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Eddie’s Travel Picks: Scottsdale, Arizona

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When writing about a destination like Scottsdale, Arizona a writer could easily take up reams of paper. But since I neither have the time or space for that I just might write this feature in two parts. Cleverly I have title this one, part one. To begin, some facts about the area – it receives about 9 million visitors per year. In 2014 the annual tax revenue generated by visitors was about $38 million. I’m telling you that fact so that you’ll realize how important tourism is to the city and surrounding towns, like Mesa and Phoenix.
The Desert at Twilight.

The Desert at Twilight. Photo by Eddie Applefeld.

There are roughly 228,300 people living here. Honestly I stopped counting at 4,000. The geography is 184.5 square miles stretching 31 miles from north to south. It receives only about 7.6 inches of rain a year. Isn’t it great to live in a climate where you don’t have to worry about the weather spoiling your plans. However on occasion there is a sand storm that blows through.  The average temperature is 71 degrees, I would hate that and residents say about 330 days of sunshine. I was there 8 days and it was beautiful everyday. The elevation ranges from 1,150 to 4,877 feet.

But be warned, in the middle of summer temperatures very easily and quite often are over 100. I have never experienced that. But also keep this
in mind, the humidity is about 10 to 15%. But as I was told by folks who live there, man is it hot in the summer. The friends I visited have to wear gloves when they go to their car in the morning and during the day if parked outside. The steering wheel is simply too hot to touch. But guess what, you don’t have to shovel or scrape the heat.

The city of Scottsdale has about 70 hotels and resorts. I visited about four of the resorts, The Biltmore, J.W. Marriott, and The Boulders for example, and trust me here, they are spectacular. You really are in the lap of luxury. There are about 800 restaurants and 15 major league baseball teams spring train here. I went to a game and saw the A’s play the Mariners.

You must visit Old Scottsdale and experience the many shops, restaurants, and art galleries.  You can spend hours just looking. There is a free trolley that will take you to many places downtown. Also, drop by Fashion Square Mall, the largest mall in the southwest. And all the time you’re here, as you drive around, the mountains surround you. What beautiful vistas.

Sonoran Desset.

Sonoran Desset. Photo courtesy of speakzeasy.wordpress.com

My biggest disappointment while here was my own doing. I was repeatedly told by many people to be sure to go to the Sonoran Desert. Well I didn’t make it.  So I can’t report about its beauty. I can only report that for many folks it is the prettiest place they’ve seen. So I must go back. From the desert it is only about another two to three hours to the Grand Canyon. The Sonoran is home to the magnificent saguaro cactus.

I’m now going to tell you about four places. The first is the Talking Stick casino. It has 15 poker tables, 800 slots, and 40 blackjack tables. I was taken to the 14th and 15th floors where there is a nite club and restaurant, a very nice restaurant. You can also dine in the Wondering Horse Buffet on the main floor. I should add there is a hotel attached. One other point, the casino allows smoking.

Another destination is something called Taliesin West. This beautiful attraction was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built by Mr. Wright and his apprentices out of the stone and sand in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. Some of those very apprentices live there today. This is Scottdale’s only National Historic Landmark. Mr. Wright died in 1959. It is open for tours and I highly recommend it.

taliesin West Studio and Reflecting Pool. Photo by Judith Bromley.

Taliesin West Studio and Reflecting Pool. Photo by Judith Bromley.

This time of year you’ll pay top price at most of the hotels and resorts. As I discovered March is the busiest month here, mainly due to spring training. In the summer hotel rates are more than half off. If you can stand the heat, then come out then. Everything is the same as in January.

Stop three is a restaurant called Gertrude’s at the Desert Botanical Garden.  Open seven days from 10:30 to 9 pm with Saturday and Sunday Brunch starting at 8. The menu changes every six months but right now the popular appetizer is the pork gumbo and a popular entrée is the scallops. You can dine outdoors which is possible most of the year. Words can’t describe what I saw in the actual gardens.

It was thousands of lights illuminating the entire area and up the nearby mountain. There is a charge for this.

View from Camelback Mountain.

View from Camelback Mountain. Photo by Eddie Applefeld.

The last adventure I’ll mention is Camelback Mountain. They say its structure looks like a camel. I think I saw it. After a few cocktails I thought the

camel was moving. Anyway you can at no cost hike up this mountain to an elevation of about 2.600 feet. I made it half way up, which is actually quite good. The views from both sides at this altitude well I can’t describe it in words. To make it to the top you need to be in excellent condition and there are signs warning you about heat exhaustion, especially in summer

In short, the Scottsdale area is an excellent location for a vacation. To many there’s very few things better than the majesty of the west. For more information go to experiencescottsdale.com.

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