I always thought of Scottsdale, Arizona as a place people go to golf or retire. When my husband suggested we meet each other there for a long weekend after his conference in Las Vegas ended I was a little skeptic but decided it was a good idea for two reasons: 1) it was currently 30 degrees and snowing in Chicago and 2) Chicago White Sox spring training game against the Chicago Cubs (duh, no brained!)
I do have to say when I landed in Phoenix my first thought was daaaaang this airport is nice and really easy to navigate, so plus one so far! My husband’s flight landed 10 min. after mine so we met each other and then headed to pick up our rental car (which you def. should get if you’re staying in Scottsdale and plan to leave your hotel). We stayed at The Phoenician, which I highly recommend. It’s a bit pricey but if you can splurge it’s def. worth it. The one amazing thing about this resort is it’s right under Camelback mountain, plus one again (view from our room balcony)!
My husband and I are not ones to spend our entire vacay “relaxing” or laying by the pool. Ok actually I’m the one that can’t sit still, as long as there’s a pool he’s ok chilling as many days as needed. Also, our motto for every vacay is always “we may never be back so live it up!”. Knowing this, our itinerary may not be 100% perfect for you but hopefully bits and pieces will be. Enjoy!
Traveled: 2nd weekend of March 2018
Arrived at our hotel in the early evening so spent the rest of the night there. The resort, while under construction, does offer a lot of food options; we opted for the burger place by the golf course. The resort is HUGE but everything is walkable otherwise they offer to drive you via golf carts!
We wanted to make the most of our time here, especially the warm weather, so we got up fairly early (7AM) and grabbed some breakfast at the resort. After a quick bite we changed into some workout clothes and headed to Camelback Mountain. The walk from the resort is about half a mile to the base of the mountain so just note that you’ll be doing about a mile walk round trip on top of what you do on the mountain. On the plus side, if you’re addicted to getting those steps in for your Fitbit challenges this is one way to get to your goal!
Camelback Mountain – I’m in pretty good shape but I’m not used to hiking up mountains coming from Chicago. I do try to face my arch nemesis, the Stair Master, but that still doesn’t really prepare you for a mountain hike. If you go at your own pace and bring tons of water, you’ll be fine. There are tons and tons of stopping places for photo ops, or for me – to catch your breath! We only were able to make it to the half-way point. Mainly because I’m scared of heights and the rest of the way to the top was more or less legit rock climbing (so I heard). One thing I would recommend is to get some good hiking shoes. I saw so many people wearing gym shoes and having a really hard time. Hiking shoes are def. worth it!
After a couple hours of hiking plus the half mile walk back to the resort we were in need of the pool. Here’s my amazing view from the pool!
Remember when I said our motto is “we may never be back so live it up!”? Well that’s exactly what we did. After sipping on a much needed strawberry daiquiri and taking a dip in the pool to cool off we went back to the room, showered, grabbed a quick coffee and snack and headed to Sedona! The drive from Scottsdale to Sedona is about 2 hours. We didn’t have a specific place we were going just knew EVERYONE recommended to go if we could, so we went!
Sedona – This place is magical! We left the hotel around 3:30ish and rolled into Sedona right as the sun was setting. I mean talk about perfect timing look at the views we had!
Since going to Sedona wasn’t part of our original plan we didn’t have a reservation for any restaurants – whoops! We wanted to check out Elote Cafe, but of course at 6:30 the wait was already 2 hours deep, so we went to the next Mexican restaurant we could find – Javelina Cantina. I will say this isn’t the greatest restaurant if you’re looking for Mexican or Southwestern food but it did hit the spot after a full morning of hiking! After gulping down as much caffeine as we could we headed back to Scottsdale. When the sun goes down and you’re not anywhere close to a major city, it’s PITCH BLACK out! The 2 hour drive back to Scottsdale wasn’t that bad though as there were tons of cars on the road. We arrived back at our hotel around 10 and went straight to bed! I’d say Day 2 was jam packed with tons of stuff but it was amazing.
Day 3 – This was going to be our last full day in Scottsdale and we wanted to make the most of the warm weather we had so we got up early again and went for another hike. This time we chose a less populated mountain, Phoenix Mountain Preserve – 40th St. Trailhead, and I’m really glad we did. This mountain preserve is super cool as there are quite a bit of different trails you can pick from depending on your needs (ex: mountain bike, trail running, horseback riding, hiking etc.). I will also say, there were so many hikers out with dogs on the same trail we did – blew my mind! I was also really glad it was cloudy on this day because the hike up was pretty brutal again. Here are a couple pics we took to one of the lookouts before heading down.
After hiking for a couple hours we headed back to the resort, showered and got ready for the Chicago White Sox game! This game was a pretty exciting one as it was against our rivals, the Chicago Cubs, at their Spring training park (Sloan Park).
Sloan Park: Home of the Chicago Cubs Spring training – We’ve never been to Spring training so we didn’t know what to expect, especially when we picked our tickets. We went with lawn seats and I will say, if you aren’t committed to getting to the park early so you can get a good lawn seat – FORGET ABOUT IT! Let’s just say were going through security right as the National Anthem was being sung so finding a spot was pretty much impossible if you wanted to sit and get a good view of anything other then the back of people’s heads!
After a couple innings we gave up trying to make the lawn area work and walked around the stadium. We found an awesome place to stand right along the railing after the 100 level that also had a nice little balcony for our food and beer #score #winning! This spot worked out perfectly because right around the 6th inning it started down pouring and went from 65 degrees to basically Chicago degrees (40ish). We stayed the entire game which ended in a tie.
After the game we were pretty hungry and hadn’t seen any of Phoenix yet so decided to make a last min. stop and grab dinner. Our friend recommended a whole bunch of places to eat prior to this trip so we noticed one on her list in Phoenix was Pizzeria Bianca and headed there. This place is AMAZING! I will say, if you don’t get there before 5PM you’re going to wait at least 2 hours. It’s extremely small inside, although there is a small outdoor section but because it was freezing out that was not an option. We got there around 4:30 and had about a 35min. wait so went next door to Bar Bianco. This place is super cool and they’ll even allow you to bring your drink with you when your seat is ready!
After dinner we grabbed some ice cream at Fatty Daddy’s, I don’t recommend this place but it did get good reviews on Google Maps. We then headed back to the hotel and went directly to bed since our flight was super early the next day. One thing to note, it was day light savings that night going into the next day and Arizona apparently doesn’t participate!
All-in-all we had a really great time. I have a whole new perspective of Scottsdale and would really really love to winter here! If you get the chance to go please do, especially if you’re leaving a cold climate in the Winter, like Chicago. Going in March was perfect as the weather in Scottsdale was still bearable, although the nights were rather chilly. If you love the outdoors this is for you! Spring training is also a must if you’re a baseball fan. I highly recommend Sedona too and wish we had planned this into our trip so we could spend an entire day/night. Oh well, next time – right 😉