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The West’s Most Western Town: Scottsdale, Arizona

“The Arizona desert takes hold of a man’s mind and shakes it.” -David W. Toll

Embarking on a yearly trip to escape the harsh Canadian winters is a privilege. Being able to experience an epic journey to the desert known as Arizona is an even greater privilege. When Next Departure posted a deal to Phoenix, we immediately knew this was the next adventure that awaited us. Admittedly, we were a bunch of golf enthusiasts who wanted to experience our first PGA live event, the PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, which is Scottsdale largest annual event. It coincided with the deal that was posted by Next Departure. Little did we know that the live event would succumb to second place and Arizona’s natural beauty and hospitality would become the main event.  

We flew into Phoenix, and right from the get-go there was something special about the dry heat. To put a visualization it into words; before landing , it felt like we were landing on Mars. 

Our destination was Scottsdale, a beautiful desert land filled with residential and commercial properties surrounded by a stunning mountain landscape.   The minute we got to our hotel; The Hotel Valley Ho, we were greeted with warm smiles and an amazing staff. The hotel was situated perfectly in the hotbed of Scottdale as it was close in proximity to the old town, the art district, and the fashion square. The rooms itself were a spacious art-deco modern concept room, with a large private balcony with a botanical garden view.

This mid-century modern hideaway hotel had a very resort-like feel with the ability to soak in the sun at their pool, be pampered with a visit to the spa, or enjoy a meal at their wonderful in-house restaurant called ZuZu, where we had a chance to take in delicious 5-course dinner.

Another great accommodation option that we stayed at was the Embassy Suites, which was also centrally located. They have an airport shuttle service which was very convenient. They have amazing amenities such as a tennis court, two oversized pools, complimentary breakfast buffet.

Although Scottsdale isn’t the most touristic hotspot just yet, there is plenty to do for all ages. (Tip: If you get the chance to use an electronic scooter to get around, do it! ) We started at the Desert Botanical Garden, the minute you walk in, you know you’re ready for an experience.

This was an opportunity to explore the beauty of thousands of species of cacti, trees, and flowers which spread across 55 acres. The garden has more than 50,000 accessioned plants throughout its five thematic trails, which illustrate topics such as conservation, desert living, and desert wildflowers. Simply put, it was a chance to open your body and mind, and feel energized by the synchronization of music and nature. (TIP #2 Grab a local craft beer before heading on your trek) 

If you’re hungry, Scottsdale also has a great culinary scene. As with the entire trip, we went in with low expectations; Arizona is not necessarily ranked among the elite when it comes to worldwide recognition for its food but nonetheless, there are a plethora of good eats around. Whether you’re looking for quick grub, southern style BBQ, or award-winning restaurants, you won’t be disappointed! We highly suggest The Mission for some Latin food, Barrio Queen for Mexican, & Bootleggers for delicious BBQ. Foodies will be able to enjoy an expansive, diverse cuisine that will certainly ‘hit the spot.’ (TIP # 3, be sure to try Scottsdale’s official food; chili).  

Once the sun goes down, take the opportunity to walk down Old Town Scottdale, where the city becomes alive and vibrant with sidewalk cafes, bars, lounges, and clubs. Old Scottsdale does have a nightlife that appeals to a global audience which is mixed with a flare of hip and western flavor.  

If you are looking for a peaceful hike, you can find them inside McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  It’s the perfect way to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are many trails in and around Scottsdale, but we decided to take on this 4.5-mile trail. The trail allows you to explore on foot or bike. The feeling of driving to and through the preservation was breathtaking, to say the least. The contrast between red rocks and green cactus was unlike anything we’re accustomed to in Canada. Photos simply don’t do justice, it was magical, and you left with a feeling of awe. 

Whether you’re looking to explore the desert, eat like a local, play in the dark, or relax and unwind, Scottsdale is a hidden secret that more people need to talk about. 

A good reference point on how to start planning your visit to Scottsdale, check out www.experiencescottsdale.com  (TIP # 4, Download the official visitor’s guide.)

If you have any questions about our trip or need help planning yours, feel free to contact us anytime at rishi@nextdeparture.ca.

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