With over 330 days of sun each year, arts, culture, and outdoor activities galore, Scottsdale is a dream destination for any type of traveler. Perhaps you’re looking for things to do in Scottsdale this weekend, next month, or even today? This gem of a city is known for a higher-than-average number of spas, golf courses, and malls, and foodies from around the world flock to the incredible Scottsdale restaurants and bars. There are also plenty of Scottsdale things to do for outdoor enthusiasts and families, from scenic hikes to renowned museums. But for any visit to this desert oasis, you deserve more than a tiny room at one of the Scottsdale hotels or an overpriced stay at one of the Scottsdale resorts. Treat yourself to the space and privacy you crave at Stay Alfred’s travel apartments at Broadstone Scottsdale Quarter, The District, or The Palladium, all perfect answers to the question of where to stay in Scottsdale.
Just about 10 miles east of Phoenix, Scottsdale is part of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, often referred to as the Valley of the Sun. While “Valley of Fun” would also be a fitting name, the sunny, warm weather is a hallmark of the area’s culture and a major draw for year-round visitors. For the past hundred years, Phoenix has maintained its status as a thriving center of farming, industry, and business, and Scottsdale’s rise to fame began in the 1970s as ranchers began turning their land into neighborhoods and housing developments. Since the city expanded with intention, it’s still spacious and easy to navigate today. Scottsdale proper spans about 30 miles from north to south, with the Kierland neighborhood on the north end, Gainey Ranch, McCormick Ranch, and Paradise Valley in the middle, and Old Town toward the south. Further down, you’ll find the Salt River and Tempe, home to Arizona State University.
Reminding us of Miami’s glitzy South Beach, Scottsdale is home to a vibrant nightlife scene, luxurious spas, and top-notch restaurants. Maybe Valley of the Sun should be renamed “Valley of Fun” for the massive amount of leisure activities found here. From water parks to poolside clubs and hiking trails to shopping malls, Scottsdale is the ultimate warm-weather destination for any interest. And when you need to beat the heat, just head inside to any of the air-conditioned attractions around town.
No matter what brings you to this jewel in the Wild West, there is a plethora of fun things to do in Scottsdale to make your trip one for the books. And the ideal launchpad to savor it all is a modern Stay Alfred vacation rental in Scottsdale. We’re all about giving you the best possible Arizona experience, so we have a super friendly customer service team, full kitchens in every apartment, and, best of all, ice-cold air conditioning that will literally feel like a breath of fresh air after the scorching desert heat. Ahhh, the wonder that is A/C. Although it’s tempting, you can’t spend your whole time in Scottsdale indoors; we’ll show you the best things to do in Scottsdale, from the most beautiful parks to the hottest nightlife, so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.
With sun, sand, and saguaros, be sure to visit Scottsdale’s natural wonders
You’ve come all the way to the desert, so you have to get out and explore at least a little bit of this unique landscape. Maybe you have visions of sand dunes and Arabian camels when you think of the desert, but the Sonoran Desert, stretching throughout the greater Phoenix area, has a very diverse landscape. Home to cacti, wildflowers, birds, and lizards, this dry environment is very much alive, and there’s no better way to take it all in than by exploring the best parks in Scottsdale. Just remember the #1 rule of cactus observation: don’t sit on it!
One of the area’s largest parks, the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve (30 minutes by car from Stay Alfred at Broadstone Scottsdale Quarter) includes over 18,000 acres of sprawling desert and over 35 miles of trails for running, hiking, and mountain biking. The trails range from paved and flat to extremely steep, so this park is kind of like a buffet in that it offers something for everyone. With fantastic desert views, outdoor art, and tons of local flora and fauna, it’s easy to spend a whole day here. But if you do, remember to bring plenty of sunscreen and water – the scorching sun has no mercy!
A little closer to Scottsdale proper, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve also gives easy access to the Sonoran Desert. Just a 10-minute drive east of Kierland and Stay Alfred at The District, this geological gem offers hiking trails, prime cacti viewing spots, and a mind-boggling 180+ miles of trails from the Gateway trailhead.
Only 15 minutes south of Old Town by car, Papago Park features the unique Hole in the Rock rock formations, a must-visit photo spot and a great vantage point to take in some sweet desert views. This expansive urban oasis is also home to the Desert Botanical Garden, a golf course, the Phoenix Zoo, and several ponds and lakes, so a simple visit to the park can easily become a full-day adventure.
Speaking of scenic viewpoints, the 2600-foot summit at Piestewa Peak Park is a must for any avid hikers. Just a 15-minute drive west of Stay Alfred at The Palladium, this trail is a bit more challenging, so leave the flip flops at home and don’t forget to bring enough agua. Pro tip: make the trek up in the late afternoon to catch one of the most gorgeous sunset views in the valley.
Are you an early riser? Dig in to the best brunch spots in Scottsdale
It’s no secret that Scottsdale restaurants serve some of the best food in the West, and breakfast is no exception. We know it’s tempting to hit the snooze button when that alarm goes off bright and early, but when you know these delicious morning meals are awaiting you, waking up just might be a little easier. Where is the best brunch in Scottsdale? It’s hard to pick one favorite when there are so many good ones to choose from, so you’ll just have to try them all for yourself.
If you’re greeting the day at Stay Alfred at the Palladium, you’re in luck! This Old Town vacation rental is just minutes away from some of the best breakfast spots in the area. We love the authentic French pastries at Merci, a lovely 7-minute walk away. Even though France is pretty far from Arizona, it’s easy to forget that you’re in Phoenix instead of Provence while you’re sinking your teeth into a buttery, flaky croissant. For some more substantial morning fare, head over to Breakfast Club for steak and eggs or a breakfast burrito. Old Town has some healthy options too, like Alo Cafe, featuring a cozy morning vibe and a sunny patio, or Farm & Craft, serving high-protein pancakes, acai bowls, and cage-free eggs.
Further north, pancake lovers can’t miss Butterfield's Pancake House, a Gainey Ranch favorite known for hot, tasty skillets and their myriad of flapjack flavors, like banana, pecan, and cinnamon roll. And just a few more miles up Scottsdale Road, Snooze, in the upmarket Kierland Commons (only a 5-minute walk from Stay Alfred at The District and 7 minutes from Stay Alfred at Broadstone Scottsdale Quarter), has one of the most popular breakfast scenes in the Valley. Expect a line on weekend mornings, but the wait is 100% worth it. We’re huge fans of their chili verde benedict and the sweet potato pancakes. Oh, and the egg and belly bacon sandwich. We could go on and on…
Maybe a boozy brunch is more your style? Find your way to North Scottsdale’s O.H.S.O. Distillery, where you can pair your chicken and waffles or fruity pebble-crusted French toast with one of their 36 beers on draft or some fresh juice spiked with house-made spirits. Talk about starting the day off right!
WTD Scotts - Maybe fine dining is more your style. Check out the top restaurants in Scottsdale
Not only do Scottsdale’s beautiful hiking trails present the perfect opportunity to admire the desert plants and wildlife, they also provide a great excuse to savor a memorable meal at one of the best restaurants in Scottsdale. The Valley of the Sun is a burgeoning culinary destination, with a growing number of seafood restaurants in Scottsdale, vegetarian options, and plenty of local Scottsdale food favorites to satisfy any appetite.
With many upscale eateries in the Scottsdale area, where do you start? The meat-atarians among us would agree that nothing tastes better than a thick, juicy steak after a packed day of activities, so we recommend heading over to Steak 44, possibly the best steakhouse Scottsdale, when you’re in the mood to treat yourself. Known for high-quality meats and an extensive wine list, this spot is perfect for a date night or an important business dinner. But maybe you prefer a stronger beverage with your steak; Old Town’s Bourbon & Bones is the stuff of boozy, beefy dreams. Indulge in one of their 320 bourbons, scotches, and whiskeys - you deserve it. And the sherry-infused mushrooms are the ideal accompaniment to their signature bone-in ribeye. Drooling yet?
Scottsdale isn’t just about steak, and despite its desert surrounds, there are a surprising number of excellent seafood restaurants in the area. Craving New England-style clam chowder, oysters, or soft shell crab? We guarantee South Scottsdale is not the place you’d find some of the best, especially not in the underground dining room at Salt Cellar. A pioneer in the genius idea of flying in the country’s best seafood (talk about next-level food delivery), Salt Cellar serves Maryland blue crabs, Maine lobster, and Florida grouper that were literally caught that day, so this place gets our vote for the best seafood restaurant in Scottsdale. Looking for a more casual seafood option? Swing by Coconut's Fish Cafe in Kierland for tasty Hawaiian-style fish tacos, calamari, and coconut shrimp.
But the top restaurants in Scottsdale aren’t all focused on meat. Near Papago Park, Green New American Vegetarian specializes in delicious veggie fare that will make even the most carnivorous eaters reevaluate their life choices. From mock chicken wings and burgers to veggie samosas and chili-topped fries, this spot is the ultimate place for comfort food that is healthy and delicious (or healthier, at least). Another veg-focused option is Flower Child, at the scenic base of Camelback Mountain. What better way to fuel up before or after a hike than some avocado toast or a giant, colorful salad? Meat-eaters, you’re welcome here; Flower Child offers sustainable steak and salmon as add-ons to any dish.
Looking to try something on the cutting edge of Scottsdale gastronomy? Some of the best restaurants in Old Town are relatively new additions to the Scottsdale restaurant scene. We’re all about the buzz at FnB, a trendy eatery specializing in farm-to-table fare. For a desert destination, Scottsdale boasts an incredible amount of locally grown produce, and there’s no better place to savor it than this Old Town spot. Or, for a more romantic meal, visit Sel, an upscale dining room with impeccable service and serious culinary chops. We recommend their 4-course tasting menu to sample the best of their new American fare.
Have something on your wishlist? Get your retail fix at Scottsdale’s top malls
Amazon is great, but there’s just something about perusing the stores of a real-life mall that brings us more satisfaction than 1-click ordering. And if you’re going to hit up the shops anywhere, make it Scottsdale, home to some of the country’s best shopping centers. Maybe Valley of the Malls would be an appropriate moniker for the greater Phoenix area, because it seems like locals are as passionate about getting their retail therapy as they are about golf and spa days.
The most well-known mall in Scottsdale, and definitely one of the nicest, is Scottsdale Fashion Square, conveniently located less than a mile from Old Town and Stay Alfred at the Palladium. The complex is anchored by Macy’s Dillard’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus, and it features high-end boutiques and a variety dining options. It’s one of the top 25 most-visited retail centers in the United States, so it’s a must for any shopaholic or walkaholic. Let’s just say your Fitbit will be smiling after spending a day strolling around here!
Stay Alfred at Broadstone Scottsdale Quarter is the perfect place to stay if your Scottsdale trip is more of a shopping trip. Nestled next to the Scottsdale Quarter mall and minutes from Kierland Commons and The Promenade, North Scottsdale is the area’s de facto shopping district. Highlights include the twinkling lights and romantic fountains found on a nighttime stroll around Scottsdale Quarter and the impressive restaurant scene at Kierland Commons, with favorites like The Greene House (California-style cuisine) and Chloe's Corner (tasty sandwiches and salads).
Trying to entertain tiny travelers? Check out these top things to do in Scottsdale with kids
Traveling with kids is no easy feat, especially when visiting a city known mostly for attractions that are a bit kid-unfriendly. What do you mean, your kids won’t jump at the chance to play a round of golf or enjoy a deep tissue massage at a luxurious spa? They’re not into the nightclub scene? Really? Not to worry, there are a plethora of fun things to do in Scottsdale with kids, and a few of them are air-conditioned too!
When the desert heat makes the kiddos a little cranky, make a beeline for the OdySea Aquarium, a massive mecca of marine life that is like a cool drink of water after some time in the sun. This indoor attraction features nearly every aquatic animal you can think of, from cute otters to ferocious sharks, in kid-friendly exhibits and pools with giant windows. Budding marine scientists can even attend Q&A sessions with experts and take in-depth tours of the shark and penguin habitats. Be sure to check out Butterfly Wonderland, another awesome animal attraction, just next door.
If the young’uns are into animals, and you’re looking for more zoologic entertainment after a day at the aquarium, head to the Phoenix Zoo. Located in the middle of Papago Park (also home to the Arizona Heritage Center, another kid-friendly attraction), the Phoenix Zoo is a full-day entertainment destination. With over 1000 animals, a petting zoo, and a rehabilitation center for endangered species from around the world, the 2.5 miles of walking trails provide a sort of animal tour of the world. The largest privately owned zoo in the country, this one is not to be missed.
Scottsdale’s outdoor activities are great, but at a certain point there will be the inevitable “I’m hot” complaints. We recommend two remedies for the sweaty little ones: either chill out in a freezing-cold movie theater - Harkins Camelview at Scottsdale Fashion Square is our favorite - or let them cool off in the 2.5-million-gallon pool at Big Surf. This super-sized water park is only 10 minutes south of Stay Alfred at The Palladium and Old town, making it a great diversion when you don’t want to trek all the way out of town. With water slides, playgrounds, and real waves in the pool, it might be hard to convince the kids to leave this one, but when you do leave, they’ll probably fall asleep in the car - it’s that much fun.
Why settle for watching the game on TV when you can see it for yourself (or play it yourself) at these Scottsdale area athletics venues
While Scottsdale doesn’t have the die-hard fandom like Boston or Chicago, athletics are still a central part of life in the Valley of the Sun. Most notably, the Scottsdale area boasts over 200 golf courses, so your visit is the perfect excuse to work on your swing. With no shortage of course options for any skill level, Scottsdale has everything from low-key public courses to the award-winning TPC Scottsdale, home to the Champions Course and the Stadium Course, a PGA Tour stop. TPC Scottsdale is just a 5-minute drive from Stay Alfred at Broadstone Scottsdale Quarter - how convenient!
Maybe golf isn’t your thing, but you still want to indulge your sporty side; head over to the Scottsdale Sports Complex, just a stone’s throw from the TPC golf courses. This well-maintained sports center has soccer fields, a basketball court, running or walking trails, and even a playground for the little ones. Or, bring a picnic and soak up some rays in the expansive lawns.
Or if watching someone else play sounds more appealing than working up a sweat yourself, Scottsdale is also home to the San Francisco Giants’ spring training stadium - the aptly named Scottsdale Stadium - in the heart of Old Town. Just a half mile from Stay Alfred at the Palladium, this is your best bet for cheap Giants’ tickets in February and March.
Looking to get your drink on? Scottsdale nightlife is not to be missed
Just when you thought the Valley of the Sun couldn’t get any hotter… Scottsdale boasts an incredibly popular bar and nightlife scene that has something for every type of reveler. We’ll give you the run-down on the best happy hours in Scottsdale, our favorite bars, trendiest clubs, and some unique Scottsdale nightlife options too. With exciting things happening every night, we guarantee you’ll never be thirsty or bored here.
Get the night off to a good start with a happy hour in Scottsdale, and Old Town is your best bet for happy hour specials. Swing by Vines & Hops, just a 5-minute walk from Stay Alfred at The Palladium, offering discounted local beers and wine by the glass every weeknight. Plus, they have darts and a patio. What’s not to love? Another happy hour favorite is Citizen Public House, pouring half-priced beers, wines, and a cocktail of the day - every single day. Their happy hour snacks are worth a mention too, like the bacon fat-topped heirloom popcorn and chorizo-glazed wings. Cheers!
When the sun goes down, Scottsdale nightlife starts up, with bars or clubs suitable for any kind of night you wish to have. Keep it classy at Kazimierz World Wine Bar, an eclectic Old Town favorite featuring, of course, plenty of wine, as well as live jazz and Latin music. Or expand your taste for Arizona beer at Scapegoat, a local hangout with small plates to accompany your pint or glass of pinot.
Searching for a bit more buzz? The rock ‘n roll-inspired Rockbar Inc. hosts live bands playing music until the wee hours everyday, and Casablanca Rooftop Lounge hosts bands every weekend on its elevated, open-air stage. Also in Old Town, Wasted Grain keeps the party going with not one, but three bars and spacious dance floors and lounge areas.
Does Scottsdale’s nightlife scene remind you of Vegas? Parallels are definitely there, especially when you pay a visit to Casino Arizona, the closest casino to the Phoenix metro area, or Maya Day and Nightclub, featuring an outdoor pool and live DJs that would fit right in on the Strip.
Turn off the Netflix documentary and learn something new at Scottsdale’s museums
As it was only officially incorporated 1951, Scottsdale is a relatively young city. But despite its youth, this desert city boasts impressive cultural attractions. In the city’s early years it attracted a variety of artists, including famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose influence on the Scottsdale area is still seen today. Architecture fans can visit Wright’s Taliesin West home, which also contains an architecture school today, or visit the towering, blue Frank Lloyd Wright Spire at the The Promenade mall.
In addition to the architectural attractions, Scottsdale is home to a renowned collection of modern work at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Also featuring a sculpture garden, the building itself is worth a visit, with a distinctive, minimalist look. And, if you visit on a Thursday, admission is free.
One of the more unique museums in the area, Scottsdale’s Musical Instrument Museum is a must-see for anyone who has played a musical instrument - or anybody who is a fan of music in general. This fascinating place is located on the north side of Scottsdale and holds instruments from all over the world, including some you can try for yourself. With nearly 7000 instruments on display, maybe you’ll find a new hobby!
If the Musical Instrument Museum puts you in a musical mood, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts holds concerts, musicals, and plays several times each week. Ranging from classical orchestra concerts to folk singers, there’s likely a show up your alley during your time in town. And in a theatre holding less than 1000 people, the shows still feel pretty intimate.
Indulge in some R&R at the best Scottsdale spas
Visiting Scottsdale without going to a spa is like visiting New York City and missing out on the Statue of Liberty or going all the way to San Francisco but failing to catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. In this spa-centric city, you have a myriad of options, from traditional spa to medical spas, and even dog spas. To avoid analysis paralysis (the last thing you want when you’re trying to get your zen on), we’ve narrowed down some of the best spas in Scottsdale to give you a good start.
Looking for luxury? One of our favorite high-end spas is the Sanctuary Spa at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, offering scenic views of Camelback Mountain that will have you feeling relaxed before your spa service even begins. This Asian-inspired spa features a Zen meditation garden and a calming reflection pond, and it has been rated as one of the best spas in the world for the last several years.
Another luxe option is the The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, a scenic 20-minute drive from Stay Alfred at The Palladium. Head here for the ultimate day of rejuvenation and pampering, since spa guests also gain access to the resorts pools with the purchase of a spa service. This spa uses products inspired by the desert, so you’ll really get the full Arizona experience. Interested in combining a golf outing with a day at the spa? After playing a round, try their signature golfer’s massage.
Perhaps you want a top-notch spa experience without the resort-sized price tag. Do as the locals do and head to Nova, a German-inspired day spa that incorporates organic products into their services. Known for their facials, Nova is a great place to get pampered with a herb-infused massage or a facial from an expert.
Beat the heat with a treat from these Scottsdale sweet spots
Nothing tastes better than ice cream on a hot day… Or gelato. Or sorbet. Or a popsicle… You get the picture. And when the mercury rises steadily as each Scottsdale day goes on, you have plenty of excuses to savor a sweet treat.
You can’t beat the classics, and for a scoop of some good, old-fashioned vanilla, head to Sweet Republic. This local chain has a couple of locations across the Valley, and they all serve their signature, handcrafted ice cream. Their Madagascar Vanilla is always a crowd-pleaser, and for something a little different, try the Rhubarb Crumble or Earl Grey Tea. Living life dairy free? No problem. Sweet Republic also serves a variety of vegan sorbets in flavors like coconut and pomegranate sangria.
Want a scoop with a side of nostalgia? Try Sugar Bowl in Old Town, where Scottsdale locals have been enjoying malts, milkshakes, and banana splits since 1958. When was the last time you slurped down a root beer float? Sugar Bowl has all the classics, from Butter Pecan to Rocky Road. You’ll feel like a kid again in this charming, old-school spot.
Sources say gelato is healthier than ice cream, and while its a mystery as to who the “sources” really are, we’ll take it. Feel better about your choice in dessert when you savor a sweet scoop of authentic Italian gelato from The Gelato Spot. Another Old Town favorite, their gelato is housemade and features some unique flavors like chocolate chip waffle caramel (yum), oatmeal raisin, and green tea. Their non-dairy gelatos hit the spot too, with flavors like pineapple and mango. Or, stick to the Italian classics like tiramisu, stracciatella, or pistachio. And if you’re still hungry after your gelato, dig into a thin-crust pizza from their wood-fired oven. Buon appetito!
Wondering where to stay in Scottsdale? Stay Alfred’s vacation rentals in Scottsdale are stylish and convenient
Whether you’re into the upscale vibe of Scottsdale’s northern neighborhoods or the nightlife scene in Old Town, Stay Alfred has a Scottsdale vacation rental that will make you feel at home. We’re all about showing you the local side of town, which is why we’ve chosen apartments in two of locals’ favorite districts - Kierland and Old Town. All of our travel apartments feature fast WiFi, cable TV, and in-unit laundry, so there’s no need to worry about how you’ll stream the next season of your latest Netflix obsession or wash out the desert dust from your new white pants. On second thought, maybe just leave the white pants at home - you’d rather be enjoying happy hour than doing laundry, anyway!
Among tree-lined streets and a slew of sophisticated restaurants, Stay Alfred at the Palladium is perfect for any business or leisure traveler. Featuring luxe walk-in closets, private balconies, and full kitchens in every unit, these Scottsdale travel apartments are the real deal. And the building amenities aren’t too bad either, including a 24-hour fitness center with the latest equipment, a resident lounge and theater room, and a stunning outdoor pool surrounded by landscaped courtyards.
On the north side of town, Stay Alfred at Broadstone Scottsdale Quarter is perfectly located for shopping, hiking, and dining out. Each spacious unit includes a comfy sofa, walk-in closets, and a full kitchen. Not planning on cooking? The expansive countertops make excellent storage areas, and the freezer is large enough to stick your head into when you need to cool down after some time in the hot sun. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Outside, there’s a resort-style saltwater pool that’s just begging for you to take a dip, manicured courtyards, and a sparkling fitness center with all the bells and whistles.
And we love Kierland so much we set up shop twice! In addition to Stay Alfred at Broadstone Scottsdale Quarter, you’ll find Stay Alfred at The District. This swanky oasis is the pinnacle of luxury; you’ll never lack things to do when just downstairs from your spacious travel apartment, there are amenities like a virtual golf simulator, a huge swimming pool with cabanas, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and a game room. Naturally, the apartments themselves ooze class and sophistication, with features like walk-in closets and fully equipped kitchens. Not only is Stay Alfred at The District found in one of the best neighborhoods for shopping and entertainment, the building itself it like its own little neighborhood!
Photos courtesy of Experience Scottsdale and Stay Alfred.