A non-stop flight to Phoenix from Tulsa starts your Scottsdale, Ariz. vacation perfectly. 

Shuttling to the off-site rental car offices takes some time, as these aren’t available at the airport. Yet, 20 minutes or so later, you’ll arrive in the stunning suburb of Scottsdale. Pristine stucco architecture of adobe-style houses, bordered by fanning desert palms and towering cacti, are encircled with vibrant bougainvillea – a thorny, ornamental vine. The simple, chromatic hues of Scottsdale complement that serene desert aesthetic and resort atmosphere. 

“Resort” means to come out again, and that is what denizens and tourists crave about Scottsdale. For many, it’s the golf scene and hiking. The arid weather and harmonious landscape enhance the outdoorsy attractions. For others, it’s the dining and shopping. Scottsdale is an ideal destination for all the aforementioned activities and more.

Day One

Relax at your resort or hotel. Lollygag through the impeccably manicured landscaping, enjoy refreshments and soak in the lilac-colored cacti clusters and the rustic, wood-beamed architecture of sandy stucco and glass bricks. 

Absorb the fragrances and watch jackrabbits and quail leaping and meandering through your resort paths. Lounge poolside, let your mind wander, and have dinner at Rita’s Cantina at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa.

Day Two

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Caffeinate and head over to the iconic Camelback Mountain for a sunrise hike. Abuzz with the energy of eager hikers, you’ll feel a sense of community with fellow enthusiasts and curious tourists. This travel writer was pleased to discover so many lively people in one place. 

Americans gets a bad rap for being out of shape, but you would never think so when you’re among the crowds of Arizona’s hiking trails. While Camelback is known as an easy trek, be aware of the descent skills needed on certain slippery passes. Whether you summit or stay behind to wait on others in your group, this sunrise time is meditative and soothing. Your soul will be thinking: “Good morning, Paradise Valley and Echo Canyon!” Unwind at the pool or spa and head into dinner at the Fat Ox, starting with cocktails and appetizers.

Day Three

Try not to sleep in, as the sunrise is utterly magical in Scottsdale; the clarity of the light and sky is incomprehensible. The sun is a golden orb, peeking over the horizon with elongated rays that extend to practically touch you. Dawn streams and streaks the sky with lilacs, pinks and gold tones. This free sightseeing is energizing and all encompassing. 

Hike the Cholla Trail in town. Or, if you’re willing to travel to explore further, drive to Sedona (almost two hours away) and stay overnight for a change of scenery. Return to Scottsdale to unwind before your departure.

Day Four

Drive or Uber to Old Town Scottsdale for one of the following activities: JoyridesAZ Instagram photo and art tours; the Art of Merlot (painting); Segway tours; public art walking tours; or the rambunctious AZ Party Bike Old Town pub crawl (a pedi-tavern). 

Have dinner at Barrio Queen and stroll through the plaza’s storefronts. Old Town has distinct period charm and many mid-century touches. Back at your hotel, enjoy a hot tub to unwind from all the weekend activities. Stroll the sidewalks to digest dinner and appreciate Scottsdale a bit more before departing.

Day Five

It’s a travel day, so prepare for logistics. Allow time to drive to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, return the rental car, etc., as this requires some time-management details. Enjoy refreshments at the airport’s Barrio Queen in the food court and savor your weekend memories of relaxing and recharging.