Hotel Valley Ho

The hotel scene in Scottsdale thrives today, for sure, but we have fond memories of bygone days. Remember the Safari Resort? Or Paradise Valley's Mountain Shadows? There's one vintage Scottsdale hotel that has more than stood the test of time — Hotel Valley Ho. Built in 1956 and revamped in the 2000s, it's a delightful mix of old and new, with enough of the vintage qualities preserved to make you feel like you just might see Zsa Zsa Gabor or Bing Crosby at the bar. The concierge can arrange a tour for just $19.56 (get it?) and while the Trader Vic's reboot didn't work out so well, the hotel restaurant, Café ZuZu, is definitely worth a stop.

He designed more than a thousand structures, many of them right here in Arizona. Frank Lloyd Wright is an international institution (in 1991, the American Institute of Architects dubbed him "the greatest architect of all time"), but he's also, in many ways, our own. The world-renowned architect, interior designer, educator and author left behind a dozen distinct buildings here, among them the Arizona Biltmore, Grady Gammage Auditorium, and that crazy concrete-and-stone First Christian Church over on Seventh Avenue. And, of course, there's Scottsdale's Taliesin West, Wright's former "architectural lab" built in 1937 and currently an esteemed school of architecture, where the designers of tomorrow continue Wright's legacy.

The Heard Museum. The Desert Botanical Garden. The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. And our own New Times Building. If you've seen them, you've seen the notable design and renovation work of architect John Douglas. Eighty-five national and local design awards attest to his success with creating buildings both beautiful and unusual (like the North Mountain Visitors Center, with its stunning angles of glass and chrome). Douglas' shtick is designing buildings that are both forward-thinking and yet make reference to our architectural history. His work, in short, makes us all look better.

A nearly two-mile stretch on Old Litchfield Road, between Indian School Road and Bird Lane in the West Valley, is guarded by palm and citrus trees standing like attentive soldiers on a carpet of grass. It's a slow-moving street of elegant brick homes with deep setbacks, shrouded with trees. Many of the homes with red-tile rooftops share a common backyard — a golf course and lake. It's worth a drive during a stay-cation at the Wigwam or just during an exploration drive into the wild West. Old Litchfield takes you past upscale shops, sushi restaurants, the Wigwam Resort, and a spa, but makes room for the stuff of life — an elementary school, a library and community swimming pool, and several churches.

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