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hot air balloons rising above the desert

Scottsdale, Arizona Bold and Beautiful

Some years back, my husband and I traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona for my best friend’s wedding. The wedding was Sunday evening. Since we had never been there, we decided to make a long weekend of it . We arrived Friday afternoon and left Monday morning. In between, we went horseback riding, wine making, hot air ballooning, and picnicked by Lake Saguaro. This was in addition to attending the wedding and a pre-wedding party the night before. Arizona is magestic with numerous sights to see. We would need many weekends to visit them all.

Mountain view on the way to Lake Saguaro in Scottsdale, Arizona
Mountains in Arizona
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Horseback Riding Through the Arizona Desert

Horses on the trail through the desert at Fort McDowell in Scottsdale
Fort McDowell

The wind blew too hard for us to go hot air ballooning Saturday morning so we ate a leisurely breakfast. Then we headed out to Ft. McDowell in Scottsdale to ride horses. We arrived at 11 am, and for the next hour and a half we rode through the desert and across a creek on horseback. My husband and I are not experienced riders, but we traveled in a guided group. My horse almost ran off after some wild horses. He also kept stopping to eat and then would gallop to catch up with the other horses. It made for quite the adventure. Ft. McDowell also offers Segway tours, hiking tours, and driving tours through the desert. Longer excursions include lunch or dinner.

Making Wine

wine label we chose at Su Vino Winery in Scottsdale. We called our wine Casa Emperador and the label depicts a castle through the trees
Our own “brand”

After our equestrian adventures, we went to Su Vino Winery, Scottsdale. Two older Italian couples greeted us. We sampled several wines until we found the one we wanted to create. The owners showed us how to mix the ingredients. Then my husband and I took turns mixing. We chose a label and name for our wine. Since the wine wouldn’t be ready for a month, the owners offered to ship the wine to us. Then the fun really began. The owners invited us to sit down for more wine, Sambuca, and a platter of Italian olives, meats, etc. It was an amazing way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Soaring Over Scottsdale in a Hot Air Balloon

Sunday morning we woke up very early for our hot air balloon ride. When we arrived, the sky hadn’t turned gray yet. We learned the mechanics of the balloon and my husband helped spread out the balloon and use the fans to inflate it. As the sun rose we climbed into the balloon. Manufacturers state the balloons can go as high as 18000 feet. We ascended 5000 feet over the desert due to aircraft flying at 7500. The view mesmerized us. We looked down to see jack rabbits and coyotes. The flame of the balloon roared, but that was the only sound we could hear. It brought serenity to us.

While soaring above the desert, the pilot recounted the history of the first hot air balloon flight. In 1783, the first manned hot air balloon flew over France. Unfortunately, the balloon flew off course. An angry mob of peasants greeted it with pitchforks, not understanding what it was. After that, balloons carried Champagne aboard as a symbol of peace. Rumor has it, if you follow a balloon to its destination, you will be offered Champagne as a friendly gesture.

Sunset over Scottsdale, reminds me of Phoenix wings
Sunset from the golf course at my friend’s wedding

Afterwards, we hopped in our rental car for a scenic drive to Lake Saguaro. We were planning a boat ride. However, we missed the boat so we had a picnic lunch in our car instead. We could have taken a later boat, but we had a wedding to attend. The wedding was on a golf course at sunset. We were sorry to leave these majestic skies the next day. Hence, we will have to return some time soon.

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8 thoughts on “Scottsdale, Arizona Bold and Beautiful

  1. Whoa, you packed in horseback riding, wine making, hot air ballooning, and a picnic by Lake Saguaro all before a wedding like it was nothing. That is awesome, haha!
    So, I have never been to Scottsdale yet but I think that you sold me on going if for nothing but wine making at Su Vino Winery! Darcee would absolutely love that since she loves drinking wine & exploring wineries. Plus it sounds like the owners are tons of fun!
    As for me, I have yet to tick off Hot Air Ballooning from my bucket list, so that would be my #1 but it all sounds amazing there!

    1. Hope you get to go. I am a crazy planner so I am able to cram a lot in without us feeling like we need a vacation to recuperate. It’s all about the balance of activities. Hot air ballooning is inherently relaxing.

  2. Scottsdale has lots to offer! I love horse riding, especially with such a stunning backdrop. Hot air ballons are always fun, I did this in Kenya and Myanmar!

  3. We had only a short stay in Scottsdale. But enough to know we want to return one day. We were actually surprised at how many winery areas we found in Arizona. It would be fun to make our own wine at Su Vino Winery. But a hot air balloon would definitely top our list.

  4. This looks like a fun place especially with the hot ballooning stuff pitched in between. Turkey has made its name in the hot ballooning field. Never knew even Scottsdale Arizona, provides the same facility. It definitely looked total fun out there. Nice way to spend the holiday with the family.

  5. Horseback Riding Through the Arizona Desert is on my bucket list. I love Arizona, spent there over a month, but would love to back. Scottsdale is perfect for the holidays.

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