The boys of summer are back to work. The 2019 spring training season is underway in Arizona. Catching a spring training game is a popular getaway, especially for folks looking to escape winter’s chill.
For folks heading to Scottsdale, it comes with some surprising desert perks to enjoy in between games.
Like kayaking. Yes, kayaking in the desert. It’s a great way to beat the heat in between spring training games. Arizona Outback Adventures guides half-day trips on the Lower Salt River and they often come with some extra special company. If you’re lucky, you just might meet some wild horses while you’re floating along. Also keep your eyes open for egrets, juvenile bald eagles, and cormorants. Even a first time paddler can do this trip. The water is so calm, a guide once told me he’s had folks fall asleep floating along. That said, the scenery is so fantastic, this is something even a more advancer paddler will enjoy.
Even if you’re typically not an early riser, it’s worth rolling out of bed before the sun to take a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran desert. My flight with Hot Air Expeditions came with a 6:15 hotel departure, but it’s worth it.
Balloon flights give you a whole new perspective of the desert terrain, and for many they are one of those bucket list items. It’s amazingly quiet and still in between the hot air bursts of the balloon’s propane burners. (And those propane burners put off heat, so wear a hat to keep your head from getting hot.) After many of the rides, you’re welcomed back to solid ground with a champagne toast and tasty picnic-style breakfast in the desert.
Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark in the Arizona desert. Taliesin West is worth a visit, and easy to squeeze in around game times, because you only need a couple hours for a tour. Built in the 1930s, but constantly expanded and changed throughout his life, the famous home and architecture school was built by Wright and his apprentices so that it would blend in with its surroundings. So rocks, sand, and other desert items, played a large role in construction.
If you can make it work schedule-wise, night tours deliver photo-worthy sunset views and the opportunity to see the property’s fire breathing dragon. (They’re typically held on Friday nights.)
Regardless of when you visit, you have to be on a tour to see the property. Reservations are recommended, as tours can book fast.
The Scottsdale area is known for fantastic hiking options. There’s miles and miles of trails to choose from. Camelback Mountain is the name recognized by most, but workouts with a view are plentiful in the desert. Usery Mountain Regional Park offers nearly 30 miles of trails ranging from easy to strenuous. The Wind Cave Trail is one of the park’s most popular hikes. It’s a moderate to difficult hike that will take most two to three hours round-trip. But there’s also a number of shorter and easier trails, if you’re looking for more of a stroll than a workout.
If you start craving air conditioning, head to the Musical Instrument Museum or (MIM). Before you say.. oh no.. no museums, give this a chance. There are musical instruments and artifacts from around 200 places around the world. They have 6,800 instruments. You can see them, hear them and in some cases even give them a try. They’ll be plenty you’ve never heard of, then they’ll be ones that strike a chord, like the piano that John Lennon sat at when he composed “Imagine.”
For more on what to do during your spring training getaway to Scottsdale, watch my travel segment for KRON4 television in San Francisco.
Dana’s trip was organized by Experience Scottsdale, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.