Visitors to Scottsdale, Arizona have many options for enjoying a stay. For first-time visitors, Scottsdale provides a unique introduction to Arizona, with a mix of history, natural beauty, relaxation and fun, all in the Phoenix metro area. I left my first visit with five reasons I love Scottsdale and think you will, too.
I visited Scottsdale, Arizona, a week after a rare snowfall at home in Memphis, Tenn. I left 30 degrees behind for 80-degree afternoons, blue skies and dry air. This was my first visit to Arizona. Other than knowing it’s the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants, I didn’t have much knowledge of Scottsdale.
So what is there to know about Scottsdale, Ariz., if you’re considering a visit? I think one important fact is its proximity to Phoenix. Scottsdale is its own destination, but it’s also within driving distance of the heart of Phoenix. And I believe it could be a great base to start out before driving north to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon for a few days.
In fact, I hope to take the family to Arizona in March. We’ll start out with a visit to Scottsdale, staying for a few days to enjoy everything the city has to offer, catch a few spring training baseball games, spend a day or two seeing the sights in Phoenix and then head north to explore the Grand Canyon.
So why Scottsdale? Here are the five reasons I love Scottsdale, Arizona.
Major League Baseball has 30 teams. Fifteen of them have spring training bases in the Phoenix area.
Scottsdale is home to three teams that play in Arizona’s Cactus League: Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants. And just six miles to the south is Tempe, where the Los Angeles Angels play. The Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics play in nearby Mesa.
When I visited Scottsdale in March, we drove southeast to Mesa to watch the Giants play at the Athletics. It was an easy drive and a fun ballpark. And there are several ballpark facilities spread around the west side of the Phoenix area.
But for baseball fans not attached to a specific team – or if you’re a fan of the Diamondbacks, Rockies or Giants – Scottsdale has everything for a fun day at the ballpark. And walking around Old Town Scottsdale I came across several restaurants and bars with baseball paraphernalia adding to the atmosphere.
Desert, trails, golf and plenty of mountain hiking are all activities at the heart of the outdoors fun in Scottsdale. When I visited I only had time to hike Camelback Mountain.
The mountain is central to everything in Scottsdale. It seems no matter where you stand in the city, Camelback is within sight. I stayed at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa near the Echo Canyon Summit trail. It took about 10 minutes to walk on sidewalks along city streets to get to the entrance to the trail.
The Echo Canyon Summit trail is a 1.2-mile one-way difficult hike up 1,264 feet. I didn’t make it all the way up, in part because of time constraints. It was an enjoyable couple of hours that had my knees screaming at me in pain the next couple of days.
Working hard hiking is cause for relaxation. Scottsdale has a number of resorts with fun pools and an abundance of spas to have the tension massaged away. I enjoyed the pool and Joya Spa at the Omni Scottsdale, where there are a variety of massage and spa services. The Joya Spa has its own private rooftop pool with views of Camelback.
The Omni also has a handful of pools to find a relaxing spot to soak up the sun and enjoy the water.
One of the most beautiful churches is in Old Town Scottsdale. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Church was built in 1933 by the residents of the Mexican settlement. The building is made of 14,000 adobe blocks. I think its beauty is in part when looking up at the top of the white church with the blue sky beyond.
Old Town Scottsdale seems like a place where the Old West meets the new. There are a few souvenir stands that are probably like all the others in Old West downtowns, and that’s OK.
There are also a lot of art galleries and cool architecture in the neighborhood as well as a farmers market.
I ate great meals at the Omni Scottsdale. I think anyone staying at the resort would be happy enjoying every meal at one of the hotel’s restaurants; I did, actually. But one of my favorite experiences in Scottsdale was visiting Singh Farms.
Open every Saturday until just past lunchtime, Singh Farms is nestled under a canopy of trees in the middle of the desert. Every kind of herb and vegetable is grown here, along with plenty of exotic plants.
This is a fun spot to get great, organic food all grown on property while enjoying tasty food and drinks made by local chefs. I felt like a local visiting on a spring Saturday morning.