Things to Do in Scottsdale Arizona: Ultimate Guide (2023)
Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Dana Berez
Things to Do in Scottsdale Arizona
Just came back from an epic trip from Scottdale Arizona- and let me just say “WOW” I absolutely loved it!
The temperate weather, the many things to do in Scottsdale Arizona, awesome restaurants, and of course the scenic views make me want to revisit ASAP!
If you’re looking for a relaxing, scenic escape in nature you need to put Scottsdale Arizona on the map. In this post, I’m giving you all the best travel tips & top things to do while you’re in Scottsdale.
And if you need even more reasons to visit Scottsdale Arizona, find out why you have to Visit Scottsdale in the Winter. (You won’t have to pack your winter parka too!)
Contains Affiliate Links. This post is in partnership with Experience Scottsdale.
Things to do in Scottsdale Arizona
Explore Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is a must-visit! This downtown is different than other cities.
Here you’ll get a small-town feel with loads of things to do like plenty of shopping boutiques, restaurants, bars, and fun lively energy. Plus, streets are decorated with lights making it super gorgeous at night!
Some things you should see & do in Old Town:
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Rainbow Ryders is the top hot air balloon ride company in Scottsdale to have this epic experience.
You’ll have a Birdseye view of the stunning Arizona landscape during sunrise. Not only will you enjoy the views, but your pilot will also point out unique facts about ballooning, Arizona, and the surrounding area.
I 100% recommend this bucket list tour. Plus, once you land you celebrate with a champagne toast- just like tradition!
The best time to balloon is during the winter months. Because of the temperate weather, you’ll have near-perfect flying conditions with little to no wind.
Horse Back Riding
Make your way through the Sonoran Desert on horseback, and get your inner cowgirl/cowboy on at Mac Donald’s Ranch. This ranch is home to over 140 horses with guided horseback riding tours, a petting zoo, event space, and more!
On the tour you make your way through the Sonoran Desert, taking in the scenery and all the different kinds of cacti for a truly unique experience. Horses are well trained and taken care of. Plus, these rides are great for all skill levels from complete beginner to advanced riders.
Note: Advance reservations are required. Learn more here!
Tip: if you are using UBER to get around, be sure to schedule your ride after your horseback ride in advance. Because the Ranch is located a bit north, it might take 30 minutes for your ride to come.
Desert Jeep Tour
Have an epic and exciting day with this Desert Jeep Tour where you will be offroading in a single passenger ATV or 4-Seater UTV through the famous Sonoran Desert. This is a guided tour, so you’ll be led by an experienced local guide that knows the area!
7014 E Camelback Rd #584, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Located inside Scottsdale’s Fashion Square, Wonderspaces is a popular art pop-up featuring an evolving art show with interactive, Instagram-friendly series of installations. Scottsdale Wonderspaces is the first permanent location of the pop-up, so it will be there when you visit!
Each installation is unique and thought-provoking. If you like interactive art- this is for you!
Wine tasting LDV Wine Tasting Room
Calling all wine lovers. Taste your way through the award-winning Arizona winery at LDV winery– located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.
Choose from three different wine flights that include three wines each for $15. All wines are hand-crafted, estate-grown- Rhone varietal wines from Arizona. The vineyard and winery are in Chiricahua Mountains in Southeastern Arizona.
The wine tasting pours are pretty generous which makes this a really fun experience!
Desert Botanical Gardens
Surround yourself with arid-land plants from deserts around the world at the Desert Botanical Gardens. This garden is spread across 14 acres and has a collection of more than 50,000 plants in 5 distinct sections.
I was blown away by the giant cacti that were easily over 12 feet tall! This is the best way to surround yourself with nature. Plus you can enjoy specialized tours, special events, exhibits, an outdoor café & a gift shop while you’re there.
Note: Advance tickets are required for general admission & members.
Shopping in Scottsdale
You love to shop, you won’t have a hard time finding unique, luxury, and boutique shops in Scottsdale Arizona. Here are three shopping centers in Scottsdale you shouldn’t miss!
- Scottsdale Fashion Square: Fashion Square is a premium shopping center with over 220 stores that include favorite staples and luxury stores. Plus, during the holiday season, Fashion Square is decked out with Christmas Lights, and Santa!
- Kierland Commons: Located north of Old Town Scottsdale is Kierland Commons which is an outdoor shopping center home to sophisticated and unique shopping. You can find shops like Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, plus dining Postino Wine Cafe, and The Mission.
- Old Town Scottsdale: Throughout the Old Town, expect to find unique boutiques ranging from art galleries, home decor, fashion boutiques, antiques, and more.
You’ll find plenty of spas in Scottsdale ranging from resort spas and day spas. Splurge and book a treatment at the following top spas:
Another favorite outdoor thing to do in Scottsdale is an experience one of the many hiking trails. You can find moderate trails that lead to gorgeous views of the desert and surrounding area.
Here are some popular hikes in the area:
- Gateway Loop Trail: 4.4-mile loop trail.
- Pinnacle Peak Trail: 4 miles out & back trail
More tours & things to do in Scottsdale Arizona
How far is Scottsdale from Phoenix?
Scottsdale is approximately a 25-minute drive from downtown Phoenix to downtown Scottsdale. However, these two cities are actually boarded by each other, so you could be just steps away from Scottsdale and Phoneix.
Scottsdale Arizona is located in central Arizona in the Sonoran Desert bordered by Phoneix to the west.
You can easily fly into Phoneix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and drive under 20 minutes to downtown Scottsdale.
Where to Stay in Scottsdale Arizona
If you want to stay in the center, I would recommend looking for hotels in or near Old Town Scottsdale. With staying so central, you can walk to plenty of restaurants and shops- and won’t have to rely on driving everywhere.
Of course, if you do end up staying in Old Town, definitely venture out to experience more of the awesome things to do in Scottsdale. Below are my hotel recommendations:
Best Hotels in Scottsdale
W Hotel Scottsdale
Looking for a fun, upbeat hotel with plenty of energy? W Hotel Scottsdale is for you!
Right in the center of the entertainment district, you’ll be next to other bars, restaurants, nightlife, and just steps away from the Fashion Square Shopping Center.
But you don’t have to leave the hotel to get your entertainment fix. Enjoy a drink at the cozy lobby, sushi at Sushi Roku, or head upstairs to the newly renovated Cotton Tail Lounge for handcrafted cocktails and a good time.
This is a perfect pick for a girl’s trip, couples trip, and friend gathering.
Hotel Valley Ho
Now you really get the sense of the Mid Century Modern decor from the architecture, room & lobby design, taking you back in time.
During the day, you can enjoy breakfast at the ZuZu lounge, swim in the circular pool, and take a photo in front of the “It’s Always Sunny in Scottsdale” colorful wall mural. At night have a cocktail and dinner at the buzzing ZuZu Lounge.
P.S. book a room with a balcony to overlook the pool for a fun view!
More hotels in Scottsdale:
- Four Seasons Scottsdale: Luxury resort in Troon North with 3 restaurants & a spa.
- JW Marriott Scottsdale: Luxury resort with golf course
- Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: Beachfront upscale resort with a golf course.
- The Phoenician: Near old town, with a golf course.
Best Restaurants in Scottsdale
So here’s the deal- there are 800 restaurants in Scottsdale, making this a foodie’s dream. You can find everything and anything from all types of cuisines and styles. Here are the top picks that I visited & more recommendations to try!
4710 N Goldwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Vibe: upscale, trendy, chic
Good for: Lunch & Dinner
A Scottsdale staple, The Misson has been serving modern Latin cuisine since 2008 in a cozy intimate setting. Start off with specialty margaritas and fresh guacamole. A must-order is the Malbec braised short rib, so soft it completely falls off the bone.
Two locations in Scottsdale: Old Town & Kierland. Be sure to make reservations in advance.
Vibe: upbeat, sexy
Good for: Dinner
7277 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Sushi Roku, located inside the hip W Scottsdale serves sushi in a modern and sleek environment. The menu features a non-traditional approach with unique rolls, dishes, and desserts. The mini smores plate was so fun to order!
3 Locations in Scottsdale
Hash Kitchen is a must for a fun buzzy brunch that features the state’s largest build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. The menu has a huge selection of fun starters like ‘Hashtag Doughnuts” “Bacon dripped in Gold”, hashes, sweets, and creative brunch cocktails.
A must-stop for a fun, and Instagram-able meal in Scottsdale.
Vibe: Fun, Upbeat
Good for: Brunch
7133 E Stetson Dr Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Merkin Vineyards restaurant delivers a 100% Arizona experience with a focus on regional and sustainable dishes. All the wines are produced from 110 acres of estate vineyards in the Verde Valley & Wilcox regions of Arizona.
All of the dishes were unique, like the wine-soaked noodles in the Mac & Cheese. Plus- you cannot skip dessert here!
Vibe: relaxed, unique
You can find a few locations of Postino in Scottsdale Arizona, but the menu and vibe are the same! Expect your menu favorites done in a unique way in a comfortable rustic neighborhood setting.
Known as the original wine cafe of the area, wines are approachable and range from all kinds of varietals.
Vibe: Casual, Fun
Good for: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner
6922 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Craft 64 specializes in wood-fired pizza made from fresh dough daily made in-house. Located in a comfortable relaxed environment with a cozy outdoor patio, with 36 local Arizona craft beers on tap and a great selection of wine by the glass.
Plus you’ll find the freshest ingredients as they source their own produce, dairy, and meats locally.
Vibe: relaxed, casual
How to get around Scottsdale Arizona
Do you need a rental car?
You don’t need a rental car to visit Scottsdale. If you are staying in or near Old Town Scottsdale, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops within walking distance.
If you want to venture out of Old Town Scottsdale, you can take Uber or Lyft.
I would recommend renting a car if you want to explore more of Arizona. There are gorgeous day trips you can take when based in Scottsdale Arizona.
Day Trips from Scottsdale Arizona:
- Sedona: 2-hour drive
- Grand Canyon: 3 hours 40 minutes
Heading to the Southwest? Check out these blog posts:
Girls Trip: 29 Best Girls Trip Destinations in the USA
Las Vegas: 28+ Exciting Things to Do in Las Vegas
Watch my Scottsdale Arizona Trip on Youtube:
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