I absolutely love Scottsdale and I already know you are going to love it too! This beautiful city truly has it all… beautiful desert views, fun nightlife, unique & trendy restaurants, historic districts, tons of tours & activities, and a lot of fun day trip ideas!
I have been to Scottsdale countless of times because I live so close in Las Vegas, so who better to write a perfect Scottsdale itinerary?!
This weekend in Scottsdale itinerary is perfect for couples, couples trips, family trips, etc. If you are traveling with friends or for a bachelorette / bachelor party, this is not going to be tailored to you! I give some nightlife recommendations at the bottom of this guide, but the bulk of this itinerary is for sightseeing Scottsdale! 🙂
If you are traveling to Scottsdale with your significant other, don’t forget to check out my ultimate list of things to do in Scottsdale for couples!
There’s a chance this free guide contains affiliate links. This means, if you make a purchase through one of these links, I might make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that goes towards little Rosie’s dog treats! This partnership was also in paid collaboration with Experience Scottsdale, but all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!
Scottsdale Itinerary Overview
Explore Old Town!
Watch the sunset over 100+ year old cacti at the Desert Botanical Garden!
Get dinner at the best & most historical spot in town!
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon ride!
Most picturesque lunch spot in Old Town!
Old Town Gelato Tour with a small, family owned business!
Scottsdale Sight Seeing & My favorite dinner spot!
Outdoor Adventure Recommendations!
The best & most unique cocktails of your life for lunch!
Wine Bar hopping along the Scottsdale Wine Trail!
TONS of nightlife recommendations!
Where to Stay in Scottsdale?
From Someone Who Has Been Countless Times!
When choosing where to stay in Scottsdale, you have to decide if you want to be right in the middle of the action / walking distance to everything, or close enough to all the action, but in a more scenic and peaceful location!
I have stayed in both options and personally, I prefer to stay just outside of Old Town / Downtown Scottsdale, but still a very close Uber or golf cart ride away. Plus, you get those beautiful Camelback mountain views!
I have been to Scottsdale a few times now and overall my favorite stay was by far the Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale. The views around the property, short course golf course right on property, beautiful pool, fantastic restaurant & bar, and spacious rooms made our stay perfect!
And the best part.. they have daily events & workout classes making it feel more like a retreat than just a standard hotel experience! Click here to book your stay!
TIP: Experience Scottsdale has launched a summer campaign called “It’s That Hot” which promotes early morning and indoor activities and LOWER hotel rates for the summer season. When the temps rise, rates drop! If you are looking for a more affordable hotel rate, aim to stay in their summer months! 🙂
A Perfect Weekend in Scottsdale: 3 Jam-Packed Days!
Day 1 Morning / Afternoon
Depending on where you are coming from, you might be spending a decent amount of your first day just traveling to Scottsdale! For me living close by in Las Vegas, I was able to get there in the afternoon with plenty of time for some activities. 🙂
I always like to spend a part of the first day doing some good ole-fashioned exploring! That way you can make some mental notes on things you want to come back to and save time for throughout your trip. For this itinerary, you will be doing your wandering & exploring in Old Town Scottsdale!
Wherever you stay in Scottsdale, Old Town won’t be too far away! “Old Town” is what Scottsdale refers to as their downtown & historical district. You can immediately tell the difference between what is considered “Old Town” vs. “new town” by how tall or short the buildings are. In the main Old Town areas, you will quickly notice how low and western the buildings will look!
I spent a good amount of time in this area exploring all of the shops, listening to live music at restaurants, and walking the historic sites. What I love about Scottsdale is that this area didn’t only have touristy gift shops but actually really cute boutiques! There were tons of local’s in the area as well!
Day 1 Evening
In the late afternoon / evening, head over to the famous Desert Botanical Garden to see 100+ year old Saguaro Cacti up close & personal! These impressive gardens are only 10 quick minutes from Old Town Scottsdale, and is easily the most picturesque site to see.
There are many walking paths to explore, but for the pictures below make sure you don’t miss the Sonoran Desert Trail Loop! Here is the map of the trails throughout the garden!
I would highly recommend visiting as close to sunset as possible so you can beat the heat & get that beautiful golden glow for your photos (just like below)!
For dinner, start your trip off right with the best dinner spot in town: The Mission!
This historical and famous restaurant is right in the heart of Old Town, be sure to make your dinner reservations in advance to secure your spot because they can get quite busy on the weekends.
TIP: Get the tableside guacamole and a flight of tequila for a perfect pairing! 😉
Day 2 Morning
Have you ever ridden in a hot air balloon before?! Be prepared to be blown away (all puns intended)!
This was my first time riding in a hot air balloon and it was such a memorable experience. Watching the sunrise over the red mountains, floating over the Saguaro cacti, and seeing the city skyline made Scottsdale the perfect place to do a hot air balloon excursion!
After much research, I chose Hot Air Expeditions because they have extremely experienced pilots, fair prices, incredible reviews, includes breakfast & champagne, and offered round trip transportation from my accommodation in Scottsdale for only a small fee!
TIP: I would recommend doing the hot air balloon ride towards the beginning of your Scottsdale itinerary incase of weather complications that causes them to reschedule your tour! Hot air balloons are extremely weather dependent and they could possibly reschedule your tour if there is too much wind or rain.
Day 2 Afternoon
I would definitely pencil in a nap or just some relaxing time into your itinerary because a 3:30AM wake up call is early for just about anybody! But trust me.. a sunrise hot air balloon ride will be worth it!
For lunch, head over to the most picturesque and adorable lunch spot in Old Town Scottsdale, Diego Pops! Imagine pink neon signs, adorable patio with greenery, fun & unique cocktails, and delicious shareables. Be sure to get the brussels sprout nachos.. trust me on this one!
TIP: They have happy hour EVERY DAY from 3-6PM!
Skip dessert at Diego Pops and get your dessert fix by doing JoyRidesAZ’s Old Town Gelato Tour! He can pick you up right from lunch, teach you the history of Old Town, and have you sample a few local gelato shops.
JoyRidesAZ is a local, mom & pop company who has SO much passion for what they do! I love supporting local businesses when I travel, which totally paid off because I had a blast!
If gelato isn’t your thing (which, are you ok..?), they have all kinds of tours like margarita & tacos tour, Instagram murals tour, wine trail tours, and more! Click here to see their tour options!
After your gelato tour, you can have JoyRidesAZ drop you off at your next destination, which for this itinerary is Wonderspaces!
Wonderspaces is an interactive art show located at the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall! I have to be honest… I am not usually a big art person. Not that I have anything against art, but I just don’t know enough about it to truly appreciate it. Whenever I go to an art exhibit I always feel like a fraud, ha!
BUT, going to an interactive art show is an entirely different ballgame. I truly had so much fun and it was the perfect activity to take a break from the hot desert heat!
Day 2 Evening
For dinner, I can’t recommend HULA’s Modern Tiki enough! They are located in Old Town Scottsdale and is a modern tiki bar! I was actually so surprised by the food, it was one of (if not THE) favorite meal from my weekend in Scottsdale!
Plus, their unique specialty cocktails were OUTSTANDING! I usually don’t like tiki bar cocktails because they are often times way too sweet, but these were delicious!
TIP: They don’t take reservations for small parties, so be sure to get there a little before the dinner rush!
Day 3 Morning
Last day of your itinerary I would recommend another early morning activity outside! Scottsdale is very hot during the day even in the spring, so I would plan to do a fun outdoor activity in the early morning and then leave your afternoons more free. 🙂
Depending on what you like, these are my top recommendations for outdoor adventures:
- Golf the Short Course at the Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale! This course is a quick Par 3 and has the beautiful Camelback mountain as your backdrop. This is the PERFECT activity if you are traveling as a couple or with a group of friends!
- Go on a hike! There are tons of hikes in the Scottsdale area, I always use All Trails to find one that is close by, has good reviews, and is in the length I am comfortable with!
- Do a half day trip to the Salt River! You can do kayaking or tubing where you float down the Salt River and enjoy the beautiful scenery and wild horses that come down to the river to drink. I did this with some friends and it was a BLAST! FYI, this excursion is only open in the warmer months (typically April – September)!
Day 3 Afternoon
After your day out in the sun, grab some lunch at my favorite spot in all of Scottsdale..
Farm & Craft is a restaurant I have been to every single time I have been to Scottsdale, it is seriously that good!
They are known for serving their signature cocktails in a mini watermelons and let me tell ya… I am a PICKY cocktail drinker and if I am ordering more than one of a specialty cocktail, its gotta be GOOD!
Usually specialty cocktails, especially ones with a pretty presentation, are way too sweet / sickening! These are made with fresh watermelon juice and mint and are unbelievably refreshing. And did I mention adorable?!
Day 3 Evening
To end your trip off right, you will be exploring the Scottsdale Wine Trail! Most people have no idea that Arizona is home to many wine regions and Scottsdale has TONS of adorable wine bars to check out.
We went to a few of them, and our all time favorite was The Wine Collective because they had the largest selection of Arizona local wines to try!
If you are traveling with a group of girls, I would recommend checking out The Wine Girl as well! It is very girly inside with a swing, neon signs, & plants hanging from the ceiling!
For dinner, I just had dinner at the beautiful Hearth 61 at the Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale (where I stayed). That way I could have an early, relaxing night to pack for the travel home. 🙂 If you are ready to keep going, here are some recommended nightlife spots in Scottsdale:
- Clubs: Cake, Casa, or Maya
- Girly / Picturesque Spots: Wine Girl, Beverly on Main, or AZ/88
- Best Date night bars: Kazimierz, Second Story, or Canal Club
- Best Overall Bars: Boondocks, The Hot Chick, or Rockbar
If you are wanting to extend your time in Scottsdale or just want to swap out one of the ideas listed on this itinerary, here are some bonus ideas that I think you would love!
- Day trip to Sedona! Here is a One Day in Sedona itinerary that includes the best hikes in Sedona! 🙂
- Traveling with a group or for a special occasion? Sign up for one of the pub bike crawls in Old Town! Here is a tour that has over 2k 5* reviews!
- Get your adrenaline pumping by doing a guided ATV ride through the sand dunes just outside of Scottsdale!
- Are you a food lover?! Scottsdale has a great food tour through Old Town, check it out here!
- Check out the largest reptile sanctuary in the USA, where you can feed Capybaras! The Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary is open every day except for Sundays from 8AM – 5PM, but appointments are REQUIRED!
What are the best months to go to Scottsdale?
Spring & Summer are usually the prime times to visit Scottsdale because the weather is extremely pleasant! Scottsdale is obviously a desert, so it get’s extremely hot in the summer months. If you are looking for prime weather, aim for early spring / late fall! If you are looking to beat the crowds and save money on your trip, then plan to visit anytime between April and September for Experience Scottsdale’s “It’s That Hot” campaign!
How many days is enough in Scottsdale?
A long weekend is perfect (3-4 days) if you are planning on just hanging out in the Scottsdale area. If you plan to do day trips like spend the day at the Salt River for tubing or go up to Sedona, I would extend by a day!
Why is Scottsdale so popular to visit?
Scottsdale is a well-rounded destination that has activities for any type of traveler. They have adventurous and outdoorsy activities, relaxing and romantic, lively and party-friendly, and unique food for the foodies! Plus, Scottsdale has pleasant weather year-round with mostly sunny days!
Do you need a car for Scottsdale?
No, you do not need a car when visiting Scottsdale unless you plan to do day trips or hikes in the area. If you are just visiting the city and looking to get around to shops, restaurants, and bars, then no you do not need a car! The city is very walkable and there are many ride share options to rely on.
Okay, that’s a wrap!
Scottsdale is such a fun destination for just about any occasion! I have seen Scottsdale in a fun, party life way for a wedding trip to a romantic and relaxing destination with my husband. You can truly curate any style of vacation in Scottsdale, because they have it all!
Pssst.. if you are traveling to Scottsdale with your significant other, be sure to check out my ultimate list of things to do in Scottsdale for couples!!
This wasn’t my first weekend in Scottsdale and it definitely won’t be my last. Living so close in Las Vegas, I know I’ll be back time and time again to visit this beautiful city.
Traveling to Arizona? Here are some guides I think you would love!
- Things to do in Scottsdale for Couples!
- One Day itinerary to Sedona, Arizona!
- Ultimate list of things to do in Page, AZ!
- Everything you need to know about Kayaking to Antelope Canyon!
- 14 day Utah & Arizona Road Trip from Las Vegas
- ALL LAS VEGAS GUIDES (**warning, there’s a LOT)!
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