5 Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

I have always thought of Scottsdale as merely an extension of the Phoenix metro area. Despite having visited Phoenix many times, I never spent much time in Scottsdale until recently.

Scottsdale has much to offer, including plenty of eating and drinking options, opportunities to explore the great outdoors and even take in some culture.

Taliesin West

This is a must do for those who appreciate architecture. Taliesin West was the winter home and architecture school of Frank Lloyd Wright. It still serves as the campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

The property is accessible to the public by guided tours, which provide great insight into, not only the design of the buildings, but also into the man who was Frank Lloyd Wright.

Visit Old Town Scottsdale

Downtown / Old Town Scottsdale offers plenty of shopping, dining and nightlife options in the heart of the city and all in an easy walkable area.

Go for a Hike

From easy strolls to difficult climbs, Scottsdale has a huge variety of hiking trails to explore and take in the amazing desert views.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve is made up of six different trailheads, each with something unique to offer. The Lost Dog Wash Trail is a moderate 5 miles in length and culminates in an expansive view of the valley.

Hiking on the Lost Dog Wash Trail
View from Taliesin Overlook in McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Pinnacle Peak Park is another hiking trail that is favored by locals and visitors alike.

This 3.5 mile hike also provides spectacular views of the valley.

View on Pinnacle Peak Hike 

Beer Tasting

Craft beer is yours for the tasting in Scottsdale. Fate Brewing Co. and Papago Brewing Co. are two such places that specialize in local, small-batch beers.

Four Peaks also has a taproom located in Scottsdale, where you can order a beer flight while enjoying some pub grub.

Beer Flight at Four Peaks Grill and Tap

Eat and Drink

You can find just about any type of cuisine you desire in and around Scottsdale. True Food Kitchen hit the spot after some outdoor activity. They offer healthy, fresh dishes. The Herb Box in Downtown Scottsdale is another hip restaurant with an inventive international menu.

Salad and Matcha from True Food Kitchen

Bonus: Musical Instrument Museum

Although technically in the city of Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is very close to Scottsdale and is one of the top rated things to do in Phoenix on TripAdvisor. 
MIM have over 6,500 instruments on display from 200 countries. Many of the exhibits are enhanced with audio and video displays that allow you to see and hear the instruments being played. There is so much to see that it took us about two and a half hours to make our way through the exhibits. 

Visiting Holiday Displays in Washington, DC

Christmastime is definitely one of my favorite times of the year to visit Washington, DC. The city knows how to deck itself out in the holiday spirit. This year, I only had a very small window of time in which to see some of the holiday lights around the city.

At the top of my list of things to see was The National Christmas Tree, which is located near the White House. This year’s tree was decorated in gold and silvery white LED lights to commemorate the National Park Service’s Centennial.

If there was a good time to have brought my real camera, this would have been it, but I forgot. Stuck with my cell phone camera this time!
The White House and the National Christmas Tree

The National Christmas Tree is surrounded by smaller Christmas trees representing all of the states and territories of the United States. There is also a little village and model train at the base of the tree. 

Smaller state’s trees and the White House
Located on the Ellipse is the National Menorah. It happened to be Chanukah while I was in town, so I was able to see the menorah for the first time.
Washington Monument and the National Menorah 
National Christmas Tree, Washington Monument and the National Menorah
The Willard Hotel is also known for getting into the holiday spirit. They have nightly “holiday lobbying” (get it?) events, featuring local choral groups.
They also have a huge Christmas tree in the lobby that is decorated with the entire collection of White House Christmas ornaments. So gorgeous.

This year’s ornament honors President Calvin Coolidge and the first National Christmas Tree lighting in 1923. Below are close-ups of the 2015 ornament and the 2007 ornament. 

The Willard also had a gingerbread recreation of the Lincoln Memorial. President Lincoln is just one of many presidents who have stayed at The Willard.
My work is near the Embassy of Australia and this is one of my favorite displays to see. Surfing Santa and his kangaroo reindeer. Other embassies are similarly festooned for the holidays.

Although those were the only holiday displays I was able to visit this time, my other favorites include:

Taken December 2010
Entrance to the US Botanic Garden – taken December 2011
Union Station – decorated with giant holiday wreaths and featuring a model train and tree from the Norwegian Embassy

US Capitol Christmas Tree

Taken December 2011

Enjoy the New Mexico Winter with Live Ultimate Facial Sunscreen

Sunshine is probably one of the things I can’t live without. For a sun lover, like me, New Mexico is great because of the number of days of sunshine we get to enjoy all year round. Even when it is snowy and bone-chillingly cold, like it is now, you can expect the sun to show up in a few hours or the next day.

Protecting my skin from the strong New Mexico sun is must for me even though I am not the best at remembering to apply sunscreen every day. The 30-degree and snowy days are now setting in, but that does not mean the sun will disappear until spring.

Sunny winter day in New Mexico
Lingering snowfall from the weekend

While I was on vacation over Thanksgiving, I used the last of my facial sunscreen. I was happy to find a bottle of Live Ultimate’s Facial Sunscreen+ waiting for me to try when I returned home.

This all-natural mineral-based sunscreen and primer is free of chemical UV absorbers and toxic ingredients. Facial Sunscreen+ protects using micronized, non-nano zinc oxide and is a primer, moisturizer and anti-aging restorative all wrapped into one.

The thing I worry most about sunscreen is that some formulas make my skin feel greasy and look oily. Live Ultimate’s sunscreen comes out a little thick but once it is applied and drys, feels light-weight and non-greasy. The slight tint also brings a little bit of color to my skin while leaving it looking young and fresh.

Live Ultimate also offers eight other products including cremes, facial cleanser, eye treatments and more. Check out their whole product line. Plus, until December 15th, Live Ultimate is offering 25% off their facial sunscreen.

Disclosure: I received a bottle of Live Ultimate Facial Sunscreen+ for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.