Scottsdale, Arizona, is one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. due to its beautiful scenery, fantastic weather, and attractions.
Whether you enjoy exploring the great outdoors or art museums, there are plenty of things to do in Scottsdale to keep you busy.
Things To Do In Scottsdale
Scottsdale is a beautiful city in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
It is known for its luxury resorts, golf courses, and spas.
However, there is much more to Scottsdale than just relaxation. The city is also home to art galleries, museums, and other fun stuff.
Here are just a few of the many things to do in Scottsdale.
Octane Raceway Scottsdale
If you’re looking for an exciting way to spend an afternoon or evening, look no further than Octane Raceway Scottsdale! This state-of-the-art racetrack features go-karts that can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
So whether you’re a competitive racer or just looking for a fun way to blow off some steam, Octane Raceway is the perfect place for you.
If you get hungry after all that racing, the track’s on-site restaurant, The Brickyard Grill, has you covered. So come down to Octane Raceway Scottsdale and put the pedal to the metal!
Related: Things to do in Tucson
Relax at Pinnacle Peak Park
Pinnacle Peak Park has a trail available where visitors can hike through a Sonoran Desert environment.
You can explore 150 acres of the park and follow the main trail for 1.75 miles, which is considered a moderate challenge due to the steep inclines.
If you want to learn more about Pinnacle Peak Park and meet other people, plenty of activities are hosted throughout the week.
Pinnacle Peak Park is a great place to sign up for a moonlight walk, astronomy talk, or interpretive tour.
Rock climbing is also available for experienced climbers who have the appropriate gear. You can rock climb in multiple park areas, accommodating different skill levels.
Pinnacle Peak Park Trail is well designed and offers many different lookouts where you can get a clear view of the city and take photos.
In addition, there is a large parking area and plenty of drinking fountains available throughout the park, which is very convenient when you spend several hours on-site.
Related: Things to do in Flagstaff
Hike Camelback Mountain
Camelback Mountain is a lot of fun whether you’re a new or experienced hiker. There are two main trails, Echo Canyon and Cholla. Both trails are challenging but rewarding.
When you get to the top and see the view, you will know what I am talking about.
Cholla is the longer of the two trails but not as steep as Echo Canyon. You need good trail shoes and lots of water for either of these hikes.
As one of the most well-known mountains in the state, Camelback Mountain is 1,400 feet high and offers spectacular views of the valley.
The unique rock formations have been shaped throughout history and created a stunning work of art in the middle of the desert, which is breathtaking to view and photograph from all angles.
If you’re looking for the perfect spot for urban hiking, Camelback Mountain is a favorite among the locals.
Unfortunately, Camelback gets busy, so if you plan on going, get there early. If the weather is too hot in the summer, the trails will be closed.
Many people hike Camelback in the evening to catch the vibrant colors of the sunset. However, if you attempt one of the more challenging trails, it’s essential to pack the right gear and equipment.
It’s also a great place to spot different types of wildlife and spot cottontail rabbits, snakes, tortoises, and Chuckwalla lizards. The environment also has plenty of prickly pear cacti, cholla, and saguaro.
Related: Things to do in Sedona
Rusty Spur Saloon
Those looking for a classic western experience will find it at Rusty Spur Saloon in Scottsdale, Arizona.
This cowboy bar conjures images of the Old West with its Rustic décor, including wagon wheel chandeliers and a mounted steer head.
The menu features all the favorites, from tender steak to hearty chili, and the dance floor is always packed with people two-stepping to country music.
The best part of Rusty Spur Saloon is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously – it’s the perfect place to relax, have a few drinks, and enjoy good old-fashioned fun.
Tour the OdySea Aquarium
The OdySea Aquarium is one of the top family-friendly attractions in the local area when looking for things to do in Scottsdale.
Located in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, it features an expansive aquarium that spans over 200,000 square feet and holds over two million gallons of water.
It was voted Kids Best Indoor Entertainment as the newest aquarium in the local area.
It’s easy to spend the day at OdySea and explore 65 exhibits, including the Russian Sturgeon touch exhibit and two stingray touch exhibits.
The interactive experience allows visitors to view over 370 aquatic animals, allowing a firsthand look at turtles, sharks, gators, and various types of fish.
The staff are knowledgeable and take the time to inform visitors of the mammals and explain what they eat and how long they live. It’s easy to spend the afternoon at the aquarium and also enjoy dining at the location.
The attraction is captivating with a well-laid-out interior that is easy to navigate. The large beautiful displays are mesmerizing and can make it a fun and enjoyable educational experience for children and adults.
While you are there, check out the OdySea Mirror Maze. With its dizzying array of reflective surfaces, the OdySea Mirror Maze will delight and perplex guests of all ages.
So whether you’re looking for a fun activity to share with friends or family or simply seeking an escape from the ordinary, the OdySea Mirror Maze is sure to deliver.
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is a must-see for any animal lover. Located in the heart of the desert, the center is home to a wide variety of rescued animals, including bobcats, coyotes, and owls.
Visitors can book a Walk with Wildlife tour of the facility and learn about the center’s work to rescue and protect these desert-dwelling creatures.
Highlights of the tour include seeing how the center’s staff cares for injured animals. The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is a unique experience that offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of desert wildlife.
Related: Arizona National Parks
Brown’s Ranch Trailhead
Brown’s Ranch Trailhead is a must-visit for any nature lover visiting Scottsdale.
The trailhead provides access to some of the most beautiful and varied hiking trails in the area, including Jane Rau Interpretive Trail, an easy hike, and Brown’s Mountain/Upper Ranch Trail Loop, a moderate hike.
But even if you don’t plan on doing any hiking, the trailhead is still worth a visit for the stunning views of the McDowell Mountains. Visitors can also enjoy hiking, biking, and wildlife watching in the area.
So whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking to enjoy some time in nature, add Brown’s Ranch Trailhead to your list of places to explore in Scottsdale.
Glow Putt Mini Golf
For a fun and memorable night in Scottsdale, head to Glow Putt Mini Golf. This exciting 18-hole course is played entirely in the dark, using glow-in-the-dark paint to illuminate the way.
With music pumping and lights flashing, you’ll have a blast as you putt your way around the twists and turns of the course.
With its fun design and festive atmosphere, Glow Putt Mini Golf is the perfect place for a group outing or date night. So come on down and let the good times shine.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Situated in the Old Town district, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art attracts thousands of people for its beautiful exhibits throughout the year.
The museum opened its doors in 1999 and has art pieces and sculptures from different parts of the world.
Many people are also drawn to the stunning design of the building, which is minimal and was designed by architect Will Bruder. The unique look and layout include a public skyspace, where you can view the changes of the light in the sky in an outdoor setting.
The museum hosts many docent-led tours throughout the week, allowing more insight into some of the top exhibits and works of art on display.
In addition, the exhibits continuously rotate throughout the year, making it easy to have a new experience each time you visit.
Educational programs are also hosted, allowing art enthusiasts to come together and gain a unique experience centered around the arts.
Explore Historic Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is one of the top attractions when you’re looking for cool things to do in Scottsdale.
The district is a great place to spend the day. Many luxurious and upscale resorts and hotels are located in the area, and it’s easily walkable.
Some top hotels to book rooms include W Scottsdale Hotel, The Saguaro Hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Scottsdale Old Town, and Senna House.
The environment is energetic and lively, especially at night, with many restaurants, including Bootleggers Modern America Smokehouse, Belle’s Nashville Kitchen, and Buca Di Beppo.
There are also multiple testing and tap rooms available if you want to indulge in different types of liquor.
The shopping scene is one of the main draws of historic Old Town Scottsdale, allowing visitors to shop at antique stores or pick up a bouquet at one of the local floral shops.
Many shops also sell clothing, fine jewelry, home furnishings, antiques, gifts, and souvenirs.
The highlight of Old Town is the Arizona Canal, which is beautiful to walk along while taking in the views. In addition, it’s a spot to view different hummingbirds and even bike along the pathway.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Scottsdale, the Butterfly Wonderland is a great spot. You will enjoy walking through an indoor interactive rainforest that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle.
In addition, you can explore a lush environment where thousands of different butterflies are present, including various moth species.
A unique terrarium section is also available to explore to enhance the quality of your visit. Expect a few butterflies to land on your shoulder or arm while walking through the exhibit.
There’s even an exhibit of chrysalises, which haven’t hatched yet.
Butterfly Wonderland even provides visitors with a 15-minute 3D educational documentary that allows them to learn more about the different butterflies available at the location.
There are also multiple places to sit and enjoy having the butterflies fly around you. In addition, you can walk through a tropical jungle in the middle of the desert and enjoy a change of scenery.
Beautiful plants and a koi pond are also present on the grounds.
Some days there is live music, which contributes to the surreal experience and makes it fun to stay longer than expected.
Visit the Penske Racing Museum
If you’re a fan of Nascar or Formula 1, the Penske Racing Museum is a great place for children and adults. You can view more than a dozen professional race cars in pristine condition.
Trophies and racing memorabilia are on display. You can also learn about Penske’s 50 years of history, with 500 major races hosted throughout its history.
There’s even a 1963 Pontiac Catalina replica in the museum, driven by Roger Penske in 1963.
Multiple exhibits are displayed on two separate floors, making it easy to take your time and learn more about each vehicle.
The museum is also connected to a luxury car dealership, with Porches, Ferraris, Bentleys, and other recognizable sports cars on display.
The museum features an extensive collection of historic and contemporary cars. It helps visitors discover Mark Donohue’s significant influence on the racing industry.
All types of racers are celebrated and recognized at the museum, making it appeal to different car enthusiasts and fans.
Hike the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is one of the top outdoor locations to explore in Scottsdale when looking for a remote spot to hike.
The sustainable desert habitat is protected and boasts 30,500 acres of urban park. As a result, it’s easy to find plenty of desert trails with little foot or bike traffic.
In addition, you can experience the diverse wildlife and beautiful cacti as you explore over 225 miles of trails.
There are trails for all levels of hikers. For example, Sidewinder Trail is a good moderate hike.
From sunrise to sunset, you can take your time photographing the scenery and seeing the views available in all directions.
Plenty of outdoor activities are available if you want to stay active and create new memories. Rock climbing is one of the top activities at McDowell Sonoran Preserve, where you can follow a rock climbing plan.
Want more adventure? Several well-marked and maintained mountain bike trails are also available for speed junkies.
Many people also visit the preserve to enjoy horseback riding, which makes it easy to travel to some of the most secluded and remote areas on the grounds.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve has won awards for having the top three hiking trails in Scottsdale. You can indulge in this beautiful environment in Scottsdale and enjoy a memorable experience in the Sonoran Desert.
Shop at Scottsdale Fashion Square
The Scottsdale Fashion Square is an upscale and contemporary shopping district where it’s easy to find dozens of stores and boutiques.
Over 240 brand-name retailers are present, as well as a movie theater and multiple restaurants to ensure you have plenty of dining options.
The mall is great way to escape the summer heat and experience Scottsdale.
The shopping center is expansive and has a parking garage, making it easy to have a short walking distance to some of your favorite stores.
In addition, the large windows on the mall’s ceiling allow plenty of natural light to filter into the building, creating an uplifting and beautiful space to explore.
Some of the top stores you can find at the mall include Nordstrom, Barney’s, Neiman Marcus, Dillard’s, Apple, and Macy’s. The top eateries and restaurants at the location include Nobu, Toca Madera, Zinque, and Ocean 44.
The mall is also in proximity to some of the top hotels and resorts in the local area, making it easy to access from different parts of the city.
Attend a Baseball Game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
For you sports buffs out there, if you’re looking for fun things to do in Scottsdale, Salt River Fields is where it’s at. Watching MLB players practice during spring training is a terrific way to spend an afternoon.
Located in the Salt River Pima–Maricopa Indian Community, Salt River Fields is a sports complex that seats up to 11,000 people.
You can purchase tickets to see the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies train as they get ready to compete during the season.
Salt River Fields features 12 different practice fields. It offers spectacular views of Camelback Mountain in the distance, creating a beautiful backdrop.
Each year, over 300,000 fans watch some of the top baseball players practice in an intimate setting.
The sports complex was built on Native American land and involved collaborating with a Native American community to build the structure.
This has made it possible for the cultural diversity of the local area to be on display while celebrating the rich history of the community.
Have Fun at Wonderspaces Arizona
Wonderspaces Arizona accommodates art enthusiasts looking to take part in an interactive experience that is original and easy to remember for a lifetime. Wonderspaces is located inside Scottsdale Fashion Square.
The unconventional exhibits invite visitors to partake in different activities, including touching real plants, writing down a confession in a draped booth, and participating in virtual reality.
The experience is designed to enhance all senses and embraces the idea that art is for everyone.
Wonderspaces has a continuous rotation of the exhibits offered, making it easy to return and have a different experience in the future.
In addition, it can make it easy to learn more about yourself and consider new ideas. Both children and adults are invited to participate and can view featured artwork from renowned artists.
Shop at Kierland Commonds
Kierland Commons is a top outdoor shopping center that is stylish and trendy.
Here, you can find plenty of people shopping at many upscale retailers, which include Anthropologie, Michael Kors, Crate & Barrel, and Coach.
Of course, there are plenty of spots to grab a bite to eat, whether you’re in the mood for Shake Shack, Postino Wine Café, or The Green House.
At night, string lights are overhead, which contributes to the ambiance of the setting. If you’re looking to take home a souvenir, there are plenty of stores to browse where you can find hand-crafted goods, wine, and art pieces.
Buffalo Collection, Shades of the West, and Native Art Market are some of the top retailers where you can find items that embrace the culture of Scottsdale.
Visit the Oldtown Scottsdale Farmers Market
The Oldtown Farmer’s Market is a hotspot for locals and visitors due to the variety of beautiful produce available to purchase on Saturday mornings.
Dozens of friendly vendors are present where you can learn more about different types of fruit and vegetables. It’s also easy to find hand-crafted handmade products in Arizona from the locals.
You can take home local honey, leather goods, and rosemary pita chips. Baked goods, beverages, and homemade tamales are also available, which offers something for everyone and allows you to feel like you’re a local while rubbing shoulders with other people.
Tour the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Tour the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, which spans over 30 acres and is in a prime location in Scottsdale.
During the summer months, it even has a carousel available to ride, which first began operating in the 1950s.
The park opened in 1975 and is a great family-friendly location where you can view model railroads in a building of over 10,000 square feet to browse.
Children can enjoy many rides and attractions each season, which includes the Arboretum Train, which operates on the weekends. The train takes riders through an outdoor area of over two acres and into a 10-minute desert arboretum.
The Paradise & Pacific Railroad is another popular attraction at the park. It includes three steam locomotives, an electric engine, and two diesel engines.
Not only can you get a firsthand look at a vintage train, but many shops are also available to browse.
Play areas and playgrounds are also available, as well as a lush park where you can relax.
The Family Circus Pavilion is also a place to find playful sculptures and statues created by the sons of cartoonist Bil Keane, who created the cartoon “The Family Circus.”
Christmas is an especially magical time at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park when it is transformed into a winter wonderland with lights, decorations, and Santa visits.
The lines for the train ride are crazy at Christmas, but the ride is worth it. So if you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to enjoy the holidays, check out McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
The park is one of the best activities for families in Scottsdale.
Visit Bartlett Lake Recreation Area
Soak up some Arizona outdoor fun. Bartlett Lake is a great place to spend the day when you want a quiet and remote setting to relax during your stay.
You can spend the day on the water and enjoy different watersports. The lake is clean and well-maintained, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors.
If you want a unique experience, you can rent a pontoon boat at the marina to fish or take a dip in the water to cool off the heat. A boat ramp is available, which is easy to use.
If you want a bit of adrenaline, you can rent jet skis to take out on the water and race at high speeds.
The lake is large enough to make it easy to spend time away from other people visiting the area and have a bit of privacy on and off the water.
Kayaking is also available, allowing you to explore the lake at your own pace and enjoy staying active. In addition, many nearby stores offer rentals to make it easy to have access to different types of water equipment.
Standup paddle boarding is another popular activity to enjoy on the water if you want to improve your balancing skills and enjoy the calm and peaceful motion of the water.
Many trails are also available, making viewing various parts of the lake from different heights easy. Hike on trails earlier in the day when it’s cooler.
You can settle at the Rattlesnake Cove picnic area when you need a place to enjoy a bite to eat. The area offers beautiful views of the lake and is easy to access.
The spring season is also a great time to visit the lake when the flowers start to bloom, which creates a lush and picturesque setting that feels like a secret hideaway.
Some people also visit Bartlett Lake to go camping, making it easy to stay overnight and have a unique experience where you sleep under the stars.
The grounds are clean and well-maintained throughout the year. Finding a place to set up your tent and equipment close to the water is also easy.
The terrain is rocky and UTV friendly, making it a fun spot to explore and travel. Plenty of trails and steep inclines offer plenty of adventures with beautiful views in all directions.
Related: Best places to kayak in Arizona
Take in the Views with Desert Splash Adventures
Those seeking a thrill and who want to come home with plenty of stories to tell can get tickets with Desert Splash Adventures.
Take a scenic flight over Scottsdale and soar over Lake Powell, Roosevelt Lake, and the Sonoran Desert.
You can sit in one of the seaplanes that depart throughout the day with an experienced pilot who will tell you more about the local area.
One of the most exciting parts of this experience is landing directly on the water.
Desert Splash Adventures offers other activities and experiences too, whether you want to enjoy viewing the Sonoran rock formations or dine at an establishment serving gourmet meals.
iFLY is the perfect place to experience the adrenaline rush of indoor skydiving.
The state-of-the-art facility features a vertical wind tunnel that generates enough lift to keep you airborne, even if you’re a first-time flyer.
With experienced instructors to guide you through every step of the process, you can rest assured that you’ll be safe and having fun from the moment you take off.
So if you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure or want to try something new, iFLY is the place to be. Indoor skydiving is a great way to experience the thrill of skydiving without jumping out of an airplane.
Talking Stick Resort
Looking for a luxurious Arizona getaway? Look no further than Talking Stick Resort. This AAA Four-Diamond resort is located in Scottsdale.
It offers visitors a chance to enjoy world-class golf, gambling, and spa services. The hotel has 500 rooms and suites, each with stunning views of the nearby Sonoran Desert.
Guests can also take advantage of the on-site casino, which features table games, slot machines, and a poker room.
Or, if you’re looking to relax, book a treatment at the full-service spa. With so much to do, Talking Stick Resort is the perfect place to escape the everyday grind.
Anyone hungry? Talking Stick Resort has dining options to suit your needs, whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a leisurely meal.
From upscale restaurants to casual cafes, there is something to satisfy every taste. Check out Orange Sky, located on the 15th floor, for amazing views of the Scottsdale desert.
Blue Coyote Cantina offers Southwestern cuisine in an upscale setting. Restaurants at Talking Stick Resort are sure to please any palate.
If you are looking for a fabulous resort getaway, TSR is one of the best Scottsdale offers.
Are you looking for a fun, new way to spend an afternoon or evening? If so, you should check out Top Golf Scottsdale.
This unique venue combines the best of a traditional golf driving range with the added excitement of competitive games and a lively atmosphere.
So whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just a beginner, you will have a great time at Top Golf Scottsdale.
Scottsdale’s Top Golf is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a place to host a birthday party, corporate event, or other special occasions.
They offer a variety of packages that will accommodate your group and ensure that everyone has a memorable experience. So if you’re looking for a fun new activity or a unique venue for your next event, check out Top Golf Scottsdale.
Barrett Jackson Auto Auction
If you want unique things to do in Scottsdale, check out Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction.
Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale is one of the largest collector car auctions in the world. Held every January, the week-long event attracts car enthusiasts from all over the globe. Here’s what you need to know about Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale.
The auction takes place at WestWorld of Scottsdale, an events complex with more than 300,000 square feet of event space.
The auction features many vehicles, from classic and muscle cars to exotics and modern classics. If you’re looking for a particular vehicle, chances are good that you’ll find it at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale.
One of the best things about Barrett- Jackson Scottsdale is that it’s open to the public. You can buy tickets online or at the box office. Tickets allow you to access the event site, not the auction itself.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the most exciting events on the PGA Tour.
Hundreds of thousands of fans descend on Scottsdale to watch the world’s best golfers compete for the title.
The tournament is also known for its unique atmosphere, which includes a massive stadium-style grandstand surrounding the 16th hole.
This allows fans to get up close and personal with the action, creating an electric atmosphere unlike any other tour event.
In addition to the excellent golfing action, the Phoenix Open also features a range of other attractions, including live music (at the Bird’s Nest), food trucks, and other fun activities.
As a result, it is easy to see why the Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the most popular events on the PGA Tour.
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the world’s most celebrated architects, and Taliesin West is one of his most famous works.
Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Taliesin West was built as a winter retreat for Wright and his family. The property includes a main house, studios, and other outbuildings designed by Wright.
Today, Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist destination. Visitors can take tours of the property, which offer an up-close look at Wright’s innovative architecture.
So whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply admire Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, Taliesin West is worth a visit.
Western Spirit Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is one of the premier museums dedicated to the art, history, and culture of the American West.
The museum features a wide array of exhibitions and programs that showcase the richness and diversity of the region. The museum offers something for everyone, from its collection of Western art to its interactive exhibits on the frontier experience.
The museum is also home to a research center and library, making it a valuable resource for scholars and historians. So whether you’re a fan of the Old West or simply curious about its history, Western Spirit Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is worth a visit.
Carlson Creek Vineyard, Scottsdale Tasting Room
Looking for a unique wine tasting experience in Scottsdale? Check out the Carlson Creek Vineyard Tasting Room. The family-owned vineyard is located in Cochise County, Arizona, and offers a variety of wines.
The tasting room in Scottsdale is excellent for trying their wines and learning more about the vineyard.
The staff is knowledgeable and passionate about their wines and always happy to help you find the perfect bottle.
So whether you’re a wine enthusiast or just looking for a new place to try, Carlson Creek Vineyard Tasting Room is worth visiting. Cheers!
Scottsdale Civic Center Mall
The Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is a lively public space that offers a variety of activities for locals and visitors alike. The little oasis is a great escape from the heat. The mall features many popular restaurants, City Hall, and the Civic Center Library.
The Civic Center Mall is next to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which hosts a variety of rotating exhibitions. With its central location and wide range of activities, the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is a great place to spend an afternoon.
Become a Cowboy at the Arizona Cowboy College
The Arizona Cowboy College is a great place to learn how to become a cowboy, where you can participate in different activities.
Since 1969, the school has allowed students to learn how to haul cattle and ride horses by instructor Rocco Wachman. The available courses also allow you to learn how to use a rope in various ways and perform different ranching techniques.
The options are endless when you’re looking to customize your itinerary and create a fun schedule that allows you to enjoy different types of activities in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Whether traveling with your family or solo, there are plenty of ways to experience the city’s culture and discover the local area’s natural beauty.
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.