Photo Courtesy of MacDonald's Ranch

West Coast, Best Coast?

In 2022, Do, February 2022 by Raleigh MagazineLeave a Comment

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Ditch winter for some wanderlust and desert dust.

Clearly we lean “East Coast, beast coast,” but when it comes to your next vacay, Arizona prickles our fancy. 

Often dubbed Raleigh’s sister city for its rapidly rising population (and skyline), Scottsdale is chock-full of dreamy desert destinations. More than just Phoenix’s suburban neighbor, the “West’s Most Western Town” promises a sun-saturated (330+ days of sun per year!) siesta (er—fiesta) of all the dining, drinking and doing you can manage via a dizzying array of bars, nightclubs, golf clubs, eateries, boutiques, trails and more.

Here, our picks for a perfect Valley vacay—whether you’re hunting high-end desert debauchery or good old-fashioned family fun. And if you have time to spare, download the Phoenix magazine app for up-to-the-minute events, hiking advice, dining reviews and more. You can thank us with a tag on social.


Camelback Mountain

Do it for the ’Gram and hike Camelback Mountain’s two difficult trails—Cholla Trail and Echo Canyon Trail—to a 2,704-foot summit resembling the hump of a camel’s back (hence the name) for 360-degree views of the surrounding city. Not for the faint of heart, the trails require some climbing, but it’s well worth it once you get to the top. Guided hikes are also available for those who could use a leg up (um, literally).

Fashion Square

If shopping is your cardio then each day in Scottsdale is a page in your ’fit story. Dubbed the “Beverly Hills of the Desert,” Scottdale is the place to be a very bag guy or gal—bar none—whether you’re at the famed Fashion Square (one of the biggest malls in the States with 240+ specialty stores!), boutique-hopping in Old Town or pacing the popular The Promenade for an alfresco affair.

MacDonald’s Ranch

Hey neighbor. Giddy on up to Scottsdale’s premier horseback riding operation, located on 1,280 acres of Sonoran desert for a pro-led group ride, private ride or moonlight ride (available only four days before the full moon) solo or with a small or large group. After horsing around, enjoy a Cowboy Cookout on the ranch complete with steak, s’mores, beer, wine and more. Yeehaw!



A chef-driven culinary adventure is in store at SumoMaya, a hip, funky joint that offers dynamic fusion eats with Asian, Mexican and South American influences. Bring a crew and share such small plates as ceviche, calamari, guac, tacos and sushi rolls—plus land and sea entrees and noodle and rice dishes. The world is—ahem—your oyster here.

FnB Restaurant

Since opening in 2009, FnB’s James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman has gained mass acclaim for his global inspired seasonal menu that showcases Arizona’s abundant agricultural community—and changes almost constantly. Dishes are complemented by beverage director Pavle Milic’s highly curated award-winning Arizona-only wine program. So grab a bottle, some bites, and stay awhile.

Chula Seafood

If it smells fishy (in the best way), you’ve stumbled upon Chula Seafood, a fresh fish market and restaurant offering vibrant poke bowls; seafood sammys; and starters like clam chowder, freshly shucked oysters, sashimi and a smoked fish sampler—NTM daily specials like a crab grilled cheese (!), swordfish cubano and market fish tacos that’ll leave you oh-fish-ially hooked.


Jade Bar

The authentic backlit jade onyx drink rail at this contemporary resort watering hole is the place to sit while imbibing on fresh cocktails featuring handselected premium spirits and local fruits, herbs, vegetables and juices—with extraordinary views of Paradise Valley serving as a backdrop. #Swoon.

Bourbon & Bones

Complimentary bread, step aside. At this boutique steakhouse and swanky bourbon bar, every visit starts with a gratis piece of bacon in a jar—paving the way for an excellent evening of bourbon, naturally (there are nearly 600 from which to choose), whiskey, scotch, handcrafted cocktails, craft beer or wine in a sleek and sexy atmosphere.

Outrider Rooftop Lounge

For brews with a view, what better place to get a lil prickled in the desert than perched atop a roof. Bask in the sun—or soak up a sunset—with a side of panoramic epic valley vistas, desert-inspired handcrafted cocktails, local brews and posh plates at Old Town’s Canopy Hotel rooftop lounge. Pro tip: Sip on the Southwest Sunburst… “feels like summer, tastes like Sweettarts.” Cheers!

Photo Courtesy of Bourbon & Bones

The Phoenician

And if it’s any night and you’re Phoenix fine, plan to rest your head in the lap of luxury at this iconic luxury resort destination. Nestle into distinctively appointed palatial guest rooms, beautifully fashioned casitas overlooking the lawn or more intimate canyon suites for a personalized experience in the recently redesigned spaces nodding to the warmth of the Sonoran Desert. Hey, when in Scottsdale…

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia

For an unmatched stay in Scottsdale, book a room at the Omni (we suggest splurging on a mountain view room for unbeatable vistas to wake up to), then melt all your stress away with a spa sesh at Joya Spa, a dip in the pool, and a Spanish-influenced meal and cocktails at one of the resort’s many restaurants.

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa

Paradise found at this famed luxury resort nestled within the awe-inspiring Camelback Mountain. Its 53 acres serve as your own private playground, what with Asian-inspired treatments at the Sanctuary Spa, divine dining experiences at the award-winning Elements restaurant from Food Network celebrity and executive chef Beau MacMillan, personalized fitness classes, and pristine blue pools (open year-round)—all complemented by unbelievable panoramic views.


See our other RDU Direct Destinations: Salt Lake City & Washington DC

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