Signature City Phoenix-Scottsdale

Get an insider’s view on Arizona’s Valley of the Sun as you join experts to explore world-renowned cultural institutions, unique desert landscapes and historic Old Town Scottsdale.
Rating (4.86)
Program No. 21299RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 3 L 4 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Scottsdale Old Town
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the hotel meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. All lectures will be led, as indicated, by either local experts or our Group Leader. Exploration of museums and other sites on field trips will be led by experienced docents or our Group Leader. Transportation to off-site locations will be provided primarily by motorcoach, unless otherwise specified. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, we will have plated meals featuring a rotating choice of entrees, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Water in the West, Desert Botanical Garden, Native Arizona
Scottsdale Old Town
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Driving approximately 20 miles; about 1 hour total, with stops for field trips. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; flat, paved terrain at a slow pace.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, enjoy a breakfast buffet, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: We’ll pull out our maps and become acquainted with the Phoenix Metropolitan Area – nicknamed the Valley of the Sun – pinpointing our destinations over the upcoming days and getting a sense of the Valley’s extent. Still at the hotel, we’ll learn about water in the west through a presentation given by a representative of the Salt River Project, the utility and water provider for much of central Arizona. After boarding the motorcoach, we’ll transfer to the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG), for a docent-led exploration. A valuable community resource, the garden aims to educate and conserve the wonders of the desert with a focus on plants of the Southwest. Since a Swedish botanist planted a sign “Save the desert” in his yard in the 1930s, community members came together to create, develop, and expand the garden as the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like at either of the two eateries on the Garden grounds.

Afternoon: Continue to explore the DBG on your own wandering through the garden’s 50 acres in search of the 139 rare, endangered, or threatened species of plants from across the globe. Before returning to Scottsdale, we will take time to explore the Arizona Biltmore, designed by Albert Chase McArthur, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright who served as consulting architect on the project. Opened in 1929, the Biltmore was immediately crowned the “Jewel of the Desert” and has been a preferred resort for celebrities, heads of state, and business scions. After a brief orientation to the Biltmore by our group leader, we will have the opportunity to explore the grounds on our own.

Dinner: At one of Scottsdale’s restaurants, we’ll choose plated meals from a select menu. Coffee, iced tea, and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After returning to the hotel, we’ll learn about those that came before -- the Hohokam and their legacy of canals in the Phoenix area. Our Native American speaker will describe the contemporary Native American tribes in the greater Phoenix region.

Wright's Taliesin West, Musical Instrument Museum, Lecture
Scottsdale Old Town
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Drive approximately 45 miles throughout the day; about 1.5 hours total, with stops for field trips. Walking approx. 1.5 miles total for the day; ramps and elevators available.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our day will begin with a field trip to Taliesin West (pronounced TALLY EHSSEN), Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio, and architectural campus. Wright began building this masterpiece in 1937 and lived here until 1959. It is located on 600 acres of Sonoran Desert in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in northeast Scottsdale. An expert on Wright and his work will assist in our exploration of this unique architectural wonder. Wright and his apprentices gathered rocks from the desert floor, and sand from the washes to build this great desert masterpiece. From the beginning, this remarkable set of buildings astounded architectural critics with its beauty and unusual form. Today, it is the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Next, we’ll then transfer to the Musical Instrument Museum for lunch.

Lunch: At the Musical Instrument Museum, we’ll order from a select menu of salads and sandwiches, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: At the Musical Instrument Museum, we’ll engage in this one-of-a-kind experience for music lovers of any stripe. Opened in 2010, the museum allows the visitor to view video and hear music from around the world in galleries organized by continent and country. Every visitor receives headphones with which to listen and learn about music from all genres. Enjoy an exploration of some of the museum's acquisitions with knowledgeable docents, many who are themselves trained musicians. Among the many instruments of note displayed in the MIM is the piano on which John Lennon wrote “Imagine.” There is also a room devoted to instruments that you can play. We’ll return to the hotel in late afternoon.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: We’ll be joined by a local expert for a presentation on a topic of local interest. Our topic will vary by week and feature a local author, artist, or regional expert.

Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum
Scottsdale Old Town
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Driving approx. 30 miles throughout the day; approximately 1 hour total. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; some periods of standing in each museum with stairs; elevators available.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Continuing our exploration of the vibrant art and culture in Phoenix, we’ll go on a field trip to the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM) where we will be led by a docent, followed by time to explore individually. The museum is one of the largest art museums in the Southwest, and within its labyrinth of halls and galleries is an impressive collection of works that span the major artistic movements from the Renaissance to the present. Changing exhibits may cover decorative arts, historic fashions, Spanish-colonial furnishings, religious art, and of course, works by members of the Cowboy Artists of America.

Lunch: At the Phoenix Art Museum, we’ll choose a plated meal from a select menu of salads and sandwiches, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After travelling a short distance from the PAM, we’ll head to the internationally acclaimed Heard Museum where a docent will introduce us to the many exhibits followed by time to explore independently. The Heard is one of the best places to experience the myriad cultures and art of Native Americans of the Southwest. The museum's 11 spacious exhibition galleries and beautiful outdoor courtyards feature outstanding traditional and contemporary Native American art. Since its founding by Dwight and Maie Bartlett Heard in 1929 as a small museum in a small Southwestern town, the Heard has grown in size and stature. A living museum giving voice to truly American people, the Heard is now recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, educational programming, and festivals. We’ll then return to our hotel in late afternoon.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. There is a free trolley that runs through the area until 9:00 p.m.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to enjoy a stroll on your own through the streets, shops and art galleries in Old Town Scottsdale, just a short distance from the hotel. A list of nearby restaurants as well as walking maps and Old Town's free shuttle schedule are available at the hotel front desk.

Western Spirit Museum: Scottsdale, Western Cookout
Scottsdale Old Town
Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Driving approximately 40 miles throughout the day; less than 1 hour total. Walking up to 1.5 miles during the day; some periods of standing in the museum with stairs; elevators available.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel, we’ll walk through Scottsdale's Old Town and Art District to one of Scottsdale's newest museum offerings, Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West. Transportation will be provided for those who require it. For our morning field trip, we’ll enjoy a docent-led exploration as well as time for independent exploration. The museum offers high-quality exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach addressing regional history, particularly as reflected by the arts and the dynamic cultural exchanges that have marked the transition of the Old West into the New West. Changing exhibitions keep this museum experience fresh and dynamic. Afterwards, we’ll walk back to the hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a make-your-own salad and sandwich bar with coffee, iced tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: In the late afternoon, we'lll depart for a BBQ cookout and campfire as the sun sets amidst towering saguaro cacti, icon of the west. Choose from chicken, ribs or veggie burgers, fresh off the grill, along with some traditional BBQ sides including fruit and garden salads,cowboy beans, homemade biscuits and an assortment of fruit pies for dessert. Lemonade and water will be provided; participants may bring other beverages. Don’t forget your jacket, as desert nights cool off quickly. If you plan to take photographs, be mindful of the cactus and uneven ground. Cowboy boots are optional!

Evening: Watching the sun set we'll see the stars emerge as the campfire crackles. Then sing a song or two under the western sky. This will wrap up the week's experiences in the Valley of the Sun -- Scottsdale and Phoenix. After returning to the hotel, we’ll reconvene for a brief program wrap-up and farewells.Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

Farewells, Program Concludes, Independent Departures
Scottsdale Old Town

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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