Top 5 Things to Do in Scottsdale

If you are looking for a weekend of fun and sun to cure whatever ails you (maybe even holiday planning) then Scottsdale, Arizona is a great bet.  Here are my favorite spots to slumber, dine and explore.


Recently “rehabilitated” in 2005, the Hotel Valley Ho is conveniently located in downtown Scottsdale and just a short walk to town’s numerous art galleries and restaurants.  True to its mid-century modern style, the hotel is swanky, fun and perfectly groomed.   It’s perfect for either a romantic getaway or a weekend of partying.  There’s always something happening whether it’s a fashion show, wedding or just a good time at Trader Vic’s.  For being such a hot spot, rates are reasonable, starting at $199 in the winter and $99 in the summer for a standard room.

  • The guest rooms (Signature Guest Room shown above) have modern flair with fixtures to rejuvenate after a long day of having fun.
  • The spa has a steam room you can use before a service and my massage had a few surprises to make it unique and special.
  • The spa offers two great deals mid-week. On Wednesdays you pay $60 for a 60-minute service and $90 for a 90-minute service. “Thermometer Thursdays” discount any hour-long service (facial or massage) to whatever the temperature is when you check in (20 minutes before your schedule appointment).  So, if it’s 70 degrees, you pay $70.
  • Yoga, pilates, hikes and bike rentals are all available, in addition to a typical fitness room.
  • On Sunday mornings they host a Bloody Mary bar where you mix your own (perfect after morning golf).
  • There’s also great pool with 2 bars and cabanas to rent and it was named one of 16 “World’s Coolest Pools” by Travel & Leisure magazine.
  • Pet-friendly.
  • Cafe ZuZu opens at 6am with espresso and good comfort food.  My favorite was the breakfast sandwich that I could take to the golf course.


One of my favorite dishes in the world is in Scottsdale.  Cowboy Ciao’s Chop Salad is a culinary masterpiece with smoked salmon, Israeli couscous, a homemade trail mix with pepitas, currants and asiago cheese, dried corn and a buttermilk dressing.  I know it sounds like a lot of stuff that doesn’t go together, but trust me – it’s delicious and a must-have!!!  The bread pudding is also really good with rich pine nuts and a great carmel sauce. The wine list is so extensive that I think they have a hard time keeping it updated.  But they love Billecart-Salmon champagne as much as I do (almost), so I can’t fault them too much.  The decor doesn’t do anything for me; but the salad, wine & dessert do.

I love Mexican food and Mission pretty much delivers.  The margaritas are handmade and dangerous (tasty and strong) and the table-side guacamole is so good that I’ve changed my recipe. The chips and salsa are also fresh and yummy.  The entrees were good but not as good as the sides.  There’s also an all-you-can-eat pig roast at Sunday brunch (another great option after golfing).


One adventure not to miss while you are in Scottsdale is a visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains.  His vision and design are worth the short trip (30 minutes or so) from downtown Scottsdale.  There are six tour options available ranging from a 1-hour overview of the property and Wright’s life to a desert hike or tours of the architectural apprentice shelters on the property.

An hour from Scottsdale in the Tonto Nature Preserve is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, a magical place for nature lovers.  Started in the 1920’s on the valley floor, it is now filled with desert trees and plants from around the world, creating an oasis for plants, birds and humans.  Bring your binoculars, sunscreen and water.

Images courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho.

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