- Published: Wednesday, 13 July 2011 16:06
- Written by Frank Ishizaki
By Frank Ishizaki
Major League Baseball’s All Star Game shining on Phoenix and the NFL finally returning reminds me of how great a sports town this is. Every major professional sport is represented here, from baseball’s Diamondbacks to the NBA’s Suns and NHL’s Coyotes. Not only can you catch a major sporting event year-round, the greater Phoenix area hosts world-class resorts and entertainment. It’s packed with some of the best venues for recreational sports for active folks and families. Here are just a few highly recommended resort, dining, and entertainment options to check out in one of the sunniest spots in America.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
If you’re looking for comfort, luxury, and fun for the entire family, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is your spot. This AAA five-diamond property features the McDowell Mountains as a backdrop to its Spanish colonial-style design. Strolling through the plazas and gardens you’ll see ducks, rabbits and birds also enjoying the relaxing atmosphere. Pretty little ponds and creeks throughout the property blend harmoniously with manicured grass and natural desert ambience. The property is also extremely kid-friendly, and if you’re lucky, you may be treated to a visit from Bobcat Billy, the resort’s costumed mascot.
There are 649 guest rooms with private terraces or balconies, five heated swimming pools, the luxurious 44,000-square-foot Willow Stream–The Spa at Fairmont, and world-class golf at TPC Scottsdale just next door. Dining options include the AAA Four-Diamond Bourbon Steak by acclaimed Michael Mina, new sustainable seafood at The Grill (overlooking the 18th green at the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course) and LV Bistro, featuring farm-fresh cuisine and a menu emphasizing locally-grown organic produce, natural meats, and family dining. Stone Rose Lounge, by nightlife innovators Rande and Scott Gerber, is a great spot for cocktails. And for modern Mexican cuisine, you must try out La Hacienda.
For excellent Mexican dining and outstanding drinks, step over to La Hacienda at the Fairmont. The vibe here is relaxed but the food is anything but boring. Renowned Chef Richard Sandoval, known as the “father of modern Mexican cuisine,” combines bold Mexican flavors with traditional European techniques to create a new signature that is lighter and fresher. What also stands out is the tequila bar – it has 120 artisan selections. Our lovely tequila goddess underwent extensive training in Mexico to get her official certification. Not that you need a degree to enjoy tequila, but it’s great to have a true pro sharing knowledge. Start off here with some lobster tacos and a pomegranate margarita and continue on with anything from pistachio chile, ancho-crusted tuna, seared scallop and crisp pork belly with a blood orange glaze, pumpkin puree and orange tomatillo demi.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
7575 E. Princess Dr.
Scottsdale, AZ 85255-5802
Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is a gateway to discovering the world and its people through music. This place is beyond enormous and it’s common to overhear repeat guests comment about how much they have yet to see. MIM has more than 12,000 instruments! Each of the world’s continents has a massive room dedicated to its respective countries. These installations are so rich that any of them could easily be its own museum.
MIM is inspiring. Put it this way – the great Tony Bennett is quoted as saying, “MIM is my favorite museum in the world.” Whether it’s seeing a rare instrument or hearing and feeling the powerful vibrations we call music, the Musical Instrument Museum is a very special place. Make sure to use the wireless headsets that guide you along with seamless musical transitions from station to station. The experience is wondrous, with mesmerizing tunes and audio tales that take you all over the world through your ears.
Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E Mayo Blvd.,
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Phoenix Public Market
Don’t expect a vast, expansive walking market. This place is fairly compact, yet cheery and inviting. And connected to the market is a coffee stand to top off whatever you’re having. There is so much Arizona agriculture and cooking here. You can find anything from fresh flowers to fruits and vegetables to meat and dairy products to gourmet roasted coffee. The market also offers Arizona wine and beer, jams, honey, and delicious baked treats. Stroll up to the main part of the market and order a hearty but healthy breakfast burrito or sandwich. Or for something lighter, grab a fresh-fruit plate or oatmeal and yogurt. It’s the perfect place to start a day, for lunch or a snack, or even an early dinner with drinks at this colorful gem in the heart of the city.
Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery & Wine Bar
14 E. Pierce St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Visiting the Heard Museum is a moving experience. Their exhibits shed light and texture on every facet of Native American life in the Southwest, from the pre-colonial era to the present. This internationally acclaimed museum is visited by 250,000 people per year and provides Indian artists a base and home from which to reach out and inspire the rest of us.
The grounds themselves provide a relaxing place to sit outside and read or relax. The size and breadth of the material mean you’ll want to take more than one trip to explore the museum. The walking, guided tour ends with an extremely powerful exhibit depicting the boarding school experiences of Native American children from the 1880s to the 1960s. The museum is dense with pieces, handmade over generations by tribes indigenous to the greater Phoenix area. The Heard is constantly updating exhibits and special events, so there’s always something new and exciting to see.
2301 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Rustler’s Rooste was established in 1971. According to legend, the original site atop a butte in the foothills of South Mountain was a hideout for cattle rustlers. This family- and grownup-friendly jewel is wildly popular with German tourists, who love cowboy and Southwestern culture in all of its forms.
Look for the longhorn right out in front. There’s also still a chute where the original cattle rustlers bailed out to run away from the law. The view is awesome and the food is tremendous. Massive, delicious portions of what one would expect from the West and cowboy lore – pulled pork, beans, and steak. If you order the massive sampler plate, make sure to have friends and plenty of time to hang out, relax, play games, watch sports, and keep an eye out for any posse that might come chasing after cattle rustlers.
8383 S 48th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85044
The Lobby Grill at Arizona Grand Resort
The first thing that strikes you about the Arizona Grand Resort is just that—it’s huge. This beautiful AAA Four Diamond resort has 740 suites, its own 18-hole golf course, and a seven-acre water park for guests and residents. The park alone is enough to keep kids and adults of all ages occupied. The Lobby Grill is a great place to recharge or unwind after a day of fun in the sun or at the spa. This signature restaurant serves up American cuisine prepared in an open kitchen with views of the golf course.
Jetsetters who are in the market to own a piece of this beautiful space are invited to tour condominium properties for sale. These include units with gorgeous views and close access to the water park.
Arizona Grand Resort
8000 S. Arizona Grand Pkwy.
Phoenix, AZ 85044
Hot Air Expeditions
If you’ve never been on a hot-air balloon ride, what are you waiting for? And if you have done it, then you know it’s easily the best way to look at the Sonoran Desert. Hot Air Expeditions knows how to do it right! Their pilots are all extremely experienced, knowledgeable, and entertaining. Drifting high above in the basket, you’re caught between enjoying the ride and taking as many pictures as you can! They offer sunrise and sunset flights that are so rich with things to check out. You’ll see packs of wild burros, the occasional coyote, or rare birds. The best part is seeing other balloons also enjoying the view, and catching your own shadow from 2,000 feet up.
At the end of your trip, there is always the traditional champagne toast and breakfast catered by the award-winning Vincent’s on Camelback.
Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
The Westin Kierland is another AAA Four Diamond resort that shows off how this entire region does things in style. Not only is this beautiful property perfect for golf and fitness fans or couples wanting to get away, it’s walking distance to excellent shopping. And their unique family FUN program sets it apart by making sure children are well taken care of and entertained. Scavenger hunts and other cool activities for kids are run by professionals who make the hotel feel as if it’s a cruise ship.
For serious golfers, you can improve your game simply by being a guest. The Westin Kierland has the latest, cutting edge technology and professionals to work one-on-one with you. After a day of shopping, golf, or simply enjoying the beauty of the Westin Kierland, treat yourself to their world-class spa, Agave. These people take rejuvenation as seriously as their golf! Experience treatments native to Arizona and its indigenous culture combined with the healing knowledge of Asia and the East. Walk the grounds of this amazing 732-room resort and enjoy original artwork, rare photographs, and drinks, tasty offerings and exquisite dining at any of eight venues on the property—especially deseo…
Located in the Westin Kierland, deseo serves Latin-influenced dishes that employ a variety of spices, peppers, sauces and marinades. The restaurant also features a ceviche menu where it’s prepared right in front of you like at a sushi bar.
For drinks there’s also the Muddle Bar, where exotic cocktails are created by smashing together the freshest of fruits and herbs with a “muddler” to release their intense flavors. If you’re a mojito aficionado, order the Mojito Cubano. It is easily the best ever.
And finally for a cool touch, gracing the walls of deseo is bold and colorful artwork by Resident Artist Nelson Garcia-Miranda. It’s an inspiration to see him right there in the lobby of the restaurant working away.
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is home to one of the world’s finest collections of desert plants. There are more than 50 acres of outdoor exhibits where you can see scores of rare, threatened, and endangered plant species from around the world. The garden, which is visited by more than 300,000 people each year, is a great way to appreciate the beauty of the desert.
Make sure to check out their website to see what tours, special events, and exhibits are happening. These events, such as the Flashlight Tours, are a great source of fun and adventure for the entire family. This is an awesome chance to experience the desert night safely and learn about its nighthawks, snakes, insects, and night-blooming flowers.
A seasonal favorite is the butterfly tent for kids of all ages to enjoy. If you’re fortunate enough to have a delicate butterfly land on you, not to worry, there are staff members with feather dusters to gently brush the butterflies off without hurting them.
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, AZ 85008