Posted: 20 October 2016
Scottsdale is a clean, modern city that embraces the now, yet effortlessly pays homage to its fascinating Native American and Old West past. Nestled next to Phoenix and set in a desert landscape surrounded by mountains, this lovely city offers visitors almost year-round sunshine, world-class golf courses, superb cuisine and an extremely vibrant arts and culture scene. Perfect for outdoor adventure, there are acres of trails to discover in Sonoran Desert Preserve, the largest in the entire United States, while the city’s central location allows for easy discovery of Arizona’s many other charms, including Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Read on to discover more about some of Scottsdale’s many facets…
Home to the largest shopping mall in the southwest of the United States, Scottsdale offers a smorgasbord of options for enthusiastic shopping-lovers. Known as the ‘Beverly Hills of the South West’, Scottsdale Fashion Square is two-million-square-feet’s-worth of luxe, credit card-flexing, temptation, offering brands such as Prada, Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Louis Vuitton. If vintage designer is more your bag, there are boutiques devoted to retro Pucci and Chanel, amongst other iconic brands. For authentic cowboy gear, however, Saba’s is the place to go – an Arizona retail institution that has been family-owned and run since 1927. Unsurprisingly, given its rich arts and culture heritage, Scottsdale also boasts many art galleries, offering visitors plenty of opportunity to purchase glasswork, paintings and sculptures.
Wining & Dining
Scottsdale is a foodie heaven, and with Scottsdale being in such close proximity to Mexico, the selection of Mexican dishes on offer is immense and of great quality, with lots of restaurants ranging from tiny, unfussy venues, to glamorous dining rooms and five star resorts serving the latest in modern Mexican dishes. Food trucks, serving international cuisine, are also a familiar sight in the town. Food Truck Caravan Street Food Saturdays are jovial events, complemented by art and live music, with the opportunity to talk to chefs and socialise. Micro-breweries are increasingly popular all over the world, and Scottsdale is no exception. Craft 64, Four Peaks Brewing Company, Fate Brewing Co., The Scottsdale Tap House & brewery and Goldwater Brewing Co. are just a few of the best. If wine is your preferred tipple, wine-tasting can be enjoyed at award-winning wineries, including Aridus Wine Company.
McDowell Sonoran Desert
The spectacular McDowell Sonoran Desert provides an admirable backdrop to magnificent fiery sunsets and boasts 200 miles of scenic thematic trails, 2,000 species of plants, such as the Giant Saguaro (the largest cactus in the USA) and the Prickly Pear, plus 700 species of mammals, birds, amphibians and fish, including Roadrunners, Desert Tortoises and Harris Hawks. Lovers of the great outdoors have miles of terrain on which to enjoy hiking, guided mountain-biking, interpretive off-road trails, river rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, bird-watching and horse-riding. The award-winning Bajada Nature Trail is perfect for an interactive, interpretive experience in a manageable half-mile distance and is specially designed to be accessible for the visually impaired and wheelchair users.
Culture and The Arts
Scottsdale is a thriving centre for the arts in many forms. The town’s historic Arts District combines a pedestrian-free area surrounded by no fewer than 70 museums and galleries. Every Thursday evening there is the ArtWalk, bringing together residents and visitors alike to discover Scottsdale’s artistic riches. Museum-wise, there is the new, contemporary Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, celebrating the culture, history and art of the 19 states that comprise the American West; Heard Museum celebrates Native American culture, while the Musical Instrument Museum offers an interactive experience, displays thousands of instruments from all over the world in various galleries, has a conservation lab and hosts special exhibitions. The 30-acre McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park gives rail enthusiasts the opportunity to discover model railroads, a rail museum and children’s playgrounds – ideal for a fun-filled family afternoon, while lovers of modern architecture should seek out Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1930s winter home, Taliesin West. Scottsdale’s only National Historic Landmark, this historic house and studio is built of Sonoran Desert rocks and sand. A series of guided tours allows visitors to discover the wonders of Lloyd Wright’s ground-breaking contemporary architecture and acres of landscaped gardens.
For buzzing nightlife, head to Scottsdale’s Entertainment District to experience the wide range of trendy bars and nightclubs. See-and-be-seen at The Mint Ultra Lounge, with its huge outdoor patio perfect for alfresco lounging on divine cabanas; enjoy a meal and drinks at Bevvy, an upscale gastropub lounge; go retro at Hi-fi, a music-focused bar and eaterie furnished with black and white televisions and vintage speakers, or visit the Rusty Spur, Scottsdale’s iconic real-life cowboy saloon, frequented by Hollywood A-listers over many years and offering daily live entertainment. The former bank is now a registered historic landmark.
Scottsdale is a phenomenal destination for golf, offering a selection of no fewer than 200 courses in fabulous desert locations, which has encouraged a number of golf pros to choose the town, not only to play golf, but also to live – the PGA and LPGA professionals attracted, no doubt, by the possibilities for practice that come with an average of 330 days of sunshine per year. With such a focus on golf, there comes a selection of original, interesting golf experiences, which can be enjoyed by visitors. How about a Scottish Golf Experience at Kierland Golf Club, which honours the Scots migrants who helped to establish Arizona? Don a hired kilt, imbibe a whisky or two from the Johnnie Walker whisky carts as you play your round and be piped in from the course by a bagpiper. At Grayhawk Golf Club, golfers can warm up before playing the course while listening to a playlist of classic rock tracks, such as Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ or The Rolling Stones’ ‘Honkey Tonk Woman’. Play the TPC Scottsdale Stadium course used for the Waste Management Phoenix Open and get a caddy’s insider perspective on the history of golf and the PGA tour. Plaques in the clubhouse commemorate leading moments in TPC’s golf history, including Tiger’s ‘Loose Impediment’ on the 13th hole and Andrew Magee’s par four hole-in-one on the 17th. Of course, many of our featured luxury resorts boast world-class golf courses, including The Phoenician and Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, while Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North is conveniently located adjacent to Troon North Golf Club. In 2016, Scottsdale Golf Week takes place between 5th and 11th December.
The Downtown Trolley is a convenient, complimentary, year-round shuttle for visitors, tourists and shoppers. The old-fashioned trolley runs daily, every fifteen minutes, between the hours of 11am and 9pm. Discover the city’s many areas, including the Old Town, Waterfront and Scottsdale Fashion Square (the tours do not operated on national holidays).
VIP Tour of Musical Instrument Museum
This one-hour tour is available year-round and takes place behind-the-scenes, in areas of the museum not accessible to the public. VIPs (in groups of up to seven people) are shown around the museum building by an experienced guide to see what kind of storage is required for the instruments, how the exhibits are created and what happens backstage at the MIM Music Theater. Following the tour, guests are able to tour the exhibition galleries.
Self-guided Walking Tours
Scottsdale is a fairly compact city and maps are available from the tourist board website (experiencescottsdale.com) that allow visitors to explore the Historic Old Town and ten of the most celebrated examples of Public Art on display in Scottsdale through one-hour, self-guided tours. Chocoholics will love the dedicated Chocolate Tour, visiting the Old Town’s chocolatiers and sampling chocolate in its many forms: cupcakes, truffles, hot chocolate and so on. Still on a foodie theme, guided ‘Sip and Savour’ tours offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy ‘Wine Walkabout’ or ‘Craft Draft’ tours. Sample award-winning wines and tasty light bites at restaurants and wineries, or locally brewed beers and pub-style dishes at tap rooms and micro-breweries on convivial afternoons strolls.
Colours & Canyons Tour
To explore more of Arizona, enjoy a full-day tour, heading north by car from Scottsdale and the Sonoran Desert to discover the incredible red rock formations of Sedona, the Grand Canyon and awesome, far-reaching desert landscapes. Sedona itself is a laid-back town with a spiritual, sacred, arty vibe beloved of the Native Americans. Revel in the mystical ambience and take lots of photographs! Travel the length of Oak Creek Canyon, then on to the Grand Canyon to experience a thrilling helicopter ride over this breathtaking natural Wonder of the World, spying the snaking Colorado River and incredible Painted Desert in the distance as you swoop over Dragon’s Corridor, the widest and deepest part of the canyon. Following the 45-minute flight, you’ll return to Scottsdale by car, exploring the picturesque, thirty-mile, stretch of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, then weave down into the truly outstanding landscapes of the Navajo Nation and Painted Desert, stopping en route at an authentic Navajo trading post.
For further information or to book your next luxury holiday to Scottsdale, Arizona, please call our team of expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 221.