My first trip to Scottsdale, AZ was an absolute dream come true! First and foremost I want to give a huge thank you to Visit Phoenix and their partners for hosting Portia, Jaime, Aneliia and myself on our girls weekend getaway. I traded in the humid tropical palm trees for a weekend with the dry dessert cactuses and loved every minute of it. If you’ve never been to Scottsdale you have got to book a flight right now! The Sky Harbor Airport is a major hub for American Airlines and is one of the more affordable and accessible airports in the country. I snagged a direct flight from Orlando, FL and it was just under four hours. After your flight is booked, here is what you need to know:
Where to stay in Scottsdale, AZ
Located in the heart of “new” Scottsdale the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa is the perfect retreat for any vacation. From girls weekend, to family vacations to business meetings, weddings or just a relaxing getaway. One of the Resort’s biggest attractions is the Adventure Water Park which includes a lazy river ride and 110-foot-long waterslide. There’s also the Kierland FlowRider and children’s splash pad with zero depth entry. If you’re traveling kid free (like we were for girls weekend) they also have an adults-only pool which we thoroughly enjoyed! You can also rent private cabanas by the pool. It doesn’t get much better than drinking Piña coladas, eating frozen grapes, and basking in the warm Arizona sun.
Now to the best part, the Agave Spa! During our stay we were treated with the Agave Master Massage and it was beyond relaxing! I had a male masseuse who applied medium pressure and I added a cannabidiol (CBD) remedy enhancement along with their exclusive essential oils. After our massage we drank plenty of water and then relaxed in the steam room and hot tub.
Best Restaurants in Scottsdale, AZ
(Located in the Westin Kierland Resort)
Deseo (meaning desire in Spanish) features traditional Latin cuisine such as multiple delicious ceviche plates, grilled and roasted fish and shellfish, and my all time favorite Peruvian fried chicken. The restaurant had a very bold and bright environment and the staff were all so pleasant and professional. We enjoyed our first dinner here and it was a hard one top. Be sure to checkout their menu here.
Postino (meaning postman in Italian) features the best wine menu, an incredible array of bruschetta boards, and cheese boards! They have several locations all over Phoenix but we had dinner at the one located in Kierland Commons which was across the street from the Westin Kierland Resort. I wish I would’ve ordered a panini to try but my favorite had to be the “pick 4 bruschetta boards for $15” (pictured below – second photo left board). Feel free to check out their menu here and side note: they also offer gluten free bread.
Located in downtown Phoenix, a quick 20 minute drive from Scottsdale, you will find the coolest little spot to eat, drink and hang out, The Churchill. Made up of ten small local businesses in a collaborative 9,000 square foot courtyard. They have it all from, pizza to sandwiches to tacos and acai bowls. As well as a large assortment of beverages like wine, beer, cocktails and smoothies. Whether you’re with your family, girlfriends or even just a fun date, The Churchill is the perfect spot to get together.
Gertrudes is located inside the Desert Botanical Garden, and offers a farm and pasture to the plate experience. I recommend a dinner reservation followed by the Electric Desert exhibit in the garden which runs October through May after dark. I enjoyed the crab dip appetizer, braised beef for dinner and the donuts and sauces for dessert and they were all impeccable.
Favorite things to do in Scottsdale, AZ
HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
I was able to check off a box on my bucket list during my trip to Scottsdale and it was to ride in a hot air balloon. The weather and experience were absolutely perfect the morning we went up with Rainbow Ryders. They are the #1 Hot Air Balloon Ride Company in Phoenix/Scottsdale offering a one-of-a-kind experience above Deer Valley and the Sonoran Desert, followed by breakfast and mimosas. Flight time is about 45 minutes to an hour and they start at $179 for adults, $99 for kids.
PHOENIX ART MUSEUM
Located in Downtown Phoenix, about 20 minutes from Scottsdale, is the Phoenix Art Museum. The largest art museum in the Southwest. In addition to the featured exhibits, the permanent collection galleries include over 19,000 works of art from modern and contemporary, to fashion, Latin and Western American. In an effort to reduce economic barriers and increase access to the arts, Phoenix Art Museum offers Pay-What-You-Wish admission every Wednesday from 3 to 9 pm.
ROOSEVELT ROW ARTISTS’ DISTRICT
Another fun activity in downtown Phoenix is the Roosevelt Row Artists’ District, which includes dozens of art venues, murals, public art and hundreds of local businesses who support the arts, bringing in over 100,000 visitors each year. We did an Arizona Pedal Cab Tour to learn about the area and I highly recommend it! I will also recommend to do it in the morning time before noon for weather purposes. It can take around 2 hours and the sun in the midday can be a little unbearable.
THE GRAND CANYON
I’d be remiss not to mention the Grand Canyon during your visit to Scottsdale. Unfortunately, this is the second time I’ve been close to the Grand Canyon but have yet to experience it. It’s about a 4 hour drive from Scottsdale and another open box on my bucket list for my next trip out there. If you have the time, I would definitely try and make a day of it.
DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN
If you flew to Scottsdale for the desert sand and tall cactuses – this is your place! Located just 15 minutes outside of Scottsdale you’ll find 140 acres of garden trails, gorgeous wildflowers and blooming cacti at the Desert Botanical Garden. Open daily from 8am-5pm. Tickets start out at $24.95 for adults, and are free for kids 3 and under and active military.
THE HEARD MUSEUM
Also located in Downtown Phoenix is the Heard Museum, a dedication to the advancement in American Indian Art, sharing stories from a first-person perspective. The museum offers free general admission each first Friday of the month from 6 to 10 p.m. except March (specially ticketed exhibitions/events are extra).
One outdoor activity I love doing is hiking! Which is why I’m really sad we didn’t have time to do any on my first trip to Scottsdale. I will definitely be hiking the next time I come back and the first climb I will be doing is Camelback Mountain, with an elevation of 2,704 feet. Camelback Mountain is a hiking destination for both locals and tourists in the Valley and is located in the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area between Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Another fun area to hike is the Phoenix Mountain Preserve which has 50 moderate trails ranging from 1 to 16.7 miles, up to 2600 feet above sea level.
HORSE BACK RIDE
Located in North Scottsdale, Cave Creek Outfitters offers guided horseback rides, cowboy cookouts, authentic cowboy games and old west entertainment. They’re also the only Scottsdale ranch that offers rides in both the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Tonto National Forest.
I hope you all enjoyed this travel guide and found it helpful in planning your trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.
All Photos by: Aneliia Miller Photography
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