The Scottsdale/Phoenix area offers a panoramic palette of activities, from rugged land adventures in the Sonoran Desert to intellectual explorations at engaging museums, and surveys of architectural innovation to pilgrimages to places of grand natural construction. Nature, art, culture, history—they seem to rise all around like the picturesque mountain ranges surrounding you, connecting you ever deeper to your world, your family and yourself.
Set out on a sporty expedition through Scottsdale's wondrous Sonoran Desert in an open-air Jeep®, Hummer® or even TomCar®, or a slower-paced exploration on a guided hike, horseback ride or river float. Families get roped into the action at rodeos and working ranches, and Bajada Nature Trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve is great for even the youngest adventurers.
Experience the magic of walking through this desert masterpiece, built in 1937 as the personal winter home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright, who was deemed by the American Institute of Architects "the greatest American architect of all time." See firsthand how Wright's Organic Architecture harmonized with the natural landscape and materials, forever changing possibilities for human shelter.
Youthful curiosity about life finds diverse inspiration at a number of outstanding discovery centers in the area, such as the hands-on Arizona Science Center, rising up like a majestic canyon butte; The Phoenix Zoo, rated one of the country's best for kids; and the harmonious Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) that puts a truly trilling world of music within your hands and ears.
Rise up in a hot air balloon for a full view of the valley that has inspired generations. Or be surrounded by cultural venues dedicated to capturing the beauty and culture of this special land, as you explore rare plants at Desert Botanical Garden, artifacts tracing the story of Southwest Native Americans at Heard Museum, and modern-world aesthetics at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Great State Sites
When you're traveling to or from Scottsdale—Arizona's luxury relaxation capital—you may want to take in the state's most famous natural wonder, the majestic Grand Canyon, whose breathtaking South Rim is open year-round and within a half-day's drive, or perhaps the Red Rock Country of Sedona, a New Age mecca for spiritual and metaphysical journeys, just two hours away.
Horse Shows (January – February)
Scottsdale is a respected international horse destination, with events such as the Arizona National Quarter Horse Show (January), the Arizona Sun Circuit Quarter Horse Show (late January) and the Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show (February)—bringing together thousands of the world's finest horses and their trainers.
Arizona Statehood Days (February)
This statewide celebration is especially vivid at the Pioneer Living History Museum, Arizona's most authentic Old West town, which includes a sprawling 1800s village featuring 30 historic buildings and fascinating pioneer reenactments.
Cactus League Baseball (March)
Fifteen MLB teams call the Valley of the Sun their Spring Training home, with 1.5 million people attending 200 plus games at area ballparks like Scottsdale Stadium and Salt River Field. Check out your favorite team's schedule when planning a visit to the area.
Celebration of Fine Art (January – March)
Dubbed "one of the premiere art events in the West" by Art & Antiques Magazine—this celebration gives all art lovers the opportunity to interact with both well-known and emerging artists in their studios.
Scottsdale Culinary Festival (April)
Now in its fourth decade, this event is the country's longest running one of its kind, a week-long exhibition of fabulous food, fine wine and boutique brews that also includes exciting appearances by food celebrities at the culminating event, the Great American Picnic.