Visiting Phoenix, Arizona? Make sure to visit Scottsdale, too. Here’s your travel guide of fun (and some free!) things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona including the best restaurants, resorts, nightlife, hiking, Old Town and more.
Early Morning Hike at Camelback Mountain
Camelback Mountain is one of the most popular hikes near Scottsdale. Given the heat, it’s best to visit first thing in the morning, otherwise you’ll be melting like me. Grab a big bottle of water, sunscreen, a hat and go. You’ll be okay in regular gym shoes, but if you have hiking boots, by all means, wear those instead. You’ll want to budget about 2-3 hours for the entire experience.
Where to Park for Camelback Mountain
Do NOT park on Cholla Lane unless you want to get towed. Don’t even let someone drop you off there either. There are signs all over showing the appropriate drop-off area, so try to be respectful to the residents in the area. If you’re driving, park on Invergordon Road for free. You’ll see signs for Cholla Trail and once you get to the intersection of Invergordon and Cholla Lane, you’re on the right path.
This is one of the best references I’ve found online for Camelback Mountain:
Post Hike Breakfast at Butters Cafe
Butters Cafe in Scottsdale is a must-do after that strenuous hike. I’d recommend splitting one of the adventurous pancake stacks (cinnamon roll flavor!) along with something savory like eggs benedict.
Pool Time and/or Spa (If your budget allows for it)
Now, time to escape the heat and relax. Whether you’re at the pool or visiting the spa, make sure you spend some time relaxing while you’re in Scottsdale. There are SO many spas that you can find an experience at all price points. And if you’re on a budget, just enjoy the pool at your hotel.
Lunch at Postino
Now that you’ve relaxed and maybe napped, it’s time for lunch at Postino in Scottsdale. There’s really only one thing you MUST HAVE here and it’s the bruschetta. Opt for a sample and pick whichever 4 flavor combinations you’re in the mood for. The Brie & Apples with Fig Spread was almost like dessert to me, but amazing nonetheless. I also loved the simple salami with pesto.
Dessert from Fatty Daddys
Now that you’ve enjoyed a bunch of carbs. head to Fatty Daddy’s for dessert. ? They are known for their amazing cookie cups with combine 2 scoops of ice cream, a fresh macaron and a toasted marshmallow. 1000% worth the calories. If you’re dairy free that also offer a ton of sorbets!
Desert Botanical Garden
You can’t miss the desert botanical garden during a visit to Scottsdale or Phoenix. It’s a truly stunning space to spend a few hours getting lost in. Keep track of the time you visit, and you’ll hopefully make it in time for the butterfly exhibit too. You’ll see tons of different cacti and plants and also learn some history about the early settlers in the desert. It’s definitely a family friendly experience, but I loved it even as a solo traveler.
You will most likely witness several engagement photo shoots during your visit – I swear I saw at least 3!
Random, but I wish I would have worn closed toe shoes when visiting instead of sandals. Part of the space is sandy and it was a little distracting getting sandals and pebbles in my shoes.
Old Town Scottsdale
Afterwards, head to Old Town Scottsdale for some shopping and to pick out souvenirs. There are loads of small boutiques, some art galleries and lots of unique places to pop into. You can even grab a drink or two in one of the bars.
While you’re in Old Town, make sure to put your name on the list at The Mission. The wait will be long, but worth it. This is when you can either face the crowd and grab a drink inside or walk around Old Town some more. Make sure to work up an appetite for lots of latin cuisine.
How would you spend 24 hours in Scottsdale? Where’s your favorite place to eat or most loved hike? There’s lots to see in this city – and I’m hoping to visit again soon so let me know what I missed below!