Sunshine, cacti and Southwestern cuisine!
Arizona was beautiful and a much-needed change from the chilly, snowy spring of Wisconsin. Mitch and I decided to spend a long weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona in late March/early April. We stayed with an old high school friend of his who recently moved there for work (I’m all about that free lodging—major cost saver).
This was our first flight as adults, and despite all my worrying and many warnings about Spirit Airlines, we had very smooth flights and a great travel experience!
Our direct three hour flight left at 10:00 am central time on Friday and we arrived around 11:30 am Arizona time. After dropping our bags off at the house, our first order of business was getting something to eat.
We decided to go to McFate Brewing, where we could get some drinks and some good food after a long morning. During my research I found a lot of bloggers who said how Arizona was a good place to go if you were looking to eat clean while on vacation. While that appeared to be true, I didn’t necessarily take advantage of those options;) haha.
I LOVED how everywhere we went in Arizona, there was an option for outdoor seating. Of course, it was springtime and we experienced perfect weather (65-80 degrees) for midwesterners trying to escape winter. So maybe I’d feel differently if it had been summer weather, but for us it was wonderful!
After we were finished with lunch, we decided to walk around Old Town Scottsdale. I really wanted to go to this bookstore in the area, called The Poisoned Pen, that specializes in mysteries and thrillers. The cashier was actually a retired woman from Superior, Wisconsin! Small world! After I chose two books, we explored some of the many shops in that area.
Arizona is a great destination for baseball fans and golfers, so there was plenty of baseball/sports-themed shops to keep the boys interested too! 😉
Our next stop was Goldwater Brewing Company. If I was in the area again, I would definitely want to go back. Unique atmosphere and great beer! Mitch and I split a flight—my favorites were the Desert Rose Cactus Ale (I mean, how could I not try this one while in Arizona?) and the Scotch’dale Ale. Wish I could’ve brought back a six pack of each of those!
As we enjoyed our beer, we discovered that tickets for the Diamondback game in Phoenix were only $17. So we decided, why not? and headed to Chase Field. The employees there were SO nice and helpful. The usher in our section even went out of her way to find me a cup of coffee (something the actual vendors don’t sell), which I desperately needed after our long day of travels.
And if that weren’t enough for our first day, we found out that Keith Urban was performing a free concert in Phoenix as a part of the Final Four weekend celebrations. The free shuttle was just a couple blocks from the stadium. Keith and his band were great performers. So full of energy—you can really tell how much fun they are having!
On Day 2 we began by doing the number one activity on my list: hiking Camelback Mountain. I think we arrived around 9:30 am and there was already a long line of cars—we walked about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile to get to the starting point.
Everything I read about hiking Camelback said to bring plenty of water, and they’re not kidding. It was about 75 degrees—great hiking weather, in my opinion—and I ran out of water fast (can’t imagine what it would be like on a hot day in the summer). There are 36 markers from start to finish, and I would say about 3/4 of it is challenging rocky terrain (very challenging if you are sensitive to heights like Mitch and I). I really wanted to make it all the way to the top, and even though there were quite a few people passing me, I was so glad I kept going to the very end. Gorgeous dessert scenery the entire way, no matter how far up you decide to go!
It’s also important to remember that the way down is just as challenging as the way up (or maybe it’s best not to think about it on your way up;)). My legs were jello by the time we returned to the flat ground and my tennis shoes definitely took a beating. But I did it!
After showering, we went to the Salty Señorita for lunch. Loved this place! Beachy vibe, great cheese dip, delicious Mexican food, and the most refreshing margarita I’ve ever had! (I can’t remember the actual name but it was cucumber watermelon flavored).
That evening we went to TopGolf, a sports entertainment venue with drinks, great food and point-scoring golf games—good place to watch the Final Four, too. We did have to wait almost two hours to play the games (we ate dinner in the meantime), but Mitch loved this place. Players hit microchipped golfballs at targets—the closer you get to the target, the more points you get. For someone like me, who doesn’t play golf, it was nice to just sit on the outdoor patio and enjoy the night air with a drink.
The next morning we began our day at The Breakfast Club and Barrista Bar, a popular diner in Old Town Scottsdale. Lots of young, pretty families hanging out here. There was a bit of a wait, but that’s to be expected on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning! The food was fantastic—I had the Eggs Benedict and a very yummy latte. My only complaint is I wasn’t too impressed with the service; the wait staff was kind of grumpy, particularly the hostess looked like she’d rather be anywhere else. But oh well!
After breakfast we headed to the Desert Botanical Gardens. There was a charge of $24 a person, but it’s one of those things that you really should go see as long as you’re in the area. The employees were really friendly and helpful. I appreciated the map being explained to us. There were a lot of different paths and a couple exhibits. Very pretty scenery and educational! The butterfly exhibit would’ve been a great place to take young children.
After one last dinner at a sports bar called Dukes, it was time to rest up for our 1:00 am departure flight. I was pretty bummed to have to leave so soon. Already planning my next trip back!
One last breathtaking sight before we returned to life in Wisconsin was the sunrise over Dallas, Texas 🙂