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One of the best reasons to escape to the desert this summer is to take advantage of coveted five-star resorts at three and four-star rates. Because many Phoenix hotels and resorts offer impressive rates during their off-peak summer season, this desert oasis makes for a perfect haven, offering a vibrant landscape that cannot be found in Southern California. Picture endless miles of remote, cactus-inspired panorama amidst a sanctuary of world-renowned resorts, golf and spa retreats. Adding to the sizzle, some of the best dining and nightlife takes a no-nonsense attitude void of Hollywood’s fastidious rules.

While the city of Phoenix spreads across an expansive terrain, it’s best to stay in Scottsdale for local, easy access to Old Town Scottsdale’s assortment of noteworthy hotels and resorts. A stones throw away, you’ll also find a unique Native American-inspired shopping and art gallery experience and the savviest blend of nightlife and dining possibilities the city has to offer.

Getting There

If you plan to drive to Phoenix, be prepared to spend about five hours on the road. The most direct route is to drive straight across I-10 east from Los Angeles. If you plan to fly, it’s about a fifty-minute flight – Southwest Airlines often offers stellar early bird specials upon early reservations.

: Field Trip: Viceroy Palm Springs


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Oregano’s Pizza Bistro
3102 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 970-1860

Oregano’s Pizza Bistro is an Arizona staple that makes traveling to the desert worthwhile. Wowing pizza fans since 1993, this one-of-a-kind dining experience is rooted in Gibbilini family history when Lawrence Gibbilini made ends meet selling pizza door-to-door in Chicago during the great depression of 1929. Don’t miss its famous Oregano’s own pesto pizza or the bistro classic white pizza. Definitely save room for dessert: The must-have original pizza cookie is heavenly – an unforgettable slightly baked blend of a half pound of peanut butter chocolate, white chocolate macadamia or standard chocolate chip cookie dough, in a pizza pan under a couple of scoops of vanilla bean ice cream.

What To Do

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Camelback Mountain
Echo Canyon Trailhead
5950 N. Echo Canyon
Phoenix, AZ 85018
(602) 261-8318

Price: free

One of the best views in the city can be found atop Camelback Mountain, enticing hiking and outdoor enthusiasts from all over. Located just 10 to 15 minutes from Old Town Scottsdale, make this an early morning hike to beat the heat and crowds. While the summit hike ascends more than 2,700 feet and is recommended for advanced hikers, there are other trails at the Echo Canyon trail base designed for easier treks. Once a sacred site of the Hohokam culture, unearth the majesty of the red rock and get a flavor of pure Sonoran desert fauna. Make note: There is no water at the trail head so bring plenty in advance.

Related: Tuscon Family Travel Guide

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Historic Heritage Square/Heritage & Science Park
Camelback Mountain
115 N. Sixth St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 262-5071

Don’t miss the cultural collection of historic museums and homes, Beard Award-winning restaurants and the Arizona Science Center – all uniquely inherent to downtown Phoenix. The park lends multiple points of distinct interest from the 1895 Rosson House Museum, interpreting life between the 1895 to 1915 time period, to the Arizona Science Center featuring an I-MAX theater. Stroll over to The Rose and Crown for an authentic British pub, and adore the charm of British artwork while deciding which of the 50 import and local beers to try first.

(credit: Scottsdale Art Walk/Facebook)

Scottsdale Art Walk
Main St and Marshall Way
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 377-9366

Price:  free

Take part in a 30-year tradition and explore more than 30 art galleries within walking distance to each other in downtown Scottsdale. The galleries open their doors every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., spotlighting the work of some of the Southwest’s most exceptional artists. Meander at your own pace and enjoy live music along the way. Gallery styles range from Western traditional to progressive contemporary to Native American.


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Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch
7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Road
Scottsdale, Arizona, USA 85258
(480) 444-1234

Click here for rooms and rates

Nowhere else in the southwestern U.S. can you glide along an authentic Venetian gondola on a seven-acre lake, refresh in a 2.5-acre, plush water playground, and tune-up in a holistic spa utilizing an all-senses infusion philosophy. Offering a fun experience for the whole family, the outdoor water playground offers 10 pools, boasting a lavish refuge made up of playful stone animals, bronze statues, a Grecian-style water temple for water volleyball fans, 40 raining waterspouts and a 20-foot-high waterfall.

Jessica Blotter has 10 years experience in the advertising industry and is founder of Publicly Loved – at the heart of brands, causes and events. As an author of two regional travel blogs with CBS Local and Examiner.com, she has produced more than 30 published articles covering regional getaway destinations and charitable events. Follow her onTwitter @publiclyloved.