Top Six Tours in Scottsdale

By local contributor
JoAnne Zeterberg

Experience Scottsdale and the state from an insider’s point of view! From Frank Lloyd Wright’s private living quarters and the city’s trendiest new restaurants to the rim of the Grand Canyon, these tours give you special access to the Scottsdale area’s most popular sights and attractions.


Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright was so enamored with Scottsdale’s desert landscape that he chose the McDowell Mountain foothills as the setting for his winter home and architectural school. Taliesin West was built in the late 1930s using colorful rocks and sand from the desert. Today, a variety of public tours showcase Wright’s ability to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces. The 90-minute Insights Tour draws you into the magic of Wright’s world with visits to his elegant living room and sleeping quarters, as well as the gracious Garden Room and storied Cabaret. There are 11 tour options in all, including the Garden Walk, Private Collections Tour, Night Lights Tour and three-hour Extended Insights Tour, which includes mid-morning tea in the Taliesin West dining room.


Culinary Excursions

Indulge your inner foodie with a tour of Scottsdale’s newest and most popular restaurants and craft breweries!s Arizona Food Tours and Taste it Food Tours offer walking culinary adventures through downtown Scottsdale. Each three-hour tour includes stops at approximately six renowned restaurants where you’ll enjoy gourmet tastings, fine wine and stimulating conversation. Along the way, your knowledgeable guides will point out local attractions and provide insights in to Scottsdale’s history. Arizona Food Tours offers both lunch and progressive dinner tours, while Taste it Food Tours offers lunch and sunset trolley tours. 


Guided Off-Road Adventures

Experience the rugged beauty of the Sonoran Desert on an off-road tour by Jeep, Hummer or Tomcar. The desert is your playground as you bounce along rough-and-tumble trails and sandy desert washes. Keep your eyes open as you go and you just might spot some local desert wildlife like javelina, Gambel’s Quail, wild horses and birds of prey. Your guide will also give you insight into the desert’s eco-system, geology and regional history. Jeep and Hummer tours typically run about four hours and most companies will pick you up right at your hotel. Ask your outfitter about tour options, which can include night-vision excursions, cowboy cookouts and combination adventures that tack on additional activities like hiking, river rafting or horseback riding.


Downtown Scottsdale Art & Cultural Trolley Tour

This free tour, offered on the second Saturday each month, is a must-do on any Scottsdale itinerary. Your tour starts at downtown’s historic Old Adobe Mission where you’ll enjoy a private docent tour before boarding the trolley. From there, your expert guide from Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours will take you on a fascinating journey through the Arts District, Scottsdale Waterfront, and SouthBridge. You’ll also pay a visit to the iconic Hotel Valley Ho, which has been a favorite of Hollywood A-listers since its opening in 1956. You’ll hear about the city’s history, art and culture and get the inside scoop on downtown’s outstanding restaurants, boutiques and galleries. This tour fills up fast and reservations are required. Contact Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours to reserve your spot!


VIP Tour at MIM

Go behind the scenes on a VIP tour at the Musical Instrument Museum. A specially trained museum guide will take you on a one-hour tour through parts of the museum not accessible to the general public. You’ll learn what goes on backstage at the MIM Music Theater, discover how exhibits are created, and explore the unique storage needs required for MIM’s extraordinary collection of instruments and cultural artifacts. These exclusive tours are limited to four guests at a time and are available daily year-round (advance booking is required). For a treat, add on lunch at the museum’s Café Allegro, which features globally inspired cuisine created with locally sourced, organic ingredients.


Colors and Canyons Tour with DETOURS

Scottsdale’s location in central Arizona means you’re an easy day trip from the state’s most popular attractions. You can check three of them off your bucket list with the Colors and Canyons Tour by DETOURS of Arizona. The first stop on this jam-packed day trip is Sedona – known around the world for its breathtaking red rock landscape. Next, you’re off to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where you’ll enjoy a thrilling 45-minute helicopter tour that includes sights you won’t see from the rim, including Marble Canyon, the Little Colorado River, Dragon Corridor and the North Rim. After your flight, you and your DETOURS guide will explore the South Rim, including stops at various viewpoints along the way. Before returning to Scottsdale, you’ll pay a visit to the Navajo Nation, get a distant glimpse of the Painted Desert and visit a well-known trading post where you can see and buy authentic Navajo arts and crafts.