Planning my August trip to Scottsdale, I was skeptical. Who goes to the desert during the hottest time of the year? Hubby and I went equipped with lots of reading material, lots of sunscreen and my running shoes, so I could sprint from the air-conditioned car to the hotel room with brief interludes in the pool. And while I did find some time to read and relax, I also discovered a plethora of indoor and outdoor things to do in a city that takes recreation and culture seriously.
We paced ourselves by touring, walking and golfing in the early morning hours. Afternoons we lounged by the pool and evenings were saved for gourmet dinners and entertainment at many fine establishments.
Was it hot? I can hardly remember - I was so busy having fun!
We began with a game of golf at
Troon North - one of Scottsdale's signature courses. Well irrigated, beautifully landscaped, The Pinnacle Course is set among the natural ravines and foothills of the desert in the shadow of Pinnacle Peak, a breathtaking course with fast greens, massive boulders and enormous Saguaro cacti. The clubhouse is a great place to hang out at and our light snack of Kobe Beef sliders at The Grille overlooking the 18th hole exceeded expectations.
That evening, we visited the beautiful
Fashion Square shopping centre, a modern complex of over 220 shops and eateries plus a multiplex cinema with upscale stores such as Nieman Marcus, Barney's and Nordstrom's that share the mall with H&M, J. Crew LOFT, Ann Taylor and others.
Our second day took us to
Old Town Scottsdale with its quaint boutiques and upscale shops such as The Fifth Avenue Store. Native American Galleries such as Gilbert Ortega and the Grey Wolf Gallery offer art and jewellery as well. These unique shops took care of souvenirs for the folks back home and I treated myself to a beautiful piece of silver and turquoise jewellery.
Apart from the busy Scottsdale Road, we did not encounter much traffic in the "Old Town," but we hopped the trolley anyhow for a splendid two-hour tour.
Day three took us on a day-trip to nearby Sedona complete with a stop at
Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. We opted for a tour of the red rock countryside with
Pink Jeep Tours, two hours of fun and one of our highlights! Ask for Dan Taylor for both education and entertainment!
Thursday we were off to visit the local museums, beginning with the new
Museum of Musical Instruments. Founded by Robert Ulrich, chairman of Target Corp., this museum showcases musical instruments and music of every country in the world.
Next we toured
Taliesin West - the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. We took the two-hour tour and found that it was definitely worth the investment of time and money (approx $47). You must take a tour if you want to see the grounds as they do not let you wander unattended. Tours are provided by apprentices with an appreciation of the genius, Frank Lloyd Wright. They are in residence at this school of architecture. I was fascinated by the philosophy behind the school and captivated by the art which is a true oasis in the desert.
Thursday night is also Art Walk Night. Many of the 100 plus art galleries in downtown Scottsdale open their doors to art lovers and people watchers during "Scottsdale Art Walk." From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Thursday evening, it's a great way to get out for a couple of hours and get to know artists and galleries.
Our fifth day brought with it even more sunshine and temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We decided to spend the morning pool-side and left mid- afternoon to visit
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Old Town. It was an interesting exhibit with modern and contemporary art but did not require much time to fully explore so we went for an early dinner to
Edie V's Prime Seafood about which we had heard rave reviews. It did not disappoint and I highly recommend a visit to this restaurant. Located in North Scottsdale, Eddie V's has it all - upscale dining with 5 star service and classic ambience. Staff was knowledgeable, friendly and professional. The special was fresh Lobster Tail that had just been flown in that day and I enjoyed every morsel. My partner had the sword fish and declared it also to be incredible. The menu also included beef and chicken and a wide variety of appetizers and desserts.
The sixth day took us to the
Desert Botanical Gardens - a truly beautiful setting of 145 acres with over 50,000 plants in central Phoenix. We went early in the morning to avoid the heat (they open at 7 am) and were impressed with the staff and volunteers who really knew their stuff. This museum focuses on the education, exhibition and conservation of the many species of desert plants that are indigenous to the area. We spent nearly 5 hours there and enjoyed every minute.
Day seven was time to pack up and return home. The airport serving Scottsdale is merely a few miles away and easily accessible. All rental cars are procured and dropped off at a huge central terminal with shuttle buses running every 15 minutes allowing for a seamless transition to the airport. The airport is large but well organized and friendly. In a short time we were at the terminal and heading home. Travel to Arizona at anytime is easy, affordable and fun but even more so during those dog-days of summer.
When to Go:
From May to October, temperatures hover around 100 degrees F. but the winter months have been known to push the mercury down to 35F. The city also has experienced consecutive days of non-stop rain. Such instances are rare, but it's good to be prepared and check weather reports before you pack.
Air Canada offers daily flights to Phoenix from Toronto - Scottsdale is just a short drive away from the
Phoenix airport. It's always best to rent a car when you go to Scottsdale . Cars are fairly inexpensive to rent. One large super-terminal off site from the airport houses most rental companies and is accessed by shuttle.
Beth Poad is a graduate of McMaster University and a retired English Teacher. She has written curriculum documents for public and private schools and travelled as a volunteer to Europe, China, Tanzania and South Africa. When not travelling, she reads, writes and plans for her next travel experience.