Things to do in the Scottsdale, AZ Area

She flies over long distances in a precise migratory pattern and is known as ‘the wanderer’ in Australia.  But here in the United States, we call her the Monarch butterfly. Flying overhead in search of nectar plants and basking in the sun, this week I felt like a butterfly as I explored the City of Scottsdale, AZ calling it the Scottsdale Invasion!

Invasion of the butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

I am much like her, wandering the earth, finding my paradise, and this time it was in my own backyard. Flying down Lincoln Blvd, which is one of the loveliest streets in all of Phoenix, Paradise Valley, and Scottsdale combined, I race towards the mid-century modern Hotel Valley Ho to start my week in Old Town Scottsdale. The vibe here chic, cool and retro. As I check into my fabulous room, it will be a few days of relaxation, as I have come to bask in the sun, enjoy the spa and relax from my harried international travels.

The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and has time enough.  ~Rabindranath Tagore

Valley Ho Hotel: Located in the historic district, known as Old Town. This urban resort is one of the best-preserved examples of mid-century modern architecture you will ever find.  It is fabulous and you will not be disappointed.

Hotel Valley Ho

Hotel Valley Ho

Café-ZuZu: This is their signature restaurant, half indoors and half out, it is a non-pretentious, laid-back kitchen with seasonal American food that is fresh and uses local ingredients.

Cafe ZuZu

Cafe ZuZu

VH SPA Needing a bit of relaxation, I opted to get a deep bodywork massage for my first day at the Ho. You can choose from an entire menu of services.

Once revitalized, I was up at the crack of dawn to experience something I have not done in a very long time.  I took a trip on an aircraft that I often do not fly on ✈.  As I attached myself to the wicker basket, I could feel myself rising and knew it would be a glorious day amongst the mountains and the desert landscape.  Rising high, I breezed thru the air on my hot air balloon experience courtesy of the Captain and his crew of Hot Air Expeditions.

Hot Air Expeditions

Hot Air Expeditions

Now grounded, I was up for a visit to the famed Taliesin West, which was the personal winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright.  And oh! what a mansion he built, out in the middle of nowhere (in the Sonoran desert at the foothills of the McDowell Mountains) in the late 1930’s to the 1950s.  A man before his time, known as the Father of Organic Architecture, where he designed structures in harmony with the environment and humanity.  A visit to Scottsdale is not complete without a stop here.

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

I combined this with a visit to one of his students (and sort of a rebellious one at that) Italian-American Paolo Soleri of Cosanti.  This was my first visit here ever and truly worth a quick stop, as you can see he was a man way before his time, who only recently died this year.



From there I soared thru the sky over to the Desert Botanical Gardens to view the Chihuly Exhibit. The Sonoran desert is a perfect backdrop to this famous glassmaker’s works of art.  I cannot recommend it enough.  Also in March 2014, they will have none other than the Spring Butterfly Exhibit! These gardens are well preserved and a wonderful place to stop by for music in the park as well.

Desert Botanical Gardens, Chihuly Exhibit

Desert Botanical Gardens, Chihuly Exhibit

So after all that soaring and spreading of my wings, I thought it might be apropos that I have dinner at Cafe Monarch in Old Town Scottsdale.  It was this restaurant that inspired me to write this theme about the Monarch Butterflies.   This restaurant is truly one of a kind and is quaint and romantic.  The ambiance on the patio is incredible with the hanging lanterns and the candles everywhere.  The food is spectacular and has a pre-fixed meal.  Typically, this is not what I am used to, but I didn’t have to stare at the menu and make choices, literally, everything is done for you here.  The South American owner Gus, is creative and sweet as can be.  Stop by and say hello to him.

Monarch Cafe

Monarch Cafe

The migration will continue on to other resorts, restaurants, and activities, but I will leave you with my favorite butterfly song in Spanish by Mana:  La Mariposa

Recommended Reading for Other Amazing Scottsdale Hotels:

W SCOTTSDALE – WOW! The 2 Bedroom WOW Suite Review

Four Seasons Scottsdale – Deep in the Heart

Wine me, Dine me and Spa: Hyatt Scottsdale, AZ

The story behind the story: The Hermosa Inn, Paradise Valley, Arizona

Pour Me Some Whiskey and Lies- Jade Bar – Sanctuary’s Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa

Native American Wisdom, Sheraton Wild Horse Pass

And Things to do in Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Sedona, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona in The Spring: Perfection

Western Destinations: Who Knew It Was Phoenix, AZ?

Chihuly: The Maestro in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, AZ

Going Off-Road thru Sedona, AZ with Pink Jeep Tours

Sedona’s Red Cathedral Rock

Disclosure:  My trip to Scottsdale was in conjunction with the #ScottsdaleInvasion, as I was a travel writer/blogger for Experience Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.  This in no way influenced my fabulous time spent at three different resorts, seven restaurants and hours of activities that I was able to experience

Chihuly Exhibit, Desert Botanical Gardens

Chihuly Exhibit, Desert Botanical Gardens



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  1. Anna February 25, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Gorgeous shots! I’d love to see Chihuly’s work in the desert! Also, I love your website banner! It’s awesome!!

    • admin February 25, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Thanks and thanks! Chihuly exhibit was fabulous!

  2. Phoebe (Short Road to Happy) February 25, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Wow! Amazing photos!! My sister lives near Scottsdale so I’ll pass this onto her for sure 🙂

    • admin February 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Yes, and come visit her in Scottsdale!

  3. Adam Evans February 25, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Looks fantastic. I went to Scottsdale as a kid and would love to go back

    • admin February 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Come on back, I know you would enjoy it!

  4. Karisa February 25, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    This is a part of the US that I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting! I’d love to jump in that gorgeous pool and take a hot air balloon ride!! This looks like such a beautiful part of the country 🙂

    • admin February 25, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      It was fabulous!

  5. kami February 26, 2014 at 12:28 am

    I must admit I’ve never heard of Scottsdale before, but it surely looks and sounds like and interesting place, I’d love to visit one day!

    • admin February 26, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Looks like like we each have a lot to learn about each others countries! Thanks for reading!

  6. Marilyn Jones February 26, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I love the way you integrated the butterfly with your experiences; very creative take on beautiful Scottsdale!!

    • admin February 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Coming from such a talented travel writer, I wanted to say that I really appreciate that and am honored you read my article! Thank you.

  7. tammyonthemove February 26, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Love your shot of the hot air balloon. So pretty!

    • admin February 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you!

  8. Lee Carter February 26, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Wow, your photos are beautiful – looks like a lovely place. It’s amazing what you can find in your own backyard.

    • admin February 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      Thanks! Sometimes I forget why I live here because I travel so much internationally! It was a good reminder working with Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau!

  9. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs February 28, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I love the pictures and must admit that butterflies attack does sounds rather nice ha ha ha!

    • admin February 28, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Yes, it is a good invasion of the butterflies!

  10. zof March 3, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Great photos!

    • admin March 3, 2014 at 9:04 am

      thanks! Scottsdale is so easy to photograph!

  11. Marie-Carmen March 3, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Really nice shots!
    And I know it’s already been said but that banner is awesome!

    • admin March 3, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Thanks for reading!

  12. Dawn Kealing March 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Beautiful!! Looks like you had a great time … I could really go for one of those deep relaxing massages right now, hehe. Hot Air Balloon rides are always so much fun. 🙂

    • admin March 4, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      I did! It was great to relearn my hometown!

  13. […] took it easy a bit and tried out my first “staycation”, by staying locally for a week in Scottsdale and Phoenix at three hotels reviewing seven restaurants (what a job!). I also visited local […]

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