Spacious Suites on Historic WWII Air Base in the Heart of Scottsdale
Between 1942 and 1945, young WWII pilots took off and landed more than 600,000 times on the runways of the Thunderbird No. 2 air base, situated in the desert outside of Phoenix. Today, jet setters of a different kind frequent the historic base, which has been repurposed as the Scottsdale Municipal Airport. The base also contains the Scottsdale Thunderbird Suites, a four-story tawny stucco hotel. Soaring ceilings and thick oriental rugs welcome visitors at the grand entrance area, and there are nods to the property's aviation history throughout the hotel.
Considering its proximity to the runway, each of the hotel's standard suites is rather quiet. That's because each room has been soundproofed with thick concrete walls to reduce the sound of engines and the cries of babies that want their pilot's licenses. All of the spacious suites include a living room and separate bedroom, as well as a wet bar, fridge, and microwave.
Before heading off to bed, stop by the lounge next to Silver Wings Restaurant to grab a nightcap and browse the hotel’s WWII aviation memorabilia. Among the relics are photographs of pilots and a table crafted from an aircraft rotary-cylinder-engine top. In the morning, you can fill up on fresh eggs, bacon, pastries, and coffee at the complimentary hot breakfast buffet.
Scottsdale, Arizona: Stucco Mansions amid Rocky Desert Landscape
Located just northeast of Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale once served as ranch land where farmers grew oranges and lemons and cowboys kicked up dust in the fierce, dry heat. That era earned Scottsdale the nickname of “The West's Most Western Town.” Today, it is an affluent city landscaped with lush green grass and lined with stucco mansions. For a glimpse of the city's Old West roots, head to Old Town Scottsdale, where wooden boardwalks and hitching posts sit in front of a retro ice-cream parlor and rustic specialty shops.
Upon arriving in Scottsdale, you know you're in the desert—cacti and tumbleweeds dot the landscape, and dry shrubs and gnarled trees cover the McDowell Mountains in the distance. To get a closer look at southwestern flora, head to the Desert Botanical Garden. There, themed trails wind past huge cacti and other moisture-hoarding succulents, best seen in the cooler early morning or twilight hours.
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