Though frequently traveling through Sky Harbor (the best airport name ever) my stays in Arizona have been much less common. My love for the west coast (not the long flight over) extends to California’s neighbors. I have actually never been to downtown Phoenix but a few conferences and one family wedding brought me to Scottsdale. Pretty much anywhere the sun is shinning and the city has a unique feel to it I generally enjoy. Maybe not always the case like Six days in Cuba, but usually. I found no exception in Scottsdale. Hikes, outdoor fire side dining and plenty of pool meetings – what is not to love!
The hotel section of Scottsdale felt a bit removed from downtown but I enjoyed nice stays at the Scott Resort and the DoubleTree. I am sure you probably could have walked easily enough into downtown Scottsdale and I saw quite a few groups riding surrey cycles and golf carts around but I usually took an Uber. Sessions took up most of my time but late flights and long mid-day breaks gave me a few opportunities to explore the area. My highlights during free time included:
- Climbing Cambelback. It took a fifteen minute cab to arrive at the trail head and about two hours up and down. Great for any long breaks during a conference. The views are stunning and people fill the trail so it felt extremely safe hiking alone. The trail increases in difficulty near the top but all very manageable for a beginner. Two trails ranging in difficulty ascend the mountain – I chose Echo Canyon but both are offer incredible views.
- Wandering around Oldtown Scottsdale. I visited during the fall and spent a football Sunday at a few of the outdoor restaurant/bars for brunch and drinks. Watching football, in November, in the sunshine, at 11:00 AM, with a mimosa is an absolute luxury. All of the bars are 90% outdoors with large outdoor TVs, fire pits and lounge seating. They are just so much fun day to night.
- Horseback riding! I believe we visited Spur Cross Ranch for the conference networking event. The Ranchers took our group of dietitians and grouped us all with horses, mountain bikes or kayaks while fitting others with a bow and arrow to channel their inner Katniss. Surprisingly, very little time was spent educating us on horseback riding. You let the rancher know your experience then up you went onto your new friend. In groups of four or five, our hosts led us through a mountain trail for about two hours ending up at camp for a fireside dinner and guacamole cook off. After a minor stress attack after not pre registering for the horse excursion and being put in the mountain bike section (not happening) I was partnered with Max for the very best Arizona experience.
- Spring Training. When visiting the area with family we caught a White Sox game as part of the Cactus League spring training. It was very fun but made me want to visit Florida to catch the O’s spring training and maybe snag Manny’s autograph.
It took about four hours driving to reach the Grand Canyon but obviously is completely worth every minute. The Grand Canyon is the one thing I have seen that completely demolished all expectations. No photo compares to your presence. Next time I intend to spend much more time hiking around and maybe MAYBE camping (but hopefully staying in a hotel).