Finding Hidden Gems in Scottsdale

By Michael Pascual

Scottsdale, Arizona, is a destination that is as intoxicating as the Sonoran Desert landscape it occupies. From its awe-inspiring red rock terrain to its indulgent spa lifestyle, to its ever-evolving food culture and hospitality scene, 48 hours in this desert oasis will surely be one for the ages! Known as one of the fastest developing cities in the Southwestern United States and for all it has to offer, Scottsdale has quickly risen to be put on the map as one of the top desert escapes in the entire world.

A quick four-hour drive from Los Angeles and you have stepped into the wild, untamed Sonoran Desert. Surrounded by red rock and the clearest blue skies you have ever laid eyes on; Scottsdale landscapes are as alluring as they come. World-class resorts, posh spas and golf courses around every corner, rooftop pool parties, an ever-evolving artist culture and some of the best new restaurants in all of Arizona, need we say more? Ready to unpack your bags? Let’s start off with our pick for one of the top hotel stays in all of the city The Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

Nestled at the base of the majestic Camelback Mountain the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia stands alone as a premier Paradise Valley desert retreat. 293 spacious guest rooms including 38 luxury suites and two presidential suites all serve as idyllic sanctuaries surrounded by nature at its finest. Just a short 15-minute drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and just a mere few minutes from Old Town Scottsdale the resort sits centrally located offering guests the best that Scottsdale has to offer. Set your bags down, take a deep breath and leave all the worries of everyday stress behind you, the staff at Omni Scottsdale have you more than covered to fully immerse yourself the way the resort was imagined.

Each guest room and suite on property was designed for maximum comfort, relaxation and for the guest to fully take in the beauty that surrounds them. Private balconies offering pool, mountain, or resort views serve as the perfect way to kick up your feet and truly get away from it all. Old-world furnishings blend seamlessly with all the modern technologies of today giving guests the best of both worlds. Inspired by the Andalusia region of Spain each room boasts dark woods and rich-hued colors, luxuriously decorated enticing the most comfortable, relaxing stay possible. Custom-designed, ultra-luxurious Devine beds with Egyptian cotton 300-thread sheets combine flawlessly with sunken tubs with walk-in dual-head showers, the ideal duo to guarantee the best night’s sleep imaginable.

Looking to take your relaxation status to the next level? A trip to the 31,000 sq foot Joya Spa at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa is just what the doctor ordered. Conceived by wellness mastermind Sylvia Sepielli, (the visionary behind some of the world’s leading spas), you know you are in the best of hands here. With a plethora of holistic spa treatments to choose from guests can spend the day pampering themselves from stress-melting massages, to rejuvenating body scrubs, to invigorating facials, the choices are endless. An experience at Joya Spa is truly one of a kind, from the moment you enter the premises you are swept away in the allure of absolute tranquility and serenity. Every guest is greeted by a Joya Journey Coordinator who escorts them to the Joy of Intention room where they are asked to stop, relax and tune out the outside world. A choice of five healing stones is then offered to set their tone for their day, its touches like this set Joya Spa apart giving guests the ultimate spa experience.

For those guests deciding just to soak up all that the property and its landscapes have to offer nothing fits that better than a day of lounging poolside at one of the resort’s three sparkling pools. Each pool offers awe-inspiring views of the striking Camelback Mountain and are surrounded by towering palms and citrus trees, a scene of peacefulness that is second to none.s

After a day of pampering and/or lounging poolside with loved ones guests can visit a multitude of dining options at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa. From the critically acclaimed Prado featuring a festive and communal atmosphere offering seasonal Spanish-influenced fare and jaw-dropping views of Camelback Mountain to wood-fired tapas at Mbar to modern, upscale Mexican dishes at Taqueria Centro to gourmet light bites at Crave Cafe the choices are many!

It is easy to see why the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia is our top pick of places to stay while visiting the wild, untamed Sonoran Desert. The perfect blend of everything you could need in a luxury resort stay, highly trained professional staff, first-rate accommodations, world-class spa facilities, top-notch culinary program all surrounded by the red rock beauty of Scottsdale, need we say more?

Explore Scottsdale

With only a few days and so much to do in the vibrant city of Scottsdale, we compiled our top list of things to see and do wrapped up with a bow on top. Of course, we take it into consideration that you just might build up an appetite with a list like this, so we included a few of our favorite restaurants and maybe a little wine tasting in case you get thirsty!

Wine Tasting at Carlson Creek Vineyards Old Town Tasting Room

Who doesn’t love a good wine tasting? The winemakers at Carlson Creek take the driving time out of the equation and bring their fine wines right to you located in the arts and entertainment district of Old Town Scottsdale.

Carlson Creek is an award-winning winery and vineyard based out of Willcox Arizona that has produced fine wine since its founding in 2008. The Scottsdale tasting room is an elegant and welcoming space with incredibly friendly and knowledgeable staff. The 2,300-square-foot former art gallery includes a bar, bistro tables and couches. The back of the gallery features an exclusive tasting area for Carlson Creek Wine Society members; it’s also used for private events to educate people about wine. With wines ranging from refreshing whites and rosés to food-friendly reds and charmingly delightful sweet wines, as well as featuring hand-made charcuterie boards. Carlson Creek’s Scottsdale tasting room has become a major destination on the growing Scottsdale Wine trail in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.

Dinner at Citizen Public House

James Beard-nominated, Citizen Public House, is among the top 10 restaurants in Scottsdale named by USA Today in 2016. Here you can enjoy upscale American fare in a relaxed, casual environment.  Established in 2011 in downtown Scottsdale this award-winning dining hot spot has been serving tantalizing culinary creations along with an extensive list of cocktails, beer, wine and spirits.  Bernie Kantak and crew serve starters like pork belly pastrami or chia seed yellowfin tuna alongside hearty entrees such as the pan-seared scallops with roasted sweet corn grits, snow pea greens, bacon, and cola gastrique. An extensive beverage program focuses on barrel-aged cocktails that steep for over 4-6 weeks in New American Oak barrels, local craft beers and exceptional house cocktails making this a must-visit on any Scottsdale itinerary.

Horseback Riding at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch

A quick 45-minute drive from Old Town Scottsdale and you will arrive in the pure outdoors in the shadow of the majestic Bulldog Cliffs. On the banks of the Lower Salt River lies the Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch, with its horseback riding stables and kayaking/rafting beach, where guests are introduced to one of Arizona’s hidden treasures and an exciting way to experience the Tonto National Forest. At the Ranch, located just East of Scottsdale, life is simple. Its 20 rustic cabins with panoramic views of the wilderness are comfortable and quaint. To preserve the serene atmosphere of the ranch, there are no TVs, phones, radios, or clocks in the cabins. Sun-filled days, exciting adventures, idyllic star-lit nights and good company combine to create an authentic Arizona experience. Guests can also get a taste of the “Old West” the real cowboy way – on horseback. Experienced wranglers provide guided trail rides through the desert in the majestic Goldfield Mountains along saguaro cactus-studded ridges, across and along the Lower Salt River, into dry arroyos, and up the creosote-covered hills that overlook the lake.

Lunch at Diego Pops

It is a well-known fact that Arizona is home to some of the best Mexican food in the country so it is an absolute must that you try a few of our favorites that will surely not disappoint! If you’re looking for a break from the conventional Mexican restaurant combo platter, head over to Diego Pops. The stylish diner is home to a unique menu of modern Mexican fare served with a tropical and cosmopolitan twist. The botanas (snacks) menu features classic appetizers like chips and salsa, guacamole, and cheese quesadillas. But you’ll also find unique offerings like habanero hot wings and the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Brussels sprout nachos (made with corn, fresh Mexican cheese, chili, onion, the house-roasted beet crema, and even a fried egg). Tacos stuffed with chicken, pork, chicken, and fresh veggies are the main attraction, along with a small but savory menu of main plate entrees.

Topgolf at Scottsdale Riverwalk

If you haven’t heard of Topgolf at this point of your life you clearly need to get out more! Topgolf is the marriage of golf with a lively social atmosphere. People of all ages and interests will enjoy the experience, as you can relax and have food and drinks brought to you while you hit golf balls from a three-level driving range with more than 100 bays. Microchips inside the balls track distance and accuracy and allow for friendly competition. Inside, watch the game on more than 200 HDTVs, play pool or just sit back and enjoy a bite to eat and a drink. There’s also a KidZone for children ages 12 and younger, which features pool tables, interactive video games, giant Jenga and more.

Dinner for two at Fat Ox

Italian anyone? Yes, I’m sure we had you at hello. Named after the iconic Italian Bue Grasso cattle, food & wine festival, Fat OX serves up modern takes on the authentic and hearty recipes of rural Italy. Housed inside a striking and stylish space, Fat OX features sharable starters such as hand-pulled cheeses, house-made pasta and signature Caesar salads made-to-order tableside. That said, the real stars here are the plate-buckling cuts of Prime steak, poultry and seafood that are slow-roasted over local mesquite inside a custom wood-burning grill & rotisserie. Pair it all with Fat OX’s extensive menu of Italian-kissed cocktails, craft beers, and a globe-straddling wine list overseen by an in-house sommelier.

Cocktail’s at Hula’s Modern Tiki, Old Town

After a long day of exploring the incredible city of Scottsdale, there is no better way to finish it up with a mixology-inspired nightcap. Hula’s Modern Tiki is a modern, urban twist on the classic tiki restaurants and bars of the 50s and 60s. Sit on the patio and enjoy signature cocktails. See and be seen. The menu is extensive and is a fusion of Polynesian and American flavors. Try Hula’s once and you’ll be hooked.

Lunch at Herb Box Old Town

For those looking for innovative American dishes in a hip country-styled setting, this is the place for you! Grab the dogs sit out on the patio and enjoy the sun-drenched weather of the clear blue Scottsdale skies. At the essence of The Herb Box are unstoppable energy and a quest for perfection. Savory twists on tried-and-true cuisine along with fresh, seasonal ingredients that unify regional flavors and creativity. Imaginative, sophisticated means to gourmet perfection and client satisfaction.

Check out Wonderspaces, Immersive Art Experience

Wonderspaces is a year-round, evolving art show featuring extraordinary artwork from around the world. Periodically, individual artworks rotate out to make room for new works. This interactive, Instagram-friendly series of installations in Scottsdale is the first permanent location of the popular art pop-up.

Well, there you have it, Scottsdale Arizona in a nutshell. A booming Southwestern city that continues to thrive year after year with its evolving culinary, arts/entertainment and hospitality scene. Throw in endless world-class spas, golf courses and the beauty of the surrounding Sonoran Desert and it’s no wonder this desert oasis has become such a highly visited destination. Although we understand 48 hours is not enough to fully experience everything this incredible city has to offer, we hope our list of favorites has given you a sample that will keep you coming back year after year!