Scottsdale, Arizona is a vibrant desert city filled with luxury resorts, scenic shopping centers, fine dining, and exciting outdoor adventures. The car culture is strong in Scottsdale, and it amps up even more in late January with the annual Arizona Auction Week. DriveShare gathered this list of must-sees, good eats and places to stay to help you plan ahead and get the most out of your visit. Don’t forget to book a cool car rental to enhance your experience.
Go on an adventure
The Penske Racing Museum is a must-see. Indy 500-winning and NASCAR race cars, an IROC winner and various pace cars are on display with their extracted engines placed atop of pedestals. The museum is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 8 am. to 4 pm. and Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Entry into the museum is free. If you’re in the market for another car, there are several temptations nearby. The museum collection sits on the sprawling Penske Automotive Group campus, where factory-fresh Bugattis, Aston Martins and Land Rovers wait for their new homes.
A car show for everyone
Hundreds of cars, from vintage classics to modern-day imports, gather at the Pavilions at Talking Stick Shopping Center for the Rock’n’roll Car and Bike Show every Saturday. It’s truly a sight to see: Vehicles start filing into the McDonald’s lot at 4 pm. and continue to spread through the peripheral parking areas around the Pavillions. Admission is free, a great deal for the amount of eye candy.
Heading South (in a good way)
Two additional automotive experiences can be had just south of Scottsdale. The Radford Racing School offers several performance driving classes. You need to register in advance to participate, but spectators can watch from the bleachers. The Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is just a skip away from Radford. This 500-acre park regularly loans its drag strip and longer tracks to manufacturer testers and car clubs. If the front gate is barred, you might be able to sneak a peek through the perimeter’s chain-link fence.
Other sights and shopping
Swing by the three-story BMW dealership on your way to Scottsdale’s prestigious shopping center, the Scottsdale Fashion Square, which has a Tesla Motors gallery tucked among its high-end shopping and jewelry boutiques.
The Kierland Commons is highly recommended by shopaholics. Located on Main Street, the upscale outdoor lifestyle center artfully blends shopping, dining and entertainment. Parking is usually easy to find and is free.
Scottsdale is also known for its great architectural buildings, including Taliesin West, the Cosanti Foundation and The Promenade, another popular shopping destination. Or, to get out of the hustle and bustle, take the scenic route and check out our most recommended driving roads around Scottsdale.
Fuel the day
Scottsdale and its surrounding areas are filled to the brim with great coffee places. Here is a handful of recommendations.
Fourtillfour – An automotive-inspired coffeehouse in an old garage with grass and a patio that serves up espresso drinks, cold brew, tea and bites. Fourtillfour is also the host of monthly gatherings, including meets for Porsche enthusiasts and adventure vehicles.
The Village Coffee Shop – Located in Cave Creek within Stagecoach village, an old-timey Western shopping and dining center. Known for their amazing crepes, coffee, and other breakfast foods.
Berdena’s – In the heart of Old Town Scottdale, Berdena’s offers classic coffee shop fare with modern, pastel interior details, patterned tiles and outdoor seating. Known for having the best avocado toast in town.
Cartel Coffee Lab – A Hip coffeehouse chain in Old Town Scottsdale serving up house-roasted brews in chill, bohemian surroundings. Take a bag of fresh roasted coffee beans to bring back home.
JOJO Coffeehouse – Enjoy Breakfast, brunch and lunch in Old Town Scottsdale with JOJO Coffeehouse’s signature coffee, craft beer, and mimosas in this rustic farmhouse restaurant.
Schmooze – A work-friendly hangout offering coffee drinks & cafe eats for breakfast & lunch with free Wi-Fi.
There are countless fine dining options scattered throughout Scottsdale. Treat your palate with these favorites.
El Encanto – Visit the original El Encanto, a romantic Old-World Mission-style restaurant nestled in the heart of Cave Creek. Walking through the archway will seemingly transport you to Mexico. Water features create a comforting atmosphere in which to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine.
Old Town Tortilla Factory – Sit on the beautiful, climate-controlled flagstone patio or inside the charming historic building and savor Sonoran-influenced Southwest cuisine. Their world-renowned tequila bar offers 140 premium tequilas and features an award-winning margarita.
Euro Pizza – Voted the best pizza in Fountain Hills for 5 years, the Euro Pizza Café makes all entrees from scratch, prepared to order, using only the highest-quality seafood, meats, pasta and vegetables. A view of Fountain Lake’s impressive water fountain compliments the good eats.
Chart House – Seated on the scenic former 4,200-acre McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, the Chart House is the restaurant with a view. Chart House brings some of the best seafood to the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Incredible steaks and prime rib are also on the menu.
Arrivederci Cucina Italiana – An Italian kitchen that brings the essence of Italy to Scottsdale by way of authentic, mouth-watering meals. Traditional methods of cooking were learned in the kitchens of Italy and carried through the Arrivederci family for generations.
Roka Akor – Located in Scottsdale’s Resort Corridor, Roka Akor is modern in approach, Japanese in spirit, and features a contemporary, chef-driven menu that includes include exquisite cuts of prime steak, rare Wagyu from various regions of Japan, grilled seafood, and sushi. Their cuisine is complemented by signature cocktails, wine, sake, and an extensive and award-winning list of fine whiskies.
A home away from home
There’s a multitude of hotels and resorts in Scottsdale that have a lot to offer. Here are ten that have raving reviews, listed in order from lower to higher average cost.
Talking Stick Resort
Offering distinct comfort and contemporary design, Talking Stick Resort guest rooms and hotel suites exude the flavor of Scottsdale, Arizona with a luxurious touch. It’s surrounded by six restaurants, an entertainment district, spas, pools, and golf courses.
The McCormick Scottsdale puts the best of Scottsdale at your fingertips. An on-site pool, poolside bar, and restaurants encourage relaxation. On-site kayaking, canoeing, fishing, bicycles, and their shuttle service will satisfy your adventurous side.
Scottsdale Plaza Resort
The essence of Arizona is captured at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. An oasis of tranquility with warm desert breezes and views of Camelback Mountain in the distance evokes a sense of home. The Scottsdale Plaza Resort offers single rooms, suites and lodge options for every lifestyle, arranged in intimate clusters that allow for quiet and privacy.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort
Overlooking Camelback Mountain in the heart of Scottsdale, Embassy Suites by Hilton Scottsdale Resort is just minutes from championship golf courses, spa facilities, shopping, dining, art galleries and outdoor recreation.
The Scott Resort & Spa
This recently renovated luxury boutique hotel is remarkable for its La Vidorra Spa, unbeatable location, exceptional service, sumptuous amenities, and Caribbean-inspired dining at The Canal Club, Bar and Pool Bar.
Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows
Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows is an art-filled retreat overlooking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, featuring bungalow-style guest rooms, the Turquoise Pool, spa, and Weft & Warp Art Bar and Kitchen specializing in contemporary Sonoran cuisine.
Mountain Shadows Resort
The modernized 1950s resort is set in the shadow of Camelback Mountain in the serene town of Paradise Valley. Desert and mountain views throughout the resort set the tone for a stay that’s relaxing yet invigorating. On-site restaurants, golf courses, and a fitness club including a juice bar and pool enhance your stay.
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch
Set amidst flowering cactus, breathtaking sunsets and framed against the majestic McDowell Mountains, the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa offers a 2.5-acre “water playground”, 27 holes of championship golf, world-class tennis, Spa, the Native American Learning and Environmental Center, an international art collection and four distinctively different restaurants.
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
Nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain, the Omni brings the essence of Europe to the heart of Scottsdale with arching entryways, splashing fountains, floral walkways, and a collection of antiquities hidden throughout the property. On-site features include the Moroccan-inspired Joya Spa, six tempting dining options, a myriad of radiant pools and breathtaking views.
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain
Relax in a mountainside or spa casita overlooking the spectacular views of Paradise Valley. Retreat to Sanctuary Spa for Asian-inspired treatments and exhilarating classes. Taste the award-winning cuisine of Food Network star Chef Beau MacMillan. Play tennis or hike in a fabulous setting and lounge by the infinity-edge pool. Raise the bar for happy hour at Jade Bar and savor the sunset views.
Planning to check out Phoenix, Arizona while you’re in town? We have a travel guide for that, too! Or check out our travel guide collection for more great U.S. destinations.