Things to Do in the Valley Post WM Phoenix Open

Editorial StaffJanuary 5, 2023
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The “West’s Most Western Town” is a vast, rectangular municipality that stretches from Tempe all the way to the edge of the Tonto National Forest, with North Scottsdale as its swankier half. Its distance – physically and ideologically – from rowdy Old Town lends itself to calmer, chicer activities, from spa days to luxury car shopping to upscale dining.

A Theme Park in Four Parts

Greater Phoenix doesn’t have an “amusement park” per se, but a rash of family-friendly big-box attractions in the Talking Stick Entertainment District is tantamount to a day at Six Flags.

8 a.m. Hash Kitchen 

Ditch the hotel robes and head to restaurateur Joey Maggiore’s brunch hot spot for a healthy breakfast (acai bowl, fresh fruit board) or a yummy splurge (cannoli doughnuts, huevos rancheros hash).

10 a.m. OdySea Aquarium

Purportedly the largest indoor aquarium in the Southwest, this maelstrom of marine life also boasts the most memorable commode in the Valley. Don’t worry, it’s spotlessly clean, but when the 9-foot tiger shark or one of his friends swim past the window in front of you as you’re doing your business, your pants might not be.

12 p.m.  Andreoli Italian Grocer

Tool up Hayden Road to this comfy, antiques-furnished market/restaurant, where lovable patriarch Giovanni Scorzo makes the sort of Italian food Italians want to eat: house-made salumi, focaccia, pizzetta, bresaola, carpaccio, pesce en brodetto and (if you’re lucky) vitello tonnato.

 2 p.m. Butterfly Wonderland

Step into an indoor rainforest conservatory – the largest in the United States – at this butterfly haven, which houses more than 3,000 winged wonders from around the world.

4 p.m. TopGolf

If a driving range and a bowling alley had a baby, it would be Topgolf. Enjoy a beverage or two while you swing off some of the calories you amassed at Andreoli, and make it “more interesting” with a friendly wager or two as you kill the afternoon under the handsome gaze of the McDowell Mountains.

7 p.m. Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Stick a fork in your piecemeal theme park day by eating dinner with your hands at this famously hokey dinner-theater franchise, housed in a castle just off the 101. Scarf down a roasted half-chicken (tastier than it needs to be) while watching actors perform jousting, horsemanship, falconry and other assorted Arthurian derring-do.

Speak Like a Local: “Snotsdale”

A nickname for Scottsdale due to its perceived abundance of BMW 7-Series automobiles and plastic surgery practices. 

Shop NorSco

If shopping is a sport, Scottsdale is a regular Olympiad.

  • Kierland Commons
    Located just across the street from the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Kierland Commons offers a slew of upscale shops like Coach, Michael Kors and Soft Surroundings.
  • E.D. Marshall
    When it comes to luxury timepieces, E.D. Marshall has been the Valley’s go-to guy since his grand opening in 1971. Find ultra-luxe rarities like the $112,000 “Stranger” by Ulysse Nardin (pictured) along with more accessible brands like Piaget and Zenith.
  • Stagecoach Village
    Looking for a retail adventure? Head north to Cave Creek, where you’ll find French antique store Un Jour En France, Native American art shop Blue Sage Gallery and more, all bundled into this charming shopping village. 

Photo courtesy E.D. Marshall
Photo courtesy E.D. Marshall

The Natural Wonders of North Scottsdale

In addition to its fine dining and luxury living, NorSco is blessed with some of the prettiest, most pristine desert wilderness in the Valley. Hike a bit of it.

  • Pinnacle Peak
    Lording over the Four Seasons Troon North and surrounding neighborhood, this short but steep pile of boulders offers a treadmill-style workout for the buff and beautiful crowd and lots of interesting desert flora.
  • Tom’s Thumb
    Looking for a long, steady-but-not-too-technical hike with a nice visual payoff? That’s the “thumb” in a nutshell, so named for the distinctive, digit-shaped granite peak at its summit.
  • Granite Mountain Trailhead
    Located, like Tom’s Thumb, in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, this trailhead offers a well-signed collection of fresh-cut paths and many sightings of “mushroom rocks” (pictured) – odd, toadstool-shaped formations to keep your eyes entertained as your thighs do all the heavy lifting.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Photo by Mare Czinar.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Photo by Mare Czinar.


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