After traveling to Phoenix for a work conference in February, I realized why so many snowbirds flock to this desert city to escape harsh winters back home – it’s impossible to feel the winter blues when you’re wearing flip-flops and shorts on a warm, sunny day. So when a blizzard on the East Coast delayed my flight back home, I definitely wasn’t disappointed about spending a couple more days basking in the Arizona sun.
However, when I arrived to the airport to find that my flight was canceled, I faced one little problem – I had to find a last-minute hotel in Phoenix. Fortunately, HotelTonight made it easy to book a great hotel room for that same night, and the hotel offered all of the amenities I wanted for my unexpected desert vacation. All I had to do was check out HotelTonight’s app for Phoenix hotels, and within minutes I had a room booked. So I headed back to the car rental place, got into my rental car and made my way to hotel. As I got ready for bed that night, I had a good feeling I would sleep easy, knowing that a day of exploring this beautiful sun-soaked city was just on the other side of sleep.
I woke up in the morning feeling excited and recharged, and I knew exactly what I wanted my first Phoenix adventure to be – hiking. I’m an avid hiker, but I rarely get to go hiking during the winter because of the unfavorable conditions back home. So the first thing on my Phoenix to-do list was to hike Camelback Mountain, arguably the most famous hike in Arizona. I slipped on some comfortable hiking gear, filled up a water bottle, and drove to the trailhead, which is easy to find from the road. I’ll be honest with you – I didn’t realize I was out of shape until I was about halfway up the 2,704 feet mountain. It was definitely one of the tougher hikes I’ve done, but it was also one of the most beautiful, as it features stunning desert flora and copious saguaro cactus. After the strenuous, yet very rewarding hike, I headed back to my hotel to shower and get ready for my next adventure.
After a morning of hiking, I was starving, so I took the concierge’s suggestion and headed to Old Town Scottsdale for some good grub. I’ve heard that Scottsdale is Arizona’s ritziest, most luxurious neighborhood, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, one I arrived in Old Town Scottsdale, I was immediately impressed. This neighborhood combines old-school Western vibes with an upscale flair, and there’s definitely no shortage of dining options here. I perused menus for trendy gastropubs, charming wine bars and cozy cafes before choosing a spot, where I sat back, ordered a beer and indulged in some great food.
I’ll admit it – I’m a bit of a history nerd, so when I first heard about Wrigley Mansion, I knew I had to check it out. Wrigley Mansion is a massive estate built by the chewing gum tycoon William Wrigley Jr. I took a guided tour of this historical house and learned plenty of interesting tidbits about the Wrigley family – like the fact that they had so many other homes across the country that they only spent a few weeks a year in this lavish Spanish Colonial mansion. After the tour, I grabbed a bite to eat at the wine bar on site then returned to my hotel to rest up for my last day in Phoenix.
While enjoying breakfast at my hotel’s café, I met another lucky traveler who had been forced to extend his Phoenix vacation due to bad weather elsewhere in the country. He and I started chatting about the gorgeous weather in Phoenix, and we decided that it wouldn’t be a successful desert trip without a round of golf. Since it’s a rare treat to be able to golf during the middle of winter, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Phoenix boasts more than 200 golf courses, so it was easy to find one nearby, and I can easily say it was one of the most relaxed, most enjoyable days of golf I’ve had in a long time.
After a leisurely morning of golf, I decided I wanted to relax on a lake and enjoy an afternoon of fishing. I know what you’re thinking – where do you find a lake in the middle of the desert? Smack dab in the middle of Phoenix, that’s where. The Tempe Town Lake is a reservoir that provides plenty of great outdoor activities, such as stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, biking and fishing. I purchased a fishing license, rented a small boat and soaked up the sunshine in the middle of the lake. Sure, I only caught one fish, but those hours on the lake were the perfect way to end my stay in Phoenix.
I caught an early flight the next morning back home, and while I was happy to head back to my family and friends, I was also grateful that I had a couple extra days in this desert oasis. There’s so much to see and do in Phoenix, and I know I only scratched the surface. So when I return to Phoenix someday for another work conference, I’ll hope for some more canceled flights so that I can book a hotel with HotelTonight and continue exploring this cool Arizona city.