Author Travel Guide: Creekside, Arizona

Author Travel Guide: Creekside, Arizona

Dreaming of a getaway destination with yummy food, a wide variety of entertainment, unique wine, boutique hotels, hiking trails, water sports, all encompassed in a small town feel? Creekside can make your dream come true.
Nestled beneath a mountain in Northern Arizona, Creekside boasts four distinct seasons, all of them mild. Surrounded by protected forests, family owned ranches and a vineyard the town is a throwback to another time while offering the amenities found in larger communities.

Top five must see and do when visiting Creekside Arizona – Home of Benevolent Spirits and Unlimited Opportunities.

Where to stay
Check in to The Palace Hotel by 4 o’clock. That will give you just enough time to drop your stuff in your room and return to the lobby bar, Victoria’s, for a pre-dinner libation and the inn’s famous snack mix. Popular with both hotel guests and locals, the bar offers a selection of beer and wine plus seasonal drinks- must try the raspberry sangria in summer and mulled wine or peppermint hot chocolate in winter. This intimate bar reminds me of an old fashioned private club, comfortable seating, outdoor patio in good weather and a library tucked next door complete with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and an electric fire. Do remember the hotel is haunted and, after a drink in the bar or dinner in town you may spot Victoria’s spirit keeping an eye on her hotel from behind the desk, beside or on the stairway or looking out at the community from the window of room 15.

Dinner on the Square
From The Palace it’s a five to 10 minute walk to an eclectic selection of restaurants for dinner. There’s pizza at Willies, Asian at The Happy Dragon, White table cloth at Wellington’s, steaks an seafood at The Station, and casual Italian at Rosa’s. Or if straight up American comfort food is your wish, check out the Bistro at The Hotel St. George or the Lone Star Café.

Night Time Entertainment
At 9 o’clock the Lone Star Café closes for a half hour while the staff moves the tables out of the middle of the floor and sets up for live entertainment and dancing. Suddenly it’s a country bar. Rather watch sports than dance? Check out Cody’s Pub, multiple TV’s, snack food specials, generous selections of drinks and a room full of sports enthusiasts – does it get better than this?

Picture Perfect Day Trip
After devouring the breakfast at The Palace, It’s time to:

Shop the art galleries and specialty shops around The S quare. The area boasts everything from paintings to glass art to sculpture to one-of-a-kind clothing. And of course there’s a tourist shop with a Creekside t-shirt and mug. Don’t miss Serendipity – Home of Fabulous Finds and Winter’s Gallery both located on Beatrix Street.

Hit the trail. Arrange a trail ride at Windsong Ranch. Perfect ride? The lunch ride, especially when the local police chief is leading the way.

Celebrate Happy Hour at the winery. Arranged in advance the happy hour pairing is worth the van ride out of town. Local wines are paired with international cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits and chocolate. Yumm. Oh yeah, watch out for the old guy with twinkling eyes at the bar – he’s been dead about 70 years.

Outdoor Adventures
North Lake. A hidden gem nestled at the base of a mountain, North Lake Park is owned and operated by the town of Creekside. For an easy hike anytime, walk the lake’s perimeter. Like a little challenge? Take the sunrise or sunset hike up the mountain – the view is worth the trek and the hike is led by a park ranger. Into water sports? Rent a kyack or paddleboard at the concession stand. You can count on a special peace here as motors are prohibited.

Festival on the Square
Almost every weekend The Square hosts a festival – art, jazz, blues, antiques, literacy, all have a festival weekend dedicated. The Square fills with vendors selling everything and music. Some of the festivals include dancing in the evening. Dancing under the stars – Romance!

With so much to see and do 72 hours my not be enough!

Five favorite quotes about travel without planes, trains, boats, cars, or hiking boots

Trains, boat, planes, cars, feet, wings, and books all provide experiences in new places, broaden understanding of both our differences and similarities and invite us to relax, and recharge our energy.

This year I’ll be writing about places to travel through books, a chance to safely leave home and avoid long lines at the airport, wear and tear on the car, salt from the ocean drying out your skin, sun’s glare in your eyes, holes in your hiking boots and sleeping in strange rooms in strange beds. From your comfortable reading chair, accompanied by your favorite beverage and possibly a snack, you’ll visit new places, meet new people, ponder events both historical and futuristic. I’ll be asking other authors to share the places and times found in their books. Reading their descriptions you might find a new storyteller to add to your favorites or a new addition to your bucket list.

Books can take you anywhere. Here are five favorite quotes about travel without planes, trains, boats, cars, or hiking boots.

“I love the way that each book — any book — is its own journey. You open it, and off you go…”
Sharon Creech (Award winning children’s book author) Find Sharon’s books here

“Keep reading. It’s one of the most marvelous adventures that anyone can have.”
– Lloyd Alexander (Newberry Award winning author) Find Lloyd’s books  here

“In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.”
― Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life  Find Anna’s books here

“Reading… a vacation for the mind….”
― Dave Barry (American Humorist; Author) Find Dave’s books here

“Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.”
― Jeanette Winterson (English Author) Find Jeanette’s books here

Where did you want to visit last year while we stayed safe at home? What are you planning in the years to come?  I’d love to hear from you in comments!

Travel and the Holiday Card – Five places I visited without leaving home

It’s that time again when I scroll through the photos on my Facebook page and plead with family members to send me their favorite travel photos of the year to include in our family holiday card. In 2020 all the traveling I did involved my imagination and the wonderful information about new places, real and imagined, found in books. Here’s five places I would include on the card.

1. Ransom Canyon, Texas
Christmas In Winter Valley, Jodi Thomas

Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs.
Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting.
With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.

2. Burning Cove, California (1920’s)
Close Up, Amanda Quick

Welcome to Burning Cove, California where 1930s Hollywood glamour conceals a ruthless killer…
Vivian Brazier never thought life as an art photographer would include nightly wake-up calls to snap photos of grisly crime scenes or headshots for aspiring male actors. 
Nick Sundridge has always been able to “see” things that others don’t, coping with disturbing dreams and visions.  It is a cutthroat world of allure and deception that Vivian and Nick must traverse—all in order to uncover the killer who wants to add them to their gallery of murders.

3. Yorkshire, England (Regency)
A Duke by Any Other Name, Grace Burrows

Nathaniel, Duke of Rothhaven, lives in seclusion, leaving his property only to gallop his demon-black steed across the moors by moonlight. Exasperated mamas invoke his name to frighten small children, though Nathaniel is truly a decent man — maybe too decent for his own good. That’s precisely why he must turn away the beguiling woman demanding his help.

4. England (Contemporary)
The Summer of Wishful Thinking, Eve Edwards

She’s the last person he wants moving in. But maybe she’s just what he needs. Gemma Whitehall helps people tie the knot as the local registrar, but watching loved-up couples exchange their vows serves only to highlight what’s missing from her own life. Gemma cant ignore the fact that life and love are slipping through her fingers. Sam Ranworth has spent the best part of a decade building walls around himself after tragedy struck. When Gemma rents the ramshackle cottage on Sam’s neglected country estate, neither of them can ignore the spark of attraction. 

5. Oklahoma’s Kiamichi Mountains
A Thousand Voices by Lisa Wingate

Adopted at thirteen, Dell Jordan was loved, mentored, and encouraged to pursue her passion for music. Now, at twenty, after a year abroad with a traveling symphony, a scholarship to Julliard is within reachas are mysteries from her past.
To find answers, Dell sets off on a secret journey into Oklahoma’s Kiamichi Mountains, drawn by the only remaining link to her origins- a father’s Native American name on her birth certificate.

Holiday Traditions Unique to Arizona

Though the 2020 pandemic altered the holiday landscape in Arizona, some unique traditions survived!.

Chandler, Arizona Tree Lighting – The Tumbleweed tree.
Yep you read that right. The city of Chandler has a holiday tree constructed of tumbleweeds. The tradition started in 1957 and is unique to this desert community. While COVID-19 concerns cancelled the official lighting ceremonies, the tree is already lit and a number of other events are scheduled to celebrate the season. Learn more HERE

Verde Valley Railroad – Christmas Journey. Holiday train to the end of the line. It wasn’t all that long ago I talked a couple of traveling buddies into the Holiday train. We traveled first class from Clarkdale, Arizona to the end of
the line and back. A fun trip through a nature preserve with food, drink and a chance to visit with Mr.
and Mrs. Claus. Day and night time trips to Santa’s workshop are available. Learn more HERE

McCormick-Stillman Railroad ParkHoliday lights.
Tucked within the busy city of Scottsdale is the train park. Beyond the usual grass, trees, play equipment, and picnic table the park is home to a narrow gauge railroad and a carousal. During the holiday season, the train journeys through an intricate light display. Take a spin on the carousel or get a cup of hot coco from the General Store too. Learn more HERE

The Phoenix Zoo – Zoo Lights. Want a little wildlife with your lights? Looking for a slower pace to admire the displays? Check out Zoo lights walk-a-bout. With over a million lights, animal sculptures, and a lantern safari, zoo lights brings the holiday season to life – literally. See amazing lights and the nocturnal animals. Of course they offer cruise the zoo in your car option, but careful you might miss something! Learn more HERE.

Desert Botanical Gardens – Las Noches de las Luminarias. Holiday music, the prettiest garden in Arizona (just my opinion), festive drinks, and paths lit by 8000 luminarias and twinkling lights. Arizona weather in winter can be unpredictable, but it almost never snows in Phoenix, so heading outside at night is pretty delightful. Sometimes there is a traveling art instillation too.  Perfect romantic date night. Learn more HERE

Stella’s Scottsdale Brunch Spots

I admit to a weakness for weekend brunch. Growing up my least favorite meal was breakfast, probably because I would have preferred sleeping in to getting up –breakfast signaled the start of the day Weekend brunch is another matter entirely! Usually it’s hours after my usual wake-up time – sneaking up on lunch.  Here’s five local spots for spending brunch eating dinking and chatting with friends and family.

Olive and Ivy – Excellent patio with a view of Scottsdale waterfront. Even if you miss out on the patio – it’s always busy when the weather’s good – get a booth that faces the patio though floor to ceiling windows. Excellent mimosas and breakfast specialties. It’s one of those places my family has deemed worthy of a special occasion for years. My daughter is fond of the chicken and flatbread and always takes out of town guests here and even hosted one of her birthday dinners as well.                                           Their website promises to whisk you away.


Postino Wine Café – Another awesome patio. Best thing about brunch at Postino is the small plates – my brunch partner and I order one of each and share ending up with five little plates and a taste of everything plus a mimosa, of course. When the weather is nice we sit outside and take advantage of their green filled patio. Each location is a little bit different, but the quality of food and drink is always top notch. Throughout the year that have specials like a free board of bruschetta on a birthday or $5 glasses of wine before 5pm.

Hash Kitchen – Super busy and open only for breakfast and lunch. Variety in the food and the best part – a mimosa fight where the four flavors change seasonally. Brain child of the Maggiore Group, on the weekends HASH adds a DJ for a music filled brunch. My favorite items on the menu are the savory scrambles, where my daughter enjoys the coconut crusted French toast.  Although I enjoy mimosas, Hash is known as having the world’s largest Bloody Mary bar. Its insane the combinations people make for a drink which can include meatballs, fried raviollis, baby corn, mozerella cheese and bacon .

Arcadia Farms Café – Lovely garden patio, inside of the café worth the visit. They kept the original frame work of the house and guest house and converted it into a restaurant making it perfect for ladies who lunch. Its common to see a girls birthday party or bridal shower taking place here. My daughter and I are suckers for any place that serves complimentary scones with flavored butter. Plus brunch on weekends including breakfast tarts, omelets, pastries, coffee, tea and wine. So many choices! For a quick and more casual brunch they do offer a walk up counter right next store and across the street is the bakery where the make some of the best baked goods in town.

The Breakfast Club – This place is PACKED. During Scottsdale’s touring season, people wait in line for upwards of an hour for a seat. My husband and I are big fans of the golden waffle. He is also impressed with the generous side of ham. My daughter is loyal to their breakfast burrito and appreciates the variety of potato offerings. They serve up southwest staples, omelets, quick starts, burros and benedicts. Its one of those rare places where its “cool” to be seen there, but the food is incredibly good and the vibe is inclusive. Inside and outside dining, breakfast every day – that’s what they do – and I will say it again, absolutely the best waffle ever!