Trails
We hesitate to give this store an award because it's popular enough, located just off Mill Avenue. Also, the chain does a fine job of promoting itself. But there's a reason we've been shopping here ever since it was called "Happy Trails" (which was before the Roy Rogers people threatened to sue the company).

It's the people. Whoever makes the hires seems to have a standard template for workers — they must be young, attractive, ultra-hip, knowledgeable about the products. Most of all, they must be friendly. Whenever we walk in, at least one member of the sales staff will always say hello with a broad smile, no matter how many customers are in the store. They take the time to explain how the, uh, tobacco smoke might taste in a metal or glass receptacle, and they laugh at our stupid jokes and half-assed attempts to be cool.Trails has outlasted many a business on Mill Avenue, and it's not just because the war on drugs has failed. As with many successful retail shops, the secret at Trails is plain old good customer service.

And, more recently, amazing merchandise. Not long ago, the store was remodeled, adding even more shelves for its plethora of bongs that range in quality from $15 plastic jobs to $500 masterpieces of blown glass — an odd recent trend in paraphernalia. The pricier bongs would make glass artist Dale Chihuly jealous, and they'll look good on your coffee table. Just be careful when get you up from the couch to get another slice of pizza. A broken bong of that caliber really would bum your high.

We've been assembling a killer "wish list" in anticipation of the day the Powerball numbers finally roll our way. Besides jetting off to Ibiza and purchasing the Copenhaver Castle on Camelback Mountain, we're gonna roll down to the yearly Barrett-Jackson Automotive Auction with a couple of briefcases bulging with hundies to snatch up a couple of the astronomically priced autos up for bid. The annual five-day event, held every January at WestWorld in Scottsdale, is described as "the world's greatest classic car auction," and that ain't no hyperbole. More than a thousand different coupes, muscle cars, roadsters, racers, European models, and other dream machines dating back to the 1930s are available if you just happen to have a six-figure bank account, as final gavel prices frequently go into the hundreds of thousands. For instance, this past January, a '64 Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III convertible went for a cool $100,000, while a Plymouth Barracuda two-door hardtop set some big spender back $500,000. Nice work, if you can get it.

BEST PLACE TO RENT AN INSANELY PRICED AUTOMOBILE

Rent-A-Vette

Rent-A-Vette
If you aren't making it, try faking it. For instance, say you're some slick $30K millionaire (you know, the type who fronts an upscale lifestyle but makes about as much as the pizza delivery guy), who flaunts your faux fortune at Scottsdale clubs in the hopes of bagging a top-shelf honey. Since there's absolutely zero chance of you hooking 'em in with your broke-ass Honda, consider borrowing a far more regal ride courtesy of the auto dealers at Rent-A-Vette. Cruising down Craftsman Court will be a cooler experience if you're rocking the Porsche Boxster, Mercedes SL 500 roadster, or a Corvette C6 convertible, yo. If you're feeling the need to make a big statement, the joint also leases out luxury SUVs like the Hummer H2. Daily rental rates run as high as $500, so unless you got some scrilla to spare (and we know you don't), better make sure you drop off last night's tryst before you drop off your sled.
From all reports, there's only one answer to the question that goes, "Who do I talk to about finding the perfect home?" and that answer is Jarson & Jarson, a husband-and-wife duo whose high professional standards and superb support staff have made them the go-to couple for folks looking for the best nest. Scott and Debbie understand modern architecture and the importance of site planning like no other agents in town, and their knowledge of what's going on with local builders is uncanny and a little scary; they seem to know what's being built before the builders do. Looking for a spectacular glass palace, a midcentury Ralph Haver, or a cool old bungalow? The Jarsons are your touchstone for what's available and who's offering it for how much, no matter how specific your needs. Seriously, call them up and ask for a house shaped like a bowl of your favorite breakfast cereal, one that's country club-adjacent with a carriage house and a lima bean-shaped pool, and see if they don't respond with a couple of listings and an offer to meet for coffee to discuss your other options. Sweet!
Hotel Valley Ho
The Valley Ho started encouraging bathing beauties to languish poolside in 1956, when it was the glamorous resort of choice for Hollywood celebutantes and Scottsdale's high society. Not much has changed in that regard, as any trip to their beautifully redone pool can attest — gorgeous ladies in Pucci swimsuits, protecting their eyes from the glare of the paparazzi flash by the newest oversized sunglasses, fresh from Kitson in L.A. Not to worry, there are loads of boys, too, in their Viktor and Rolf swim trunks and flip-flops from Jeffrey. Hidden behind those huge frames, it's hard to tell — movie star? Model? Millionaire? Not that it matters much, we're only passing through. We'll leave the languishing to the lovelies.
Take one hot boutique hotel in downtown Scottsdale, and add a model agency. Stir oh, so gently. What have you got? An all-day (and night) parade of the Beautiful People. We love to watch the boys go by at the Mondrian, to and from The Agency, an on-site modeling firm with the motto, "With your brains and our beauty, imagine what we could do together." We find that a little confusing, so we prefer to focus on our favorite pastime of late: spotting wax jobs on the pretty young model men. Eyebrows, chest — and who knows where else? See you at the pool, boys. Or, at least, on the pages of our favorite local glossies.

BEST PLACE TO SPOT GIRLS AND BOYS AFTER A HARD NIGHT

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club and Barrista Bar
Jamie Peachey
Out on the town in Scottsdale? You can expect to wait in a long line, even after the sun comes up, particularly if you want to get into the hottest brunch spot. We've been known to ditch The Breakfast Club on a Saturday morning — the wait's just too long for our delicate constitution — but if you're intent on cinnamon challah French toast with a side of partied-hard scenesters, put in the time and you won't regret it. The coffee's strong, the vibe is hip, and hey, what else do you have to do? The clubs don't open again for many hours.
Scottsdale Fashion Square
We don't know what our parents did without the indoor playgrounds that have popped up at malls across the Valley. It's perfect: You push little Emily around the mall in the stroller 'til she screams bloody murder, then you buy her a soft pretzel and a lemonade (all these mall playgrounds seem to have pretzel stands strategically located), and rest on a comfy couch while she burns off energy running around a cute, cushy-floored, air-conditioned playground. It does suck when some other kid pukes, and these playgrounds can get crowded, but we're still big fans.

Funny, each has its own personality. If you happen to be a mother of, ahem, a certain age (say you had your kid when you were over 30), be prepared to be asked, at the Fiesta Mall playground in Mesa, whether you're out with the grandkids. At the Chandler Mall, you'll get a gander at the high-tech Intel crowd.

And at Scottsdale Fashion Square, it's all about the hot moms — or, more specifically, the MILFs. If you don't know what a MILF is yet (we've told you before, in previous "Best ofs") go Google it. This is a family publication. Okay, that's a huge lie, but even so, we've got our standards. Anyhow, you know what a MILF is. You're just being coy.

As we said, it's all MILFs, all the time at the Enchanted Playground at Fashion Square. We figure most of these women have been to see that Scottsdale plastic surgeon who promises the "mommy makeover" — no, not that disgusting "down under" procedure; this is the one where they take the fat from your post-pregnancy stomach and stick it into your now-sagging boobs. Whatever work these women have had done, we've gotta give them props, because it was a success. That's one attractive lineup of moms, watching young Britney and Logan romp — as long as you go for super-tans and hair extensions.

Better than a fashion magazine, or even an issue of People. And you get to feel like a good parent, too, because really, you're just here to let little Emily play, right?

Back in the day (i.e., the '80s and even some of the '90s), the highlight of each social season in this town came not during "season" at all, but in the middle of the summer, when Danny Medina — doyenne, as it were, of the society mag Trends — would make his grand entrance (at least once, literally carried by studly young men) at "Beat the Heat," the magazine's charity event and fashion show. Along with models who showed off the latest high-end couture (well, it was usually clothes from Dillard's, but everyone squinted), Medina's handpicked "Fashionalities" took the runway. The Fashionalities were chosen for their service to the community as much as their sense of style, and sometimes it showed. But, hey, just like that episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie trips on her too-high heels in her Dolce & Gabbana panties, it was fun to watch real people preen. (Well, okay, it's true no one like Sarah Jessica Parker ever took the stage. But you get the idea.) Medina left years ago, replaced by a very affable gentleman named Bill Dougherty, who has kept Trends and "Beat the Heat" (which just celebrated its 25th anniversary) going. No, the whole thing isn't what it once was — Medina had impossibly naughty shoes to fill, so you won't get the same quality of unsubstantiated gossip, darn it — but Trends still features lots of photos each month of society stalkers, out painting the town. And because you'll pretty much see the same crowd now that you saw when the magazine premièred in 1982, this is the best place we've found to monitor all the plastic surgery these folks have had to keep things in place. Best of all: Not long ago, Trends changed from newsprint to a glossy format. All the better to spot that eye job, my dear.

BEST PLACE TO SPOT PEOPLE WHO NEED NIPS AND TUCKS

Dirty Scottsdale

We admit we're more than a little guilty of practicing the nasty act of schadenfreude (a.k.a. getting our kicks from the misfortune of others). While it's not exactly the nicest habit to possess, sometimes we can't help but snicker at human train wrecks.

So it's no surprise we're fans of Dirty Scottsdale, the infamous blog devoted to trashing the city's debauched club scene and the outrageous urbanites who populate it. Since springing up six months ago, DS honcho Nik Richie has served as P-Town's Perez Hilton, posting a slew of embarrassing snapshots of Scottsdale clubgoers accompanied by brutal commentary. There are similar blogs (such as Skanksdale and Scottsdale Sucks), but DS is far and away the most popular of the bunch — nabbing upwards of 3 million hits a month — and the most vicious. Few escape Richie's snark, as he endlessly rips into scenesters of every stripe, be they douchebags, himbos, $30K millionaires, faux-hawked poseurs, passed-out hotties, or prowling cougars. We've even heard said scenesters send in the photos themselves, looking for their 15 seconds of infamy. Keep 'em coming, Nik. Just make sure you don't post any pics of us unconscious in the Myst parking lot.

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