Elaine and Scott Harris
Scottsdale, a 45-minute-plane-trip from Las Vegas offers an wide array of tourist attractions, including award-winning restaurants, boutique shops, cultural attractions, world class golf courses, including the TPC course at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and of course, some of the best resorts and spas in the Southwest.
Whether you have enough disposable income to keep the golf caddies and hotel valets happy, or just once-a-year vacationer, there are many options to choose from while visiting this lovely city. With over 225,000 residences, many call Scottsdale home, and for those visiting, you will get a good idea of why this city has been a favorite for retirees and newbies alike.
From the historic Taliesin West, the iconic estate that once served as Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter residence, adjacent to the Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, to the many other cultural and historic offerings of the area, you will find something for everyone on your vacation wish list. Among some of the favorite things for the outdoor enthusiast, are the many hiking trails that lead to Camelback Mountain’s Cholla and Echo Canyon as well as the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
If you would rather have a bird’s eye view, hot air ballooning is the best way to experience a tranquil ascent over the Sonoran Desert. On this trip we had a memorable time of flying with the Hot Air Expeditions Inc., enjoying the expertise of our captain as we made our way above the saguaro, and rolling hills of the desert. As we drifted silently and pleasurably above the desert floor, we were again amazed at the ability to move upwards of 5,000 feet in a basket, held up by some rope, hot air and a large piece of fabric. Once back on the ground, we received our Certificat’d Ascension En Machine Aerostatique, to the clinking of champagne glasses and a well deserved round of applause to our flight crew and captain. Indeed,a unique way to spend your early morning hours in the desert.
Among one of the local tourist attractions, where your feet keep grounded to the local flora and fauna, is the Desert Botanical Garden offering some of the world's finest collection of arid-land plants from deserts around the world. Not only can you get your cactus collections counted, you can also dine at the lovely restaurant, Gertrude’s, which is conveniently located within the premise. After hours of meandering through the spiny gardens, The Desert Botanical Garden’s full-service restaurant, located just inside the main entrance, is a tribute to garden founder Gertrude Divine Webster and her vision to create a place where nature lovers could share a healthy meal. By using sources from local artisans and farmers as well as herbs grown onsite, the freshness and flavor are sealed into every meal. We had the fine opportunity to try this unique restaurant within the garden and were amazed at the fresh organic offerings and the extensive wine list.
The blue marlin reminded us of a sword fish but a bit more tender, as it was well prepared with a buerre blanc sauce and local seasonal vegetables. Accompanying our meal was a bottle of Pasqua Passimento, Romeo and Juliet. This elegant and velvety red blend of Merlot, Corvina, and Croatina, was a lovely and robust addition to the meal. It especially paired well with the red wine and chocolate torte. After a morning of hiking through the gardens, Gertude’s was the perfect interlude before our next adventure.