Why I Loved Growing Up In Arizona

Why I Loved Growing Up In Arizona

Thank you Arizona for an unforgettable childhood.

Growing up in Arizona has been an experience like no other. I recognize that it does not have many national treasures or popular tourist destinations. However, it is equally as special.

During my childhood, I constantly wished that I lived in a much more exciting and lively place like California. I always complained that Phoenix was not as exhilarating as cities such as New York City or Boston. I used to want to trade the desert landscape for the beach setting. After living in Arizona for over fifteen years, I finally learned how to appreciate its natural beauty.

I love Arizona’s wonderful weather. Despite a few 120 degree days and a couple of dust storms here and there, the weather has never been a problem. I have never had to experience dealing with snow blocking the driveway or six-inch rain. These are luxuries that people in the east coast cannot enjoy. One of my favorite past times is to hang out poolside and admire the sunset.

In order to beat the triple digit heat, my friends and I have learned how to be creative and come up with activities that do not involve the outdoors. Going to brunch, exploring Butterfly Wonderland and Odysea Aquarium, and go-kart racing are just some of favorites. From this, I have learned how to make the best out of every situation.

Living in Arizona has taught me how to be grateful for the little things. I have learned how to treasure the small distinct features that make it unique. Besides the famous Grand Canyon, it has other underappreciated gems such as the jaw-dropping Antelope Canyon, the majestic Havasu Falls, and picturesque Sedona. These destinations are great road trip destinations and only a few hours away. No matter how many times I go, I never get sick of the views.

Besides the weather, the people that live in Arizona have heavily influenced my experience. Everyone that I have talked to, whether they were born in Arizona or just live here, are not immune to its charm. Their pride and love for their state are admirable.

Arizona has given me a lifetime of memories. I will always remember jumping in the pool in the summer to cool off, wearing shorts in the winter, driving two hours north to see a patch of snow, and waking up at 5 a.m. to go hiking. It has taught me so much about myself. Learning how to make the best of every situation and valuing the little things are lessons that I am able to apply in my everyday life.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to grow up in this desert environment. As I begin to prepare to leave for college, I know that I will miss it so much. No matter where I go, it will always hold a special place in my heart. It is my home. Thank you, Arizona for an unforgettable childhood.

Cover Image Credit: Jad Limcaco

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5 Places You Must See The First Time You Visit Anchorage

Check out a few of my favorite Alaskan sites.

About a month ago, I went to Anchorage, Alaska for the first time with my fiance. We spent four days bouncing around the city and trying to see as much as we could. We had the time of our lives. These are just a few of the highlights from our trip, and I think absolutely everyone needs see all of these places the first time they visit Anchorage.

1. The Anchorage Museum.

The Anchorage Museum was by far our favorite place that we went on this trip. We loved how the museum blended historical information with modern displays, and we definitely spent more time than we should have in playing with all of the interactive elements in the "discover" section. Plus, standing in front of the museum makes for a picture-perfect pose:

2. The Mount Baldy Trailhead.

This is definitely more for those who enjoy being in the outdoors, but we had a blast hiking up Mount Baldy. The trail is technically in Eagle River, which is about half an hour outside of Anchorage, but it's worth the drive. When we went, it was extremely icy and slippery, but every step we took rewarded us with amazing views and awesome memories. The icy conditions kept us from making it to the top, but we're hoping to try again on a summer trip in the future.

3. The Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall/The Midnight Sun Cafe.

We spent a good amount of time at the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall picking up souvenirs and presents. The mall had everything from adorable Alaskan gift shops like Once in a Blue Moose to your basic Bath and Body Works. We also really loved The Midnight Sun Cafe, a little local restaurant that is located right underneath the sky bridge to the mall. We dipped into the cafe several times and we loved everything we tried from their Mexican hot chocolate to the casual sandwiches and chips they served.

4. 49th State Brewing Co.

This was our favorite restaurant we tried in Anchorage. They have a really great atmosphere and awesome food. My fiance tried their yak burger and I had a really awesome crabby grilled cheese and seafood chowder. This restaurant was a bit pricier than most of the other places we dined at in Anchorage, but it was worth every penny.

5. The Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria.

My runner up for favorite restaurant is the Moose's Tooth. This is just a casual pizza joint, but we had a great time hanging out here, and I really enjoyed the Chicken Parmesan pizza I got. It probably wasn't the most amazing pizza in the world, but it is definitely a step above Domino's or Pizza Hut. It's fun and silly to go somewhere that was so stereotypical Alaskan.

Enjoy your trip!

Cover Image Credit: Tommy Tang

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6 Reasons Why Epcot Is Better Than Magic Kingdom

Helloooo -- free soda!!!

Here we go: Epcot is better than Magic Kingdom. I might get a lot of hate from this. Yet, I'm willing to support my stance until the grave. This is something I'm so completely passionate about, and being a Disney enthusiast I can honestly say this is something that I have researched in-depth. But, honestly, is this even a debate? Here is why I feel Epcot is the ultimate Disney park:

1. You can travel anywhere.

ANYWHERE!!! This one is particularly important because the World Showcase at Epcot is my everything. Sure, in Magic Kingdom you can go to Adventureland and Tomorrowland, but how about exploring new cultures and foods? Hmm, didn't think so. Epcot's World Showcase gives you a glimpse into that travel bucket list you've always wanted to achieve. Nobody ever says that before they turn 25 they want to visit Jungle Island. Instead, they say they want to visit France, which you can do at Epcot, and then you can go get tacos in Mexico. It's a win-win situation.

2. The golf ball.

No, it's not called the golf ball, but all true Disney people know what I'm talking about. There's something so magical about Spaceship Earth, that'll make you feel so inspired to change the world. Bonus: if you're taking a history test soon, just hop on that ride and you'll easily pass!

3. Free soda!

So we all know expensive Disney beverages are. I'm pretty sure it costs about five dollars for one bottle of water. However, Epcot has free soda!!! Yes, free!!! And not just any free soda (and unlimited refills), it's soda from all over the world. So, you can stay hydrated and experience more culture. Wow, Epcot, I'm just so proud. You're absolutely killing it.

4. Less crying babies.

If you're a crying baby, you might get offended; so stop reading now. But, Epcot is certifiably ~cooler~ than Magic Kingdom, and crying babies tend to flock more towards Magic Kingdom than Epcot. Turns out babies could care less about Norway's history, and, instead, like Winnie the Pooh better. I like both, but I'll go wherever I can thrive peacefully without a baby screaming in my ear.

5. Soarin'.

Do I even need to explain this one? Soarin' is one of the best theme park rides to grace this planet. Soarin' is an experience unlike any other, and once you go on this ride, you will truly understand why Epcot far surpasses Magic Kingdom. There is nothing like it, and there never will be. You're the real MVP Soarin'.

6. Cooler people.

This one may or may not be true, and it is hard to prove. But, its kind of a down low secret that everyone ~cool~ goes to Epcot. But, if you don't believe me, just know we're all judging you...

Cover Image Credit: Yvonne Jasinski

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