Scottsdale is a perfect destination for someone who is looking for a weekend getaway. So was our case. We spent our Memorial Day long weekend at Scottsdale. Here are some of our observations and recommendations. Hope you enjoy reading it and find this city guide helpful in planning your trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.
Where to stay?
Scottsdale is full of hotels and resorts. Every one of them has something to offer. We stayed at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia. We flew to Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport (PHX). Our drive from the airport to the resort was about 15 minutes. Just an FYI, as you get closer to the resort area of Scottsdale it gets darker at night. So if you are arriving at your hotel at night just be attentive. It is very easy to miss it. All the resorts are fairly close to the main market area (Old Town) of Scottsdale. So if you are coming for a short time and don’t have much going on, you can get by without renting a car. One thing I noticed in Scottsdale was how the resort areas are really quiet and peaceful despite being close to all the hustle and bustle of the city area.
Where to eat?
Unlike most of the trips where I have an elaborate spreadsheet with all the restaurant ranked according to “must” and “maybe try”, this time I didn’t have any list. We made choices on the go according to our schedule. We might have missed some good or even better restaurants but the ones we dined, didn’t disappoint either. Loco Patron was by far our favorite place to get tacos. Their late night happy hour was better than most places. We thoroughly took advantage of their $5 margaritas. Brunch at Farm and Craft was without a doubt our favorite. I mean why wouldn’t it be when you get a fresh watermelon juice served in an actual watermelon? Montauk serves New England flares and has a fun wrap-around porch which makes dining any time of the day really enjoyable. For an afternoon pick me ups, head over to Cornish Pasty Co for delicious pasties. We had a hard time ordering as there were so many to choose from. Also, this place has some amazing wallpapers throughout the restaurant. If you want something even lighter but sweeter take a short walk and go to Růže Cake House. You won’t find cakes here but you will definitely find some fun macaroons along with cute drinks. This place is also every Instagrammer’s dream! While we are talking about Instagrammable places, definitely do check out Teaspressa. Not only is their space very beautiful, they also have a unique twist on espresso-based drink. They use tea as the name suggest. Comoncy is another place we enjoyed getting coffee. I am not sure if I would suggest it for breakfast but if you want juice or morning joe, definitely check it out. Hula’s Modern Kitchen is a great place start your night right. As the name suggests, Hula’s Modern Kitchen offers a variety of Hawaiian cuisine and some killer cocktails! The resort that we stayed at also had a very good Spanish restaurant called Prado. It was very convenient and the food didn’t disappoint either. I heartily enjoyed their Paella!
Finally, some of the places that we wanted to go but couldn’t make it. Starting with Cartel Coffee Lab. This one was recommended by a friend of ours. They have many locations but somehow we just missed it. Grazie and Postino both are highly recommended if you are a wine lover or simply love Italian food. I discovered The Herb Box on our way back to the airport and I am completely gutted to have missed it. Well, there is always a next time right? Apart from Prado, I recommend Sel and Cafe Monarch for fine dining. We didn’t make it to both but the ambiance inside looks amazing and has good reviews!
What to do?
Our main goal for this trip was to relax. We spent most of our time in the hotel premises relaxing. But we did step outside to check out Scottsdale. In my opinion, Scottsdale visitors can be divided into 2 demographics; ones who come for parties (Scottsdale is a well-known destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties) and the others who come to relax and rejuvenate. My husband and I didn’t fit into either demographic. Although we came primarily to relax, us being the way we are, we had to check out the city and of course Sedona!
Sedona is quite close to Scottsdale. It is about 2 hours drive and makes it a perfect destination for a day trip. If you are an avid hiker, it might take you longer. Our first stop towards Sedona was Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. These are two iconic red rocks that you have probably seen in most photos. This stop is also fairly close to Scottsdale. Our second stop was Devil’s Bridge. You have to pass through the city of Sedona and hike about 3.2 miles roundtrip from the car park to get to the Devil’s bridge. Although 3.2 miles RT does not sound like much of a hike, do remember that you are in the desert in dry and hot climate. The trail is rocky and as you get closer, you actually have to climb rocks. I have to say the view is worth and, of course, the thrill of actually getting on top of the tiny Devil’s Bridge is priceless. If you want to hike less then you also have an option of renting ATVs or Jeep Wranglers. Regardless of what you choose to do, you will have to hike about 1 mile at the end. Once all the outdoorsy adventures are done, head over to Sedona to walk around the market. Stop by Sabrina’s ice-cream and indulge in something sweet all while taking in the beauty of the canyons and rocks that you can view from the patio of the store.
If you don’t want to drive but still want to hike, you can find many hiking trails around/in Camelback Mountains too.
Old Town Scottsdale is filled with shops and places to eat. We spent most of our time around this general area. If you are a football fan, then you might find Fiesta Bowl Museum interesting. If you have a car, you can go for a trip and explore Phoenix and Tempe. Tempe is also the home of Arizona State University. Another place to definitely visit is Taliesin West; winter home of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. You will also find an interesting Teaspressa here.
Nightlife in Scottsdale is in a different level. All the bars and clubs are located in one area with few exceptions and most of them if not all have a patio or some sort of outdoor seating. Weather plays a very important role! We went to Riot House by accident while strolling after dinner. We quite liked the place, the crowd, and the service. We later found out it was actually their opening day. If loud music is not your thing, I would suggest drinks on the patio of Montauk or a margarita at Loco Patron.
That’s it for a long weekend city guide to Scottsdale! I hope you find it helpful.