Scottsdale, Arizona is hustling and alive with action. From local breweries to trendy restaurants over looking gorgeous scenery, it is so vibrant and perfect to visit. Check out our weekend trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.
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This felt like the first vacation with a lot of our friends in well over a year. Mainly due to the worldwide pandemic, ahem. Jack and I traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona with his family for our friend's wedding. I had never been to Arizona before so when my best friend told me about her destination wedding here, I was so excited! I quickly looked through Pinterest, trying to plan our itinerary. But I realized I wanted personal recommendations, so I took a few polls on my Instagram stories asking YOU all what we had to do - hikes, foods, excursions, etc. Overall, this post highlights what we were able to see and eat, as well as ALL of those recommendations from my Instagram following to make the best weekend trip itinerary for Scottsdale, Arizona.
Plan at least a day trip to Sedona, Arizona
Sedona is breathtaking! The red rocks, green pine, and crisp air makes this destination admirable. There are views from every location it feels like. We drove to Sedona for a day trip, leaving Scottsdale around 8am. We drove right to Cathedral Rock and luckily snagged a parking spot. Lathered up the sunscreen and crawled up Cathedral Rock. Literally - crawled. It's quite steep but goes by pretty quickly. The overall hike lasts less than an hour, out and back.
The parking lot was packed and so was one part of the hike where you have to share the pathway but other than that, it didn't feel overly crowded like I read on a lot of reviews of Cathedral Rock. All in all, It was really great. Honestly, hiking is my jamb and I grin the whole time so if you want a less biased answer, read the reviews on All Trails just to make sure you know what you're getting in to.
After hiking, we drove into town (approx. 10 minutes) and grabbed a scenic table at The Vault Restaurant. We didn't need reservations even though I had one on OpenTable. It was fresh lunch food. I ordered the chicken club sandwich, Jack had their classic Reuben (I recommend both of them)!
Later in the day, we (me) wanted to get in one more hike in Sedona since it was SO beautiful and we were only there for one day. I could have easily made this a week long trip and still not hiked enough sights. We decided to hike a 1.1 miler of Solider Pass that took us to the 7 Sacred Pools. In 90 degree heat and direct sun, the pools were completely evaporated and even worse, filled will a lot of dead bugs and murky water. It was disappointing, but instead of turning around, we continued to venture into the area and ended up hiking up to the back of Devil's Bridge.
Breathtaking views, carved caves in a lot of the rock, and just great terrain. Not nearly as strenuous as Cathedral Rock, but more of a gradual elevation gain throughout the hike. We ended up going for an additional 6 miles. By 3pm, we were toast and needed more water. We hoped in the car and drove back to Scottsdale just in time for a group dinner. It was so refreshing to explore a new area, terrain, and be out of office. Here are a few other recommendations that we did not get to see but are highly regarded.
Sedona HIKING Recommendations from my Instagram Followers.
Note: If you don't have this app already, you need to download 'All Trails' - it makes your life significantly easier navigating any and all hikes! There are ways to make each hike longer or shorter depending on what type of activity / level of difficulty you're looking for.
- Oak Creek
- Devils Bridge
- 7 Sacred Pools
- Pink Jeep Tours
- Cathedral Rock
- Soldiers Pass
- Hangover Trail
- Chapel of Holy Cross
- Bell Rock
Hiking Necessities for your weekend trip to scottsdale, arizona
I have these products with me at ALL times! This might be the most essential travel pack ever, I use Patagonia backpack almost everyday, its the most convenient thing. It's awesome how these Insulated Water Bottles have an easy handle to carry and keep my water cold. Two other things I never leave without: good sunscreen and comfortable hiking shoes! These were the first items I grabbed when packing for our weekend trip to Scottsdale.
RESTAURANT recommendations from my Instagram Followers. Always be sure to look up the restaurant to see their seasonal hours, dress code, and menu - this will give you the best idea of where you're going.
- Hideaway House
- Chicken Point
- Indian Gardens for lunch
- The Hudson for lunch
- Indian Creek
- HP Cafe
- Bandolero Cocina de Mexico
- The Vault for drinks / lunch
- Oak Creek Brewery
- Airport Mesa
- Mariposa (latin cuisine - dress code required)**
Overall Experience of Scottsdale
Wow, Scottsdale was immaculate. It's a gorgeous city in the middle of a dessert. We went in the end of May so it was very hot; however, there was minimal humidity which made it much more bearable. I would say having a car in Scottsdale is key, same with making reservations prior to arrival...Everything was booked and busy!! It also is a hot location for bachelorette parties. Just walking down the downtown strip, I saw 4 brides in veils and sashes. It was crowded.
I would highly suggest that your lodging has a pool / body of water because of the heat (and it's also fun). My ideal day is getting up and going for a sunrise hike, hitting a trendy restaurant for brunch, relaxing by the pool all day, and then dinner at sunset. Scottsdale definitely checks all the boxes for the ability to do all of those things!
Restaurant Recommendations in Scottsdale, Arizona
While we were in Scottsdale, we did get to try a few GREAT restaurants - both food and atmosphere were excellent.
- Farm & Craft: incredibly well designed space, bumpin' busy, right in downtown, definitely need a reservation. OR, order take out like we did. Get the avocado toast or the breakfast sandwich. Both were the favorites out of our order.
- Diego Pops: the MOST recommended restaurant by you all and wow, it was phenomenal. If you only have to go to ONE place, go here!! Awesome outdoor seating. All of us were thrilled with any of the grain / harvest bowls.
- The Henry: A great restaurant environment that is right by Camelback Mountain. Ask the waiter what their favorite dishes are. Apps: sweet and spicy pork pot stickers and truffle fries. Dinner: ate the Seabass with corn polenta and lots of fresh bread. Dessert: Salted Caramel and coconut brownie tart AND blackberry lemon cheesecake. It was divine.
- Wine Girl: If you're a sucker for a Instagrammable happy hour, THIS IS YOUR PLACE. It's really tiny though so you do need a reservation. They have a swing photo opt (see below), flower wall backdrop, and a ton of graphic t-shirts available for purchase. I knew this spot had to be on my list and I'm so happy I went with our friends. They have trendy tastying cocktails and oh, great wine.
- Dierks Bentley Country Bar: One night we decided to go ALL out and get a VIP table at this bar. It's adjacent to 4-6 other POPPIN' bars. If you're ready to club, this area is for you. $3,000 later and we had ourselves a night (I wish I was kidding).
- Old Town Scottsdale: There are also so many restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale. Though we weren't able to try any, there were 2 live band bars that had such a fun atmosphere. End your night at a really casual and fun dive bar: Pattie's First Avenue Lounge.
Recommendations from Instagram followers
- Recommended Restaurants (there are SO many more than this, these were the ones that just popped up in my question box when I asked)
- Berry Divine Acai bowls
- Sumomaya (sushi/mex w/ cool atmosphere
- Culinary Dropout - one of Jack's family favorite restaurants
- Maple and Ash
- Cafe Monarch
- Diego Pops *** - recommended SO many times
- Wine Girl - highly recommend for a happy hour or drink
- Recommended Hikes
- Sunrise peak (not too crowded)
- Camelback Mountain (crowded depending on day)
- Toms thumb trail
- Piestewa Peak
- Treasure Loop @ sunset
- Yavipai Hike at Lake Pleasant AZ
- Sabino Canyon
- ExcursionsPink Jeep Tours
- Botanical Gardens
- Sonoran desert hot air balloon ride - I mean, HOW cool does this sound?
And, even when I asked for Scottsdale, AZ recommendations, more than ½ of you told me to go to Sedona for a day trip SO if that is any indication of how great Sedona is, I would put it on your list too!
Recommendations from a Local: Outside of Scottsdale
A sweet follower of mine is local to Scottsdale and knows the inside scoop of places outside downtown. Because we were there for our friends wedding and in their wedding, we had obligations to attend too and could not get to all of our list. All of that to say, here are some local places that have glowing reviews:
- Joe’s Farm Grill @ Agritopia
- Downtown Gilbert (anywhere here is amazing)
- Arizona Wilderness Brewery (downtown Phoenix location is in the arts district - such an awesome area for food & drinks - check out Sazarec for cocktails afterwards)
- The blue adobe grill (new mexico style Mexican food)
- Fate Brewing
- Goldwater Brewing
- The Hash Kitchen (best mimosa bar & bloody mary bar)** Jack's parents went here twice and LOVED it. They also had a live band on the weekends which just makes for the best atmosphere.
- Superstition Mountains
- Tom’s thumb
- South Mountain (start at Pima Canyon trailhead)
- Piestawa Peak
- Usery Mountain Regional Park
- Dreamy Draw
- Steamboat canyons
Scottsdale Plaza Resort
We stayed at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort - it was about 3 miles north of Downtown Scottsdale. This was where the wedding was being held and all of our friends were staying here. It had a lot of pools and great grounds. The fitness center was large and also had a ton of equipment - which you don't always see in hotel gyms. However, the rooms were lightly dated and dim lighting. When we go again, we would probably stay at the JW Marriott on Camelback Mountain or another higher end resort a little closer to town.
Below are just a few images from our friends wedding - it was such a GREAT destination wedding! This is my first ever travel blog post so if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. OR, if you have more recommendations, be sure to leave it in the comment section. Cheers to traveling again, WAHOO!
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s my passion to share about traveling that can aid your experience or be shared with others. Let me know if you have any questions; happy to answer them below! Safe travels XO Courtney Paige