Why we chose Scottsdale
Yes, we could have stayed right in Phoenix, but Scottsdale had some of the key things we look for when traveling. First and foremost, tons of awesome restaurants! This is a must for us! Second, areas that we can explore easily on foot. This is very important because of number one. I still want my pants to fit by the end of the trip, so walking is key! Last, but not least is a good place to stay. Scottsdale had a ton of beautiful hotels to stay in. Unfortunately, because we went during peak season, most of these had already been booked, and what was left was out of our price range. Luckily there were still a lot of Airbnb’s available for the area we wanted to stay in!
What We Ate
For us, trying new food is the best part of traveling, whether we’re exploring international restaurants or finding new places that make our favourites really well. In the food department, Scottsdale definitely delivered! Out of 10 days of meals there were only a couple places that I wouldn’t go again. Here are our favourites:
Breakfast and Brunch
The Breakfast Club: This was the first place we went for breakfast and it was so great, we ended up coming back! We tried the Chicken Fried Chicken (funny name, but sooooo good!), Border Bowl, Monte Cristo, and Fruit Bowl. All of these were amazing and I would 100% order them again.
Breakfast Kitchen Bar: Breakfast Nachos. need I say more? It was like someone mixed a poutine, huevos rancheros and pulled pork… I don’t even know what all was in there, but it was amazing and huge! Once I was full, John had a few bites of mine and there was still some left over. The french toast was also great, but let’s be real the breakfast nachos were the real star.
ChopShop: This place was great for grabbing something on the go. We came here a few times to grab some toast or a smoothie. One thing I didn’t love about this place was the coffee! I’m not sure if we just got the end of the pot or what was going on, but I was disappointed that coffee from a breakfast place wasn’t top notch.
The Mission: I think this place came up in every blog we read, every video we watched, every site we visited about food in Scottsdale. Now I know why! I wish I could have taken some pictures of the food. The presentation was beautiful, and I was surprised by how big the portions were! We let our waitress pick our appetizer and mains and man, she knows her stuff. I don’t think there was a single thing left on any of the plates by the end, even though both of us were stuffed way before then. I definitely recommend making a reservation if you plan to go here. We were lucky because we went a bit early and it was just the two of us, but there was a line of people waiting the entire time we were there.
Obon: Shea from Shealin Ashley was nice enough to respond to my DM on instagram about some of her Scottsdale favourites and this was one she had mentioned for supper. We went to the Scottsdale Quarter location after doing a bit of shopping and almost missed out because there was such a big line up to get in! We were just about to leave and a couple spots at the bar opened up. Thank goodness we waited! John is still talking about how good the ramen was! I definitely regret not going back to try some of the other mains, but realistically we probably would have just had even more ramen… When you love something, it’s just hard to stray! We did try out the Spam and Bird steam buns as an appy though. Both of these were awesome and the kimchi was legit. John is super particular about kimchi, and he gave this stuff his stamp of approval!
Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers: We ended up stopping here for supper one night because it was the only place we could see without a big line up… Not a good reason, but it worked out for us! I love me a good burger, and they had a peanut butter and jelly burger, two of my favourite things in one! We also stopped here one day and tried out the buffalo chicken tot-chos (yes, nachos made from tots). It’s one of those meals you know is bad for you, but it’s just so good that you eat it anyways!
Sugar Bowl: It had a cute 50’s interior with a games room that drew us in, but the massive amounts of ice cream made us stay.
Chico Malo: This is actually in Phoenix, but we ate here before heading to the Suns game and it deserves a mention. I’d never had duck on a taco before, but the Duck Breast Al Pastor was a game-changer!
Where We Explored
Hiking in Sedona:
This was hands down my favourite part of our trip! We have a ton of hiking near where we live, but the red sandstone formations are g-dang beautiful and so different from anywhere I’ve been before. We chose to do the Devil’s Bridge Hike, which was pretty easy! For the most part the trail is at a slight incline, with a couple spots near the bridge that you have to climb up. We saw tons of people with their dogs and small children on the trail, so I’d say this is a good one for anyone!
I am not a fan of heights at all, so this was a little terrifying for me, I just about backed out after a girl did a handstand up there and fell. I imagined her plummeting to her death and immediately wanted to throw up. Then a family with several small children went and one said “it’s not even scary once you’re up there” on their walk back. This kicked my ego into gear, plus I wanted the cool picture!
A couple of recommendations for the hike:
-Bring lots of water. We went before it was too hot and still drank a ton!
-Pack some food for a picnic, sitting down for a bite to eat while enjoying the view was a highlight of the hike!
-Don’t wear white socks! I wore my favourite mario brothers socks that I picked up in Seoul and they are now perma-orange from the dirt.
There are a ton of antique malls in Scottsdale! Wandering antique stores used to be a weekend activity for us when we lived in Edmonton, and we always try to check out at least one while on vacation. Well, we hit the jackpot! We came home with quite a few items from Call it New, Call it Antique and the Phoenix Brass Armadillo. I would plan to spend most of the day at either of these, there is so much to look through! One of the things I love about antique malls is there isn’t really a theme to them like some antique stores. They have so many different vendors that the variety is always amazing! If you like sports memorabilia or old advertisements, definitely check out the Brass Armadillo. They had a huge selection!
This was another awesome recommendation from Amelia at Wink Inc Design Co. and Shea at Shealin Ashley! Living in Northern Alberta we don’t get to see much of anything that needs a ton of sun, so it was cool to see so many different types of desert plants! We went about 2 hours before sunset, which was perfect! We missed the midday heat, and watching the sun drop behind some of the cactus covered hills made for a pretty neat view. It did make me feel a little sad about the state of my own succulents. I definitely need to work on my plant mom skills.
In Canada, we have a bunch of national hockey and football teams, but not a huge variety of other sports teams. The only baseball or basketball teams in Canada are in Toronto, so we knew we wanted to see a game while we were in Arizona. The timing didn’t work out to see a baseball game, but we did get to see the Phoenix Suns play Golden State Warriors. It cost us $140 for two mid-court tickets! That’s basically what it costs for parking and a couple of beers at a hockey game here, so we didn’t hesitate to buy the tickets! John and I coach club basketball, and I had never been to a NBA game before, so this was another big highlight for me (even though it seemed like half the Warriors were MIA due to injuries). I loved watching the game of course, but mostly I loved the people watching and eavesdropping. The couple in front of us were clearly huge Suns fans, they only stopped talking about the history of the players and team to yell at the refs or cheer for the Suns. The row behind us however were clearly all part of the same company and were more interested in the drinks than the game, but having the best time!
Where We Stayed
As I mentioned, we ended up staying at an Airbnb for the entire trip. I’ll link the condo we stayed in here, as I would definitely stay here again! This was so close to Old Town Scottsdale, which made it easy to walk to or rent scooters to tour around the area. Most of the food mentioned above was in Old Town Scottsdale and there were so many places we wanted to try and just didn’t get a chance to. The condo itself was super cute and very clean! The two things that are most important to me when booking with Airbnb is that the place is clean and the bed is comfy! This place had both! It also had a really cute pool area that we had access to. When we went down to the pool I think we were the only ones under 65 there. My mom says I’ve been an 85 year old woman since I was 3, so I obviously loved this!
Next time we go to Scottsdale, I’ll definitely try to book further ahead of time, as there are two hotels I’d like to stay in. One is the Hotel Adeline. We creeped by this hotel and it has a very 70s party vibe, which I’m super intrigued by. They also have a daily happy hour included in your stay! Delicious drinks and appies in a 70’s-style bar? I’m in! The other place I’d like to try is The Scott Resort and Spa. We went to the spa here and then toured around the hotel. It has a beautiful aesthetic! The spa prices were similar to spas here, and the service was phenomenal. After spending some time at the Korean Jjingbangs I’m a little spoiled. I hate going for a massage where you rush to get into the room and then are rushed out. At the Scott, once your treatment is done, you are brought to a seating area with snacks and different beverage options. When you’re ready to go, you can head out to the hotel pool. Any treatment comes with a day pass to the rest of the hotel amenities.
Since Phoenix is a big vacation spot for many Canadians, I know we’ll be back! Next time, I’d love to spend a bit more time in Sedona hiking some trails, but I think we might have to stay in Scottsdale again. There was just so much to do in such a small area!