February is the time when the New Year has settled in, the kids are back at work and college and I’m trying to figure out how to keep my resolutions going – you know the ones – focus on fitness, eating well, drinking less, reading more, and finding new places to travel. Sometimes all you need to get motivated is a little sunshine. So we set off to Scottsdale for a little R and R and to soak up the sun…
We decided to rent a house so we could bring our two big golden retrievers, because honestly, what’s life without dogs? We do have friends and family here also since Ron and I are both ASU alums and Ron’s family still lives in the area. I am always amazed at the slight cultural and social differences that exist even between cities as close and Denver and Phoenix. But I love to see how other people live and what it feels like to pick up and start life somewhere entirely different than what we’re used to. One of the first big differences I notice is that more people are outside in short sleeve shirts and shorts! That seems obvious, given that the weather here is far more pleasant in February than it is in Denver. I’m sitting outside now, on a sunny patio, in perfect 70 degree weather. If I was at home, I’d be cozied up in my house, probably with the fire going, drinking a hot tea and typing this from my kitchen table.
Here are my top five awesome things to do in Scottsdale in winter:
1. Have lunch on an outdoor patio where the views and the people watching are pure entertainment. I suggest the JW Marriot Camelback Inn Resort and Spa for the views of Mummy mountain and the expansive patio surrounded by lush gardens. If you hang out long enough, you may slide right into happy hour, where live music permeates the background and the lights that line the perimeter twinkle as the sun slowly sets. I also like Montauk, Blanco Taco, and Lon’s in the Hermosa Inn.
Patio lunch at Montauk
2. Hike! So many to choose from, so little time! I like the Cholla Trail which is very popular and can get extremely busy during peak months so try to go on a weekday if possible. This hike is located on the eastern side of Camelback Mountain and looks right into the back yard of the Phoenician resort. At the top, once you’ve scrambled over rocks and narrow paths, you are treated to a picturesque view of the Valley of the Sun. I also like walking through the hilly neighborhoods of beautiful homes that surround Camelback or exploring nearby parks. Throwing yourself into the daily routines of locals gives you a real sense of what it’s like to live here and that is what this adventure is all about.
View of The Cholla Trail
3. Dinner in! Yes, I said dinner in and by that I mean cook a fabulous dinner starting with an appetizer, moving on to salad and main course. Eat at the table with music in the back ground – or go outside if you have space heaters, or can make a quick outdoor fire in the fireplace – some evenings actually do get a little chilly. Our little house had a lovely patio with a wood burning fireplace and sitting outside in the morning with my coffee or at night with a glass of wine was a delight.
4. Dinner out! Yes we do like to go out to dinner and we did that quite a bit. We never had a bad meal (have I ever had a bad meal?) and we enjoyed many different experiences. Here are my favorites in order: Lon’s, Culinary DropOut, Paul Martin’s, Blanco Taco, Montauk, Morton’s (we went here on Valentine’s Day and it was perfectly romantic), Dominick’s and Rancho Pinot. My hubby likes his steak houses so that explains a few of those but every restaurant we visited had something classic or unique to offer and all I can say is thank goodness I like to hike!
5. Explore! This is a wide option as it includes so many fun things we did. We visited the Musical Instrument Museum, a must see for music lovers and a fascinating way to spend a few hours. We were here for the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show that happens here every February. Actually our daughter competed in the show this year with her horse, Jack Daniels, so we spent quite a bit of time watching the classes and enjoying all the horses. You can’t beat the show food, with everything from corn dogs to bar-b-q to deep fried Oreos. They even had a camel ride this year so there was certainly something for everyone. Golf – practically a category by itself here in the Valley of the Sun – is a must just to see the gorgeous courses and enjoy the warm weather. Since I am just learning this mind-boggling game, I can only tell you that people come from all over the world just to golf here and I can see why. Finally, shop! It’s usually not the first thing I like to do on my list but it definitely makes the cut. Shopping here is glorious and there are great places to do it. You can’t go wrong at Kierland, an outdoor shopping mecca of luxury and boutique shops, Scottsdale Fashion Square, which is an indoor mall the size of a small state, and The Biltmore Fashion Park, which is another wonder land of outdoor shops and dining experiences.
Scottsdale Fashion Square