Scottsdale, Arizona: Things to See and Do

Are you visiting Scottsdale for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in “The West’s Most Western Town.”

"Scottsdale, Arizona" horseback riders
Cowboys and cowgirls on horseback in Scottsdale, the west’s most western town.

When I have a visitor from out of town, the first place they want to see is Scottsdale Fashion Square (and rightfully so!), but I also take them to some of the boutiques, Western shops and art galleries in the surrounding downtown area – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the crowds/tourists, my favorite place to visit is Singh Farms, a little slice of heaven and well-kept secret in Scottsdale. The farmers’ market on Saturdays during the fall, winter and spring is magical. People browse a selection of produce, pastries, fresh-baked bread and pressed juices beneath a tree-top canopy as music from an accordion player fills the air.

The best place to walk the dog is the paths along the Arizona Canal or the trails in the Indian Bend Wash.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Butterfly Wonderland, the largest butterfly pavilion in the U.S. The rainforest environment houses thousands of free flying butterflies and fragrant flowering plants.

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Egg white frittata with turkey sausage, tomato, asparagus, topped with Black Mesa goat cheese and avocado, Proof restaurant, Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Scottsdale Cuisine

If you are looking for typical Southwestern cuisine, I recommend The Mission. Chef Matt Carter whips up dishes with Latin flavor. Given our proximity to Mexico, those flavors are big here.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Cartel Coffee Lab in downtown Scottsdale.

Looking for cheap food in Scottsdale? Go to Brat Haus in downtown Scottsdale for artisan sausage, homemade pretzels and more than 25 craft beers on tap. Or grab a burger and milkshake at Zinburger at Scottsdale Quarter.

AZ88 is the spot for late night dining. Its full menu is served every day until 12:30 a.m., but folks can still order cocktails until 1:30 a.m. Plus, its patio offers fantastic views overlooking Scottsdale Civic Center Park.

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For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Posh Restaurant. Posh specializes in improvisational cuisine that uses modern and seasonal ingredients. When you sit down, you choose the number of courses you want and specify any dietary preferences and restrictions. Then Chef Joshua Hebert and his culinary staff create a personalized tasting menu just for you. The restaurant only seats 18 around an open kitchen, so it’s a truly unique experience where you interact with the culinary staff and fellow diners.

"Scottsdale, Arizona", sunset
Scottsdale, Arizona sunset. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

When you come to Scottsdale, get your picture taken at Robert Indiana’s LOVE statue in Scottsdale Civic Center Park or atop Camelback Mountain.

The best vantage points are taken by going to the Hotel Valley Ho’s rooftop for views of downtown Scottsdale, dining on the patio at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa for views of Camelback Mountain, or from the top of Pinnacle Peak for views of the Sonoran Desert.

Scottsdale Civic Center Park is the best place to experience American Indian culture and traditions during Native Trails, an annual event most Thursdays and Saturdays between January and April.

In Scottsdale, outdoor lovers will want to hike, bike, horseback ride and walk! The Sonoran Desert is the perfect spot for outdoor activities.

"Arizona", "Sonoran desert", "Scottsdale"
Native plants in the Sonoran desert. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, 30,200 acres of protected land. It has more than 100 miles of trails.

After a day of hiking, try the Healing Hiker’s Massage at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. I had the “Back in the Saddle” massage and it was fabulous.

If you are a museum lover, Scottsdale’s best museums include the Musical Instrument Museum and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Soon they will also be home to the Scottsdale Museum of the West.

Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing and hear live music at Dierks Bentley Whiskey Row or Rusty Spur Saloon.

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The Arizona Republic, the Valley of the Sun’s largest daily newspaper, will keep you posted on what’s happening in Scottsdale.

In the spring you should attend Cactus League Spring Training to catch the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium or the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields.

"saguaro cactus", "Scottsdale, Arizona"
Saguaro cactus stand tall in the Sonoran desert. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Insider tip
Did you know that Scottsdale is known for equestrian events? Plan a visit to the Scottsdale Polo Championship in the fall. Come to Scottsdale for the Arabian Horse Show in the winter or plan a trip to Cowboy College. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @scottsdaleAZ on Twitter.

What are your favorite things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona?

Photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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