With its hundreds of hiking trails, abundance of spa resorts and perfect temperature of mid-70s and sunshine for most of the year, Scottsdale, Arizona, is a little slice of desert heaven that is perfect for your next girls’ getaway. With only a 20-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Phoenix, Scottsdale is one place where you can easily recharge, eat amazing food and take in the sights of the Sonoran Desert –which extends into Mexico –in just two and a half days. And we’d be remiss not to mention that with the dry heat, you’ll have great hair days for the duration of the trip. HOLA! USA has mapped everything out for you from where to stay, what to eat and how to spend each hour without feeling like it’s too packed of a schedule in too short of a time.
First, you’ll need to choose a place to stay, and we recommend the Andaz Resort & Bungalows. Situated on 22.5 acres, the property’s 185 rooms and suites are housed in little bungalows that are scattered throughout the property and separate from the main lobby and Weft & Warp restaurant. The décor is mid-century modern and reminiscent of the 1950s that includes art from local artisans from nearby Cattle Track Arts Compound (more on that below). The pool and several firepits on property all have sweeping views of Camelback Mountain in the distance. Also, you won’t want to miss out on the spa, which we indulged in on day one. For the first night, just stay on property and dine at Weft & Werp. Depending on the night there is live music as well.
Wake up at leisure, and start your day with a cup of coffee and breakfast at Weft & Warp restaurant. We absolutely recommend the pancakes; they are probably the best we’ve ever had –light and airy just like the surrounding area. If you don’t want to sit and dine, the Andaz has grab and go bites like granola bars and beverages.
10:30 am: To combat the possibility of jetlag, schedule a treatment at the Andaz’s Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary to kick off the vacation. Walk over 15 minutes early in your robe to take advantage of the facility. The treatments all focus on natural healing powers of the earth’s most sacred resources and use local ingredients from a Sedona botanist. The DNA Growth Factor Facial which is a medical-grade facial, and the Deep Tissue Massage, that uses arnica and Turquoise Sage, are worth trying.
12:30 pm: Take a quick drive down the road to the Cattle Track Arts Compound, which is one of Scottsdale’s hidden treasures. Since the 1930s, this place has been a haven for artists, writers and dancers. Be sure to look around for Mark McDowell, who oversees the property now, and check out photographs from Brent Bond, felter Chance Phillips or ceramic artist Mary Van Dusen. There are often talks organized in the gallery and artists featured regularly.
1:30 pm: If you’re a big lunch person or want a light bite to hold you over until dinner, Farm & Craft in Old Town Scottsdale has something for everyone and focuses on healthy and sustainable food. The Cashew Chicken Salad or the Wild Mushroom Flatbread are great options.
2:30 pm: The Desert Botanical Garden is a short 15-minute drive and worth venturing to see the finest collection of arid-land plants from deserts around the world. You’ll soon learn there is an array of cacti that is on display around the five or so trails. The garden also has exhibits that run for a period of time. Currently, Wild Rising by Cracking Art features over 1,000 animal sculptures made from colorful, recyclable plastic, as well as Elephant in the Room, which raises conversation around climate change.
4 pm: Head back to the Andaz to unwind before hitting the town.
6 pm: Venture to Old Town Scottsdale for wine tasting. Arizona’s climate is similar to Argentina’s tropic for wine production. We visited two of the six tasting rooms, starting with Merkin Vineyards, which makes its wine in Verde Valley and Willcox regions. Across the street is LDV Wine Gallery. Peggy and her husband started this vineyard over a decade ago.
8 pm: With the happiest of hours complete, a dinner at Scottsdale staple The Mission is necessary. With tableside guacamole unlike any other and a blood orange margarita, the meal will start off seamlessly. Chef Matt Carter puts his spin on Latin cuisine paired with his French culinary training. The salmon a la plancha – a Spanish griddle – is a must order as is the white bean puree side dish, butternut squash tacos and grilled street corn. End dinner on a sweet note with the pumpkin bread pudding.
10 am: Arrange a guided hike with REI Co-op Adventure Center. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve has 40,000 acres and over 400 miles of hiking, biking and multi-use trails. We did a 4.5-mile, moderate intensity trail called the Gateway Trail Loop. Along the way, you’ll see the Saguaro cacti and many granite pieces but make sure not to take any since the land is protected. With the sun beating down, be sure to stay hydrated throughout.
1 pm: After the invigorating hike, have your guide drop you at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Resort & Spa for the second treatment of the trip. Before stepping foot in the room, you will have worked up an appetite so be sure to dine at Sprouts. The shrimp bowl was flavorful even with being low-fat, low-sodium and uber healthy. The spa also has an outdoor pool to chill for a bit. Treatments recommended are the Swedish Massage or Dr. Perricone’s Anti-Aging Facial, which uses a microcurrent.
4 pm: Scottsdale has the second largest shopping mall after Mall of America, so if retail therapy is a must on this girls’ trip, definitely make your way to Fashion Square Mall with 206 stores like Nordstrom, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and many more. The mall also has an art walk featuring sculptures, statues and paintings interwoven amongst the stores.
8 pm: Fat Ox is a newer restaurant in Scottsdale, but it has already become an iconic staple that serves authentic and hearty recipes from rural Italy. The steak, poultry and seafood are prepared over local mesquite inside custom wood-burning grill and rotisserie. The pastas are on another level and so unique and homemade.
After dinner you can either retreat for a nightcap at the Andaz or head to the area by the W hotel where there are plenty of open-air bars. During the day, the W also has a scene at the pool.
Wake up for one more breakfast at the Andaz before heading to the airport. Be sure to breathe in the fresh air and take in the surroundings one last time! The magic of Scottsdale will linger in your mind for years to come!