A hot air balloon flying away in the sky

“Travel Diaries: Play, Learn, Serve and Rest Well” is a series about the idea of traveling well in a society that minimizes adventure and exploration to mere Instagram likes. 

For those seeking refuge from cold temperatures, Scottsdale, Arizona is a best-kept secret for winter travelers with a 33 percent lower average booking rate than late winter/early spring. This beautiful desert oasis is filled with wine tasting, hot air balloon riding, award-winning restaurants and architecture.

Whether you are seeking a quick getaway (it’s only an hour flight from Los Angeles), debating a solo spa trip with warmer temps or are researching classy bachelorette party destinations, Scottsdale is a major contender with plenty of options to play, learn, serve and rest well.

Here’s how to play, learn, serve and rest well in Scottsdale, Arizona:


 If you live on the West Coast, then consider a break from conventional airlines and treat yourself to JSX. It’s a hop-on jet service that requires no security, no lines and you can arrive 30 minutes before the flight departure. As you get situated inside the 30-seat jet, a complimentary cocktail may help you feel an elevated sense of joy, making it the perfect prelude to adventure.

Embrace your inner child with these playful activities:

  1. Visualize yourself waking up early to beat the sunrise as you drive into the desert and hop on a hot air balloon ride. The sense of freedom, peace and excitement while floating ever higher off the ground brings life into full focus, un-blurring how precious nature really is. In the distance, the sunrise baths the waking city in colorful hues of orange and pink against a backdrop of deep green cacti and mountain ridges warmed by dry desert temperatures.Hot air balloons resting mountain side before take off2. Once nightfall hits, dress in your upscale attire and head over to Century Grand, a glamorous, swanky restaurant. Yes, it’s in Phoenix, but Scottsdale is a city within the Greater Phoenix area. Once you arrive, you’ll be transported into 1920s rail travel. Look forward to dining in this art deco inspired space with dim sum style plates and award-winning cocktails. Good luck choosing what to eat, as beautifully plated dishes are wheeled to your table by cart. At the conclusion of dinner, you’ll want to head over to Platform 18 on the other side of the restaurant.An unclose shot of a table setting at a restaurant and foodSide note: You’ll need two separate reservations for each place. For Harry Potter fans, Platform 18 is reminiscent of Platform 9 ¾, but luckily there are no walls to run through. However, prepare for a journey on an immersive 90-minute Pullman-inspired train through snowy and mountainous landscapes. This timeless experience with uniquely crafted cocktails will make you feel like you’re actually traveling through time and space.
    A photo of an old school vintage bar and men working at the bar
    Photo Credit: Management Team BarterShake


Modernist architect, Frank Lloyd Wright built Taliesin West here during the later part of his life. Whether you know much about architecture or not, experience a guided tour of his beautiful home and leave inspired as you explore the property, which moonlights as his School of Architecture.

While you walk through, discover apprentices working on projects amid architect aficionados learning intently about his distinctive American style within his iconic spaces throughout the country, like Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.    

An evening sunset outside of a hotel
Photo Credit: Taliesin West


For those who enjoy giving back to the community on your trip, a unique offering is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The City of Scottsdale partners with the private, non-profit organization McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, which provides stewards for the preserve, educational programs and hikes.

If you’re the outdoorsy type, then you can look forward to a wide range of opportunities to volunteer. With a variety of damaged and scarred areas within the Preserve, you’ll assist in salvaging cacti, as well as picking up trash and litter. Once finished, drive over to Old Town, and treat yourself to a nice glass of Arizona wine for a job well done. 


Do you ever arrive at a resort or hotel and exhale a breath of satisfaction? That’s how it feels to walk into The Scott. After a day of wine tasting, shopping in Old Town or exploring Scottsdale, this Sonoran-inspired resort is stunning and emanates relaxation. It even boasts a freshly created scent once you walk through to the front desk.

A view of a hotel lounge area outdoors
Photo Credit: The Scott Resort & Spa

The combination of the vibrant plants, the warm wood accents and the plush furniture with a full view of a brightly lit bar makes it a great escape from any trepidations left at home. Revel in all the beautiful amenities including the resort pool, La Vidarra Spa, in addition to the restaurant and bar, The Canal Club, with its bright and Caribbean-style ambiance and food.

Have you ever traveled to Scottsdale? What is a good way to spend time intentionally in this beloved Arizona city?

Feature image via Keyla Vasconcellos


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