By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – If you live in Los Angeles, chances are you love a good road trip. Being born and raised here, I have spent some serious time in a car. And when you think of classic road trips from LA, a trip to Phoenix, Arizona is always at the top of the list.
So out of the clear blue sky, I decided I was going to Phoenix on a road trip, by myself or with other people. I did not care, I announced it to my lady and the rest of the family, and set the date. I was so excited; I would golf and swim at the pool, maybe work out. It takes just under six hours to get there from Los Angeles, if you fly it is an hour, but sometimes there is nothing better than rolling down the highway. I was already thinking about getting some beef jerky and corn nuts, the ranch flavored ones are my favorite.
I picked the Arizona Grand Resort; because it has everything you can think of and is right there in Phoenix. As it got closer to the date, and everyone could tell I was going to Phoenix no matter what, my lady decided to come with me. At least I would have someone to talk to during the drive, and I could tell her about all the fun I was going to have.
My plan was quite scheduled and detailed. In the morning I would wake up and go play golf at the resorts award winning course. Then Joanne would be awake and we could go get a nice lunch, from there it would be a delightful workout, then to the pool until dinner time. We proceeded to do this three days in a row, then it was back to Los Angeles to run a newspaper. But first and foremost, I came to hit the links, sink some birdies, and rip some drives 300 yards out of bounds.
For over two decades, Arizona Grand Golf Course has supported the rich tradition of the game with its unique links course, featuring panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape. The golf course was spectacular and totally fun to play. Teeing off early in the morning is key to having a full day, and keeping out of the heat if you happen to be in the desert. Dramatic elevation changes and breathtaking mountain vistas highlight the diverse and challenging par 71 layout. There is one par three where you are on top of a mountain, launching your tee shot into the valley below, plus the view from on top of the mountain is incredible. The course compliments the grandeur of the spectacular Sonoran desert with stunning conditions and a service staff committed to creating exceptional experiences for players of all ability levels.
The Arizona Grand Resort also has a lot more than just golf. Our room was luxurious and delightful. The window opened right up to the golf course, and you could watch the sunset and see the magnificently colored clouds. I could have just laid on the bed, watching local news and worrying about monsoons, but we came out to do things. The gym was first class, with a spa and sauna in each of the locker rooms as well. There were several pools, tennis courts, and every conceivable weightlifting machine you could think of, including free-weights. A light workout after golf, then a steam & soak in the spa can really relax you, and is definitely the way to go.
Another great thing about the Arizona Grand Resort is their waterpark. Believe it or not, there are several water slides, a wave pool, and an ongoing flowing river. We went and got two rubber tubes and just chilled in the river. It goes around in a huge swerving circle with waterfalls and a white water section. We must have been in the water for five hours and gone around seventy five times, it was quite fun.
The resort has everything you need, including some award winning restaurants. One of the nights we decided to walk up to Rustler’s Rooste. Not only was this a much discussed restaurant in the Phoenix scene, it was also a ten minute walk from the resort. Once you get up to the restaurant, the view of Phoenix is incredible. It is definitely worth eating at Rustler’s Rooste, if not for the vista and view alone.
Rustler’s Rooste was established in 1971. The legend goes that the original site, atop a butte in the foothills of South Mountain, was a hideout for cattle rustlers. Today, it is Arizona’s Legendary Cowboy Steakhouse. It is located 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix and Tempe, 20 minutes from Scottsdale and 10 minutes from the airport.
Rustler’s Rooste is a 2-story building with our lounge on the top level. Stroll over the indoor waterfall and take the slide into the dining room — (for the faint of heart, there is a staircase). Both areas are bordered on the north side by large plate glass windows that provide an unparalleled view of the city lights.
I had the ribs, and the meat just fell off the bone. The atmosphere is very cowboy, and I wished at that very moment I owned some snakeskin boots and a large hat. I don’t even know how to lasso a tree stump, and I couldn’t line dance to save my life.
The food was great, and the location is really cool, being able to see the entire valley and airport. You could watch the planes come in and take off, it was all quite amazing.
I love a good road trip to the desert. Phoenix is just far enough away to make it another world, but close enough to jump in the car and drive out there. Besides the great food, wonderful golf, waterslides and a five star resort, the sunsets are some of the best in the world. It is time to grab your swimsuit, fill up the tank, and head out to the desert. (For more information, please visit www.rustlersrooste.com and www.arizonagrandresort.com)