The Top Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona
Canals, art galleries and golf courses await you in this desert town in the American West.
Dramatic mountains crown the horizon, dusty and dry, serving as a reminder of the desert plains surrounding you. But Scottsdale rises from the ashes like a lush, green oasis. And the so-called Beverly Hills of the Desert has its own Wonderwall in the form of its trendy and exclusive gallery district in the city centre. With its Western façades and dusty inns, the Old Town district puts on a bit of a show and allows us to pretend we’re Clint Eastwood. Do you feel lucky, punk?
Canals run through the entirety of this desert city, making for an unexpected and quite wonderful aesthetic. Perhaps it’s more Venice than Beverly Hills. But Scottsdale doesn’t need all of these comparisons, as it can stand on its own two feet, with its impressive modern architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home is here) and contemporary art. It’s basically a modern, old-world, dry, wet mountain valley. And if any of that seems paradoxical to you, well, get over it, you’re here now. And we at Plum Guide are here to show you the very best things to do in Scottsdale.
Try the food
Being the big blend of culture, history and gorgeous landscapes that it is, it should come as no surprise that Scottsdale has a thriving foodie culture and an eclectic fusion cuisine (whatever that means). One of the things that it means is that you’ll get spectacular Italian food from Tuscany at Franco’s Italian Caffe and South American cuisine from deseo, which doesn’t appear to have or need a capital letter. Change it up at Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and grab some Japanese delicacies from Roka Akor Scottsdale (Scottsdale apparently means Scottsdale in Japanese). You’ll pick up Mediterranean grub at the Virtu fine-dining establishment and Spanish delights from T. Cook’s.
Rivaling the likes of LA's food scene, Scottsdale offers a vibrant and eclectic party for the taste buds. That said, there are also a whole bunch of steakhouses. If you’re looking to complement the American Wesrtt aesthetic with appropriate food, look no further than the Capital Grille. The Café Monarch is American Gourmet at its finest, while the steakhouses of Steak 44, Dominick’s Steakhouse and Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain all make for an unforgettable All-American evening.
For something a little easier and more casual for the whole family, head to Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, True Food Kitchen or Grimaldi’s.
If you consider yourself a cultured individual, you'll be pleased that some of the best things to do in Scottsdale involve art. You’ll love passing through the various galleries propping up the southwestern part of the town centre. If you don’t like art, you might want to give it a try, but we have a feeling you’re steadily scrolling down to the next thing to do. That’s OK, we can still be friends. But, for you art enthusiasts, you’re spoilt for choice. It doesn't quite rival all the art galleries on our list of things to do in Florence, but it's close.
Head to that southwestern corner of the downtown area to see works from both local and international artists. To see it all in one fell swoop, embark on the Scottsdale Art Walk on Thursday night. It’s a free guided tour of the best the town has to offer in the way of art. It includes snacks and music, so don’t miss it.
But what if it’s not a Thursday night? Meander through the Marshall Way Arts District by your lonesome. You don’t need a guide. Stop in at the Art One Gallery to find out what the latest emerging creatives and students are up to in the art world. The Method Art Gallery includes its own studios, so you can see people at work. It really feels alive with art, and might get you feeling tempted to pick up a brush (probably best to leave it to the professionals). See where traditional and contemporary art come together in the Bonner David Galleries and study the sculptures and collages among the paintings in the Xanadu Gallery. Other highlights include the Marshall Gallery of Fine Art, the Gebert Contemporary on Main and the Calvin Charles Gallery.
Art and design enthusiasts will appreciate the carefully crafted, nature-inspired aesthetic of Desert Diver, a gorgeous Plum Guide home just west of the city centre.
Take on the golf
The area is also known for its golf courses, so practicing your swing is up there in terms of things to do in Scottsdale. Do so amid stunning scenery in the Troon North Golf Club, the Grayhawk Golf Club and the Kierland Golf Club. Drop in with your family for a few rounds at the Top Golf Scottsdale. It’s like bowling, but with golf, in that you get scores for putting from a fixed position into illuminated areas of the green. And if you really can't get enough of golfing, this Scottsdale Plum Guide home is not only in the middle of nine different golf courses, but also has its very own putting green.
Explore the canals
There are around 130 miles (210 kilometres) of canals that bring life to this arid desert valley. That’s a lot of waterways. Stroll along the banks of these pleasant water lanes or rent a bike to discover them with a bit of speed. Just don’t get in; you’re not supposed to swim in there, as tempting as it might be.
Now you know the best things to do in Scottsdale, it's time to choose your accommodation from our extensive selection of expertly vetted homes in the city. Whether you want to be immersed in nature at Agave Nectar or fancy a game or two on the pool table at Rainbow Dream, we've got the perfect Arizona abode for you.