Ultimate Scottsdale Travel Guide: Discover Top Attractions & More

Disclaimer: Please note I receive a small commission when you purchase from some of the links on this page. You don't pay more when you buy through me; it simply gives me a chance to offer you all this great content for free!

Table of Contents show

Welcome to the Ultimate Scottsdale Travel Guide, where we’ll be your go-to resource for all things Scottsdale. Whether you’re planning your first trip or are a seasoned visitor, this guide will help you discover top attractions, hidden gems, local tips, and more. From exploring the vibrant desert destination to indulging in the culinary scene, our comprehensive guide has everything you need to plan the perfect Scottsdale trip.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover top attractions, hidden gems, and local tips in Scottsdale
  • Find out about the vibrant desert destination and its culinary scene
  • Explore family-friendly activities and find tips for budget-friendly explorations
  • Get insider tips and dos and don’ts for your trip to Scottsdale

Exploring Scottsdale: A Vibrant Desert Destination

Scottsdale, Arizona is a must-see destination for any traveler looking for a unique desert experience. With its stunning natural setting, rich cultural offerings, and exciting outdoor adventures, this vibrant city has something for everyone. Here are just a few of the things you can expect to explore during your visit to Scottsdale.

Outdoor Adventures

Scottsdale is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with an array of exciting activities to choose from. Take a hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, one of the largest urban wilderness areas in the country, or tee off at one of the renowned golf courses in the area. You can also go mountain biking, horseback riding, or take a hot air balloon ride over the scenic Sonoran desert.

Cultural Experiences

Scottsdale is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and theaters to explore. Visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to see cutting-edge exhibits, or check out the works of Native American artists at the Heard Museum. You can also enjoy live performances at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts a variety of shows throughout the year.

Shopping and Dining

Scottsdale is a shopper’s paradise, with an abundance of upscale boutiques, designer stores, and local shops to discover. The city also boasts a thriving culinary scene, with a wide range of dining options to suit every taste and budget. From trendy gastropubs and food trucks to fine dining restaurants and farm-to-table eateries, Scottsdale has something for every palate.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, culture, or pure relaxation, Scottsdale is the perfect destination for your next desert getaway. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to plan your visit today!

Top Attractions in Scottsdale

Scottsdale is home to some of the most stunning and iconic attractions in the United States. Here are some of the top places you cannot miss during your visit:

Attraction Description
Taliesin West The famous winter home of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s a must-see for architecture buffs.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art The museum features an impressive collection of contemporary art with regularly changing exhibitions.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve A nature lover’s paradise, the preserve offers miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Old Town Scottsdale Experience the city’s history and charm, with unique shops, restaurants, and galleries lining the streets.
Butterfly Wonderland A tropical rainforest habitat filled with thousands of beautiful butterflies, as well as a 3D movie theater.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this architectural masterpiece is a must-visit for those interested in design and history.

These attractions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Scottsdale has to offer. Be sure to check out the Hidden Gems section for even more unique places to explore.

Hidden Gems: Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

While Scottsdale is known for its iconic landmarks and popular attractions, there are also plenty of hidden gems to discover off the beaten path. If you’re looking for something unique and different, check out some of these lesser-known spots:

Destination Description
Arizona Canal Trail Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and explore the peaceful Arizona Canal Trail. This scenic route takes you through lush greenery and tranquil waterways, providing a serene break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West Dive into the rich history and culture of the American West with a visit to this hidden gem. Housing a diverse collection of artwork, artifacts, and memorabilia, the Museum of the West offers a fascinating glimpse into the unique heritage of Scottsdale and the surrounding areas.

For a truly special experience, consider embarking on a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert. You’ll soar above the stunning landscape, taking in panoramic views of the rugged terrain and awe-inspiring natural beauty that surrounds Scottsdale.

Another hidden gem is the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting. This museum is dedicated to the history of firefighting and features an impressive collection of vintage fire equipment, along with fascinating exhibits detailing the evolution of firefighting technology.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Dining

When it comes to dining, Scottsdale has no shortage of delicious options, but some lesser-known spots offer a unique culinary experience that’s worth seeking out. Check out these hidden gems:

  • The Mission: This Latin-inspired eatery boasts a diverse menu of flavorful dishes, from fresh ceviche to slow-roasted pork.
  • Arcadia Farms Cafe: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a peaceful meal at this charming cafe. The menu features fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and a wide selection of homemade baked goods.

“Scottsdale’s hidden gems offer a unique perspective of the city, providing a glimpse into the lesser-known aspects of the vibrant desert destination.”

Whether you’re seeking adventure, culture, or culinary delights, these hidden gems in Scottsdale are waiting to be discovered. So, grab your sense of adventure and start exploring!

Indulge in Scottsdale’s Culinary Scene

Scottsdale is known for its diverse culinary scene, offering a variety of dining options that cater to every taste and budget. From farm-to-table cuisine to international flavors, you’ll find it all in Scottsdale.

Best Restaurants in Scottsdale

When it comes to dining in Scottsdale, you won’t be disappointed. Here are some of the best restaurants to check out during your stay:

Restaurant Cuisine Price Range
FnB New American, farm-to-table $$-$$$
The Mission Mexican $$-$$$
Fat Ox Italian $$-$$$
Posh Contemporary American $$$

These are just a few of the many fantastic dining options in Scottsdale. Be sure to also check out local favorites such as Citizen Public House, Café Monarch, and The House Brasserie.

Local Flavors and Unique Dishes

Scottsdale is home to a number of restaurants that take a unique approach to their cuisine. For example, The Roaring Fork offers a southwestern-inspired menu, while SumoMaya combines Mexican and Asian flavors for a fusion experience. You’ll also find plenty of farm-to-table restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients in their dishes.

Notable Recommendations

If you’re looking for something special, consider making a reservation at one of Scottsdale’s many fine dining establishments. Elements, located at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, offers breathtaking views of the city and a menu that features seasonal and local ingredients. Mastro’s Steakhouse is another popular choice for a special night out, offering prime steaks and seafood in an elegant setting.

No matter what you’re in the mood for, Scottsdale’s culinary scene is sure to satisfy your appetite.

Where to Stay: Scottsdale Hotels and Accommodations

Scottsdale offers a wide range of accommodations to cater to different budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for luxury stays or budget-friendly options, there’s something for everyone in this desert destination.

Accommodation Type Description
Luxury Hotels If you’re looking for the ultimate indulgence, Scottsdale has no shortage of luxury hotels that offer top-notch amenities, stunning views, and impeccable service. From the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North to The Phoenician, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Budget-Friendly Options If you’re traveling on a budget, there are plenty of affordable hotels and motels in Scottsdale that offer comfortable stays. Check out Motel 6 Scottsdale, Super 8 by Wyndham Scottsdale, or Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham Scottsdale North.
Unique Accommodations If you’re looking for a memorable experience, Scottsdale has several unique accommodations that will make your stay unforgettable. Try glamping at The Resort at Paws Up, staying in a cave suite at the luxurious Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, or enjoying a spa retreat at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa.
Neighborhoods and Areas Choosing the right neighborhood or area to stay in can make a big difference in your Scottsdale experience. Old Town Scottsdale is a popular area for its proximity to restaurants, shops, and nightlife. North Scottsdale is ideal for nature lovers, with several hiking trails and outdoor activities nearby. If you’re looking for a quieter stay, try Paradise Valley or McCormick Ranch.

Regardless of where you choose to stay, be sure to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak season, to ensure availability and competitive rates. With so many options to choose from, you’re bound to find the perfect place to rest your head in Scottsdale.

Exploring the Surrounding Area: Day Trips from Scottsdale

While Scottsdale itself offers plenty of things to see and do, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to explore the surrounding area during your visit. Here are some top day trips to consider:

Destination Distance from Scottsdale Highlights
Sedona 2 hours Red rock formations, hikes, art galleries, spiritual retreats
Grand Canyon National Park 3.5 hours Breathtaking views, hiking trails, wildlife spotting
Jerome 1.5 hours Ghost town, wineries, historical landmarks
Petrified Forest National Park 3 hours Ancient petrified trees, colorful landscapes

These destinations are easily accessible by car, and make for great day trips or even overnight stays. However, be sure to plan ahead and check for any park closures or weather conditions before heading out.

Insider Tips: Making the Most of Your Scottsdale Trip

Planning a trip to Scottsdale? Here are some insider tips to help you make the most of your time in this beautiful desert city:

1. Visit in the Off-Season

If you’re looking to save some money on your Scottsdale vacation, consider traveling during the off-season. The temperatures might be hot, but you’ll find lower hotel rates and fewer crowds.

2. Rent a Car

While there are some public transportation options in Scottsdale, renting a car will give you more freedom to explore the city and surrounding areas. Plus, many hotels offer complimentary parking.

3. Hit the Trails

Scottsdale is home to some of the most stunning desert landscapes in the country, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the great outdoors. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails for all skill levels.

4. Book Reservations Ahead of Time

Scottsdale is a popular destination, so if there’s a restaurant or activity you’re really excited about, it’s best to book reservations ahead of time to ensure you get a spot.

5. Take Advantage of Happy Hour

Many restaurants and bars in Scottsdale offer happy hour specials, so it’s a great way to try new places and save on food and drinks.

6. Don’t Forget About the Arts

In addition to the natural beauty of the desert, Scottsdale is also known for its thriving arts scene. Be sure to check out the galleries and museums in the area.

7. Stay Hydrated

Scottsdale’s desert climate means that staying hydrated is essential. Bring a refillable water bottle with you and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

8. Dress Appropriately

The desert can get hot during the day, but temperatures can drop significantly at night. Plan accordingly by bringing layers for when the sun goes down.

By following these insider tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your Scottsdale vacation and create unforgettable memories.

Scottsdale Travel Guide: Dos and Don’ts

Visiting Scottsdale is a wonderful experience, but it’s important to respect local customs and be mindful of certain rules and regulations. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind during your trip:


  • Respect the desert environment by not littering or disturbing wildlife.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and sun protection. Sunscreen and hats are essential for outdoor activities.
  • Follow hiking trail guidelines and stay on designated paths to avoid damaging fragile desert ecosystems.
  • Be courteous and polite to locals, as they are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
  • Try local cuisine such as Sonoran-style Mexican food and other regional dishes.
  • Visit the outdoors during early morning or in the evening when the temperature is cooler.
  • Learn about Native American culture and history, which is an integral part of Scottsdale’s heritage.
  • Plan ahead and book activities and tours in advance to avoid disappointment and secure the best deals.


  • Do not consume alcohol or drugs in public spaces.
  • Do not remove any natural objects or artifacts from protected areas.
  • Do not park in undesignated areas, as this could result in a fine.
  • Do not engage in any activity that could be deemed disrespectful or offensive to local customs or beliefs.
  • Do not approach wild animals or attempt to feed them, as this can be dangerous for both animals and humans.
  • Do not leave valuables in your car or unattended, as theft can occur in popular tourist areas.
  • Do not underestimate the intensity of the desert sun or the importance of staying hydrated.

By following these dos and don’ts, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Scottsdale.

Family-Friendly Scottsdale: Fun for All Ages

Scottsdale offers a variety of activities and attractions that the whole family can enjoy. Here are some top picks for family-friendly fun:

  • McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park: This park features a train ride, carousel, playground, and museum, making it a great spot for younger children.
  • Butterfly Wonderland: Get up close and personal with hundreds of butterflies in this indoor rainforest exhibit.
  • Arizona Boardwalk: This entertainment district has something for everyone, including an aquarium, laser maze, and mirror maze.
  • Taliesin West: Older children and teenagers might appreciate a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic winter home and studio.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Scottsdale has a variety of parks and nature reserves where you can hike, bike, or picnic:

  • Camelback Mountain: This popular hiking spot offers sweeping views of the city from its summit.
  • Pinnacle Peak Park: This trail is less strenuous than Camelback but still offers great views of the Sonoran desert.
  • Mcdowell Sonoran Preserve: This vast park has over 200 miles of trails to explore, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous.

Another great option for families is to head to Old Town Scottsdale, which has a variety of shops, restaurants, and art galleries to explore. You can also take a walking tour of the area to learn about its history and architecture.

Scottsdale on a Budget: Affordable Explorations

Traveling to Scottsdale doesn’t have to break the bank. With a bit of planning and some insider tips, you can still experience the best of the desert destination without overspending. Here are some recommendations for exploring Scottsdale on a budget:

  • Visit the great outdoors – Scottsdale boasts stunning natural scenery, with many parks and hiking trails that are free to access. Take a hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve or enjoy a picnic at Chaparral Park.
  • Discover local art – Scottsdale’s art scene is well-known, but you don’t have to pay for admission to a museum or gallery to experience it. Take a stroll through the Scottsdale Arts District and check out the public sculptures and murals on display.
  • Enjoy happy hour – Many restaurants and bars in Scottsdale offer discounted drinks and appetizers during happy hour. Take advantage of these deals and indulge in some local cuisine while saving money.
  • Explore Old Town – This historic neighborhood is filled with charm and character, and it’s free to explore. Take a walk down Main Street and check out the Western-themed shops and galleries.
  • Attend free events – Scottsdale hosts a variety of free events throughout the year, such as concerts, festivals, and art walks. Check the events calendar and plan your trip accordingly.

By following these tips and being mindful of your spending, you can enjoy a memorable trip to Scottsdale without breaking the bank. Happy exploring!

Scottsdale Travel Guide: Your Gateway to Desert Delights

Thank you for reading the Scottsdale Travel Guide! We hope this guide has provided valuable information to help you plan your trip and discover the best of Scottsdale. Here are some final takeaways to keep in mind:

Explore the Top Attractions

Don’t miss out on the top attractions in Scottsdale, such as the Taliesin West, Desert Botanical Garden, Old Town Scottsdale, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s House. They are popular for a reason!

Uncover Hidden Gems

In addition to the well-known attractions, be sure to check out the lesser-known hidden gems in Scottsdale. This could include unique experiences like hot air balloon rides, hiking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, or visiting the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

Indulge in the Culinary Scene

Scottsdale is home to a vibrant culinary scene that offers a range of dining experiences from farm-to-table restaurants to food trucks. Don’t miss out on trying local flavors, such as Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine, prickly pear margaritas, and street tacos.

Explore the Surrounding Area

Take advantage of Scottsdale’s location and explore the surrounding area. Consider taking a day trip to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, or Jerome, or drive along scenic routes like the Apache Trail or Salt River Canyon Scenic Drive.

Make the Most of Your Trip

Remember to consult our insider tips to make the most of your Scottsdale trip. This includes suggestions for the best time to visit, transportation tips, and money-saving ideas. With careful planning, you can have a memorable trip without breaking the bank.

Thank you again for using our Scottsdale Travel Guide and we hope you have a great time exploring the city’s desert delights!


Q: What can I expect from the Scottsdale Travel Guide?

A: The Scottsdale Travel Guide provides a comprehensive overview of the top attractions, hidden gems, local tips, and more in Scottsdale. It is your ultimate companion for planning an unforgettable trip to this vibrant desert destination.

Q: What are some of the top attractions in Scottsdale?

A: Scottsdale is home to a variety of top attractions, including landmarks like Old Town Scottsdale, museums like the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, art galleries like the Bentley Gallery, beautiful parks like Camelback Mountain, and much more.

Q: Are there any hidden gems in Scottsdale?

A: Absolutely! Scottsdale has its fair share of hidden gems that are off the beaten path. These include lesser-known attractions, local secrets, and unique experiences that provide a different perspective of the city. Be sure to explore places like the Butterfly Wonderland, the Musical Instrument Museum, or take a horseback ride through the desert.

Q: Where can I indulge in Scottsdale’s culinary scene?

A: Scottsdale boasts a thriving culinary scene with a wide range of options. From award-winning restaurants like FnB and Binkley’s Restaurant to trendy cafes and food experiences at the Scottsdale Quarter or Kierland Commons, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Q: What are the different types of accommodations available in Scottsdale?

A: Scottsdale offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Explore luxury hotels like The Phoenician or The Scott Resort & Spa, budget-friendly options like Motel 6 or Best Western, or unique accommodations like desert resorts or vacation rentals for a memorable stay.

Q: Are there any day trips from Scottsdale worth exploring?

A: Absolutely! Scottsdale is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes and nearby attractions that make for great day trips. Consider visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona’s red rock formations, or take a scenic drive through the Sonoran Desert.

Q: What are some insider tips for making the most of my Scottsdale trip?

A: To make the most of your Scottsdale trip, consider visiting during the spring or fall for pleasant weather. Take advantage of local transportation options like the free trolley system in Old Town Scottsdale and be sure to explore hiking trails, shop at local markets, and try out outdoor activities like hot air ballooning or jeep tours.

Q: Are there any important dos and don’ts for travelers visiting Scottsdale?

A: When visiting Scottsdale, respect the local customs and etiquette. Keep in mind the desert climate and stay hydrated. Be mindful of hiking trail etiquette and follow any safety guidelines while exploring outdoor areas. Also, be aware of any rules or regulations related to wildlife preservation and conservation.

Q: What are some family-friendly activities in Scottsdale?

A: Scottsdale offers plenty of family-friendly activities for all ages. Enjoy a day at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, explore the OdySea Aquarium, or visit the Scottsdale Museum of the West. You can also enjoy outdoor adventures like horseback riding or take a desert safari.

Q: Can I explore Scottsdale on a budget?

A: Absolutely! Scottsdale offers affordable or free attractions, such as hiking trails, public parks, and art walks. Take advantage of happy hour deals at local restaurants and cafes, utilize public transportation, and consider visiting during the shoulder seasons for potential discounts on accommodations.

Q: What is the purpose of the Scottsdale Travel Guide?

A: The Scottsdale Travel Guide serves as your gateway to desert delights. It provides valuable information, recommendations, and insights to help you plan an incredible trip to Scottsdale, discover top attractions, hidden gems, and make the most of your time in this vibrant desert destination.

About the Author
Justin Abbate

Justin Abbate is a passionate traveler and explorer, having journeyed to diverse destinations from the historic streets of Italy and Greece to the breathtaking landscapes of Australia. Born in Scottsdale, Arizona, his wanderlust has taken him to hidden gems like Nice, France, where he spent a summer, and to renowned spots in Switzerland, Germany, London, and beyond. As the Account Director at Single Origin, Justin combines his love for travel with his expertise in digital strategy. Dive into his articles as he shares captivating tales and insights from his global adventures.