Is Scottsdale Better Than Phoenix? What Vacationers Need To Know

Is Scottsdale better than Phoenix? The word better means different things to different people, especially when searching for a vacation spot. For some, better means excellent bars, restaurants, and nightlife. For others, better means a quaint resort and a quiet dinner.

This blog post will share what each city offers and help you decide if Scottsdale or Phoenix is better for your next vacation.

The lines get a little blurry when it comes to Scottsdale and Phoenix. For instance, the Phoenician Resort is located in Scottsdale. The same can be said for many of the resorts and restaurants in the area. So, we’ll start by saying that Scottsdale offers more than Phoenix if you want a resort experience.

Is Scottsdale Better Than Phoenix?

If you want to be close to everything, downtown Scottsdale is hard to beat. Within walking distance, you have some of the best restaurants and nightlife in the area.

You are also a short drive from many of the top attractions in Scottsdale, such as the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the Scottsdale Fashion Square.

However, Phoenix may be a better option if you want a more low-key vacation. While there are plenty of things to do in Phoenix, it doesn’t have the same party atmosphere as Scottsdale.

What To Do in Scottsdale

Scottsdale is an excellent spot if you’re looking for a fun, exciting getaway. With its top-notch golf courses, abundant shopping opportunities, trendy bars, and clubs, Scottsdale has a lot to offer visitors.

Hiking and Biking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Scottsdale is home to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This beautiful desert park offers dozens of hiking and biking trails that wind through rugged desert terrain, offering spectacular views of this arid landscape.

There are plenty of amenities and facilities, including shade ramadas, water stations, and restrooms. Gateway Trailhead, off N Thompson Peak Parkway, is a great place to start your adventure with family-friendly hikes.

Shopping and Dining in Scottsdale

Scottsdale is one of the top vacation destinations in the Southwest, thanks in large part to its extensive array of shopping and dining options. So whether you’re looking for some retail therapy or want to enjoy a great meal out with friends or family, there’s something for everyone in Scottsdale.

One of Scottsdale’s most popular shopping destinations is Scottsdale Fashion Square which boasts an impressive lineup of high-end designer stores and popular chain retailers. However, if local shops are your style, plenty of smaller boutique options shops dotted throughout the city offer unique pieces.

Additionally, there are plenty of excellent dining options in and around the mall, ranging from casual, family-friendly eateries like Oreganos to hip bistros like Postino. For those looking for a truly elevated food experience, the upscale restaurant Citizen Public House offers incredible fare in a sophisticated setting.

Visiting Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Winter Home

If you’re looking for a unique experience during your time in Scottsdale, then look no further than Taliesin West. Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed this beautiful winter home. It offers a glimpse into the life and work of one of America’s most creative minds. 

The main house is filled with incredible architectural details. Wandering through the property allows you to get up close and personal with many of Wright’s creations. If you’re looking for a unique way to engage with history and get a little taste of modern art, then there’s no better place than Taliesin West. 

Experiencing the Nightlife in Old Town Scottsdale

When looking for a night out on the town in Scottsdale, there is no better place than Old Town. Old Town has a vibrant atmosphere with restaurants, buzzing bars, and clubs.

Top spots to hit up include the iconic Rusty Spur Saloon, the Bottle Blonde Bar, and Coach House, Scottsdale’s oldest dive bar. Whether you’re looking to kick back with a cold drink or dance until the wee hours of the morning, Old Town is sure to delight and entertain visitors.

Hone Your Golf Skills

If you’re looking to improve your golf game while on vacation in Scottsdale, there are many great courses to choose from. One of the most popular is TPC Scottsdale, which is home to the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open tournament. This renowned course offers challenging greens and breathtaking views, making it a must-visit for any golf enthusiast.

Alternatively, you could visit Troon North, with 36 holes. Renowned architect Tom Weiskopf designed the Monument and Pinnacle courses. Or, if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, Grayhawk Golf Club offers a player-friendly experience with impeccably maintained greens and smooth fairways.

Stay at One of the Great Resorts

There are many options when looking for a great place to stay while vacationing in Scottsdale. Looking for a luxurious resort with all the high-end amenities and services? How about a quieter and more intimate getaway?

You will find plenty of choices in this beautiful city. Some top resorts include the W Hotel, Talking Stick Resort and Casino, Hotel Valley Ho, JW Marriot, and the Boulders Resort and Spa. Each of these properties offers its unique take on relaxation and luxury, making it easy to find a place that perfectly matches your style and needs.

What To Do in Phoenix

Phoenix is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with opportunities for golfing, hiking, and exploring the desert landscape. There are also many excellent resorts and spas in the area, offering top-notch accommodations and decadent spa treatments.

Additionally, Phoenix is home to some great shopping and dining options. If you want high-end boutiques or more laidback eateries serving local flavors, you’ll find something to satisfy your cravings here.

Hiking Camelback Mountain

If you’re visiting Phoenix and want to experience the outdoors, look no further than Camelback Mountain. This iconic landmark offers excellent views and challenging hiking trails, making it a great spot to explore.

There are two trails on Camelback, Echo Canyon and Cholla. Cholla is the easier climb. Regardless of which trail you choose, be prepared before you hike: bring enough water, wear sunscreen, and take frequent breaks. Watch out for trail runners!

Play Golf

If you are visiting Phoenix, one of the best ways to get a true taste of desert life is by hitting the links at one of the many golf courses in the area. Whether you are an experienced golfer or just starting out, there are many options for all skill levels.

Some top golfing destinations in Phoenix include The Raven Golf Club, close to South Mountain, and Papago Golf Course, known for its beautiful city views. So whether you are looking for a quiet course or a challenging round, Phoenix has something to offer everyone who enjoys a day on the greens.

Shopping and Dining at Biltmore Fashion Park

The Biltmore Fashion Park offers vacationers a great shopping and dining experience. With well-known retailers like Macy’s and Lululemon, as well as popular eateries like the Cheesecake Factory and local favorites like BLANCO TACOS + TEQUILA, this park offers excellent choices.

After you have had your fill of food and shopping, drive down Biltmore Estates Drive to see some gorgeous mansions. This is one of the best ways to get a taste of Phoenix’s luxury and opulence.

Experiencing the Nightlife in Downtown Phoenix

Visit the Roosevelt Arts Row District if you want to experience downtown Phoenix’s vibrant nightlife. This bustling neighborhood is home to some of the best bars and clubs in the city, including spots like Ghost Donkey, Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, and Palma.

So whether you’re looking to dance the night away or sip on craft brews with friends, there’s something here for everyone. And if you’re looking for a unique dining experience, check out Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co., which offers incredible dishes alongside some of the best beer in town.

Places To Stay in Phoenix

When considering places to stay in Phoenix on vacation, the options can seem endless. However, for visitors looking for a more upscale experience, boutique hotels like the Clarendon Hotel and Spa and RISE Uptown are great options.

Both establishments offer sophisticated rooms with fine furnishings and modern amenities, as well as on-site spas and restaurants that serve delicious meals. Additionally, these hotels provide easy access to Phoenix’s top attractions and cultural highlights, making them ideal for tourists looking to experience everything this vibrant city offers.


Scottsdale is an excellent choice for vacationers looking for a more upscale experience. With luxurious hotels, fabulous shopping and dining options, and plenty of activities to keep you busy, Scottsdale offers something for everyone. 

Of course, Phoenix has plenty to offer visitors. Still, Scottsdale is hard to beat if you’re looking for a more sophisticated vacation spot with all the amenities.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.