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Ice Skating in the Sonoran Desert

Courtesy of W Scottsdale

As temperatures fall near freezing in the Bay Area with the threat of rain and snow, a short, pre-holiday weekend jaunt to a warmer, drier clime may be just what the doctor ordered. On a recent trip to visit my sister in Arizona, I was tipped off to the W Scottsdale's CHILL ice rink, open now through December 29. A seasonal attraction, the rink was placed over the grassy sunset lawn area of the rooftop WET heated pool deck (which doubles as the hottest club in town on weekends). Bring your bathing suit and your beanie to take advantage of this unique opportunity to swim and skate. The festive rooftop atmosphere includes twinkling lights, decorated rink-side cabanas, and both toasty and frosty holiday cocktails. The rink is open to the public and hotels guests, and for $10, you get admission, skate rentals, and one hour of twirling around the rink. If you've got money to burn, the W Scottsdale's Chill Out room package, starting at $199/night, includes accommodations, unlimited skate rental, one day in a private cabana, drink tickets, and comped valet parking. Here, some other highlights for when you're in town. // 7277 E. Camelback Rd., wscottsdalehotel.com

EAT
You'll forget you're in Old Town Scottsdale at Citizen Public House, where the elevated pub grub rivals the likes of SF's Magnolia and NYC's The Breslin. Gorgonzola-emmental mac-n-cheese and pan-seared scallops over sweet corn grits are complemented by microbrews and craft cocktails (put in a special request for their barrel-aged negroni). Foodies will feel right at home. // Craftsman Court & 5th Ave., citizenpublichouse.com

For a more casual bite, check out Old Town's very own biergarten. Brat Haus has a sense of humor and serious brews. Plan your visit in time for their ugly Christmas sweater party and Christmas beer event on 12/18. And don't miss out on the Fundido, two Haus pretzels served with warm three-cheese-beer dipping sauce. // 3622 N. Scottsdale Rd., brathausaz.com

DRINK
The speakeasy trend has traveled as far as Arizona. To get to Citizen R+D, you have to go through an alley and up the stairs on the back side of the building where you will be directed to call in to request special entry. Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. The cocktails are worth the over-the-top production. Try the G+T, the gin is boiled table-side with secret botanicals. // 7111 E. 5th Ave., citizenpublichouse.com

SEE
Taliesin West is one of Frank Lloyd Wright's greatest masterpieces, built out of the desert floor using only what the surrounding area had to offer. The site was used as Wright's personal home, studio, and architectural lab, which is still in use by apprentices and a renowned architectural program today. // 12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., franklloydwright.org

Designed by award-winning architect Will Bruder, SMoCA (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art) is home to five galleries of rotating exhibits and a permanent collection of art, design, and architecture. James Turrell's elliptical skyspace Knight Rise off the entryway is an unexpected highlight. // 7374 E. 2nd St., smoca.org