Our Anniversary Staycation in Beautiful #ScottsdaleAZ

cactiThe Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau recently asked us to “visit” the town of Scottsdale and surrounding areas and share it with you, my readers.  They compensated me for everything we did, but I’d vouch for the city as being a fantastic place to vacation any day, compensation or not; I love living here! (Beware of picture overload, some not quite as clear since they’re with my phone. 😀 )

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my husband and I were celebrating 10 years of marriage. Since an out of town vacation was not an option for many reasons, we were thrilled to have been given this chance to celebrate here together.
I wanted to plan our anniversary weekend out- to be sure and have our activities chosen and scheduled to maximize our time- so I checked out experiencescottsdale.com to see what we could plan. I’ve lived in Arizona my entire life, and while I knew there was a lot to do here within a short distance from me, I had no idea just how much!

We made a decision on the resort we’d stay at and I booked our room. Then we decided on our activities; spring training game, horseback riding (we went on our honeymoon and thought it would be fun to do again), and if there was time, rock climbing at an indoor rock climbing place. Unfortunately I didn’t get tickets for a game in enough advance time, and so by the time our weekend came the game was sold out. Spring Training is huge here (we have 10 different stadiums which host 15 different teams) and so we get many out-of-towners in addition to all of us locals who love to take in a game (or 20 🙂 ). I’m sure we could have gotten tickets to a game at at least one of the stadiums in the city, but we had our hearts set on our home team, the Diamondbacks.
Though we were bummed we knew the weekend would still be fun; we could still go horseback rising and rock climbing! I checked Groupon and found a Groupon for two 2-hour rides for 65% off, and snatched those up ASAP. The next day (24 hours prior to our weekend trip) I called to reserve our spots. Too late. All rides were booked for the next 2 days! Clearly I need to be better about planning further in advance; lesson learned…
We decided we’d start the weekend with dinner, then go to the resort and play it by ear the rest of the weekend.  With so many options available, we knew we were sure to find something fun!
Day 1 of our weekend began with dinner at Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse. Though this is a valley icon, it was our first time here. It definitely will not be our last!

Pinnacle Peak PatioThe Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse has been in Scottsdale since 1957, serving up tasty mesquite broiled steaks, chicken and ribs, and tons of fun!  They have the world’s largest tie collection, feature live music and a nice outdoor patio with a gorgeous view of Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding desert.  There are many fun things to look at outside and inside the restaurant, as well as a few ‘pets’.

Tie collection


The steakhouse has a neat history and is a popular spot for many celebs!


Gary ordered a 24oz Porterhouse steak which he says was the “best steak I ever had”.  I am not a huge steak fan, but it was amazing and I’d order for myself in a heartbeat.

porterhouse steak

I got a burger.  I’m a bit of a baby about pink in my burgers so I ordered it well done.  They brought me two plates:

Boot and Burger

HAHA!  The burger was amazing, by the way!

Next stop was the resort for the night. We wanted a resort with a reasonable nightly price, and the Carefree Resort and Conference Center fit the bill. It is in the far north valley, just a few minutes north of Scottsdale in a less populated area close to the mountains. The grounds are gorgeous, set in the desert and surrounded by nature.

front entrance

While I was impressed with the grounds, we weren’t as impressed with the room. The rooms have been recently renovated, and while its clear the bathrooms have been upgraded (rainfall shower, fancy fixtures and granite countertops), the rest of the room left something to be desired. It was an odd layout, the bed was terribly firm and uncomfortable, and we had to have the pillowcases and duvet on the bed changed because they had grease/oil and coffee stains (?) on them. That said, the room did have a huge sliding glass door leading out to a large personal balcony which overlooked the golf course and surrounding desert. It was gorgeous!


We were awoken by Gary’s alarm at 5:45 the next morning (he had a job interview, and of course it fell on our weekend) and within a few minutes we were aware of a familiar sound outside; a group of coyotes was yipping and barking! We usually only hear that when we’re camping so it was neat to hear it in the city limits. After Gary got back from his interview we checked out of the resort, but not before walking the place to see the amenities. Spa, pool, tennis courts and fitness center are a few of the things to be enjoyed there.

ammenitiesBased on the room alone, we weren’t thrilled with the place. Based on the resort as a whole (and had we stayed the day to enjoy it) I’d say it was a nice place and we’d give it another chance (and hope for a more comfortable bed).  Additionally, the concierge gave us many recommendations of places to eat and ideas for things to do for the day.  We took her suggestion and headed down the road to eat at Oak’s Diner and Flapjacks.

We ate on the patio and enjoyed the gorgeous 73 degree morning. Gary ordered chicken fried steak and I had my favorite; French toast. Soooooo good! If we’re ever up in the area at breakfast time again, that will be where we go!

patio seating


In our driving to get to Oak’s Diner and Flapjacks (since we drove past it and had to turn around… lol)  we passed a few things we decided we needed to check out.  First was Frontier Town, which was a short walk from the diner.

Frontier TownIt has lots of fun little shops to walk through, all set in an old frontier town style.

Frontier Town shopsThere is also a little chapel in the back with a courtyard below it, perfect for a wedding (a friend of ours actually got married there many years ago).  So beautiful!


Next, we drove less than a mile down the road to check out a little farmer’s market.  It had a few local farmers selling their organic, pesticide free produce, as well as some local vendors selling their products.

Farmers marketAs I rounded the corner of one booth I spotted this:

Cactus Blossom

That flower was easily the size of a dessert plate. Just gorgeous.  Additionally, a small kids’ play area was nearby with this awesome gila monster slide:

Gila Monster Slide

My kids would play on that for hours, and as you can see, Gary was entertained by it as well. Haha!

After that we decided to go hike on of the trails at Spur Cross Trail.  We’d never been here before, but Gary had a few co-workers who had suggested it to him quite a while ago and we decided since we were in the area we should check it out.  There are multiple trails you can go on depending on how long you want to hike.  We took the shortest trail so we’d have time to do other things in the day but plan on going back (with the kids!) to enjoy some of the longer trails. The trail we went on was not difficult at all, and we saw people of all ages coming back to the main trail head from all different trails.  The trails were well marked, but there is also a map available when you first walk in.

Trail 2



trail 1

We stopped for a break and took the only picture of us together from the entire weekend. Oops! lol


It was absolutely gorgeous out there (so gorgeous I actually took over 200 pictures there alone)!  Everything here is blooming now!


There was even a little creek we passed over a few times on the hike. So pretty!

creek 1

creek 2

We weren’t too sure where to head next, but figured a trip to Old Town Scottsdale was a good idea.

Old TownIn Old Town Scottsdale you can shop, dine, tour museums, see historic structures and more, so we knew we’d find things to entertain us.

It was a nice afternoon for a walk around Old Town, but the cool treats at the Sugar Bowl were a welcomed site.

Sugar Bowl MenuThe Sugar Bowl is another valley icon, having been here since 1958.  They have tons of sweet treats, as well as soups, sandwiches and salads.  I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Family Circus comics.  They were created by a valley resident, Bill Keane, and featured the Sugar Bowl in quite a few of the comic strips.

Gary chose the Buster Brownie, “fresh baked brownie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream wallowing in gooey marshmallow nestled under a mountain of whip cream and a cherry”.

I chose the 23 Skidoo, “dreamy coffee syrup, old dutch chocolate ice cream, sliced almonds, chocolate syrup, Turkish coffee ice cream, all spruced up with tempting whip and a cherry”.

dessertsHeavenly. Seriously. WOW.

We enjoyed a few hours strolling through Old Town Scottsdale, checking out shops and enjoying the weather.  A fantastic end to a fantastic weekend.

As you can see we filled the day with fun activities; totally not what we had planned but it turned out absolutely perfect!  If you’re looking for a great place to visit (and enjoy some fantastic weather!) check out Scottsdale, Arizona! You can request a complete destination guide (which includes maps of the area) from the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

I was provided a gift card to facilitate this review, however, all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information



  1. Thanks for sharing all these great pictures. Scottsdale looks like a fun place to visit.

  2. Betty Baez says

    wow looks like a blast! one day i will venture out west so far ive only stuck to the midwest and eastern coast

  3. Jennifer Cetoute says

    What an awesome staycation! Its our anniversary this weekend 🙂 9 years!

  4. What a great time! I love that the steak place brought you a boot on a plate, too funny!

  5. courtney b says

    that steak looks amazing, i live in az and scottsdale is gorgeous!

  6. What a fantastic staycation! I love your photos, and it really looks like a great place to vacation. My family is considering doing a staycation this year, because we have gotten tired of going on vacation only to miss our local beach.

  7. Jennifer Marie says

    that food looks amazing! Seems like you had a great time!

  8. Janet W. says

    What a beautiful trip! This really makes me want to travel out west soon!

  9. What a wonderful anniversary weekend! I love all the things you were able to see and do! (And EAT! YUM!) I’m sorry your hotel room wasn’t the best, but it sounds like the rest of the weekend made up for it. 🙂 I hope the interview went well too! 🙂

  10. Rebecca says

    I want a staycation too! P.S. You’re pictures make me hungry, not cool 🙂

  11. What a fun place for a staycation! I have heard that Scottsdale is a charming country town with a ton of things to do and see. It looks like you had a blast!

  12. Aren’t staycations the best! You certainly don’t have to travel far to have a nice getaway. Especially when you stop by The Sugar Bowl for some delicious ice cream.

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