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Soaking Up The Sun In Scottsdale

Girls trip for a leadership retreat to Scottsdale? Yes, please!

I was looking forward to this trip for months since this Chicago winter has been nothing short of hell on frozen earth. In fact, while I was in Arizona last weekend, it snowed. Snowed! Like, a lot. In damn near May. I can’t.

Anyway, I was desperate for some Vitamin D and pool time and Scottsdale delivered. If you’re planning a trip to Arizona, this is actually the perfect time to go. It’s a comfortable hot and you are still able to do a lot of outdoor activities.

I’m heading back in June with my family, but that will be a different post with different activities. This time around it was all about outdoor adventure, delicious food, rooftop patios, fancy cocktails and pool time. If you’re looking those recommendations – I got you!

We stayed at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, which was a great hotel and resort. Beautiful property, great service, and great food. It was affordable and they had lots of options between villas, townhome suites, and regular rooms. This was a great option as we traveled with a group. Four of us stayed in one of the upstairs/downstairs townhome suites and it was plenty of room. The room also had two bathrooms which is a must when traveling with a group of ladies. They also provided free shuttle service to Old Town, Camelback and other places within a five-mile radius. That saved us a lot of Uber fares. I would definitely stay there again. Scottsdale is about a 25-minute ride from the airport, thanks to the shuttle that was the only fare I paid my entire trip.

There are several other hotels I would also recommend from previous trips to AZ.

The Phoenician is a staple. You really can’t go wrong here. They have an amazing spa, pool space and the views from the resort are breathtaking.

Valley Ho Scottsdale is a beautiful art deco, eclectic hotel with a fun pool area and a rooftop deck to swoon over. Talk about the best views! Head up there right at sunset – you won’t be disappointed.

The Arizona Biltmore is another beauty. You won’t want to leave the resort. Everything you need is right there.

Now that we have hotel recommendations out of the way, let’s talk about all the sites to see.

Scottsdale has a beautiful section of the city called Old Town. It’s a mix of new and old. This charming area of town has many eateries, boutiques, and the like. You could literally spend a whole day here walking around. My most favorite place to eat in Old Town is The Mission. It’s modern Latin cuisine with a twist. The specialty mojitos and margaritas are enough to get you there, and the food will keep you coming back for more.

Another place I would go back, again and again, is SumoMaya. It’s Mexican-Asian flare and insanely good. Like, I could eat the whole menu until I was uncomfortably full, which was pretty much what happened. I couldn’t stop! Oh, and the cocktails – so innovative and delicious. They have a lot of gluten-free options and a bottomless brunch.

Some other recommendations:

Rehab Burger Therapy

Citizen Public House

Culinary Dropout

Diego Pops

Bourbon & Bones 

You really can’t go wrong with most of the restaurants in Scottsdale, especially in the Old Town area. And, if you have a sweet tooth, you have to stop by one of Old Town’s favorites, Sugar Bowl.

After you’ve eaten your way through Scottsdale, you need to work it all off with a nice hike. Head over to Camelback Mountain but get there early. We went at 6 am. When you go early you miss the heat and the crowds, but you also get to see the sunrise. It’s kind of magical being on top of a mountain looking down over a city as the sun comes up.

Besides getting there early, make sure you are prepared.

  • Bring a little backpack or some kind of pouch for a water bottle and a few snacks.
  • Wear sunscreen and bring some extra.
  • Have proper shoes. I wore Nike running shoes and my ankles and knees were killing me by the time we were done.
  • A fully charged phone.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Turn around if you’re halfway through your water supply.
  • Pick a trail that’s right for you.

There are two main trails: Cholla and Echo Canyon.

Cholla is “easier”. I would say the first half is doable for most. When you start getting toward the top it gets difficult as it turns more into climbing than hiking. There were a few vertical climbs we made it through. About .2 miles before the very top we decided our family loves us and we needed to turn around. It was too dicey. Could we have made it to the top? Probably, but I would have preferred to be more prepared.

Echo Canyon is definitely more challenging, even the pictures make my stomach sink. Even though I would consider myself to be athletic and in shape, I know I would have struggled with this trail.

Either way, if you’re feeling uncomfortable just turn around. You still get some pretty amazing views even if you only make it part of the way.

I saw a few kids going up with parents. I think the first part would be fine but after that, the trails get more narrow and I don’t trust my rambunctious boys that high up. Next time, I’ll be more prepared and make it all the way to the top!

I head back to Arizona in June and we are going to explore Sedona and the Grand Canyon with the family. Can’t wait to share those adventures too! Until then, Arizona! XO

About Me


Holly Rust

Chicago Boy Mom – Author – Side-Gigging CEO On The Go. Social Media Maven. Eternal optimist. Lover of travel, food, style & beauty. Follow my random thoughts, favorite things and life shenanigans here. Be sure to follow me on social, too! Links below.

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