Scottsdale is such a fun spot to check out and if you haven’t been you should definitely add it to your travel list! I used to think that Scottsdale was like the AZ version of Palm Springs…but then I went to Palm Springs and realized that Scottsdale is way better. 😂 If you’re planning a trip there and looking for things to do in Scottsdale, I’ve put together a full three day itinerary for you!
Where to stay in Scottsdale: Scottsdale has a ton of gorgeous resorts, but I’ve got a couple of my favorite recs for you! For a Mediterranean feel and gorgeous spa, Omni Montelucia is your spot. And if you’re looking for mid-century modern vibes, Mountain Shadows Resort is the spot for you.
Scroll down for my three day itinerary with all the deets on things to do in Scottsdale, and be sure to check out my Top 10 Scottsdale Restaurants list!
Scottsdale Travel Guide
Things to do in Scottsdale, Day 1:
- Horseback riding in the desert. Start your trip off with a beautiful morning horseback ride through the desert! If you’re lucky, you might see a band of wild horses (so beautiful!) and other wildlife. The Sonoran desert is just stunning and you’ll get to see all the different cacti up close with gorgeous mountains as your backdrop.
- Grab brunch at Sweet Dee’s. After your ride, grab brunch and a treat (or three!) at Sweet Dee’s. Their breakfast sandwiches and toasts are delish, and their sweets are so yummy and adorable it’ll be hard to pick just one.
- Go shopping in Old Town Scottsdale. Walk around Old Town Scottsdale and do a bit of shopping. Between high-end shops, family-owned crafts stores, and art galleries, you’ll find something to pique your interest.
- Visit Taliesin West. About a half hour drive outside of Scottsdale, you’ll find Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home. The desert home of this famed architect is stunning from a design perspective, and has a lot of his personal touches on it since he was constantly making changes to it every year. Be sure to make reservations for a tour ahead of time.
- Take a stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden. The Desert Botanical Garden is beautiful and has so many interesting cacti to stroll through and admire. Be sure to check their website to see if there are any special events happening as you may want to book tickets in advance. For example, Electric Desert is a really fun light show in the evening that usually runs from October – May, and during the holidays they usually have Las Noches de las Luminarias.
- Dinner at Hearth ’61. Wrap up your first day with dinner and drinks at Heart ’61, the delicious restaurant at Mountain Valley Shadows. And might I suggest the lamb chops as well as saving room for a chocolatey dessert?
Things to do in Scottsdale, Day 2:
- Go on a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Book a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran desert and set your alarm early! We went with Hot Air Expeditions and I was really impressed with our captain who had basically been flying hot air balloons his whole life and was very focused on the weather and safety of our ride. Which is definitely important when you’re in a basket high in the sky. 😂 The views of the sun rising, the mountains, and the desert from the balloon are just stunning. If you’re not a morning person, Hot Air Expeditions also offer sunset rides November through mid-March.
- Lounge at the pool. Take some time to relax and nap by the pool—you’ve earned it after that early morning!
- Lunch at Diego Pops. Colorful, cute, and Instagrammable, Diego Pops serves delicious Mexican food with a fun ambiance.
- Have a relaxing spa afternoon. Scottsdale is known for its world class spas, so be sure to indulge in a relaxing afternoon. Joya Spa at the Omni Montelucia is definitely worth showing up early for so you can take advantage of all the sauna rooms, hot tub, and whispering room (a quiet room with beds draped in curtains where you can relax, read, nap). Omied also met me after my treatment to relax at the pool that is only for spa guests and has incredible mountain views. I was totally blissed out after my wonderful massage! My sister and I also did massages at The Phoenician Spa and it was also a wonderful experience. There’s also a private pool for spa guests at The Phoenician.
- Have dinner at Prado. Enjoy a delish Mediterranean dinner at Prado, complete with sangria. Afterwards you can grab a drink and relax by one of the outdoor fire pits.
Things to do in Scottsdale, Day 3:
- Go for a morning hike up Camelback Mountain. Before things start to heat up, hike up Camelback Mountain for some epic views.
- Lunch at Olive & Ivy. Reward yourself after that hike and have a yummy lunch at Olive & Ivy. Be sure to order the hummus because it’s bomb.
- Do something adventurous like an ATV ride through the desert or a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon! Get your adrenaline pumping by driving an ATV through the Sonoran desert or flying high over the Grand Canyon.
- Go wine tasting at LDV. I know what you’re thinking—wine tasting in Arizona? But give LDV a chance, because their wines might surprise you! They have a cute tasting room in Old Town, and you can enjoy trying their different wines while munching on a cheese plate.
- Dinner at The Mission. Ugghhhh this place is so good and prob one of my favorite restaurants in Scottsdale! The Mission combines Latin cuisine with Mexican, Spanish, and South American influences and the food is so great. Be sure to get the house made guac (which they make tableside), grilled street corn, and all of the tacos you can handle.