Scottsdale, AZ, is a wonderful destination with a wealth of activities and attractions. Arizona, in general, has first-class spas, renowned golfing, limitless adventure, incredible nature preserves, history, and more. Thus, it is not too surprising that Scottsdale has an abundance of entertainment options, architectural wonders, botanical gardens, and wine tasting rooms—making it the perfect summer getaway spot. So, whether you are in need of some relaxation or just some good old-fashioned adventure, you will have no trouble finding it in this city. That said, here are the top ten bucket-list things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona.
10 McDowell Sonoran Preserve
If you want to explore the stunning Sonoran Desert in all its glory, then your first stop should be the gateway to this area, known as The McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Here, visitors will find some of the most diverse environments on earth. Spanning over 30,000 acres, checking out the McDowell Sonoran Preserve means travelers will have ample ground (over 100 miles of trails and at least six trailheads) to cover. What's more, there are an array of outdoor activities for nature lovers and adventurers alike, including hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife/bird watching.
9 McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Yet another fun and free thing to do in Scottsdale is to take a little trip down to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Located in the city's center, this park is truly a fascinating and one-of-a-kind location. As mentioned, admission here is free; however, if you want to ride the train, there is a minimal fee. This is an excellent option for families or anyone who loves trains and all locomotive-related things. So stop by to see incredible train models, delightful exhibits, a gauge railroad, a Magma Arizona Railroad locomotive, and the legendary clubs for model railroads. There is also an interactive railroad museum in the park, which offers up some fascinating railroad industry history and artifacts.
8 Desert Splash Adventures
Of course, if you prefer a tab bid more excitement, Desert Splash Adventures promises visitors an adrenaline-pumping good time and a unique way to see some of the sights in Scottsdale. For those who don't know, Desert Splash Adventures is seaplane canyoneering at its finest. Here, passengers can indulge in scenic flights with stunning vista views over Roosevelt Lake, Lake Powell, and the Sonoran Desert. Island Air Express is the company to pick for an eventful day with experienced bush pilots and a Cessna Caravan Amphibious Seaplane. Overall, this is a genuinely memorable way to have some fun in Scottsdale.
7 Fort McDowell Adventures
It only seems fitting that at least some of the time in Arizona should be spent horseback riding and Fort McDowell Adventures is an excellent choice for fun rides through the desert. Not only is this a wonderful way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, but it is also an incredible opportunity to see wild horses, cattle, cacti, mountains, and more. Plus, there is nothing like crossing a river on horseback. So if you are ready to feel like a cowgirl or cowboy, here is your chance.
6 Xeriscape Garden
Nature lovers looking for more foliage and wildlife can also check out the Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden. Located at Chaparral Park, this Certified Wildlife Habitat of the National Wildlife Federation is one of the unique things you can do in Scottsdale. Visitors can easily spend the afternoon exploring the over 5.5-acre expanse, marveling at the different species of flora, and appreciating the individual plants that call this area home. Thanks to an underwater reservoir, this garden is lush and healthy—all of which makes for some amazing photo opts.
5 Downtown Scottsdale
The downtown area of Scottsdale, also known as Old Town, has so much to offer visitors in the way of entertainment, attractions, and activities. Not only is this area rich with history, but it also has an array of fantastic shops, boutiques, award-winning restaurants, fun-filled bars, art galleries, and more. As an added bonus, most of the forms of entertainment you will find here are within easy walking distance of one another. So, if you have a free day, you should spend the day in Old Town. You can explore it all on your own in a few hours or sign up for a variety of informative walking tours.
4 Arizona Outdoor Fun ATVs
Another great outdoor activity here in Scottsdale that is fun for the whole family is all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and utility terrain vehicle (UTV) tours. Arizona Outdoor Fun is one of the leading companies to try if you are interested. Adventurers can enjoy a thrilling desert excursion into the beautiful Bradshaw Mountains. Riders can see the stunning vistas of the desert, canyons, the Agua Fria River, Indian ruins, and even an old former mining town. Plus, these incredible tours provide educational desert survival information and fascinating facts about the area.
3 Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art
For those looking to spend some time indoors, The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) is a lovely way to beat the heat and appreciate a collection of contemporary art. But that's not all; the SMoCA also has an extensive collection of architecture, exhibits, and designs from around the world. This is the perfect fun activity for art lovers, history buffs, and overall creative types. SMoCA is located in downtown Scottsdale, and there is always something trendy going on here. So make sure you check out this incredible museum if you have the time.
2 The Spa Scene
Scottsdale is known for its first-rate spa scene, so visitors will have more than a few options to choose from if they are looking for some quality pampering. Whether you are looking to kick back and relax or get your Zen on, there are ample luxurious spas that can accommodate you. Travelers can spend a few hours or even several days at one of these divine wellness centers, retreats, resorts, and desert oases. So why not travel, explore, have fun, and de-stress all at the same time?
1 Scottsdale Wine Trail
Last but not least, if you didn't know by now, Arizona is famous for a variety of reasons, and one of those reasons is its wine. With over 100 fantastic bonded wineries, each offering something different, it is not too shocking that the famous Scottsdale Wine Trail was born. The nice thing here is that there is a wide range of wines in this part of the world, so you don't have to be a wine connoisseur to appreciate this surefire good time. Plus, there are more than a few craft breweries nearby, so you can pick your poison or sample them all.