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Antiques roadshow? Close by Scottsdale, Glendale, Ariz. boasts top shops, plus golf at Verrado, Wigwam, Vistancia, Arrowhead, more

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

Glendale, Arizona offers a whole different vibe than golf havens Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tempe or Mesa. It's an antique shopper's dream, and golfers love nearby Verrado, Wigwam Resort, Trilogy at Vistancia and Legend at Arrowhead.

Glendale - Streets
Glendale's shop-filled streets carry a different vibe than Scottsdale's thoroughfares.
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Glendale - StreetsRaven at VerradoWigwam Gold
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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Antique shopping fits into the whole Scottsdale golf scene about as well as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would at a local PTA meeting.

But here you are in the overlooked golf city of Glendale on a sunny Saturday, eating a tasty raspberry salad in a coffee shop/hotel parlor that looks like it's something straight out of the late 19th century, amongst a few other denizens of the old seeking out that perfect end table (or whatever it is antique browsers quest over). Some of the best golf courses in the world are mere minutes away, along with Scottsdale's too-cool-for-the-room vibe.

Here, it's as relaxed as a small Midwestern town though. The college-aged girl behind the pastry counter chats up anyone who wanders in. One of the old leather chairs is occupied by a woman curled up with a paperback novel who has barely moved and not been bothered once in the last hour.

Welcome to downtown Glendale. Plop into a big stuffy chair and lounge a while or buy a big stuffy chair and hope it appreciates after a while. This is one of the most unique towns in the sprawling Phoenix-Scottsdale golf resort corridor and one of the easiest to miss.

Even those who've been to the area a good half dozen times for golf vacations often hold no clue about downtown Glendale. You're going to spend a lot of time in Scottsdale, probably make at least one trip into downtown Phoenix, definitely get into college party town Tempe, maybe even hit Mesa if it's spring training time. Downtown Glendale's not forgotten; it's never thought of in the first place.

Glendale is gearing up to host the 2008 Super Bowl. Its town Web site includes a running countdown to the big game up to the second, even though there are some 200 plus days to go. It's also been in the pop culture news recently as the home of the new American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks.

But the Super Bowl will be out at the Arizona Cardinals' new spaceship-looking stadium, without much else around it. And Sparks fittingly held her big homecoming at a cookie-cutter mall.

Downtown Glendale is a completely different deal and feel.

"It's a great place to relax," frequent Arizona golf vacationer Rosie Morris said. "Once my husband and I found it, it became our favorite spot. Now if they were just a few more hotels so we could stay right here."

Downtown Glendale is small enough (just a few streets packed with shops really) and cramped enough to make that unlikely. There is one bed and breakfast right in the heart of antique alley, Glendale Gaslight Inn, the retro place with the coffee lounge. There are only 10 rooms at Gaslight though.

If you completely fall in love with the scene, your best bet is to stay at one of the posh resorts like the Wigwam in this West Valley area.

It's easy enough to drive into from almost anywhere in the Phoenix-Scottsdale region. In truth, downtown Glendale's more of a one-time day trip anyways. Unless you're really into antiquing or buying unique Christmas ornaments in July.

"You'd be surprised by how many golfers are regular antique shoppers," one dealer told me. "Most of the golfers that come out here are over 60 with a good amount of disposable income. That's our prime market.

"A lot of them watch Antique Roadshow back home on BBC America and then come out here and go wild with their own buys."

Glendale's certainly a place to go antique buck crazy. USA Today rated it one of the Ten Best Places for Antique Shopping in America. Take that, Jordin!

Arizona golf with treasure finds

Even if you're practically living in A Mad Hatter's Antiques or Sandy's Dream Dolls store, there are plenty of good golf courses within an easy drive of Downtown Glendale. Most of them are going to cost you less than that $149.95 Lee Middleton Morning Chores doll at A Mad Hatter's too.

Raven at Verrado - one of the most inventive new-century designs in the whole greater Scottsdale corridor - sits much closer to Glendale than it does to most of the heavy-traffic stay zones. This may be the best course anywhere that you can get on for $29.50 (in certain shoulder-season twilight-rate times), something that is sure to interest the savvy antique haggler.

If you want a course almost as old school as that armoire at Alice's Antiques, The Gold Course at Wigwam Resort is your place. This Robert Trent Jones Sr. design dates back to the early '60s (that's ancient in Arizona golf) and a recent renovation resorted the old roar to Jones' monster bunkers.

Think it's easy to get lost in the cramped aisles of an antique dealer? Just try getting out of the bunker with its own trees on Wigwam Gold's 10th hole.

It's all about the deal in the downtown Glendale shops. It turns out much of the golf in this area can fit right in with that too.

Trilogy at Vistancia is another out-there off-the-beaten-resort path course that stuns with its wide-open scenery and its relative cheapness compared with Scottsdale pricing.

Legend at Arrowhead, the closest course to the downtown dealers, goes as far as putting coupons in the paper, pushing its discounts.

"It's a lot easier to find a good price on the golf than the antiques to be honest," Morris said, laughing. "Golf isn't what breaks our budget."

There are no coupons for that one-of-a-kind, passed-down-through-the-family bureau. Arizona may be a golfer's paradise, but an antique merchant can do pretty well too.

This is no antiques roadshow. In Glendale, the business has found a home. And plenty of golfers are browsing the aisles.

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
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