12 Off-the-Beaten-Path Activities in Scottsdale

By local contributor
JoAnne Zeterberg

These signature Scottsdale experiences might be a bit off the beaten path, but they’re worth seeking out! Pick one or try them all for a memorable Scottsdale getaway.


COSANTI

Cosanti

Cosanti is one of Scottsdale’s most eclectic treasures and an Arizona Historic Site. This small compound, tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood, showcases the innovative architecture and melodious bronze wind bells of the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri. Call ahead for bronze pour times and experience the creative process in action!

 


SUPER CHUNK SWEETS & TREATS

Gift Guide

If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss this tasty Old Town gem, which specializes in small-batch, handcrafted confections. Some of our favorites include the Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Junk Food Popcorn and any of the house-made ice creams in rotating flavors like Spiced Cherry Chocolate Chunk and Peixoto Coffee.

 


BESPOKE INN, CAFE & BICYCLES

Bespoke Inn

Treat yourself and your sweetie to a romantic stay at Bespoke Inn, Scottsdale’s only luxury B&B. The inn’s 10 posh rooms feature private patios, pillow-top beds, soft chandelier lighting and oversized showers or deep soaking tubs. Be sure to make a reservation for dinner at the on-property restaurant Virtú Honest Craft, which boasts one of the city’s most romantic patios.

 


BUTTERFLY WONDERLAND

butterfly wonderland

As if thousands of free-flying butterflies in a lush rainforest setting couldn't get any more fun, Butterfly Wonderland offers a host of special events to enhance your experience. Past events have included Yoga in the Rainforest, Butterfly Brushstrokes painting classes, Waking Up with the Butterflies photo hours and the fall Plant Sale. Check their online calendar for current offerings.

 


MACDONALD’S RANCH

Mcdonald Ranch

Saddle-up and explore the Sonoran Desert like the cowboys did! MacDonald’s Ranch offers horseback, hay wagon and stagecoach rides, as well as a petting zoo, games and free pony rides for cowpokes under 5 years old. You can even enjoy the serenity of the desert after dark on a romantic moonlight horseback ride!

 


THE STORE @ SCPA

The Store

This gem of a boutique at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts features artist-made jewelry, imaginative toys, fair-trade global crafts, world music, stylish accessories for home and office, and much more. Plus, all purchases are tax-free, and proceeds benefit the non-profit Scottsdale Cultural Council.

 


SCOTTISH GOLF AT KIERLAND GOLF CLUB

Scottish

Give a nod to the game’s origins with this unique experience that includes kilt rental, Johnnie Walker beverage carts and a bagpiper who “calls in” golfers at the end of the day. After your round, stop by the Scotch Library at the Westin Kierland Resort and savor two-ounce pours of contemporary blends and rare 40-year-old single-malt whiskeys (open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly).

 


SPHINX DATE CO. PALM & PANTRY

Sphinx Dates

As the name implies, juicy Arizona dates take center stage at this 60-year-old Scottsdale landmark. But you’ll also find an enticing variety of other locally sourced gourmet treats, including desert honey, prickly pear jam and syrup, handcrafted pasta, and salsas and sauces. Don’t leave without trying one of their legendary date milkshakes.

 


HANDLEBAR J

Handle bar

This cozy restaurant and saloon has been owned and operated by the Herndon family since 1975. You’ll go for the juicy ribs (prepared with house-made spice rub and zippy chipotle barbecue sauce) and stay for the live entertainment featuring country music star Ray Herndon and other local performers.  

 


FASHION BY ROBERT BLACK

Robert Black

Nestled amid the galleries and restaurants of the Old Town Arts District, Fashion by Robert Black is a veritable treasure trove of vintage haute couture. From daywear and accessories to red-carpet designer pieces, this stylish boutique is a fashionista’s dream.


OLD TOWN SCOTTSDALE WINE & ALE TRAILS

Scottsdale: A City for Beer Lovers

Old Town Scottsdale is a hub for tasting rooms from some of the state’s most acclaimed vineyards and craft breweries. Download the Scottsdale Wine Trail or Ale Trail maps, then spend an afternoon or evening sampling the fruits of their labor.


SCOTTSDALE PUBLIC ART WALKING TOUR

bronze statue

This self-guided, 60-minute walking tour through Old Town Scottsdale introduces you to 10 of the most-celebrated Scottsdale public artworks, including striking bronze statues, dramatic fountains and interactive installations.