Stay, shop, savour and sip in the Sonora Desert's greatest town. —Noa Nichol
stay. Hit the tarmac at Sky Harbor International, grab an Uber and head straight for Scottsdale's newest property, Mountain Shadows. Nestled in Paradise Valley adjacent to Camelback and Mummy mountains (these cast shadows onto the site every afternoon, hence the name), this boutique resort is "desert chic," boasting sleek guest rooms stocked with full-sized Red Flower botanical bath goods (take them home with you for $38), not one but two turquoise pools (a must in the Arizona heat) and even a golf course. Dine on-site at Hearth '61 (where each day a featured roast is served from the stone oven), order an in-room massage and access movement classes, like aerial yoga, via the fitness club. Be sure to check out The Gallery: museum-quality exhibitions by artists with connections to Arizona, with new works debuted every two months.
step. When in the desert, an early morning hike is a must: the landscape and light themselves are worth the wake up. A pro guide from Arizona Outback Adventures can give you an expert's eye view of, say, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, by pointing out unique natural attractions like Saguaro cacti and roadrunners (we even spotted a mule deer!) on a trek geared to most levels and abilities.
see. Beyond the art available for viewing at Mountain Shadows, the nearby Cattle Track Arts Compound contains a hidden creative treasure even most locals don't know about. This cluster of adobe artists' workshops and galleries houses a range of working creative types, from potters to fabric artists to dancers (and even a resident magician!), all friendly and happy to chat.
shop. Old Town Scottsdale offers a focused and fabulous selection of boutiques, from clothing for adults and kids (cop delicious mommy-and-me looks at Cricket + Ruby) to home goods to checked-baggage-worthy gifts. One spot not to miss: Vintage by Misty, where designer duds, jewelry and accessories largely dating from the 1960s to the early '90s and gathered lovingly from all over the world await patient perusal (just try to leave without a previously loved and in-pristine-condition Chanel, Fendi or Dior bag—we dare you!).
savour. Good eats abound in Scottsdale—it's almost a challenge to go wrong. For breakfast, there's no need to stray far from your hotel room; the banana ricotta pancakes are a must-order at Mountain Shadows' Hearth '61. Lunch wise, New Wave Market is a sure bet, thanks to craft sandwiches, colourful salads (order the Original Stetson Chopped—rows of chopped arugula, pearl couscous, super-dried sweet corn, trail mix, marinated Roma tomatoes and avocado) and super-sweet endings thanks to sister business Super Chunk. Dinner, FnB offers dishes that mean to put ingredients obtained from Arizona's top local farms and purveyors in the spotlight (paired beautifully with many local wines, to boot). Though the menu changes with the season, one item is never removed: a butterscotch pudding regulars can't live without (the chef tried to omit it once; heads nearly rolled). And then there's Arizona's fourth meal of the day: barbecue. Starlite BBQ serves up sensational smoked and grilled meats (plus the best cornbread we've ever tasted)—and even caters to vegetarians and vegans (you'll want a shot of the organic vegetable board for your IG feed).
sip. Boasting more than a hundred wineries (and growing), Arizona's winemakers are increasingly highlighting what this blossoming region is capable of churning out. Learn all about one of these producers at Merkin Vineyards' tasting room, where the sommelier experience is casual and enlightening and the wine—a staggering range of it—flows from bottles as well as cans!