A Scottsdale Adventure Part 2: The Ultimate Family Trip

By local contributor
Stina Sternberg


The Wildman family of Thousand Oaks, Calif., is no stranger to adventure. Avid golfers and horseback riders, dad John, mom Heather and daughters Windy and Waverly sought out Scottsdale for their vacation because it perfectly matched their lifestyle: fast, fun and family-friendly. Heather, a fitness trainer, and John, the CEO and co-founder of GolfBoard (the popular “surfboard on wheels” that’s taken the place of golf carts for many golfers) chose the Four Seasons Scottsdale as home base for their journey. They’d heard about the resort’s incredible spa and spacious casitas, and they loved the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere for guests of all ages and interests. After cooling off in the Four Season’s free-form, bi-level pool upon arrival in Scottsdale, the Wildmans were off to The Stables at Fort McDowell Adventures. All four family members count horseback riding among their favorite pastimes, and a late-afternoon ride through the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation had long been on their bucket list. 

After saddling up at the stables, the Wildmans were escorted by Fort McDowell Adventures’ wranglers on a scenic trail ride through the home of the Yavapai Nation and down into the Verde River Valley. Along the way, they saw wild mustangs, bald eagles, snakes and coyotes, and after crossing the river several times, they entered a mesquite forest before climbing back up into the Sonoran Desert. Even for seasoned riders like John and Heather, it was a spiritual experience that created memories for a lifetime. “This setting on horseback is an unbeatable combination,” said Heather after they returned.


Even a jam-packed vacation schedule requires downtime, and the Four Seasons Scottsdale served as a tranquil sanctuary for the Wildman family in between excursions. Nestled into the foothills of Pinnacle Peak, the resort offers a unique mix of upscale amenities and fun kids’ activities in a setting that enchants both young and old. Designed to blend seamlessly into its desert surroundings, the resort’s spacious casitas and suites open to astonishing scenery in the high Sonoran Desert. Heather and the girls were quick to take advantage of the award-winning Four Seasons spa, which satisfied Heather’s fitness regime while Windy and Waverly enjoyed kid-friendly “Bubble Yummy” manis and pedis with a mountain view. At night, dinner on the patio at Proof, the Four Season’s American canteen, proved just the ticket with comfort food ranging from heritage double-cut pork chops with mustard greens to fried green tomatoes with crab remoulade.


One of the Wildman girls’ favorite Scottsdale experiences was a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum. The only one of its kind in the world, the museum features more than 360 exhibits of instruments from every corner of the globe; Windy and Waverly were especially thrilled to see the signature Stradivarius exhibition, which offered a rare glimpse into the great violin maker’s life and some of his most valuable pieces. In the evening of their second day in Scottsdale, our travelers took off on a sunset hike at Gateway Loop Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. A partially barrier-free path designed for all levels and ages of hikers, the Gateway trailhead is the access point to many unique Scottsdale trails, with plenty of volunteers, informational displays, kids’ activities and labeled desert flora along the way. For Windy and Waverly, a rattlesnake den sighting provided the biggest thrill, while their parents took pictures of the setting sun as it bathed the desert in pink light. 


As luck would have it, the Four Seasons Scottsdale sits adjacent to Troon North Golf Club, Scottsdale’s “Crown Jewel of Golf,” and on day 3, the Wildman’s were off to cruise their GolfBoards on Troon’s picturesque Monument Course, which wraps around the northern slopes of Pinnacle Peak alongside its sister course Pinnacle. Designed by British Open champion Tom Weiskopf, both Troon North layouts mix immaculately manicured tees, fairways and greens with some of the most spectacular views in the American West. As if painted in lush greens against the stark beauty of the Sonoran Desert, the Monument Course gave our travelers an exciting challenge mixed with the thrill of extra distance that comes with playing at 2,500 feet above sea level. With complimentary kids’ green fees after 3 p.m., complimentary junior lessons with a paying adult, and free Callaway junior rental clubs all day every day, Troon North offers one of the most family-friendly golf experiences in America. 

If golf is your main activity of choice on vacation, check out our Ultimate Scottsdale Buddies Trip.