From dozens of top-notch resorts and spas, superior shopping, and a booming food and cocktail scene, Scottsdale, Arizona is an amazing girls weekend destination!
Perhaps you are thinking of visiting or are wondering the best things to do during a Scottsdale girls weekend?
This first-timer’s guide to Scottsdale will bring you to all of the popular girls weekend getaway attractions and show you exactly how to see the best of Scottsdale in just 3 days!
In this article, we include all of the best things to do in Scottsdale as well as provide tips on where to stay, where to dine, and how to get around.
Here’s how to plan the ultimate Scottsdale girls weekend!
Scottsdale Girls Weekend: The Best Things to do in Scottsdale
From the stirring beauty of our lush Sonoran Desert to our luxury resorts, chef-driven restaurants, and exciting activities and attractions, Scottsdale is bursting at the seams with the makings of a memorable getaway.Experience Scottsdale
Similar to our girls weekend getaway in Austin, Texas, Scottsdale, Arizona is home to an amazing array of both fun and relaxing things to do.
What makes Scottsdale unique, however, is the contrast of its swanky resorts, shops, spas, and restaurants, with the peace and calm of the desert atmosphere and mountainous backdrop.
With the southwest flair of the Sonoran Desert infused into the architecture, décor, and ambience of Scottsdale, your girls weekend getaway here is guaranteed to be both memorable and one-of-a-kind.
Though it would be impossible to mention absolutely everything that there is to see and do here, let’s explore some of the best things to do during your Scottsdale girls weekend!
1. Explore Old Town Scottsdale
No visit to Scottsdale would be complete without a visit to Old Town!
Old Town Scottsdale, sometimes referred to (and known interchangeably) as Downtown Scottsdale, encompasses the entire downtown region of the city.
Its pedestrian-friendly streets are home to boutique shopping, luxury shopping, world-class art galleries, museums, and public monuments.
Likewise, the large density of bars, lounges, restaurants, and clubs offers an incredible variety of dining and nightlife opportunities within a short distance of each other.
As three of the best things to do in Old Town, partake in one or all of the following (Instagram worthy!) self-guided tours:
- Public Art Walking Tour: A (free) 60-minute walk through Old Town Scottsdale featuring 10 of the most celebrated public artworks. Pieces include “The Doors” by Donald Lipski, the Bronze Horse Fountain, and the famous “Love” sculpture by Robert Indiana.
- Historic Old Town Walking Tour: A different (free) 60-minute walk through Old Town Scottsdale that features historical sites and museums. Stops include Rusty Spur Saloon, Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlour, and the Little Red Schoolhouse.
- Scottsdale Wine Trail: Take a day, or a weekend, to explore Arizona produced wines in these 5 unique tasting rooms. The Scottsdale Wine Trail features an official passport that can be purchased at any of the five wineries for $5.
For a 100% Arizona experience, don’t miss a visit to Merkin Vineyards when out browsing through Old Town with your girls! Our hosted wine tasting along with the education and storytelling that came with it was one of the best things that we did during our girls’ trip to Scottsdale.
While there, don’t miss a chance to feast on their locally sourced charcuterie boards and other small bites while drinking wine, as the combination is what really makes their passion for Arizona shine through!
Additional planning tip: Plan to spend a few hours, or an entire day in Old Town Scottsdale, depending on all of the things that you want to see and do there.
2. Shop Til’ You Drop
Scottsdale boasts the best shopping in Arizona with more than 2,500 luxury retailers, independent boutiques, retail outlets, and upscale malls.
From gift shops to fashion parks, there is a little something for everyone when it comes to finding places to shop in Scottsdale.
For high-end outdoor shopping, head to Kierland Commons or Biltmore Fashion Park in North Scottsdale or Desert Ridge Marketplace north of the Loop 101 on Tatum Boulevard.
For discounted prices and the best outlet shopping I’ve ever experienced, head 42 miles north of Scottsdale to The Outlets at Anthem.
And finally, Old Town Scottsdale is home to dozens of gift shops, jewelry stores, the 5th Avenue Shopping District, and Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arizona’s largest shopping mall.
From big names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Versace to more traditional brands like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Loft, and Anthropologie, Fashion Square is the perfect mix of casual, chic, and just-plain-awesome.
3. Go to the Spa
Though you’re likely to be dining, shopping, or sipping poolside cocktails, be sure to save room for some spa-time during your Scottsdale girls weekend.
With the highest number of destination spa resorts of any city in the United States, there’s no shortage of selections in choosing an award-winning spa experience.
Though there are several great options, we chose top-rated The Spa at Camelback Inn as the place to be pampered.
Hosting an array of services in a secluded mountainside location, sessions at The Spa at Camelback Inn include custom massages, signature facial treatments, body wraps, and salon services.
Other great spa choices include The Spa at Talking Stick, Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Sanctuary Spa at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, and Spa at The Boulders.
4. Experience the Great Outdoors
With an average of 299 sunny days per year, Scottsdale provides ample opportunity to experience the great outdoors!
Both golfing and hiking are hugely popular in Scottsdale which means you’re more than likely to find yourself either teeing off or trekking up the side of a mountain during your Scottsdale girls weekend.
Popular places to golf when visiting Scottsdale include Troon North, TPC Scottsdale, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, and Greyhawk Golf Club, among others.
Your choices for hiking will be based on ability as trails here range from flat, easy desert trails, to steep and difficult mountain trails; both of which are scenic and spectacular.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Though there are dozens of trails with varying degrees of difficulty in Scottsdale, my recommendation for easy, picturesque hikes would be to head to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
The Jane Rau Trail, Kovach Family Trail, and Bajada Trail are each only 1/2 mile long and include informational signage.
The trails here are lined with tall saguaro cacti, desert shrubs, and clumps of boulders providing for amazing photo-ops and wildlife sightings.
Pinnacle Peak Park
For a moderately difficult hike, my personal favorite is the 3.5 mile (roundtrip) in and out Pinnacle Peak Trail. The hike involves meandering up the manageable incline of a gigantic pyramid-shaped mountain.
Pinnacle Peak Trail can get quite crowded as it is one of the most popular trails in the area loved by locals and tourists alike.
Along with scenic lookouts along the trail, there are plenty of places to stop and take photos or to rest for a bit. Plan to spend at least 2 hours here.
If you’re looking for even more of a challenge, head up one of the two main trails that lead to the summit of the iconic camel-shaped Camelback Mountain.
Though both trails here are rated ‘difficult’, the Echo Canyon hike is the more rugged of the two and requires steep climbs and scrambling over large rocks.
The Cholla Trail, while a little bit less strenuous, ends by having to climb up steep grades with drop-offs on each side.
Both hikes are a total of 2.5 miles and take 2 – 3 hours depending on your physical condition.
Additional planning tip: The best months to visit Scottsdale are during April, October, and November when temperatures are in the mid-80s to low 90s.
Winter months cool down to the high 60s and low 70s, with the hottest months of June, July, and August reaching (dry) temperatures in the 100s.
5. Indulge in Delicious Dining
The local food movement has been taking a hold in Scottsdale as many talented chefs look to use locally sourced produce and showcase Arizona ingredients.
Unless you’re staying for months, however, there won’t be enough time in your Scottsdale girls weekend to experience all of the amazing places to dine here.
In fact, amazing cuisine can be found around every corner in Scottsdale with most foodie spots having delicious cocktails to go with their incredible bites.
Here are my top choices for delicious and unique Scottsdale restaurants during your Scottsdale girls weekend (find out what to order in the itinerary below!):
- Olive & Ivy – Mediterranean cuisine, an extensive variety of signature cocktails, huge patio, coffee and gelato bar
- Mowry & Cotton – Regional, seasonally inspired American fare, fun atmosphere, large open-air porch
- The Mission Old Town – Modern Latin cuisine, dimly lit, the absolute best margaritas and house-made guac
- Diego Pops – Modern twist on authentic Mexican favorites, playful decor, a local hotspot
- Citizen Public House – Gastropub cuisine, extensive craft beer, and classic cocktail menu
- Hearth ’61 – Seasonal American fare, chic, mid-century modern decor
6. Take A Guided Tour
Another great suggestion for your girls’ weekend in Scottsdale is to explore the area on a guided tour or experience.
In other words, learn about the desert landscape, as well as historic, outdoor, and cultural sites as a local expert shows you around.
Popular guided experiences in Scottsdale include electric bike and Segway tours, Off-Road Adventure (Jeep) Tours, Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours, and Arizona Food Tours.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous book a hot air balloon ride through Hot Air Expeditions. Enjoy 360-degree unobstructed views of the desert from 400-feet above the ground.
7. Sip A Margarita
There’s just something about poolside cabanas, the Sonoran desert heat, and the Southwest ambiance that will have you thinking about margaritas during your Scottsdale girls weekend.
As one of American’s favorite cocktails, enjoying a crisp and refreshing margarita(s) is an absolute ‘must-do’ during your visit.
As a margarita connoisseur, I can honestly say that I experienced the best margaritas that I have ever tasted while dining at The Mission in Old Town Scottsdale.
These perfectly crafted cocktails, adorned with salt or no salt, come in all different flavors. Our favorites at The Mission include the Cucumber Jalapeno, Spicy Hibiscus, Primarita, and Blood Orange Margarita.
Have a couple of these beauties paired with some of their smoky salsa and home-made guacamole. Mmmmm.
8. Take a Day Trip
So many short trips to some of the state’s most notable natural attractions are available from Scottsdale.
You can either grab a rental car and go on your own, or hire a local tour company to do the planning and driving for you.
In fact, within a 2-hour drive, you could be hiking the red rocks of Sedona, skiing in Flagstaff, exploring the bustling cities of Phoneix or Tuscon, or wandering the old mining town of Jerome.
During a more extended stay, you may want to explore the U.S. bucket list inspired Grand Canyon, which is a four-hour drive from Scottsdale.
Scottsdale Girls Weekend: A Complete 3-Day Itinerary
Scottsdale offers amazing food, cool activities, great local shopping, and an amazing upscale vs. Old West vibe. Whether you’re into art, epic hikes, or swanky spas, there is literally something for everyone to enjoy in Scottsdale.
Here are my suggestions on how to best plan your time for an ultimate girls weekend in Scottsdale if you have 3 days.
Scottsdale Girls Weekend: Day 1
- Start off the morning with breakfast and coffee at Starbucks, located on the property of the JW Marriott Camelback Inn & Spa.
- Head to a pre-booked 9:00 AM spa appointment at The Spa at Camelback Inn and stick around to enjoy the jacuzzi, sauna, and steam showers afterward.
- Primp yourself up for a fun afternoon spent out exploring.
- Take an Uber to Olive & Ivy to enjoy a 12:00 PM lunch reservation. Be sure to consider their $25 lunch deal that includes both a salad and flatbread choice, as well as an entire bottle of red or white wine.
- After lunch, walk next door to Fashion Square, a gigantic indoor shopping mall. Browse the swanky shops until your pocket-book says, “Stop.”
- Head back to your hotel and get dolled up for a girls-night-out dinner at Mowry & Cotton (Try the Charred Hanger Steak with a side of Charred Brussel Sprouts!). After dining, get cozy at the onsite, upscale bar, The Thirsty Camel, while people-watching and listening to music. Both are located inside of The Phoenician luxury resort.
Scottsdale Girls Weekend: Day 2
- Start off and spend your day exploring Old Town Scottsdale.
- Stop into Prep & Pastry for the best mimosas and fresh breakfast around. Try their Guac Toast with smashed avocado, scrambled eggs, cilantro, pickled onion, radish, and cotija!
- Take a self-guided Historic and Public Art Walking Tour of Old Town while taking plenty of selfies and other photos on the way. Stop into Merkin Vineyards for a wine tasting.
- Enjoy lunch at The Mission – Old Town while sipping one of their signature margaritas. Our choice: The Cucumber Jalapeno, Spicy Hisbiscus, and Blood Orange Margaritas with Crispy Rock Shrimp or Skirt Steak Tacos (with their famous chips and guacamole of course!).
- Later, take an afternoon nature hike and spend time lounging poolside at your hotel.
- Attend your 7:00 PM reservation at Hearth ’61 or another restaurant of your choice. If you go to Hearth, be sure to order the Burrata starter and the Arugula & Avacado salad along with the Niman Ranch Beef Tenderloin.
Scottsdale Girls Weekend: Day 3
- Start your day off with a morning hot air balloon ride or a hike up Pinnacle Peak or Camelback Mountain.
- Take a 95-mile day trip to beautiful Sedona, Arizona. Spend time admiring the red rocks and be sure to visit Red Rock Crossing and Cathedral Rock, the most photographed places in Sedona.
- While there, have lunch at Red Rock Crossing restaurant.
- Visit Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona and walk along Sedona Main Street.
- For an amazingly elegant dinner, consider indulging yourself at Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, the most awarded fine dining restaurant in Sedona. This is an experience you won’t forget!
How to Get Around Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale is 13 miles from Phoenix and 6 miles from Tempe, Arizona.
If arriving by air, downtown Scottsdale is a short 13.2 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Upon arrival at the airport, schedule an Uber, Lyft, or hotel shuttle to get to your accommodations.
My advice is to skip renting a car overall and to rely on walking and transportation companies to maneuver throughout the city. For instance, taxis, Uber, and Lyft are highly prevalent and can typically be found within 5-10 minutes of any given address.
When places and attractions are within walking distance, however, simply download the Google Maps app and use the “walking route” feature to help you get around.
Where to Stay in Scottsdale, AZ
Though there are so many awesome places to stay in Scottsdale with kids, I highly recommend that you stay at one of its luxurious spa resorts if on an Arizona girls’ weekend getaway.
To help you choose, narrow down your budget and decide on the views and amenities that will be most memorable to you.
Here are some of the best-located spa resorts in Scottsdale that have amazing ambiance and excellent customer reviews:
- JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa
- The Phonecian
- Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
- Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa
- Mountain Shadows
Thanks to Experience Scottsdale for the hosted experience at Merkin Vineyards and lunch at The Mission. Thanks also to Fox Restaurant Concepts for the discounted lunch at Olive & Ivy. As always, all opinions are my own.
*Before leaving our guide on a Scottsdale Girls Weekend, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find our exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*
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