2 Hours in Scottsdale

By local contributor
Scott McGinty

If you only have a couple of hours to spare around Scottsdale, you’re probably wondering what to see first. The answer to that conundrum lies with your personality. Are you adventurous? A shopper? A foodie, perhaps? Here are some of our favorite things to do that promise plenty of fun without a major time commitment.


Head for Pinnacle Peak Park and hike to the summit of this iconic landmark. This moderate trek offers an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet and panoramic views of north Scottsdale’s rugged Sonoran Desert. At a moderate pace, it takes just about two hours for the 3.5-mile round trip.


Scottsdale is a food-lover’s paradise with great dining options throughout the city. But since you’re on a schedule, head for downtown where you’ll find some of our most popular hotspots like FnBThe House BrasserieBarrio Queen and Cowboy Ciao. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the small-batch, handcrafted goodness that is Super Chunk Sweet & Treats.

Arts Aficionado

Swing by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and check out the latest exhibits of modern art, architecture and design. SMoCA also houses “Knight Rise,” a James Turrel skyspace, so be sure to save a few minutes to spend watching the way the sun’s movement affects the light in the desert sky.


Downtown Scottsdale has so many shops, you won’t be able to browse them all in the short time you’re here – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! The shops in Old Town and on Fifth Avenue are a great place to find uniquely Arizona gifts, or make a beeline for Scottsdale Fashion Square, the Southwest’s largest shopping destination.

Relaxation Seeker

With more than 50 resort and day spas in the city, your perfect massage is waiting. Try the 105-minute Ginger Rub Massage at Bliss Spa at the W Scottsdale or, if you’re really pressed for time, check out the 45-minute Essential Massage at VH Spa at the Hotel Valley Ho.


Sample award-winning Arizona wine at the downtown tasting rooms of Aridus Wine Company and LDV Winery. Both offer tasting flights of the award-winning varietals handcrafted at their Southern Arizona vineyards.

Architecture Buff

The one-hour Panorama Tour at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West is for you! Highlights include the Cabaret Theater, Kiva and Wright’s private office, as well as the beautifully landscaped grounds and desert masonry structures.


A great round of desert golf is out of the question when time is limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t swing the clubs in Scottsdale. Pay a visit to Topgolf, a high-tech, high-thrill driving range with a skills competition built in. Golf balls equipped with microchips track each shot’s accuracy and distance, and awards points for targets hit. 

Kid Wrangler

Butterfly Wonderland is the nation’s largest butterfly pavilion, housing thousands of colorful species from around the world in a rainforest environment. Don’t miss the 3-D film “Flight of the Butterflies” and the Butterfly Emergence Gallery.