I had never traveled to Arizona before. It wasn’t until this past Labor Day weekend that my husband and I decided to spend a long three day weekend in Arizona for the first time.
Ever since I moved from Vermont to Oregon seven years ago, residing on the West Coast has provided many exciting weekend travel options. Living on the west coast made it possible to see parts of Arizona in a weekend, as well as Las Vegas, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle…options are abundant out here.
September is an extremely hot time of year to be in Arizona.
Temperatures during our stay hovered around 106 degrees. While this was very hot, we were able to get a great deal on our trip as this was the “off-season” in Arizona.
Below is a fun itinerary if you only have three days to spend in Arizona.
11:30am – We arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport. The next order of business was to pick up our car rental. Getting to the car rental area from the airport was very easy.
The Phoenix airport has a free shuttle. It departs from the airport terminal to the rental car hub regularly. The trip is less than 10 minutes. It very easy to get from the airport to the rental car.
12:00pm – We drove into Old Town Scottsdale for lunch at Montauk. Montauk is themed after the town Montauk in New York which is situated on the very east end of Long Island.
The interior was ocean themed. A set of canoe oars greeted us as we entered the front door of the restaurant.
Seating is comfortable and causal yet sophisticated at the same time.
The restaurant is airy with its white shiplap exposed walls and open concept. From any seat in the restaurant you can see clear across the other side. Young mom’s with babies in ate at one table, while a business lunch occurred at another.
All the while MLS soccer and a rerun of preseason NFL football aired from the TV’s hung in the opposite corners of the restaurant. Nathan and I both ordered waters as we felt it would be best to stay as hydrated as possible in this desert town.
I ordered the fish tacos with a side of caesar salad and Nathan got the warm lobster roll with a caesar salad. I stole a bite of his lobster roll as neither of us had ever had that before. It was fantastic!
This seemed ironic to both of us that the first time we had a lobster roll was in Scottsdale, AZ and not Portland, Maine.
After all Portland, Maine is the ocean front city known for its lobster. A place which we had visited years earlier when we lived in New England.
In any case it proved to be the star of the lunch hour. And if I were to go back I would most certainly order the lobster roll again.
1:30pm – We strolled around Old Town Scottsdale and walked past its many art galleries and souvenir shops before getting into our car and driving two miles from the center of downtown to check in at the Courtyard by Marriott Salt River Hotel.
We chose to stay outside of Old Town Scottsdale.
The reason being that we thought it would be quieter than some of the hotels in the downtown area that hosted DJ pool parties.
If that is your scene you might like The Saguaro or The W Scottsdale Hotel which are very nice hotels that feature fun pool parties. They are also in great locations for walking to all of the shops and restaurants that Old Town Scottsdale has to offer.
2:30pm – We decided to cool off in the hotel’s pool.
The hotel pool looked much bigger in the online photos than it proved to be in real life. But we hopped in and we shared the small pool space with a few vacationing families cooling off with their young ones.
5:30pm – Next we drove back to Old Town Scottsdale. Once downtown our plan was to walk around until we saw a restaurant that looked intriguing.
We landed at Kelly’s at Southbridge. It was very hot outside. I found it interesting to see that many of the restaurants including Kelly’s at Southbridge had misting water on their patios.
I had never seen misters at restaurants before. But I soon realized how important they are in a hot city like Scottsdale. If you want to eat outside to enjoy the fresh air, you will most certainly need to have the water misters.
Even with the misty water on the patio we saw no one eating outside.
We walked in to see if we could get a table for two. We were surprised by how loud and rowdy it was. Because the outside of the restaurant looked so calm and quaint.
The hostess asked us if we wanted to eat at the bar or dining room. We said dining room.
Our thought was that would be the quieter option. We followed our hostess to our table and we noticed no difference in the rowdiness of the dining experience between the bar and dining room.
The hostess turned to us as she sat us down and said that she apologized for how loud it was. We said no problem, as we are pretty easy going and decided to stay.
Our waitress came by momentarily and explained that it was happy hour for another 30 minutes and pointed out the specials.
Soon it all made sense as to why this seemingly low key nice restaurant was so loud and rowdy…happy hour!
There were large groups of what looked like bachelorette parties with bottles of champagne and wine on ice. We saw groups of guys watching sports games and then just friends having a few drinks and taking advantage of half priced beer and flat bread.
For dinner I got the Pan Roasted Salmon, broccoli, red potatoes, fresh lemon, mustard seed and capers while Nathan ordered the roasted chicken, seasonal vegetables, potatoes and mustard jus.
Our food was excellent. Although it was overshadowed by the rowdiness of some dinners close by. If it had not been happy hour I think this would have been a better dining experience.
7:30pm – Before heading back to the hotel we decided to stop off at a nearby Walgreens for some nuts, chips, bottled water and snacks for our hotel room.
8:00am – We depart our hotel early and drive north two hours to Sedona. But a road trip is not complete with out proper drinks. So we got Starbucks coffees from our hotel and then hit the road!
I enjoyed the road trip to Sedona and watching the landscape change from a forest of saguaro cacti to beautiful rich red rock formations.
If we hadn’t made the day trip north we never would have seen this beautiful place.
10:00am – We arrive in Sedona, and find free parking very easily. This is a touristy town for sure. But we didn’t mind as we were tourist ourselves.
The town of Sedona can be described best as Woodstock, NY meets outdoor REI enthusiasts.
It’s a new age themed town advertising guided hikes to spiritual vortexes. As well as guaranteed alien sightings while stargazing”or your money back” and of course some rugged outdoor fun with the various jeep tours that take you into the desert terrain.
10:45am – We found a Starbucks on the main drag of shops and restaurants and sat inside to cool off with a few iced teas and discussed what we wanted to do for lunch.
12:00pm – We ate lunch at The Cowboy Club as we had walked by earlier and thought it looked interesting and read a few reviews on our phones online.
It turns out that the actor John Wayne had filmed western movies in Sedona and had even dinned here.
We thought it would be fun. The food was sub-par. Nathan went for the platter of chicken, ribs, beans and coleslaw, while I got a garden salad and fish and chips.
The overall quality of the food was not great, but we have had worse. At The Cowboy Club you are paying for an experience more than the food.
1:30pm – We took a short walk from the main hustle and bustle about 15 minutes south to another touristy spot called Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village.
This was a really cute spot with art galleries, a few restaurants and a coffee shop that looked as if you were transported to an old Mexican village.
2:30pm – We browsed through some of the souvenir shops and I purchased a cute purple Sedona tank top and my Nathan got a nice baseball cap. We also got some postcards to send home to our families.
Had we had more time in town we would have opted for one of the jeep tours.
One popular company is the Pink Jeep Tours which also has tours in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Some of the tours last about 2.5 hours, so it’s well work the cost.
We did go to the connecting café Pink Java Café that the pink jeep tours owns and operates and got a few fruit smoothies for our drive back to Sedona.
4:00pm – We say goodbye to Sedona and make our way two hours south back to Scottsdale and of course we stop for a caffeine fix at a Starbucks part way through our journey south.
6:00pm – We decide to have dinner at Barrio Queen in downtown Scottsdale. This was such a fun restaurant with great quality Mexican food.
The free salsa and chips on the table was a bonus!
I would have wanted to order these even if they had not been complimentary. The chips were crispy and warm and the salsa was delicious. It was not super spicy yet still held a lot of flavor.
My husband and I both ordered a variety of tacos for dinner as there was a whole page of the menu devoted to tacos, and boy did they have great tacos!
I ordered a few vegetarian options: El Taco Verduro- a mushroom based taco and Nopalitos- a cactus centered taco. My husband got a variety of chicken and pork tacos, Camaron and Pollo Desherbado.
We also shared a plate of pork nachos which could have been the only dish we got and still would have filled us up.
7:30pm – We head back to the hotel and each get a beer from the hotel bar. We sat and drank in the lobby, did some people watching and reminisced about our great day.
8:00am – We get coffees from the Starbucks in the hotel lobby and then take a morning dip in the pool. It was fun to have the entire pool to ourselves. We could actually swim all the way across without worrying about getting in someone’s space.
10:00- We get ready for the day, pack up our luggage and check out of our hotel and head to downtown Scottsdale.
10:15am – We stroll through Old Town Scottsdale a bit more before eating an early lunch.
The location is on the river in Old Town and serves high quality Mediterranean food. If you want to go for dinner be sure to get a reservation, as they fill up very fast.
12:15pm – After lunch we decide to stroll the mall at Fashion Square Scottsdale as it had A/C and provided a nice retreat from the hot sun. We got iced coffees from where else…Starbucks and browsed the three levels of shops.
1:30pm – We get into our hot Toyota Yaris rental and plug in the address of the car rental return into the GPS.
Returning the car was as simple as it was getting it initially. We did not even have to wait 5 minutes before the airport shuttle came by and took us to the Phoenix airport. All in all we had a great long weekend in Arizona and would absolutely do it again.