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Archives for May 2013

Scottsdale: a desert lover’s dream

The Camelback Inn offers a luxury spa, golf and dining experience. Plus, it's an easy ten minute drive from Scottsdale shops and restaurants.

If you like it hot, you’ll love the deals you can find this time of year in Scottsdale, Arizona. You can live it up at a spa and stay at a luxury resort for a fraction of what you would pay during peak season. A suburb of Phoenix, AZ, Scottsdale’s prime time is Thanksgiving to Mother’s Day. I was there the week before Memorial Day and the weather was wonderful, with daytime highs in the 90s.

I stayed at the the Camelback Inn (A JW Marriott property). This property is a Scottsdale mainstay, it’s beautiful and very comfortable.  Our room had French doors which opened to a shady patio with a view of Camelback Mountain.  Birds and bunnies abound (no doubt loving the paradise). We drove from So Cal (an easy six hour drive), and were able to park the car near our room.

Enjoy a refreshing beverage in a cabana while you listen to a band. The live music starts at 6pm.

There is plenty to do without leaving the property and if you want to explore, the restaurants and shops of Scottsdale are an easy five minute drive away. We spent a day at the spa, dining on their healthy cuisine and indulging in a relaxing massage (I recommend their signature massage). Take a one hour power walk in the adjacent neighborhood, stop by the spa for a map.

Jackrabbit Pool at the Camelback Inn is a relaxing oasis in the gorgeous desert. Umbrellas offer shade for those who want to enjoy the dry heat without direct sun.

The Camelback Inn’s two restaurants (Rita’s Kitchen and BLT) offer happy hours, so take advantage of tasty tacos, burgers or salads at bargain prices. The breakfast buffet is also delicious. I’m not normally a buffet person but this one offers quality foods over quantity.  Chef Julian will make your egg dish to order, there’s plenty of fresh fruit, and the artisan breads with jams and honey are fabulous.

Early birds will get the most out of a visit to Scottsdale in the off season. When you wake up with the sun you can take advantage of the pristine desert ahead of the triple digit temperatures. Hikers can climb Camelback Mountain, which is an intermediate hike with a steep climb. Still, it’s worthwhile even if you don’t make it to the top of the mountain.

Golfers also love the Camelback Inn. Besides the golf course (which might be under construction this summer) there’s a pitch and putt  and putting green.

The motto at the Camelback Inn was once “Where Time Stands Still.” This was true for me during my visit. If you have the opportunity to experience the Camelback Inn, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Getting there: Fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, an inexpensive one hour flight from So Cal airports. Or, drive,  it’s an easy six hour drive from the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.

Distance from LAX: 398 miles

Traffic411 Insider Tip: Take a day trip to Cave Creek or Carefree, 20 minutes north of Scottsdale. It’s at least ten degrees cooler and offers beautiful views of the Sonoran desert.

Take a short day trip to Cave Creek or Carefree to enjoy the luscious Sonoran desert and (slightly) cooler temperatures.

Your golf cart awaits at the private Boulders Resort in Cave Creek.

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Lake Balboa, a secret Valley oasis

Lake Balboa in Van Nuys is a way to beat the heat of the sizzling San Fernando Valley summers.

The San Fernando Valley sizzles with triple digit heat during the summer months, but Lake Balboa can offer valley-dwellers some respite from the swelter.  The lake is located inside the park formerly known as Balboa (now it’s called Anthony C. Beilenson Park) and is part of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, which also features parks, golf courses, and other recreation activities.

Located in Van Nuys near the busy 405/101 freeway interchange, Lake Balboa is surrounded by a large grassy park.  There’s a walking path with benches (some shady) around the perimeter of the lake. Bring a picnic or a blanket to relax on the grass. Ducks, swans and other birds flock to the lake and would be more than happy to share any of your snacks, although there are warnings against feeding the wildlife.

During the summer months, Balboa Lake has pedal boats for rent and there’s kayaking (although you first need to complete the Kayak Fitness Orientation). There are also hundreds of cherry blossom trees, with festive pink blooms when in season.

If you find yourself in the valley with a little time to kill (perhaps you want to wait out rush hour traffic), or just want to meet a friend for some exercise, Lake Balboa is a terrific place to visit.

Distance from LAX: 23 miles

Traffic411 Insider Tip:  Golfers, bring your clubs. Balboa Lake is adjacent to two golf courses with putting greens and driving ranges.


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