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Scottsdale, Arizona is a desert city that’s long appealed to sun worshipers and spa aficionados (it reportedly has more spas per capita than any other US city). But lately, its appeal has extended to include nature lovers, art aficionados and foodies, too. Butting right up alongside Phoenix, Scottsdale can be summed up as a smaller, more sophisticated oasis. It’s a sun-drenched city surrounded by geological beauty that spans the ages while also ushering in great hotel options, must-see attractions and innovative eateries. Here are 8 solid reasons to love Scottsdale.

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1. Enchanting natural scenery
Surrounded by the Sonoran Desert and the McDowell Mountains, there are many options for exploring Scottsdale’s natural beauty. For starters, visit the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a medley of trails that can go from easy pace to challenging stride. Well-fitted hikers can tackle Camelback Mountain, which gets its name from its hump-like shape, while a more moderate, over-and-back trail can be found at Pinnacle Peak Park. Hikers, bikers and even horseback riders can find their way on multi-use trails within McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Or go higher with a hot air balloon excursion with companies like Hot Air Expeditions.

Catch the Celebration of Fine Art, an annual arts exhibition. | Photo: Celebration of Fine Art

2. Year-round festivals and events
Scottsdale is definitely not a quiet place, as there are events happening year-round that cater to different interests. Sports lovers will enjoy the Grand Prix of Scottsdale, a 1920s-themed race taking over downtown Scottsdale in early November. Art lovers must flock to the Celebration of Fine Art (now through March 26, 2017), which connects aficionados with 100 professional artists from across the country; and the Canal Convergence 2017 Water + Art + Light brings large-scale interactive pieces to the Scottsdale Waterfront (February 23-26). To learn about Native American culture, the continuous Native Trails series, presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapi Nation, features storytelling, song and dance presentations at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Cattle Track Arts Compound is a thriving arts haven dating back to the 1930s.

3. A thriving arts scene
In addition to art-related events, Scottsdale’s art scene is thriving, especially in its downtown historic arts district where you’ll find 70 galleries and museums. It’s also the site of an Artwalk series happening on Thursday evenings. In the Old Town district, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art features close to a dozen rotating exhibitions annually, and contains a skyspace by artist James Turrell that visitors can sit inside and stare upward at its oculus opening. Meanwhile, Cattle Track Arts Compound has been a longtime creative community for local and visiting artists. The public is able to tour the property and, in particular, the artists’ studios.

Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, can be seen via tours.

4. Architectural marvels
Artists aren’t the only ones inspired by Scottsdale’s desert beauty. Chicago architect Frank Lloyd Wright bought land here in the late 1930s to build a winter residence and work space. Today, his home, Taliesin West, is both a National Historical Landmark and the location for an architectural school. The public can see Taliesin West through guided tours. In nearby Paradise Valley, find Cosanti, the gallery, studio and residence of the late Italian-born architect and one-time Wright apprentice, Paolo Soleri. At this landscaped wonder, find Soleri’s ceramic and bronze windbells for purchase and wander along this property and work spaces.

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Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa opened in December 2016.

5. Noteworthy new hotels
Your choices of lodging in Scottsdale keeps growing, as the city has been ushering in all kinds of new travel accommodations. In December 2016, Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa opened with 201 guest rooms and suites, and an overall mid-century modern art-inspired design; Weft & Warp Art Bar & Kitchen, an onsite restaurant/open kitchen concept; a luxury spa and outdoor pool area. What also makes this new property stellar is that Camelback Mountain provides a majestic backdrop. Plus, its relationship with nearby Cattle Track Arts Compound has resulted in artists creating ceramic mugs and plates used at Weft & Warp Art Bar & Kitchen. Another high caliber location is the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. Set in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, this resort features 210 rooms and suites arranged mostly as one and two-floor Southwestern casitas. The property also offers Talavera, a dinner-only steakhouse; Proof, an Americana canteen; and a full-service spa/fitness center.

LDV Winery has a tasting room and gallery in Scottsdale.

6. Unexpected local wines
At first, wine production might not be something you’d associate with Arizona, but the state’s climate and elevation provide the right setting for growing specific varietals. Arizona has three major wine growing regions, and Scottsdale is the location for various wineries’ tasting rooms. In downtown Scottsdale, LDV Winery has its tasting room and gallery, where tastings include varieties of Grenache, Viognier, Syrah and Petite Syrah, produced from grapes grown in southern Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains. Willcox-based Carlson Creek Vineyard opened a tasting room in Old Town Scottsdale in July 2016, where bottles such as their flagship red blend, Rule of Three, are poured.

Super Chunk Sweets & Treats bakes up goodies ranging from cookies to cakes.

7.  A cornucopia of delicious dining options
In fitting every palette, Scottsdale’s epicurean choices are quite vast. For starters, FnB, a farm-to-table eatery, dishes out the best of Arizona’s farming community, with lunch and dinner menus highlighting what’s seasonally available. Their wine program has Arizona-produced labels and non-state native wines. AZ/88, a trendy contemporary bar/restaurant near the Scottsdale Civic Center, is touted for its martinis, open-floor plan and quirky art.
Visitors in need of a java fix will be surprised by Regroup Coffee + Bicycles, a coffee bar/bike shop combo with a counter space adjacent to bike racks. At Super Chunk Sweets & Treats, a small-batch bakery/café, savor signature confections such as their mesquite chocolate chip cookies and John & Yoko, a layered honey cake soaked with a cinnamon tres leches.

Order a flight with your meal at Four Peaks Brewing Co.

8. A cheers-worthy craft beer scene
The craft beer scene in Scottsdale is sudsy. Four Peaks Brewing Co. has a grill and tap in North Scottsdale, offering mainstay selections (try Kilt Lifter, a Scottish style ale) and seasonal picks. Craft 64 rotates over 30 Arizona beers on their taps and gets noted for its artisan wood-fired pizzas. In downtown Scottsdale, Sip Coffee & Beer House stocks cups and mugs, with just under 20 rotating craft beers, over 100 bottled beers, and unique liquor infused espresso/coffee drinks. Other options include Goldwater Brewing Co., a family-owned brewery in Old Town; Bad Water Brewing, which produces a flagship Saison, a Western Lager, and an India Pale Ale; and Two Brothers Tap House and Brewery, a Midwestern brand with a Scottsdale outpost.

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Michele Herrmann

Michele Herrmann

Michele writes about women's travel, destinations, culinary, and cultural topics for various outlets and has ventured as far as Fiji, to date. She also muses her tales on She Is Going Places.
Michele Herrmann

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