Desert Desire: Arizona

I’ve always enjoyed my jaunts to Vegas and Palm Springs, but in the past few months I’ve sprouted a random fascination with the desert. It started last fall, when I ran a half marathon along the Las Vegas strip at sunset. Obviously, the strip is typically sheer chaos - but on this evening, it was completely different, totally shut down for tens of thousands of runners. It was a different kind of chaos. Running through Downtown Vegas, the desert’s eerie stillness really punched me in the face. For me, even amidst Vegas’s 24/7 action, the desert stillness persists.

A few months later, I did another run, this time through Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson. The charm deepened…

Exhibit 1 (view from The Saguaro’s entrance).

Exhibit 2 (Old Scottsdale @ night).

Upon landing, we headed to the convention center to pick up our bibs. We found nearby Bar Bianco, with which we immediately fell in love. Adjacent to allegedly nationally-renown Pizzeria Bianco, this cafe/bar/appetizer bar hosts folks waiting the requisite 1+ hours for a table next door. We noshed on some beers and a cheese plate while seated on the adorable porch.

In proper form, we carb-loaded with our favorite sustenance - tequila and tortilla. Distrito, the restaurant inside our hotel, doesn’t mess around with margaritas OR their homemade guac. I toggled between the house marg and Distrito’s “Naranja Roja.”

On departure morning, we brunched at farm-to-table Arcadia Farms Cafe in Old Town Scottsdale. You can see we literally had a mimosa buffet. Arcadia (with HQ across the street!) went into biz in the early 90s as a bakery and market; it’s now a catering and events company in addition to serving breakfast and lunch daily.

While I feel like I’ve tapped into Arizona, I left set on returning to Scottsdale for a bit longer and extending the trip into New Mexico to broaden my desert horizons.

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Joie de Vivre’s Saguaro offers generous prepaid rates at about $200 per night, depending on the season. The hotel is conveniently located at the edge of Downtown Scottsdale, so you’re a skip away from quaint bars, palm-lined streets and shopping that’ll suck you in.

Be sure to stop by Tribe America Leathers on 1st Street. Founded and run by Argentinian tailor Gus Lewkowicz, this shop houses all handmade, one-of-a-kind jackets, belts, purses and more. I wear my acquisition (see similar here, $625) constantly and can’t do so without getting a compliment.

*** If you decide to visit the "other" desert (Sin City), please check out this incredibly thorough digest of things to do in Vegas from Jen's Reviews.