The Perfect Weekend in Scottsdale

It’s easy to lose count of the days in Scottsdale with so many things to choose from, so if you’re limited to three days, don’t waste a second of it. Scottsdale is the perfect place to explore the inspiring Arizona landscape. Here’s what to do if you only have 3 days: Visit the home of world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and take in the breathtaking views of Scottsdale and Camelback Mountain. When you need an energy boost after a sunny day, take advantage of the many culinary hotspots.

12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA
The city’s most famous snowbird, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, spent winters at his home and architecture school in the Sonoran Desert. Taliesin West brings the horizontal lines and organic materials of Prairie School design to the desert landscape in low, skylighted buildings. Behind-the-scenes tours visit the pop-up structures that students have designed as living spaces amid the barrel cactus and paloverde trees.
7125 E. 5th Ave. Suite 31, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA
The owners of FnB—James Beard Award semifinalist chef Charleen Badman and front-of-house manager Pavle Milic—were early champions of Arizona wine and produce, curating a wine list that includes lots of Grand Canyon State vintages to accompany their locally sourced dishes. They still highlight the state’s great bounty, and Milic even produces his own wine label, Los Milics, which is available in small batches at the restaurant. Badman’s seasonal menu showcases Arizona’s flavor with an imaginative, very veggie-forward lineup. (Don’t worry, meat and seafood are on the menu, too.) The cozy eight-seat bar is the perfect spot to sample FnB’s wine offerings, showcasing a different region every four weeks.
Old Town Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Who says nothing grows in the desert? Local flavor is fresh and on display Saturday mornings during cooler weather at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market, where Arizona-grown oranges and peppers are sold alongside homemade tamales and mozzarella. There are food trucks, artisanal ice cream, and cooking demonstrations from local chefs. Head to the Singh Farms stand to view the harvest of organic peaches, tomatoes, figs, peppers, and more, along with fresh-baked bread, herb butter, honey, and eggs. Most weeks, a local chef dishes out breakfast from the outdoor café on-site.
18333 N Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85255, USA
In 1995, Scottsdale residents voted to set aside a large parcel of undeveloped city land as protected open space. Today, the roughly 30,000-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve provides an opportunity for adventure. Hike, bike, and rock climb, or take to the trails with local guides from Arizona Outback Adventures and learn all about the desert along the way. Because most of the creatures that live in this desert habitat are more active at night, the best time to view animals is on early morning or evening hikes.
7111 E 5th Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA
A contemporary take on a traditional pub, Citizen Public House is known for its craft beers, classic and modern cocktails, and interesting pub grub. Snacks include bacon-fat popcorn and a beer fondue made with the local Kilt Lifter brew. Main courses like short ribs with a coffee rub and pan-seared scallops with grits are hearty and delicious. The spot is beautiful, too, with mahogany furniture, oversize leather booths, and a large stainless steel–topped center bar. Speaking of the bar—Citizen Public House is a good spot to tip one back with the locals. Because the bar supports Arizona brewers and wineries, you’ll find Four Peaks Hop Knot IPA and Pillsbury Wild Child white blend on the list, along with wines from Caduceus Cellars and Dos Cabezas.
15115 N Airport Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, USA
Island Air Express stopped flying in April 2016.October through April, seaplane tours take you approximately 20 miles east of Scottsdale to the storied Superstition Mountains. Taking off from Scottsdale Airport, you’ll soar over the Salt River canyons and Roosevelt Dam before making water landing on the surface of Roosevelt Lake, one of Arizona’s largest bodies of water. If you can, schedule your tour for the second Sunday of the month because you’ll deplane for a picnic of Arizona food and wine.

3701 N Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA
As its name suggests, the Bespoke Inn is one of the more eccentric accommodations in downtown Scottsdale. This compact bed-and-breakfast, opened in 2013, has just 10 rooms. Each is decorated with homey, eclectic details that reflect the creativity of the hotel’s previous owners, who designed and built most of the inn’s furnishings themselves. The current owners, Jeremy Ferris and Robert Marchetti, brought in elements of Marchetti’s Italian heritage, which are evident in the updated courtyard and six new rooms. The result is a surprising blend of style and comfort, reinforced by the hotel’s ability to make guests feel they have all become friends. There are other surprises, too. In 2013 Esquire magazine called the café—which has its own odd appellation, Virtù Honest Craft—one of the 20 best new restaurants in America. And the hotel provides Pashley bicycles for guests to use during their stays.
Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ 85018, USA
With two hiking trails ascending 1,280 feet to its peak, Camelback Mountain is a great option for nature-fiends who like a challenge. Both the Echo Canyon and Cholla trails exceed a mile in length and are accented with steep grades. Average hiking times range from 1.5 to 3 hours round-trip, so pack accordingly and bring enough water.
6939 E 1st Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA
Café Monarch is to dining what the monologue is to theater, meaning a one-man show. Chef Chris is the guy who will cook your food. He’s also the guy who will take your reservation, field your order, and, quite possibly, bus your table. It’s a small and intimate place that’s been compared to the Secret Garden. I get that. The entire spot measures only 500 square feet and it’s some serious face time with one of Scottsdale’s best chefs. It’s a labor of love where the menu changes daily.
7575 E Princess Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85255, USA
Opened in 1987, the relatively youthful Fairmont Scottsdale Princess may not have the history of some of its neighboring resorts, but the North Scottsdale spot—with its fountained plazas, Mexican colonial–style architecture, and 65 scenic acres—has everything needed for a vacation in the sun. It’s big and it’s busy, and there is always something for everybody to do—just one of the reasons it’s popular for family events such as reunions, school holidays, and weddings. Drive a ball down a fairway on the two 18-hole championship golf courses (one of which hosts an annual PGA tournament), relax by one of the six pools (the newest, Sunset Beach pool, is surrounded by 9,000 square feet of white sand), or give yourself over to the innovative therapies and unique fitness offerings at the Well & Being Spa.

All the 750 rooms and suites are fresh and comfortable, with terraces, wet bars, and oversize bathrooms. Some, especially the casitas, are located about a five- to 10-minute walk from the main building, but golf carts are always just a call away. The wealth of top-rated foodie options—which include the Mexican-accented La Hacienda and the pan-Latin Toro, both by chef Richard Sandoval, and Bourbon Steak from chef Michael Mina—help make this one of the best destination-dining resorts in town.
2534 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257, USA
The flavor and Spanish Colonial charm of San Miguel de Allende come to life at Los Sombreros, where the atmosphere is as enchanting as the satiny mole Poblano sauce. If you travel with a friend, try the 10-course tasting menu. For $75, it serves two and includes dishes like pozole soup, fig and panela cheese salad, and chile relleno. Los Sombreros also has more than a dozen margaritas to choose from as well as specialty drinks like the Tijuana Donkey with tequila, ginger beer and fresh lime.
47801 N Black Canyon Hwy, New River, AZ 85087, USA
Originally developed by the Israeli Defense Forces special operations unit, the Tomcar is one badass all-terrain vehicle. With Desert Wolf Tours or Green Zebra Adventures, you can take to the desert in a self-driven, off-road romp though Arizona wildlife and history. Your professional guide will point out sights along the way, including abandoned mining towns and Native American ruins.
4949 East Lincoln Drive
Confusion. I think that’s what some people feel when they first lay eyes on the Montelucia Resort & Spa. With its ornate entryways and floral squares, the resort looks more like a charming European village than an Arizona resort. But, you know what? It works. Montelucia is downright enchanting. And in case you find yourself slipping and forgetting just where you are, simply look the south for the best possible reminder – Scottsdale’s iconic Camelback Mountain. There’s plenty to keep you busy on property, including five dining spots, but the very best way to pass the time is at Joya Spa. Inspired by the Moroccan desert and Spain’s Andalusian region, Joya is 32,000 square feet of total relaxation. Lavish lounge areas, a rooftop pool and terrace, and a detoxifying hammam are all a part of the experience. The latter improves circulation and balance using time-tested rituals from Northern Africa.
5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253, USA
As obvious as it may sound, what sets Sanctuary apart from any other Scottsdale resort is location. Sitting on the north side of Camelback Mountain yet minutes from downtown Scottsdale, it has a balance of desert mountain isolation and easy access that no other Scottsdale resort can match. Since Sanctuary opened in 2002, the combination has especially appealed to publicity-shy celebs (Beyoncé and Jay-Z even stayed here while on their honeymoon). The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the adobe casitas look out at the mountain and across Paradise Valley. The casitas have wood-block floors, glass-tiled showers, and, in many of them, oversize tubs with romantic votive candles.
5402 E Lincoln Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85253, USA
JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa became the brand’s first resort property in 1967. Rumored to be J. Willard Marriott’s favorite gem in his crown of hotels (hence the Camelback Inn’s name), the desert retreat drew the likes of Clark Gable and Bette Davis in its heyday. Now it’s one of the best places to stay when you’re looking for the quintessential Scottsdale experience – luxury and rugged Sonoran Desert beauty. The Spa at Camelback Inn is my favorite highlight with its lineup of massages, facials and body treatments inspired by the resort’s natural setting. Settle in for a Desert Nectar Honey Wrap – a creamy mixture of Arizona honey and oats – then head to the spa’s Sprouts Café to round-out your wellness binge with light and healthy fare.
7374 E 2nd St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA
The museum’s collection and calendar of exhibits is a little more daring than you might imagine, but the permanent installation of James Turrell’s Knight Rise presents visitors with the biggest art jolt of all. The work, open to the public for free, consists of a circular bench beneath a luminous domed ceiling. An elliptical hole cut into the top of the dome contains a glimpse of sky. When observed in this manner, even the clearest desert sky seems to shift and pulse and fill the window with pure exuberant color. Come at dawn or sunset for the best (and often most solitary) viewing.
4725 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050, USA
Don a headset, approach an exhibit, and wirelessly listen to African thumb piano or Mongolian throat singing at the vast Musical Instrument Museum. Besides browsing some 15,000 artifacts that represent different musical genres, visitors can catch a concert, take a drumming class, or recharge at the café, which serves global fare made from local products.
10600 E Crescent Moon Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85262, USA
This is my favorite Scottsdale resort because it gets Southwestern style down without being kitschy or over-done. There are no cheesy dream catchers or Kokopelli statues here – just a color palette as bright and breathtaking as a desert sunset. Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale is perched in the city’s northern half, and surrounded by miles of Saguaro cacti and rugged rocks. Its location adjacent to Pinnacle Peak Park is perfect for hikers and if you crave more of an adrenaline rush, check out the high-octane tours from Arizona Outback Adventures. At Proof, the resort’s American canteen, dinner is practically a cross-country road trip with home-style comfort food inspired by, and sourced from, the 50 states. Plus, there’s a hearty list of wine, microbrews, and small batch and craft distilled American spirits. The Spa at Four Seasons also celebrates the resort’s sense of place with treatments like the Sonoran Honey Body Polish and Jojoba and Prickly Pear Polish.
5700 East McDonald Drive
Jade Bar regularly tops the local “Best Of” lists for places to drink. It’s a modern, cocktail-focused bar with sips like the Old Fashioned Whiskey, bourbon, simple syrup, bitters and citrus oils, and the Honeydew Liverthump made from gin, fresh lemon and honeydew juice, and sliced cucumbers, among other things. It’s the kind of place where bartenders are called mixologists and it actually means something. For a drink with a view, take it outdoors to Edge, the fashion-forward patio bar that juts out just below Elements restaurant.
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