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Experience Scottsdale


Article by Lisa Moyer

Photography by Experience Scottsdale

You’ve heard of Scottsdale, you’ve dreamed of Scottsdale, and now it’s time to go to Scottsdale. From the breathtaking beauty of the magnificent Sonoran Desert (and all the outdoor adventures it spawns) to the luxury resorts & spas, shopping & dining, golf courses & botanical gardens, and award-winning museums & arts scene, this central Arizona city is the total package for your new vacation inspiration.

Whether you crave an off-road weekend destination or a serotonin-building family bonder, Scottsdale is your kind of getaway. Historic and modern, western and upscale, sun-washed and night lit, the diversity is baked-in and as alluring as a cactus blossom. 

Whether you’re a curious newbie or a satisfied repeat visitor to Scottsdale, here are some quintessential experiences you won’t want to miss.  


Scottsdale’s famed Sonoran Desert is the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities and adventures like hiking, hot air ballooning, horseback riding, mountain biking, off-road Hummer and ATV tours, river rafting, kayaking and more. From gentle wildflower trails to extreme fitness treks, hiking in Scottsdale is an ideal way to experience the only desert where the saguaro cactus grows! Explore the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the largest of its kind in the nation, encompassing more than 35,500 acres and 225+ miles of shared-use trails through scenic desert terrain. 

Scottsdale enjoys more than 330 sunny days each year, which means pool season runs year-round. Summertime in Scottsdale includes staying aqua-cool via resort pools, waterparks, “dive-in” movies, splash pads, sky-high waterslides or easy river floats. 

Or go up, up and away in a hot air balloon. Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company boasts nearly four decades of experience offering hot-air balloon rides. Take a sunrise flight in the morning, or enjoy Arizona's breathtaking sunset flights in winter, ending with a celebratory toast of champagne and mimosas. 


The Desert Botanical Garden’s five paved thematic trails introduce you to thousands of arid-land plants from around the world, as well as changing exhibits of large-scale art. Take in Las Noches de las Luminarias, the Music in the Garden concert series and summer Flashlight Nights. Browse unique gifts at the Garden Shop and indulge in seasonally inspired lunch and dinner options at Gertrude's.


Old Town Scottsdale is the heartbeat of this vibrant and original city. Nestled within nine walkable neighborhoods, you’ll find a wide selection of shops, restaurants, art galleries, bustling bars and nightclubs, as well as contemporary public art installations, world-class museums and historic sites from the late 1880s. You can easily explore the area on foot or call JoyRidesAZ for guided tours on electric open-air vehicles. 

A blend of urban chic and Old West charm, this downtown destination offers unique flair, bursting with energy and eclectic experiences both day and night—every night of the week! Old Town is home to more than 100 of the city’s best restaurants, craft cocktail bars, swanky lounges, and buzzing nightclubs. You’ll even find chic pool parties. Consider live jazz at Kazimierz world wine bar or craft cocktails at Second Story Liquor Bar, then go two-stepping at the famous Rusty Spur. 


With more than 800 restaurants in Scottsdale to choose from, visitors are often surprised by the options of varied cuisines from amazing chefs. From farm-to-table fare to local talent chef-driven menus, Scottsdale features both well-known establishments and underground eateries to offer a culinary adventure for every taste and appetite. 


Scottsdale boasts the best shopping in Arizona with more than 2,500 luxury retailers, bespoke boutiques and upscale malls. Old Town Scottsdale is home to dozens of boutiques, Native American jewelry stores and Scottsdale Fashion Square, the Southwest’s largest shopping destination. In north Scottsdale, Scottsdale Quarter and Kierland Commons delight shoppers with high-end stores in sunny outdoor settings.


With more than 80 art galleries and a vibrant community culture, Scottsdale’s arts scene pulses with creative energy. Experience art-driven events like the free weekly ArtWalk, Canal Convergence and Scottsdale Contemporary Month. Catch Broadway shows in performing arts theaters and take a walking tour of public art installations in Old Town. And don’t miss these top attractions:

  • FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S TALIESIN WEST: The 1930’s winter home and architectural school founded by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Daily tours of this UNESCO World Heritage Site offer guests an inside look into Wright’s ingenious designs and ability to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces. 
  • SCOTTSDALE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART: An ingenious renovation of an old movie theater celebrates modern art, architecture and design and is home to Knight Rise, a public “Skyspace” by artist James Turrell (one of only a handful in the world).
  • WESTERN SPIRIT: SCOTTSDALE’S MUSEUM OF THE WEST: An Old Town gem filled with fine art, rare artifacts and cultural treasures featuring Wild West shows, saloons, working cowboys, outlaws and lawmen. The Smithsonian Affiliate museum brings the nation’s Western heritage to life with permanent galleries and regularly rotating exhibitions on loan from some of the world’s foremost collectors and showcased in a stunning, contemporary setting. 
  • MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM: The world's only global music museum houses unique instruments and music from around the world.


Scottsdale is known as "The World's Finest Golf Destination." With more than 200 golf courses in the area including high-caliber competitive courses like TPC Scottsdale, Troon North and Grayhawk, you’re sure to enjoy the round of a lifetime.


Whether you’re looking for all-inclusive luxury, a boutique hideaway, or a family-friendly retreat, you can find it in Scottsdale. Escape to Spanish-inspired luxury at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, a premier destination for luxury and romance, relaxation and recreation. Take a climb on Camelback Mountain, relax at Joya Spa, kick back at the pool or tempt your tastebuds with culinary delights inspired by Spain and Mexico.


When you’re ready for some self-care, Scottsdale’s 50+ luxury resort and day spas are among the finest you’ll find anywhere. Pamper yourself from head to toe and soothe yourself from A to Zen with treatments and wellness therapies inspired by Sonoran Desert Botanicals, ancient Native American healing techniques and curative traditions from around the world.  

Of special note is the Joya Spa, the opulent 31,000 sq. ft. Andalusian-inspired jewel of Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. Featuring 20 luxurious treatment rooms, lavish lounge areas to relax in before and after spa treatments and a private rooftop pool and terrace, Joya Spa is complete with a state-of-the-art fitness center with motion studio and spectacular views of Camelback Mountain. Plus, Joya Terrace poolside dining showcases fresh and healthful cuisine.