Arizona Vegan Vacation: Part 1 – Planning

Photo credit - Christopher Burns - Antelope Canyon

I’m so excited!

In less than one week my husband, David, and my stepdaughter, Mia, and I leave for our long-awaited trip out west. We Vegans Three are headed to Arizona (and parts of southern Utah) for a whirlwind summer vacation that we’re sure to remember for the rest of our lives.

Thirteen adventure-filled days up and down the great state of AZ, where the air is dry, dusty and HOT…VERY HOT. Coming from the steamy, humid, scorching and sticky gulf coast of Florida, it will be interesting to see how our bodies adapt to the dry heat of the desert air. Interestingly, we have been checking temperatures in the places we are staying and the highs and lows are very different throughout the state.

David and I have been to Phoenix for work in the past, but none of us has had the opportunity to visit all the amazing geographical wonders that the area has to offer. Some of the iconic places on our list are Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Zion National Park in Utah, Flagstaff and Scottsdale. Actually in that order. I’ve never flown to another state, just to turn around and take a road trip but, the way I look at it, it’s the best of both vacation worlds.

Our actual route.

Not only is it our first time going to AZ for vacation, but it’s also the first vacation that the three of us will all be together for so long, at one time. I guess it’s fortunate that we all love the outdoors, hiking, nature, exploring, new adventures and most of all, FOOD! We are all looking forward to seeing what AZ has to offer by way of food, and since taking Rouxbe’s plant-based culinary course, I am a bit of a foodie critic.

And, as a vegan chef, it was my job to research and find our various food options along the way. It’s funny how something as simple as food has become so important to us when planning our vacations. It used to be we just chose a cool vacation spot and went. But now, because we are completely animal-free, we have to search out restaurants and double check menus to see what’s available.

When it comes to places like Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff and Scottsdale, based on my research, the plant-based options seem nearly endless. But, when I dove into the areas around the Grand Canyon and the northern AZ border regions, it seems there are slim pickings and we may have to be a little creative when finding potential places to please our vegan palate. I mean, a tried and true vegan knows if they can find crackers and hummus they won’t starve. But, seriously, crackers and hummus? On vacation in the Grand Canyon? There has to be more…

I am the eternal researcher and planner…especially when it comes to food!

Researching restaurants and grocery stores so we won’t starve (slight exaggeration!? ) was just one piece of the planning process. We are road tripping the entire state so we also need to understand what kind of vehicle we should rent (we went with a standard SUV), what to pack for our various adventures, and where to stay. We know the general areas we want to visit, but finding suitable accommodations for three people without breaking the bank can be challenging. We are also heading to one of the most recognized national parks of all time during the busiest time of the year (and for the 100th-anniversary of the National Park Service mind you), and we had to really dig deep to strategize our trip timing and details.

A few necessities. Wet wipes, waterproof phone holders, a compass or two, flashlight, headlamp, ponchos…you never know what you might need hiking! The earplugs are for a good night’s sleep! 😴

Finding 5 different hotels during the busy summer time was a challenge that I was ready to accept and I am happy to say I completed my task with great success. Since Mia is a teenager, she needs a little bit of her own space and it was important to either find inexpensive hotel suites or rooms with a pull-out couch or some separate area for a little privacy. Fortunately, we scored great rooms within our budget at all our locations and thankfully they seemingly have plant-based options available in the area.

We also want to treat ourselves to jeep and hiking tours in the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon and things were getting a little complicated during the planning process so this is when we turn to our handy dandy vaca folder and our fancy trip itinerary planner (a.k.a good old excel). When I met my husband 7 years ago and we went on our first trip together, he showed me this convoluted excel file that had me giggling. I used excel for work before but, I never used it to plan a vacation!

Here is how we plan trips. Other than the paid for tours and prescheduled activities, we use this as a guide, it’s not set in stone.

Jump ahead 7 years to the present day, and we still create a folder and use an excel file to plan our trip. And, I will admit, I have come to appreciate the vacation folder and itinerary “guide”. Which is what I made David promise to call it since I hate feeling pigeonholed to a set itinerary. After all, we’re not in boot camp. We’re on VACATION!

Every vacation has a folder that we keep our details in. During the trip, we add restaurant menus and brochures.

So the flights are booked, the hotels and lodges are reserved, the rental car is waiting, the tours are scheduled and now… now we just need to have the best time ever. I will be capturing our moments along the way and you know I will be snapping photos of the food we do wind up devouring. When all is said and done I will come back and share a vegan foodie tour review of Arizona, similar to my Portland write up.

I am super-thrilled to have the opportunity for this trip and I am looking forward to submerging ourselves in the beautiful and spiritual red rocks of Arizona. I will be sharing stories and photos on Facebook and Instagram, too, so be sure to follow me on those sites to see how we are doing. I gotta say, I’m smiling ear-to-ear as…

we vegans three go west!


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  1. Jennifer on at

    This looks like a super fun trip!!

    • Jennifer on at

      Can’t wait! πŸ˜€ Thanks for your comment.

  2. Joanne on at

    I love Arizona! Enjoy your trip!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thank you! We are excited! It will be nice to be there for vacation and not work!

  3. Definitely keep hydrated on those hot days! I should know. I live in Florida where, right now, the temps are in the 100’s feels like! It’s hot!

    • Jennifer on at

      Great advice! We live in FL too and the heat index has been over 100 the past few days. My hubby said it’s getting us ready for our trip! πŸ˜€

  4. Laura Lee on at

    Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks! I need to keep copious notes and may break down and do a few of those pesky live videos! πŸ˜‰ LOL

  5. Holly Bird on at

    Looks like you have a wonderful trip planned! I can’t wait to read about it when you get back! Be safe and have fun!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks, Holly! We are the consummate planners! Can’t believe it’s here! πŸ˜€

  6. We love Arizona! I can’t wait to hear how much fun you had πŸ™‚

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks, Robin! Other than the extreme heat ahead, I think we picked some great places! πŸ˜€

  7. You seem up to the task! I can’t wait to read about the food you found – I know you’ll be surprised at some of the vegan fare you’ll find. You’re right, Sedona and Phoenix will be just fine. The rural areas, well, maybe they have some infused hummus? Have fun and take lots of pictures.

    • Jennifer on at

      LOL, why is it that restaurants’ only vegan fallback is hummus! I guess I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth! 😁 I found a few “outpost” type markets that have fresh fruits and veggies too, so, I think we will avoid starvation in the more rural areas. (I must stop exaggerating!) Thanks for the note!

  8. Laura on at

    The drive from Phoenix to Grand Canyon is one of my favorite drives in USA. Have a great time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jennifer on at

      Yay! I knew we planned a good one! I am the “driver” of the bunch and I can’t wait to drive with those views! Thanks so much for your note!

  9. Haley Kelley on at

    The OCD side of me loves this because planning ahead is everything! lol

    • Jennifer on at

      Hahaha…OCD is our middle name. πŸ˜€

  10. Angela on at

    Have a lovely time! Cannot wait to see all the amazing photos.

  11. Tricia Snow on at

    I know Vegans in our area are demanding more options. Glad you had a plan!

  12. jen on at

    Hope your trip is a good one!

    • Jennifer on at

      Fingers crossed! I am going into this one with as little expectation as possible so I will be completely wowed! πŸ˜‰

  13. Paloma Cotton on at

    You are so organized, I love it because I am such a planner lol

    • Jennifer on at

      If I plan then I am less stressed once we walk out the door. πŸ™‚ Anything I can do to alleviate stress on vacation! LOL

  14. Karie on at

    Sedona is amazing and you should have no problem finding good food there. I just got out of Zions it was amazing! Although Not many food choices or stores. Have fun!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks for the heads up and for the confirmation that Zion lives up to its reputation. My hubby is super-excited about this stop! Thanks for your note!

  15. Marisa on at

    Sounds like so much fun. I get along really well with my son and really enjoy road trips with him. I really want to explore Arizona, so for now will do it vicariously through you.

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks, Marisa! I am hoping this brings Mia and me closer. As a stepmom, the balance between friends and being a parental figure is never an easy one! πŸ˜€ I am excited that she decided to become vegan when we did, and she appreciates my food (or rather…any good vegan food!)! And we all LOVE the outdoors and exploring so I am pretty sure it’s gonna be great!

  16. Angela Greven |Mean Green Chef on at

    Looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun!!

    • Jennifer on at


  17. Suzan on at

    Sedona is on my bucket list! Have a wonderful vacation and look forward to enjoying all the pics!

    • Jennifer on at

      Yes! The Grand Canyon and Sedona have been in the works for a couple of years now. This is a trip my hubby has been waiting for for a while! Thanks for your note!

  18. Meagan on at

    Have a great trip! Excel or Sheets are the best for ANY planning!

    • Jennifer on at

      I love excels, but, my hubby is the formula guy. There is a formula for everything it seems. It’s the engineer in him I suppose. πŸ˜€ Thanks for your note!

  19. Jelane on at

    We are hoping to travel to that area soon. Can’t wait to hear all about your trip and the best places to eat!

    • Jennifer on at

      Hi Jelane! It seems to be a great vacation spot and I am super excited about the hiking and exploring, along with the food!

  20. I wish I could go with you!!! This is definitely my kind of vacation. Love a good road trip!!! πŸ™‚

    • Jennifer on at

      Awww, thanks Kymberly…you will one day! This has been a couple of years in the making. And I too LOVE road trips. It’s all my family could afford when I was young. πŸ˜€

  21. Verla on at

    Wow what a beautiful part of the country. And yes you are organized (excel spreadsheets!)

    • Jennifer on at

      LOL…it feels like an illness sometimes…the need to plan. πŸ˜€ Thanks for your note!

  22. Karla on at

    Have fun! Can’t wait to see pictures!!!

    • Jennifer on at

      Thanks, Karla! I thought I would have a fancy camera for the trip but will still be using my handy dandy, cracked iPhone. πŸ˜€ We use what we got! πŸ™‚ Thanks for your note.

  23. Cindy on at

    Have fun and enjoy your trip! I love how you’ve done all the planning.

    I’m doing the same for my trip to Scotland next month. I’m researching vegan restaurants and gluten free/vegan afternoon teas. They have many options in Edinburgh. Not as many in the smaller towns. However we are basing out of Edinburgh and have an apartment with a full kitchen. I can always cook!

    • Jennifer on at

      Awesome! Scotland…WOWEE! Now that would take me into planning heaven! We have booked two inexpensive suites with small kitchenettes in the places that don’t offer vegan restaurants/options. We were fortunate that way. Hubby was like “great, you can cook!” and I was all like “meh…um…er…great…cooking on vacation”. LOL Thanks for your note!

  24. Lesley Tarleton on at

    Do you have any recommendatios for vegan food in Utah? Planning a trip from the UK in july , to The Grand Canyon(disappointed to read about the vegan food in that area) and then Utah.

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Meet Jennifer

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I'm Chef Jennifer! A trained and certified personal vegan chef, offering delicious and nutritious animal-free food through personalized, weekly meal-prep services. I also love advocating for the plant-based lifestyle. Changing lives, saving animals and veganizing the planet with REAL food, one plate at a time.🍎πŸ₯¦πŸ₯•

Learn about me, why I started VIR and why I believe food is medicine...for real!


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