Challenger School

Weekend Family Trip to Phoenix


There is much to do in Phoenix, Arizona for Utah families.  I made a recent weekend trip with my wife, Carol, and two daughters, Shelby & Claire, ages 10 & 8.  We skipped a lot of the attractions for this trip and spent time by the pool and in local restaurants.


We stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix-Scottsdale in the Paradise Valley suburb north of downtown Phoenix.*  This fantastic hotel features roomy suites with a microwaves, refrigerators and coffee brewers.  Our room had a balcony overlooking the pool and Jacuzzi, with a view of the Camelback Mountains and the Stonecreek golf course which surrounded much of the property.  A delicious breakfast with a good variety of food was included with our room, as was an evening reception.

The surrounding community of Scottsdale is a safe, even upscale neighborhood.  The Paradise Valley mall is a short walk away.  Or, on hot days, take the hotel’s complementary shuttle.

The Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix-Scottsdale is a great choice for families, and a place we’d happily return to again.  We particularly loved the roomy suite, and its relaxed environment.


When it’s time for lunch or dinner, a great dining choice is Picazzo’s restaurant, which features healthy Italian cuisine.  It has five locations in Arizona, one of which is in the Paradise Valley mall near the Embassy Suites.

Picazzo’s offers pizza, pasta, salads and specialty items, and has a kids menu.  I had an excellent Carbonara Ravioli; my wife had great luck with the Apple & Walnut Gorgonzola salad.  They specialize in food which is Gluten-free and organic.  Also, for pizza lovers, there is a 4-step “create your own pizza” option.  Or, try one of Picazzo’s signature pizza creations.

There is a full bar with craft beers.  It’s a casual, family-friendly environment; we had a particularly nice waitress.  If the weather is nice, sit out on the patio.  Great restaurant choice; if we lived in Arizona, we’d be regulars!


Our second dining choice was also in the Paradise Valley mall area and walking distance from our hotel, Outback Steakhouse.  Outback is another great family-friendly choice, especially if you’re looking for a tasty steak and baked potato, hamburger and fries or tacos.  There’s also a Joey menu for kids.  Some recommendations we’d make include the chicken tortilla soup, the prime rib, potato soup and the burgers.  They also have a nice swordfish.  The menu is quite extensive.  Start your meal with a mixed drink, and save room for dessert.

The décor is pleasant, themed to the Australian outback, and its prices reasonable.  It’s another solid family choice.


We had a great weekend in Phoenix, and we’ll be heading back soon.


Jim Graves is a family travel writer.


*Embassy Suites by Hilton gave me a complimentary stay, but this did not influence my opinion.


About author

Jim Graves

Jim Graves

Jim Graves is a family travel writer. He is married to wife Carol, and has two daughters, Shelby & Claire. He specializes in finding family-friendly travel opportunities and sharing them with other parents.

1 comment

  1. Nancy 21 April, 2016 at 13:24 Reply

    Thank you for the lovely description of your visit at Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen. We truly appreciate your business and comments and will share your post on our social media.

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