11 Interesting And Beautiful Places To Visit in Scottsdale, AZ

Some may consider Scottsdale to be a ritzy city full of expensive resorts, posh spas and golf courses.

But while it is often known as the “Beverly Hills of the Desert”, there is much more to Scottsdale than its fancy stereotypes suggest. 

Scottsdale is one of my absolute favorite cities in the United States. I love the western theme mixed in with the natural beauty of the desert landscape, with saguaro cacti and sunsets over mountains painting perfect scenes that you could easily put on a postcard. 

But the true wealth of Scottsdale comes in the form of all its amazing tourists attractions. There’s plenty to do in this Arizona city, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, art lover or history buff.

Saddle up and read on for 11 places to visit and see in Scottsdale! 

Old Town

Old Town is one of the top tourists attractions in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a vibrant and urban chic center with a wild west vibe right in the heart of the city. There are nine walkable districts, each uniquely lined with a collection of restaurants, boutique shopping and beautiful art installations.

I took a bike ride through Old Town with some friends. and we bounced around the bars and restaurants.

A couple of my favorite places to go, especially if you love Mexican food would be Barrio Queen for the nachos and Frank & Lupes for the margaritas! 

Also be sure to do some shopping at Old Town Gypsy for some cute clothes and eclectic jewelry, and (to replenish your energy levels), share a coffee flight at JoJo’s Coffeehouse!

Fountain in Old Town by Shelby Zack

Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Western Spirt: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is a highly recommend tourist attraction in Old Town Scottsdale!

No matter if you’re a fan of cowboys, Native American history or Wild West culture, it’s a must see museum, with two floors showcasing rotating exhibits of western artifacts, art and pottery. I was fascinated by the traditional Native American clothing on display.

While visiting, you can take a free tour of the museum, or there are volunteer guides who are extremely knowledgeable! True to the museum’s name, you do get end up truly getting into the Western Spirit! 

Scottsdale’s Museum of the West by Steve Cukrov from Shutterstock

Camelback Mountain 

Camelback Mountain is one of my favorite hikes. I’ve done it a handful of times, and the view from the top never gets old.

The name of the hike refers to the shape of the mountain, which looks like the hump on a camel’s back. There’s two routes to the top. The Echo trail is a shorter yet steeper climb. I recommend this trail if you want more of a rock climbing challenge.

The Cholla trail is a gradual uphill climb and not as difficult. If you do go up one side, make sure you go down the same side if you parked a car. I made the mistake once of parking on one side of the mountain and it’s about a 1-2 mile walk between the two trail heads! Whoops! 

Camelback Mountain by Shelby Zack

Pinnacle Peak

Another great hike and place to go in Scottsdale is Pinnacle Peak. It is more of a moderate hike, so it’s doable for any skill level. It’s one if the more popular hikes in Scottsdale because of its beautiful well maintained trails leading up to the “top.”

You don’t actually hike to the peak, rather around it, but the reward is gorgeous expansive views of the valley.

There is an abundance of wildlife on the trails – from lizards and jack rabbits to birds. There are also signs that mention there might be rattlesnakes, but I have yet to see any on my hikes (not that I am inviting them to make an appearance!)

Pinnacle Peak by Jessica Kirsh from Shutterstock

Desert Botanical Garden

If you think a garden in the middle of the desert is just a bunch of tumbleweeds, dirt and dust, you will be surprised to learn about this tourist site in Scottsdale.

The Desert Botanical Garden is home to more than 50,000 plants from deserts all over the world. Everything is well marked, and there is a lot of educational information posted throughout the trails.

It’s easy to spend a couple hours wandering the five trails surrounded by towering cacti, lush succulents and blooming wildflowers! 

Desert Botanical Garden by Kate K from Shutterstock

Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden

The Xeriscape Garden is a little hidden gem in the middle of the desert! It’s a quiet and relaxing place to go in Scottsdale, and one I’d highly recommend visiting.

The garden is a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat (say that 5x fast). Its purpose is to bring public awareness to reduce outdoor water use!

The name Xeriscape means a style of landscape that uses little to no irrigation. It’s commonly found in more arid climates. While not as extensive as the Desert Botanical Garden, the Xeriscape Garden still provides educational resources and is free for visitors.

There’s informative signage and interactive plant guides that highlight the park’s desert life including over 7,000 plants.

Xeriscape Garden by Alisia Luther from Shutterstock

“Hole in the Rock” at Papago Park

Papago Park is another popular place in Scottsdale for both tourists and residents, recognizable by its distinct red rock hills. There are plenty of recreational activities to enjoy, including picnicking and hiking one of the many trails.

The “Hole In the Rock” is one of the more prominent hikes here, and one of the highest points in the area! It’s a natural geological formation that was created through sandstone erosion, which caused holes in the rock to form.

Evidence suggests that the “Hole in the Rock” was used by ancient Hohokam Native Americans who resided in the area from 200-1400 AD! Today, it’s an easy hike for any ability, with great views of the park below. If you’re looking for places to visit in Scottsdale with an epic view, don’t miss this spot!

People taking pictures at the “Hole In the Rock” by Gregory E. Clifford from Shutterstock

Musical Instrument Museum 

Scottsdale’s Musical Instrument Museum is one of the top museums in the United States, and actually the largest musical instrument museum in the world!

Here, you’ll find interactive displays with instruments from every continent, featuring exhibits that literally bring music to your ears. Yes – headphones at some of the displays actually allow you to listen to the sounds of each instrument.

You can easily spend hours here reading all the information and geeking out over the demos! Even if you don’t play a musical instrument, this Scottsdale attraction is a must see for music lovers in general.

Musical Instrument Museum Paul R. Jones from Shutterstock

Taliesin West 

The Taliesin West is a unique and interesting attraction in Scottsdale. If you like architecture, nature and history, then it’s a must see.

Taliesin West was created by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His vision was to have a home that was shaped to mesh with the surrounding desert landscape rather than excavate the land to build his home.

The house was originally built using local materials like rocks, the desert sand and wooden structures filled with concrete, although they were later replaced with more durable materials.

After Wright died in 1959, his home became the headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and today the building is open for tours for the general public, while also serving as the main campus of The School of Architect at Taliesin. 

Taliesin West by Kit Leong from Shutterstock

Butterfly Wonderland 

The last place you would expect to find in the middle of an arid desert is a rainforest, but that’s exactly what makes The Butterfly Wonderland such a unique attraction in Scottsdale – it’s an indoor rainforest habitat!

It also happens to be the largest butterfly conservatory in America with thousands of species of butterflies. At Butterfly Wonderland, you get to learn about the stages of a butterfly’s life and the migration of my favorite, the monarch butterfly.

Planning to visit? Be sure to dress in lighter clothes because it gets humid and prepare to get up close and personal! The butterflies fly all around you right in front of your face. It’s a beautiful and breathtaking experience.

Butterfly Wonderland by Rosemarie Mosteller from Shutterstock

Wonderspaces Arizona

Wonderspaces is a popular tourist attraction in Scottsdale. It’s a micro museum and ever changing art show, with 14 immersive and interactive installations such as the Shadow Play light installation where you step into a light beam with your shadow cast into an array of changing colors.

There’s also the Rainbow room, an installation of multi-colored woven yarn covering everything including the walls.

Overall, this is an experience that is fun, playful and something different than your typical art museum! I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a unique place to visit in Scottsdale.

Wonderspaces display by Andrew Ruiz from Unsplash

Did we forget any beautiful and interesting places to visit in Scottsdale, Arizona? 

Let us know and leave any comments if there are any more places in Scottsdale that you would add to our list! 

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