In this Scottsdale itinerary and guide we’re sharing our must-see, must-eat, and must-visit spots if you have only 2 days in Scottsdale!
Fun fact: I (Kathryn) was born in Arizona and lived in Gilbert, a town 30 minutes south of Scottsdale, for 8 years! So when we planned a couples trip with our friends Callie and Michael to Arizona, I was SO excited to get back to my original home state and to show Adam where I am from.
Besides our quick visit to Tucson during our Christmas road trip, Adam had never been to Arizona before, but from the glimpse he got in Tucson, he knew he was going to love it! And we sure did! We spent 5 days driving all around Arizona, from Scottsdale to Sedona to the Grand Canyon to Page, and had the BEST time!
We spent close to 2 days in Scottsdale and we loved the vibe of the city and can’t wait to go back in the van. It has a western theme (we love a good themed town!), tons of great places to eat, great weather, and beautiful views.
There were so many things we didn’t get the chance to do, so we’re combining our personal experience, plus a lot of research for this Scottsdale itinerary to share our must-see, must-eat, and must-visit spots if you have only 2 days in Scottsdale!
PS: Want to have an epic Arizona road trip? Check out our Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Page guides!
Leave No Trace Principles
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
- Plan ahead & prepare. Make sure you research and prepare for every adventure so that you know the rules, stay safe, and to minimize resource damage.
- Travel & camp on durable surfaces. Stay on the trail and only camp in designated areas, as well as the required length away from water sources.
- Dispose of waste properly. Whatever you pack in, pack it out! Make sure to carry out your trash, as well as any trash you find. If you have a dog, please do not leave poop bags on the trail. For human waste, use a trowel to dig a hole far from water sources or use a wag bag (sometimes required).
- Leave what you find. Do not take any items from the trail with you, including rocks, plants, or artifacts.
- Minimize campfire impacts. Know the rules of where you can and cannot have campfires and if allowed, use designated fire rings. Use local firewood to prevent bringing any pests or diseases to the area you’re visiting and make sure to fully extinguish your fire.
- Respect wildlife. Keep your distance from wildlife, control your pets on the trail, and never ever feed them! Make sure to keep your food stored properly as well (we like this bear canister).
- Be considerate of other visitors. Be respectful to others on the trail. Hikers going uphill have the right of way on hikes and it’s always courteous to let those quicker than you pass. Avoid playing music out loud, talking loudly, and having your pets bother others.
Note: this blog contains affiliate links. Full disclosure– if you click on these links and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
When to visit Scottsdale
When you think of Arizona you probably think of two things: the desert and the heat. As you can see in the image above, the summers in Scottsdale are easily over 100+ degrees, and although it’s a dry heat (which is much better than a humid climate), it’s still pretty dang brutal! There are also dust storms in the summer, which are pretty crazy to witness.
We’d highly suggest not visiting Scottsdale in the summer, unless you have access to a pool to jump into multiple times a day. Instead, we’d recommend visiting in the fall, winter, or spring.
We visited in April, and have also visited in December, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous both times! It was warm during the day, but not hot enough to stop us from being outside. Rain is also not super common in Scottsdale, so you don’t have to worry about it raining on your parade.
Getting to Scottsdale
Scottsdale is located just 10 miles (20 minutes driving) from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). This is a great airport with tons of flights all across the US and even some international flights.
Pretty much all major US airlines fly into PHX, so you’ll be able to find good flight options and fly your favorite airline!
Getting Around Scottsdale
Depending on where you’re staying, how you’ll get around Scottsdale will vary. Nothing on this guide is too far from the main parts of town, so you could Lyft everywhere for a decent price (we always recommend checking out the fare estimator to see how much you’ll pay for your trip!). There’s also a free trolley that can take you around Old Town Scottsdale!
If you’re staying a little farther out or plan to explore outside of Scottsdale, renting a car can be another great option to have the freedom to go anywhere you’d like!
We rented a car, mostly so we could explore beyond Scottsdale, and were glad to have the flexibility to drive anywhere, but parking can be tough sometimes!
Where to Stay in Scottsdale
There are so many options of where to stay in Scottsdale depending on if you want a more luxurious experience or want to stay cheaper so you have more money for food! Here is a list of Airbnb options and some hotel and resort options.
It’s no secret we are big Airbnb users! We decided to go this route for the Scottsdale portion of our trip since there were four of us and it made more sense to get a larger place.
- Option 1: This 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath apartment is where we stayed and it was a 6 minute drive to Old Town Scottsdale and very nice and new on the inside!
- Option #2: A super stylish 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo walkable to Old Town Scottsdale + has a pool!
- Option #3: This 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom guesthouse is a great option if you want a pool and want to be close to the main attractions.
- Option #4: A studio guest house close to Papago Park and just south of Old Town Scottsdale.
PS: If it is your first time staying at an Airbnb, click this link to get $40 off your first stay!
Hotels + Resorts
Scottsdale is home to some niceeee resorts! They tend to be a little pricey, but they are perfect if you want to splurge for some extra amenities! Here’s a mix of pricier spots, plus some more budget friendly options.
- The Scott Resort & Spa: The decor in this place is absolutely stunning! Wow! It’s also located super close to Old Town Scottsdale and would be perfectttt for a girls getaway!
- Andaz: A very highly rated and loved resort with amazing views. Perfect for a relaxing getaway!
- The Phoenician: This very high end hotel is at the base of Camelback Mountain, so not only will you be treated to luxury, but you’ll have incredible views too! There’s also activities for kids and a golf course!
- The Saguaro: This hotel is SO colorful and fun! Definitely an Instagrammable place to stay. It’s also more of a middle-range price!
- Hotel Valley Ho: A fun, mid-priced hotel close to Old Town Scottsdale and with a pool!
- Hyatt Place Old Town: A nice, reasonably priced spot close to all of the action!
2 Days in Scottsdale Itinerary
Whether you’re headed to Scottsdale for a girls getaway, romantic getaway, solo adventure, or couples trip, we hope that this Scottsdale itinerary can help you figure out how to spend your 2 days in Scottsdale! If you are looking for more ideas of things to do, check out our “if you have extra time” section below!
- Kick off your trip with a delicious breakfast! A few spots to check out are Hash Kitchen or Arcadia Farms Cafe.
- After fueling up for the morning, grab some caffeine at either Sip Coffee & Beer House or Fourtillfour.
- Spend the morning and afternoon exploring Old Town Scottsdale! This cute, western themed area is so fun to walk around. There are lots of shops to go into as well!
- For lunch, head to Original Chop Shop. We LOVE this place for healthy breakfast and lunch bowls. It’s right by Old Town Scottsdale, so it’s an easy walk!
- Visit the Desert Botanical Garden (ranges from $24.95 – $29.95) and admire all of the gorgeous desert plants.
- Right next to the Desert Botanical Garden is Papago Park. Which is a beautiful park with lots of easy trails to explore. We recommend doing the super quick and easy hike to the Hole in the Wall. Tip: try to be at the park for sunset!
- Enjoy a delicious dinner at Diego Pops, a fun and super cute restaurant with tacos and unique twists on Mexican food–like brussels sprout nachos!
- Our favorite thing to do post dinner is eat ice cream. 🙂 We recommend trekking a little north of Old Town Scottsdale for Sweet Republic or heading to Phoenix for Novel Ice Cream. If you’d rather go out for drinks instead, check out Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar or Scapegoat Beer & Wine
- Enjoy a quick breakfast this morning at D’Lite Healthy on the Go. This spot has amazing breakfast sandwiches and you’re definitely going to want the fuel for today’s activity. Another healthier option is Farm & Craft!
- Grab some coffee at the super cute Berdena’s!
- Now for today’s big activity: hike Camelback Mountain (2.4 miles, 1,423 ft elevation gain)! This is a classic Scottsdale hike, but don’t mistake that for easy! It’s very challenging and requires climbing/hiking up some rocks, so make sure you feel comfortable before going. We recommend getting an early start this morning to avoid the crazy heat.
We started and ended at the Echo Canyon Trailhead, but you could also start at Echo Canyon and finish at the Cholla trailhead and Lyft back to your starting point. Plan to spend around 3 hours on this hike. If Camelback doesn’t seem like a good fit for you, here are some other good hike options: Pinnacle Peak (3.5 miles, 1,020, ft elevation gain) or Piestewa Peak (2.2 miles, 1,151 ft elevation gain).
- After a challenging hike, enjoy lunch at Postino, Doughbird, or Flower Child, all of which are close to Camelback Mountain.
- Spend the rest of the day lounging by a pool–you deserve it! If you’re not staying at a resort with a pool, you can buy a resort pass (starting at $30) and get access to a resort pool. Another activity option for this afternoon is to go golfing! Scottsdale is a huge golf town with many courses to choose from. We always choose super cheap courses and played at Rolling Hills Golf Course while we were in town.
- After hopefully relaxing a bit after your hike, treat yourself to dinner at The Henry, The Mission Old Town, or Citizen Public House!
If you have extra time…
You could definitely spend more than 2 days in Scottsdale, so if you have extra time, here are some ideas of fun things to do!
- Little Miss BBQ
- Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
- Culinary Dropout
- Arrogant Butcher
- Matt’s Big Breakfast
- Pizzeria Bianco–rated one of the top pizza spots in the US!
- Coconut’s Fish Cafe–one of our fav spots from Maui!
- Wow Wow Lemonade–another one of our fav spots from Maui!
- Ruze Cake House for boba teas with COTTON CANDY! and the most amazing macaroons.
- Maverick Coffee
- Cartel Coffee Lab
- Lola Coffee
- Fillmore Coffee
- Lux Central
- Press Coffee
- Go on any hikes you didn’t get to do: Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, or Piestewa Peak
- Explore the Tonto National Forest
- Drive to Sedona
- Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter retreat: Taliesin West
- A good activity for kids: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
- If you’re visiting in late February through March, go to Spring Training! The San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks all play in Scottsdale.
- If you’re visiting April-late September/early October, go to a Diamondbacks game!
Heading to Scottsdale?
Pin this 2 Days in Scottsdale guide to help plan your trip!