33 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona | 2024 (with Photos)

Natalija Marković

Natalija Marković - Travel Writer

Published: June 29, 2023

Hey there! I'm Natalija, an avid traveler and adventure-seeker who can't get enough of Scottsdale, Arizona. With my passion for exploration and love for trying new experiences, I've rounded up an exciting list of 33 fun and unique things for you to enjoy in this vibrant city. Let's make sure your trip to Scottsdale is one for the books!

Scottsdale, Arizona

In the heart of the Sonoran Desert lays Scottsdale, Arizona, a distinct city famous for its attractions. With its year-round sunshine, stunning scenery, and diverse culture, Scottsdale has become a top destination for travelers from around the world.

At the heart of the city lies Old Town Scottsdale, a historic Wild West district known for its charming shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Here, you can stroll along Scottsdale Road and discover the city's unique blend of Western heritage and modern sophistication.

Whether you're looking for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, Scottsdale has something for everyone.

Come and discover Scottsdale and explore 33 fun things that this exciting city has to offer with our list of 33 fun things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Desert Botanical Garden

Top Choice Hotel

The Phoenician

Our Top Choice Restaurant


Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Maya Day + Nightclub

Best Time to Visit

Sunny desert, enjoy Scottsdale year-round, best in spring.

Average Temperature

Hot climate, average temperature in Scottsdale, United States.

Transportation Options

Buses, taxis, rideshares, bicycles offer transportation in Scottsdale.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

When visiting Scottsdale, United States of America, make sure to explore the captivating Desert Botanical Garden, where you can immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of desert landscapes and encounter a diverse array of native plants and wildlife.

For an unforgettable cultural experience in Scottsdale, wander through the enchanting Old Town district, filled with charming boutiques, art galleries, and world-class restaurants, offering a delightful blend of southwestern flavors and traditional cuisine – a perfect way to indulge your senses in the heart of the city's vibrant atmosphere.

What You'll Need to Bring

  • Sunscreen
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Lightweight and breathable clothing
  • Swimwear
  • Hat or cap for sun protection
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
  • Travel adapter or charging cables
  • Travel-size toiletries
  • Medications or prescriptions, if applicable

In addition to these essentials, it's always a good idea to check the weather forecast for Scottsdale before packing to ensure you are prepared for the specific conditions during your visit.

What Not to Miss

  1. Old Town Scottsdale: Explore the historic district and its vibrant art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
  2. Camelback Mountain: Hike the picturesque trails and enjoy breathtaking views of the city and surrounding desert.
  3. Taliesin West: Visit Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and architectural masterpiece.
  4. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art: Discover a diverse collection of modern and contemporary art.
  5. McDowell Sonoran Preserve: Go for a hike or bike ride in this expansive desert preserve.
  6. Scottsdale Fashion Square: Shop at one of the largest malls in the Southwest, offering a wide range of high-end and designer brands.
  7. Scottsdale Waterfront: Stroll along the waterfront for scenic views, dining options, and boutique shopping.
  8. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park: Enjoy a ride on the miniature train and explore the park's historical exhibits.
  9. Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West: Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the American West.
  10. Museum of the Horse Soldier: Learn about the fascinating history of U.S. cavalry and special forces through a unique collection of artifacts.

What to Avoid

  1. Crowded tourist spots
  2. Rush hour traffic
  3. Extreme heat during the summer months
  4. Overpriced tourist traps
  5. Street parking in busy areas
  6. Poorly reviewed restaurants and hotels
  7. Ignoring local customs and etiquette
  8. Not planning ahead for reservations or activities
  9. Wandering alone in unfamiliar neighborhoods at night
  10. Ignoring safety precautions in outdoor activities.

1. Relax at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

 McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

If you like trains, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a top destination in Scottsdale, Arizona. The place is offering a taste of the Western spirit through its beautifully restored locomotives and train cars.

Tourists and locals alike can take a ride on the park's miniature train, explore the interactive exhibits, or browse the gift shop for unique railroad-themed souvenirs.

The park also features a historic steam engine, a vintage carousel, and a Pacific Railroad passenger car, making it an ideal spot for train enthusiasts of all ages.

2. Enjoy Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland

For a vibrant experience, Butterfly Wonderland is an indoor attraction in Scottsdale that offers a unique and unforgettable day for the whole family.

Step into a tropical rainforest habitat of Butterfly Wonderland and marvel at thousands of colorful butterflies as they flutter around you and let all the family enjoy.

With interactive displays and educational programs, Butterfly Wonderland is a great place to learn about the incredible world of butterflies and other insects.

3. Get in Touch with Nature at McDowell Sonoran Preserve

 McDowell Sonoran Preserve

For nature lovers, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a beautiful desert oasis in Scottsdale, Arizona desert featuring a variety of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Thanks to the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, tourists can explore the preserve's diverse landscape, including unique wild west desert trees and plants, and may catch a glimpse of local wildlife like bobcats and coyotes.

For a truly unique experience, you could participate in a guided Moon tour or Wildlife tour with wild animals, as well as stagecoach rides through the desert.

4. Admire Art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is a notable destination for art enthusiasts in Old Town Scottsdale.

This cutting-edge museum showcases a range of modern art exhibitions, featuring works by some of the world's most renowned artists.

With its stunning architecture and world-class exhibits, the Museum of Contemporary Art is a true gem of the city.

A visit to the museum can be combined with a tour of Western Spirit Scottsdale's Museum which is nearby.

5. Soak Up the View of Taliesin West

Taliesin West

The former winter home of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin West is a national historic landmark located in Scottsdale Arizona.

This stunning desert masterpiece showcases Wright's iconic architectural style and features a range of exhibits that celebrate his life and work.

Once in the Taliesin West, you can explore the site's unique buildings and sculptures, as well as the beautiful sculpture garden.

A visit to Taliesin West is a must for architecture enthusiasts and anyone interested in the history of design.

6. Shop at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall

Civic Center Mall

If you love to shop, the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is a premier shopping mall and entertainment destination in the heart of downtown Scottsdale.

This luxury shopping center features high-end retailers, a rooftop pool, and a fitness center, as well as a range of dining options.

The nearby Fifth Avenue shops offer even more upscale shopping opportunities.

7. Explore Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West

Scottsdale's Museum of the West

One of the most unique attractions, Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West is a fascinating museum located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale.

The museum celebrates the Wild West and features exhibits that showcase the unique history and culture of the American West, including an authentic Western town replica.

8. Be Amazed at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

This performing arts hub, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is a vibrant cultural attraction in Old Town Scottsdale.

The Center for the performing arts hosts a range of performances throughout the year, including music, theater, and dance.

Culture and performance lovers can also explore the on-site gift shop and enjoy the nearby attractions, such as Taliesin West.

9. Climb with Mountain Lions at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

Mountain Lions at the Southwest Wildlife

The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is a nonprofit organization located in the Sonoran Desert near the Verde Valley.

The center is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife and educating the public about the importance of preserving these animals and their habitats.

10. Take a Walk at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden

 Xeriscape Garden

The Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden is a beautiful and sustainable garden that showcases low-water-use plants and gardening techniques.

The garden should be the number one destination for anyone interested in eco-friendly gardening practices.

11. Stay Trendy at Scottsdale Fashion Square

Scottsdale Fashion Square

The luxury shopping center Scottsdale Fashion Square is a premier shopping destination featuring high-end retailers, luxury boutiques, and upscale dining options.

Located in Old Town Scottsdale, it offers rather fancy dining options.

12. Visit Arizona Cowboy College

Arizona Cowboy College

One of a kind, the Arizona Cowboy College is a unique institution that offers immersive courses in horsemanship and cowboy culture.

Appropriately located in the Sonoran Desert, the college is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in experiencing the Wild West firsthand.

The programs provide a hands-on experience in cowboy skills and offer a chance to learn about the region's rich Western history.

13. Experience the Desert on a Tour

the Desert

The Sonoran Desert is one of the most memorable and fascinating landscapes in the world, and a desert tour is an excellent way to experience it.

These tours offer a range of activities, including hiking, jeep tours, and hot air balloon rides, that allow visitors to explore the desert's stunning natural beauty and learn about its rich ecology and history.

14. Take a Photo at Camelback Mountain

Camelback Mountain

As scenic as they get, Camelback Mountain is a popular hiking and mountain biking destination located in the Sonoran Desert.

With its stunning natural beauty and rich Wild West history, the mountain offers visitors a chance to experience the unique landscape and culture of the region.

Climbing the mountain's steep trails and taking in the breathtaking views is a must-do activity for any outdoor enthusiast visiting Scottsdale.

15. Taste the Local Wine at Carlson Creek Vineyard

Carlson Creek Vineyard

A family-owned winery located in southeastern Arizona, Carlson Creek Vineyard is the top destination for admirers of this fine drink.

The vineyard offers wine tastings in its charming wine-tasting rooms and is a great place to explore the growing wine industry in Arizona.

Once there you are a sommelier, and you can sample a range of award-winning wines and learn about the unique grape varieties and growing conditions that make Arizona's wine industry so special.

16. Experience the Past at the Historic Old Town Scottsdale

the Historic Old Town Scottsdale

Vibrating with Wild West spirit, historic Old Town Scottsdale is a bustling cultural hub that offers a range of exciting activities for locals and tourists alike.

In addition to its many shops, art galleries, and museums, the area of Old Town Scottdale features a live music scene and some of the best modern Latin cuisine in the region.

In Old Town Scottsdale, everyone can feel the wild west in its true essence.

17. Enjoy the Fresh Air at Pinnacle Peak Park

Pinnacle Peak Park

Pinnacle Peak Park is a popular hiking destination located in North Scottsdale. The park offers visitors stunning panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape. If you are looking for a retreat into nature while in Scottsdale, AZ, add this park to your itinerary.

18. Drive to Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is a breathtaking natural wonder located in Northern Arizona. Not far from Scottsdale, AZ, this could be a day trip or an overnight stay.

If you find yourself in Scottsdale for a longer period, it is recommended to make at least a one-day trip to this mesmerizing natural beauty.

19. Watch a Game at Scottsdale Stadium

Scottsdale Stadium

Scottsdale Stadium is a popular destination for sports fans visiting Scottsdale.

The stadium is home to the San Francisco Giants during spring training and hosts a range of other events and activities throughout the year.

Fans can catch games featuring the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks or take a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium and learn about its history and architecture.

20. Grab a Bite With Arizona Food Tours

Arizona Food Tours

An Arizona food tour is a fun and exciting way to explore the culinary delights of Scottsdale. Visitors can sample a range of local dishes and learn about the unique history and cultures that have shaped the region's cuisine.

Arizona boasts some great Mexican-inspired dishes that have been given an American flavor over time. When in Scottsdale, AZ, expand your horizons with a food tour.

21. Feel the Western spirit at Rusty Spur Saloon

The Rusty Spur Saloon is a popular destination in Old Town Scottsdale, AZ, offering visitors a chance to experience the city's lively Wild West history while enjoying drinks, live music, and an authentic cowboy atmosphere.

If you are traveling with people over the age of 21, this is a must-visit destination in Scottsdale, AZ.

22. Get in Touch with Horses at the MacDonald's Ranch

MacDonald's Ranch

MacDonald's Ranch is a popular attraction in Scottsdale, AZ offering visitors a chance to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert while horseback riding.

The MacDonald's ranch also offers hayrides, cowboy cookouts, and other fun western-themed activities, as well as a gift shop.

23. Learn at Magma Arizona Railroad Locomotive

Magma Arizona Railroad Locomotive

The Magma Arizona Railroad Locomotive is a historic steam locomotive located in Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

Experience the thrill of this exciting activity in Arizona as you climb aboard and take a ride through the park, while learning about the history of railroads.

24. Golf in the Foothills of McDowell Mountains

Golf in the Foothills

On top of their immense beauty, the McDowell Mountains offer some of the most beautiful and challenging golf courses in the Scottsdale area.

Surrounded by stunning desert landscapes and breathtaking mountain views, golfers can enjoy a unique and unforgettable golfing experience.

25. Have Fun at Downtown Scottsdale

Downtown Scottsdale, also known as Old Town Scottsdale, is the historic heart of the city and is home to some of the area's most unique and charming attractions.

It is always fun to explore the area's many art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops, or relax and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafes.

26. Marvel at the sea creatures at OdySea Aquarium

OdySea Aquarium

The OdySea Aquarium is the largest in the Southwest and features over 30,000 animals in more than 50 exhibits, including a 3D theater and a shark exhibit.

If you are traveling with children or nature enthusiasts, this is a great stop on your Scottsdale, AZ trip. Escape the heat of the day inside this undersea oasis.

27. Explore Scottsdale Historical Museum

Scottsdale Historical Museum

The Scottsdale Historical Museum is a small museum that showcases the history and development of Scottsdale from its early settlers to the present day.

Tourists looking to understand the history of Scottsdale, AZ will learn a lot here.

28. Enjoy the art at Wonderspaces Arizona

Wonderspaces Arizona

Wonderspaces Arizona is an interactive art exhibition that features immersive and interactive installations from artists around the world, encouraging visitors to engage with art in a new way.

Whether or not you are artistically inclined, this is a great experience and a learning curve for all who visit.

29. Learn the City's History and More about Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott

The town's roots started when Winfield Scott, his wife, Helen, and his brother, George Washington Scott, set up residence in this desert valley.

The town is named after its first settler. He was the foremost American military figure between the Revolutionary War and the American Civil War.

30. Admire the Oldest Catholic Church in Town

the Oldest Catholic Church in Town

Old Adobe Mission is the oldest Catholic church in the region and is a perfect place for all pious or curious visitors. You do not need to be a practicing Catholic to explore this historic site with interest. The history of religion in the US speaks for itself and is worth exploring if you are curious.

31. Relax at Lake Powell

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is a reservoir on the Colorado River that straddles the border between Arizona and Utah and is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and outdoor recreation.

If visiting Scottsdale, AZ for a longer period, it is possible to make a one-day trip to this location.

32. Get Excited at Octane Raceway

Octane Raceway

Octane Raceway is a high-speed indoor/outdoor go-kart racing venue in Scottsdale, AZ offering competitive racing experiences for individuals and groups, as well as arcade games, mini golf, and a full bar and restaurant. This location provides fun for the whole family.

33. Bring Your Kids to Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs

Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs

Last but not least, Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs is an interactive dinosaur-themed exhibit and amusement park in Scottsdale, featuring life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, a fossil dig, a dino ride, and educational exhibits and activities for all ages.

Whether you are traveling with children or natural history lovers, this is a super fun attraction in Scottsdale, AZ.

FAQs About Fun Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

Let's take a look at some frequently asked questions regarding things to do in Scottsdale, AZ.

What is Scottsdale best known for?

Scottsdale is best known for its Old Town and McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Old Town, which includes some of the most notable museums, such as Scottsdale's Museum, is usually the first thing people visit when they come to Scottsdale. Apart from that, McDowell Sonoran Preserve with its Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center holds the strong second place.

Is Scottsdale, AZ worth visiting?

Yes, Scottsdale is worth visiting as there are many fun things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona. Starting from spending a day at McDowell Sonoran Preserve, learning more about Frank Lloyd Wright, or spending a day at the Arizona Cowboy College, there are many unique things worth visiting.

How do I spend a day in Scottsdale, AZ?

You can spend a day in Scottsdale, AZ by visiting some of its attractions of a bigger scope, such as McDowell Sonoran Preserve or Sonoran Desert. If you want to see more things in a single day, some smaller attractions include Scottsdale Center, Scottsdale Fashion Square, and Scottsdale Stadium.

How many days is enough in Scottsdale, AZ?

A few days are enough to see some of the main Scottsdale attractions such as the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, Taliesin West, Central Scottsdale, and Scottsdale Fashion Square. If you want a thorough exploration, which includes MacDonald's Ranch and Butterfly Wonderland, you should book a 7-10 days trip.

Summing Up: 33 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

In sum, Scottsdale, Arizona is a destination that offers many fun and unique activities for visitors of all ages. From exploring the beautiful desert landscape to enjoying world-class dining and shopping, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Be sure to check out the many museums, galleries, and cultural attractions, as well as the outdoor adventures and exciting events that take place throughout the year. With a vibrant night scene, you'll never run out of evening entertainment options in Scottsdale.

Now that you have discovered 33 fun and unique things to do in Scottsdale, it's time to start planning your trip and experiencing all that this amazing city has to offer.

Don't wait any longer, book your trip to Scottsdale today and start creating unforgettable memories.