Here is my Ultimate Scottsdale Travel Guide for you! Why visit Scottsdale? With its incredible mountains, beautiful palm trees, an oasis of Saguaro cacti, the Sonoran Desert landscape is simply beautiful to look at and makes a great vacation destination. There is a variety of things to do in Scottsdale from hiking the Camelback Mountain or the McDowell Sonoran Preserve to exploring the art scene with its theaters, galleries and museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art. The list of activities is endless and there is something for everyone!
How to get there?
The easiest way to get to Scottsdale is by flying into Phoenix. Flights are usually not too expensive, especially from Chicago. We booked our trip with United and paid about 200 dollars for the roundtrip. Scottsdale is about a 30 minute drive from the airport in Phoenix.
Where to stay?
We stayed at the beautiful Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Scottsdale and can highly recommend this resort. With it Spanish Colonial inspired architecture the Royal Palms Resort and Spa makes you feel like you are in Spain. The resort accommodations include 119 beautifully remodeled rooms, casitas, and luxury villas. Both, the main courtyard and the pool give you the opportunity to admire the beauty of Camelback Mountain while having a cocktail during sunset or relaxing by the pool.
Royal Palms Resort and Spa is conveniently located a short distance from Old Town and top Phoenix destinations including the Desert Botanical Garden. It is also close to some of my favorite restaurants in Scottsdale like Berdena’s, Schmooze and Diego Pops. Johannes and I love hiking and were happy that the resort is also not far from Camelback Mountain and other hiking trails. The location is perfect and makes the hotel one of the best places to stay in Scottsdale.
We booked a King Casita, that is basically a bungalow. All bungalows are spacious and designed in an elegant Spanish Colonial-style. Everything in the room serves a purpose and is quality. Another great feature is the bathroom that is extremely spacious with plenty of counter space. The attached little terrace and patio are a nice add-on. In the morning you can grab a coffee and some pastries and enjoy them on your patio or terrace while browsing the news and getting ready for the day. We also loved the fireplace in the room that was super useful during the colder mornings and evenings in December.
Fireplace & Charcuterie Board
You can also arrange a fireplace setting for you terrace along with Champagne/Wine and Charcuterie board. We arranged that for one evening and had a fun time enjoying sitting next to the fire, zipping champagne and snacking on our charcuterie board. Highly recommended 🙂
Breakfast at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa
Royal Palms has a delicious restaurant called T. Cook’s. T. Cook’s offers tapas dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Their breakfast menu has a variety of options available, there is something for everyone. I loved my avocado toast with the poached egg and my Bloody Mary. It was absolutely delicious and can recommend it. The outdoor dining area is also stunning with lots of beautiful flowers. There is also a Poolside restaurant named Cabana Café that is open for refreshing cocktails and appetizers from 10am-5pm daily.
Common Spaces: Pool, Courtyards, Fountains and Grounds
The hotel has a pool that is heated during winter time. If you want a little more privacy you can reserve daybeds or cabanas by the pool that are super cute and spacious. My favorite part of the pool was the view on Camelback Mountain.
If you are like me and love working out while traveling you will love the fitness center that is open 24h and even offers classes. During this trip I did not had the time to use it though.
The grounds are stunning and make you feel like you’re wandering through a Spanish village. There are several fountains and seating areas around the property making it easy to just sit down and enjoy the views and property. The red flowers and citrus trees planted all around the property make strolling through the property even more enjoyable.
On top of all of that, the Royal Palms is also a pet friendly hotel. We do not have a dog yet but will have one in the future. This is a criteria that is important to me and I am happy to see that the resort is pet friendly. For stays of up to six nights, it is a $150 pet fee, and for stays of seven through 30 nights, an additional $100 deep-cleaning fee.
In case you want to pamper yourself with a Spa treatment you will not be disappointed at the Royal Palms Resort since it has a beautiful Spa that is open from 9am-5pm from Thursday till Sunday. The Forbes Four-Star Alvadora Spa offers a collection of signature treatments centered around the nurturing essences of the Mediterranean: soothing the spirit, renewing the body, and enriching the mind.
Where to eat?
Scottsdale has so many great restaurants that it is actually hard to decide where to go. The options are endless. You can have great Mexican food, but also delicious Italian or Japanese food. There are also tons of cute coffee shops all around Scottsdale.
Diego Pops is a Mexican restaurant with super yummy tacos and delicious cocktails. On top of that the interior of the place is in on point as well. There are great neon signs on the walls, and pineapple wallpaper in certain sections of the restaurant. How cute is that?
Address: 4338 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
If you are coffee and avocado toast lover like me you have found the perfect breakfast spot. Berdena’s coffee is very tasty and so are the pastries and the avocado toast. For your next Scottsdale visit make sure to visit at least once when you are in Scottsdale.
Address: East 5th Avenue suite i, Scottsdale, AZ
One of my favorite breakfast spots with delicious food options is Schmooze. Also, how cute is the name SCHMOOZE? Obviously, I had an avocado toast here and it was so good! The coffee here is also great!
Address: 4222 N Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Looking for a fancy and good restaurant? Olive and Ivy is a bit more on the pricey side but so worth it. Their bruschetta and pasta is to die for! We went for dinner and had such an amazing time! Highly recommended!
Address: 7135 E Camelback Rd #195, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Most Instagrammable Places
“It’s That Hot” mural
Super cute mural in the heart of Old Scottsdale! This spot is best in the morning or in the afternoon. Light can be tricky here.
Address: 7150 E. 6th Ave, Scottsdale, Arizona
MonOrchid bird wall
Super cute bird mural! Make sure to come in the morning when the light is less harsh.
Address: 214 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix
I love wings and taking photos of them. These wings are really nice. Make sure to come in the morning when the light is less harsh.
Address: 214 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix
Really nice church and definitely worth a snap! I also love the area around the church which is adorable and nice to walk around. We went around 10 am and were able to take photos without many people.
Address: 3815 N Brown Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Lost Dutchman State Park
The Lost Dutchman Park is located in the Superstition Mountains. Be prepared for lots of cacti and stunning views on the Superstition Mountains. There are multiple parking lots available and plenty of hiking trails to explore. It costs $8 per vehicle for a day pass.
Camelback Mountain, Paradise Valley
Considered one of the country’s top hiking destinations in this area, Camelback Mountain attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. The most popular hikes are the Echo Canyon trail and the Cholla trail, both with rough terrain and steep elevation changes. Once reached the summit you will be rewarded with views of the valley and Phoenix.
Desert Botanical Garden
Discover the tranquil beauty of the Sonoran Desert at the Botanical Garden, where desert plants are nestled amid the red rocks of the Papago Buttes. There are five thematic trails to explore. Make sure to book your tickets in advance!
Address: 1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Another great place for hiking. There are multiple hiking trails in the Sonoran Preserve. Check hiking trails here.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is home to some of the world’s best modern art, architecture, and design.
Address: 7374 E 2nd St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251