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Vegas/Phoenix in Feb? Or Seattle? Advice please

Vegas/Phoenix in Feb? Or Seattle? Advice please

Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 03:28 PM
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Vegas/Phoenix in Feb? Or Seattle? Advice please

Hi all, I'm looking for places to take my son during Feb vacation for 2024. Every plane ticket I priced is expensive (because it is school vacation week in MA). If you recall, in June this year we flew to Las Vegas and visited Zion, Bryce, Page (antelope canyon), and Grand Canyon North Rim. We really enjoyed the scenery and the hiking.

I am looking at plane tickets to either Las Vegas or Phoenix, and it's looking like Phoenix might be slightly cheaper? It does seem like there are some interesting things to do IN Phoenix, but searching the forum here, it sounds like many recommend going to Sedona? I don't know if it's worth going to the South Rim since we were just at the North rim recently (which my son found "anticlimactic). Or should we drive down to Tucson and visit the Saguaro National Park? If we are going to Phoenix, I definitely want to visit Taliesin West. While we enjoy outdoorsy things, we also like exploring cities and going to museums and such. It's just really difficult to decide!

If we fly into Vegas, we will most likely head East this time and visit Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks.

Another affordable place to fly to in mid-Feb is Seattle, but I worry if the weather is going to be mostly chilly grey and wet. (FWIW we were in Copenhagen a few weeks ago where it was chilly, grey and wet, but we still had a good time)

since I haven't really been to any of these places, I'm looking for suggestions! I think we will enjoy any of these either way, but I would love to hear more from those of you who have been to these places and how to make the most of a 1-week vacation. Thanks in advance!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 05:02 PM
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I've been to all of those places in the past15 years. Unless you or he want to ski, I would not go to Seattle (or Portland) in February. The skiing is great but the cities are going to be cold and wet.
If you try to visit the south rim of the Grand Canyon in February, there will also be snow there because of the high elevation. I visited the south rim and Sedona in early November one year and the weather was good except one morning when it rained in Flagstaff and snowed several inches near the Arizona Snowbowl.
I have attended a geocachers event in early February several times. The event is held annually in Yuma AZ. After the event I walk across the border to get some dental work done (cheaper than US),
One time I did not want to drive from home. I took the Amtrak Coast Starlight to Los Angeles and then the Sunset Limited to Tucson and drove back to Yuma in a rental car.
If you want to fly in February, fly to Phoenix (or Phoenix/Mesa). At least one budget airline flies into Phoenix/Mesa. If you want to fly to Las Vegas, check for flights on Allegiant Airlines which has a hub in Las Vegas.
Be aware that on Sunday February 11,2024 the NFL Super Bowl will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Things may be a bit crazy for the week before and for several days afterward.

Last edited by tomfuller; Nov 22nd, 2023 at 05:25 PM. Reason: event in Las Vegas
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 05:22 PM
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Tucson has Saguaro National Park, Kartchner Caverns, the Titan Missile Museum. On the way, stop in Casa Grande to see the Casa Grande.

Sedona would be great also for hiking, a Pink Jeep Tour. You could do a side trip to Jerome and check out the copper museum in Clarkdale. I think the South Rim of the GC has a more impressive view.

Last edited by MichelleY; Nov 22nd, 2023 at 05:26 PM.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2023, 07:21 PM
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note: "If we fly into Vegas, we will most likely head East west this time and visit Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks."

At that time of year and with your travel history I'd probably either do Vegas + Death Valley or Phoenix + Tucson.

There is actually a lot to see and do in and near Las Vegas without going anywhere near the Strip. Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, the Neon Museum, Discovery Museum, Rhyolite (ghost town between LV and Death Valley). Definitely worth 2 or 3 days anyway.

When in Feb? If you are at all into baseball - Spring training in Phoenix starts around Feb 21st. In Tucson besides the places already mentioned there is the San Xavier del Bac mission.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 08:21 AM
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but I worry if the weather is going to be mostly chilly grey and wet.

Correct... and that's on a good day -haha. I love Seattle but not in February.

suze, in seattle
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 08:25 AM
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I also vote for Sedona. The average temps are 64 F for daytime highs and nightime lows are still above freezing at 36 F. Oak Creek Canyon is spectacular and the town bills itself as the “Day Hike Capital of America” and the region has more than 100 trails. Just west of town is the Red Rock-Secret Mt. Wilderness with the Robbers Roost cave on a ½ mile trail. Lots of outdoor activities including hiking, mt. biking and horseback-riding. There are two visitor centers: Sedona Visitor Center and the Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center (for hiking, camping, etc). Normally, lodging is rather high but since it will be off-season, you might get a deal. Fewer than 90 minutes west is Prescott which is definely worth a day trip. It has an attractive and vibrant downtown square with art galleries and restaurants. There are three museums including the Phippen Art Museum.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 08:41 AM
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A quick google says the vacation period is Feb. 19-23, so including one weekend day at each end, Feb. 17 - 25 is a possible timeframe, right?

You mentioned Seattle so I'm duty bound to mention things you could do in that period here. I'm not saying you should, only could.

Outdoors: It's likely to be rainy on some of those days. Unlike popular myth, it doesn't rain constantly in Seattle in the winter; the pattern is much more one of weather fronts bringing rain off the Pacific for a day, followed by clear skies for a day, followed by cloudy and breezy ones before the next rain front comes through - typically 4- or 5-day cycles. An El Nino winter is forecast, which could mean somewhat wetter than normal but also warmer, but based on past performance, taking that to the bank is not a good plan.

- Ferry rides. Riding the ferries across Puget Sound is scenic and quite enjoyable. The closest ferry destination is Bainbridge Island, where you can walk from the ferry terminal into the pleasant little village, complete with an excellent (free) small art museum.

- Fishermen's Terminal. Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal, located on the Lake Washington Ship Canal, is the homeport for Seattle's big local (Puget Sound) fishing fleet but also for a big portion of the Alaska fleet. You can have a meal at one of the cafes next to the docks, then walk off the carbs along the piers and jetties. Nearby are the Ballard locks, where vessels transition between Puget Sound (salt) and Lakes Union and Washington (fresh) through the big locks. It's fun to watch the vessels climb and fall.

- Snoqualmie Falls. This waterfall, higher than Niagara, is around 40 minutes east of the city off of I-90. In February they're likely to be truly spectacular due to the season's rainfall. The Salish Lodge, next to the falls, featured prominently in Twin Peaks, the old TV series; there are numerous other sites where the series was filmed nearby.


- Skagit Valley and Deception Pass. Roughly an hour north of the city is the Skagit ("ska-jit") Valley, famous for its daffodil and tulip fields, which won't be in bloom in February obviously. However, the valley is the winter home of tens of thousands of snow geese, beautiful big white birds that can fill the sky. On a nice day seeing the geese against the backdrop of the snowy Cascade mountains, including 12,000-foot Mount Baker, can be quite a scene.



Not far from the valley floor is the picturesque waterfront village of La Conner - galleries, cafes, etc., and close to that is Deception Pass, the narrow channel between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. At tide change, the current ripping through the gap is downright scary and quite a spectacle. The state park that brackets the channel has terrific hiking trails and beaches. The combination of the valley and Deception Pass can make for a very enjoyable day trip.



Note this outing can be combined with an overnight on beautiful Whidbey Island, which includes two more picturesque waterfront towns in Coupeville and Langley, and also Fort Casey State Park, with its pretty lighthouse and fascinating coastal defense gun batteries that kids (and their parents) can climb around. You'd cross Deception Pass from the north, stay on the island, and return to the mainland via a short ferry to Mukilteo, a fun little waterfront town on the mainland. The road from Mukilteo back to Seattle passes the Boeing Everett factory, home of the big jets and the biggest building in the world. Boeing has recently re-started the tours of the plant (suspended for Covid) that might be of interest to your son. Map - https://maps.app.goo.gl/dmiH4ZQtzg8wfvqZA

Indoors.

There are of course numerous museums covering all genres - fine art, natural and manmade history, Asian arts, etc. The standout (IMO) is the Museum of Flight, second (again, IMO) only to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum among this theme. If you and your son are even remotely interested in air and space, this is the place for the better part of a whole day. See and go aboard LBJ's Air Force One, a Concorde, all sorts of big aircraft from B-29s to 747s, the mockup of the Space Shuttle. There are endless interactive exhibits, sit in cockpits, work in a control tower, on and on. There's a good little cafe and (IMO) one of the best museum gift shops in the country.

In addition to the Space Needle (overpriced in my view) Seattle Center is home to a big display of Dale Chihuly's art glass, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) in a weird Frank Gehry building ("weird" is being nice) and the Pacific Science Center, full of kid-oriented displays and interactive exhibits.

You could visit the Burke Museum of Natural History on the beautiful University of Washington campus, the fascinating Museum of History and Industry at the south end of Lake Union, a bespoke Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, and several other smaller museums, not to mention the big Seattle Art Museum in the downtown core, a block or so from the Pike Place market.

There are tours of "underground Seattle" which visit the remnants of the city left behind from a huge fire in 1889 - old storefronts, tall tales; they're amusing and very popular.

Seattle's position on the Pacific Rim can also be a tourist attraction. Seattle has dozens (hundreds?) of cool Asian restaurants and cafes, flourishing Asian markets, small Asian-themed galleries and museums... One of our best under-the-radar visitor attractions is Uwajimaya, a big pan-Asian grocery and department store, which also houses a branch of Kinokuniya, Japan's biggest bookstore chain. Young people usually get a big kick out of browsing through the store - not just manga and other books, but cool gifts, unusual snacks and foods, on and on.

I'll stop here. This is a sampling of activities and sights, and a pretty incomplete one at that. Whether it can compete with sunshine in the desert is up to you.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2023, 07:20 PM
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Thank you for your input, especially Gardyloo. One of our friends were in Seattle this past summer and can't stop raving about it. I actually went there once almost 30 years ago for a short visit.

right now I'm more tempted by Sedona, for it's warm(er) weather! But I'll definitely save your recommendations for a future trip to Seattle.

Q for those regarding Sedona: it appears not advisable to take a day trip to Flagstaff in mid-Feb, due to the elevation/cold weather? If we stay around the Sedona area , including day trip to Jerome and maybe the Verde Canyon Railroad? I need to go borrow a guidebook from the library to research more. How many days/nights would you recommend? Would 6 days be too long? Or should we consider 4 days /nights in Sedona, and then 1 day/2 nights in Scottsdale so we can visit Taliesin West and other interesting sites IN phoenix?
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Old Nov 24th, 2023, 06:18 AM
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yk, we lived in Tucson and had friends in Sedona. We often encountered snow in Sedona when we visited them in Feb or March.
We did have snow in Tucson sometimes, mountains go up to 9500’.
But the snowfall below the mountains would disappear quickly.
If you are going to stay in Tucson, fly directly there. Nice airport, small. Don’t fly to Phoenix then drive an hour and a half plus on I-10 to get to Tucson.

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Nov 24th, 2023 at 06:22 AM.
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Old Nov 24th, 2023, 06:40 AM
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I've put in my 2¢ - but just another comment. I really like Sedona -- have visited solo and with friends a total of 3 times spread over many years. Never been with children, but it doesn't really strike me a particularly kid-focused sort of place. Sure there is great scenery, lots of hiking possibilities, and the Jeep tours. But even the Visitors Center's list of family recommended activities is pretty meh . . .

children_activities_%28002%29.pdf
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Old Nov 24th, 2023, 08:01 AM
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Now that Seattle is (unsurprisingly) off the table, I sort of echo Janis on Sedona as more an adult-oriented place. I'd also agree with HappyTrvlr that expecting warm weather in February might be a little optimistic. Sunny, yes, but Sedona is at almost 5000 feet elevation, which, while a couple thousand feet below the likes of the Grand Canyon or some of the red-rock national parks in Arizona and Utah, is still high enough to make for chilly nights, even below freezing.

If the idea of Joshua Tree was still on the menu (and it should be, it's amazing) you could also look at flying into any of the LA area airports, Palm Springs or San Diego, from which the Coachella Valley is a couple hours' drive, and is likely to be considerably warmer than Sedona. There's a lot to do in the valley - day trips to Joshua Tree are easy, other hike or outdoor activities are plentiful, and many choices for accommodations at all price points. You could ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the snow (8500 feet) at Mt. San Jacinto State Park, visit the Living Desert exhibit and zoo, have a date milkshake at Shield's Date Farm in Indio - many possibilities. By flying into one of the LA airports you could take a day at one end or the other of the trip to do some sightseeing close to the coast, if that appeals.

I'll risk derision however by also mentioning a couple of options for other getaway locations that popped into my head when I saw your post. Probably off the wall, but...

- Monterey Bay area. Fabulous collection of kid-friendly destinations close by - redwoods, Monterey aquarium, whale watching, Pacific Grove butterfly sanctuary, Carmel mission, Steinbeck canter in Salinas, incomparable Point Lobos, Big Sur, on and on.

- Iceland. Okay, I know, I know... Hot springs, northern lights, glaciers... but surprisingly affordable airfare and less time in the air than to most places in the southwest or California.

Anyway, miscellaneous ramblings.
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Old Nov 24th, 2023, 08:25 AM
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If you do decide to go to Phoenix and if there is interest as well as availability you do have the Phoenix Suns basketball as a possibility.
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Old Nov 24th, 2023, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
I've put in my 2¢ - but just another comment. I really like Sedona -- have visited solo and with friends a total of 3 times spread over many years. Never been with children, but it doesn't really strike me a particularly kid-focused sort of place. Sure there is great scenery, lots of hiking possibilities, and the Jeep tours. But even the Visitors Center's list of family recommended activities is pretty meh . . .

Attachment 8399
If you do go to Sedona, be sure to visit the Sedona Heritage Museum at the edge of town on Jordan Road. Sedona is not a Mexican, Spanish or Native American word. It was the name given to Sedona Miller who was born in Missouri. She married T.C. Schnebly and moved to the red rock area of the Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona. When they decided that they wanted regular mail service, T.C. submitted several suggested several 2 or 3 word names for the new post office. They were rejected by the Postmaster General who wanted a one word town name. Someone suggested that he name it for his wife. It was approved. There are still a few orchards and vineyards in the area.
If you visit Flagstaff, visit the Lowell Observatory and the Riordan mansion State Park. The Riordan brothers were the founders of the Arizona Timber and Lumber company. They decided to build a double mansion with a common area in the middle. Percival Lowell had the observatory built there because of the clear air at the high elevation. There are several large telescopes there and Percival's mausoleum which has rose colored glass in it. Lowell MA is named for him.
Not too far from Sedona is the small town of Cornville AZ which is the home of the Manzanita restaurant. They specialize in authentic German cuisine with American food including wild game dishes as well. I took my DW there for our anniversary dinner because of her German heritage.
If you go east from Flagstaff, be sure to visit Winslow Arizona. "Standing on the Corner" is a statue of Glen Frey. There is even a flat bed Ford parked there. on the other side of the street is a small restaurant that is in an old bank building. The town jewelry store is in the old bank vault.
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Old Nov 25th, 2023, 03:29 AM
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Much prefer Tucson to Phoenix and not much of a Sedona fan either.


Near Tucson are the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro NP, and Tucamacori National Historic Park.

Last edited by mlgb; Nov 25th, 2023 at 03:56 AM.
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Old Nov 25th, 2023, 07:43 AM
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yk, Do you realize how large Phoenix is? Tucson only has a million population , including adjacent areas. Phoenix is 4.7 million. We lived in Tucson for many years and now just spend the winter months there. We always have avoided Phoenix.
Choose between Sedona and Tucson.
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Old Nov 25th, 2023, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by mlgb
Near Tucson are the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro NP, and Tucamacori National Historic Park.
And Tubac near Tumacacori. Then southeast are Tombstone for a stop on the way to Bisbee, the best of the bunch.

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Old Nov 25th, 2023, 12:55 PM
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I've gone ahead and bought plane tickets to Phoenix — we can fly nonstop from Boston for a really good price ($560r/t for 2 tickets) by missing school for 2 days. if we want to fly during the actual vacation week, we will have to pay 2x as much and a red-eye + connections home.

The current plan is to spend Tuesday through Saturday in Sedona and environs. If weather cooperates, we may even attempt GC on a day trip. Nearby Jerome sounds very interesting too. I reserved a place that has kitchenette so we can prepare simple meals so as not to have to eat out every night. Then we will drive down to Phoenix Sunday. Tentatively stay near the airport for 2 nights so we can visit Taliesen West, and possibly the Desert Botanical Garden, and maybe old town Scottsdale? The plan is to return the car the day before, and use the hotel airport shuttle to catch our 8:30am flight out of Phoenix (hence the idea of an airport hotel).
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Old Nov 26th, 2023, 07:21 PM
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That sounds like a good plan. While in Phoenix, visit the Heard museum.
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Old Nov 27th, 2023, 08:10 AM
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Montezuma's Castle National Monument is a really nice stop between Phoenix and Sedona. The Desert Botanical Garden is definitely worth visiting while you are in Phoenix. We got to see a Chihuly exhibit there, which was excellent.

Since the weather can be problematic, if possible have two plans in mind. Then keep an eye on the long term forecast and make a decision as the date approaches. Tucson has the advantage of having a lot of really good indoor options if the weather is not cooperating. Even wind can be a problem that time of year.

On our last visit there (late March this year) we watched the weather every day and scheduled our activities based on the day's forecast. Some days the morning was best for outdoor activities, other days the afternoon was better. We even had frost one morning, unusual for that time of year. It was beautiful though.

Have a great trip!
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Old Nov 27th, 2023, 02:05 PM
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I got out 2 Arizona guidebooks from the library and now I'm torn. Both Sedona area and Tucson area have their attractions. I know this is unpopular opinion, can I possibly visit both areas in a 6-day trip? We fly into phoenix Tuesday arriving just before noon. We can drive N to Sedona and spend 3 days there (Wednesday thru Friday). Saturday morning drive south, stop at Taliesen West for a visit, then continue south to Tucson. Spend Sun/Mon in Tucson area, driving back to Phoenix late Monday, return car and then stay at an airport hotel. Fly home Tuesday early morning (8:30am flight).

The rationale for going to Sedona first is it tends to be less busy during weekdays (and cheaper lodging).

I know it's not ideal either way, and perhaps I should just pick one area and stick with it.

Last edited by yk; Nov 27th, 2023 at 02:43 PM. Reason: revising the itinerary
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