Rising mercury means big deals in the desert
How hot is hot? In Scottsdale, expect triple digits with a chance of more triple digits.
How big is big? Hotels and resorts—like the ultraposh Phoenician (from $169; )—drop their room rates by as much as two-thirds in summer.
But it’s a dry heat: Which is why your fingers will be turning to prunes at the 2 1/2-acre water playground at the Gainey Ranch Hyatt (from $145; ).
Cool your head: With a free tour of Alcor (2 p.m. Fri; ), the subzero cryonics facility—read, ice morgue—where slugger Ted Williams has been chilling since he died in 2002.
Wild night: When the sun goes down, Scottsdale’s critters come out to play. With the help of night-vision scopes, spot scorpions, wild horses, rattlesnakes, javelinas, and other desert dwellers on the four-hour Desert Storm Hummer Tours (from $125; ).
Luxury you can afford: It’s hard to tell where the Four Seasons at Troon North ends and Pinnacle Peak begins. The 25 casitas, tastefully done up in desert tones, fit like Legos into the serrated mountainside. Not to suggest that you’d be roughing it: A fleet of noiseless golf carts is on hand to whiz you around the 40-acre property—from your private patio to the spa, restaurants (there are three), or cascading pool, which hosts “dive-in” movies and poolside smoothies all summer. But here’s the best part: You’re lapping up the luxury at off-season prices. From $149;
Worth the brain freeze: At Sweet Republic, scoring a scoop of spot-on espresso ice cream (made with single-origin coffee beans) is easy. For something a little cooler, go for flavors like local honey or blue cheese, or the Toffee Banofi sundae, made with Madagascar vanilla ice cream, bananas, almond toffee, and caramel sauce. 9160 E. Shea Blvd.; 480/248-6979.
Early-morning elevation: Only reptiles hike Pinnacle Peak any later than 7 a.m. Saguaros lamppost the 3.5-mile path where chuckwallas zigzag at your approach. Let the yahoos jog by while you take a break at Owl’s Rest overlook, a mile or so in, for views of Camelback Mountain.
Practice your listening skills: The Musical Instrument Museum jams its 200,000-square-foot space with musical artifacts from around the globe. John Lennon’s Steinway, a Honduran shaker made from a horse’s jawbone, guitars fashioned from oilcans, a complete 22-piece Indonesian gamelan—more than 3,000 instruments are on display. $15;
Cocktails with flair: Citizen R+D has all the hallmarks of a speakeasy—no sign, an alley entrance—but there’s nothing hush-hush about the drinks. The gin and tonic is mixed tableside … in a double boiler. Fun in a glass? Try the Cotton Cooler, a concoction of Irish whiskey, fresh orange juice, and house-spun cotton candy. Closed Sun; 7111 E. Fifth Ave.; 602/904-3904.
Pavle’s triple threat: Pavle Milic of local favorite eatery FnB packs three tasty new spots under one roof
AZ Wine Merchants. Snag Pavle’s favorite boutique wines and beers at this tiny shop, where local brands like Dos Cabezas Red from Cochise County and Tempe’s Four Peaks Sunbru Kölsch-style ale stand tall. 7125 E. Fifth Ave.; 480/588-7489.
Baratin Café. The menu is handwritten daily and includes a single snack, salad, pâté, vegetarian choice, sandwich, and dessert. With luck, you’ll come when chef Charleen Badman makes her famous roast Jidori chicken sandwich, with fennel and manchego cheese. The 50 seats fill fast, but takeout is great too. $; 480/284-4777.
Bodega Market. At this mini-mart, you can pick up the same riches Baratin Café’s chef Badman uses in her kitchens—like the Jidori, fennel, and manchego—to cook at home. Or get a grab-and-go, like a roasted Two Wash Ranch half-chicken brightened with Meyer lemon, herbs, and Aleppo pepper. 480/284-4777.