I recently got the opportunity to spend the evening at a property I admittedly wasn't very familiar with. I had driven past the Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center countless times on McCormick Parkway, but had never explored the grounds. But from the moment we drove up the palm tree-lined lane to welcoming lobby where we'd be greeted by a smiling staff, it was easy to see why term "hidden gem" is used to describe the resort.
Every staff member we came across couldn't have been more friendly and accommodating. From the reception desk to room service to the servers at Sangria's Lounge and Palm Court, everyone greeted us with a welcoming smile. The property is a short drive off the busy Scottsdale Road and right on McCormick Parkway, yet the resort maintains a sense of seclusion, with vine-covered walls, bubbling fountains and quiet walkways.
Our room was cozy with warm, tasteful Southwestern decor. We stayed in a room on the west side of the property which offered a view of the setting sun casting a glow over nearby mountains and McCormick Ranch Golf Club, which borders the resort.
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.
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.
Planning a dream golf trip to Phoenix? This video from the Golf Channel is a great place to start (and VisitPhoenix.com, of course).
The Golf Channel hooked up with noted analyst Brandel Chamblee, rocker and Phoenix golfer Alice Cooper and blogger Shane Bacon to highlight not just the best of Greater Phoenix golf, but some exciting desert adventures for after your time on the links.
(To watch the video, either click the image or here).
Troon North: Troon North's Pinnacle and Monument courses are some of the world's finest examples of desert golf and a must-play on any Phoenix golf trip.
TPC Scottsdale: Play where the pros play at TPC's Stadium course, the home of the world-famous Waste Management Phoenix Open. Don't miss the less-talked-about but also entertaining Champions course.
Quintero: A former private club now available for public play, Quintero offers a challenging test and stunning desert scenery just north of the Phoenix metro area.
We-Ko-Pa: For two years in a row now, Golfweek has ranked We-Ko-Pa's Saguaro course the top public course in Arizona, with the Cholla course also in the top five.
Southern Dunes: The formerly private men's club is now open to the public and was recently named by Golfweek as one of the country's Top 100 Courses You Can Play.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North: Nestled in the high Sonoran desert near Pinnacle Peak, the Four Seasons is a premiere spot to unwind and relax after a day on the links.
Desert Wolf Tours: Get behind the wheel of a Tomcar and head off-road for an exhilarating tour of the desert featuring ghost towns, Indian ruins and more.
Roadrunner Steakhouse and Saloon: After your round, hang with the locals on the Roadrunner's patio. You might even catch some genuine bull riding with your dinner.
Spring in Phoenix not only brings Cactus League Spring Training, but it brings out the most delicious events of the year. Here are some of the food and beverage festivals happening around Phoenix this spring. Bon Appétit!
This craft beer tasting extravaganza will showcase more than 200 brews from more than 60 breweries from across the state, country and around the globe each providing samples of their proudest brewing achievement.
March 9 – 10
The Devoured Culinary Classic is Arizona's premier food festival. Held in the sculpture garden of Phoenix Art Museum, this annual must-do event features chefs and culinary creations from more than 70 of metropolitan Phoenix's best restaurants. Guests enjoy a panorama of inspired edibles and cooking demonstrations, coupled with delicious fare from local artisans, brewers and vintners.
March 9 – 10
Festivities include a marketplace, an island-food court and themed-activity centers. Performances include storytellers, Tahitian drummers, ukulele players and hula dancers. Make sure to bring cash for the food and trinkets at Island Marketplace, where vendors sell woven baskets, carved-bone necklaces and Hawaiian coffee.
The parade will kick off at Sheridan and Third streets in midtown Phoenix, featuring Irish step dancers, bagpipers, marching bands and more.The faire begins immediately after the parade, with two stages of entertainment including Celtic rock bands and Irish dancers. The kids area will feature a petting zoo, pony rides and face painters. A vendor specializing in genealogy will be on site, working with Irish names and family coats of arms. Fair attendees also will get a sneak peek at the construction progress of the Irish Cultural Center's 15,000-square-foot library, which will focus on genealogy.
March 21 – 24
A celebration of all things Western, Festival of the West is one of the largest events of its kind in the nation, attracting visitors from around the world anxious to immerse themselves in the culture, lore and romance of the American West.
Rock the Zoo features live music from local bands, beverage sampling, food tasting in the VIP Lounge, and food for sale from Valley food trucks, the Rockin' Raffle and other exciting activities all in the picturesque setting of the Phoenix Zoo.
This event is for the whole family to enjoy. Throw out the lawn chairs and picnic blankets and prepare to witness Chandler’s largest and best BBQ event. There will be live entertainment, an all ages Kid’s Zone, and Bike Show with the traditional backyard BBQ atmosphere. It's sure to be a finger licking good time.
Guests will again enjoy incredible food and wine selections from the Valley's hottest restaurants, resorts and caterers plus more than 700 great wines, beers, liquors and non-alcoholic drinks from presenting sponsor Bashas’. Bon Vivant will also feature live music, dancing, and a silent auction with golf, dining, and resort packages.
This 21-or-older party features food samplings from top Valley restaurants and resorts, along with tastes from boutique wineries and craft breweries. Last year, participating businesses included Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Westin Kierland and Different Pointe of View. Live music and a silent auction will be included.
April 9 – 14
As the longest running festival of its kind in the United States, the Scottsdale Culinary Festival draws more than 40,000 visitors looking to enjoy fabulous food, fun and festivities. This year's festival will feature a host of events from cooking demonstrations by some of the nation's top chefs to a one of a kind James Beard out of the house dinner.
April 13 – 14
Get a taste of Polish dishes, such as golabki (cabbage rolls), kielbasa sausage with sauerkraut and pierogi, a dumpling with cheese and potatoes. The free festival, among the largest Polish celebrations in the Valley, includes folk dance and musical performances, an art marketplace, kid's area, informational booths and food court with traditional cuisine and imported beer.
Between 40 and 60 BBQ teams will be cooking and competing at The Arizona Barbecue Festival. It's a day sure to be filled with food, fun and hot competition. The highlight of the Arizona Barbecue Festival is Pit Row, where the cooking teams will be grilling, smoking and braising in their best effort to be named the champion in their BBQ category.
The My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge is a culinary event featuring restaurants, businesses and individuals competing to make the best salsa in their category. Over 80 competitors prepare fresh salsa on-site in either the mild or hot category. The grand champion will win $1,000 cash prize and attendees can vote for their favorite with dollars through the People's Choice Award.
Highlighting Arizona's independent culinary scene, the event will showcase eats from over 35 restaurants previously featured on Check, Please! Arizona in addition to craft beer and wine, cooking demonstrations, a James Beard Award winners' panel hosted by Robert McGrath, and a chance for fans to audition for a spot on the show.
May 18 - 27
For two weekends a year Schnepf Farms opens it's peach orchards for public picking in Queen Creek for its annual Peach Festival. In addition to picking your own peaches, there are plenty of other activities to entertain the whole family include train rides, hay and carnival rides, a peach food-sampling tent, chef demonstrations and of course peach pies, peach cinnamon rolls and their famous peach pancakes complete this peachy festival.
With Oktoberfest right around the corner, it seemed appropriate to try the new Brat Haus in Old Town Scottsdale before the brat and beer hungry crowds took over. The menu at Brat Haus is all about local, artisan, and carefully crafted food and drinks. Expect to find traditional items like bratwurst, fries and pretzels - but if you are out to try something exotic, you’ll find that at Brat Haus too (read rattlesnake and rabbit sausage).
On this visit to Brat Haus we started with the Fundido – two pretzels served with warm three-cheese-beer dipping sauce and whole grain mustard. For dinner we decided on a traditional beer bratwurst which came with two house made pickle slices (which were the highlight for me), a side of Belgian fries with Siracha dipping sauce and a beet salad. We were too stuffed to try dessert, but saw several come out of the kitchen and they looked (and smelled) amazing.
We sat inside the small dining area in the “brat haus,” but there is ample outdoor seating which will be fantastic for Oktoberfest celebrations and a small bar seating area in the “bru haus” as well.
Brat Haus is located in Old Town Scottsdale at 3622 N. Scottsdale Road.
Looking for luxury? Pamper yourself by indulging in Greater Phoenix’s luxurious side at these Forbes and AAA-rated resorts, spas and restaurants.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Hotels
Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Restaurant
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Restaurant
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Spas
AAA/CAA Five Diamond Lodgings
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North