AAA Four-Diamond Resort Outside of Downtown Scottsdale
About a dozen miles northeast of downtown Scottsdale, private homes gradually diminish from the landscape and are replaced by thousands of saguaro cacti that from above look like knobby outstretched fingers. It’s in this secluded area that you’ll find Radisson Fort McDowell Resort—a sprawling modern-day oasis set against the backdrop of one of North America's largest deserts.
From the fifth-floor king rooms, you can get a view of the McDowell Mountains and the resort's two outdoor pools, one of which is fed by four stone fountains. Stop by a pool and feel free to kick back in a lounge chair; if you want to get pampered, there’s the Amethyst Spa & Health Club, which offers stone massages and hydrating facials.
Next door to the hotel building is the 24-hour Fort McDowell Casino, where hundreds of slot machines mix with poker tables, keno, and bingo. Here, five eateries serve everything from burgers and shakes to traditional sushi. For a more upscale dining experience, there’s the Ahnala Mesquite Room, which has a fireplace and views of the mountains.
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 official 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.
In the winter of 1937, renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright began construction on a Scottsdale winter home and architecture campus he dubbed Taliesin West. Guided tours lead you through the grounds and instill an appreciation of how Wright's design resembles the natural surroundings, with sloped roofs mirroring the nearby McDowell Mountains and a southwestern color palette of oranges, reds, and browns.
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