I headed straight from the airport to Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter residence, studio, and school. The drive up to Scottsdale was a good orientation to the sprawl of the Phoenix metro area, and then to Scottsdale itself– which struck me as a slightly less Jewish and hillier version of Boca Raton in terms of the architecture, retirement communities, road layout, and strip malls.
The site is located midway up a hill, and the drive up is a picturesque one, passing Saguaros and desert flora. To see the actual site, you must purchase a guided tour. Since I didn’t want to wait for an hour for one of the longer tours, I took a 60-minute option, which did not include a tour of Wright’s living quarters. The tour was interesting, and I’ve posted some pictures below. The price is a little steep though, as the cheapest tour is $24.00; and my tour guide was a little brusque for my tastes. She repeatedly insulted Frank Lloyd Wright, and then actually shilled for tips! Not sure if it was the best use of my time in Phoenix, as it was a good 35 minute drive in each direction. Oh, well.
I then made my way to my hotel, the SpringHill Suites Phoenix Downtown. The room was free as I had earned a free night at any Level 1-4 Marriott property from Marriott’s summer promotion. Of the Level 4 hotels in the area, this hotel had good reviews on TripAdvisor and a free airport shuttle (which I ended up not taking advantage of since I rented a car to get to Taliesin West), and the location was pretty central- walking distance to everything downtown and less than two miles from the airport, plus internet, breakfast, an outdoor pool, and a gym. Early check-in was no problem — not sure if it was because of my Silver Elite status or not. The room was more than adequate- a decent size suite with a living area, kitchenette and work area, and king-size sleeping area.
After catching up on emails using the very fast free wireless internet, I took a great nap. My only complaint about the hotel was the “exercise room” — which was just a treadmill, a stairmaster, and a stationary bike– none of which is part of my general cardio routine. A few handweights and an exercise ball would have gone a long way.
The hotel’s location was particularly good for me, as it was a mere two block walk from Phoenix’s Rainbows Festival. Kind of a fall pride festival for the LGBT community, it was a great event- live music, community organization and corporate booths, and alcohol sold to benefit community groups. Since one was the Phoenix Hellraisers, Phoenix’s gay flag football team, and I was missing my own gay flag football match (go Team Stonewall!), I just had to buy a beer (or three).
After a much needed second nap, I then headed over to Arizona Center, a short walk from the hotel, where I had a nice Mexican meal at Sam’s Cafe , continuing my al fresco food and drink theme. From there, it was off on the Light Rail to check out Phoenix’s nightlife at Charlie’s. Phoenix’s Light Rail was really impressive– running into the wee hours of the morning, for $1.75 each way! After watching some line dancing and really terrible drag queens, and tasting the famous tacos sold out of a truck at the back of the bar. Thanks to my friend Adam for the tip! I called it an early night, and headed to bed, for my morning departure.
Overall, I was impressed by Phoenix, though I’d love to explore for a longer trip some time, and perhaps take in one of the famed resorts, some great hiking, and the Musical Instrument Museum. I’m glad that all of my upcoming travel is longer than one night, as the past two weekend trips have been a little bit of a whirl– even for me.