Scottsdale is a city full of culture, art, and great food. It’s also surrounded by gorgeous mountains and desert landscapes that make it an ideal destination for outdoor adventures. Residents and tourists alike flock to Scottsdale for its many cultural attractions and entertainment options—and it’s easy to see why. If you’re planning your first trip to the area or just want some ideas on what things to do while in Scottsdale, look no further! Here are 14 highlights:
Traverse the Outdoors at McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Scottsdale is a great place to explore on foot. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the largest urban preserve in the country, offers more than 27 miles of multi-use trails that wind through desert and cityscape alike. With great views of Scottsdale, this nature preserve will take you away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are plenty of options for hiking as well as biking here — make sure you bring water with you!
Walk Through Taliesin West
Taliesin West is a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural masterpiece, and it’s an amazing place to spend the day exploring. The home is part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which was founded in 1937 and maintains five sites across Arizona today. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, Taliesin West is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house was built between 1937 and 1940 as Wright’s winter home and studio during his time teaching at Arizona State University in Tempe. It features several unique elements that are not typically seen in traditional homes; namely, open floor plans (which allow cross ventilation), large windows, very low walls between rooms (so that one room can flow into another), natural lighting provided by skylights or clerestory windows (which are located above eye level), and vaulted ceilings with exposed beams—all of which have become hallmarks of Wright’s style over time.
Climb Camelback Mountain
An absolute must-do if you’re visiting Scottsdale, Camelback Mountain is a popular hiking destination because of its unique look and challenging climb. The hike is strenuous in parts, but the views are well worth it. There are also many locations where you can simply park your car and walk straight to the summit for a quick bite to eat at one of the restaurants or cafes located there.
If you’re looking for an alternative activity that is more accessible than hiking up Camelback Mountain, try mountain biking! This sport has become increasingly popular in Phoenix over the last few years due to its accessibility and relative safety compared with traditional downhill skiing or snowboarding; however, mountain biking does require some experience with bikes before attempting this adventure (or at least being able to ride around on pavement).
Shop Scottsdale Fashion Square
Scottsdale Fashion Square is the largest shopping center in Arizona, with over 200 stores including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. The mall has everything from clothes to shoes to home goods to jewelry.
If you’re looking for a great place to shop while visiting Scottsdale, Scottsdale Fashion Square is a great option!
Visit The Phoenician Resort
The Phoenician Resort is a luxury resort in Scottsdale that offers many amenities, including a spa, golf course, and a year-round outdoor pool. The resort is located on the north end of town near North Scottsdale. The Phoenician Resort is a great place to stay for visitors who want to enjoy all that Scottsdale has to offer!
Ride the Coaster at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
If you’re looking to keep the whole family entertained, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is the place to go. You can ride the train or roller coaster, or both! You can also enjoy a carousel ride with your kids before they try their hand at driving one of those cool trains around in circles. For an extra fee, you can even take a trip down the water slide that passes by some of Scottsdale’s most famous landmarks. The best part about this park is that it’s located right next door to other things like museums and shopping malls so when you get bored with trains and roller coasters (which won’t happen), there are plenty of other activities waiting for you just around the corner!
Explore Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-see for art lovers. The museum features rotating exhibits, but some of its permanent collections include works by Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman. Admission to the museum is $15 for adults; kids get in for free if they are 6 years old and younger. If you’re looking for something fun to do with the family during your visit, this is a great place to start!
Tour Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is a must-see. The area was the first part of the city to be settled, and it’s been around for more than 125 years. It has a great selection of shops, restaurants, and bars.
Located in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, Old Town is near many other popular attractions such as Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall.
Spend a day at the Talking Stick Resort & Casino
Scottsdale is a city known for the variety of things to do, and the Talking Stick Resort & Casino is no exception. With a casino, restaurants, shopping, spa, and pools galore—not to mention shows like Cirque du Soleil and The Artist—there’s always something fun to do.
The casino features 1,200 slots and video poker machines as well as live table games such as blackjack and roulette. Each day a different promotion takes place in the casino with everything from free dining at one of the resort’s restaurants to special show tickets for guests! If you’re looking for something other than gambling fun then visit their spa where you can enjoy massages or facials while relaxing by their mineral pools which overlook Camelback Mountain.
See a Show at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is a large venue that hosts some of the biggest acts in country music, from Brad Paisley to Miranda Lambert. The building itself is gorgeous and features several different types of seating including theater-style and balcony seating. You can get tickets here through their website, or by calling 480-499-8587 during regular business hours.
The best time of year to visit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is October through March when there are fewer crowds, but summer months like July and August can be extremely busy due to tourists coming into town during nice weather.
Take in the Views at Pinnacle Peak Park
Pinnacle Peak Park is an ideal place to simply enjoy nature. Located on the north side of Scottsdale, this park offers hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It also has a scenic overlook that offers views of the McDowell Mountains, making it a great place to watch the sunset from. The park also has a swimming pool, picnic areas, and playgrounds for families looking for more than just walking trails.
Ride a Horse through Desert Trails or Phoenix Equestrian Centre
Horseback riding is a great way to see the desert, and there are horseback riding tours available for all skill levels. If you’re new to the sport, opt for a beginner’s tour. These tours usually last several hours and include one or two short rides through scenic areas in Scottsdale. If you’ve been riding before but want more of an adventure, consider booking a sunset or moonlight ride at Desert Trails or Phoenix Equestrian Centre. These longer rides will lead you through some of Scottsdale’s most breathtaking scenery as the sun sets over Camelback Mountain.
Sample Wine at Dos Cabezas WineWorks and Page Springs Cellars Winery
The first thing to do is plan a wine tasting at either the winery or vineyard. You can also combine them, as well as visit their respective tasting rooms. Both Dos Cabezas WineWorks and Page Springs Cellars are located in North Scottsdale and offer tours of their facilities, which include production areas and bottling lines.
Tastings at Dos Cabezas WineWorks cost $12 per person; guests will experience six wines paired with small bites from chef Matt Carter. In addition to an extensive collection of wines from across the globe (including France, Italy, and New Zealand), this winery offers its label that was created by owner John Leighton (who has been a Master Sommelier since 2007).
Page Springs Cellars offers tastings for $10-$25 depending on whether you want to reserve ahead or just show up on-site during daily hours from 11:00 am-5:00 pm Monday through Saturday; noon-5 pm on Sundays (call 480-922-3696 for more information).
Scottsdale is packed with fun things to do, try these for starters
Scottsdale is a great place to visit. Whether you’re looking for things to do, places to eat or drink, or things to buy, Scottsdale has it all. If you’re planning a trip there and want some tips on what is worth doing and where the best places are for each activity, here’s your guide.
While you’re here, make sure you stop by Scottsdale Stadium and catch a game. If you’re looking for some unique Scottsdale souvenirs, check out the shops at Old Town or visit the museums downtown. And don’t forget: there are so many fun things to do in Scottsdale!