Top 20 Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

photo of a woman hiking the Sonoran desert showcase the top 20 things to do in Scottsdale.

Discover Scottsdale, a vibrant city that seamlessly blends modern urban life with the tranquility of the Sonoran Desert. Located just north of Phoenix, Scottsdale boasts a rich cultural heritage, world-class golf courses, and the bustling atmosphere of Old Town Scottsdale. Dive into this article to explore the top activities and hidden gems that make Scottsdale a must-visit destination.

Whether you’re planning a visit or simply curious about what this Arizona city has to offer, let this guide be your compass to the best of Scottsdale.

1. Visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art stands as an iconic beacon of modern creativity, artistry, and architectural finesse. As you venture into its realms, you’re met with a whirlwind of contemporary art pieces that challenge, intrigue, and inspire. The rotating exhibitions ensure that each visit feels like the first, continuously offering fresh perspectives on the realms of art, design, and architecture.

Visit their website to learn more.

2. Explore Taliesin West

Delve into the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, his winter retreat, and school. This UNESCO World Heritage site remains an architectural marvel, blending seamlessly with its desert surroundings. Each tour sheds light on Wright’s unparalleled vision, providing insights into his profound understanding of space, design, and the environment.

Visit their website to learn more.

3. Relax at the Butterfly Wonderland

Step into a world of vibrant colors and serene beauty at North America’s largest butterfly pavilion. As you walk amidst the lush rainforest setting, thousands of butterflies dance around, creating a magical, almost surreal experience. It’s not just a visual treat; the Butterfly Wonderland educates visitors about butterfly lifecycles and their essential role in the ecosystem.

Visit their website to learn more.

4. Stroll Through Old Town Scottsdale

The heart and soul of the city, Old Town Scottsdale buzzes with life, art, and culture. Each corner tells a story, from the eclectic art galleries showcasing local talent to the myriad of shops echoing the city’s rich cultural past. It’s a melting pot of old and new, where historic charm meets contemporary flair.

Visit their website to learn more.

a photo of the canal in Old Town Scottsdale.

5. Attend the Scottsdale Culinary Festival

A treat for the senses, the Scottsdale Culinary Festival promises a gastronomic journey like no other. From tantalizing food tastings to mesmerizing culinary demos, it celebrates the city’s vibrant food scene. Pair that with live entertainment, and you’ve got a recipe for an unforgettable experience.

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6. Wine & Dine at the Scottsdale Wine Trail

Embark on a vinous journey through Scottsdale’s urban wine scene. The Scottsdale Wine Trail, with its myriad tasting rooms, offers a curated wine experience, each sip telling a story of the land, the climate, and the passionate winemakers.

Visit their website to learn more.

7. Experience the Desert Botanical Garden

Marvel at the wonders of the desert in the heart of the city. The Desert Botanical Garden, with its vast collection of flora, offers a unique perspective on desert ecosystems. Through its rotating exhibits and events, the garden educates while mesmerizing visitors with the resilience and beauty of desert plant life.

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8. Admire Art at the Canal Convergence

Witness the grand spectacle where water, art, and light converge. The Canal Convergence transforms the Arizona Canal into an artistic paradise with awe-inspiring installations and performances, celebrating creativity in all its forms.

Visit their website to learn more.

9. Attend the Scottsdale ArtWalk

Immerse yourself in art as you stroll through the bustling streets every Thursday evening. Scottsdale’s ArtWalk opens up a world of artistic wonder, allowing visitors to interact with artists, appreciate diverse artworks, and feel the city’s creative pulse.

Visit their website to learn more.

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10. Explore the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

A haven for families and train enthusiasts alike, this park takes you on a journey through time. From vintage train rides to model railroad displays, it offers a unique blend of education, history, and fun.

Visit their website to learn more.

11. Kayak the Lower Salt River

Connect with nature as you paddle through the serene waters of the Lower Salt River. This aquatic adventure offers a unique perspective on the desert, teeming with wildlife and adorned with stunning landscapes.

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12. Hike the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails (hike/bike/horse) accessed from multiple trailhead locations.

Visit their website to learn more.

photo of golf courses in Scottsdale Arizona.

13. Play Golf in Scottsdale

Experience golfing perfection on Scottsdale’s pristine courses. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the stunning desert landscape, each round promises not only a challenge to your skills but also a feast for your senses. Scottsdale, often hailed as one of the premier golfing destinations in the world, offers a blend of traditional and modern courses, each bringing its own unique charm and challenges.

Here are some top golf courses in Scottsdale you shouldn’t miss:

  • Troon North Golf Club: This club boasts two 18-hole courses set amidst natural ravines and foothills.
  • TPC Scottsdale: Renowned for hosting the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open, this course offers an unmatched PGA Tour experience.
  • Grayhawk Golf Club: With its two picturesque 18-hole courses, it’s a favorite amongst both locals and tourists.
    • Designer: Gary Panks
    • Opened for play: 1981
    • Location: 8620 E Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale
    • Website:

14. Visit the Ballpark

Feel the adrenaline rush as you cheer for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The electric atmosphere, the camaraderie among fans, and the sheer love for baseball make this an experience to cherish.

Visit their website to learn more.

15. Horseback Riding at MacDonald’s Ranch

Gallop through the vast expanses of the Sonoran Desert with MacDonald’s Ranch. Their guided tours offer a blend of adventure, history, and the unparalleled thrill of riding through scenic landscapes.

Visit their website to learn more.

photos of a group horseback riding in Scottsdale, Az

4. Stroll Through Old Town Scottsdale

Celebrate the majesty of Arabian horses at this annual spectacle. From breathtaking performances to nail-biting competitions, it’s a showcase of grace, beauty, and sheer equine talent.

Visit their website to learn more.

17. Explore the Nightlife in Downtown Scottsdale

Scottsdale’s nightlife is a dazzling array of sparkling lights, rhythmic beats, and vibrant energy. Downtown Scottsdale becomes a playground for night owls, offering an eclectic mix of bars, clubs, and live entertainment venues. Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet wine bar, a pulsating nightclub, or a live music joint, the city promises a night to remember.

18. Join a Jeep Desert Tour

For those with an adventurous spirit, a Jeep desert tour is a must. These tours plunge you deep into the rugged beauty of the Sonoran desert. Feel the thrill as the jeep navigates through the challenging terrains, while knowledgeable guides share tales of the desert’s rich history, diverse wildlife, and unique geology. It’s an exhilarating experience, blending education with sheer excitement.

a photo of a luxury spa experience in Scottsdale Az

19. Relax at a Luxury Spa

After all the adventures, take a moment to unwind at one of Scottsdale’s luxury spas. These sanctuaries of relaxation offer a myriad of treatments, from deep tissue massages to rejuvenating facials, all set against the serene backdrop of the desert. It’s not just a spa experience; it’s a journey of self-discovery, relaxation, and indulgence.

20. Visit the Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Delve deep into the tales of the American West at the Western Spirit Museum. Exhibits span across art, history, and culture, capturing the essence and spirit of the West. From Native American artifacts to tales of cowboys and pioneers, the museum offers a comprehensive view into a bygone era, making history come alive in the heart of Scottsdale.

Visit their website to learn more.

In Conclusion

Embark on a journey through Scottsdale with these 20 activities, and discover a city that’s rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a memorable experience, Scottsdale promises a plethora of adventures waiting to be explored.

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