If you only have a few hours to spare in Scottsdale, you’re probably wondering what to see first. The answer to that question 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.
The Nature Lover
Head for the Gateway Trailhead in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve and check out the 1.7-mile Horseshoe Loop, a relatively flat trail that provides excellent McDowell Mountain views, or the Bajada Nature Trail, an easy, ½-mile loop that’s appropriate for everyone, including parents with kids in strollers and people with mobility challenges.
Scottsdale is a food-lover’s paradise! Start in Old Town where you’ll find some of our most popular hotspots like FnB, Virtu, The Mission and Craft 64. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the classic ice cream creations at the Sugar Bowl or the Instagram-worthy Showstopper Shake at ZuZu.
The Arts Aficionado
Swing by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and check out the latest exhibits of modern art, architecture and design as well as “Knight Rise,” a James Turrell skyspace. Prefer art with a Western edge? Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West offers exhibitions that celebrate the art, culture and indomitable spirit of the American West.
The shops in Historic Old Town and along Fifth Avenue are perfect for finding uniquely Arizona gifts. Old Town also is home to Scottsdale Fashion Square, the Southwest’s largest shopping destination, offering more than 200 upscale retailers.
The Relaxation Seeker
With more than 50 resort and day spas in the city, your perfect massage is waiting. Try the Himalayan Salt Stone massage at Well & Being at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess or the 30-minute Desert Lavender Reflexology at The Spa at Talking Stick Resort. For gents, We Do Men offers manly treatments with cheeky names like the What a Prick cactus-infused facial.
The Wine Connoisseur
The Old Town Scottsdale Wine Trail features tasting rooms from several of the state’s most acclaimed vineyards, including LDV Winery, Aridus Wine Company, Merkin Vineyards, Carlson Creek Vineyards, Arizona Stronghold and Salvatore Vineyards. Try a tasting flight of award-winning varietals handcrafted at their Southern Arizona vineyards.
The Architecture Buff
If you love architecture, the 90-minute guided 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. After your tour, spend a bit of time in the onsite bookstore for Frank Lloyd Wright books, gifts and wearable art.
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. Head for the Short Course at Mountain Shadows, an 18-hole, all-par-3 gem that you can conquer in about two hours if you don’t spend too much time admiring the stunning Camelback Mountain views.
The Kid Wrangler
Arizona Boardwalk provides two great options for families. Butterfly Wonderland is the nation’s largest butterfly pavilion, housing thousands of colorful species from around the world in a rainforest environment. Right next door is OdySea Aquarium, where you can see and interact with a whole host of creatures from the oceans and rivers of the world.