Category Archives: Arizona

Golf Scottsdale

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With more than 300 days of sunshine per year, and 200 plus golf courses in the area, Scottsdale is a natural choice for a golf vacation.

TPC Scottsdale

Flanked by the McDowell Mountains to the east, TPC Scottsdale is home to the popular PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open and allows visitors to golf on two pro-level courses, The Stadium and The Champions.

Play the famous par 3, 16th hole of the Stadium course—minus the raucous fans enthusiastically cheering great shots like Tiger’s hole-in-one in 1997.

The Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale
The Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale

Or play the Randy Heckenkemper-designed Champions Course, 7,115 yards from the tips. The 15th hole on The Champions is a classic risk/reward—play it safe and take the longer dogleg right or risk a 200-yard carry-over desert. Hit a decent drive and it’s a short chip onto a sloped green.

The advantage of a stay-and-play, like the packages offered by the Fairmont Scottsdale, is that everything is nearby—two TPC courses, pools, spa and dining. It’s like a small town inside an urban metropolis.

Only you won’t find food like this in any small town. La Hacienda’s nouveau Mexican cuisine includes a roasted cream corn soup decorated with chocolate-coloured stripes of huitlacoche syrup and small dumplings. Huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on white corn, is a Mexican delicacy. The pomegranate guacamole, lobster tacos and flaming coffee complete the favourites list.

Tequila Bar at La Hacienda
Tequila Bar at La Hacienda

La Hacienda’s Tequila Bar offers aficionados the choice of more than 200 bottles, including the smoother and more complex amber-coloured aged varieties.

The on-site Well and Being Spa offers golfers an hour-long “golfers performance massage” endorsed by pros David Leadbetter and Charles Howell III, and said to improve flexibility.

Troon North

At the base of Pinnacle Peak, British Open winner Tom Weiskopf took full advantage of the natural ravines and foothills of the Sonoran Desert to plant well-groomed fairways and bentgrass greens on Troon North’s two tracks.

Hole 10 at Troon North
Hole 10 at Troon North

If you have a choice between the Pinnacle and Monument courses, opt for the latter. The Monument course has elevated tees from six locations (so all can enjoy) and giant boulders on the fairways. In a hurry or playing with kids under 15? Check out the executive 9-hole Monument Express where kids play for free.

Just south of Troon North, the Four Seasons Scottsdale comprises adobe casitas built into the hills with dramatic sunset views of Pinnacle Peak.

Pinnacle Peak Trail
Pinnacle Peak Trail

Hiking and biking trails join the on-site interpretive trail populated with towering saguaro cacti found only in the high Sonoran desert. Thoughtful touches like free sunscreen and condensed versions of the The New York Times enhance the pool experience.

Proof restaurant at the Four Seasons specializes in American comfort food in a casual setting—a particularly good choice for breakfast.

Previously published on AOL

Travel Planner

  • TPC Scottsdale  17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, Az.
  • Fairmont Scottsdale Princess  7575 E Princess Dr, Scottsdale, Az.
  • Troon North  10320 E. Dynamite Blvd. Scottsdale, Az.
  • Four Seasons Scottsdale 10600 East Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale, Az

Phoenix – An Urban Oasis

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Phoenix is experiencing a revival. In the 1990s few people wandered the downtown streets of Arizona’s crime-ridden capital, but thanks to the efforts of programs like the Downtown Ambassadors and Upward Projects, that’s all changing. Here are the best reasons to visit Phoenix right now:

The Ambassador Program

The Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors sport bright orange shirts and large “Ask Me” badges and offer free escorted walks around this cool downtown—any time between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. Along with good advice on what to see and do, the ambassadors make dinner reservations, lend out umbrellas and provide detailed transportation and cycling maps.

Urban Cycling

Flat, wide streets make Phoenix an urban cyclists’ dream. In collaboration with local police, Ambassadors advise visiting cyclists to use the sidewalks with caution when a bike lane is not available. Some suggested stops are:

Encanto Park: Located in central Phoenix, Encanto Park comprises 222 acres of picnic areas, two golf courses, nature trails, an amusement park, a swimming pool and a lagoon with good fishing.

Del Norte Place Historic District: The neighboring Del Norte Place historic district dates from the 1920s. Broad, tree-lined streets sport houses ranging in architectural styles from English Cottage to California Ranch.

Phoenix Farmer’s Market: (Wednesdays and Saturdays): Before 1 p.m. you can stop by 721 North Central Avenue, just south of the Roosevelt Arts District and Phoenix Art Museum for lunch at the food trucks and sample local organic citrus fruits and homemade chocolate peanut butter treats to name a few.

Phoenix Art Museum: The Phoenix Art Museum’s permanent collections include more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European and Latin American art and, with travelling contemporary exhibits, the museum rivals those of larger centres. The museum is also home to the Center for Creative Photography, PhxArtKids and the Dorrance Sculpture Garden—another good al fresco lunch spot.

Roosevelt Arts District: Nearby, the Roosevelt Arts District is particularly lively on the first and third Fridays of most months and features art walks and gallery talks.

Further north on Central check out the new restaurant row—a collection of trendy eateries in formerly abandoned buildings rescued by the folks at Upwards Projects. Try Windsor’s contemporary American dishes on the popular patio near the square of the same name. Finish your meal with homemade ice cream from Churn, a popular ice cream parlor next door.

Mexican food fans will appreciate Barrio Café and Los Sombreros, and good take out can be found at local favourite, Los Compadres—serving enchiladas, empanadas and chili for 50 years.

Happy Hour Specials

All over Phoenix and stretching into downtown Scottsdale next door, top bars and restaurants offer great deals on their food and drinks—well worth planning your dinner hour around the common happy hours of 3 to 6 p.m.

Accommodations

For the complete urban experience, choose a downtown boutique hotel like The Palomar, which is close to the US Airways Center, Chase Field, the Phoenix Symphony and James Beard’s award-winning restaurants, Nobuo and Pizzeria Bianco. Amenities at The Palomar include a rooftop pool and free city cruiser bikes. But be sure to return the bikes by 5 p.m. to enjoy the complimentary daily wine tasting and happy hour.

At the W Scottsdale, excellent summer rates starting mid May are $199 per night. Special packages include poolside pitchers of margaritas, gas cards and free valet parking.

Outdoor Phoenix

Hikers, dog walkers, cyclists and horseback riders enjoy miles of trails that literally surround the city of Phoenix, which was voted “Best Hiking City” by National Geographic. As the city is in the middle of the Sonoran desert, October to April is the most comfortable time to hit the trails.

To the east, Papago Park is home to the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden. It features the easiest trails and a stocked, eight-acre lagoon for the urban angler, but don’t get caught without your city fishing license. North Mountain is America’s largest park with 16,000 acres and 20 miles of trails. And for great views, say goodnight to Phoenix with a sunset visit to South Mountain Park, which is also home to ancient Native petroglyphs and the Phoenix Mystery Castle.