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A Beginners Guide to Scottsdale
Scottsdale is ideally located to include on a south western USA road trip, perhaps taking in Los Angeles and San Diego, with all the sights in between, or include that entertainment mecca Las Vegas and scoot by the Grand Canyon en route. Scottsdale sits in the centre of Arizona, and you’re actually just a short drive to Phoenix airport, so that would also be a great starting point. Zooming in to Scottsdale, you’ll find the Sonoran Preserve to the west – a gorgeous area zig-zagged with walking trails for all ages and abilities, and The Tonto National Forest to the east – a stunning area of cactus desert, forested mountains and beautiful rivers.
Scottsdale is a year-round destination with over 310 days of sunshine annually. While the summer months (May – September) can reach an average high of 40 degrees, in the winter (December – February) the average low is 6 degrees, rarely dropping below freezing. During the summer months, visitors can take advantage fabulously low seasonal rates at the various hotels, resorts and golf courses. It might be a trifle warm but that’s easy enough to deal with - during the heat of the day you can lounge poolside, relax at the spa or explore any of the air-conditioned museums and shopping centres. After dark, enjoy evening desert tours and live concerts under the stars.
Within the city of Scottsdale, there is something for everyone, and here are just a few of our chosen highlights.
Old Town Scottsdale offers some of the best fine art galleries, designer shopping and cultural attractions in the region. Shops in the Historic District of Old Town focus on Native American crafts, offering everything from hand woven Navajo rugs to Zuni silver jewellery.
It’s well worth a stroll along to the Brown Avenue Historic Sites where you’ll discover local colour rather than ancient history. The Old Adobe Mission was built in 1933 from 14,000 adobe blocks and Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop was built in 1910 from tin, then remade in 1920 from adobe. Across Brown Avenue in what used to be the old livery, the Old Town Scottsdale Parada del Sol Rodeo Museum displays Parada del Sol rodeo memorabilia dating back to 1953.
A registered historic landmark, The Rusty Spur is Scottsdale’s oldest cowboy saloon. Housed in a former bank building where the vault now holds liquor instead of money, the Spur features live music seven days and nights a week. Walk through the swinging doors and enjoy a taste of the Old West.
Scottsdale boasts over 50 premier golf courses and 200 if you take into account all the surrounds. As you might imagine from “The Worlds Finest Golf Destination”, green fees can be pricey but if you’re happy to wait until lunchtime, the Silverado Golf Course and McDowell Mountain Golf Club offer discounted rates. The municipal courses are in a different league to ones you might find closer to home, and rates are much lower for example at the Continental Golf Course which weaves its way through scenic Indian Bend Wash and Coronado which is a 9-hole course with a popular driving range open until 9pm. If you really want to experience the best of Scottsdale, and indeed American, golf, then head to the Grayhawk Golf Club – according to the experts hole number 11 on the Talon Course has a beautiful tee area complete with swing bridge and a box canyon which stretches all the way to the green….which is two-tiered and bordered by deep bunkers.
The restaurants of Scottsdale can be measured in both quality and quantity, with hundreds to choose from and a mind-boggling variety. With 330 days of sunshine al fresco dining is guaranteed to be enjoyable and we’d recommend Arcadia Farms Café & Wine Bar for great all-day dining and at the top end of the budge Café Monarch is a great place for a special meal. For breath-taking sunset views head to rustic El Chorro in The Valley of the Sun, and for a truly unique Scottsdale experience enjoy dinner at Adero which is perched on McDowell Mountain and in the Dark Sky Community.
You can also find several wonderful wineries for tasting and extensive craft breweries for sampling. Or take a food tour to savour the best Scottsdale specialities.
Scottsdale is filled with museums and galleries, and our pick, is Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West. It’s a one-of-a-kind museum celebrating the unique stories of America’s western states, and is within easy walking distance of Old Town and Fashion Square. The building is an architectural gem, and as well as the fascinating exhibits, you’ll also enjoy the beautiful outdoor sculpture courtyard.
The lush Sonoran Desert creates the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, horse-riding, off-road tours, river rafting and more. There are plenty of outfitters in town to book a tour, hire a bike and there are some great hiking and biking trail guides to download. As well as guaranteed sunshine, we can also guarantee that you’ll wish you had more time to spare to extend your Scottsdale stay.