Scottsdale travel guide

Scottsdale Tourism | Scottsdale Guide

You're Going to Love Scottsdale

Relaxed, sun-soaked and full of outdoor attractions, Scottsdale is a jewel in the Arizona desert. Whenever you need to get away, the city will be ready to welcome you to its restaurants, galleries, shopping malls, and golf courses.

Art fans will be in their element at Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home at Taliesin and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Sports lovers can spend their days playing championship courses like the TPC Scottsdale, while couples can stroll along the city's network of canals, taking in the desert scenery.

The food is great too, with gourmet Mexican, traditional American, and European cuisines all represented. The sun always shines, the people are friendly, so why not book a trip to Scottsdale straight away?

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Scottsdale

1. Fantastic Artistic Attractions

It might be the pure Arizona sunlight or the relaxed lifestyle, but Scottsdale always attracts an artistic crowd. You can see architect Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home at Taliesin West, admire sculptures by leading names like Robert Indiana, or check out the collection at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

2. Plenty of Ways to Unwind

Scottsdale is the perfect place to relax. Whether you do so on golf courses like TPC Scottsdale, Troon North, and Grayhawk, visit spa resorts like VH Spa or just need a little retail therapy, it's hard not to relax during a Scottsdale vacation.

3. The Network of Scenic Canals

The valley that Scottsdale sits in is criss-crossed by around 130 miles of agricultural canals. Almost all of them are open for the public to wander along and trails like the Arizona Canal Path link together the neighborhoods of Scottsdale (along with Phoenix and nearby Glendale).

4. Upscale Boutique Shopping

Scottsdalians are keen shoppers and visitors to the city will be spoiled for choice, thanks to the huge number of fashion stores. If you love to stay on point with your apparel collection, places like Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall will be an essential part of your vacation itinerary.

5. Explore the Surrounds

Although its very much its own city, there's plenty to see outside Scottsdale. For one thing, it's right on the doorstep of Phoenix. With a rental car, you can watch NBA matches featuring the Phoenix Suns, visit the Heard Museum or the Arizona Science Center and be back in a luxury hotel for dinner. And the Sonoran Desert is available for exploration too, where you can hike at Pinnacle Peak, saddle up with Ride Horses Arizona, or soar above the rocks and valleys in hot air balloons.

What to do in Scottsdale

1. Taliesin West: The Top of the World

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright has made his mark across the country with his notable buildings constructed in a minimalist style. Like many modern artists, Lloyd Wright escaped to the vast Southwest for inspiration, placing Taliesin West, his winter home, at the foot of the McDowell Mountains - well worth exploring after a tour of the iconic house. Worth noting; the TPC Scottsdale's Stadium golf course is just down Frank Lloyd Wright Road.

2. Papago Park: Mars on Earth

Sunny Arizona is the heart of the American Southwest, and its flora and fauna are celebrated at Papago Park. Millions are drawn to the unique landscape of this enthrallingly arid and urban recreation zone by the great Phoenix Zoo and world-class Desert Botanical Garden. The desert seems to explode with diversity and color in the gardens, as local but alien-looking cacti fascinate and endangered desert species from all over the globe are given a safe home.

3. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art: The SMoCA

This popular institution displays world-class art, architecture and design from around the globe in ever-expanding galleries and an outdoor sculpture garden. There is something for everyone in these halls, with high-profile travelling exhibitions coming through on a regular basis, as well as countless educational programs for patrons of all ages. A favorite piece is the unique James Turrell's Knight Rise, where visitors can observe the serene, Southwestern sky.

4. Camelback Mountain: Red Sandstone Rock

Smack dab in the middle of Phoenix Valley, Camelback Mountain overlooks the whole region. Iconic and craggy red rocks mark the route over the "camel's hump" along the Cholla and Echo Canyon trails to the top, where the sky opens up and the city sprawls out below. The photo opportunities from up here are endless, and will be a long standing point of pride. Try to find the Scottsdale Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants during Baseball Spring Training.

5. Scottsdale Fashion Square: The Mall of all Malls

The largest luxury center in the American Southwest, Scottsdale Fashion Square is a shopper's paradise. In a country known for its epic malls, this one stands out above the rest with 2 million square feet of retail space. The pinnacle of fashion, cuisine and interior design is represented among the dazzling storefronts. Even if you just go for window shopping, a walk through these parts is sure to be memorable.

6. Mission San Xavier del Bac: Historic Spanish Mission

The Mission San Xavier del Bac is located within the Tohono O'odham San Xavier Indian Reservation, just south of downtown Tuscon. Founded in the late 17th century, today the active Mission includes a museum and gift shop, along with holding a regular Mass which the public can attend. The Mission is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the US. In addition to touring the opulently decorated church and Mission, be sure to check out the seasonal calendar of concerts and other events. The Mission is open to the public daily, except when special services are being held.

1. Taliesin West: The Top of the World

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright has made his mark across the country with his notable buildings constructed in a minimalist style. Like many modern artists, Lloyd Wright escaped to the vast Southwest for inspiration, placing Taliesin West, his winter home, at the foot of the McDowell Mountains - well worth exploring after a tour of the iconic house. Worth noting; the TPC Scottsdale's Stadium golf course is just down Frank Lloyd Wright Road.

2. Papago Park: Mars on Earth

Sunny Arizona is the heart of the American Southwest, and its flora and fauna are celebrated at Papago Park. Millions are drawn to the unique landscape of this enthrallingly arid and urban recreation zone by the great Phoenix Zoo and world-class Desert Botanical Garden. The desert seems to explode with diversity and color in the gardens, as local but alien-looking cacti fascinate and endangered desert species from all over the globe are given a safe home.

3. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art: The SMoCA

This popular institution displays world-class art, architecture and design from around the globe in ever-expanding galleries and an outdoor sculpture garden. There is something for everyone in these halls, with high-profile travelling exhibitions coming through on a regular basis, as well as countless educational programs for patrons of all ages. A favorite piece is the unique James Turrell's Knight Rise, where visitors can observe the serene, Southwestern sky.

4. Camelback Mountain: Red Sandstone Rock

Smack dab in the middle of Phoenix Valley, Camelback Mountain overlooks the whole region. Iconic and craggy red rocks mark the route over the "camel's hump" along the Cholla and Echo Canyon trails to the top, where the sky opens up and the city sprawls out below. The photo opportunities from up here are endless, and will be a long standing point of pride. Try to find the Scottsdale Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants during Baseball Spring Training.

5. Scottsdale Fashion Square: The Mall of all Malls

The largest luxury center in the American Southwest, Scottsdale Fashion Square is a shopper's paradise. In a country known for its epic malls, this one stands out above the rest with 2 million square feet of retail space. The pinnacle of fashion, cuisine and interior design is represented among the dazzling storefronts. Even if you just go for window shopping, a walk through these parts is sure to be memorable.

6. Mission San Xavier del Bac: Historic Spanish Mission

The Mission San Xavier del Bac is located within the Tohono O'odham San Xavier Indian Reservation, just south of downtown Tuscon. Founded in the late 17th century, today the active Mission includes a museum and gift shop, along with holding a regular Mass which the public can attend. The Mission is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the US. In addition to touring the opulently decorated church and Mission, be sure to check out the seasonal calendar of concerts and other events. The Mission is open to the public daily, except when special services are being held.

Where to Eat in Scottsdale

Scottsdale is known as one of the finest places to dine in Arizona, and especially for its Mexican eateries. Try the chile pork chops at the Old Town Tortilla Factory for starters but don't overlook the Mission, which offers great food and craft cocktails as well. If Mexican isn't your thing, Flourish at CopperWynd is an excellent "New American" gourmet restaurant, Roka Akor is a popular Japanese spot, and you can mix great food with craft beer at Citizen Public House. Expect mains at upscale restaurants to cost around $30, but most meals will come to less than $20 per head.

When to visit Scottsdale

Scottsdale in July
Estimated hotel price
$399
1 night at 3-star hotel
Scottsdale in July
Estimated hotel price
$399
1 night at 3-star hotel

Scottsdale is one of those destinations that always seems to be sunny (though it might be a bit too sunny from late June through early September, depending on your taste). January is a good time to be in town for golfers thanks to the Phoenix Open, while March is ideal for art fans thanks to the Scottsdale Arts Festival.

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Average
Celcius (°C)
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How to Get to Scottsdale

Plane

The most convenient way to reach Scottsdale is by plane. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) offers connections all over the USA and is a 20-minute drive away from the town. Companies like SuperShuttle also offer fast group taxis to major hotels and Uber taxis will cost around $50.

Train

Scottsdale doesn't have an Amtrak station, but Maricopa Station in Phoenix enjoys rail links to California and cities to the east. Services stopping there include the Sunset Limited from New Orleans, and the Texas Eagle, which runs as far as Chicago.

Car

Driving is a popular way to reach Scottsdale as well. If you are coming from Los Angeles, I-10 is the road to take. I-10 also approaches the city from the east, while those coming from San Diego can take I-8.

Bus

If you want to catch a bus to Scottsdale, your best option is to take a Greyhound bus to Phoenix. The bus station is on E Buckeye Rd, very close to Sky Harbor Airport, so the best route to Scottsdale is to take an airport shuttle or rent a car from one of the outlets at the airport.

Airlines serving Scottsdale

United Airlines
Good (2,948 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,376 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,505 reviews)
KLM
Good (359 reviews)
Air France
Good (439 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,405 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,588 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,166 reviews)
SWISS
Good (492 reviews)
Iberia
Good (965 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,319 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,673 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (295 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (598 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (117 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Good (390 reviews)
Finnair
Good (738 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (460 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (347 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (2,881 reviews)
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Where to stay in Scottsdale

The Old Town - Scottsdale's Old Town is the city's most picturesque neighborhood and it's ideal for family vacationers. The Old West-style streets are lined with craft stores, horse-drawn carriages run throughout the area, and the Museum of Contemporary Art is there too.

Popular Neighborhoods in Scottsdale

Fashion Square - the center of Scottsdale's upscale shopping scene is definitely Fashion Square. A neighborhood in itself, this massive mall is home to major brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Macy's, as well as plenty of smaller labels.

North Scottsdale - if you want to stay slightly out of town, North Scottsdale will have everything you need. Home to Troon North golf links and TPC Scottsdale, the neighborhood is a golfing nexus, but there are also great restaurants around, like Agave, La Hacienda, and Toro Latin Restaurant and Rum Bar. There are also artistic attractions here too, including the Marshall Gallery of Fine Art and Think Art at the Scottsdale Design Center.

Where to stay in popular areas of Scottsdale

Most booked hotels in Scottsdale

Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Excellent (9, Excellent reviews)
$793+
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
$1,047+
Scottsdale Plaza Resort
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$426+
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$873+
Talking Stick Resort
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$510+
Hyatt Regency Phoenix
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
$406+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Scottsdale

Public Transportation

Scottsdale is a sprawling place that is dominated by cars, but the downtown core actually has an excellent trolley system that is really handy for tourists. Designed to resemble 19th-century cable cars, the trolley is free of charge and connects the major galleries, shopping malls, and the Waterfront district.

Taxi

Taxis are another useful way to get around town and rates aren't too high. Expect to pay a meter drop of $2.90 and then $2.50 per subsequent mile. Uber is also active in Scottsdale and offer even lower rates of around $0.90 per mile, with a $0.40 meter drop.

Car

Renting a car is seen by many visitors to Scottsdale as an essential part of the experience, and companies in the city include Avis and Enterprise. It shouldn't be too expensive either, with rates as low as $30 for basic vehicle classes. If you do drive, look out for speed cameras and always stick to the local limits, as the city authorities are very strict about speeding.

Car hire agencies in Scottsdale

Enterprise

Enterprise

Hertz

Hertz

Avis

Avis
Find car hire in Scottsdale

The Cost of Living in Scottsdale

Shopping Streets

Fashion Square is one of America's largest malls, so it's naturally the center of gravity for shopping in Scottsdale. You could get lost in its forest of stores, which features major names like Microsoft, H&M, ALDO, Michael Kors, and Prada. For souvenirs and unique artworks, try downtown Scottsdale or the Waterfront. Places like Artisan Markets and the Marshall Way Arts District are full of unusual gift ideas.

Groceries and Other

Grocery prices in Scottsdale tend to be lower than the American average, so you can save money by choosing to self-cater. Expect to pay around $2.30 for a gallon of milk, and about $2.50 for 12 eggs at local supermarkets like Safeway, Trader Joe's, and Albertsons.

Cheap meal
$18.51
A pair of jeans
$61.68
Single public transport ticket
$3.09
Cappuccino
$6.30
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