Phoenix: An Insider’s Guide

It’s no secret that a favorite vacation destination for Washingtonians is Arizona. With warm weather, plenty of outdoor activities and a landscape completely opposite to ours, it’s an easy-and-quick getaway for the whole family when the weather begins to turn.

Phoenix is known for being somewhat of a concrete jungle in the middle of the desert—a large city with museums, bars and one of the biggest shopping malls in the country, Fashion Square. However, if you’re looking for more of a desert vacation to relax and live like a local, we’ve got you covered.

Front entrance of The Wigwam at sunset

The Resort

Phoenix is a large city surrounded by smaller areas and neighborhoods, much like Seattle. To the west of Phoenix is an area called Litchfield Park, a smaller city similar to Bellevue that’s nestled within other higher-end residential areas and golf resorts.

This area is home to the Wigwam, a resort and golf club that’s far enough from the city to have some desert charm but with all the amenities you’d find at any high-end hotel. With three restaurants, a spa, adult and children’s pools, and a golf course that would challenge any level of player, the Wigwam is a great choice for a family-friendly vacation or a couples’ relaxing retreat.

The History

One of my favorite memories from traveling with my dad was that he would research each area and give me the history behind each city we visited. Of course, at the time I thought he was just a genius who knew everything. If you’re looking to give your travel companions a bit of a history lesson along the way, here’s the inside scoop.

The area surrounding the Wigwam has a very specific aesthetic compared to the rest of Phoenix. With desert landscape to the south and west, the actual city is an oasis with several palm and orange trees. Back in 1910, Litchfield was founded by settlers who wanted to turn the area into a citrus grove since it’s near the Agua Fria River (just east of the resort).

However, history had its own ideas when World War I began and the Goodyear Tire Company moved into the area, bringing jobs and creating a small city built around manufacturing for the war effort. Paul Litchfield, the owner, fell in love with the surroundings and developed the neighborhoods into the luxury area full of amenities for local families and travelers that it is now.

Family-Friendly Activities

Your little ones will be completely entertained at the resort alone: with pools to explore, family activity nights in the bar and poolside movies, they will not want to leave. If you’re traveling with a large group or in a multifamily setting, the Wigwam keeps children safe and entertained while parents enjoy a desert oasis.

Just outside the resort is the Wildlife World Zoo that features 600 acres of desert wildlife and African safari creatures. The zoo is a quick drive from the resort and also has many dining options to keep you exploring all day long. Don’t miss out on Dillon’s KC BBQ, a family-friendly restaurant in the zoo that lets you dine underwater with sharks, stingrays and exotic fish swimming around your table.

Depending on the season, the Wigwam is also a quick hop-and-skip to several sports arenas including the Phoenix Raceway, where race-car drivers practice year-round; Chase Field, which is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and a spring training for several MLB teams; and Gila River Arena, where you can watch ice hockey, wrestling and boxing. Before your trip, remember to check for local ticket deals to see what sporting events are happening.

For a Couple’s Retreat

A trip for two to the desert: What could be more romantic? With beautiful horizons and relaxing pools to dip into, Phoenix has the makings of a perfect couple’s weekend. The Wigwam will have you covered with its adult-only pool, full-service spa and 21-and-over lounges to relax in.

If you’re going on a romantic vacation, I recommend renting a car and skipping the transportation hassle. Get a luxury ride and head to downtown Phoenix in 15 minutes to roam the Phoenix Art Museum before heading out for cocktails at From the Rooftop down the street or for music at the Nash jazz club.

Don’t forget to explore outside too. Hit the road and explore the Desert Botanical Garden for a romantic walk and farm-to-table dining options. Check the dates of your stay and see if the garden is hosting one of their famous night walks lit up by lanterns and flashlights, where you can see another side of the desert.

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