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McDowell Mountain Ranch
Tucked away in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains, McDowell Mountain Ranch or "The Ranch" as it is referred to by locals, is a 3,200 acre master planned community. The community's location in Northeast Scottsdale makes it an ideal spot to enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility of the Sonoran Desert. McDowell Mountain Ranch real estate was originally developed in 1992 and homes began selling in 1995. The 4,000 homes in McDowell Mountain Ranch are dispersed amongst 26 unique neighborhoods that were built by 14 different builders. At the core of the community is the McDowell Center, which is a community center that is host to over 25 different clubs reflecting the interests of the community residents. Just adjacent to the center is basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, a swimming pool and spa facility, picnic ramadas with barbeque pits, a children's playground and splash fountain and an open grassy recreational area. In addition to events and activities within McDowell Mountain Ranch, just outside the community is the McDowell Mountain Aquatic Park. It features a swimming and diving pool with water slides, a lazy river and a state-of-the-art skate park. Also near the community is the McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve, which is home to the Desert Canyon School Campus, the Scottsdale Arabian Library, a Scottsdale Citizen's Service Center, West World and the Sanctuary Golf Course. Not to be left out, there are also two shopping centers inside the community. These retail centers feature a large supermarket, a variety of dining experiences and small boutique shops. See McDowell Mountain Ranch homes here.
Lunch at A.J.’s
Grabbing a great lunch at A.J.’s & lounging on the patio with friends and talking or reading my Wall Street Journal ! A.J.’s has one of the best hamburgers you will ever have, you don’t have to even buy the expensive one, the basic burger is absolutely incredible with flavor, they are using some of the finest beef you will ever have! I like to grab a beverage inside, veg out on the patio, it is one of the most relaxed hang-outs near McDowell Mountain Ranch!!
Everyone is so relaxed, chilled-out, and just plain soaking up the Arizona sun. You have to see it to understand it, it is a place where the entire neighborhood just goes to relax and everyone just understands. Time stands still at A.J.’s and people will have their dogs outside occasionally and the employees at the grill do a great job cooking food on the outside grill.
No one is in a rush and you just slow down. In the summer time it is fun to go to the Yogurtology a few stores over as well and grab some cold frozen yogurt, again, sounds simple, you’ve got to see the great energy of people in the community, it’s just plain relaxing. There is a lot of good shopping in this plaza on the SE corner of Thompson Peak Parkway & Frank Lloyd Wright.
Oh yeah, I like to get a professional massage once a month there and it helps me feel youthful and I suggest all busy dads & husbands get a massage there when you have time, located over by the Jack N’ The Box on Thompson Peak Parkway & Frank Lloyd Wright.
Feed the brain & the imagination, it’s hungry!! I like to go in an peruse the periodicals like the Yoga magazine, Consumer News & World Reports, and pick up books, audio, and even free videos / movies for my family. There are a lot of great kids movies and as long as you return them back on time, it’s free! I think there is an outside area in the back that has a patio that I’m looking forward to checking out to get some rays when reading. The staff there is friendly & helpful and the architectural design is impressive. It is on the corner of Thompson Peak Parkway & McDowell Mountain Ranch Road.
Coyotes Ice Den
This large ice skating facility is a great escape from the summer heat and is a fun place to skate, play hockey, as well as people of all ages to change up their fitness regimen by learning how to skate, or just plain have fun on the ice! This is a great place to have a birthday party or public ice skate.
Pump it Up (The Inflatable Party Zone)
If you have a kids birthday party to throw or just want your little one to burn off some energy or try their hand at these various huge jumping inflatables. There are slides for the kids the only thing that I caution you on is that they will ask you to sign a waiver & you’ve got to really watch your kid’s safety, other than that, what a fun thing for the little ones to do!
It’s over on Bahia Drive just South of Bell Rd. & East of the 101 Freeway. There is only open jump times on certain days when they don’t have private birthday parties already scheduled so plan accordingly and have a blast! My boy always takes a nap afterward, he likes the bouncing & slides!
Studio Movie Grill
Oooh, there is a new place called the Studio Movie Grill (SMG). Been eying this place so can not confirm nor deny if it is cool or not yet! The one thing that I’m noticing is that they have real food! This could be a very cool thing if on our hot date night my wife & I can dine & grab a movie at the same time without having to stand in long lines which often happens during the fall, winter, spring months in North Scottsdale.
I was speaking with my friend Jeff & we discussed how it is always challenging to get into a full service restaurant on a Friday or a Saturday night without having to wait 45 minutes or longer (got to have reservations in this shop-a-holic, partying town of Scottsdale or you are out of luck!) Thinking the idea makes sense to me, mediocre nachos & gross popcorn don’t always appeal to the “hot date” night mentality, not real romantic getting price gouged on lousy concession stand food.
Why not just get a real meal there & enjoy a show, they have movies for all age groups is what I’m thinking. Will comment on this Studio Movie Grill as soon as I see how comfortable the movie seating & establishment is. Why drive far away when this place is right in the neighborhood? To be determined
About Rick LeForce
I sell residential homes and I get people calling from some very cold country weather from all over North America and I feel so bad for them. I say, get out of that horrible cold, the snow & get down here! Conversely when it is 105 degrees in Scottsdale, and our friends are up North rubbing it in how nice it is where it is cool I’m thinking why not enjoy the good life all year round as far as climate, I’m thinking about a way to give my family a chance at good weather all year round or at least cut the summer down in half! Honestly, I won’t trade the brutal cold winters & shoveling snow for our summers, so I know I definitely have it made most of the year, just need a summer nest now to cool off once in a while!
Our family will go there to play at one of the two playgrounds with our son and get some fresh air and natural sunlight. We’ll stretch our legs and run around the park, climb on the monkey bars & the playground equipment as well as the slide & park swings.
We will sometimes bring a soccer ball and kick the ball around on one of the baseball fields or one of the other park runs.
There is a fun dog park on the west side of the park and we’ll some times watch the dogs chase and play with each other, very fun to see how dog people hang out and socialize, great group of people and man’s best friend enjoying the great weather!
Sonoran Mountain Preserve (hike, bike, run/jog)
I really enjoy the peace & solitude of living close by the Sonoran Mountain Preserve Trails & Hiking areas.There are a lot of activities & special events that occur throughout the year like guided hikes and educational programs.
The Sonoran Mountain Preserve is 17,000 scenic acres with unique landscape, nature, & it is a great way to get fit as a total lifestyle approach (HIKING / WALKING IS GREAT EXERCISE!).
The trails and facilities are quite well maintained and you really don’t have to travel far to get a way from it all for a few hours at a time and the quiet serenity on the trail helps balance a hectic & some times sedentary work life with relaxation & simultaneous challenging exercise! Whoever said that walking is not a work out needs to walk on the trails for a couple of hours to feel the burn! Bring good walking shoes & plenty of water!
I have heard it through the neighborhood grape vine that there are plans to acquire more than 10,000 additional acres in the next few years. Supposedly a new trail head that will serve the Tom’s Thumb area will be ready to go soon in the near future. I also heard that there could be some planning stages that will be created as an entry into the Brown’s Ranch region which is popular.
McDowell Mountain Ranch Park & Scottsdale Aquatics Center
Another great thing for locals to do is to be able to swim laps & work out at the small neighborhood gym at the club. It’s so much easier to get into shape & stay in shape when you can literally walk, job, or bike to the club in 5-10 minutes depending on where you live at in the community.
I think that few people actually take advantage of all of the convenience of this facility. The staff at the front desk is pretty helpful and will give you a schedule of classes & times that the club is open to work out as well as a tour & or answer any other questions you might have. There are free weights, machines, treadmills, yoga, Pilates, etc.
When you think of all of the gas you save by not having to drive far away to work out and stay close to home, this community gym is about as convenient as it gets. If you haven’t been there before there is a Water Park for the summer months if you want to hang out in the lazy river or go down the water slide which is very fun!
Bike Paths & Trails throughout McDowell Mountain Ranch Neighborhood
Now I’m not saying to try this during rush hour traffic, however taking a spin on quite a few of the designated bike trails is an exhilarating treat! Sure you could do the stationary bike, however riding on a real mountain bike takes on a new meaning when the schedule permits!
There is a bike shop called the Trailhead that I’m going to check out this week over by the Target on Frank Lloyd Wright and compare notes on what are the most popular biking trails, always trying to find new places to explore. Sometimes I will just ride through the different subdivisions and see what homes are on the market and talk shop with different residents if they have time to schmooze if I’m not in a hurry.
About Rick LeForce
Rick LeForce is a full-time Scottsdale real estate agent and Vice President of Business Development at Show Appeal Realty. Rick was born & raised right here in Arizona. Rick is married to Jennifer & has a young son that keeps him on his toes. The LeForce family is living the good life in North Scottsdale & other than the hot summers we think it is the perfect place to live. Rick’s goal is to some day have a seasonal summer home some where it is cool & green, so he aspires to escape for part of the summers some day!