Story originally appeared on Marriott Vacation Club.

Travel Tips

Make the most of a romantic getaway in the west’s most western town.

The desert is a stunning setting for stirring the passions. Take in dreamy views from a hot air balloon ride or bliss out side-by-side with a couple’s massage. Here are five of the most romantic things to do together.


Hike Pinnacle Peak

Work up a small sweat together hiking the Pinnacle Peak Trail. It’s less than four miles and an easy climb: The trade-off is an overlook of nearly the entire Scottsdale valley. Along the way, you may encounter Gambel’s quail, horned lizards and nesting among saguaros cactus wren. Dawn and dusk are not only the most comfortable times of day to avoid the heat, they’re also when animals such as coyotes and mule deer are most active and likely to be seen.

Soar in a Hot Air Balloon

Take in the sweeping views on an early-morning hot air balloon ride arranged by Hot Air Expeditions. The basket carries groups of eight-to-10 guests to altitudes of 3,000 feet and higher. After approximately 90 minutes above the Sonoran Desert, land to a romantic white-tablecloth picnic catered by Vincent on Camelback, a local restaurant specializing in southwestern cuisine with international flair. And yes, a champagne toast is included.

Stroll the Desert Botanical Garden

It’s the chance to connect with nature and each other. The Desert Botanical Gardens five trails are short – the Desert Discovery loop stretches less than a third of a mile – but the impact is great. Fifty-two rare southwestern species are looked after here, including the needle-spined pineapple cactus, desert sunflower and the tall Indian paintbrush plant with bright red blooms. Two acres of wildflowers color the landscape year-round, with a peak in early spring. Between the quiet setting punctuated by birdcalls and the delicate smells of sagebrush, its a great way to reset the senses. In spring, don’t miss the weekly Music in the Garden Concert Series, with live music ranging from jazz to blues to Latin.

Indulge in a Couple’s Massage

You’re on vacation – what better time to treat yourselves to a couples massage? Relaxing and spending some pampered time together can be worth its weight in gold, especially on vacation. It’s an ideal way to rejuvenate and reconnect with each other.

Cozy Up for Happy Hour

Scottsdale has a reputation for easygoing elegance, and its cocktail scene is no exception. Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar’s handsome interior complements a selection of memorable cocktails and whiskeys. Pigtails Desert Ridge is perfect for inventive cocktails and shareable tapas. And Bitters Cocktail Bar & Food serves up a selection of craft beers along with cocktails and elevated pub-style grub. You’ll want to snag patio seats outside when available to see the brilliant sunsets fill the desert skies with color, or in the winter months when fire pits are lit to warm up the night chill.