Scottsdale is a prominent part of Arizona’s allure

Pinnacle Peak is a popular morning hike for visitors and locals.

Pinnacle Peak is a popular morning hike for visitors and locals.

STORY: Giannina S. Bedford
Photos courtesy of Experience Scottsdale

Hotel Valley Ho has been modernized but still retains its hip '50s vibe

Hotel Valley Ho has been modernized but still retains its hip ’50s vibe

Arizona has always held a mysterious intrigue to me. The state’s cactus-dotted topography, desert air and western roots create an ambiance unlike that of any other place I’ve visited. And each city within Arizona is its own puzzle piece in what makes the state unique. Sedona is known for its red rocks and new-age mentality, while Tucson boasts a thriving arts and culinary scene. Scottsdale, much like Buckhead, offers glitz and glamour, yet it also pays homage to its roots as “The West’s Most Western Town.” With revamped historical hotels, landmarks for varied interests and more hiking trails than you can fit into one weekend (or maybe even a lifetime), Scottsdale’s magnetism is one that draws me back again and again. Here is a small sampling of the city’s captivating highlights.

3 STORIED STAYS

Hotel Valley Ho

This midcentury modern hotel in downtown Scottsdale originally opened in 1956. In 2005, it underwent extensive renovations that restored it back to the luster of its heyday as a Hollywood hideaway for icons such as Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis and Zsa Zsa Gabor. It continues to retain an air of exclusivity thanks to amenities such as the colorful OH Pool, recently revamped restaurant ZuZu and VH Spa equipped with chromotherapy saunas.

The event lawn at Mountain Shadows is framed by stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The event lawn at Mountain Shadows is framed by stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Mountain Shadows

Set in a stunning desert landscape in Paradise Valley, this resort opened in 1959 but was completely rebuilt and reintroduced in 2017. The updated contemporary design features two 75-foot pools connected by a waterfall feature and abundant floor-toceiling glass throughout from which guests can take in the stunning views of nearby Camelback Mountain.

The Scott Resort & Spa

This Old Town Scottsdale property completed a $15 million makeover in 2018, unveiling a boutique hotel with an eclectic, Havana-inspired vibe. Originally built in the 1960s in Spanish Revival style, the hotel boasts a new design that honors its past and incorporates natural light and greenery reminiscent of a tropical locale. With Bauhaus-inspired graphic patterns, two pools surrounded by lush gardens and rooms decorated with wooden furniture and Arizona flair, there are eye-catching elements at every turn.

3 LAUDABLE LANDMARKS

Desert Botanical Garden hosts multiple events, including lightdriven displays during evening hours.

Desert Botanical Garden hosts multiple events, including light driven displays during evening hours.

Desert Botanical Garden

Although technically in Phoenix, this outdoor attraction is only 4 miles from downtown Scottsdale and worth the short drive. Its 55 acres are home to 50,000 desert plants from around the world. It also hosts a variety of festivals, classes, concerts, tours and other events.

The Old Town Scottsdale Arts District at dusk.

The Old Town Scottsdale Arts District at dusk.

Old Town Scottsdale

Scottsdale’s picturesque downtown is filled with restaurants, galleries and retailers, many of which are housed in renovated buildings that date back to the 1920s. Park your car and hop on the free trolley, which stops at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), the Waterfront and Scottsdale Fashion Square, among other worthwhile spots.

Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home was established in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in 1937. Today, it’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark, as well as the location of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin. Take a guided tour through Wright’s private quarters, drafting studio and music pavilion to learn what inspired the design of this architectural attraction.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West is a must for architecture lovers.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West is a must for architecture lovers.

3 HEART-PUMPING HIKES

Camelback Mountain

The front desk at The Scott Resort & Spa hints at the hotel's one-of-a-kind decor.

The front desk at The Scott Resort & Spa hints at the hotel’s one-of-a-kind decor.

Select from the Echo Canyon or Cholla hiking trails and expect to break a sweat at this popular, and slightly punishing, mountain. Traverse boulders and a variety of cacti, ascending approximately 1,200 feet, to earn the expansive view. During the winter holiday months, snap a pic with the Camelback Santa and his Christmas tree at the top.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

A sprawling 30,580 acres, this Scottsdale preserve has more than 200 miles of shared-use trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. For a leisurely walk or trail run, the 4.5-mile Gateway Loop Trail is a top pick. If you’re looking for a higher climbing feat, the 4.6-mile Tom’s Thumb Trail offers a steep climb and elevation gain of 1,100 feet.

Pinnacle Peak Park

Located in north Scottsdale, the Pinnacle Peak Park summit trail offers wide paths and panoramic views of Paradise Valley. At 3.5 miles round-trip and with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet, it’s short and sweet, but not without challenge.

IF YOU GO:

Sleep

Hotel Valley Ho
hotelvalleyho.com

Mountain Shadows
mountainshadows.com

The Scott Resort & Spa
thescottresort.com

Sightsee

Desert Botanical Garden
dbg.org

Old Town Scottsdale
oldtownscottsdale.com

Taliesin West
franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west

Sweat

Camelback Mountain
climbcamelback.com

McDowell Sonoran Preserve
mcdowellsonoran.org

Pinnacle Peak Park
scottsdaleaz.gov/parks