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Home | Elegant Traveller | Room to Roam: 7 Things to Do in Scottsdale

Elegant Traveller

Room to Roam: 7 Things to Do in Scottsdale

schedule4 Minute Read

Amy Henderson

Adventure awaits on your luxury Scottsdale holiday...

Hero image credits:
Tom Mackie (top) and Jenna McKone (bottom) for Experience Scottsdale

A seriously spacious and dynamic desert city in the east of Arizona, Scottsdale promises plenty of alfresco activities and unique adventures - from art walks and world-class golf to superb shopping and seriously scenic hiking in the desert - as well as some utterly exceptional luxury hotels. To help you plan your luxury Scottsdale holiday, here are seven (of many) things to do during your stay.

1. Explore the Old Town

The vibrant heart of the city is Scottsdale Old Town, which beautifully blends urban chic and Old West charm. There's simply so much to see and discover as you stroll through its nine walkable neighbourhoods. You may choose to sample delicious local dishes on a guided food tour or try out renowned Arizona label as you wander the Wine Trail. If museums are your thing, don't miss the super-cool exhibitions at the cutting-edge Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by award-winning architect Will Bruder. The minimalist building includes a public "skyspace" by the acclaimed artist James Turrell (one of only a handful in the world), where you can experience the ever-changing light of the desert sky. Or, head back in time and embrace the spirit of the American West at Scottsdale's Museum of the West. If you tire of walking, historical golf carts can whisk you through the charming Old Town, whilst there's also complimentary parking if you're hiring a car.

2. Marvel at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

If Scottsdale's bustling Old Town is the city's heart, the Sonoran Desert is its soul. Amid its sprawling red sands, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is dedicated to cherishing the local landscape. Here, enjoy exceptional hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock-climbing and trail running experiences on 225 miles of trails, including the award-winning Bajada Nature Trail.
Tom's Thumb Trail in Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve (Credit: Joel Hazelton for Experience Scottsdale)
Tom's Thumb Trail in Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve (Credit: Joel Hazelton for Experience Scottsdale)

3. Shop until you drop

For a touch (or more) of retail therapy, there is a duo of upscale open-air shopping centres on either side of Scottsdale Road: Kierland Commons & Scottsdale Quarter. As well as a wealth of designer and boutique stores, there's plenty to keep the whole family busy - from restaurants and day spas to splashpads for the little ones. In Scottsdale Old Town, browse the latest on-trend styles at Scottsdale Fashion Square or the 5th Avenue shops. Over 35 eating establishments and 80 specialty shops are within a five-minute walk of the famous Bob Park's Horse Fountain, one of Arizona's most photographed spots.

4. Tour the Taliesin West architectural school

Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright was so captivated by the Sonoran Desert's natural beauty and sunny climate that he chose Scottsdale as the location for his winter home and architectural school, Taliesin West, back in 1937. This is Scottsdale's only National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It serves as a prime example of Wright's organic architecture, showcasing striking structures that are built of the rocks and sand of the Sonoran Desert and meld to the lower McDowell Mountains. Daily tours (either with an audio or in-person guide) provide an insider's look into Wright's airy, ingenious designs and his ability to seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor spaces.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Scottsdale (Credit: An Pham for Experience Scottsdale)
Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Scottsdale (Credit: An Pham for Experience Scottsdale)

5. Head off-road into the desert

Whether you're an adventure junkie or simply seeking a little southwestern history and culture, no luxury Scottsdale holiday is complete without heading into the depths of the dreamy desert. Hop in a Jeep or Hummer for guided tours into the Sonoran Desert's most remote locales, learning all about the area's fascinating eco-system, geology and cultural history.

6. Enjoy the Scottsdale ArtWalk

If you're an art lover, don't miss the renowned and completely complimentary Scottsdale ArtWalk that takes place each Thursday evening between 7 and 9pm. Browsers and buyers alike are welcomed with live music, artist demonstrations and exhibit openings in the galleries along Main Street and Marshall Way in the Old Town Arts District. As well as the regular evening, special themed events take place throughout the year, including the Summer Spectacular ArtWalk in July and the fabulously festive Scottsdazzle ArtWalk in December.

7. Play at the some of the best golf courses in the world

Golf fanatics will be in pure paradise thanks to the choice of legendary golf courses in Scottsdale - including TPC Scottsdale, Troon North and Grayhawk. Add in stunning Sonoran Desert and mountain views at every turn, impeccably manicured greens and top-notch staff, and you'd be hard pressed to find a more welcoming place to enjoy the round of a lifetime.
Troon North Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Troon North Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Luxury Hotels in Scottsdale

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
Perfect for: South West styling
Why? This hotel has all the fabulous Four Seasons bells and whistles, whilst still maintaining a unique sense of place, keeping very much to the South West style of the property with a modern twist.

The Phoenician
Perfect for: Family fun
Why? The fabulous Funician's Club will keep little ones happily entertained, whilst there's also a Kidzone splash pool area and an athletics club for sports-mad minis.

Canyon Suites at The Phoenician
Perfect for: Exclusivity seekers
Why? This intimate 60-room boutique hideaway is part of the larger Phoenician resort. It combines privacy and its own exclusive facilities (including a pool area and cabanas) with the wider resort's amenities (including various restaurants and a spa), whilst also offering access to a car that can take you into the Old Town.

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Perfect for: Spa lovers
Why? The Willow Stream Spa is easily one of the best in Scottsdale, paying tribute to the Arizona landscape - both in its design and its natural, locally inspired treatments.

Andaz Scottsdale
Perfect for: Art enthusiasts
Why? Alongside a minimalistic design and unique bungalow architecture, they have a partnership with Cattletrack Arts Compound, a local artist community. They offer experiences with them, as well as featuring their local art throughout the resort.
Andaz Scottsdale
Andaz Scottsdale

Amy Henderson

Content Team Leader

From driving along the sun-kissed California coast and whale watching in Canada, to swimming with turtles in Barbados, cookery classes in Oman and touring temples in Thailand, I've enjoyed some amazing experiences around the world. With a genuine love for all things travel, I can't think of anything I'd rather do than research, experience and share incredible destinations, luxury hotels and bespoke adventures.

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