Dutch Bros, Butter Cake, Trail Running, and Landscape Architecture…Scottsdale With Inspirato

Quick Summary: We loved the Inspirato O’Meara residence at The Rocks in Scottsdale. Beautiful unit, beautiful development, and fantastic location built right into the rocky natural landscape at the desert’s edge. Highly recommend!

Luxurious pampering spas, world-class golf courses aplenty, shopping for the most discriminating of tastes. That’s the Scottsdale we’re all quite familiar with. And for good reason, Scottsdale does have all of that in abundance!

Our trip last week, however, was a bit less traditional. Our family of four, along with my dad, traveled to Scottsdale to spend four days at Inspirato’s O’Meara residence, part of the The Rocks development located at the beautiful far northeast edge of Scottsdale. We coupled together a few college visits for my oldest with some restful vacation time together as family.

Aerial of The Rocks, home to 7 Inspirato Residences

I love everything about Scottsdale. There’s something magical about the desert landscapes, the sunsets that silhouette the mountain ridges and Saguaro cactuses at the shank of the day. It somehow appeals to the mystical side of our souls. And Inspirato residences at The Rocks creates a perfect context to enjoy a few days in the Scottsdale desert.

Now, onto the highlights of our Scottsdale adventure:

Dutch Bros Coffee…have you heard of this place? I would guess that if you live in AZ or CO (or perhaps other spots as well) you likely have. I, however, was not aware of its existence. But, when you have two teenage daughters, you at some point learn about trends and what’s “cool”. I’m told that Dutch Bros is all over Instagram and YouTube. I guess I’m following the wrong people on Instagram if I want to know what’s trendy. Anyway, what I do know is that it was a lot of fun to have this spot as a daily family ritual while out in Scottsdale.

Double Torture in hand…COVID style with ear dangling face mask 🙂

For the uninitiated, Dutch Bros is quite a simple concept. If I had to break it down, I’d describe it as a pretty straightforward drive-thru coffee place that got insanely popular by employing super hip and friendly college(ish)-age kids and then getting creative with its nomenclature for its collection of potently sugar and caffeine infused beverages. My daughters enjoyed things like the Double Torture, the Annihilator, the 911, and so forth and so on. I think they made it through half of the menu throughout our visits over five days. My role on these outings was that of chofer and sponsor, a role I’m more than happy to play when it creates a solid chunk of family time together. Not wanting to threaten my status as a non-trendy dad, I stuck to the Americano each day, which was quite good by the way. I’m a black hot coffee guy through and through, so I did not venture out of my comfort zone, even at Dutch Bros. But, I get this place. Branding is spot on. Drinks are fun and tasty. The vibe is hip, but not that way-too-cool-for-you type of hip, an actually somehow unassuming and very friendly and welcoming type of hip. You should check it out. For us, these were fun times of family connection. When I booked a trip with Inspirato in Scottsdale, little did I know that Dutch Bros Coffee would be such an important component to our trip.

My girls…happy because Butter Cake is on the way!

Onto the next item. Two words for you…Butter Cake. If you know, you know. Can one restaurant dessert item possibly be such an important highlight to a family vacation? Well yes, yes it sure can if that desert is Butter Cake and that Butter Cake happens to be from Mastro’s Ocean Club. I know that Mastro’s is not unique to Scottsdale. But that’s okay, it was still a highlight of our trip. Mastro’s, the a-bit-too-pricey-but-wonderful steakhouse restaurant delivers the best restaurant dessert that I’m aware of, anywhere, period.

My youngest turned 15 in May and dinner at Mastro’s was where she wanted to have her family dinner celebration. But alas, COVID. We’d previously been thwarted in every effort to have this dinner together. So, in a year where nothing is normal, we had her family birthday celebration on her half birthday, and the Mastro’s dinner out finally became a reality. The steaks are amazing. The pretzel bread is irresistible. The Seafood Tower with its own dry ice cloud formation is something to behold. But, the Butter Cake my friends, wow. Everything is good at Mastro’s. I’m not sure how you can go wrong. The only mistake you can make is one of omission. So when you, get the Butter Cake. I’d suggest you save some room for it after dinner, but saving any room in your belly at Mastro’s is a feat not easily accomplished. So, just go ahead and indulge a bit with this one.

Oh My Goodness! This Is The Good Stuff 🙂

How does one segue from the least health conscious (but by far most delicious) highlight of a vacation onto the the most health conscious highlight, from 1,000+ calorie Butter Cake to long trail runs? Perhaps it’s a most appropriate transition into what should probably be required exercise after any dinner at Mastro’s. Just leave plenty of time between the two for your system to digest all the goodness ingested at Mastro’s.

Inspirato Residences at The Rocks couldn’t be more ideally located for hitting the trails. The Rocks is a bit isolated, which we absolutely loved. You’re out in the furthest corner of Scottsdale, cozied right into the side of the mountain. Being at the edge of civilization means that trails are bound to be found nearby. At The Rocks, you are a couple of minutes drive away from the Brown’s Ranch Trail Head (there are other trail heads within walking distance also). Brown’s Ranch has an incredible network of trails that wind around and through the mountains and are chock-full of beautiful Saguaro and Cholla cactuses. Whether you are a trail runner, hiker, or mountain biker, this area is perfect for you.

I love trail running. And although I run a lot, it’s not something I particularly enjoy unless I’m out on the trails. Running the streets and running wilderness trails are a night and day experience. Some of the single track trails I ran in the Brown’s Ranch area were spectacular. The trail network is well marked and seems to have good cell service throughout. But, once you’re even a short distance away from the trail head, it feels like you’re way out in the middle of the desert, just you and mother nature. So be on the look out for desert tortoise, rattlesnakes, and aggressive hawks. (There was actually a sign posted warning visitors of aggressive hawks. I’ll admit, I kept my eye out for those as the warning creeped my out a bit!)

Ran to this beautiful spot one afternoon…not so creatively named “Balancing Rock”

I was able to get out on these trails a few times on our trip, and whether it’s a short run or a long run, Brown’s Ranch area has plenty of ideal options. Feel fee to connect with your concierge for more info. They were kind enough to provide us with a local map of trails. However, one of the concierge guys hooked me up with The Hiking Project App which served to be an incredibly helpful and easy guide. You may want to download it before you hit the trails. It looks to be international, so you can utilize it on all of your Inspirato travels where trails are to be found.

Smiling Because I’m almost done with this long run! Jacuzzi, here I come!

There is one part of running that I am particularly passionate about. It’s that part right when I finish my run, endorphins flowing, and thrilled that it’s time to go and relax a bit. My post running routine with Inspirato in Scottsdale always included a dip in the private plunge pool at our O’Meara residence, which I opted to heat to 102 degrees for a nice jacuzzi experience. Soaking in the jacuzzi and gazing up at the perfectly landscaped pathway and the huge mountainside boulders was just the post running experience I was looking for. And I was careful to always include a post running recovery beverage into the mix. 🙂

Plunge Pool or a Jacuzzi, depends on what temp you enjoy

Moving on the the last highlight to mention here…landscape architecture. Allow me to nerd out a bit here. My day job is focused on land entitlement. I’ll spare you of details, but it generally includes the earliest portions of the development process, creating the vision for a property and then working with architects and engineers to move said project towards some type of approval. All projects generally include a landscape architect who designs all of the, you guessed it, landscaping! I’ve always loved this oft-overlooked component of development. Architects get the glory and get famous, but have you ever heard of a famous landscape architect? Me neither. The landscape architect for The Rocks should be known as the the Frank Gehry or the Frank Lloyd Wright of landscape architecture. They did a perfect job.

Nestled right up into the rocks…it all blends so perfectly

In the case of The Rocks, a perfect landscape design job means seamlessly integrating the natural landscape into the designed and then constructed landscape, blending it just perfectly so it’s hard to notice where one ceases and the other begins. It creates this experience of zen. It inspires harmony and tranquility perhaps without the one experiencing it even noticing why. That’s the magic of landscape architecture, and The Rocks is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen.

Long desert shadows at The Rocks

The Inspirato O’Meara residence we stayed in was beautiful, as expected, and you can see plenty of interior photos on Inspirato’s site, so I won’t spend time on that here. But, the landscape design of the entire development was unexpected and a great surprise. It’s what really sold me on this location. As a comparison, the Four Seasons Scottsdale is directly adjacent to The Rocks, with an easy path connecting the two. Yet, walk over to the Four Seasons and you’ll quickly notice the difference in the look and feel of the overall development, with the big difference being the lack of such thoughtful landscape design.

So now, maybe it’s time for you to book a few nights at one of Inspirato’s many residences at The Rocks in Scottsdale. I highly recommend that you do! And as you arrive into the area from the airport, or the last segment of your road trip, make sure to grab a Dutch Bros Iced Double Torture (my daughters’ favorite) on your way to your Inspirato residence. And upon arrival, wander the grounds and take in the desert beauty. You’ll be inspired…and probably hopped up on enough caffeine to lace up and get yourself out on the trails.

Happy and safe travels my friends!

Oh, and I’m excited to mention that next month we’re off to stay in one of Inspirato’s newest inventory additions, one of the four-bedroom Oceanview Villas at Pelican Hill. Can’t wait!

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