I recently got to spend a long weekend with my sister in Arizona, and there are so many fun things to do in Scottsdale!
I loved the Sonoran desert landscape—an excellent scenery change from San Francisco.
After experiencing some of Scottsdale’s top attractions, I see why it’s a popular Southwestern destination for girls’ weekends and bachelorette parties.
Whether you’re looking to relax, adventure, or spend time outdoors while visiting Scottsdale, I have ten activities and fun things to do in Scottsdale for you!
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Top 10 Fun Things to Do in Scottsdale
What’s better than watching the sunrise over the desert from 5,000 feet in the air? I would say overlooking sunsets in the desert since I’m not a morning person. 😂
Hot Air Expedition’s sunset rides start in November and go through mid-March, but if you’re visiting a different time of the year, a sunrise ride is worth the early wake-up call.
The mountain views are a breathtaking backdrop for Instagram photos!
I love horseback riding, and Fort McDowell Adventures offers fun rides through the desert terrain (an excellent way to escape the city).
We saw wild horses (they were gorgeous!) and cattle, then crossed through a river. I felt like such a cowgirl. The Saguaro cacti and McDowell Mountains around us made for such stunning scenery!
3. ATV Tour
If you’re up for a rough ride and a bit of adventure, book an ATV tour through the desert.
It’s one of Scottsdale’s top activities for adrenaline junkies—I call the driver’s seat!
4. Spa Day
It’s time for some R&R! We had a spa day pampering ourselves at The Phoenician, which was incredible. After our massages, my sister said she felt like she was reborn. 😂
The spa at The Phoenician is gorgeous, and there’s a rooftop pool that’s only for spa guests, where you can order drinks and relax after your treatments. We spent a leisurely afternoon here, and it was lovely.
There are so many incredible places to hike in Scottsdale! A few popular spots are Camelback Mountain, McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Brown’s Ranch Trailhead, Piestewa Peak, and Pinnacle Peak Park.
If you want to learn more about the outdoors, check out the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.
If Omied had been on this trip with me instead of my sister, we would have visited the Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin West house. He’s an architect, after all!
Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s home that you can now tour, and it is known for its stunning, organic architecture.
Who wants to drive to the Grand Canyon when you can fly in a chopper?
Experience the Grand Canyon’s majestic views from a unique vantage point above, and make it back in time for brunch!
Check out Old Town Scottsdale and do a bit of shopping.
Grab a sweet treat from Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop, and snap a fun pic for Instagram with Hotel Adeline’s WTF (Where’s The Fun?) sign. Don’t forget to grab some ice cream!
I suggest checking out Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall for upscale stores like Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus.
9. Pool Day
We had a relaxing day in a cabana at our beautiful hotel, Mountain Shadows Resort. Because sometimes you need to sip rosé and soak up the sunshine poolside, underneath the palms and a gorgeous mountain.
The Desert Botanical Garden is beautiful any time of year, and you can walk along a trail through the cactus gardens.
In the later months, they have special events like Electric Desert and Luminarias. There are fun happenings like culinary events and nightly live music throughout the year.
Check out the event calendar to see what’s happening when visiting.
Those are my top ten fun things to do in Scottsdale! I loved visiting and will be back soon to experience Scottsdale.
When I do visit again, here are a few activities that I haven’t had a chance to explore yet but will hit up next time:
- Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Stadium: Home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, for all my baseball fans
- Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
- Scottsdale Civic Center
- Musical Instrument Museum
- McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
- Rusty Spur Saloon: Classic old-west spirit
- Downtown Scottsdale: To savor all the yummy food prepared by restaurant chefs on Scottsdale Road
- Scottsdale Wine Trail
- Little Red Schoolhouse: Home to the Scottsdale Historical Museum
Planning a trip to Scottsdale? Don’t miss my other Scottsdale guides
– Butterfly Wonderland: For all the gorgeous butterflies
– Odysea Aquarium: Penguins, sharks, and otters, oh my!
– Western Spirits: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Scottsdale is 12 miles from Phoenix, making it a short, 20-minute drive.
Scottsdale is famous for its beautiful resorts, spas, expensive restaurants, wineries and wine-tasting rooms, shopping, art galleries, golf courses, nightclubs, and country clubs.
Scottsdale is a very safe place to travel to, with lots of tourism and safe residential areas.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.