It took me a while (SO many details to include in this post!), but I’m excited to finally share my first-timers guide to Scottsdale with you today! My visit to Scottsdale was nothing short of memorable – including both me trying to become accustom to dry heat and flying above the Earth in a hot air balloon! If you are thinking about visiting, I’m sharing all of our activities in today’s full blog post – make sure to click through to see all the photos too!
Important note: I would suggest visiting in spring or fall. Our trip was in May, and everyone kept telling us that it was actually cooler weather than usual. While we got lucky with the weather, a lot of the cactus blooms were already gone.
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Where to Stay
We had the opportunity to stay at two different hotels to get two very different experiences depending on what kind of accomodations you might be into. See below for our take on both spots!
Where to Stay: Resort: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale
I don’t think I’ve ever stayed at a hotel that literally offers every single thing you could ever need – until this one. I cannot express how much I LOVED staying at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale y’all. From the spacious rooms to the balcony overlooking the palm trees (request if you can) to the multiple pool areas and evening gondola rides across the lake. There are eight total dining options on the property with a 24 hour market for picking up quick meals and Starbucks coffee. Every evening there is live music in the lobby that you can enjoy on the lawn or at one of the restaurants.
The Avania Spa is one of the most unique that I’ve seen. I could have stayed there all day to take advantage of the different amenities. In addition to a hot stone massage, I had a session in their Himalayan salt room. There are also outdoor hot and cold plunge pools, a mineral pool, and full-service salon. While the guys play golf, the girls can head to the spa!
Where to Stay: Boutique: Hotel Adeline
If you are looking to stay closer to Old Scottsdale and get out and explore at bit more, Hotel Adeline is a new boutique hotel just minutes away from all of the action. Fun fact, they renovated an old motel and transformed it into a hip spot with a younger vibe. The pool area offers both reserved cabanas and those that are available on a first-come basis. The outdoor bar serves up delicious drinks and snacks. And there’s an outdoor gaming area with oversized Connect4, Jenga, and table tennis.
Where to Eat
Where to Eat: Diego Pops
I’m putting Diego Pops first on my list of where to eat because it was my favorite dining experience while we were in Scottsdale! Not only was the decor and atmosphere at this indoor/outdoor restaurant very hip, the food was even better. For an appetizer, you have to order the brussel sprout nachos. Sounds weird, tastes delicious, and when we looked around, we realized every table around us had ordered it as well. The menu offers specialty tacos or the option to get the tacos as a bowl item which I loved. ALSO, get a snoball margarita! Very sweet and very worth the IG photo under the Tequila or Reality sign.
Where to Eat: Farm and Craft
We passed by this spot on our first day, and our Uber driver described it as very health-conscious and a good spot for fresh, organic meals. So we made a mental note to go back and check it out. I WISH we had a spot like this here in Baton Rouge. It was such a great atmosphere with a menu full of hormone-free, sustainable menu items. We started with lavender lemonade, and I ordered the salmon avocado toast. (Everyone around us was drinking some delicious drink out of a watermelon – would have liked to try that one!)
Where to Eat: The Vig
We were actually surprised at how good all the food was in Scottsdale, and The Vig was a delicious choice for dinner. We started with artichoke dip and ate so much that I could barely eat my entree. But I did eat my entree because it was SO good. (I got the salmon of course.) There’s an indoor and outdoor part of the restaurant with a lively atmosphere – I recommend sitting outside under the cafe lights at night!
Where to Eat: Hotel Restaurants
The Hyatt Regency offers a 4-course meal at the chefs table overlooking the open air kitchen, and you should do it if you can! It starts off with a tequila tasting with your appetizer and walks you through different wines as you taste your way through each course. I personally love surprises, so this was a lot of fun to do!
After a day by the pool on our last day in Scottsdale, the last thing we wanted to do was dress up and head out to find food. So we were more than happy to stay put and dine in at Hotel Adeline‘s on-property restaurant. You had me at Prickly Pear margaritas and truffle pizza! There was also live music in the open air dining space – I LOVE how most restaurants here incorporate outdoor seating!
What to Do
What to Do: Desert Botanical Garden
Visiting the Desert Botanical Garden should definitely be on your list of things to see while in Scottsdale. Although the cactus blooms weren’t out anymore in May, it was still so cool to see the beautiful cactus and succulent galleries you can’t see anywhere else! There’s also a butterfly garden within the wildflower trail. Things to note: bring sunscreen and a water bottle! There are water bottle fill-up stations throughout the garden (as well as water vending machines).
What to Do: Hot Air Balloon Ride
Okay, I really should do a full blog post on Hot Air Expeditions because it definitely deserves it. Probably one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done – after I stopped having anxiety leading up to it. (You literally float over the desert and mountains in a basket, y’all.) But Captain Mark has a ton of experience and his constant contact with the chaser crew on the ground was very reassuring. We traveled a total of 7 miles while taking in the landscape below us, and afterward, they set up tables right where we landed to have a nice champagne breakfast!
What to Do: Explore Old Town
Like I mentioned above, Old Town is where all the action is going on in Scottsdale. From shopping to restaurants to nightlife, there are so many things to see, do and eat around Old Town! We popped into a few of the stores and souvenir shops (so fun), but most importantly, we stopped into some dessert spots:
OMG the cutest little sweets shop I’ve ever seen! And the macaroon flavors are to-die for! (There’s one that’s milkshake flavored with real french fry sprinkles on top.) I tried “bubble tea” for the first time and actually loved it. I loved it more with every bubble that I got in my straw haha. Plus, they top off all their drinks with a little puff of cotton candy!
Never have I ever seen a more extensive ice cream menu. Sundaes, floats, shakes – you name it. Fun fact, this pink ice cream parlor was owned by the man behind the Family Circus comics! Stop in to share a sweet bite and beat the heat!
Photos by Lainey Reed
Thank you to Experience Scottsdale for helping me put together an unbelievable trip! Check them out for even more itineraries and Scottsdale trip ideas!