There is always a lot that you can do when you visit a place that is chock-a-block full of sunshine and warm weather, especially when you are coming from someplace cold, rainy, grey, and where the misery of winter has gone on one month too long.
I love the desert. There are probably a lot of reasons why I love it but here are the top few...
1. My mom lives there half of the year...Mom could live in Antarctica and I would love it, so it's possible that I'm biased on this point.
2. It's not lush and green...don't get me wrong, Washington is beautiful and it is the EVERgreen state...but one can look at green for so long and it needs a breal, well this one can. I find the desert and it's bare earth, knarly looking cactus plants and desert flowers delightful. The fact that they live in such a harsh environment is inspiring for you to just keep going.
3. I love cactus. All kinds of cactus, even the Choya that sent mom to the Urgent care last year a few times when she bumped into it...when it rains the Saguro get all fat from sucking up the water which it hilarious...and I love that most of the cactus also bloom in the spring time, transforming the landscape from desolate to looking like someone threw a bag of jewels across it.
4. Everyone looks healthy. It's true. You see more people out and about when the weather is warm and they look vibrant, healthy, and happy. Thank you natural Vitamin D.
I have a few favorite places I love to visit when we head south as well and try to make a point to hit all of them, although this last visit mom and I missed Kierland Commons...Oh well there is always next year.
1. This is the number one for sure: "That's Amore" Gelato on Pinnacle Peak, you can see their website here
Mom introduced us to this place two years ago and when D and I finished dinner on Sunday night we decided we were going to find it again...one hour later driving around in the dark thru strip malls that are all the same low profile adobe style, we had just about given up when we passed a parking lot (in the dark) that look vaguely familar...Shazam! There they were, after a flurry of excitement explaining to the owner (who thinks I'm 100% off my rocker) that we had been there two years before and I fell in love with his Spicy Chocolate Gelato, I quick ordered up a waffle cone of Spicy chocolate and Raspberry...Seriously, go to Scottsdale and get this gelato. Be adventurous and get the spicy chocolate...trust me, you'll never forget it and you'll never find it anywhere else.
2. Kierland Commons. A shopping center with some very cool local boutiques as well as a few upscale chains like Sur la Table, Pottery Barn, etc. But it's all outdoors and it's wonderful. Mom and I love going down there just to look around and have lunch...which brings me to number three...
3. Zinc Bistro, located in Kierland Commons. You can check their website and menu here It's a great French Bistro. Get their Frites and remoulade...they are delicious served in a paper cone!
4. I love Mexican food, love it and I especially love Carne Asada... Well if like me you enjoy good Mexican food then you must go to the Spotted Donkey located in the Boulders. (if you are a hiker as well you can kill two birds with one...boulder) The Spotted Donkey is great and they do have an amazing menu. They charge for everything though, even your chips and salsa but they are worth it...My recommendation though is to go for a late lunch when it's less busy and you can enjoy the outdoor dining. D and I went for dinner when we were here last week and I insisted on sitting outdoors. Not a good idea, they crammed us in next to another group and then seated one more family right next to us. Plus the tables are big so you have to talk louder which then includes others in your conversation. So, if you go to the Donkey go for a late lunch where you can enjoy your beer and carne asada all loungy on the patio without worry of someone eavesdropping/joining in your conversation. The Spotted Donkey website is here
5. Looking for Italian food (besides Gelato) in Scottsdale? You won't do better than Uncle Louie. The first night we went mom and G had the veal piccata (no judging on the eating of veal people, to each their own) D tried the lasagna and I had the rigatoni with meat sauce. All of it was delicious. Their sauce reminds me of the sauce my mom makes and the pasta is cooked to perfection! The do offer desserts but seriously if you make the trek to Uncle Louie then you can surely stop at That's Amore on the way back down Scottsdale Road...
D and I loved Uncle Louie so much we went back Saturday night for dinner and tried his pizza as well as sharing a greek salad. The salad was fresh and delicious, especially with the warm bread they bring to the table to sop up all the extra flavors! We ordered half a Brooklyn Bridge and the other half Rush Street, which is a straight up pepperoni...The Brooklyn Bridge was awesome with sliced homemade meatballs, sweet red onions and roasted red peppers. Thin crispy crust and of course the delicious homemade sauce...best pizza ever. You can check out their menu and location yourself by clicking the link here
6. Go to Old Town Scottsdale. The shops are awesome and, if like me, you enjoy cheesy souvenirs to give your friends and family there is a great shop for it there. I recommend the little envelope of Rattlesnake Eggs...at a $1.00 a piece it's the gift that keeps on giving. There are a lot of great shops in Old Town not to mention a Saturday Market where you can find some amazing eats...anyone say 'homemade tamales'! However, if you are looking for a nice sit down lunch you have to go to Cowboy Ciao. Don't even browse the menu go right for the Cowboy Ciao Stetson Salad. It comes with smoked salmon (blech) but they will happily replace that with chicken (yum) You will wish they gave you a bigger bowl of it! After that, get their bread pudding...Stetson Salad with chicken, a nice glass of chardonnay (you're on vacation so have a drink at lunch for goodness sakes) Bread Pudding dessert...Then head back out into the sun, do a couple laps around the block and order another salad (I wish I'd thought of that) You can read more about Cowboy Ciao here
7. Last but not least. If you are in Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona anytime during the month of March you have to take advantage of the spring training and catch a few Cactus League Games...See your pro ball club play for a lot less money and you get closer than you ever will in the big home ball parks. Plus each teams ball park brings a little bit of home to it.