Updated: Sep 28, 2021
I shared over my stories on Instagram about my trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. In case you are stumbling across this travel guide, make sure to follow me on Instagram @irisfithess. I had such a great time in Scottsdale that I decided to write this blog post, because you should add Scottsdale, Arizona to your must-visit list or travel list. Scottsdale is all about sunshine, red rocks, palm trees, cactus', and warm weather.
I decided to go to Scottsdale, AZ for my birthday. I have seen a lot of posts on social media about Scottsdale and that is how I picked this city. Also, I always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon which is just 3 hours driving. Scottsdale is super trendy right now and has a lot of things to do. On our way to the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Sedona which has amazing views. That is another city that I would like to visit and possibly stay a bit more time in. You can learn more about Sedona here.
If you like to go on an adventure, do not look further; this is your place to visit. Scottsdale is so charming! You can do pretty much any activity in Scottsdale, AZ from hiking, all water activities (there are amazing lakes to visit nearby), desert gardens, old towns, and all foods & drinks seemed to be delicious. Such a fun place for a wedding anniversary, birthday, and/or girls trip. It's also located within hours for a road trip to the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and Horseshoe Bend.
What To Do in Scottsdale
Desert Botanical Garden
There are hundreds of plants to see and lots of butterflies! We went during the day to the Desert Botanical Garden, if you go during summer make sure to be prepared because it gets super hot. They have a water fountain around the garden but to be honest it doesn't taste the best. Bring your own water bottle, hat, fan,and breezy/comfy outfit. You can also visit the Desert Botanical Garden at night. They have live music and different activities. I would recommend checking their schedule here.
Visit a Museum
The Wonderspaces is a very unique museum and you can see everything as fast as you want. There are only 15-19 room exhibitions. It is located at the Fashion Square mall by the food court. Wonderspaces is a modern artwork museum and they rotate their exhibitions monthly and bring in new ones. You can see their current exhibitions here. If you are more into music they have the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) which features instruments from all over the world. You can also play some instruments and they have a theater for concerts.
Everyone in Scottsdale is a foodie (LOL) - no kidding, at night everything is super packed and you must make reservations ahead of time to visit Scottsdale's most famous restaurants like Toca Madera, Kona Grill, Maples & Ash, and Ocean 44. All those restaurants were fully booked and if you go there and ask for a table, literally they tell you no. So if you really want to go to these famous restaurants, make reservations. I had the opportunity to go to Toca Madera to the bar area around 3:00 pm and with the music it felt like 9:00 pm in a lounge. Totally worth it!!! It is a modern Mexican food and everything was super yummy. The drinks were amazing, well decorated and great flavors. The environment is super cool and truly unmatched. At night, it turns into a show/club type of restaurant. Do not go with your workout clothes or leggings, dress nicely.
Relax at the Spa
Apparently Scottsdale is also famous for their Spa's. That was new for me. We decided to visit AWAY Spa at the W Scottsdale Hotel since we decided to stay there the last two days of our trip. Totally worth it!!! The AWAY Spa is super cute, clean, and the service is amazing. They offer a detox drink upon arrival, give you a tour, and then you get your service. The restrooms are very clean, lockers available, showers and a steam room. I got the Scrunchie treatment and my husband got the Go Deep (Sport Massage). You can see the whole menu here. If you don't follow me on Instagram make sure to give me a follow @irisfithess and peep my highlights, I saved my whole experience there.
Where to Stay
We rented an Airbnb with a pool in downtown. The house was very clean and the location was great; close to Old Town Scottsdale, the Fashion Square mall, great restaurants, groceries, etc. Also, we stayed at the W Scottsdale Hotel, an amazing hotel but not for kids. It is Vegas style type of hotel. It is known as the hotel that never sleeps, they have cool pool parties, and nice environment. The location of the W Scottsdale Hotel is amazing; near restaurants, bars, shopping and everything else. Room was very clean, cool decorations around the hotel, and great atmosphere at the pool. We were very happy to be ending our vacation with a nice stay at the W Scottsdale Hotel.
There is a lot to do from hiking and kayaking, you can also go horseback riding with indian tribes, rock climbing, mountain biking, or even taking a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Scottsdale! I need another trip (or five) to be able to try it all. We went to Lake Pleasant where you can rent a kayak, pontoon boat, jet ski, and there is are even some huge slides throwing you into the lake if you'd like. Lots of fun! You can also go for a hike if that is more your thing, you can check out the best trails in Scottsdale here.
We really did not go out a lot to shop. However, we got some souvenir shopping in and then grabbed some cold drinks in Old Town Scottsdale because it was 105 degrees there in August. We did visit Fashion Square mall where they have some of the best stores and restaurants. That is also where Wonderspaces is located.
How to Get Around
No doubt you’ll need a rental car in order to get around easily in Scottsdale. There is parking everywhere, unlike the Washington, DC area where I live. The car is really necessary if you want to explore Scottsdale and other places near by. Unfortunately, we had a bad experience renting our first car with Carzi, they did not give us the car we rented and the vehicle wasn't in the cleanest condition. They would only communicate with us via text to address the issue, so needless to say it will be the first and last time we try the contact-less type of service. Horrible, I do not recommend to even try it. Thankfully, we found a great company on-site at the airport called SIXT whom were great, super easy, and fast (apparently they are very popular in Europe). The customer service agent was 5 stars, car was brand new (we were the first drivers), and easy drop off. They gave us a 2021 BMW X5 and this car did not disappoint.
Things I would like to do next time is Hot Air Balloon, it is so popular that there was no availability for us for the days we were there. During the summer months due to the heat all companies only do a morning flight, where as in the cooler seasons there might be a few flights within a day. Scottsdale is the place to do it, such great views! I also would enjoy visiting a winery and/or doing horseback riding in Scottsdale.
Let me know in the comments if you would like to visit, or what your favorite thing to do is in Scottsdale.
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