Scottsdale, Arizona is a part of the greater Phoenix area. Phoenix is, in fact, directly to the west of Scottsdale. To the north is the Tonto National Forest and Tempe is south. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is to the east. This interesting location influences Scottsdale and plays a part in all the things there are to see and do there. Not only will you find access to delicious dining, trendy bars, and fancy hotels but also to trails, lakes, parks, and even a canal.
Old Town Scottsdale is also known as Downtown. If you are looking for a great place for a night out, this is it. Here, you will find clubs, bars, and restaurants as well as art galleries, museums, and plenty of shopping. Head to Old Town Trading for interesting southwestern-style jewelry. Take the kids to Old Town Candy & Toys for a treat. For a date night, stop by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Then, grab a drink at Dierks Whiskey Row. Or, head to Casablanca Rooftop Lounge for some live music.
Pinnacle Peak Park is northeast of downtown Scottsdale. It is a great place to get out and enjoy nature without having to travel too far out of the city. There is a range of diverse activities to enjoy here, too. Take a moderate hike down the Sonoran Desert trail or, for something more adventurous, go rock climbing. Take a bike ride. Or, relax and enjoy a picnic. The scenery is beautiful so bring your camera, no matter what you choose to do.
One of the most unique things about Scottsdale is the Arizona Canal. It was built in the late 1880s to collect runoff from flood irrigation and runs through a lot of the wealthier suburbs around Phoenix. Scottsdale developed the section running through town, revitalizing the area with the Waterfront Project. It includes a pedestrian suspension bridge and a trail for walking and jogging. The canal system is about 50 miles long in all and seems to go on forever. Visitors can enjoy eateries, galleries, bars, and Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Just southeast of Scottsdale is the Phoenix Zoo. At 125 acres, it is the largest non-profit privately owned zoo in the country. There are more than 1,400 animals on display here, like African lions, Andean bears, flamingos, gray wolves, ostriches, giraffes, and otters. The zoo is divided into four main sections: the Arizona Trail, Africa Trail, Tropics Trail, and Children's Trail, complete with a petting zoo. The Phoenix Zoo has been focused on conservation since it first opened in 1962 and also acts as a sanctuary for unwanted or endangered animals.
Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, the Old Adobe Mission was built by Mexicans that settled the area in the early 1900s. It originated as Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and was designed in a Spanish Colonial style. Each of the 14,000 adobe bricks used to construct the missions is made using clay, sand, straw, silt, dung, and water. They weigh 50 pounds each, and every single one was placed by hand. There are gorgeous 15 stained-glass windows, too. The church was named a historic site in 2001 and restored starting in 2002.
Saguaro Lake is located northeast of Scottsdale in the Tonto National Forest. It was formed when the Stewart Mountain Dam was completed in 1930 and is the last reservoir on the Salt River. This lake has more than 22 miles of shoreline to enjoy. Here, you can go sailing, boating, or kayaking, try your hand a jet skiing, or relax for a weekend of camping and fishing. It is a great place for sightseeing, too. Grab a bite to eat at Lakeshore Restaurant for a breathtaking view of the lake, Bulldog Cliffs, and the Goldfield Mountains. Then, take a ride around the lake on the Desert Belle tour boat.
There are a lot of great restaurants and bars in downtown Scottsdale, but one of the best ways to experience the deliciousness this town has to offer is to take a chocolate tour. Official tours are available from various businesses, or you can visit some of the best sweet shops in the city on your own. Enjoy a latte and some fine confections at Sugar & Spro. Sample the Sonoran Desert White Chocolate at Zak's Chocolate or have a mocha or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cake sundae at Caketini. If you have a sweet tooth, Scottsdale knows how to satisfy it.
Go for a bike ride, take your dog for a walk, or journey out on horseback at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This is 30,000 acres of permanently protected desert habitat that includes more than 120 different trails that can be accessed from various trailhead locations. There are ten in all, including Lost God Wash Trail, a shorter trail with easier terrain that is kid-friendly and the more challenging Sunrise Trail where amazing scenic views. Mind the temperature, use plenty of sunscreen, and take a lot of water with you if you head outdoors.
MacDonald's Ranch is located in northern Scottsdale. Their guided horseback rides offer a unique way to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert and a little bit of the old west. There are plenty of things to do at the ranch, including horse or mule-pulled hayrides, pony rides, and a petting zoo. In the fall, they host a pumpkin patch with a hay maze, train ride, and fun games for kids to enjoy. This is also a great place for private events. Guests can schedule a western barbecue set in Old West Town and can even request a stagecoach robbery re-enactment for entertainment.
Papago Park is just southwest of Scottsdale and one of the most beautiful outdoor destinations this close to the city. Here you will find the largest outdoor collection of desert plants as you take a meandering walk. There is always something to do at Papago Park, including seasonal festivals and other activities throughout the year. For the best view of the colorful wildflowers, plan to visit in the spring.