The Summer Travel Guide Series: Scottsdale, Arizona

By Mali Mochow
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DSC_2465Where did Beyoncé and Jay Z honeymoon? Scottsdale and we’re not joking. The close proximity and desert climate attract more than geriatric golfers, and for good reason. The LA weekend getaway offers more than you’d assume by way of good eats, luxe spas and architectural sights. The colors, the saguaros, the warmth—in just a little over an hour from LA via plane, you’re transported to a more relaxing locale, but that doesn’t mean you have to be bored. What’s exciting about the city is the growing art and food scenes. You get the sense that something is really happening here. Scottsdale is emerging from its retirement community pigeonhole.

If you read us regularly, you know that as soon as we arrive somewhere new our top concern is finding local favorite eateries and a well-made drink. Whether you’re craving sushi, Mexican or BBQ, it’s all here. Celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s La Hacienda was voted the No. 1 Mexican restaurant in Arizona and it doesn’t disappoint. We highly recommend a tequila tasting with the on-site Tequila Goddess (her real title). Other notables include Chef Sandoval’s Toro Latin Kitchen & Bar, which boasts the area’s larger selection of rum—more than 100 bottles. The Thumb is a “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” BBQ favorite with mouth-watering hardwood smoked BBQ served at the one of the nicest gas stations around, and FnB is a trendy spot in the heart of downtown with James Beard-nominated Chef Charleen Badman in the kitchen, serving up a curated seasonal menu.

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For a morning kick-start, head to Singh Farms. After one chat with owner Ken Singh you’ll be forever changed on the way you view organic and fresh produce. A trip here is almost a spiritual experience. Underneath a canopy of trees on the lush farm, the desert is in bloom with the best looking kale, artichokes, and mushrooms you’ve ever seen. It comes to life on Saturdays when locals descend for fresh produce, bread, olive oil, honey, and wood-oven pizzas. Get there early. Since you’ll likely want to visit all the above, consider a hike on Camelback Mountain, an approachable yet challenging hike to the top of the desert. Stunning views are the perfect way to start your day.

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Interestingly, Frank Lloyd Wright was fascinated by Scottsdale. He put roots down here, building Taliesin West out of the desert by gathering rocks from the desert floor and sand from the washes to keep the design in balance with the surrounding environment. It’s considered one of Wright’s greatest masterpieces, and was designed to serve as his personal home, studio and architectural laboratory. The must-do 90-minute guided tour will make you rethink apartment living. Maybe you’ll open another savings account after. Another not-to-miss museum is the Desert Botanical Garden. It’s an idyllic setting for a collection of plants from deserts around the world. Keep an eye out on their website for stunning art installations in the evening and take a look around the gift shop.

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After soaking in Scottsdale’s culture, you’ll want to check in at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel. The resort is located on 65 acres and reflects what the city is known for: golf and great spas. There are also five swimming pools, waterslides, and a 9,000 sq. ft. white sand beach at the property’s largest pool. Be careful what you ‘gram here. It’s sure to induce major jealousy.

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