Scottsdale Arizona is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and it’s worth spending some time to explore.
While it has a reputation for being a sought after golf destination and those seeking luxurious spa treatments, there are plenty of other activities that visitors enjoy doing while they are here.
Scottsdale isn’t just for well-off retired travelers anymore, it’s transforming into one of the most perfect city getaways in the United States for any type of traveler or vacation you’re after.
Here are the top reasons why Scottsdale is worth visiting and why it should be at the top of your list for your next trip.
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Why People Like Visiting Scottsdale
Scottsdale has some of the nicest and most consistent climate year-round, making it an easy destination to plan a trip to any time of year.
Not to mention it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in Arizona, if not the entire United States.
With its mountain desert surroundings and palm-tree lined cityscape blended together perfectly, there are few cities in the world that have as unique of a setting for visitors to enjoy.
Scottsdale is known for its luxury spas and resorts, 200+ golf courses, endless shopping opportunities and the old western theme in Old Town.
What I love most about visiting Scottsdale is the unique experiences you can only get in this area.
Things like getting up close to Saguaro cacti that are hundreds of years old, sampling prickly pear margaritas, eating cactus tacos and admiring the unique mid-century architecture.
Scottsdale is great for all kinds of travelers, not just retirees.
If you’re looking for a city break with plenty to do and see, amazing food options and perfect weather then Scottsdale should definitely be on your list!
What Scottsdale is Known For
Scottsdale is known for being a year-round luxury destination.
Because of its perfect weather, pro-level golf courses, elegant resorts and high-end shopping, the city has come to be known as a posh place to vacation.
At the same time, it still holds its rustic charm as the “West’s most western city” while you travel through Old Town and get your fill of cowboy country.
But in recent years, this desert oasis is becoming one of the hottest places to holiday among younger people.
Pool parties, taco joints, breweries and the aesthetic vibe are some of the factors that caught my eye when planning a trip to the area.
We also noticed many families visiting Scottsdale.
Those with young kids have a variety of options for hotels with great pools for the kids, many with waterpark features. Teens and young adults can be kept busy with mountain biking, ATV rides, top golf and shopping.
17 Reasons You Should Visit Scottsdale
1. 300+ Days of Sunshine
Scottsdale is a great destination to visit year-round, thanks to the fact that it gets an average of at least 330 days of sunshine each year.
The consistent weather allows for year round pool time!
Scottsdale is one of the only cities in the US that has several heated pools – most Las Vegas hotels don’t even heat their pools in the winter.
2. Something for Every Type of Traveler
If you’re looking for a city getaway, Scottsdale is the perfect destination.
With world-renowned resorts and hotels, an abundance of top-rated restaurants, endless shopping opportunities, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy nearby – there’s something for everyone.
Weekend City Breaks
The most popular type of traveler who enjoys visiting Scottsdale is those looking for a city break.
Being such a walkable city, it’s a perfect place to check into your hotel, drop your bags and head out and explore with no plan.
Between the stunning landscapes, luxury resorts and beautiful hotels – it’s not hard to see why so many travelers flock here each year.
With its multiple resort options and endless array of restaurants that serve everything from farm-to-table to international cuisine, you’ll have no trouble finding something to your taste while you’re in town.
You can also enjoy a day of shopping at some of the most popular malls and outlets in the state, or take a walk through Old Town Scottsdale and admire the unique western-themed architecture.
Ride the free Trolley through this district or take a golf cart tour!
Another common type of traveler who enjoys visiting Scottsdale is families.
The city is filled with amazing resorts and hotels that cater to kids, as well as plenty of things for children to enjoy while you’re out exploring the area during your visit.
Scottsdale is the perfect destination for a honeymoon or romantic getaway.
Check in at a luxury resort, plan a white tablecloth dinner, stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden under the starry night sky, and wake up to a lavish breakfast delivered right to your room.
The next day, plan a hike and come back to your hotel for a soak in the hot tub or get pampered with a spa treatment and repeat.
Read more in my guide to the most romantic things to do in Scottsdale for couples.
Scottsdale is a premier golf destination in the southwest, with over 200 luxury golf courses to choose from.
December is a great time to visit with fewer tourists, cooler weather and lower hotel prices.
Bachelorette Parties and Girlfriend Getaways
While Vegas is still one of the most sought after places for a bachelorette party, Scottsdale might soon be the top spot.
Whether it’s celebrating a bride or just a fun escape with your gal pals, Scottsdale offers some of the best things to do for a girls-only trip.
With an abundance of spas to pamper yourself before the big day, your hardest decision will be whether you want to try the Himalayan Salt Room for the ultimate detox, or a healing Sonoran honey body wrap.
The day spas are great, but the pool parties are where it’s at for a fun weekend with the girls.
There are also plenty of top-rated restaurants, bars and wineries to celebrate your friendship.
I highly recommend checking out Wine Girl, where they’ve got rotating wines on tap, small plates to share and boho garden decor for the best photos.
And if you’re looking for a little more excitement, head to the casino at Talking Stick Resort or even try Top Golf!
Plan a low key bachelor party in Scottsdale and enjoy some golf (or Top Golf), catch a baseball, football or hockey game, play some blackjack at the Talking Stick Resort casino and hit the nightlife in Old Town.
I recommend Coach House, the oldest bar in Scottsdale open 365 days a year.
Outdoor Adventure Holidays
Scottsdale is also great for those who are looking for an active outdoor vacation.
The city is surrounded by the Sonoran Desert and the McDowell Mountain Range and offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and ATV tours.
3. The Best Place to Shop in the Southwest
Scottsdale Fashion Square is one of the largest malls in the region where you can get your fill of Louis Vuitton, Prada and Rolex.
The Scottsdale Quarter and Desert Ridge Marketplace are also two other outdoor shopping areas that include outdoor courtyards and dining so plan for an entire day.
4. A Walkable City
A pedestrian friendly city is always a great spot for a vacation, and Scottsdale fits the bill.
Especially in Old Town, every street is lined with shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and bars.
One of the best walkable activities is the Thursday night Art Walk from 7 to 9pm year round.
Meander along Main Street and Marshall Way through the galleries, art shops and enjoy street performances.
Start your evening with a wine tastings on Fifth Avenue or craft beer and wood fired pizza at Craft 64.
Tip – Craft 64 is where we found one of our favorite appetizers in all of Scottsdale – the Manzo Bruschetta – Beef on top of horseradish cream cheese with roasted red pepper purée and chimichurri.
5. Dog Friendly Destination
Scottsdale is one of the most dog friendly cities in the US.
We found that almost every hotel seemed to be dog friendly (many of them don’t even charge a fee).
Our favorite was Hotel Valley Ho where there are basically no restrictions on where your dog can and can’t be.
We walked all through Old Town for shopping and sightseeing and almost every restaurant we ate and drank at allowed dogs on the patio.
Brat Haus was our favorite for a German-style beer garden vibe with lots of room for everyone.
Check out my full guide to dog-friendly Scottsdale here.
6. Wild West Culture
Scottsdale is officially known as “The West’s Most Western Town” so you can bet it lives up to the name.
Museums, shopping and saloons – you get your fill of western cowboy culture here!
My biggest regret is not packing my cowboy boots – I could have worn them the entire trip and fit right in.
Rusty Spur Saloon is the friendliest western dive bar you’ll step into. Fun bar stools, live country music and celebrities have been known to stop by on occasion.
Scottsdale’s Museum of the West – look into the past through a western lens at one of the most authentic museums in the country.
Guest Ranches and horseback riding!
Spend a half day at MacDonald’s Ranch and give horseback riding a try, tour around in a stagecoach or wagon-ride and get your cuddles in at the petting zoo. Stay for a cookout BBQ or smores on the campfire.
Immerse yourself in the western spirit with a stay at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. Horseback rides, sunset kayaking on the Sal River and stunning rugged scenery.
7. Unique Hikes
Hiking trails around Scottsdale are abundant, and most of them have epic views of the iconic Saguaro cacti that envelop the landscape here.
Here are some of the most popular trails and areas to hike:
- Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve is one of the best areas with miles of hikes to choose from ranging from easy and wheelchair and stroller accessible all the way to extreme.
- Camelback Mountain is the backdrop of Scottsdale which also includes several hike routes.
- Papago Park and Hole in the Rock trail – just an overall beautiful city park with an easy 10 minute hike to a unique lookout.
8. Prickly Pear Everything
From tacos to margaritas to body scrubs, the prickly pear cactus has many uses down in Arizona.
9. Unique Food
- Try the brussel sprout nachos from Diego Pops
- Mesquite cookies from Super Chunk
- Blue corn pancakes from Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen
- Cactus tacos (nopalitos) from Barrio Queen
10. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Rides
The early bird gets the views!
There are very few moments more magical than an early morning hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert.
Watch the soft rays of sunshine light up the valley in purple, orange and pink.
Then, celebrate your ride with a champagne breakfast in the middle of the desert.
Book your hot air balloon ride on Viator (reserve now, pay later & free cancellation)
11. Scottsdale Wine Trail
There are 6 wineries that have tasting rooms in Old Town Scottsdale – all within walking distance of each other.
Grab the wine trail map and spend a whole day tasting or visit over the course of a weekend.
12. European Vibes
Even though the western theme parades through most of Old Town, exploring some areas of Scottsdale reminded me of parts of Europe.
If you can’t make it across the pond anytime soon, the city will definitely deliver on making you feel like you’re somewhere else.
Here are some places to visit in Scottsdale that make you feel like you’re in Europe:
- French Cafes – Sophie’s Cafe serves espresso and crepes in a Parisian-style bistro.
- Waterfront canals that rival Amsterdam
- The Royal Palms Resort and Spa will make you question whether you’re in Spain or Scottsdale – enjoy its exotic architecture and old world Mediterranean vibes.
13. Wellness Moments
Need some me time?
You could spend an entire weekend unplugging, getting pampered, detoxing and kick-starting your wellness journey.
Here are a few ideas of how you could spend a wellness getaway in Scottsdale.
Stay at a resort and soak up the endless sunshine that will provide you with enough Vitamin D for the year!
Enjoy soothing spa treatments like the cactus glow body treatment at Agave, the Arizona Spa.
Visit Second Nature Clinic for Ayurvedic treatments and even immune boosting IVs.
Don’t forget to plan some fresh air hiking or get your cardio in at the fitness center in Hotel Valley Ho which has Peloton bikes for use!
Recommended stay: CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa. Upwards of a dozen fitness and wellness classes offered each day: think yoga, meditation, spin classes, guided hikes and sound healing.
You might also like: 7 Unique Destinations for a Wellness Retreat
14. Mimosa Crawls
Hop on the Arizona Party Bike and pedal your way through Old Town Scottsdale for boozy beverages.
You can book a mimosa crawl or pub & brewery crawl.
15. Instagrammable Everything
If aesthetic towns are your go-to places to visit, Scottsdale should be at the top of your list.
Between the mid-century architecture, western facades and brightly painted murals, you can’t take a bad photo here.
Some notable spots in Scottsdale perfect for Instagram:
- The Saguaro Hotel‘s vibrant colors
- The Mural on the back of Geisha A Go Go
- The Canal Club for its old Havana chic decor
- Brat Haus for dog murals and a lush beer garden.
- Coffee flights from JOJO Coffeehouse
You can even book an Instagram tour with JoyridesAZ.
16. A Gateway to Day Trips
Scottsdale is the perfect hub for day trips to some of Arizona’s most amazing places.
The Grand Canyon is the most popular day trip at 4 hours away, but there’s a few closer to home that are just as breathtaking.
Since it’s only a little over 2 hours drive, you can do a day trip to Sedona from Scottsdale.
Sedona is a spiritual spot, known for its majestic views and healing properties of its energy vortexes.
Western towns galore! Cave Creek is a fun area just north of Scottsdale. Or go a little further to Goldfield Ghost Town or Wickenburg.
Jerome is an old copper mining town that was once booming and is now a tourist ghost town.
You could spend a whole day touring the vineyards of Verde Valley.
17. Mid Century Architecture
Scottsdale is a visual feast for any mid-century enthusiast.
The most notable attraction is Taliesin West – Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home in the foothills and is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
Tip – look for ‘sunsets and sips’ happy hour events hosted here.
Hotel Valley Ho is another mid-century staple in Scottsdale.
While the hotel is modernly renovated, they’ve kept the theme throughout the property and at the onsite restaurant, ZuZu.
With over 30 architectural gems around the city, Experience Scottsdale has put together a fantastic guide to its architecture and mid-century modern masterpieces.
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