A Local's Guide to the Best of Scottsdale, Arizona
Arts & Culture
Scottsdale, Arizona, is my home and truly an oasis in the Sonoran desert of the Southwest. It offers world-class golfing, luxurious wellness spas and top resorts for leisure. The city is surrounded by the beautiful red rocks with their iconic saguaro cactus. Scottsdale is also excellent for hiking, horseback riding and kayaking with the wild horses. Exceptional restaurants and happy hour spots to watch the magnificent sunset with a cocktail make it a culinary destination too. Finally, high-end shopping, art, museums and an easy drive to Sedona and the Grand Canyon ensure that Scottsdale should be on everyone's bucket-list.
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Where to stay in Scottsdale
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney's Resort & Spa
Luxury property in Scottsdale set on 53 acres of desert with manicured grounds, pools and award-winning facilities.
$100 spa credits.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale
Tucked into Camelback Mountain, the Phoenician is a lovely modern enclave with a Sonoran feeling.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
The timeless elegance of the Four Seasons meets adobe style and the nature of the Southwest at this resort.
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Things to do in Scottsdale
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club features two award-winning golf courses with breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert located on the McDowell Yavapai Nation land. After golf, visit the grill for a cocktail and sunset.
Camelback Golf Club is a stunning setting at the foothills of Camelback Mountain.
Boulders Club allows you to golf in-between the huge granite boulder formations.
Troon North Golf Club is located at the foothills of Pinnacle Peak and offers breathtaking views of the boulders as you are golfing.
TPC Scottsdale is a renowned course for the PGA Tour WM Phoenix Open.
Joya Spa at the Montelucia Resort is one of my faves. It provides a luxurious experience of pampering that makes you feel like you are in a true hammam in Morocco.
Spa at the Boulders Resort: Walking the meditation labyrinth here you will have a beautiful backdrop of the massive granite boulders. This is a very special place for me to sit by the reflecting pond.
Civana is highl- rated spa in the serene Sonoran Desert. Located a little north of Scottsdale, they offer aqua therapy with hot and cold pools. It is also close to hiking trails, horseback riding and the cute little towns of Carefree and Cave Creek.
Camelback Mountain is the most well-known as it looks like a kneeling camel (via the Echo Canyon side.) Go early in the morning when it's not hot and bring plenty of water. It's a steep climb to the top over boulders and definitely not for the faint of heart. The trail head is located a walking distance from the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain.
Pinnacle Peak offers beautiful views bordering the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale.
Tom's Thumb gives access to rugged, beautiful views. It is great for a morning work out hike located a 15-minute drive from the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale.
Superstition Mountain is a big mountain range. You can find a nice hike at the Treasure Loop Trail.
Piestewa Peak Summit is a steep mountain and second-highest in the region after Camelback Mountain. It's a short drive from the Arizona Biltmore - A Waldorf Astoria Resort. It's part of the Phoenix Mountain Reserve for less strenuous hiking.
The MTM Ranch located in Cave Creek offers scenic trail rides through the magnificent saguaros.
Windwalker Expeditions accommodate English and Western riding disciplines and organize 2 to 10 person trips.
MacDonald's Ranch is a family-friendly farm with a petting zoo. They have cookout sites, hayrides and stagecoach rides.
On The Water
Paddle boarding and/or kayaking on the lakes around Scottsdale is a great way to cool off from the summer heat. My faves are Bartlett and Saguaro Lake.
There is a beautiful route from Saguaro Lake to the Salt River. The Salt River is home to the Wild Horses. It's absolutely wonderful as you kayak or tube down the river (seasonal.)
If you like the relax and enjoy having a cocktail or music while you cruise, the Desert Belle offers boat tours through the amazing dramatic desert vista of Saguaro Lake.
Places to Eat & Drink in Scottsdale
Breakfast & Brunch
Arcadia Farms Cafe is one of my favorite brunch spots. When you walk in, you feel like you're in a French country home. The back patio is amazing and the food is absolutely delicious. They have a great champagne bar, toast with lavender champagne and make sure to try the smoked salmon or crab cake Benedict.
Hash Kitchen is a lively spot with music and a very creative menu for your brunch. You can even build your own Bloody Mary! There are so many items on the menu that I love, but one of my faves is the fried pork chop upside down and the banana split brioche.
Geordie’s Restaurant at the Wrigley Mansion: Come here for Sunday brunch only and book in advance. They have a wonderful prix fix sample menu. They also do afternoon tea. The views are spectacular and after brunch, walk around the mansion or book a tour. It's fascinating to hear about the history of the mansion from the Wrigley and Hormell family. If you have time after that, please visit the Biltmore Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Lon's Restaurant at Hermosa Inn: This restaurant is great for brunch, happy hour and dinner. I have a hard time choosing as it's one of my most-loved hidden spots for al-fresco eats. Walking in on the long path, it opens up into an oasis in the desert. It has a very romantic atmosphere with trees for shade, red rocks and very comfortable chairs in front of the fireplace.
Morning Squeeze is a throwback to the 50's in Old Town Scottsdale. The patio here is dog-friendly. Great spot to get your day started before you walk around historic Scottsdale. Come fall, it's an easy walk to the Saturday farmer's market and the art district. Try the key lime pie stuffed French toast.
The Herb Box is a country-style spot serving brunch in Old Town Scottsdale. My favorite dish on the menu is the baby kale, brie and green apple omelet.
Olive & Ivy has a vibrant scene, beautiful decor and a great outdoor space, close to high-end shopping at Fashion Square. Love this place for happy hour too! The cuisine is Mediterranean with small plates and bruschetta. Try the fig & ginger mule. There is also a great wine list. If you have a bigger party, they have a private room.
Farm and Craft Scottsdale for the health conscious eaters. They have a "Wellness Menu." I go here often for their flatbreads and kombucha cocktails.
Toca Madera is a lively, beautiful restaurant for brunch, lunch and dinner. They serve Modern Mexican cuisine with bold flavors. The decor is stunning too. I prefer to go here during the day and happy hour. In the evening they have a DJ. If you are into a lounge restaurant feel, this is the place to be. They have a great bar-scene for Happy Hour and the cocktails are phenomenal. I love the mezcal-based Guava Margarita and Amor De Verano.
Francine Restaurant is located right at the entrance of Fashion Square and voted best French restaurant in the Phoenix area. It's elegant and the food is delicious with specialities from the south of France region. There is so much on the menu that I love including the salade niçoise, steak tartare and the fire roasted artichoke.
OHSO Arcadia: I love this place for lunch or happy hour with the pooch with a view towards Camelback Mountain. Your dog is going to love this place! I love their craft beer and comfort food. If you like to bike, this is a great spot to bike to from Old Town Scottsdale alongside the canal.
Rehab Burger Therapy serves the best burgers in town! Try the Ghost Burger!
Cafe Monarch has won multiple awards offering fine dining at its best. Sophisticated, elegant, old-world style ambiance with a 5-star cuisine and wonderful wine list. Prix fix four-course culinary dishes that are ever changing with the season. I love that the servers are trained by the Courth of Master Sommeliers program. There is a dress code for this restaurant and children have to be 10 and up.
Reserve is another excellent dining option from the team behind Cafe Monarch. There is a very intimate setting in the Reserve courtyard where seating is very limited. Book in advance. If you are a foodie, this is the place to be with two wonderful 8 course tasting menus (one catered to vegetarians.) They also offer wine dinners with wine pairings that are chosen by the exceptional sommeliers. This spot is closed during the summer and they have a dress code.
Mastro's Ocean Club is a staple here in Scottsdale. Stylish, elegant with live music and incredible food. I love that there is a dress code to get in. If you just finished a round of golf, please change before dinner and head out here.
Ocean's 44 is another fantastic seafood restaurant with an upscale, fine dining experience with a great lively bar for cocktails. As you walk in, you can see the kitchen with its custom wood-fire oven and all the ingredients displayed through a glass window. Great for an intimate dinner or for a group.
SEL is a lovely, charming restaurant with modern haute ethnic cuisine. The plating of the dishes are like art works on their own. I favor the chef's menu. SEL has a beautiful outdoor patio in the heart of Old Town’s Art District. It is a true gem. I love coming here before the weekly art walk on Thursday’s between 7 and 9 PM.
The Mission serves Latin-inspired cuisine and an extensive list of premium tequilas, neat or in a margarita. They have two locations, one in Old Town and one in Kierland. I personally like the Old Town location more as it’s housed in one of the oldest buildings in Scottsdale and it has this warm feel to it— decorated with mirrors on the wall and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. They also have a lovely bar with a Himalayan Salt Wall and the front patio has a fireplace.
FnB is a locals' favorite for Arizona cuisine and has been written up in many publications. It’s a hidden gem tucked away in Old Town’s historic Craftsman Court. I have had dinner here with a group in the courtyard, where we shared all of the delicious curated small dishes created by James Beard award-winning chef Charleen Badman, called FNBites. Amazing global wine selection.
The House Brasserie serves Modern American cuisine. There is also a great ambiance as the restaurant is in an actual house and has a patio with a white picket fence. It is Southwestern and Mediterranean inspired and it feels like a warm food blanket. We had a wonderful New Year's Eve dinner here going into 2022.
Virtu Honest Craft is one of the top restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale and another locals' favorite. They serve a Mediterranean-inspired menu by chef Gio Osso. It is an ever changing, seasonal menu of art on a plate with delightful craft cocktails.
Lure Fish House is where it's all about the fish. Here you will find fresh oysters, lobster, incredible mussels and ceviche dishes. The tuna ponzu and the tequila lime shrimp pasta are so delicious. I love everything about this place.
Persian Room: There is almost nothing that I like more than Persian cuisine and this restaurant delivers it to my palette with their traditional exotic dishes. A great way to start out your experience is with a Persian room appetizer platter and follow it up with a combination platter for your main course. I would suggest the tour of Persia.
Maple and Ash: I've loved it in Chicago and now they have a location in Scottsdale too serving delicious wood-fired dishes. It is a modern steakhouse with exceptional service. Try out the Fire Roasted Seafood Tower! Good for a happy hour drink and brunch.
Talavera at the Four Seasons overlooks the desert landscape and Pinnacle Peak. I love to come here after a late afternoon hike and have an early dinner al-fresco as the sun is setting as I enjoy a selection of tapas with a cocktail.
The Canal Club at the The Scott Hotel with a Cuban-inspired setting. The restaurant is Caribbean-inspired. Try the Pan Roasted Snapper with Pineapple Salsa with a Cuban classic cocktail: Mojito or a Hemingway Daiquiri.
Zinc Bistro: Think: modern Parisian Style French Bistro. They have a wonderful garden patio for those of you who like a romantic feel. The bouillabaisse and the divers scallops with the chorizo risotto are absolutely divine.
Roaring Fork serves American Cuisine and is a staple in Scottsdale for their wood-fired cooking. Great atmosphere, also excellent for a group. Try the rotisserie chicken, it’s delicious. Happy hours are fun and busy, get there early!
Sante is a spot for the health-conscious foodie. This is the place for organic cuisine where ingredients are all sourced from small farms. Great for diners with dietary restrictions. Check out their gourmet marketplace.
Shinbay is a traditional Japanese Omakase dining experience with a set multi-course menu lasting approximately 2 hours by chef Shinji Kurita. Omakase, “I trust you chef,” meal is a very intimate experience as the chef will only serve the highest quality ingredients to the diners. For guests with dietary restriction this might not be the best option as they are unable to adjust the menu.
Bourbon & Bones is a great place to meet up with friends. It’s a lively scene and the bartenders are the best. I love sitting at the bar here for my steak meal. Fun thing here is you can choose your own steak knife. As the name suggests, there are also great Bourbon choices.
Dominicks is one of the top steakhouses in Scottsdale. It is a beautiful space with a lot of ambiance. It has an old-school feel. Upstairs you will find rooftop seating, perfect for sunset. It is a wonderful spot for a private event. I recommend getting the seafood tower.
AZ88 is my go-to, as dogs are welcome on the outdoor patio. The martinis are out of this world and filled to the rim, which makes it quite entertaining to see the wait staff balance them on the way to your table. The food is fantastic and they have revolving artwork every few months. Great place to meet friends. I love that they do not take reservations, so come early to snag a table.
The Spire Bar at the Biltmore: As you walk through the Biltmore Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, you will be amazed by the attention to detail. They've since refurbished the entire hotel in 2020. When you walk to the back of the hotel you will see the Spire Bar. It's a gem with a vibrant round outdoor bar.
Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen: I love coming here for sunset happy hour as it overlooks Camelback Mountain. The menu is Mediterranean and they have live music on the patio Thursdays through Saturday. When it gets a little bit more chilly in the fall and winter, sit by the fireplace with a craft cocktail. It is dog-friendly and they even have a special doggie menu.
Fat Ox is one of my go-to's after work. My favorite spot is at the high tops as you walk in or at the bar. The food, featuring regional Italian classics, is delicious. One of my main dishes for happy hour is the GIGLI featuring San Marzano tomatoes, basil and parmesan.
Postino is great for an afternoon of shopping in Kierland Common. This is the perfect spot for a bottle of wine and cheeseboard deal for $25!
The Vig McDowell has a lively happy hour scene with a gorgeous outdoor patio with fire-pits, live music and scenic views. It features a nice crowd and a fantastic indoor-outdoor bar.
Buck & Rider is a fantastic seafood spot located a little west of Scottsdale but totallt worth the visit. Their daily menu is updated as the catch is flown in daily. Try the crab cakes.
Jade Bar at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain is one of my favorites! Overlooking the rolling hills of Paradise Valley when the sun sets is mesmerizing. You have a feeling you are somewhere in the Mediterranean. The cocktails are absolutely delicious creations and they have a very nice bar menu.
The Wrigley Mansion is another favorite. The views are just spectacular and elegant, they just extended the bar out for more seating. Happy hour is fantastic here and if you have time, wander around the Wrigley Mansion.
Christophers at the Wrigley Mansion is a James Beard award-winning restaurant. It's a culinary dining experience with a prix fix multi-course dinner with a spectacular view over the city of Phoenix.
Volanti Restaurant & Lounge is located on the second floor at Scottsdale Airport. The view of the McDowell Mountains seeing the private planes fly in is a great experience. The menu boasts a $100 hamburger with caviar aioli that comes with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and frites.
El Chorro: I had my birthday celebration here on their beautiful outdoor patio sitting next to the fireplace. The views of the Camelback Mountain are stunning. It is a lovely spot for a romantic dinner while the sun is setting. The red wine braised beef short ribs are fantastic.
Isabella's Kitchen is a beautiful place to hang out after a round of golf, especially as you get together with friends and family. It's always bustling. I like sitting by the fire pits as the sun is setting with a nice glass of wine and some appetizers.
Raven's View is an absolute must! They have extensive wine and craft beer selection. If you are golfing up north by Desert Mountain, have been off-roading, hiking or biking close by, you cannot miss the sunset from here. It is a little bit of a hike to get to though.
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