat/humidity. In the SW low altitude desert areas it won't be humid but it can be extremely hot. It won't feel like 110°F does in the SE but the little ones will have to be indoors/in ac from mid morning til nearly dark.

So Palm Springs, Phoenix, etc would be off the table IMO. Even Sedona could be a problem . . . April/early May would be fine, but by the end of May/early June average Highs are up to the low 90°'s

Flagstaff would be much better - both for weather and lower cost accommodations than in Sedona. But then Flagstaff is at nearly 7,000 feet and not desert.

Albuquerque or Santa Fe would be OK
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Old Mar 31st, 2021, 02:26 AM
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Since the distances out west are measured in hours drive time consider a single destination with local activities rather than planning on day trips.

I second the recommendation of Santa Fe. The distances to the places Michael mentioned are all relatively close - less than an hour to both. The other worthwhile place is Tent Rocks, but it's currently closed due to COVID.

Day trips from other places (eg Sedona) aren't realistic for small kids. It's a minimum 2 or 2.5 hr drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon, each way. And other than staying safely on the rim at lookouts that have railings or stone walls I would not consider hikes there to be rambunctious-kid safe. Many areas have NO protection above steep drop offs. Grand Canyon is a place best visited when kids have the legs for a several hour hike to explore below the rim.
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Old Mar 31st, 2021, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by J62 View Post
Since the distances out west are measured in hours drive time consider a single destination with local activities rather than planning on day trips.

I second the recommendation of Santa Fe. The distances to the places Michael mentioned are all relatively close - less than an hour to both. The other worthwhile place is Tent Rocks, but it's currently closed due to COVID.

Day trips from other places (eg Sedona) aren't realistic for small kids. It's a minimum 2 or 2.5 hr drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon, each way. And other than staying safely on the rim at lookouts that have railings or stone walls I would not consider hikes there to be rambunctious-kid safe. Many areas have NO protection above steep drop offs. Grand Canyon is a place best visited when kids have the legs for a several hour hike to explore below the rim.
SO true about the Grand Canyon! Some years ago, we took son and his friend there when they were both about 12. We stopped at the first overlook, and after admiring the view for a few minutes, realized the boys were gone. Nowhere. Long story and a frantic hour or two later, up they climbed back over the ledge. And yes, they had been stuck in a perilous spot where they had dropped down without thinking about how to get back up. They were incredibly fortunate they didn't fall and become a statistic. Keep your eyes on your kids at all times.

I second the vote for Santa Fe. It has so much to offer.
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Old Apr 1st, 2021, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
I vote against Palm Springs. Daytime temps would be too high for safe hiking, esp. with small children. You'd likely spend most of the day indoors with pool time in the morning and late afternoon. You could take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to a higher elevation to escape the heat and view the scenery, but it's a fairly expensive excursion for a family of 4... about $100.

If your trip includes Memorial Day, you may find that budget-friendly lodging everywhere is already pretty scarce.
I will second this. Palm Springs has brutal temperatures. I like the idea of Santa Fe as a good place that allows for travel to other areas. I think the same could be said of some parts of Arizona, maybe Tempe?
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Old Apr 1st, 2021, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Tooner View Post
I will second this. Palm Springs has brutal temperatures. I like the idea of Santa Fe as a good place that allows for travel to other areas. I think the same could be said of some parts of Arizona, maybe Tempe?
No, not Tempe. May is brutal in the Phoenix/Tempe area as well. Flagstaff is a good cooler weather option in AZ.
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