Monday, June 29, 2015

Under the Radar Golf Courses

gainey-ranch-golf Scottsdale boasts 51 golf courses within the city and more than 200 in the surrounding area. With such volume, it’s easy to overlook a few hidden gems that provide an outstanding golf experience at an exceptional value. Starfire Golf Club was built on the former site of one of Scottsdale’s original golf courses. Located in north central Scottsdale, Starfire is a daily-fee club featuring 27 holes of golf designed by Arnold Palmer. The layout takes players on a winding journey through thick eucalyptus, pine and cottonwood trees as they navigate three 9-hole layouts (King, Hawk and Squire). Each track presents unique challenges including many scenic par 3s that carry over water, while the sporty and narrow 339-yard par-4 finishing hole of the Hawk requires the perfect combination of distance and accuracy. For media information, contact Matthew Lupton at or 480-948-6000. Not far from Starfire, Gainey Ranch Golf Club is located at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. Its lush greenery and sparkling waterways set the standard for Scottsdale’s classically-styled golf courses. The first of the club’s three nine-hole courses, The Lakes, is a gorgeous challenge with gently cascading water features on six holes. The aptly-named Dunes course is similar to a Scottish-style links course with natural hazards and sand dunes. And the Arroyo course, the longest of the three nines, requires both power and placement, especially on the peninsular green of the finishing hole. While the club is a private facility, guests of the hotel are permitted to play.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |


Scottsdale may be one city, but it has two distinctly different tales to tell. Stay and play in Scottsdale’s energized urban core chockfull of hip resorts, vibrant shopping, dining and entertainment districts or head to North Scottsdale, where world-class luxury resorts and celebrated golf courses showcase the spectacular beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
       For urban explorers, among the lodgings of choice is the iconic Hotel Valley Ho, which exudes an undeniable mid-century modern cool that feels charmingly retro, though smartly current at the same time. Nearby, W Scottsdale Hotel is a chic modern oasis in the heart of the city’s standout entertainment district, walking distance to nightlife options, fine dining restaurants, designer shops and exhilarating art galleries. Another choice option is Firesky Resort & Spa, less than a mile from the Entertainment District and in close proximity to Scottsdale Fashion Square and the burgeoning Scottsdale Waterfront.
       Golfers looking to play all day and night will find several top layouts just minutes from their downtown base camps. These include the manicured perfection of the Phoenician Golf Club’s breathtaking 27-holes of golf and Camelback Golf Club’s two outstanding 18-hole championship-caliber courses, including the Ambiente Course, one of Scottsdale’s newest.
       Up north, the name of the game is Southwestern-inspired luxury and relaxation. And no place pegs the needle for both of those requirements quite like Boulders Resort & Spa, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Each offers a spectacular natural setting imbued with quiet sophistication. World-class spas, luxurious accommodations and inventive dining are par for the course at all three of these standout properties. And each provides easy access to some of the state’s best desert golf courses.
       The Boulders Golf Club features two acclaimed courses that are laced among otherworldly rock formations along the foothills of Black Mountain. Nearby, Rancho Manana Golf Course is a true hidden gem featuring a dramatic layout that plays along a natural riparian area with flowing water, mature native trees and spectacular elevation changes and vistas. For media information, contact Jerry Rose at or 480-348-7540.

Long before Scottsdale was a city, the area was inhabited by the Hohokam people, an ancient civilization and the ancestors of some current American Indian tribes. Today, Scottsdale is steeped in American Indian history and culture, bordering the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Experience a one-of-a-kind golf trail that couples luxury and culture as you tee off on stunning courses and stay overnight at resorts within these American Indian communities.
       Three of the area’s premier golf facilities – We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, Talking Stick Golf Club and Ak-Chin Southern Dunes – are owned by American Indian communities. We-Ko-Pa boasts GOLF Magazine’s No. 2 ranked course in the state, The Saguaro Course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Cholla, its sibling course, was designed by Scott Miller and is ranked No. 3. Talking Stick Golf Club’s two courses, North and South, both designed by Coore and Crenshaw, are considered among the top resort courses in the state by Golfweek, as well. And, the publication recently named Southern Dunes’ exceptional Fred Couples-designed golf course among the 100 Best Resort Courses in the nation. For media information on Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, contact Kris Strauss at or 480-477-0485.
In the heart of the Sonoran Desert, the recently revamped We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center is both intimate and scenic. Here guests will find luxurious accommodations, a charming spa, enchanting swimming pool, gaming and entertainment at Fort McDowell Casino and excellent dining options. Other attractions include Fort McDowell Adventures, featuring trail rides, desert excursions and more. For media information on We-Ko-Pa Golf Club and We-Ko-Pa Resort & Conference Center, contact Jeff Locke at or 480-348-7540.
Fun awaits at Talking Stick Resort, which offers a casino and accompanying nightlife that rivals Vegas competitors. Dig into a hearty steak and take in sunset views from the 15th floor restaurant, Orange Sky. And the party atmosphere at the pool is a scene entirely unto itself. Couple this with a concert schedule packed by nationally known artists, as well as nearby shopping, and you have one of the most robust resort facilities in the Southwest. For media information on Talking Stick Golf Club and Talking Stick Resort and Casino, contact Satara Williams at or 602-462-2266.

Scottsdale boasts 51 golf courses within the city and more than 200 in the surrounding area. With such volume, it’s easy to overlook a few hidden gems that provide an outstanding golf experience at an exceptional value.
       Starfire Golf Club was built on the former site of one of Scottsdale’s original golf courses. Located in north central Scottsdale, Starfire is a daily-fee club featuring 27 holes of golf designed by Arnold Palmer. The layout takes players on a winding journey through thick eucalyptus, pine and cottonwood trees as they navigate three 9-hole layouts (King, Hawk and Squire). Each track presents unique challenges including many scenic par 3s that carry over water, while the sporty and narrow 339-yard par-4 finishing hole of the Hawk requires the perfect combination of distance and accuracy. For media information, contact Matthew Lupton at or 480-948-6000.
Not far from Starfire, Gainey Ranch Golf Club is located at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. Its lush greenery and sparkling waterways set the standard for Scottsdale’s classically-styled golf courses. The first of the club’s three nine-hole courses, The Lakes, is a gorgeous challenge with gently cascading water features on six holes. The aptly-named Dunes course is similar to a Scottish-style links course with natural hazards and sand dunes. And the Arroyo course, the longest of the three nines, requires both power and placement, especially on the peninsular green of the finishing hole. While the club is a private facility, guests of the hotel are permitted to play. For media information, contact Kristin Bodmer at or 480-483-5536.

School’s out for summer and with rates of up to 60 percent off in Scottsdale, there’s no better time to pack the family in the car and head off for a Scottsdale golf soiree.
       Those looking for a great base camp when traveling with family to the “World’s Finest Golf Destination,” can combine golf with surf, sun and fun at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. With rates available from $169 per night now through Sept. 7, guests may choose to fuel up with the daily $50 dining credit per room, or hang ten with two complimentary sessions on the resort’s popular FlowRider wave simulator. Other island-themed fun activities include daily poolside games such as Pass the Coconut (the Hawaiian version of Hot Potato), Island Limbo, Hula Skirt Relay Racing and Grass Skirt Hula Hoops. Adults can get into the games with the Mai Tai Putting Challenge. And shaded from the sun, the “OK Corral” offers lawn chess, basketball and other outdoor game tables.
       While the family is enjoying all the poolside fun, golfers can take in Kierland Golf Club’s 27 holes of golf with the 3-Day or 5-Day Golf Experience. These include: unlimited golf and use of practice facilities; Nike rental clubs and one sleeve of golf balls; Nike rental shoes; VIP credentials; 20-percent discount in the golf shop; 20-percent food and beverage discount at the golf club; 20-percent discount on spa services and fitness offerings; and a complimentary one-hour golf clinic. For media information, contact Jennifer Franklin at or 480-624-1315.

Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau Contacts:
Laura McMurchie, VP of Communications
Direct: 480-429-2253

Megan Neighbor, Director of Communications
Direct: 480-889-2716

Stephanie Pressler, Communications Manager
Direct: 480-889-2719

Jerry Rose, Vice President, Communication Links
Phone: 480-348-7540

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

July Calendar of Events


July heats up in Scottsdale with some great events including 4th of July, Garden Flashlight Tours at the Desert Botanical Garden and tons of other activities! Download this printer friendly PDF for a month’s view of the events happening in July.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Megan About Town: Arizona Wine in Downtown Scottsdale


Downtown Scottsdale is often known as the place to go to wind down after a long work weekend. But it isn’t entirely made up of clubs or bars, there are many options to grab a happy hour drink. I snagged a new colleague to celebrate her first post-college job, and we scooted over to Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Wine Gallery. The wine gallery opened last November, and has been active in the community since. In fact, on Thursday’s from 5:30-8 p.m. the wine gallery hosts “Flights & Bites” in conjunction with Food Truck Caravan.

We were immediately greeted by owners Curt Dunham and Peggy Fiandaca, who are both very lovely. I love it when you can find the owners or managers of any establishment hard at work or greeting folks at the door. Not only do you feel right at home, but you can tell that whatever you’re about to experience was created with love.

Kristen and I grabbed a seat and each ordered a flight. With help from Peggy, here’s an idea of what you’ll taste at Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Wine Gallery:


2012 Viognier:

One hundred percent from the Lawrence Dunham Vineyards estate-grown fruit, this wine variation is barrel fermented and aged for 16 months giving each sip more of an oak taste. Caramel sweetness is what I noticed, although I’m never confident in my assessment of wine – no matter how much wine I try!

2012 Sky Island Viognier:

Quite a bit different than the first glass, this option is much brighter and crisper: the perfect option for a summer wine. Peggy suggested that it pairs perfectly with spicy food. So, cook up some spicy Thai noodles and grab a bottle of the 2013 Sky Island Viognier to compliment your meal.

2012 R.E.D. – Red Wine:

This medium blend also is 100 percent estate grown. This wine is made up of 62 percent Grenache, 8 percent Syrah and 30 percent Petite Syrah, so it’s full-bodied and pairs well with a variety of foods.

2012 Grenache:

After something a bit lighter, this wine is more bold and intense in terms of a Grenache. With lots of flavor, this wine has a spicy after taste making it the perfect pair for your summer grill-outs.

2011 “The Signature” Petite Syrah:

Lawrence Dunham Vineyards is best known for “The Signature.” It’s a smooth wine perfectly coupled with all things chocolate. Nicknamed “liquid midnight,” it’s great for dessert but also pairs well with grilled rib eye steaks, braised short ribs and roasted beef tenderloin.

If you’re new to the winery world, and would like to take a minute to learn all about it…Lawrence Dunham Vineyard’s website has a pretty phenomenal FAQ section that tells you what you need to know!

Chatting with Peggy and Curt, it’s clear they have a true passion for wine and people. Their vineyard is located in southeastern Arizona, but it’s no surprise they chose downtown Scottsdale to showcase their product. They have partnered up with Sip and Savor Tours for their Old Town Scottsdale Wine Walkabout, which also features another southern Arizona winery Aridus Wine Company, to highlight the growing local Arizona wine trend.


I’d highly recommend that you swing by and give the wine flight a try, chat with Peggy and Curt, and make sure to pet Epernay (aka Eppy), the resident puppy mascot.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Megan About Town: Find Me Lounging at Center Stage

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A clear benefit of living in a place where people love to visit is that we get to enjoy the same amenities without the travel costs. The perfect example of this isCenter Stage Bar at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. You don’t need to be a guest at the property to enjoy the live entertainment and the ambience.

And this place has ambience in droves. As you walk into the Hyatt Regency’s entrance, you can spot Center Stage a floor below with the indoor/outdoor space that highlights Scottsdale’s ideal weather. Even in the summer, the temperature stays cool because the exterior corridor provides a significant amount of shade.

My girlfriends and I decided to come by the bar for a drink and catch-up time. There are plenty of seating areas to accommodate any size group. Plus, the outdoor space is perfect for groups with kids so they can busy themselves in the courtyard area while the big kids enjoy an adult beverage.

We ordered and got comfortable before the live music started. Let me be clear. The musicians that Center Stage hosts are excellent. Whoever manages the lineup has done a stellar job. If you like live music, this is a great place to sit to enjoy the tunes of The Waters, Myles David Lancette, Sydney Sprague, and Brian Chartrand. That said, it’s also a great place to continue having a catch-up conversation with your friends with lovely background music. My friends and I went from chatting, to listening, to chatting, to listening.

The vibe is casual, but sophisticated. Calming, but energetic. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re looking for something a little outside of the norm. This is not the neighborhood restaurant you visit a few times a week for spinach dip. This is place to go to if you want to enjoy what Scottsdale has to offer: the warm, casual Southwestern atmosphere with a splash of luxury.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fourth of July at the Fairmont Princess

What better way to spend July 4th than poolside at the Fairmont Princess. With a historic airshow, movies by the pool, fireworks and a zipline the whole family will be entertained! Check out the video above to get a sneak peek into a weekend at the Princess!

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Friday, June 19, 2015

Megan About Town: Staycation Happiness at the Fairmont Princess


My air conditioning bill is up, my steering wheel is on the verge of melting, and even the weeds have stopped growing in my yard. Summer is upon us. Or, as I will choose to call it from now on, “staycation season.”

While visitors avoid the triple-degree heat, locals embrace it because we know that it means we can enjoy resort living at a fraction of the cost.

Last year, I spent my summer staycation at The Phoenician, so this year I ventured north with my friend, Sunny, to rejuvenate at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. The resort provides a distant oasis without the travel time. Once you’re on property, you enter into an entirely new world.

We checked in Saturday afternoon and made a bee-line to Well & Being Spa. From the moment you step foot into the spa, you are treated like old friends. After checking in, a young lady gave us a tour of the facilities. Passing through all of the options was akin to passing a buffet of my favorite sweet treats. Where do I begin?!

Sunny and I slipped on our robes and sandals, and headed for the private spa pool. The resort has five lovely pools, but if I could only choose one…it would be the spa’s rooftop, adults-only pool. And I will tell you why. Bean bag pool floats. If I had a pool in my own backyard, I may have just tried to sneak away with one.

Fairmont-Princess-Pool-Float Fairmont-Princess-Pool-Float-2

Beyond the bean bag floatation devices, this pool makes you feel like you’re in the comfort of your own home. Sunny and I snagged two floats, hopped on, shut our eyes and absorbed all of the rays we could, which brings me to my first staycation tip…Wear your sunscreen. I ended up looking like a medium rare steak from the resort’s Bourbon Steak restaurant after a little too long in the summer sun. Even though my skin was a little angry, I never felt too hot even when the temperature reached triple digits.

As the time inched closer to my spa treatment, Sunny and I decided to explore more of what the spa had to offer. With little time and so much to do, we only got a taste of each option. Tip No. 2: If you decide not to stay overnight at the Princess, I highly suggest getting a day pass to Well & Being Spa. They call it the “Happy Pass” and it’s available from now through Sept. 4. This is just for locals to take advantage of this world-class spa during the summer months. It’s $49 per person, per day, and is valid Sunday through Friday. Check it out:

“The Happy Pass allows you to enjoy unlimited access to our beautiful 44.000 sq. ft. spa facility for the entire day which includes fitness classes, steam rooms, saunas, Swiss showers, aromatherapy rooms, hot and cold plunge pools, waterfall treatment pool, private rooftop pool, men’s and women’s lounges and more… Reserve your Happy Pass by calling 480-585-2732. Limited availability each day and black-out dates apply.”

Back to the spa. Sunny and I sat in the eucalyptus inhalation room, which is overwhelmingly peaceful. Unfortunately for me, there was already a spa-goer in there with the right idea. She had cozied herself into the corner of the sitting area and had shut her eyes for rest and relaxation.  

Next, we ventured into the Swedish dry sauna – a favorite of mine. Because I’m not thrilled by the steam room, saunas are the perfect way for me to sweat out the toxins. We were both able to find space to lay down and meditate for a while, while the sauna did all the work. Hey Well & Being, can I steal the sauna?

Sunny obsessed over the steam room, and I took some time to unwind even more in the Jacuzzi area. The space features a Grecian, dome design that makes you feel like an Athenian goddess as you melt into the warm water.

Before too long, it was time for the big spa finale: the Purification Ritual. Allow the spa to more adequately explain the treatment:

“This detoxification ritual begins with a vigorous exfoliation and mud wrap in Black Silt Clay containing extracts of Indian Sarsaparilla and coffee Arabica. A delicious way to increase circulation and minimize cellulite. Your face is then cleansed with an oat polish and nourished with a hydrating aloe & prickly pear mask. Finally, enjoy a vigorous scalp massage and hair conditioning treatment using avocado oil blended with the invigorating essences of lime blossom and sweet blood orange. A full-body massage with ultra-rich bergamot (the aromatic used in Earl Grey tea), citrus and aloe body lotion completes the ritual.”

Wow. All I can say is wow. I spent much of the evening just smelling my skin because I smelled like sweet coffee and citrus. Yes, I looked strange. But in all seriousness, my skin is still seeing the benefit of this detox. I would recommend this treatment to anyone looking for something that’s more than a facial and more soothing than a massage. While it did great things to my skin, I would like to believe that I was able to do a little “life detox,” too. It good to refresh your mind and your body, and I walked away feeling I had accomplished that mission.

Of course, once you detox, the only next step is to “retox.” While getting ready for our girlfriend dinner date, Sunny and I sipped on sweet margaritas and snacked on a pre-appetizer appetizer in the room. When we were sufficiently cute, we walked on over to La Hacienda for our Mexican dining experience.


Here’s the lineup:

  • Appetizer: Guacamole
    • Honestly, my favorite guacamole in Scottsdale. And I have an avocado addiction. What makes this guacamole so good is that it’s simple, fresh and authentic. Many restaurants, in an attempt to differentiate their guacamole, go too far beyond the authentic guacamole recipe that it loses site of the classic dish entirely. Not La Hacienda’s.
  • Drinks: Prickly Pear Margaritas
    • A touch of tartness makes this drink perfectly refreshing for a warm summer day. Plus, it’s bright pink color made our table look more like art then a dinner selection.
  • Entrees: Enchiladas Verdes and Enchiladas de Carnitas
    • Again, La Hacienda hits the nail on the head with a classic enchilada recipe. The ingredients are simple and fresh and you can taste the difference. I ate as much as I could before I couldn’t eat another bite…Well, at least until dessert.
La-Hacienda-Princess La-Hacienda-Dinner
  • Dessert: Cinnamon Churros
    • There’s always room for dessert! You guys, these churros…Unreal. Five warm churros come with cajeta (think caramel), chocolate sauce, or cream cheese natilla for your dipping pleasure. After our meal, Sunny and I thought “There’s no way we can eat all of these.” Yeah, those bad boys were gone in about two minutes. I may start with dessert next time.
  • Dessert Drink: Café 1921 of the Bebidas de Fuedo variety
    • At La Hacienda, the dessert drink comes with a show. The server brings over your cinnamon-sprinkled glass to create the perfect cocktail for your post-dinner indulgence. Other restaurant guests surrounded the cart to watch the flame sparkle and almost went back to their table to order one for themselves.

Dinner was a hit. But all good things come to an end, and Sunny and I headed back to our room to get ready for Part III of our staycation evening: dive-in movie and fireworks.

That particular weekend, the Princess had The Lego Movie on deck. Families and hotel guests gathered at the South Pool to watch the movie from the comfort of their float or lawn chair. You could hear the crowd’s excitement when the “Fireworks Intermission” sign popped up. And the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is not messing around with the show! This isn’t a few measly explosions. This is an all-out, Fourth of July-esque presentation. Speaking of, the resort goes all out for that holiday.

Once the finale wrapped up, and the movie started up again, Sunny and I knew we were just about in for the night. Sunshine and relaxation takes a lot of you, okay?!

Before Sunny and I called it a night, we had to go sneak a peek at what the cool kids were up to at the East Pool. Tip No. 3: Take the kids here to ensure they will pass out later. The water slide, the music, the light-up hula hoops? This is a family’s dream set up.

To be ever-so-slightly dramatic…I’m surprised we made it back to our room. We were exhausted. PJs were on before we knew it, and I sank into the crazy comfortable bed for some of the best sleep I’ve had in a while.

I haven’t mentioned the room yet, but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the spectacular view from the balcony. The room overlooked the golf course and offered sunset and sunrise views that truly showcase the beauty of Scottsdale light. Even when you aren’t being dazzled by the sun, the room itself was enough to thrill any guest. We stayed in the Fairmont Gold Junior Suite, which featured two queen beds and a living area. The room is ideal for someone looking for the ultimate comfort in their stay. You WILL feel at home here.

Fairmont-Princess-Room TPC-Scottsdale

We grabbed a bite at theFairmont Gold Lounge before heading back to the pool for a little morning sun. This is key in the summer months. Get up early and catch morning rays to avoid getting lobster-like burns. The pools are very quiet in the morning time, but you will soon see the sleepy guests emerge from their slumbers to follow in your footsteps.

Before needing to head out, we had to conquer one more of the resort’s musts: The Zipper. The zip line hangs over the lagoon, so as you zip down you get an exotic feel with your adrenaline rush. Check out the video above for a taste of our experience.

Sunny and I could have spent another week at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess trying to fit in all of the amenities and activities they offer. Their website offers a full list of all of their “Summer at the Princess” offerings. If you’re still only considering a staycation there this summer, I think the list will push you over the edge. You won’t regret your decision. Schedule some spa time for adult fun, while the kids enjoy the Trailblazers Kid’s Club. The staycation is the perfect way to get your summer vacation in without breaking the bank or having to take time off from work for travel days.

The only downside? Battling the post-staycation depression when you leave.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Friday, June 12, 2015

Megan About Town: Discovering Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert

Two-thirds of Scottsdale’s land is permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat acreage. That’s pretty unheard of for an urban setting like Scottsdale. Many years ago, concerned Scottsdale citizens came together to ensure that the McDowell Mountains and the surrounding Sonoran Desert areas be free of development. In 1992, the group, coined the McDowell Sonoran Land Trust (now the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy), turned to the City of Scottsdale for help to acquire more preserve land. Only a few years later, 64 percent of Scottsdale voters approved a sales tax to specifically fund land acquisition. 

Today, we see the citizen’s efforts in the breathtaking views of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The 30,000 acres of land include five trailheads and more than 130 miles of trails, which make it the ideal place for anyone to find a trail to hike, bike, or horseback ride.

I’m more of a hiker myself. And really, I mean I’m more of a casual walker. I am not looking for crazy challenges on the mountain, but I am looking for a light exercise and beautiful views. That’s what brought my friends and me to the Pinnacle Peak trail overlooking the Preserve. In fact, a fellow hiker made a comment that she often sees folks hike this trail holding a cup of coffee and wearing flip flops. I wouldn’t recommend doing that. As a rookie hiker, I felt the trail was moderate.

It was a beautiful day, and we were up early to beat the sun – and the rush. If you do decide to check out Pinnacle Peak trail, it’s good to know that it’s near residential areas as well as the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. That means that this is a popular trail.


Because we had an early start, the light on the trail was ideal to snap a few photos of the surrounding area. And, just as I recommended in my Papago hike blog, the Pinnacle Peak trail would be a great place to bring your camera. There are several outlooks during the hike that make for great places to pull to the side and snap a couple photographs.

Take a look:

If you are looking for a more challenging hike, check out Tom’s Thumb just across the way from Pinnacle Peak. Or click here for information on all of the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The Scottsdale CVB also offers a free, downloadable Desert Discovery Guide that details area hikes, plants and animals in the area, and explores other ways to get to know the Sonoran Desert.

For me, the best part of a morning hike with friends is the inevitable brunch stop afterward. We ignored our dusty, sweaty appearances and headed over to The Breakfast Joynt at DC Market Street. They were kind enough to let us in, and we quickly demolished every bit of food we ordered.

Next time around, we’ll probably check out a Preserve trailhead. But only if eggs benedict is the prize for completing the trail.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fourth of July


Fourth of July Events

5th Annual Fourth of July Freedom Fest

Date: July 3 – 5, 2015

Location: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Admission: Activities open to resort guests; concerts are for resort guests or patrons dining in restaurants on property

Details: Celebrating in star-spangled style, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is unfurling its fifth annual “Fourth of July Freedom Fest” a three-day event with concerts , fireworks , all-American fare and poolside fun , with vacation packages benefitting military families, July 3 – July 5, 2015.

Independence Day Music Festival

Date: July 3 – 4, 2015, Gates Open at 5:00 p.m.

Location: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

Admission: Prices vary. Purchase tickets here

Details: Featuring Wilco with Dr. Dog on Friday, July 3, Little Big Town with Brandy Clark on Saturday, July 4 and the largest firework show in the valley!

4th of Zoo-ly at the Phoenix Zoo

Date: July 4, 2015, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Location: Phoenix Zoo

Admission: Adults $45; Children $35 (3-12)


  • Catered BBQ dinner at the Lakeside Lawn 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Face painting, bounce houses, animal discoveries & other activities
  • Free carousel rides from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • “VIP” view from the Zoo of the Tempe Fireworks show at 9:00 p.m.

$4 for the Fourth at Pueblo Grande Museum

Date: June 30 – July 3, 2015

Location: Pueblo Grande Museum

Admission: $4

Details: Join Pueblo Grande Museum in celebrating Independence Day with our $4 for the Fourth admission promotion!  For the Fourth of July Holiday week, June 30 to July 3, Pueblo Grande Museum is offering a discounted museum admission rate of $4 to all adults and seniors! Bring the whole family out for a fun and affordable uniquely Arizona experience.

Scottsdale’s 4th of July Celebration

Date: July 4, 2015, 2:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Location: WestWorld of Scottsdale

Admission: $12 in advance; VIP $30 in advance; Kids VIP $20 in advance; Children 5 & under are free; Military & family are free with valid ID. Scottsdale GA tickets $6 with proof of residency online only. Ride wristbands $20 (first child), $10 for each additional child. $5 ride wristband for children 5 and under.

Details: Be Red, White and COOL at Scottsdale 4th of July at WestWorld, Sat., July 4, 2:00 p.m. – 9:30 pm. It’s truly a COOL family friendly patriotic wonderland INDOORS at WestWorld expanded to entire 300,000 square-foot fully air-conditioned Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center that encompasses the North Hall, South Hall and Equidome, 16601 N. Pima Rd. Featuring a super kid’s play zone; Bull Riding Competition with a $4,000 prize jackpot; mutton-busting for kids; zip lining; video game trucks; StuntMasters BMX Big Air Half pipe Show; TNT Dunk Squad Trampoline Show; Grand Prix Gatsby-era Racing (ages 16 & up); Frozen 4th Spectacular with appearances by Ana & Elsa; community stage featuring a performance by Arizona’s Own 108th Army Band “Saguaro Brass;” delicious food, live entertainment, traditional fireworks show and much more! Tickets at or call 1.866.977.6849.

Red, White and Rawhide

Date: July 4, 2015, 5:00 pm.

Location: Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse

Admission: $19.75 – $30.00

Details: This 4th of July weekend celebration is sure to be a fun filled event with great music, tasty food, fantastic fireworks, a beer fest, food trucks, vendors, attractions, and a party so big it could only be done at Rawhide! This special event will include live music performances throughout the evening and into the night as we celebrate Independence Day. 

Fourth of July Weekend at Butterfly Wonderland

Date: July 4 – July 3, 2015

Location: Butterfly Wonderland

Admission: $19.95 for adults; $12.95 for children (3-11)

Details: Guests are invited to celebrate our nation’s independence during the 4th of July weekend celebration! From 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be treated to day long activities including live music by local guitarist and vocalist, Lee Perriera, & Food Trucks from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Special red, white and blue butterflies in the atrium providing truly patriotic photo opportunities. Visits from the Blue Morpho lady (Sunday only), face painting from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. In addition, guests wearing red, white and blue will receive 10% off admission.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Megan About Town: Barbecue Fix at Bryan’s

No matter how much you love your home, it’s nice to check out a different scene every once in a while. What’s great about Scottsdale is that it doesn’t take a long drive to feel like you’re in an entirely new place. My colleague Scott and I took off up north for a work project in neighboring Cave Creek, and it only took about 30 minutes to realize that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.  2 1 10

The cowboy culture is alive and well in Cave Creek. If you take Scottsdale Road all the way north until it turns into Tom Darlington Drive, then take a left on Cave Creek Road, you won’t be hard-pressed to see what I mean. From the moment you get to town, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a new world. Passing by saloons and biker bars, continue on until you see Byran’s Black Mountain Barbecue on your right. It’s just across the street from Big Earl’s Greasy Eats. Yes, that’s the actual name of the restaurant.

Bryan’s is a casual, cozy restaurant with an unmistakable country vibe. A guitar player strummed along in the corner while we stood in line debating what to order.

Between sandwiches and straight-up BBQ plates, it was a tough call, but I landed on the beef brisket sandwich. I wasn’t disappointed. The juicy sandwich left no room for seconds, no matter how badly you wished it had. I coupled that with the baked potato salad. I’m a tough sell, because I consider myself a carb-connoisseur, but I ate every last bite. So. Good!

Action shots:


Scott and I hung out for a while more enjoying the vibes of the place before it was time to take off. If we had had more time, we would have headed out to Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse for some more live music + some dancing. Okay, I would have danced. Scott would have hid in the corner. Or maybe he would have had a few too many drinks and hopped into the ring for some bull riding? I guess you never know what the night can hold when you’re feeling a little country in Cave Creek.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Places for a Poolside Cocktail

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think, “summer”? If you’re like us, lounging by the pool, sipping on one of your favorite drinks is probably high on the list. Scottsdale is famous for spacious resorts with luxurious pools, perfect for relaxing on a lazy summer day. What can make or break your day in the sun, though, is the drink in your hand. Check out these cabana-worthy cocktails to go along with that amazing pool.


Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch

Sandy beach, water slide, swaying palm trees – this oasis (above) will have you relaxing behind your sunglasses all day long. Find your spot and order up a guest favorite, the Diamond Raspberry Ricky. This refreshing drink is made with Tanqueray gin, agave nectar, lime wedges and raspberries served on the rocks.

Westin Kierland Resort and Spa

With a lazy river, a waterslide and “flowrider” surfing simulator to cool you off, the Westin Kierland Resort’s water park is the ultimate summer hangout. If you’re going to spend most of your day poolside, make sure you try the Prickly Pear margarita. This Lazy River Libation is a blend of Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila, Triple Sec, prickly pear syrup and Sweet & Sour.

Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

Hotel Valley Ho

With OH Pool’s chic, retro style, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been transported back in time. What’s the perfect potion to go along with that old-school feeling? The OH Pool Punch in a souvenir cup! This cabana cooler combines Bacardi light rum, Malibu coconut rum, fresh-squeezed OJ, pineapple and lime juice, ginger ale and grenadine.

Phoenician Pool

The Phoenician

The crown jewel of The Phoenician’s seven-pool complex is the stunning Mother of Pearl Pool. For a drink that’s as elegant as your surroundings, try a frozen Skinny Mojito made with Bacardi Superior Rum, agave nectar and mint. Feeling decadent? Try the Lava Flow – Bacardi Superior Rum, Malibu Rum, strawberries, bananas, pineapple juice and Crème de Coconut all whipped up into a luscious frozen treat.


Talking Stick Resort

The shallow Lounge Pool at Talking Stick Resort features 16 semi-immersed lounge chairs and in-pool umbrellas for a refreshing way to relax. Cool off with a Jack Honey Arnold Palmer, which blends Jack Daniel’s Honey with lemonade and iced tea splashed over ice.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |

Buzzy New Scottsdale Eateries

Scottsdale’s culinary scene is always evolving, so come taste what’s new! These popular newcomers are garnering plenty of buzz as they dish up innovative cuisine inspired by international flavors and locally sourced ingredients.


Craft 64: This hip new addition to downtown’s Main Street boasts artisan wood-fired pizzas and salads so fresh you’ll swear the ingredients were just picked that morning. Try the Kale Pear salad with creamy pumpkin dressing and pair it with a Blanco pizza, which comes topped with smooth mozzarella, burrata, fresh spinach and garlic (add some fennel sausage for extra zip). Wash down your pie with one of more than 30 local Arizona craft brews on tap.


The Upton: Located in downtown’s lively Entertainment District, The Upton offers a playful menu inspired by global culture and created with fresh seasonal ingredients. Specialties include Fried Cajun Oysters, Chinese Char Siu Ribs and Miso Vegan Ramen with Crazy Noodles.


Bink’s Scottsdale: Bink’s Scottsdale serves simply delicious, contemporary cuisine from James Beard Finalist Chef Kevin Binkley. Dig into entrées like Amy’s Bolognese or the 5 Spice Duck Breast. With an every-changing menu of farm-fresh produce, meats and seafood, these eclectic dishes are both classically satisfying and refreshingly adventurous.


Thirsty Lion: Shoppers at Scottsdale Fashion Square have a new dining option when they need to refuel. Thirsty Lion makes their upscale gastropub cuisine from scratch daily using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Specialties include the I.P.A Beer-Battered Fish & Chips, Baja Fish Tacos and Spicy Mac & Cheese made with Italian sausage, four cheeses and chipotle cream.


Virtú Honest Craft: Located on property at downtown’s acclaimed Bespoke Inn, Virtu Honest Craft has generated a lot of buzz since its 2013 opening, including a ranking as one of the “Top 20 Best New Restaurants in the Country” by Esquire magazine. Chef Gio Osso’s menu of inspired New Mediterranean cuisine and one of the most romantic patios in town have made Virtú a must-try dining destination.


Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse: If you’re a card-carrying carnivore, you’ll love the meaty menu at Bootleggers. Start your feast with the Bacon Board – a carefully curated collection of all-natural “swine slabs” accompanied by griddled toast, sweet onion jam and housemade mustard and pickles. Other highlights include Hickory-smoked beef brisket, fork-tender ribs and smoked salmon tacos.


Hula’s Modern Tiki: This new kid on the downtown block puts a modern twist on the classic Tiki bars and restaurants of the 1950s. During nice weather (meaning most of the year), Hula’s entire glass front is open so that even the interior tables feel like patio seating. It’s the ideal setting for island specialties like Habanero Lime Chicken Tacos, Luau Pork Sandwiches and Crispy Coconut Shrimp Rolls.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |