Retro vibes, cactus, cowboy culture, luxury, hot air balloon rides—this is Scottsdale, Arizona at a glance! It’s like a little treasure chest just waiting for you to sort through all of its golden goodies, which is exactly why you need to spend a weekend in Scottsdale ASAP.
What’s also great about this desert city is that it’s a hub for some other fantastic Arizona gems.
I mean, seriously: there are some gorgeous day trips from Scottsdale out there!
So, if you’re coming to Scottsdale, AZ for a little bit but found yourself going, “WTF is there to do there?” I got you.
In this blog, I’m pulling from my experience as a Scottsdale, AZ local to give you ALL the tea.
We’ll go over the best weekend itinerary and the juicy details you need to know before ya go. You’re about to have the best Scottsdale trip ever—take me with you? Ha!
When you’re done with this blog, make sure you check out some of my other AZ blogs:
- Most Instagrammable Places in Scottsdale
- Best Old Town Scottsdale Happy Hour Spots
- Most Instagrammable Places in Phoenix
- Phoenix to Sedona to Grand Canyon Itinerary
Let’s start by covering some of the planning details and travel tips for your Scottsdale itinerary!
Disclaimer: Hey explorer! This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of each purchase made through my links. I only ever recommend products I believe in and appreciate your support if you decide to use my links—thank you!
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Planning Your Weekend in Scottsdale, AZ
- ✈️Fly: You can fly directly into Scottsdale Sky Harbor. Your next option is to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor, a 16-minute drive to Scottsdale. Check KAYAK for tickets!
- 🚗Car Rental: KAYAK can help you find car rentals starting at $20 a day!
- 🏨Stay: Royal Palms Resort and Spa, The Saguaro Scottsdale, Hotel Valley Ho, The Scott Resort & Spa, Andaz Scottsdale Resort, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
- 🌵When to Go: October through May can be a great time to spend a weekend in Scottsdale.
I should note that you can visit in summer, but you’ll have to watch the weather!
Summers in Arizona are hot (110+ degrees Fahrenheit), BUT hotels will offer large room discounts.
Where to Stay in Scottsdale
You have amazing choices for accommodations to fit into your Scottsdale itinerary, but you’ll wanna check out The Scott Resort and Spa.
Staying there is like a vacation within a vacation!
The resort was inspired by Cuba and the Caribbean, so you KNOW it’s gorgeous.
As soon as you pull up to the resort, you’re greeted by their vintage blue convertible. It’s similar to those driving around Havana, Cuba.
And walking through those front doors instantly transports you to an island.
Not to mention, The Canal Club inside the resort is 10/10.
Their coconut mojitos will make your day. The rooms themselves are so airy and beautiful that they’ll out you in an instant state of relaxation—the kind of place you want to come back to after a long day exploring.
The Scott just so happens to be pet-friendly too! As if it couldn’t get any better!
Plus, it’s right by Old Town, so you’ll be in the heart of the action!
Next Read: Best Boutique Hotels in Scottsdale, AZ
Here’s a map for you to reference during your weekend in Scottsdale!
Click here to view a live version of the map.
You’ll notice that everything is relatively close together, making it easy to explore multiple areas.
Perfect Weekend in Scottsdale Itinerary at a Glance
- Arrive in Scottsdale
- Hotel Check-in
- McDowell Mountain Gateway Trail — McDowell Sonoran Preserve
- Desert Botanical Garden
- Pool or Spa
Don’t worry! We’ll be diving into this itinerary.
To get the most out of your weekend in Scottsdale, I highly suggest getting to Scottsdale Friday evening if possible—no later than Saturday morning!
Then, depart late on Sunday or nice and early on Monday.
Now that we’ve covered some of those details let’s get into our weekend itinerary!
Friday Itinerary — Arrive in Scottsdale
Once you land in Scottsdale, AZ (or Phoenix), grab your rental car, and head to your hotel for check-in. Take a second to freshen up if you need to, then it’s time to head out and begin your weekend in Scottsdale!
Get over to The Scott Resort and Spa where you’ll be having dinner and a drink at The Canal Club.
All of their food is Cuban-inspired and there’s something for everyone!
I enjoyed the vegetable Paella with a coconut mojito—HEAVEN.
But seriously, the coconut mojito is the best, don’t skip on this.
If you can’t get a seat in the restaurant, you can sit in The Canal Club’s cozy bar and lobby areas, then order your tapas and entrees there!
Tomorrow will be an early day, so get to bed ;).
Saturday Itinerary — Hot Air Balloon & Old Town Scottsdale
Rise and shine, boo!
Since Saturday is your only full day in your Scottsdale itinerary, it’ll be the busiest!
You’ll survive, though, don’t sweat. Now, it’s time to enjoy what makes Arizona shine: desert sunrises and sunsets.
When you book a sunrise hot air balloon ride, you’ll probably have to get up around 4am to start your day.
The views will be worth it, though!
Once in the sky, you’ll get to see the Sonoran desert glow a deep golden color—it’ll blow you away! Expect the hot air balloon ride to take about 3.5 hours.
Eat a snack before you get there! After landing, hop over to the Old Town Scottsdale area, where you’ll enjoy the rest of your Scottsdale itinerary.
Opt for brunch at Herb Box or a coffee at Fourtillfour.
Recently, I went to Herb Box for brunch with a friend and I was impressed!
I loved the Korean Fried Cauliflower.
Pro Tip: If you want to dine at Herb Box, I recommend making a reservation on Open Table—that’ll guarantee you a spot!
Ready for some more fun?
Snag some bicycles and explore around the town!
Or, if you stay somewhere like The Scott Resort, you can use their complimentary bicycles!
Hotels like this provide you with some bike route recommendations. Old Town Scottsdale also has a bike-share program.
Of course, renting bikes is another option too!
Make sure along your route you check out the Scottsdale Waterfront!
It’s a canal system with beautiful views and architecture that stretches through the city. It’ll be a highlight during your 48 hours in Scottsdale.
Not into bikes? Book a tour instead!
- JoyRides AZ will take visitors around Scottsdale and share some of the city’s history, which is an option if that sounds more like your vibe for your Scottsdale 2 day itinerary!
- Arizona Food Tours will take you all around Old Town Scottsdale so you can sample all of the tasty food and drink Scottsdale has to offer. This is literally a foodie’s dream.
You’ll head to Scottsdale’s famous restaurants like The Mission, AZ88, Malee’s Thai Bistro, and more!
At the waterfront, make sure you take some pictures! The whole area is super photogenic—you can also explore Scottsdale Fashion Square since it’s across the street.
Read Next: I have a whole blog on the best Scottsdale Coffee Shops—click here!
If you book a food tour, you’ll be golden in the lunch department, but if you’re busy doing a bike tour, head to Diego Pops for some tacos!
Diego Pops also happens to be one of the most Instagrammable Places in Scottsdale!
I love their watermelon margarita and appetizers.
You can get a sample platter with queso, salsa, and guacamole! Most folks enjoy Diego Pop’s street corn, so that’s something you can pig out on too.
As an alternative, you can stop by Berdena’s Coffee Shop for a quick pick-me-up and pastry!
Berdena’s is an adorable Scottsdale coffee shop on 5th Ave in Old Town.
Their oat milk lattes are *chef’s kiss*.
OR, did you know that Scottsdale is a popular destination for wine tasting? Yep!
As a matter of fact, Scottsdale is home to 6 wineries that you can visit. This is otherwise known as the Scottsdale Wine Trail and makes for a great day time activity.
You can certainly opt to take a self-guided wine tour during your weekend in Scottsdale. It’s all walkable.
Visit ScottsdaleWineTrail.com for more information and a map!
While you’re in the area, you can explore the Civic Center Plaza or the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts. Make sure you take a picture with the LOVE sign while you’re there!
Depending on how your day goes, you can opt to head back to your hotel and enjoy a relaxing time at the pool or a lovely spa day.
A massage probably sounds great after this adventure!
Ready for dinner? Head over to The Mission in Old Town.
The Mission serves up Latin cuisine and cocktails that are sure to impress!
They have everything from flavor-packed guacamole to tacos in hand-pressed tortillas to entrees cooked over a mesquite flame.
Citizen Public House is a great dinner alternative! They serve up gastropub cuisine and craft beers.
And, you have to cap things off with dessert! Sprinkles Cupcakes has a cupcake ATM in Old Town that is just as insta-worthy as delicious!
If you’d rather have ice cream, go to Sugar Bowl for a sundae.
If you want to end Saturday with some drinks, opt for some bar hopping fun! I have a whole blog on the best happy hours and bars in Old Town!
Sunday Itinerary — Finishing Your Weekend in Scottsdale, AZ
Today is your last day in Scottsdale, AZ! So let’s end your 2 days in Scottsdale with a bang!
Start your last morning off with a short hike in the McDowell Mountains.
The Gateway Trail at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is quite literally the gateway into the McDowell Mountains.
Hikers can use this area to intersect with longer hiking routes and spend the entire day engulfed in the Sonoran Desert.
But if you’re not into long hikes, don’t sweat. The Gateway Trail includes some short and easy hiking routes that gets you into the McDowell Mountains and Scottsdale’s nature scene without spending HOURS in the desert.
For a short adventure, you can opt for the Gateway Loop:
- Length 4.5 miles RT
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 685ft
Rather than complete the Loop, you can also turn around at the halfway point before the trail starts to climb! You’ll still see plenty of the desert.
If you weren’t in the mood to hike after last night, another option is sleeping in and enjoying brunch!
Lucky for you, Scottsdale has some fantastic brunch options like Hash Kitchen, The Mission, Herb Box, and Snooze AM Eatery.
Ready to see one last attraction before you leave? Head to the Desert Botanical Garden.
The Desert Botanical Garden is noticeably one of the most popular attractions and Scottsdale photo spots you’ll find.
It’s known for its desert fauna and flora and its integrated sculptures.
This is a great place to cap off your weekend in Scottsdale!
For safety reasons, the Gardens require that guests reserve tickets ahead of time.
You can read more about the process on DBG.org.
Before you head off, stop in Old Town for some last-minute shopping and pictures! 5th Avenue and Main Street are the best places in Old Town for some shopping.
To end things, head back to your hotel and pack your bags!
Have a final dip in the pool before it’s time to leave, then depart!
Alternative Weekend Itineraries
By now, you can probably tell that there are so many things to do in Scottsdale.
For that reason, I’ve provided two alternative itineraries for you to consider below.
Of course, feel free to mix and match as you please!
Alternative Itinerary #1
For the first alternative weekend in Scottsdale itinerary, you’ll have a similar layout to the one above.
Friday you arrive and end with dinner, Saturday is a full day, and Sunday is a chill day.
What you’ll find differs with this itinerary is that it gives you some more opportunities to enjoy Scottsdale’s art scene.
For instance, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West is a celebration of the famous architect’s work.
Cosanti is another great art attraction!
Cosanti features some beautiful desert structures that celebrate local culture.
- Dinner at Sol in the Scottsdale Quarter
- Morning Bike Ride around Old Town Scottsdale
- Afternoon Food Tour
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West or Cosanti Originals
- McDowell Sonoran Preserve Sunset
- Dinner at The Canal Club
- Coffee Fourtillfour or brunch
- Desert Botanical Garden
- Old Town
Of course, you can take elements from this itinerary and add them to the original one we discussed in detail!
Alternative Itinerary #2
This second alternative itinerary is a favorite!
It’s the perfect mix of adventure, art, and boujee-ness.
On Saturday, you’ll start with horseback riding or a hike up Camelback Mountain.
You’ll spend the rest of the day either relaxing at your hotel or exploring more of Scottsdale!
Your Sunday will include a lovely morning paddle sesh at Saguaro Lake, a 40-minute drive from Scottsdale.
You can opt for another day trip from Scottsdale too!
You’ll end Sunday with brunch or coffee and a trip to the Botanical Garden before leaving!
- Dinner at T. Cooks
- Hike Camelback Mountain or go Horseback Riding
- Relax at Hotel
- Explore Cosanti Originals
- Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
- Civic Center Plaza & Old Town
- Morning at Saguaro Lake
- Brunch or coffee
- Desert Botanical Garden
Pick this itinerary if you want a little bit of everything!
What to Pack
Packing for a weekend in Scottsdale, AZ isn’t difficult.
Still, you’ll have to pack items to account for all the different activities you’ll be doing!
Here is a quick list of items to bring with you.
A Comfy Dress
Whether it’s for romping around Old Town Scottsdale or elsewhere, I love a good comfy dress. It’ll allow you the freedom to explore around and pop in and out of restaurants as you please (while adhering to any pesky dress codes).
This one is pretty obvious! You’ll be walking, riding bikes, eating your heart out. Good walking shoes are a MUST, bestie!
Of course you’ll want to have a camera, phone, and charger with you!
If you’re interested in seeing a list of some of the camera gear I use, check out my blogger camera gear post!
Probably the most important toiletry you’ll want to have is sunscreen. Look, that Arizona sun is BRUTAL and you will not want to walk away from your bomb@$$ Scottsdale trip with a mean sunburn.
Elta MD UV Clear has always been my go to! It’s super moisturizing, doesn’t leave a white-cast, and is for acne-prone skin!
- Sunglasses—Ray-Ban Round Metal Classic
- Hat—UO Hats (women’s)
- Reusable Water Bottle—Hydro Flask Lightweight 32oz
Whether you do the original itinerary we discussed or you choose an alternate, you’ll most likely be doing SOME adventuring around Scottsdale. Here’s a quick list of the hiking gear Scott and I love.
To call out one piece of gear, my go-to boot has always been the KEEN Targhee. They’re sturdy, reliable, and have amazing grip!
- Daypack—Osprey Sirrus 24 Pack (women’s); REI Co-op Trail 25 (men’s)
- Sandals—Teva Ankle Strap Sandals (women’s); Teva Hurricane (men’s)
- Hiking Boots—KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Boot (women’s); KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Boot (men’s)
- Trail Running Shoes—Altra Lone Peak 5 Trail (women’s); Altra Lone Peak 5 Trail (men’s)
- Lightweight Hiking Socks—Darn Tough Hiker Socks (women’s); Darn Tough Hiker Socks (men’s)
- Shorts—Patagonia Baggies (women’s); Patagonia Baggies (men’s)
Final Tips for Your Weekend in Scottsdale
Let’s end things by covering some final tips for your weekend in Scottsdale! I’m pulling these from my experience so you can have the best trip possible!
Do One Large Activity a Day
We went over three different itineraries—that’s a lot of info to look at!
If you’re having trouble deciding what to do, listen up:
I recommend picking at least one large activity for Saturday and Sunday.
You can’t go wrong with either!
Try the Food
This is a given, but Scottsdale is an awesome foodie city!
I recommend going to at least one decent place for dinner or lunch!
There are some great cocktail bars in the area too, and they’re worth exploring!
Outrider Rooftop Lounge, for example, has great drinks and an amazing view you won’t get in many other Scottsdale places!
And remember, a good way to see it all is a food tour!
Stay in Old Town
From experience, staying in Old Town Scottsdale is the way to go.
There is so much to do in the area, and a lot of it is a walk away from most hotels!
Plus, some Old Town hotels will have bikes you can use to explore!
AND, most hotels in Old Town Scottsdale are SUPER cute—issa vibe.
Read Next: Best Boutique Hotels in Scottsdale, AZ
Next Steps for Your Scottsdale Trip
Ahh! There is so much to see in Scottsdale that a weekend in Scottsdale Arizona is almost not enough time!
I set up all of the itineraries to give you a healthy mix of everything I just mentioned, so hopefully one of those will do.
If you are exploring more of Arizona, I suggest you check out some of my other blogs: