Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Golf is for Everyone

There’s a perception of the game of golf that it’s only for the rich, and those that already know how to play. That gives the game an intimidating feel for anyone looking to simply enjoy a round of golf in the sun with a few friends. The truth is, you don’t have to spend $200 and be Tiger Woods to have some fun! Let’s take a look at some nice courses around Scottsdale that won’t break the bank.

Orange Tree Golf Club: A round during high season (March-April) will cost you around $70 in the morning, but if you don’t mind a later start time, you can get on for about $30. The course is good condition and is friendly to the beginner golfer. Large trees surround the course, which gives it a unique feeling for Scottsdale.

orange tree

Starfire Golf Club: Starfire is a favorite amongst residents for a great round of golf at a decent price. The “King” Nine was designed by Arnold Palmer in 1988 and also totally redesigned the two other 9-holes on the course. A round will cost around $70 for morning and $50 for the afternoon during prime golf season.

Starfire GC

Silverado Golf Club: A nice, relaxing round of golf is in store for anyone who plays Silverado. Around $50 will get you on this well maintained course. It’s often praised for the high course quality and the low price. It’s definitely worth a look.

Silverado GC

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |


Megan About Town: My New ‘Hood

Something very exciting happened in my life. I became a homeowner! The best part of it is that I am returning to a Scottsdale zip code. If you had told me five years ago that I would be buying a house in Scottsdale, I would have laughed in your face. But I have fallen in love with the city over the last few years, and it’s mainly because I learned how to live like a tourist.

So many Scottsdale residents forget that they LIVE in a place where people VACATION. People from all over the world come here to explore the Sonoran Desert, enjoy the weather (But seriously, it’s February and it’s 80 degrees outside. C’mon.), stay at incredible resorts, relax in fancy spas, and eat and drink in the best restaurants and watering holes. Plus, I hear there’s this sport that’s pretty popular here…I think it’s called golf?

I’m going to kill two birds with one stone: familiarize myself with my new ‘hood and show you some South Scottsdale spots.


  • Sphinx Date Co. Palm & Pantry is a Scottsdale staple (they’ve been around since ’51), but you may notice something fresh about them – they just completed a remodel and rebranding. Before the remodel, a CVB staff member wrote all about his experience here. The new, brightly colored store is easy to notice as you drive into south Scottsdale. Sphinx is undeniably different, and who doesn’t want to check out something unique? When you stop by, try out a date milkshake. Of course, if you can’t make it to the store, you can always order gifts online!

  • I have to point out Skysong, because you will no doubt ask yourself “What is that?” when you drive by. Skysong is Arizona State University’s Innovation Center. It’s 1.2 million square foot mixed-use project featuring commercial office space, Arizona State University’s incubator and new SkySong Apartments. It is home to both startups and Fortune 500 companies, and just about everything in between. Skysong just added Food Truck Thursday and I’ve heard rumors that they are planning retail and restaurant concepts…We’ll see.

Off to Papago! Everything in Papago is right at the city line between Scottsdale and Phoenix, so we tend to share custody of Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo. Considering both are only about two miles from my house, let’s just put them in the south Scottsdale category for the sake of this blog.

  • Desert Botanical Garden is just gorgeous. If you think that Scottsdale, or Arizona for that matter, is just dirt and tumbleweeds, this place will prove you wrong. The Garden has more than 50,000 accessioned plants throughout its trails. Whether you eat at Gertrude’s, see the “Chihuly in the Garden” exhibit or attend an event, Desert Botanical Garden is a great place to spend a weekend morning (or a day off!).

  • Just down the street from the Garden, the Phoenix Zoo is ready to be explored. It doesn’t matter how old you are, the Zoo is always a fun place to visit. Get up-close and personal with the Bornean orangutans at the Orang-Hutan: “People of the Forest” exhibit, or say hello to the world’s largest lizard at Land of the Dragons. There are interactive exhibits as well: Giraffe Encounter, Monkey Village and Stingray Bay. One of my favorite times to visit the Zoo is during the holidays for Zoolights, so if you’re around during that time, put it on your list.

Everyone needs a go-to bar. And I’m lucky enough to have two in my backyard.

  • Located in an unsuspecting strip mall, Papago Brewing Co. and British Open Pub are a few local spots that offer a fun change to a downtown Scottsdale watering hole. Papago Brewing offers a daily rotating 30-tap bar and full menu. This is the place to go for the local microbrews, and what’s more, you’ll never see the same lineup twice, so there’s always a new beer to try out. British Open Pub is the kind of place that has regulars. If you blink, you’ll miss it, but try not to because you’ll want to try their authentic English food…Bangers and Mash, fish and chips. This is also the place to watch English Premier League football. Because who doesn’t want to watch English Premier League football?

  • Here’s the spot you head to after one too many brews at the pubs. Echo Coffee. Echo is more than just a coffee shop though. They encourage you to stay, hang out, read, work, whatever. The Wi-Fi is free and the seats are comfortable, so sit back and kick it with a Chai or a Latte. Or, if you want to head into downtown Scottsdale, grab a to-go cup and hop back on 68th street.

There are countless other places to check out in South Scottsdale, but these suggestions will keep you entertained, fed and caffeinated. What else is there in life?

Tweet at me @megankdoyle.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Flower Power

If you’re wild about wildflowers, now is the time to hit the trail in Scottsdale. Our Sonoran Desert landscape comes to life every spring with wildflowers and cactus blossoms in all shapes and colors. And thanks to moderate fall rains and warm winter temperatures, this year’s bloom has started right on time! Where to Go: Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers more than 100 miles of hiking trails that sport spring blossoms. For current information on where the flowers are blooming, check out the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s Wildflower Watch. The site also offers information on the Conservancy’s weekly guided hikes, which are filled with insight about the Sonoran Desert’s plants and animals. The Desert Botanical Garden’s Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail encompasses nearly two acres of wildflower exhibits planted with year-round displays. The Garden also partners with several regional parks and gardens on the Wildflower Infosite to help you find wildflowers in their natural habitats. And while you’re there, be sure to check out “Chihuly in the Garden,” featuring stunning botanical-inspired creations by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. Sonoran Desert Flower Guide: Lupine: Purple Majestic lupine can be found throughout Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert. The Tohono O’odham tribe’s name for this plant means “sun-hand,” referring to the way its hand-shaped leaves move to face the sun throughout the day.

Brittlebush: This desert shrub sports tiny yellow flowers and yields a sap that the Tohono O’odham people used for things like glue, incense and chewing gum. Cowboys back in the days of the Old West used the flower’s stem as a fine toothbrush.

Blue Yucca: The Blue Yucca’s showy stalks of flowers are as vibrant as the succulent’s powdery blue leaves. The Blue Yucca’s red roots are frequently used in Tohono O’odham basket weaving. (Photo by Ken Bosma)

Penstemon: Besides being beautiful wildflowers, penstemons are a staple for many Scottsdale residents’ gardens because they require little water, are easy to maintain and attract colorful hummingbirds.

Poppy: Poppies can come in all kinds of colors and are well-known for their symbolism. In the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, poppies are worn to commemorate fallen soldiers.

Century Plant: The century plant spends up to 35 years growing a large basal rosette of leaves. Then, a single stalk with golden-yellow blossoms shoots out and grows as much as a foot each day to reach a height of about 15 feet.

Saguaro Blossom: The saguaro blossom, the state flower of Arizona, is a cream-white flower with a bright yellow center and measures about three inches in diameter.

Palo Verde: In Spanish, palo verde means “green stick.” In the spring, the tree sprouts thousands of tiny, bright gold flowers.

Queen of the Night: In the spring, this elusive plant sprouts buds, and then on one summer night, the buds burst open into silky white flowers. Each flower opens for only one night and closes with the morning sun.

Prickly Pear: Prickly pears bloom with brilliant yellow flowers in the spring. The sweet juice from the cacti’s fruit is used in drinks, syrup and jelly.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |


Walkable Downtown

Soleri-Bridge-walking-tour Springtime in Scottsdale means plenty of sunshine and daytime temps in the upper 70s – perfect weather for a walking tour of downtown. From monumental art installations and historic sites to the inside scoop on locals’ favorite restaurants, these tours will show you some of the best downtown Scottsdale has to offer. On the self-guided Public Art Walking Tour, you’ll discover 10 of the city’s most-celebrated public art works. Your tour starts at the “Soleri Bridge & Plaza,” designed by the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri. At Donald Lipski’s “The Doors,” you’ll discover what it’s like to stand inside a giant kaleidoscope. And at “Knight Rise,” a James Turrell skyspace, you’ll witness the changing light of the desert sky. You can complete this tour in 60 minutes at a comfortable pace, but with all the enticing boutiques, galleries and restaurants you’ll see along the way, we recommend adding in some time for browsing. Get a glimpse into Scottsdale’s past with the Historic Old Town Walking Tour. Another self-guided adventure, this tour takes you to colorful stops like Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop, Rusty Spur Saloon, Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor and the Little Red Schoolhouse, home of the Scottsdale Historical Museum. Plan to spend about 60 minutes on this tour, depending on how many stops you make along the way. For the tastiest tour of all, join the experts from Arizona Food Tours for “A Taste of Old Town Scottsdale.” Choose between the mid-day or dinner tour options, then get ready for a three-hour gastronomic romp through downtown. You’ll sample specialty dishes from half a dozen or so restaurants, with additional stops along the way to learn about the area’s history and heritage. Our best advice for this tour? Come hungry – you won’t want to miss a bite!

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |