These Are the Top Things to See and Do in Scottsdale

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
May 7, 2021

A visit to Scottsdale blends Sonoran Desert beauty with a bustling nightlife and an array of cultural activities — making it the perfect vacation destination for those craving an escape to the Southwest. You could spend your days enjoying the great outdoors, visiting historic landmarks (Frank Lloyd Wright had a winter home here!), or following your foodie instincts — either way, it really is a vacationer’s paradise. 

Plus, with nearly 300 days of sunshine each year — and Phoenix only a quick 12 miles away — Scottsdale promises to be an unforgettable trip. Begin prepping for leisurely days ahead by booking one of our vacation rentals (you could even go for one with a private pool) and packing your itinerary with the following top things to do.

In This Article: 

Best Outdoor Activities 

Best Old Town Activities

Best Cultural Activities

The Best Outdoor Activities in Scottsdale 

Hiker hiking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, AZ

Scottsdale’s rich desert landscape serves as the backdrop for a ton of outdoor adventures. Whether you want to discover hidden gems or hit the fairways, these are the activities worth trying.

1. Explore Camelback Mountain or McDowell Sonoran Preserve 

A favorite pastime for locals and visitors alike, summiting Camelback Mountain is a must during your Scottsdale stay. With paths of varying difficulties and the option for guided hikes, you can climb to the 2,700-foot peak and take in panoramic views of the Salt River Valley. 

Meanwhile, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the largest urban park in America and definitely worth a visit. Covering 30,500 acres and home to more than 225 miles of connected trails, there are stunning cacti forests and diverse wildlife to keep you constantly on the lookout for something new. 

2. Visit the Botanical Gardens and Zoo at Papago Park 

Resting just south of town and home to lakes, red butte rock formations, and the famous Hole-in-the-Rock, Papago Park is a great place to spend a day in the sun. To tack on some educational sightseeing, stop by the Phoenix Zoo or Desert Botanical Gardens: you can see more than 3,000 animals at the former, and more than 50,000 plants at the latter.

3. Golf at Scottsdale’s Most Beautiful Courses

The Stadium Golf Course at TPC Scottsdale hosts the annual PGA Waste Management Open, a huge draw for all enthusiasts of the sport. But the world-class fairways don’t end there: the We-Ko-Pa Golf Club puts you in the middle of unobstructed desert beauty as you play, while Troon North boasts some of the area’s best 36-hole facilities.

How to Go Out on the Town in Old Town 

Central Square Old Town in Scottsdale, AZ

At the center of all local activity lies historic Old Town Scottsdale, home to entertainment and art districts, clubs, restaurants, shops, galleries, and more. With these top things to do, you can support small businesses, broaden your palate, and find new favorites. 

1. Enjoy Gourmet Fare at Old Town Bars and Restaurants

Southwestern vibes and ethnic influences set the stage for your foodie endeavors, and there’s no shortage of variety for your plate. If you’re in the mood for New American cuisine, Citizen Public House has you covered. Olive & Ivy serves up Mediterraanean dishes, and the Canal Club offers Cuban-inspired food you won’t soon forget. 

2. Taste Your Way Through the Scottsdale Wine Trail

Designed to promote the growing wine production industry in Arizona, the Scottsdale Wine Trail is a cooperative of five wineries within walking distance of each other in Old Town. Aridus Wine Company, Carlson Creek, LDV Winery, Merkin Vineyards, and Salvatore Vineyards joined to organize this half-mile trail, and all offer tasty glasses of chardonnay, fumé blanc, syrah, grenache, and other varietals to suit your group’s varied palates. 

3. Peruse Premier Galleries in the Main Street Arts District 

The internationally recognized Scottsdale art scene features collections from countries all over the world and across the genre spectrum: Modern, Abstract, Western, Impressionism, and more. Whether you’re a professional art collector or a life-long amatuer, you’ll love the Main Street galleries and weekly Art Walk, an open house-style event hosted for the public every Thursday evening.

The Best Cultural Activities in Scottsdale 

Watching the Arizona Diamondbacks in Scottsdale, AZ

From live entertainment to historic sites and artsy events emblematic of the area, with these activities there’s plenty of culture for you to soak up during a Scottsdale getaway.

1. Tour the Taliesin West Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation 

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site celebrating the renowned architect, Taliesin West curates a one-of-a-kind attraction for travelers with two different options for 60-minute tours. Purchase tickets for the ‘Guided Insights Tour’ to get a closer look at living quarters, the Garden Room, Drafting Studio, Music Pavillion, and Cabaret. Choose the ‘Guided by Wright Tour’ and you’ll get a self-guided, multi-sensory experience with audio from both Frank Lloyd Wright himself and the professional tour guides.   

2. Support Local Retailers at Old Town Boutiques 

Native American jewelry, hand-crafted goods, indigenous plants, and much more fill the locally-owned stores on Fifth Avenue. Whether you’re taking some time to window shop or seeking full-on retail therapy, the Old Town boutiques offer custom items for all tastes. 

3. Catch a Live Show or Professional Sports Game 

Fans of Major League Baseball flock to the area to watch Cactus League Spring Training games, as the San Francisco Giants play home games at Scottsdale Stadium while both the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks call Salt River Fields their home park. 

If sports aren’t your thing, Scottsdale also hosts annual events throughout the year, including concerts, races, plant sales, fine art celebrations, and more. Just check the city calendar for your travel dates and you’re likely to find a variety of options to suit your interests.

Explore More of Scottsdale, AZ 

A vacation is everything you make it, and Scottsdale has all the desert recreation, local vendors, and eclectic culture you could ever want to create a fulfilling trip. To learn more about visiting — including where to find a great vacation rental to serve as your home base — check out our vacation-made easy guide to Scottsdale.

Rest Easy with Evolve 

The moment you book your vacation, you should start looking forward to your trip — not worrying about the little details. When you choose Evolve for your Scottsdale vacation, you can feel confident that the home you book will live up to our standards.

Every Evolve vacation rental comes with a team of hospitality experts, and we’re here to help make your stay comfortable 24/7. To help you feel even more confident, we created our Rest Easy Promise: if a stay doesn’t match our standards, we’ll make it right.

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