Scottsdale, Arizona: Escape to the Sonoran Desert

by Country Inns & Suites
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Sonoran Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. This Arizona travel destination is filled with adventurous activities and cultural hotspots to make your romantic vacation memorable. By Judy Wade.
You drift slowly, gently upward, cuddling side by side in a tiny gondola as dawn turns the McDowell Mountains a soft pink. You’re soaring over the Sonoran Desert  in a two-passenger hot-air balloon. The Scottsdale, Arizona, landscape seems to expand as your balloon rises higher. Below, many-armed saguaro cactuses cast sentry-like shadows on the sand, and milling cattle head for sanctuary amid a stand of Palo Verde. Later, as you clasp hands and exchange delighted smiles, the balloon bumps gently back to earth. With champagne flutes, you toast the adventure and the day ahead.

Along an unhurried drive, the Sonoran Desert presents delicate, just-emerging cactus blossoms. In downtown Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art offers a special exhibit of the classic, black-and-white images of Ansel Adams. You can check the matinee at the adjacent Scottsdale Center for the Arts to see if an acclaimed musical artist or perhaps an edgy drama holds afternoon appeal. Meanwhile, a burger at quirky AZ88 supplies sustenance.

Or you might stroll across Scottsdale Road to the Arts & Antiques District, where Main Street galleries purvey Western-style art. International and contemporary art galleries line Marshall Way, and Fifth Avenue’s American Indian jewelry and crafts shops offer exquisite take-home treasures of turquoise and silver.

When evening comes, a twilight amble along Main Street brings you to Old Town Tortilla Factory, where you’re guided to a table for two on a twinkle-lighted patio under a hundred-year-old pecan tree. You begin with a pair of icy margaritas and a cilantro pesto quesadilla, and then linger over spicy blackened mahi-mahi, or perhaps a platter of build-your-own tacos, trading samples of each other’s choices.

After coffee and fresh berry flan, you head back to the car for the brief motor to Stetson Drive and a nightcap. The street winds among shops, restaurants and boutiques, so snag a parking space when you find one.

Your destination is Kazimierz World Wine Bar, hidden in an off-street passageway behind a restaurant called Cowboy Ciao. Once your eyes adjust to the subdued candlelight, you scan the 800-bottle wine list, deliberating over more than two dozen themed wine flights. Snuggled into a cushy couch, you let your conversation drift back over the events of the day.

Fill the rest of the weekend with a round of golf, a petroglyph hike, a desert jeep trip or a browse through ancient ruins. The Sonoran Desert makes this destination unique; your weekend getaway for two makes them unforgettable.