One of Scottsdale’s great lawns
Scottsdale bills itself as the West’s most Western town, and thanks to strict zoning regulations in its Old Town district, it still feels like the kind of place a cowboy might hitch up for a spell. A fashion-obsessed, sushi-eating cowboy anyway. And since at least five major airlines—American, Continental, Southwest, U.S. Airways, and United—fly nonstop routes from Chicago to Phoenix, decent roundtrip fares (from $306 when we checked) are not hard to come by even during the winter high season. The downtown district makes a convenient base for exploring the wealth of museums, restaurants, and bars that have stoked the party scene here. The Saguaro, a hotel that opened in November, features a whiskey-focused bar and a Mexican restaurant from chef Jose Garces of Chicago’s Mercat a la Planxa (480-308-1100, jdvhotels.com). It is across a public green from the intimate and engaging Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which recently debuted the SMoCA Lounge, open to cocktail-tippling art fans until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays ($7 admission, free after 5 p.m.; 480-874-4666, smoca.org). It’s worth renting a car just to get to nearby Taliesin West, the satellite studio and school Frank Lloyd Wright opened to escape Wisconsin winters, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year (tours from $24; 480-627-5340, franklloydwright.org). Back in town, grab a table at the tiny restaurant FnB to sample Arizona Stronghold chardonnay from winemaker/rocker Maynard James Keenan off the all-Arizona wine list, a beverage complement to the locally sourced dishes, such as braised leeks with a sunny-side-up egg (480-425-9463, fnbrestaurant.com).
WHERE TO STAY
LUXE The JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa offers 36 holes of golf, saguaro-studded landscapes, and cocktails under the stars. From $279. 888-772-5809, camelbackinn.com
BUDGET Even in high season, the family-owned SmokeTree Resort & Bungalows offers great value in 26 units on five landscaped acres. From $110. 480-948-7660, smoketreeresort.com
GOOD FOR GROUPS A sprawling resort on 1,300 acres, Boulders rents 61 one- to three-bedroom homes near the golf course, all with wood-burning fireplaces. From $469. 888-579-2631, theboulders.com
Photograph: Brent Winebrenner