12 unexpected adventures you can have in Scottsdale, Arizona

May 27 2022, 8:30 pm

There’s so much more to do in Scottsdale than chill by the pool and eat tacos, but then again, that does sound like the perfect vacation, doesn’t it?

Here are 12 unexpected adventures you can have while exploring Scottsdale, Arizona.

1. Drink a rock star’s wine


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Using hyper-local ingredients and pouring its own Arizona wine, Merkin Vineyards in Old Town Scottsdale is a low-key, high-quality spot for dinner and drinks. Tool frontman Maynard Keenan is the owner and head winemaker, so you can literally sip on a rock star’s wine.

2. Paddle alongside wild mustang


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You can float, raft, or kayak down the Salt River and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to see these stunning wild mustang cooling off in the water nearby. Join up with REI Co-Op Experiences for the ultimate guided experience.

3. Enter a new dimension


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Once you walk inside Wonderspaces and grab a drink at the bar, you can enter new dimensions at this colourful gallery. It’s the perfect spot to cool off from the Arizona sun while you grab a new profile picture by one of the breathtaking displays.

4. Take flight and picnic in the desert

If riding in a hot air balloon is on your bucket list, then let Hot Air Expeditions take you on a peaceful float across the desert landscape. You’ll hear wild donkeys braying, see jackrabbits scurrying amongst the cacti, and be treated to a spectacular sunrise before you descend and have a breakfast picnic – totally surreal!

5. Have a flaming nightcap


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Inside the luxurious Fairmont Princess Scottsdale Resort, there’s La Hacienda, which is consistently rated the best modern Mexican restaurant around. After your meal, be sure to order a specialty coffee served with a tableside pyrotechnic show.

6. Time travel


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Jump through a time warp back to the 1960s Hotel Valley Ho, a lovingly restored mid-century modern hotel. Rumour has it that this is where the stars have always gone to hide away, and Drake’s been spotted chilling in the lobby. So, if it’s good enough for Drizzy, then you’ll want to stay here, too. Get a tour with hotel concierge Ace Bailey, she has all the tea.

7. Have private time at the pool

It’s totally surreal to have a sparkling pool all to yourself. The Fairmont Princess Scottsdale Resort has six pools if you love the water, and Hotel Valley Ho in the city has two, and neither place is so busy that it’s impossible to find some private pool time.

8. Have incredible seafood


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So, you don’t typically associate the Sonoran Desert with great seafood, but you can magically find tasty fruits de mer in Scottsdale. From Faroe Islands Salmon at The Mission and sushi spreads from Toro Latin Restaurant and Rum Bar to grilled cod tacos at Diego Pops and seafood with perfect produce at FnB – you’re never far from good fish.

9. Feel like you’re on Mars


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From the moment you arrive in Arizona, the landscape will capture your imagination. Get out in the wild at Papago Park where it feels like you’re traversing the surface of Mars, except with more cacti.

10. Shopping for the unexpected

Scottsdale is unexpectedly a shopping mecca. You can buy yoga pants made on-site out of old water bottles at Yoga Democracy, pick out punny matching tees with your friends at the pink Rolling Rack Boutique, and more.

Plus, booklovers will swoon over The Poisoned Pen. It has small-town vibes and stacks on stacks of unique reads, especially if you’re in the mood for a poolside mystery read on your vacation.

11. Take a trip to Polynesia

Tacos and Tiki drinks are on offer at Hula’s Modern Tiki Old Town, a buzzy spot that’s ideal for catching your breath in between boutiques as you shop Old Town. Like a vacation within a vacation, you can escape to Polynesia in Arizona.

12. Take a boozy train ride through the Rockies


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The bars tucked inside Century Grand include:

  • Undertow – an underwater-themed Tiki bar
  • Grey Hen Rx – a vintage-vibes New Orleans bar
  • Platform 18 – a cocktail experience onboard a real train car with video window screens that simulate a ride through the Rockies.

No matter at which bar you pull up a seat, you’re going to have one of the most unique drinking experiences of your life.

The author of this article was hosted by Experience Scottsdale.

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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