7 of the Best Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

See recent posts by Stefanie Waldek

One of the several cities that make up the Phoenix metropolitan area in Arizona, Scottsdale is a delightful mix of urban and desert, providing quite a few options for entertainment. There's the outdoorsy side to it all -- locals really love to hike -- but there's also a metropolitan flair to the city, meaning you've got every opportunity to wine and dine, catch a show, or visit a museum. Here, we've named our seven favorite things to do in Scottsdale.



1. Get out into nature.

Scottsdale has a thriving urban center, but it’s also well connected to Mother Nature. A 30-minute drive, for instance, gets you to the city’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which is a great spot for hiking (there are 195 miles of trails across 30,580 acres. If you’re a novice hiker and new to the area, we do recommend going with a guide — consider Arizona Outback Adventures for hiking, mountain biking, and more.

2. Drink local wine.

Arizona doesn’t quite have the reputation of Napa or Bordeaux, but it’s actually home to a number of wineries. In Old Town Scottsdale, the city’s downtown neighborhood, there’s a little “Wine Trail” that connects five tasting rooms (all within walking distance, of course). Drink up!

The Museum of the West. edwardhblake/Flickr

The Museum of the West. edwardhblake/Flickr

3. Embrace the Western spirit.

Visit the Museum of the West to learn all about the region’s history — and by region we’re talking about an area comprising 19 American states and neighboring places in Canada and Mexico. The museum covers a wide range of topics, from contemporary art to the cultural heritage of Native American tribes to the cinematic representations of the West. 

4. Enjoy the visual and performing arts.

Scottsdale is a hub for the arts, with a strong network of arts institutions and programs like the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which has a James Turrell “Skyspace” in its public courtyard; the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, which covers theater, dance, music, and more; and Scottsdale Public Art, which installs permanent and temporary works of art all across town, as well as hosts public art events like Canal Convergence, a festival that combines exhibitions, performances, and workshops.

Taliesin West. Teemu008/Flickr

Taliesin West. Teemu008/Flickr

5. Discover the history of one of America’s greatest architects, Frank Lloyd Wright.

When Wisconsin winters became too much for the architect, he built a summer home, studio, and architecture school in Scottsdale called Taliesin West. Located on the outskirts of Scottsdale, the site is open to visitors via tours by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

6. Walk (or bike) along the Arizona Canal.

Scottsdale is a desert city, so it’s not surprising that there’s a massive irrigation system in place. That includes the historic Arizona Canal, which was first dug in 1883 runs almost 40 miles through the Phoenix area. While the canals are still functional, their banks have become recreation areas, and you can walk or bike along marked paths.

Hotel Valley Ho/Oyster

Hotel Valley Ho/Oyster

7. Attend a pool party.

Scottsdale locals and visitors alike know how to have fun, and there’s no better way to enjoy a hot summer day than poolside at a party. The historic Hotel Valley Ho is known for its DJ-hosted pool parties. Book a cabana or daybed well in advance, though, if you want a place to lounge! 

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