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Scottsdale, Ariz.? Get ready for a hot time

By Mark Vanek

As the weather turns damp and chilly, many long to get away some place where it’s warm and dry – and no place fits this prescription better than sunny Scottsdale, Ariz.

Scottsdale, a scant 10 minutes from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, has been long known as an overnight oasis for many in the airline industry. Fans of the outdoors have not-too-distant access to all of Arizona's scenic wonders – including the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater and mystical vortexes renowned for their healing powers.

Where to stay: The Hermosa Inn ( www.hermosainn.com), a luxury boutique hotel, offers extravagant lodgings: spacious studio rooms that feature tall arching and vaulted ceilings. The spa-like bathrooms are mammoth, and designed not only to pamper, but also to provide guests with an intimate place to unwind. The grounds of the inn are beautifully landscaped, and be sure to take full advantage of the inviting pool and hot tub.

“Beverly Hills of the Southwest”: Drop by Scottsdale Fashion Square, the largest shopping mall in Arizona. The premier shopping experience, just blocks from the Hermosa Inn, showcases top brands at every glance. This galleria boasts some of the area’s most outstanding dining, entertainment and high-end fashion.

Scottsdale Old Town Farmers’ Market: For casual browsing or just a place to find a nice assortment of organic produce, this market is perfect. Every Saturday this cheerful bazaar features local arts, crafts and specialty locally grown produce.

Arizona flavor: For an authentic taste of the American Southwest, as well as an unforgettable dining experience under the stars, head for Lon’s ( www.hermosainn.com/lons). This Hermosa Inn on-site restaurant has locals and visitors lined up to see what exciting and new entrees will be featured from celebrity chef Jeremy Pacheco's kitchen. His creative culinary team serves delectable whole-food servings direct from their on-site organic garden.

Bring lots of water: Echo Canyon Park, home to Camelback Mountain ( http://1.usa.gov/H03evh), offers a challenging hike that reflects the raw beauty of the Southwest, with gravel trails, cactus and amazing vistas in every direction. However, this formidable hike is not for the faint of heart, and features plenty of climbing over boulders and rocky outcroppings. Outfit yourself with sure-grip shoes and moisture whisking clothing as you prepare to drop a few pounds in sweat and tears on this rewarding outdoor experience.

Vanek lives at Lake Norman: http://flying-standby.blogspot.com.
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