Scottsdale, Arizona is an eclectic destination brimming with a range of unique experiences. With an enviable position in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, a great health and wellness scene and a history of cowboy culture, you’re bound to find plenty of ways to while away your days in this North American jewel. Whether you’re looking to relax or head out on an intrepid adventure, Scottsdale won’t disappoint. Here are our top five experiences to suit each and every one of you.
Spend an evening at The Rusty Spur Saloon
As the first and therefore oldest saloon in Scottsdale, you can bask in a bit of history as you down that Margarita. The building itself has been registered as a historic landmark and was once the Farmer’s Bank of Scottsdale. Having since replaced its piles of money with kegs of alcohol, the bar you’ll experience today offers a unique insight into authentic cowboy culture. With live music, an extensive drinks menu and some great food on offer at lunchtime, you shouldn’t give up a chance to visit the Rusty Spur Saloon. Whilst it is popular with tourists, this place is also a hit with the locals and you’ll most likely be listening to the sounds of the West with some real cowboys two-stepping nearby.
Get your cowboy education at the Arizona Cowboy College
Fancy trying your hand at the cowboy lifestyle? Then sign yourself up for a stint at the Arizona Cowboy College and you’re sure to enjoy one of the most unique experiences in the world. Started by a local rancher in the late 80’s, the college now offers anything from one off lessons to week long immersive stays. You’ll perfect your riding skills as well as learn a spot of roping, penning and many other cowboy essentials.
Explore the Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert isn’t the expanse of arid land you’d assume it was. Instead, it boasts one of the most diverse environments on earth. Home to over 2000 species of plants, 60 species of reptiles and 100 species of mammals, no two trips into this stunning natural wonder will be the same. Scottsdale’s McDowell Preserve in particular has a plethora of hiking and biking trails to discover. If you’re after views over Pinnacle Peak and the surrounding boulder formations then Brown’s Ranch Trailhead and Fraesfield Trailhead will lead you to the perfect spot. If you’re looking for a challenge that will take you into the heart of the reserve, then the Tom’s Thumb trail is the right choice for you. A great place for bird watching and easy walks, too, the desert offers a quiet retreat as well as an exciting adventure.
Kick back at Sanctuary Resort
The setting of Sanctuary Resort alone is enough to have you feeling relaxed and refreshed. Perched upon Camelback Mountain within 53 untouched acres, this resort boasts one of the best spas we’ve ever stumbled across. Perfect for a spot of replenishing after a couple of days exploring the desert and the city, The Sanctuary also has an incredible restaurant, outdoor pool area and access to hiking trails on Camelback Mountain. It would be easy to spend a whole day (or more) here, treating yourself to world class spa treatments, walks in the grounds and gourmet cuisine. With 12 indoor and outdoor rooms in which you can indulge in the Asian-inspired treatments, we’d recommend a session of Tok Sen, a special treatment from Thailand that incorporates yoga stretching and vibration therapy. Follow this up with half an hour in the spa’s Zen mediation garden before a delicious meal and you’re good to go.
Test your swing at The Phoenician Golf Course
Now we couldn’t go without mentioning the golf scene in Scottsdale. It’s a huge part of life here and the area has some of the most impressive golf courses in the USA. Our favorite was the course at The Phoenician. It’s a beautiful course sculpted from the beauty of the Sonoran Desert and with 27 holes, be sure to pencil in enough time for a good few rounds. Worried your swing is a bit rusty? Don’t worry; The Phoenician offers private and semi-private golf lessons so you’ll be getting those holes in one in no time.