When people think of Arizona, they might initially think of Phoenix, but just a few minutes east is the darling city of Scottsdale with a little something for everyone. Whether it is roaming the streets of Old Town (yes, it does look like an old Western town) or hiking the nearby Camelback mountain, Scottsdale is a destination all in itself — and we’ll help you plan your Arizona vacation. Keep reading for more about where to stay, what to do, and how to dine while visiting Scottsdale, Arizona.
Where to Stay
Airbnb | Various Locations
There are plenty of rental homes in the Scottsdale area for groups of all sizes. Some helpful considerations when booking the right accommodation for you are the views, pool/water access, and proximity to Old Town Scottsdale. Views of places like Camelback Mountain are especially great to have outside your window. It obviously gets so hot in the desert, so cooling off in a pool is a great way to spend a portion of the day. Bonus points if there is a water slide! Finally, Old Town Scottsdale and the immediate area is the place to be, so easy access from your Airbnb will be important. For larger groups, we recommend checking out this rental unit with great views and an even more amazing backyard with a pool.
Hilton Scottsdale Resort + Villas | 6333 North Scottsdale Road
This hotel really does have everything visitors could possibly need. There is a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and Starbucks, too). There is also a full-service bar at both pools with food and drinks while laying in the sun. Speaking of pools, there are two pools, and the one located in the main hotel area is great for relaxing — especially under a rentable cabana. There is also a steakhouse onsite for a fancier meal. Rooms range from a standard room with two double beds to a villa with two bedrooms. This hotel is located less than 10 minutes away by car from Old Town Scottsdale.
JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort + Spa | 5402 East Lincoln Drive
This hotel will make guests feel transported to somewhere entirely unique. The brick adobe walls in the lobby are actually original from the 1930s. Guests can eat onsite at the Lincoln Steakhouse and bar for classic American cuisine, shareable plates, and cocktails. There are also 5 additional locations to enjoy meals on the grounds, including at the spa and the pool. Onsite, there is also a spa and an 18-hole golf course.
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort + Spa | 5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley
(Photo credit: @sanctuaryaz_)
For an even more luxurious weekend, this resort was named Arizona’s number 1 resort and spa by U.S. News and World Report. It’s located just in between Scottsdale and Phoenix, and there is an amazing infinity pool to sit back and relax in. Visitors can enjoy meals at Jade Bar or try Elements for farm-fresh American fare. The Sanctuary Spa offers spa treatments, massages, skincare, and more.
W Scottsdale | 7277 East Camelback Road
The W Scottsdale brings real glam to the Scottsdale area. The rooms have all the amenities that guests could want, and the pool rivals Las Vegas weekend pool parties. The restaurant serves classic food and drinks. There are also cabanas around the pool in case guests need to step out of the sun. Bonus is that it’s just a quick walk from fashion square mall and plenty of food and shopping options.
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Where to Eat
Berdenas | 7051 East 5th Avenue Suite I
Berdenas is a cute cafe that serves amazing (caffeinated) beverages and meals. We recommend the avocado toast with an egg on top. The sourdough bread with smashed avo topped with red chili flakes is great, too. Also, it has pastries (the cinnamon sugar croissant is an MG favorite). For drinks, everything on the menu is great. If you’re in need of inspiration, try the lavender latte or cardamom rose latte because both have the best balance of floral notes and caffeine. What makes it even better is that the cafe is designed well and is super Instagram-friendly.
Cartel Roasting Co. | 7124 East 5th Avenue
(Photo credit: @cartelroastingco)
Gluten-free folks should be excited to try Cartel Roasting Co. because it has so many different gluten-free goodies including brownies, cookies, and doughnuts (like the prickly pear doughnut). This cafe also has some savory options including chia pudding and egg burritos. The vibes here are also so homey and the perfect place to hang out for breakfast or lunch. There are plenty of other locations in the area too, in case this one is too busy.
Cien Agaves Tacos + Tequila | 7228 East 1st Avenue
Here, the margarita options feel endless (but the Arizona Prickly Pear is recommended). Happy hour is 7 days a week from 3PM until 6:30PM. The queso and guacamole are must orders, and restaurant-goers have no bad choices for tacos. If the weather is just right, there’s a spot outside on the beautiful patio that makes for excellent ambiance. This place is great for date night or large groups (can someone say bachelorette dinner spot?).
Private Chef | In Your Home
If going to the actual restaurant is too much, then work with a private chef to come to your ‘home.’ Depending on your choice of chef, you can curate a food and drink experience. Chef Dino, who won MasterChef Season 8, is great and personalizes each menu to his guests. He also provides a list of wine or beer pairings that you can have ready for your elegant dining experience.
Wildflower Scottsdale | 15640 North Hayden Road + 7001 North Scottsdale Road
(Photo credit: @wildflowerbread)
There are quite a few locations around Arizona because it’s just too delicious for one location. This place has such a great menu for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It has pasta, sandwiches, and other plate options fit for any healthy king or queen.
Things to Do
Breweries + Tours
(Photo credit: @wrenhousebrewing)
The brews are definitely flowing in the Scottsdale area, and there are so many great breweries to try in the area — and a lot are actually just a short drive away in Phoenix. Wren Brewing House has a nice tasting room with some outdoor seating (the Italian pilsner was chef’s kiss), or you can check out Greenwood Brewing, a women-owned brewery. Goldwater Brewing Co. is right in the middle of Scottsdale (aka near a ton of other great bars before or after visiting).
In case you’re looking for an option where you don’t need a designated driver, check out Arizona Tour’s Phoenix Brewery Tour. This 4-5 hour tour takes guests on a bus to some of Phoenix’s favorite breweries and educates them on the magic of beer making along the way.
Arizona is one of the best places to hike for all levels. There are great mountains and walking paths to check out, but be sure to look at the difficulty level before you start. One great albeit pretty difficult hike is the iconic Camelback Mountain from the Echo Canyon Trailhead. Other easier hikes near Scottsdale include the Double Butte Loop, Jane Rau Trail, and the North Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park.
(Photo credit: @superstitionmountaincc)
Even though it can be hot in the desert, Scottsdale is still a great location to tee off. There are many great options including Superstition Mountain Golf Club with not one but two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses each with great views of the surrounding area. The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North also boasts two courses with amazing vista views. This course is great for golfers of all levels.
(Photo credit: @mayaclubaz)
Move over, Las Vegas, because Scottsdale is the new spot for pool parties. Top choices include Maya Day Club, Wet, and Saguaro Scottsdale. It can get pretty packed, so party-goers will want to arrive early to catch a shady spot or pay a little extra money for a cabana.
Wine Tours | Sedona + Scottsdale
Scottsdale isn’t far from Arizona’s Sedona wine country. There are plenty of tours that will take guests from the Scottsdale area on a day trip to some great vineyards in the Sedona area. Each tour will take participants on a different adventure, like Dukout’s Sedona Wine Tour, which picks up early in the morning before making some stops at beautiful scenic vistas. Don’t worry though, because then it’s right onto the wine tastings.
Bliss Arizona also offers a Scottsdale to Sedona wine tour, and it even provides a gourmet snack along the way. If you aren’t looking to drive far, there is also a Scottsdale Wine Trail with various tasting rooms in the Old Town area.
Where to Shop
Giving Bracelets | 7122 East 5th Avenue
This jewelry store is too cute not to at least pop into. It has leather handcrafted bracelets and bags, in addition to other merchandise. It even has vegan leather bracelets if that is your thing.
Grey Wolf | 7239 East 1st Avenue
(Photo credit: @greywolfgallery)
This store has been around for more than 40 years and is one of the top destinations for hand-crafted Native American designer jewelry as well as rare tribal treasures. This store has amazing belt buckles and necklaces. It also has some really unique turquoise pieces too. Locals and visitors alike enjoy coming here and finding their own unique item that isn’t a super touristy thing like a postcard or globe.
Rolling Rack Boutique | 7084 East 5th Avenue
This might be one of the most Instagrammable stores in the area. They have a few great places to take social media photos like great chairs with an empowering sign above, and the merchandise is just as dynamic. This is a bachelorette party’s dream with various matching outfits — and the bride’s own version, of course. Just make sure that you purchase what you photograph of the merchandise. There is no need to pack an extra suitcase because any cute going-out outfits can be found here.
Scottsdale Fashion Square | 7014 East Camelback Road
(Photo credit: @scottsdalefashionsquare)
This mall really has it all. It can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s also nice to have anything you could need right in the middle of Scottsdale. Here, visitors can find everything from an Apple store or Nordstrom to Beach Bunny Swimwear or Cartier. It’s within walking distance of many hotels and can be a great way to beat the heat during the hottest part of the day.
5th Avenue Shops + Boutiques | 5th Avenue
While you can find some great local boutiques and stores here, including Rolling Rack Boutique, this section is also known for the horse fountain, which is an epic water feature right in the middle of the desert. Parking here is free, which is a great plus. There are great places to visit including Buffalo Collection — as well as Inspire+D, which focuses on highlighting local artists and brands in the area.