** Written months ago, appropriate as it's Throw Back Thursday and applicable to anyone traveling to or interested in the historic district of Scottsdale, Arizona**
The only thing I'd wish I had done differently when headed to Arizona was plan an extra day to hike and sight see. Everywhere you look are beautiful mountains and apparently, it's pretty close to the Grand Canyon, which, short of flying over on my way from the East to the West coast, I've never seen.
This trip was to watch and support my brother, Michael, at his first swimming competition since the London Olympics. He swam the 100-butterfly and the 50-freestyle (during which he swam butterfly) so the trip was a long one for two short races, but one of the things that we've always done as a family is to support each other the best we can. I knew that it was easiest for me to travel and so with that, I booked my ticket and off to Arizona I went. Mom flew in for the day, watched the 100 butterfly and then took the red eye back to watch my sister and niece walk in a fashion show. I stayed in Arizona and watched the 50-fly and then flew back with Michael the next day. Between races (Whitney's, Michael's and mine), the kid's sports, various speaking opportunities and other social engagements, we stay pretty busy!
After Michael finished his 50-butterfly, we went out to lunch and caught up. We are usually going in one direction or the other, so I always treasure the time when I can sit down with anyone for one-on-one bonding. It's funny to watch the expression on people's face when they recognize Michael and they say "I thought that was you" when he hands them his card to pay for lunch.
Michael went back to the hotel to nap and I decided to get out and explore a little bit. Since he wasn't swimming in finals that night, I figured I had time to drive out to Scottsdale and sight see. I enjoy traveling and I don't mind getting out by myself to explore. I felt confident that I'd seen all that Mesa had to offer (side note, the day before, as Mom and I looked for an "authentic Arizona restaurant" we somehow wondered into a not-so-nice area that was off the beaten path outside of Mesa. When we told people where we ate, their eyes nearly came out of their sockets and commented "why would you go there?!" Admission: I had typed "organic" into my restaurant search engine and that's what came up. Thank you, Mom, for being a good sport!) This time I asked for recommendations and many people mentioned Old Town Scottsdale. Off I went.
The area was quaint and cute, full of restaurants and art galleries and very walkable. A town conducive for picture taking, the sun was shining and I was able to snap some great photos that captured the southwest vibe of the historic neighborhood. Favorite finds: a tasty local olive oil and vinegar shop that shipped my purchases home to DC and a beautiful old Mission, that had been restored as a restaurant appropriately called "The Mission."
I spent two hours walking around this neighborhood, but in the surrounding area, there are pockets of unique shopping and art galleries, which are prominent in the historic district. One could easily spend more time sauntering around the surrounding streets, especially if you are a fan of local art.