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🌵 Scottsdale: 330 days of sun & desert vibes

Scottsdale, Arizona is probably the best place in North America for winter sun, and you might not even have heard of it. We’re here to change that.

The city not far from Phoenix is well known for its fabulous golf courses and for its spa resorts -- superstars like Beyoncé and Jay-Z even spent their honeymoon there.

Scottsdale is chic and arty, and outdoors-loving all at the same time. There's a vibrant food and nightlife scene, and the public art displays are unique. This city has got something to offer for everyone -- are you more the relaxed spa person? Or the one tracking through the surrounding desert?

Our guide tells you how to get there and around, the best places to stay, plus, the hottest activities (quite literally). 🔥 Here's our spotlight on this glitzy gateway to the American West. 🔦

Practical information:

  • Area: 477 km²

  • Population: 241361

  • Region: Arizona

  • Currency: USD (dollar)

  • Official language: English

  • Time difference: the UK is 8 hours ahead

Fun Facts:

  • The city has more spas per capita than any other city in the U.S.

  • There are six lakes within a 75-minute drive from Scottsdale

  • There are over 200 golf courses in and around Scottsdale

  • Official nickname = The West's Most Western Town

  • 6th largest city in Arizona

When to go

If you like your summer holidays hot, then you're in luck, as the cheapest time to visit Scottsdale is during the summer months (July and August are usually around 40 °C - sans humidity). Spring and autumn are milder, better for outdoor activities. Winters are cool and mostly clear, with highs of up to 26 °C.

Getting there and around

You’d be searching to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) or Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) when travelling to Scottsdale. The former is the most common option and the main hub for international flights from the UK.

Airlines like British Airways, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, Condor, Southwest, Hawaiian, WestJet and more fly into Phoenix. There are more than 20 flights leaving every day, including non-stop direct flights into London Heathrow with both British Airways and American Airlines.

Flight prices range from £500 to over £1000 return from the UK.

Find flights to Phoenix

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Getting from the airport to Scottsdale

It’s a 15-minute drive from PHX to Scottsdale Old Town, so, depending on what your plans are, you could either take a taxi (we checked on Uber for an afternoon arrival, which was $42 (£33)). Lyft is another app you can use to check on taxi prices.

Renting a car is another option. No surprises there -- it’s cheapest in the hottest months, June-August.

🚌 There’s also public transportation you could consider. PHX Airport has a train station, from which you can get to Scottsdale in just over an hour. That’s the most cost-effective way, with prices from £2-£6. If you’re planning to take the bus regularly in Scottsdale, we recommend downloading the Valley Metro app with on-time public transport updates.

Getting around

Scottsdale is a long and narrow city, stretching nearly 50 kilometres north to south and at its widest, nearly 18 kilometres east to west. Fortunately, the roadways are easy to navigate with a private car or by a Uber/Lyft or taxi service. Old Town, the city centre, is extremely walkable. At about 1.6 kilometres any direction, it takes about 20-30 minutes to walk. In Old Town, there are plenty of unique tour options to get around if you want to give your legs a break.

Electric bikes

A fun way to see the city is by renting an electric bike. This way, you can get to the local galleries, restaurants, shops and museums with as little (or as much) effort as you like.

Where to rent?

Pedego Scottsdale

📍 Old Town’s Fifth Avenue district

💰 from $59 (half-day)

Phat Rides USA

📍 In the McCormick Hotel or DC Ranch Scottsdale

💰 from $25 per hour


You've got a lot of options to choose from for your segway tour in Scottsdale. Whether you'd like to roll into the sunset on a city lights tour, explore the Old Town or go VIP on a private excursion.

Where to rent?

Segway of Scottsdale

💰 from $65 for a 2-hour tour

Scottsdale Segway Tours

💰 from $95 for a 1.5-hour tour

Walking tours

FREE Historic Old Town Tour

You can reserve a place for a 90-minute tour. Monday-Friday mornings from October until April.

A taste of Old Town Scottsdale

Each 3-hour walking tour includes small bites and beverages at five to six different restaurants. From $75 per person.

Self-guided public art tour

This hour-long tour takes you along 10 of the city’s most celebrated artworks, including the “Soleri Bridge & Plaza”; Donald Lipski’s kaleidoscopic “The Doors;” and “Knight Rise,” a James Turrell skyspace.

Other Unique Options

Golf Cart Tour

This is a great way to get to know Scottsdale! JoyridesAZ offer a great range of choices. Would you like to see the most instagrammable places in Scottsdale, sample the best beers, or taste some margaritas and tacos? Local drivers will show you around in small groups. Prices start from $65 per person.

Puzzle Rides also offer golf cart tours, where you can hunt clues throughout Scottsdale. The 75-minute tours are themed, you can go on a Wild West adventure or hunt in the dark, for example.

Party Bike

This is a fun option to get around if you're travelling in a bigger group (up to 15 people): you can hire a party bike with Arizona Pary Bike! It's a pedal "pub", coming with sound system and beverages.

What to do

Old Town

A special highlight of Scottsdale is definitely the Old Town! Here you can explore nine neighbourhoods by foot and find a unique collection of shops, restaurants, museums, nightclubs and historic sites from the 1880s. The neighbourhoods are divided into entertainment, art, fashion and more. This is where Old West charm and urban chic come together. If you’re craving big city atmosphere with a laid back, small town feel, this is your place to go.


You'll have a lot of fun exploring the local arts scene! Events and the numerous galleries are as much a part of the repertoire as public art installations in the Old Town. We especially recommend Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West -- Scottsdale's only National Historic Landmark and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.


This is one of the world's best golf destinations! The city and its surroundings offer more than 200 golf courses and sunny skies all year round - the best conditions! The Grayhawk Golf Club, Troon North Golf Club, and TPC Scottsdale, home of the famous Waste Management Phoenix Open, for example, are highly recommended.


You're in good hands if you're looking for a shopping opportunity. Scottsdale has over 2,500 boutiques and shops including unique local boutiques and upscale malls, you'll find everything you ever wanted here. There are also dozens of gift and souvenir shops, so you can bring something home from this memorable trip.

Dining and Nightlife

Whether it's live music bars with country or jazz bands, a fun after-work party at AZ88, a wine tasting in one of our local Arizona-wine tasting rooms, partying at a VIP Nightclub with bottle service or attending an epic summer pool party at Maya Dayclub - Scottsdale's nightlife is by all means varied all year round! Foodies have put FnB at the top of their to-do list, where James Beard winning chef Charleen Badman cooks for you, sample Modern Latin cuisine, including incredible table-side guacamole, at The Mission, or enjoy the vibrant, upscale atmosphere at Ocean 44 with world-class seafood and great steaks.


Visiting the Sonoran Desert is a must when you're in Scottsdale! Its McDowell Sonoran Preserve covers 30,200 hectares, making it the largest urban nature reserve in the US – that’s 36 times larger than Central Park. You can hike, mountain bike, climb or just explore the area. Admission is free! Outside the Preserve, there’s plenty of other guided tour options including off-roading tours, kayaking, rafting, boat tours and more.


Scottsdale was named one of the 15 hiking destinations in the country by National Geographic! The easiest hiking routes include the Double Butte Loop in Papago Park, the Jane Rau Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the North Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The Pinnacle Peak Summit Trail in Pinnacle Peak Park, the Gateway Loop Trail and Tom's Thumb in Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve are also impressive hiking trails.

Horseback Riding

Cross the Sonoran Desert on horseback and ride past saguaro cacti, creosote bushes and lace mesquite trees. Alternatively, hay rides are also available! For both, you can visit MacDonald’s Ranch or Windwalker Expeditions.

Hot air ballooning

Watch the sunrise over the Sonoran Desert from a hot air balloon! You can do this all year round with Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company or Hot Air Expeditions! Plus, each experience comes with a complimentary champagne toast.


Every year, Scottsdale is the spring training home of major teams such as the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. The Cactus League teams play at Scottsdale Stadium in Old Town and the Salt River Fields (plus, the stadium has a great view of the surrounding area!). It is a major attraction for visitors every spring.

Find activities in Scottsdale


The best hotels in Scottsdale

For a romantic trip

For the ultimate romantic trip, choose Sanctuary Camelback Mountain. Probably the most famous of all Scottsdale hotels, the 5-star retreat sits in 53 acres of desert landscape. There's an award-winning spa with infinity pool. And, just to show you the calibre of the hotel -- celebs Beyoncé and Jay-Z spent their honeymoon here!

Rates are cheaper in the hot summer months.

For a family trip

Nine pools with a three-story water slide, a 1,950 square metre spa and wellness centre, a complimentary event with Birds of Prey and Native American Hoop Dancing, make Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch the perfect hotel for some family fun.

For a solo trip

Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale is perfect for solo travellers who like to socialise. There's a pool where everyone meets, a golf course is attached to the hotel, and you can take part in yoga and fitness classes.

For panoramic views

Offering stunning views of Pinnacle Peak and the cascading McDowell Mountains, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is a 5-star hotel with a bi-level swimming pool, a locally-inspired spa, and even a gin tasting room. It's the perfect place to relax after a day of sightseeing.

For wellness fans

The JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa offers every wellness service imaginable: spa, sauna, Jacuzzi, massages, hammam, yoga classes, and more. Everything you need for a relaxing stay.

What to see nearby

Scottsdale is the perfect place to start or end your road trip through Arizona. Imagine long roads that stretch as far as the eye can see, cactus-ridden deserts and beautiful national park landscapes.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the region's must-see places that are well worth a visit. We recommend staying a little longer and booking a guided day tour to/from Scottsdale.

  • Phoenix: Just a 15-minute car ride away, the city has an arty vibe. There's a vibrant nightlife, great shopping opportunities and more spas and golf courses to be seen.

  • Grand Canyon: Helicopter rides, hikes, roadside views. Make sure you'll see its colourful cliffs and breathtakingly deep ravines.

  • Vermilion Cliffs National Monument: These stunning rock formations attract tourists from around the world for their beauty, including the iconic Wave, located on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes.

  • Sedona: Sedona offers one of the most beautiful settings in Arizona. And there's loads to do: Jeep tours, hiking and mountain biking trails, art galleries.

  • Monument Valley: You may know this landscape from the movies, but come and see it for yourself with its sand dunes and amazing rock formations.

  • Lake Powell: The second largest man-made lake in the United States offers beautiful scenery and a variety of water sports such as water skiing, wakeboarding and paddleboarding.

  • Horseshoe Bend: This is where the Colorado River makes a spectacular bend. You really can't do a road trip in Arizona without putting this amazing sight onto your bucket list.

  • Havasu Falls: These magnificent waterfalls flow into pools of intense blue water. An amazing place to visit but you have to make reservations, get a permit and pay a fee in advance.

  • Antelope Canyon: You've probably seen photos of this grand canyon with carved and twisted sandstone walls through which the sunlight shines, creating beautiful lighting effects.

  • Saguaro National Park: Close to Tuscon, this is the perfect park to see the famous saguaro cactus and discover the desert flora and fauna. Perfect for hikers!