After our week-long epic adventure to remember through Arizona and Utah, we returned to the San Gabriel Valley for the weekend. That was short-lived however, because on the following Tuesday, I was off to Scottsdale again on family business. This was not a bad thing. Even in the dry desert heat, Scottsdale is a destination in itself.
The one drawback to the back and forth on Interstate 10, especially through California, is that it is consistently troublesome. I feel like I’ve logged more hours being stuck in San Bernardino in the crawl that epitomizes the traffic of So Cal legends or having to take ridiculous detours due to the fact that the freeway was closed entirely when posted roadsigns suggested that there would be just lane closures, than actual traveling. But that aside, once we got into Arizona, it was pretty smooth sailing- or driving.
Scottsdale is a prosperous city in the Phoenix metro area. According to the internet, Scottsdale is among the nations most wealthy communities, a place that attracts the uber-wealthy along with neighboring Paradise Valley. It is probably best known for its high number of luxury resorts and golf courses, places we saw as we drove around the city. But while there are indeed many high end boutiques and luxury hotels, there is plenty to do in this city for folks who follow a more modest budget.
For starters, there are plenty of food options in Scottsdale. From the Texas Roadhouse chain to even a good sushi place on Camelback Road, we were eating pretty well on our various treks through Scottsdale. This last visit we arrived in Scottsdale on Taco Tuesday. After braving the freeway, I felt like it was a good time for a margarita, so after checking into our hotel, we headed over to Loco Petron. This taco joint has been serving tacos and margaritas since 2004 and now has a selection of their own microbrews.
We ordered two margaritas; I opting for the prickly pear marg. The margaritas were strong in the late evening, which was not a bad thing, but I found that prickly pear, while great in ice cream, is not my jam in a margarita. I preferred the loco marg, which was a classic margarita with a splash or orange juice. In addition, we ordered a selection of tacos at the Taco Tuesday special price, a side of Mexican rice and a side of potatoes. The fried avocado tacos were good, the rice was decent, but the potatoes were fantastic, especially with the chipotle crema it was served with. All told, our visit to Loco Petron was a great way to celebrate a Taco Tuesday that was both economical and relaxing after such a long drive.
But perhaps my favorite thing about Scottsdale is it many green spaces. While in the car, I saw many parks with a number of recreation opportunities. We passed by the McCormick-Stillman Railway Park, a 30-acre park that is home to a railroad museum, shops, picnic areas, a carousel, and train rides. It looked like the kind of park the kids would have loved when they were little. Or even now in the case of Jacob, our train aficionado.
We did pay a visit to Chaparral Park and the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden. I seem to have become obsessed with desert scapes, particularly the tall saguaro cacti that typify the Sonoran Desert. The garden seemed like a promising place to take some fun desert-themed photos and take a short walk in the scorching early afternoon heat before hitting the interstate again on our last day in Scottsdale. This city park covers 100 acres and has a pool, dog park, basketball and volleyball courts, four pavilions for gatherings, sports fields, and even a lake for boating and fishing. But we visited for the desert garden. This garden has exhibits to educate on drought tolerant landscaping and conservation and plenty of desert plants. The terraced design helps to capture precious water in the arid climate. I loved walking around and viewing the different plants, but it was hot even in the late morning, so we headed back to the car for an early lunch before getting on the road again.
With Phoenix to the west and the Tonto National Forest to the north, there is no shortage of adventure that can be found in Scottsdale. Just pick a happy trail and go. Even in the scorching heat, it still is a happening place.
Some things to consider:
The heat, especially in summer, is no joke. It was ‘cooler’ on our last two visits- 100 degrees rather than 115. This kind of heat can definitely be dangerous. Plenty of water, breaks, and sunscreen are necessities.
Old Town Scottsdale is a pretty cool place. We visited the area years ago while staying in Phoenix. There there were a number of shopping experiences from western style to modern boutiques along with restaurants and art galleries.