Scottsdale, Ariz. the ultimate desert destination
According to some dream interpreters, dreaming of being in a desert is one of the most beautiful and serene dreams that you can have. And, sand reflects your creative and artistic abilities. Many people find that the desert connects them on a spiritual level, and there’s no disputing the health benefits of this arid climate. With all the natural light, vitamin D strengthens your immune system, teeth and bones, and also lifts your spirits.
There certainly is an element of mystery, and a dream-like quality, that entices many to the sunny, winter weather of Arizona. Part of the greater Phoenix area, Scottsdale is sometimes described as the desert version of Miami’s South Beach. Initially founded in 1894 as a farming community, artists and writers discovered this unique landscape, and began visiting in the early 1900s. As the popularity of the area grew, it paved the way for the first resort, which opened 1909. Today, Scottsdale is a much-revered tourist haven, and home to some of the top resorts in the United States.
Old Town Scottsdale is known as the west’s most western town. Up until 20 years ago, there were wooden sidewalks and a barbecue joint on every corner. Today, the town has retained it’s historical charm and there’s lots to explore. In February you can still grab a ride on the pony express.
BEYOND THE WILD WEST
From JoyRides AZ, you can book a golf cart and tour historical sites like the Little Red School House, now the home of the Scottsdale Historical Museum, as well as the Rusty Spur, the city’s first, and longest running, saloon, and the still-operating Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop, which is housed in an adobe building from 1909.
At the Western Spirit Museum, you can learn more about the regional history and view rare artifacts. Around town, there’s a plethora of turquoise jewellery stores, cosy cafes and Native American craft shops, as well as dozens of art galleries.
GET YOUR FEEDBAG ON
With close to 100 restaurants, Old Town is also a great place to discover a variety of dining options, and not just steak and potatoes. Try Diego Pops, a stylish diner where they serve modern Mexican fare (think brussels sprout nachos). Be sure to try their pretty pink prickly pear margarita – a local specialty.
Arizona might not be top-of-mind when you think about wine, but a stop at Carlson Creek Vineyard’s tasting room will prove otherwise. You might visit Craft64 to sample some great Arizona craft beers on tap, but make sure that you also stay for the wood-fired pizza.
For upscale American fare, visit that award-winning Citizen Public House, and try the pan-seared scallops with a cola gastrique, served over roasted sweet corn grits.
The Waterfront District is built along a major canal, lined with palm trees, art sculptures and fountains. Grab a table on the waterfront patio at the trendy Olive & Ivy, where Mediterranean meets California cuisine. Across the street is the Scottsdale Fashion Square – the largest mall in Arizona.
For a birds-eye view of the desert, book a hot air balloon ride. Keep you eyes open for wild burros and javelinas (wild boars).
Take a hike in the 30,500-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve, located just 15 minutes outside of the city. Here, you can fully appreciate the desert landscape. Make your way through palo verde groves, cacti and creosote bushes to reach breathtaking summits.
Discover more than 50,000 desert plants at the Desert Botanical Garden. If you visit before May, 2019, check out Electric Desert, a stunning light and sound show, which turns the desert and the garden’s fauna into a living art installation.
REST AND RELAXATION
Scottsdale offers up a wide selection of resorts for all tastes and budgets. For the ultimate in R & R, try the recently renovated Phoenician, with its large day spa, multi-pool complex, and world-class 18-hole golf course.
The Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia is also a multi-pool property. The arching entryways, fountains and floral walkways are reminiscent of Spain’s exotic Andalusia region.
If you prefer a smaller, boutique setting, the newly-constructed Mountain Shadows also has an 18-hole golf course. Initially opened in 1959, the original hotel was popular with Hollywood stars like John Wayne and Elizabeth Taylor (check out their photo collection). With gorgeous views of Camelback and Mummy Mountains, it’s easy to see why.
Kate Robertson can be contacted at email@example.com