Experience Scottsdale in 48 Hours

By local contributor
JoAnne Zeterberg

Looking to explore the best of Scottsdale on a quick two-day getaway? We’ve got you covered with this 48-hour itinerary that showcases the best of Scottsdale’s urban and Sonoran Desert offerings.

 


DAY ONE – URBAN OLD TOWN


Rise & Shine
Ease into your first Scottsdale day with a morning yoga class at your resort. It’s a great way to breathe in some clean desert air and limber up for a weekend of fun and adventure. Scottsdale resorts with yoga programs include the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, The Boulders, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain and CIVANA. If your hotel or resort doesn’t offer yoga, check out the morning kundalini and flow classes at Old Town’s Spa Lamar.

Grab a hearty breakfast at your hotel or resort, then you’re off to Old Town Scottsdale!

Explore Old Town
Old Town Scottsdale is comprised of nine unique districts, all packed into one easily walkable square mile. Hop aboard the free Scottsdale Trolley for a tour of Old Town and pick out the spots you’d like to visit – coffee shops and boutiques on Fifth Avenue, the galleries of the Arts District, Western storefronts in Historic Old Town, public art on Civic Center Park. And that’s just for starters!

For lunch, make a reservation with Arizona Food Tours or Taste It Tours and spend a couple of hours strolling Old Town and sampling the cuisine at six or more of Scottsdale’s buzziest restaurants. After your tour, check out the latest exhibits at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, or indulge in some retail therapy at Scottsdale Fashion Square – the Southwest’s largest retail destination.

Wine & Dine
As the afternoon winds down, watch the sunset from the patio at one of the tasting rooms along the Old Town Wine Trail. There are six to choose from, all featuring tasting flights or glasses of award-winning Arizona wine. From there, keep dinner local with seasonal Mediterranean cuisine at Virtú Honest Craft (home to one of Old Town’s most romantic patios), or opt for veggie-forward cuisine by James Beard Award-winning Chef Charleen Badman at FnB.

Party After Dark 
Still have some energy to burn? Head over to Second Story Liquor Bar or Blue Clover Distillery for fabulous craft cocktails, then hit the Entertainment District for live music at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, high-energy nightclubs like Maya or Riot House, or high-tech bowling at SkyLanes.
 


DAY TWO – DESERT INSPIRATION


Experience a Sonoran Sunrise
Every morning, the Sonoran Desert comes alive with the chirping of cactus wrens, scurrying of desert quail and glowing light filtering through the spines of teddy bear cholla. Experience the peace of a Sonoran Desert sunrise on a hike in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve offers 225 miles of trails for all skill and fitness levels and is accessible from numerous trailheads throughout the city. If golf is more your style, book an early tee time on one of Scottsdale’s target-style golf courses like Troon North, Grayhawk or The Boulders for challenging play and stunning desert vistas.

Brunch with the Best
Refuel with a hearty meal on the patio at one of the city’s best brunch spots. If you’re not here on a weekend, other local favorites offering late-morning breakfast include Daily Dose, Farm & Craft and Hash Kitchen.

Discover Desert-Inspired Architecture
Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright was so captivated by the Sonoran Desert’s natural beauty that he chose Scottsdale as the location for his winter home and architectural school, Taliesin West. Join one of the daily tours for a behind-the-scenes look into Wright’s ingenious designs and his ability to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces.

Unplug at the Spa
Experience the curative properties of Sonoran Desert botanicals with a soothing treatment at the Spa at Talking Stick Resort. The Peaceful Healing massage incorporates cotton poultices filled with warm desert herbs and aromatic essential oils to bring your mind to a state of rest. This is followed by a rhythmic massage using warmed river stones that will leave you feeling balanced and refreshed. Other spas offering Sonoran Desert-inspired treatments include The Spa at Camelback Inn, Well & Being at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and the Spa at the Boulders.

Dine Under the Stars
Wrap up your 48 hours in Scottsdale with dinner under our starry desert skies. Cloth & Flame offers bespoke, chef-driven dinners in pristine desert settings. The spacious patio at El Chorro affords breathtaking views of Camelback Mountain at sunset. And at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, follow dinner at Alto ristorante e bar with a romantic gondola ride on the resort’s scenic waterways.