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Things To Do In Scottsdale : 29 Adventures

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Scottsdale, AZ

Trying to figure out great things to do in Scottsdale? You’ve come to the right place…there are numerous adventures waiting for you in the “West’s Most Western Town”. Here, you can learn a little more about the city and the things to do nearby.

City Facts

Scottsdale had a population of 217,385 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city covers a little more than 184 square miles, but is bordered by the larger city of Phoenix. The Phoenix/Scottsdale area is one of the largest in the state. Both cities are located in the “Valley of the Sun”, known geographically by the less-descriptive name “Salt River Valley”.

The Valley contains the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert. It is just to the east of the McDowell Mountain Range, a chain of extinct volcanoes with peaks as high as 4,033 feet above sea level.

The city has continually ranked as one of the premier golf and resort destinations in the world and is the site of the annual Phoenix Open. Many of the things to do in Scottsdale revolve around the golf experience, but the area is popular even with non-golfers.

The city has been called a “desert version of Miami’s South Beach” because of the nightlife and shopping opportunities. There are bars, restaurants and nightclubs, primarily located in Old Town Scottsdale. Fashion Square, one of the twenty largest shopping malls in the United States, is also located in Old Town.

The Arts District is adjacent to Old Town and is the location of numerous galleries and museums; many of the exhibits feature paintings and other artwork inspired by the Old West. The “Jack Knife”, a life-size sculpture of a bucking horse created by Ed Mell, serves as the centerpiece for the district.

Best Times to Visit

Because of the arid climate, even the high temperatures of June, July and August are tolerable. The town does not cool off as much at night as other desert locations. The average difference between daily highs and nightly lows is about 20 degrees.

Scottsdale is a popular destination for people from northern parts of the country. Snow and temperatures below 40 degrees are rare. The average high in December and January is a comfortable 68 degrees.

When it comes to what to do in Scottsdale, golfing certainly tops the list. The peak golf season is January through April. The temperatures on the courses from July through September can be 100 degrees or more during the middle of the day. If you want to take advantage of the low green fees during off-season, it’s best to schedule your tee time very early in the morning.

Things to Do in Scottsdale

Taking to the air sometimes is the best way to see things and Scottsdale Hot Air Ballooning offers some of the best options in the world.

Scottsdale GolfingGolfing is just one of the things to do in Scottsdale, but since it is one of the most popular, let’s start with the courses. There are four popular golf courses in the city and several smaller ones. The four most popular are the Talking Stick, the Camelback, the Kierland Golf Course and the Stadium. Golf lessons are available at most of the courses for a fee.

To add some variety to your golf trip, you might consider taking the AZ Skins Golf Tour. The tour is an organized event for amateurs that lets you put a little money on the line. Since there are weekly events, you should be able to take part, no matter when you are travelling.

For a Wild West adventure, you should visit MacDonald’s Ranch, the number one destination in the area for horseback riding. Activities include free pony rides for the kids and guided horseback rides through the 1280 acres of the Sonoran Desert located on the ranch. Another popular choice is the Stagecoach Ride, which takes you on the original stagecoach road that ran to Phoenix.

If you prefer a different mode of transportation, you can take a Segway tour through Old Town Scottsdale with its Old West charm. Segway tours also run through the Greenbelt park system where you’ll find gentle hills, lakes and mountain vistas.

The Legacy Tour is another of the popular Scottsdale tours. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the area’s famous residents. He designed many homes in the area, including his own winter home, Taliesin West. You can tour many of these homes if you take the Legacy Tour. You can take the tour pretty much any time of the year.

There are many other sightseeing tours of places and attractions in and around the area. Sedona and Montezuma Castle are just a short trip away. You can schedule a Van Tour to view these landmarks in comfort.

You can tour the desert in a jeep, riding on an ATV or even from an inflatable raft. Having a tour guide really makes a difference. You see things you might have missed if you were sightseeing on your own. Sometimes, you just don’t know what you are looking at and it helps to have a local area expert with you.

Where to Stay

Whether you are looking for luxury or budget accommodations, there’s plenty to choose from in the Scottsdale area. These three made the U.S. News list of the best hotels in Arizona.

  • Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North – Located in North Scottsdale at Pinnacle Peak, this award-winning hotel and resort features two championship golf courses, two swimming pools, tennis courts, three restaurants and a full-service spa.

  • Phoenician ResortThe Phoenician – Many rooms have views of Camelback Mountain. All rooms feature elegant furnishings and private balconies or patios. The resort is located on 250 acres and features a 27-hole championship golf course, a tennis complex, a full-service spa, 10 restaurants, a number of lounges and an art collection valued at $25 million. You’ll be surrounded by beauty.

  • Fairmont Scottsdale Princess – Site of a popular PGA tournament, the Fairmont can accurately be described as palatial. Rooms are equipped with wet bars, private balconies and deep soaking tubs. The outdoor pool is lighted at night and creates an enchanting atmosphere. It is the perfect choice for a luxurious, relaxing vacation.

These choices are a short drive away from all of the popular things to do in Scottsdale. They get good reviews from visitors, as well as reporters, so you’ll certainly enjoy your stay.

Where to Eat

There are hundreds of restaurants in the area. These three were chosen for their unique menus and inviting décor.

  • Lon’s at the Hermosa – offering American and Southwestern cuisine, as well as local specialties. Pick a night to go when you can sit on the patio and enjoy the desert sky. The fresh-baked brioche is delicious.

  • Cowboy Ciao – the atmosphere is as whimsical as the name. The American and Southwestern cuisine is popular with Scottsdale residents and you should enjoy it, too. If you’ll be there on Sunday, try one of the brunch dishes.

  • The Mission – a great choice for a romantic evening filled with candlelight, Southwestern food and soft music. If you’re up for a tasty cocktail, try the Primarita Margarita made with organic agave nectar. It’s yummy!

Hopefully, these suggestions will help you decide where to stay, what to eat and what to do in Scottsdale. Enjoy your visit!

Additional Resources for Scottsdale

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Sedona Airplane Tour by Westwind Air Service

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Enjoy Sedona and still have plenty of time left in your day! Experience the breathtaking beauty of Arizona on this scenic air tour that begins at Deer Valley airport in North Phoenix. Soon after departing you will see the rugged isolation of the Tonto ...

Grand Canyon South Rim Airplane Tour by Westwind Air Service

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Perfect Grand Canyon Tour for the the time conscious traveler! Begin your air tour with a one hour flight from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.  Along the way, enjoy the view from the air as you pass over the Tonto National Forest; make a scenic pass ...

Scottsdale Hot Air Balloon Private Champagne Flight for 2 by Aerogelic Ballooning

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See Arizona's wonders as never before Escape from the norm with a hot air balloon ride over the scenic Sonoran Desert preserve in the North Phoenix, Scottsdale and Arizona areas. Take a private champagne flight to explore the desert's abundant native ...

Grand Canyon Airplane Tour - South Rim Deluxe by Westwind Air Service

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Just a better way to see the Grand Canyon from Phoenix! Slow down and relax during a comfortable, narrated tour to the Grand Canyon South Rim over the most scenic areas of Arizona.  Along the way, enjoy the view from the air as you pass over the Tonto ...

4 Peaks Hummer Tour by Stellar Adventures

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Explore one of Arizona's most picturesque trails. Nestled in the heart of the Tonto National Forest, the trail winds through two of Arizona's most beautiful mountain ranges: The 4 Peaks and The Supersion Mountains. Enjoy beautiful views of Saguaro Lake. ...

Scenic Sedona from Scottsdale with Jeep Tour by Pink Jeep Tours

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Experience the best of both worlds! For an unforgettable excursion to spectacular Sedona, climb aboard our luxurious, custom built Mercedes Benz tour vehicle to enjoy a day with our knowledgeable guides. On our way we’ll visit the ancient cliff dwellings at ...

Phoenix City Highlights Tour by Detours Of Arizona

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As we tour the Valley of the Sun, you will be treated to sights of famous architecture, modern art, desert views, and the individuality that make this desert oasis magical.  The half-day City Highlights tour showcases the largest county by population in ...

Grand Canyon Day Tour by Detours Of Arizona

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Visit three spectacular locations in one day without having to deal with the hastles of driving and finding your way around. Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and the Navajo Nation await your visit with our fully guided sightseeing tour in comfort from ...

Sonoran Desert Tomcar Tour by Rezdy Company

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#1 Ranked Off-Road Adventure in the Valley! A Tomcar is an off-road buggy perfect for the desert environment.  Originally designed for the Israeli Defense forces are equipped with independent front and rear suspension and a wide wheel base making for one ...

ATV Sonoran Desert Tour by Stellar Adventures

Atv Tours in Scottsdale, Arizona
Join your Chief Adventurer on a Guided ATV Excursion through the Majestic Sonoran Desert. Immerse yourself in the history of this forbidden frontier. Discover the abundant flora and fauna which inhabit the Tonto National Forest. Experience the thrill of ...

Phoenix / Chandler Hot Air Balloon by Aerogelic Ballooning

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See the world as it wakes up in the early morning light Discover Chandler and the South Phoenix Valley as never before on an aerial city tour by hot air balloon. Gaze down on towns from Peoria to Queen Creek and view the area's highlights from a whole ...

M1009 Military Blazer Tours by Stellar Adventures

Jeep Tours in Scottsdale, Arizona
Built for the military on the popular Blazer platform from GM, the M10-09 features a 6.2L Diesel engine with upgrades like a heavy duty suspenion and rear gov-lock to make it comfortable and handle well off-road. This unique experience takes you to a remote ...

Sedona Airplane and Jeep Tour by Westwind Air Service

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By air and ground is the perfect way to see Sedona! Enjoy a narrated, scenic flight over the Tonto National Forest and Mazatzal Wilderness. Wind up the Verde Valley and enjoy a breathtaking over-flight of Sedona. Upon landing from your at Sedona you will be ...

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2-Day Tour of Sedona and Grand Canyon with an overnight in Sedona. Experience sunrise and sunset in Sedona, paired with the best Grand Canyon views. This 2 day tour offers a full day in Sedona among the world famous red rock formations as well as a full tour ...

1 Hour Guided Horseback Trail Ride by Macdonald's Ranch

Horseback Riding in Scottsdale, Arizona
Enjoy a short 1 hour Scottsdale Horseback ride! Your trip to the Valley will be a memory that you enjoy very much and not soon forget. You will leave the city and enjoy the peaceful and scenic Sonoran Desert on one of our horses.  Conveniently located ...

Apache Trail Half Day by Detours Of Arizona

Sightseeing Tours in Scottsdale, Arizona
Road trip to the famous Superstition Mountains! Only minutes from the city, the Apache Trail is a true wilderness adventure and a perfect day in the Sonoran desert. Arizona's first designated "Historic Highway" and a scenic byway, the original ...

2 Day/1 Night Grand Canyon Train Ride and Tour by Detours Of Arizona

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Experience the beauty of Sedona, the unique history of Route 66 and the Grand Canyon on your 2 day tour with a ride on the famous Grand Canyon Railway. You will be treated to two days of touring, which include an overnight in Williams Arizona, the famous ...

Downtown Phoenix Culinary Tour by Taste It Tours

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Experience Phoenix's Downtown Culinary Culture Join this well established downtown Phoenix culinary tour to enjoy the restaurants that have truly impacted the local culture. Participants will have the opportunity to truly learn why Phoenix has become one of ...

Evening Dine Around Culinary Tour by Taste It Tours

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Popular Phoenix culinary experience! This is the one and only evening culinary tour of downtown Phoenix and it has been a BIG hit for visitors and locals. All within a laid back atmosphere guests will experience the taste of some exceptional food. This ...

2 Day/1 Night Grand Canyon Stay via Sedona by Detours Of Arizona

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2-Day Tour of Sedona and Grand Canyon with an overnight at Grand Canyon. Experience Sedona, paired with the best Grand Canyon views on this 2 day tour. You will be treated to two full days of touring, which include Sedona, among the world famous red rock ...

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The ultimate Grand Canyon multi-adventure experience! For the adventurous at heart, a trip to the Hualapai Reservation on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon will provide the thrill of a lifetime. Your adventure will include: a scenic, narrated, aerial tour ...

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Now this is history! Known as the “Town to Tough to Die”, Tombstone was home to the true men and women of the West.  Outlaws, businessmen, miners, and cattlemen flocked to the area in the late 1870’s for their chance to strike it rich.  With such a ...

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Explore the highlights of Sedona in a day from Phoenix/Scottsdale! We take the burden out of driving and navigating your way around an un-familiar area. Guests will have the chance to explore ancient Native American ruins, marvel at the spectacular ...

Colors and Canyons - Grand Canyon Air and Ground by Detours Of Arizona

Sightseeing Tours in Scottsdale, Arizona
There is not much else on earth more spectacular than viewing the Grand Canyon from directly over the widest part in a helicopter with wrap-around views! This tour from Phoenix/Scottsdale enjoys the best of both worlds with a ground and air tour of the Grand ...

Sedona and Grand Canyon 3 Day 2 Night Tour by Detours Of Arizona

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Experience sunrise and sunset in Sedona, paired with the best Grand Canyon views. This 2 day tour offers a full day in Sedona among the world famous red rock formations as well as a full tour of the Grand Canyon National Park. Arizona's wonder of the world ...

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