Want to get away for a few days without the cost of a plane flight? Consider Scottsdale – an upscale and modern city just two hours north of Tucson.
Resplendent with excellent shopping, fine dining, and beautiful parks, Scottsdale is a delightful urban vacation destination. Though some refer to it as “Snobsdale” due to its reputation as a city of wealth and luxury, it’s a city that is well worth a visit. Balmy weather, ample sunshine, and opulent resorts make it a travel paradise – for locals and visitors from afar.
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
For family fun or a couples getaway, consider Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. Conveniently located in Central Scottsdale, the property is posh, but comfortable – with green lawns, relaxing fountains, and serene outdoor spaces. The pools are among the best of any resort in the state with a sandy beach, a 3-story waterslide, waterfalls, and volleyball net – plus adults-only options. If you have little ones, you’ll be grateful for the chance to relax since the sandy beach is shallow and offers lots of fun without deeper waters. Also on-site is a playground, biking/running trails, tennis courts, and gondola boats rides (for an additional fee). If you can spring for a casita suite, you won’t be disappointed. The casitas are indeed mini houses with living areas, kitchenettes, separate bedrooms, rooftop patios, and water right outside your door.
Gainey Suites Hotel
Looking for a more affordable option? Gainey Suites Hotel has a fabulous central Scottsdale location – with gads of complimentary amenities! Enjoy spacious suites, free WiFi, free parking, a complimentary breakfast (serving Starbucks coffee), PLUS a complimentary evening reception with appetizers, snacks, wine, beer, and soft drinks. You’ll even receive a Gainey Teddy Bear to take home! Best of all, the hotel recently completed a $2.2 million renovation of the guest rooms and public areas – which makes for a comfortable, clean, and modern environment. Ideal for families or business travelers, Gainey Suites offers smokin’ summer deals (starting at $99/night!!!).
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Not far from the resort is one of the best parks in the Phoenix metro area – the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Aptly named. the 40-acre park features a mini train ($2/rider), a glittering carousel ($2/rider), a 10,000 sq ft model railroad building (free!), and several well-designed playscapes. With free admission, it’s a shoe-in stop for your Scottsdale visit with kids.
Originally opened in 2013, Butterfly Wonderland is still new to the Valley of the Sun. The buildings are beautiful and appealing from the outside. “This place looks kid-friendly,” our 8-year-old piped up as we pulled into the parking lot. Your experience begins with a 15-minute 3D movie about the flight of butterflies. You are then escorted to the 10,000 square foot conservatory – the main attraction with flowers in every color and up to 4,000 flittering butterflies. Wander around with your camera and your imagination. Stay long enough and a butterfly will land on your clothes or hair for an up-close and personal encounter. Also inside the facility is a mini aquarium, gallery, and cafe. All in all, your visit will likely take you a maximum of two hours – which makes the cost of admission quite steep at $19.95 for adults and $11.95 for children (ages 2 and under are free). Our conclusion? Very well-done, but the facility needs to be expanded or the price needs to be decreased to ensure better value.
Desert Botanical Garden
If you are new to Arizona or visiting from another state/country, the Desert Botanical Garden will enchant you. You’ll be introduced to desert plants, flowers, and scenic views in a super-accessible environment. Strollers and wheelchairs will feel right at home on the wide, paved paths. Admire cacti, an edible garden, artwork, and colorful architecture. If you’re wondering how it compares to venues closer to home, you might call it a cross between Tohono Chul Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (minus the wildlife). Gorgeous for special events and appealing to desert newcomers.
Hot Chocolate 15K
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Scottsdale in the winter (hello 70-degrees and sunshine!), you may want to plan your trip around the Hot Chocolate 15k, which makes its way to the city every December. Your registration fee includes a comfy sweatshirt, chocolate treats along the course, a post-race party, and a chocolate bar shaped metal. The course itself is notably blasé, but you’ll have a blast if you do it with a friend.
As you plan your trip, check the show schedule at Phoenix Theatre. This intimate 378-seat theatre is state-of-the-art. You’ll be surprised by the exceptional stage designs, stellar casts, professional orchestra, and special effects. The theatre shares a space with the Phoenix Art Museum in central Phoenix, but don’t be deceived by the location! It’s a lovely theatre, inside and out – with a lush courtyard, bronze sculptures, outdoor seating, and a full bar in the atrium. Can’t wait to go back!
Stay tuned for future posts about other drivable cities from Tucson. Road trips make for fun memories without the steep cost of airline tickets!
What are your favorite things to do in Scottsdale?