2 Hours in Scottsdale

By local contributor
JoAnne Zeterberg

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.


 The Adventurer

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. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, try the Bajada Nature Trail at the Gateway Trailhead in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This easy, ½-mile loop trail is appropriate for everyone, including parents with kids in strollers and people with mobility challenges. 


The Foodie

Scottsdale is a food-lover’s paradise with great dining options throughout the city. But since you’re on a schedule, head for Old Town where you’ll find some of our most popular hotspots like FnBThe Mission, and Hand Cut Burgers & Chop House. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the small-batch, handcrafted goodness available at Super Chunk Sweet & Treats or the classic ice cream creations at the Sugar Bowl.


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? Head over to Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West for outstanding exhibitions that celebrate the art, culture and indomitable spirit of the American West.


The Shopper

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 Historic Old Town and along Fifth Avenue are a great place to find 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 90-minute Himalayan Salt Stone massage at Well & Being at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess or, if you’re really pressed for time, check out the 30-minute Reflexology massage at VH Spa at the Hotel Valley Ho. For gents, We Do Men – A Male Concept Spa offers manly treatments with cheeky names like the What a Prick cactus-infused facial or Double Whammy massage/facial combo.


The Oenophile

The Old Town Scottsdale Wine Trail features tasting rooms from several of the state’s most acclaimed vineyards, including LDV Winery, Aridus Wine Company, Carlson Creek Vineyards 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 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. If you have a bit more time, the seasonal Desert Shelter Tour is a two-hour exploration of desert residences built by students at the on-site School of Architecture.


The Golfer

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. Topgolf is another great option for golfers on a schedule. This high-tech, high-thrill driving range has a skills competition built in – all golf balls are equipped with microchips that track each shot’s accuracy and distance, and awards points for targets hit. 

The 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. If you have some time and energy left, explore the rivers and oceans of the world at OdySea Aquarium right next door.