In willful defiance of the Sonoran Desert’s punishing heat, Scottsdale, Arizona, is well-known as a premier golfing destination. For this visit, though, leave the clubs at home. Beyond the greens, this desert jewel is brimming with vibrant art, food and wellness scenes you’ll want to soak in like the year-round Arizona sun. A bit quieter than the vibrant city of Tuscon, Scottsdale flies under the radar for some — but this hidden gem is just waiting for you to discover its charm.

Summer temps in Scottsdale soar to an average 40 C, so we recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons or winter, and packing the highest SPF you can find. Three days is just enough time to discover Scottsdale’s most magnificent architectural masterpieces, gawk at the vibrant desert flora and fauna on an epic hike, find treasures and trinkets in the lively Western-style Old Town and eat some of the best food in the American Southwest (For more excellent eats in Arizona, check out Tuscan's UNESCO-recognized gastronomy).

Scottsdale, Arizona: Where to stay

Scottsdale, Arizona | The Albers House patio at Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows

Hyatt property, Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows feels more like an artist colony than a hotel. Andaz’s 185 spacious accomodations are grouped in clusters scattered throughout the property’s manicured 23 acres and feature stunning Mid-Century Modern design and desert art inspirations. Lounge in a private cabana by the central Turquoise Pool, meet friendly strangers around the roaring outdoor fire pits, then share small plates at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen.

Scottsdale, Arizona: Day One

Peruse the walkable, historic Old Town Scottsdale, to start your day. Affectionately labelled “the West’s most Western town,” Scottsdale’s downtown streets feel like a Clint Eastwood movie set, complete with saloons, cowboy statues and shops that sell everything from fine leather belts to Arizonan spices.

Scottsdale, Arizona | Old Town Scottsdale

Start at the north end with lunch at Postino Highland, a trendy “WineCafé” housed inside a restored bank. Save some room for more imbibing at The Wine Collective of Scottsdale, a 20-minute walk away. The women-owned wine bar slings curated tasting flights and glasses of Arizona vino.

Scottsdale, Arizona | Jewellery at the Native Art Market
Scottsdale, Arizona | People standing outside the Native Art Market

Skip the boutiques that stock artificial Indigenous goods and head just down Main Street to the Navajo-owned Native Art Market, a storefront where painting, pottery and food sales directly benefit local Indigenous artists. You can’t miss admiring stunning art at one of Old Town’s dozens of art galleries before your dinner reservations.

Scottsdale, Arizona | Dishes and wine at FnB
Scottsdale, Arizona | James Beard-winning chef Charleen Badman

Helmed by James Beard-winning chef Charleen Badman, buzzy spot FnB serves inventive vegetable-forward dishes. If you ask for co-owner Pavle Milic’s wine pairing, you might meet the man himself, and he’ll crack enough jokes to keep you entertained all night long.

Scottsdale, Arizona: Day Two

The crisp desert air will wake you up faster than coffee on a challenging sunrise hike to Camelback Mountain’s summit. The Echo Canyon and Cholla Trailheads are just a 10 minute drive from Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows.

Make your way down for brunch at Weft & Warp, and hope that the Sonoran Birds of Prey experience is happening on the patio.

Scottsdale, Arizona | Cosanti, the gallery and residence of the late renowned architect Paolo Soleri

Then, drive 11 minutes to marvel at Cosanti, the gallery and residence of the late renowned architect Paolo Soleri. Watching the red-hot casting process of Cosanti’s famous bronze bells is thrilling, and you’d be wise to pick up one of the unique creations on your way out.

Scottsdale, Arizona | Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

No visit to Scottsdale is complete without an audio tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wright, widely considered the greatest American architect of all time, constructed the sprawling abode in the 1930s, and its ingenious design still impresses today.

Once your curiosity has been quenched, satisfy your appetite with a hefty ribeye at The Americano, a swanky Italian-inspired steakhouse in North Scottsdale.

Scottsdale, Arizona: Day Three

Scottsdale, Arizona | Hot air ballooning with Hot Air Expeditions

Soaring well above the prickly, outstretched arms of the Sonoran’s giant saguaros, a balloon ride with Hot Air Expeditions is the best way to start the last day of your trip. Experienced pilots fly you up to 5,000 feet above ground, or low enough to spot wild desert critters. Once your basket touches down, you’re treated to a champagne breakfast and awarded a hot air balloon certificate.

Head back to Andaz’s Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary for a massage plus salon sesh, then soak in or tan by the private pool.

Scottsdale, Arizona | Guitars inside the Musical Instrument Museum

Escape the hottest part of the day at the Musical Instrument Museum for a dive deep into the world’s music culture. Walk-throughs are fascinating and interactive, with proximity-activated historical performance audio.

Scottsdale, Arizona | La Hacienda at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Round off your day by indulging in a tequila and mezcal tasting — curated by the in-house “Tequila Goddess” — from more than 200 different bottles at La Hacienda inside the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.