The Hot Sheet | The blog about what to do and where to go in Phoenix, AZ The blog about what to do and where to go in Phoenix, AZ


Ask a Phoenix Concierge: Carefree Resort & Conference Center

When it comes to the best things to do in Phoenix, few people know more than the experienced concierge staff at Phoenix resorts and hotels. We've got the the insider tips, secrets, and recommendations of more than a dozen concierge hosts that we'll be bringing to you over the coming months.

This week we feature Diane Schure of the Carefree Resort & Conference Center.

Diane Schure of the Carefree Resort & Conference Center

Diane Schure of the Carefree Resort & Conference Center

How long have you been a concierge at Carefree Resort & Conference Center:  Six years

Name one “secret” location that a traveler must visit.  Sear Kay Ruins is a Native American ruin located near Bartlett Lake. I always suggest the guests bring a packed lunch so that they can have a picnic while enjoying the unbelievable views.

What are your top five recommendations for visitors to do/see while they are in Phoenix?   Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area located in Cave Creek which offers hiking and horseback riding. Live bull riding at The Buffalo Chip Saloon located in Cave Creek, Bartlett Lake is a short drive from the Resort offering all sorts of fun on the lake, Heard Museum (North Scottsdale), and the Desert Botanical Garden located in Phoenix.

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

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Things to do: Phoenix After Dark

During the summer in Phoenix some of our favorite daytime activities — like hiking, golfing and swimming — can be enjoyed after dark. You just need to know where to go.

Moonlight hikes: Even the most seasoned Phoenix hikers need a reprieve from the sun once in a while. Though the parking lots at most City of Phoenix trailheads close around 7 p.m., the trails are open as late as 11 p.m. So grab a flashlight or slip on a headlamp and hit the trails for a nocturnal hiking experience. Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak) and South Mountain parks are two of the more popular Phoenix hiking spots. For those who'd like some guidance with their nighttime hike, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and Usery Mountain Regional Park offer guided, interpretive moonlight hikes with a ranger on select summer nights.

Garden Flashlight Tours: What critters come alive at night in the desert? Bring a flashlight and find out at the Desert Botanical Garden's Flashlight Tours, Thursdays and Saturdays through August.

Desert Botanical Garden flashlight tours

Photo courtesy of the Desert Botanical Garden

Scorpion Scavenger Hunt: We generally try to avoid scorpions and their pincers, but, yes, we're recommending that you actually go looking for some of these desert dwellers. On Saturday nights through the summer, walk with a ranger through San Tan Mountain Regional Park with a flashlight and black light in hand for an educational scorpion hunt.

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Find the Old West in Phoenix


Greasewood Flat

Phoenix may have gussied itself up from its days as a frontier town, but the Old West is still alive and well – you just have to look for it. So, dust off those cowboy boots and enjoy these Western-themed attractions in the Greater Phoenix area.

Frontier Town AZ

Frontier Town is a themed replica of an Old West town located on the original spot where Cave Creek, AZ was founded in the 1870s. Enjoy a Western meal at the Smokehouse Restaurant then do some shopping in the town’s unique shops.

Greasewood Flat

During Arizona’s territory days, Greasewood Flat was an old stagecoach stop. Today, instead of serving weary Western travelers, Greasewood Flat is a great place to enjoy a cold drink, good food and live music under the stars.

Handlebar J Restaurant & Saloon

If you’re looking for a place to do some two-steppin’, Handlebar J Restaurant & Saloon is your place. Enjoy Western-style cuisine and live country music seven days a week.

Harold’s Corral

Johnny Walker opened the Corral Bar in 1935 to serve the workers who were building Bartlett Dam. Today, Harold’s is a popular stomping ground for both locals and visitors. You can always count on lively entertainment and a great Western meal at Harold’s Corral.

Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse

Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse has been around for over 50 years. Enjoy cowboy-style dining, live music and desert views. Be warned – do not wear your favorite tie to dinner.

Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum

Step back in time and experience territorial Arizona through a walk around this living history town, comprised of authentic buildings that have been moved to this location from other places in Arizona.

Ponderosa Stables

Explore America's largest municipal park the cowboy way. Ponderosa Stables offers a variety of horseback rides and cookouts through the South Mountain Park and Preserve.

Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse

Rawhide Western Town & Steakhouse is Arizona's largest Western-themed attraction. Rawhide is an authentic replica of an 1880's town complete with a Main Street, gunfights, stagecoach and train rides, burro rides, mechanical bull, climbing wall, gold pannin', shootin' gallery, unique shops, and sundown cookouts.

Rustler’s Rooste

Rustler's Rooste mountaintop eatery boasts one of the best places to catch a sunset in Phoenix. You can also enjoy nightly live Country Western music, casual dining, and their famous tin slide.

Stockyards Restaurant

Recently added to the City of Phoenix Historical Register for both its central role in Arizona’s cattle industry and its relevant architectural style, The Stockyards, Arizona’s Original Steakhouse, has retained its Old West comfort and charm while regaining its foothold as one of Phoenix’s favorite steakhouses.

Superstition Mountain Museum

The Superstition Mountain Museum collects, preserves and displays the artifacts, history and folklore of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction and surrounding region.

Tortilla Flat

Tortilla Flat started out as a stage stop in 1904 and neither fire nor flood has been able to remove this historic stop along the Apache Trail. Today you can enjoy Western-themed fun, food and re-enactments.

Wells Fargo History Museum

Celebrating Wells Fargo’s role in Arizona’s colorful history, the Wells Fargo History Museum is just steps away from popular downtown Phoenix attractions. The collection includes an authentic 19th century stagecoach, a replica stagecoach you can climb aboard, gold and precious minerals, a replica mine shaft, antique firearms, working telegraph and other artifacts depicting western development.

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Hiking Black Mountain

When people come to Phoenix, they are always amazed at how close our hiking is to the city, or rather - in the city - with Camelback Mountain squarely in the middle of central Phoenix, neighboring Piestawa Peak and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the McDowell Mountains to the northeast, and South Mountain (you guessed it - to the south).

Heading north straight through Phoenix, you will be graced immediately by the quaint town of Cave Creek, and to your right will be Black Mountain looking so innocent and serene.

But it's a difficult hike - there's no two ways about it.  Beginners should aspire to this, the intermediate hiker will be out of breath, and the advanced hiker will be challenged. (I hike all the time and I was out of breath.) It's an immediate get-out-of-the-car-and-go hike (read: no warm-up little hills), so get your game face on. You'll head up a wide road, then it'll fork - go left for the actual trail, go right for a road fit for a Jeep. They meet back up about 2/3 of the way up, and I recommend the trail. It has some of the most beautiful cacti variations in the state. (Note: It's a narrow trail. Leave your pup at home.)

View from the top of Black Mountain

And Black Mountain has a dark sense of humor. You're hiking along, to what you think is the summit. Then you get there, and realize you've gotta another third of the mountain to go. Get a sense of the views, and your breath, and push on up. You will see the most amazing views of the Valley, including Elephant Mountain to the north, as far down as South Mountain. You can even spot University of Phoenix Stadium.

View of the McDowell Mountains

To get there - take the 51 North to 101 West. Exit at Cave Creek Road, and take that about 11 miles north (it'll curve east when you get into the town of Cave Creek). Take a right at School House Road, then left on Military Road and park off the street. Then it's time to get up that hill!

See the map.

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