Kevin and I just got back from our big road trip across Arizona — driving along the famed Route 66 (check out our itinerary here). It’s easy to breeze right on past Phoenix/Scottsdale, but we recommend spending at least 1 day to take in the sights. And besides, how can you pass up a place that has a bathroom where 10-foot sharks can watch as you wash your hands? Here are our top picks for some relaxation and fun in the sun in Scottsdale. And yes, it includes a mandatory stop at the bathroom (probably the first time ever we’ve recommended a bathroom on the blog!).
There are a lot of coffee shops in Scottsdale, but we keep going back to Sip Coffee located in the heart of Downtown Scottsdale. We grabbed a quick breakfast (and maybe a chocolate chip cookie) to get our day started. It’s in a great location, too, since there are plenty of shops to explore nearby. There is more than just coffee though. They serve beer, cocktails and a full menu and oftentimes have live musicians.
Now that we’re fully caffeinated, we’re ready to hit up our first stop — the OdySea Aquarium, located about 15 minutes driving from Sip Coffee.
We love aquariums and were excited for this high-tech version that recently opened its “OdySea Voyager” exhibit, where you’re seated and revolve around the tank like a merry-go-round.
There are interactive exhibits and talks throughout the day. We recommend stopping by the Piranha tank where an educator will tell you the story of how these fish got such a bad rap. And if you’re lucky like we were, you’ll be the only person to show up. Kevin was in his glory and could ask every question he could think of (which was a lot!).
But of course, the very first thing you’ll need to do is visit the bathrooms at the aquarium. These were definitely the coolest bathrooms we’ve ever been in!
Inside the aquarium, we totally fell for the not-so-subtle ads for Frozen Penguin. In fact, you can actually measure your height in ice cream sandwiches (which you know we totally did). You can mix and match cookies as well as sample as many flavors of ice cream you’d like. It’s just outside the aquarium’s exit, making it impossible for Kevin to pass by. I got a brownie, but you should stick with the cookies and ice cream!
Next up, head over to the Wrigley Mansion for a 1-hour tour of the chewing gum magnate’s home. Okay, this is technically in Phoenix (but you’re so close to Scottsdale, it nearly counts!). Constructed in 1932, this is just one of five homes for Wrigley who would often visit in the winter to escape the brutal Chicago weather. We hopped on the 2 PM tour, but there are tours throughout the day. You can either opt for the tour including lunch (varies from $26-$37 per person) or just join without the meal ($15 plus a $5 membership fee).
Interestingly enough, ownership changed hands several times. And in 1992, the city of Phoenix was planning to tear it down to make room for condos. However, Geordie Hormel (heir of the Spam fortune) and his wife Jamie fell in love with the property and purchased it. Together they restored it back and opened it up to the public.
The building is oftentimes used for weddings (in fact, one was being set up the day we visited). And there is also a steak restaurant and wine bar on site.
Wrap your night in style at iPic in Scottsdale. This high-end movie chain is our absolute favorite — with its reclining chairs, blankets and full waitstaff that will bring you free popcorn. There is also a full dinner menu along with cocktails, wine and beer. A night here certainly isn’t cheap — where you can easily drop $150 for 2 people without even trying. But it’s a great special occasion spot. Though, warning, you may not want to go back to a regular movie theater ever again!