People love Scottsdale for so many reasons and every reason is a correct reason to love it. It’s such a gorgeous city with a ton to offer. If you are looking for outdoor activities, Scottsdale has you covered. If you’re looking for great food, you can find it. If you’re looking for unique experiences, you’ve got it. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Scottsdale over the years, and these are my top 8 things to do in Scottsdale if you’ve got some time to kill.
The Short Version
- Hike one of the many nearby desert mountain trails
- Explore Papago Park
- Spend an afternoon at Desert Botanical Gardens
- Take a tour at Flank Lloyd Wright’s former winter home and workspace, Taliesen West
- Eat literally everything everywhere
- Visit nearby Saguaro National Park
- Take a weekend trip somewhere nearby
The Long Version of Things to Do in Scottsdale
1 – Hike the Nearby Trails
Scottsdale is a hiker’s haven! There are seriously COUNTLESS gorgeous hikes you can go on in the Scottsdale area. You’ll absolutely need to pack lots of water and want to go earlier in the day to avoid some of that famous Arizona heat, but these hikes are so good. There so many hikes with tons of of varying difficulties and some truly incredible views. Some of my favorite trails and their level of difficulty were:
2 – Explore Papago Park
Papago Park is this adorable park that is just gorgeous to explore. There’s lots of hiking here as well, but it’s just so cute to wander around in and hang out for an afternoon. We didn’t have a ton of time there but we truly could have spent hours.
3 – Desert Botanical Gardens
Just a couple of minutes away from Papago Park are the Desert Botanical Gardens. This is a magnificent garden with so many different and unusual plant species. I’m from the midwest in the United States so I don’t see these desert plants, well, ever really, ha. So wandering around in these botanical gardens were definitely something I’m so glad I added to my things to do in Scottsdale list before going.
4 – Tour Taliesen West
If you’re into architecture, you’re going to love Taliesen West. As Frank Lloyd Wright’s former winter home and workshop, you’re walking into a piece of American history that’s truly fascinating. You can take tours here multiple times per week, just register on the website and be guided through this architectural wonder.
5 – Eat Everything
The FOOD GAME IN SCOTTSDALE IS SO GOOD. I’m sorry was I screaming? Well, I meant it. I am a travel blogger and not a food blogger so I’m sorry for not having a ton of pictures of my food, but here are some of my favorite restaurants in the Scottsdale area and what I’d recommend eating there:
- Cocina Modrigal has absurdly delicious tacos and any three will make your mouth and belly happy
- Butterfield’s for breakfast or brunch, get the cinnamon roll pancake and thank me later
- Lure Fish House has so much good seafood you really can’t go wrong with anything
- Chelsea’s Kitchen had good everything, but I definitely recommend the red velvet cake and I think this photo will show you why
6 – Visit Nearby Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is such a unique experience, it had to make my “things to do in Scottsdale” list even though it’s a little over an hour drive away. You can hike or drive through the park, really enjoy it however you want. But I highly recommend enjoying it during sunset. I experienced one of the prettiest, most purple skies I’ve ever seen on our night there.
7 – Golf
If I’m going to be *completely* honest I am not a golfer, but I do know that for those who are golfers Scottsdale has some great courses to offer. One of my best friends is a huge golfer who would probably scoff at how low golf is on this things to do in Scottsdale list. But alas, she has recommendations broken out into two cost groups.
Pricier but gorgeous and fun courses:
- We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
- Eagle Mountain Golf Club
- Grayhawk Golf Club
Less expensive but still great:
- Silverado Golf Club
- McCormick Ranch Golf Club
8 – Take a Weekend Trip
Scottsdale is also dead in the middle of a lot of different places! A couple hours drive can get you to any of the following places:
- Sedona (~2 hours)
- Check out some of my recommendations for easy to access views
- Tuscon (~2 hours)
- Flagstaff (~2.5 hours)
- Grand Canyon (~3.5 hours)
- Check out my recommendations for the Grand Canyon during winter
So there you have it, 8 things to do in Scottsdale for when you visit. Have any questions? You know where to reach me. Want to see some of these hikes for yourself? My Scottsdale story highlights will show you some ground-level beauty.