Next Window, Please: How Drive-Through Windows Changed My Life


My very first post for SMB was about how glad I am to be living in Arizona, where despite our horrific hellish hot toasty summers, we don’t have to worry about bundling up our little ones in the wintertime. In that post, written after a trip to Chicago in the dead of winter, I vowed that THIS YEAR I wouldn’t get so cranky about being stuck inside during our seemingly endless string of triple-digit days.

How’s that working out, you ask? Pretty good, actually. I do feel that with every passing year in the Valley I come to accept summer as part of the package deal that also includes 300 days of sunshine, Thanksgiving dinner on the patio, and at least nine months of outdoor play opportunities for my kids.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not starting to get stir-crazy now that August is upon us. There are only so many things to do with little kids indoors, and when running the simplest errands means schlepping them in and out of a 120-degree car it’s enough to make you want to stay home.

Enter: the drive-through. Getting out of the house without getting out of the car has to be the single biggest life-saver I’ve discovered as an Arizona mom. Last summer when I had a newborn and a toddler I would seriously make an afternoon outing that consisted solely of drive-throughs! The baby slept, the toddler was contained, and I had a Starbucks in my air-conditioned car. Life was good!

So here is my list of local drive-through conveniences I couldn’t live without:

  • Starbucks. First things first, right? 40th and Greenway, Bell and 32nd, Thompson Peak and Hayden, Shea and just west of Scottsdale, Shea and 92nd by the hospital – am I missing any?  I know there’s also a drive-through Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Tatum and Shea. If you have a favorite drive-through coffee place, let us know!
  • Dry Cleaners. We go to Delia’s on Greenway and 64th. Just one more to-do list item to cross off from the controlled climes of my kid-mobile.
  • Pharmacy. Seems like with two little ones we’re picking up prescriptions more than I’d like, but at least there’s the drive-through. Our local Walgreens started selling over-the-counter kids meds at the drive through as well, which is super-convenient if you need some ibuprofen to go with your Rx.
  • Gas. Technically the gas station is not a drive-through, but if the kids don’t have to get out of the car I’ll count it.
  • Library. The Mustang, Appaloosa and Arabian locations of the Scottsdale Public Library have drive-through window service. Drop and pick off your summer reading!
  • The car wash. We haven’t done this much because I always need the inside of my car washed too, but I remember as a kid sitting through the drive-through car wash was thrilling!
  • Fast food. I’m listing this last because we don’t eat it too often, and the kids are too little to manage eating their meals from the car seats when we do, so it’s not super ideal. BUT there are days when a Chick-fil-A milkshake just CALLS my name and we have been known to pick up lunch and then come home and eat it.

Can you see how you could seriously make an afternoon of drive-through conveniences? Pop in some good tunes, buckle in the kids and GO! Now if I had my way there would be even more options on this list. Why on earth couldn’t the supermarkets have a drive-through window where you could pick up easy staples like milk, diapers, chardonnay ;), etc.? I’d pay a surcharge for that convenience FOR SURE. And since my absolute LEAST favorite errand is the post office, how about a drive-through window there, where you could ship basic packages, buy stamps, etc.? The possibilities are endless.

Did I miss any of your favorite drive-through conveniences? Do you have any to add to my wish list?  


Sarah Powers is a writer and Scottsdale mom of two. She came to the valley from Southern California by way of Chicago and would take Arizona summers over Midwest winters any day. A perfect day for Sarah starts with coffee, ends with chardonnay and includes lots of baby giggles and sticky-fingered kid kisses in between. She loves high ponytails, showtunes and using her kids as an excuse to stay in and go to bed early, which she would do anyway. Sarah sometimes blogs and often tweets about the messy, tender, fun, funny and irreverent moments of parenthood.


  1. I too LOVE a good drive-thru and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

    You’ve hit on most of my favorites –
    1) Starbucks – for the obvious reasons. I’m still getting little sleep with our Ms. Elsie
    2) the LIBRARY – LOVE this! and
    3) Chick-fil-A milk shakes are yum, Yum, YUMMY!

    BUT I was recently thinking about how much I would love a little grocery store with a drive-thru. Right???!!! I would pay a couple extra bucks for someone to go fetch me milk and eggs. Going to the grocery store is one of those things I just dread this time of year… especially when it’s for a couple of items.

    • I have never appreciated the drive-thrus more than I do now that I have a child. Everything should have a drive-thru!…especially Chipotle!! 🙂 I think about the grocery having a drive-thru all of the time too. In Ohio there were drive-thrus where you could get milk, snacks, drinks and ice but I have only seen one of those here (Hayden & McKellips, I believe) Parker is usually really good at the grocery but that only means he is flirting with every lady in the store and my trip time doubles! Safeway has home delivery and your first order of $50 or more is free! I have yet to to try it but I keep saying I will. If I do I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

  2. Sarah-
    I fully appreciate the drive through windows since having a baby! I especially enjoy that convenience now because I lived in Santa Barbara for 3 years, and there were no drive throughs except fast food which is ok every once in a while, but not as satisfying as getting starbucks without getting a toddler out of the car and trying not to spill it getting your toddler back in the car:)
    I have not enjoyed the winters in Scottsdale yet, but I also came from Chicago and can tell you that getting a baby in and out of 30 below for 5-6 months is far worse than enduring heat for a few months.
    Thanks for the great tips! I am going to try the drive through cleaners this week!


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