With near-perfect temperatures between the mid-70s to mid-80s and nary a drop of rain, Scottsdale is an ideal destination for a Spring vacation. The downtown area, also known as Old Town, is lively and vibrant day and night and the New York Times once described the city as being a “desert version of Miami’s South Beach.” There are tons of reason to visit Scottsdale and here are our top 15 things to do while there:
1. Spend a day exploring the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a large, permanently protected open space in Scottsdale that encompasses about 47 square miles of land, making it one of the largest urban preserves in America. Visitors can spend time hiking, biking or horseback riding the miles and miles of trails while exploring the beautiful desert landscape.
2. Shop, dine and sip in Old Town – The heart of the City of Scottsdale is the Old Town area. As the hub for shopping, dining and entertainment for locals and visitors alike, it’s pedestrian-friendly streets are often bustling with business. Whether you’re looking to purchase some local wares, visit an art gallery, sip a cocktail, grab a bite, or a combination of all, Old Town has it all.
3. Learn about the frontier at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West – While you’re exploring Old Town, it makes sense to take some time and visit the 35,000 sq. ft. Museum of the West. The museum provides information on all 19 Western states, how they came to be, and what they are today. Visitors will find exhibits showcasing pieces of art, artifacts, and tons of information on Western heritage.
4. Get in 18 holes at one of the area golf courses – Scottsdale is home to several excellent golf courses for all levels of expertise. In early February, TPC Scottsdale hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open bringing in more than 600,000 fans of the sport to the area. Other times of the year, TPC is open to the public. If you’re looking for something a little less challenging or a little more wallet-friendly, there are more than 30 other area courses to get in a round.
5. Visit the awe-inspiring Butterfly Wonderland – Butterfly Wonderland is a beautiful facility home to thousands of species of butterflies from all over the world. The building showcases an incredible glass atrium providing the ideal conditions of a tropical rainforest for its inhabitants. Visitors can watch an educational 3D movie called “Flight of the Butterflies.”
6. Witness an amazing collection at the Penske Racing Museum – If you’re a car enthusiast or even if you just think cars are pretty cool, a visit to the Penske Racing Museum would absolutely be worth your time. This free museum showcases a very impressive collection of cars, trophies, and racing memorabilia. Many of the cars responsible for signature wins under the Penske Racing umbrella are on display in the 9,000 sq. ft. building.
7. Catch a show at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts – This center for the arts is home to more than 1,000 performances every year. Visitors can see everything from jazz, blues, and rock concerts to theater and film to educational talks and comedy performances. Scottsdale Arts also hosts multiple festivals throughout the year. The mission of the organization is to provide the city’s residents and visitors with exceptional arts and educational experiences and they deliver on that promise year in and year out.
8. Check out the animals at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center – The SWCC is not a zoo or animal park, but rather serves as a rescue organization for wild animals found abandoned, injured or orphaned. The non-profit center serves to rehabilitate the animals whenever possible and release them back into the wild. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn about the area’s wildlife and to contribute to a good cause as donations are always welcome.
9. Delight your taste buds with the Chocolate Tour of Scottsdale – This is a guided walking tour through the streets of downtown Scottsdale where you’ll visit local chocolatiers, shops and bakeries. There will be plenty of chocolate samples in all forms and you even get a ziplock bag to store the tasty morsels you may not finish. Additionally, the experience doubles as an educational tour with your guide telling you all about the history of the area and the various shops you’ll be visiting.
10. Get in some high-octane fun at the Octane Raceway – Great for people of all ages, the Octane Raceway is a 1/3 mile track for go-kart racing. The karts go 45+ miles per hour and visitors get plenty of run time around the track so you can truly get your money’s worth. Octane also features a state-of-the-art arcade, mini bowling, and a highly addictive and fun multi-player VR experience.
11. Have fun with the family at Glow Putt Mini Golf – Glow Putt is perhaps the most unique mini golf experience you’ll ever have. This miniature golf course is set inside with all 18 holes illuminated with special UV lighting. Everything from the obstacles to the rails to the holes to the golf balls glow in the dark. And if anybody in the group gets a whole in one, Glow Putt awards them with a prize that just might glow in the dark.
12. Laugh the night away at the Comedy Spot – As the only dedicated comedy club in Scottsdale, the Comedy Spot brings in some of the best up and comers in stand-up. The Comedy Spot is the longest running comedy club in all of Arizona and prides itself on providing an intimate and affordable experience for locals and tourists alike.
13. Have a day of fun at the CrackerJax Family Fun & Sports Park – CrackerJax has everything you’ll need for a day full of family fun. This massive facility has been serving the Scottsdale area for more than 25 years with family-fun-and-friendly activities such as laser tag, go karts, mini golf, arcade games, bumber boats, batting cages, and so much more. Visitors will also find a restaurant on-site serving up all of the staples like hamburgers, hot dogs, pizzas and more.
14. Catch a ballgame for a major league club – Scottsdale is home to Spring Training facilities for Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, where baseball fans can get a glimpse of today’s stars as they prepare for the upcoming season.
15. See the magnificent architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Western home – Frank Lloyd Wright’s Scottsdale home is called Taliesin West, a direct reference to his first home in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The Arizona home is now a National Historic Landmark and was built in 1937 with native materials such as sand and stone from the Sonoran desert. 90-minute guided tours are available or you’re welcome to make your way through the house.