Offering a unique blend of old western charm and urban chic, you’ll never run out of things to do in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona. Old Town Scottsdale is the perfect city for any kind of traveler to visit.
Year-round, it has beautiful, sunny weather with world-class restaurants and ample outdoor activities to keep one busy for months. This is one of the top destinations in Arizona, and one of my favorite places to go in the USA.
I’ve lived in the Phoenix area for four years and spend most of my free time exploring all that the area has to offer. I love hiking and exploring the many unique things to see in Old Town Scottsdale.
Whether you’re looking for a bachelor party destination or a family trip, Old Town has something for everyone. The more time you spend within this beautiful city, the more you’ll want to return at every chance you get.
Best Things To Do in Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale offers visitors some of the best adventure, food, and culinary options in Arizona. Check out the following 15 tours, adventures, and activities to fill up your itinerary for your next visit to Old Town:
1. Sonoran Desert Jeep Tour at Sunset
One of the best things to do in Old Town Scottsdale is to ride around the Sonoran Desert in an open-air jeep. This two-hour tour takes visitors off-road in Tonto National Forest and Pinnacle Peak Park where you’ll be taken into some of the most remote areas of the desert, only accessible by 4×4 vehicles.
The Sonoran Desert is not only one of the best places to visit in Old Town Scottsdale, but it’s one of the most beautiful places in the valley. This tour was one of the first things I did when I moved to Arizona, and I was especially glad I did it in October.
The summer can get extremely hot, so if possible, try and book in the fall and winter when temperatures are more comfortable. You’ll meet your guide at 6 pm at a local trailhead before the tour. This is a fun thing to do in Arizona for everyone — friends, couples, solo travelers, and families. Click here to learn more.
2. Rafting the Lower Salt River
The Lower Salt River is a beautiful gem outside Old Town Scottsdale that runs through a beautiful desert landscape surrounded by the Superstition Mountains. A half-day rafting tour takes guests on a relaxing float to enjoy the views and even jump in the water to cool off.
I regularly float the Lower Salt River in the warmer months in Phoenix and choose to go during the middle of the week when the river is far less popular than on the weekends. The float is perfect for the entire family, and you can enjoy all the beautiful sights around the river once you’re done.
You’ll meet your guide at the Canal/Hawes Trailhead Park and Ride, and they’ll take care of the rest. Snacks and drinks, lifejackets, and all other necessary materials are covered in this tour. The half-day float gives visitors an entirely new appreciation for the area and I highly recommend it. Learn more here.
Address: Canal/Hawes Trailhead Park and Ride
3. Mountain Biking Trip
Scottsdale provides visitors with some of the most beautiful and fun mountain biking trails in the country. It can be stressful to create an itinerary on your own, so a tour is the perfect way to get started. I was new to mountain biking when I first visited Phoenix, and the guide helped me learn of many other trails nearby that I may have not found for myself.
This tour puts no more than six visitors with a guide, and before the ride, you can let the guide know your skill level and preference on how advanced you want the ride to be. The trails in the Sonoran Desert are filled with hairpin turns, exciting downhills, and challenging climbs.
You’ll meet your guide at the Fraesfield Trailhead outside of Old Town where you’ll be greeted with your bikes, helmets, gloves, water, and snacks. Before you start, you’ll get a safety explanation, and then you’ll be off and biking for half a day. Mountain Biking is one of the best things to do in Arizona. Learn more about the tour here.
4. Old Town Scottsdale Segway Tours
If you want a tour of Old Town unlike any other, try this two-hour Scottsdale Segwey Tour. If you’re new to the area and want to cover as much ground as possible while learning about the area, this tour is for you. I did this tour on a family vacation, and we loved hearing the guide’s recommendations for food and fun.
Some of the stops include the Rusty Spur Saloon and Old Adobe Mission, and you’ll have the opportunity to take a look through the art at the Scottsdale Civic Center. The tour is for no more than 12 people, so you won’t feel overwhelmed or left out of the fun.
You’ll meet at Scottsdale Segway Tours and get your personal segway, helmet, and water if you’re touring in the warmer months. Show up to your tour with questions and make a mental list of all the places you want to return to once you’re done.
This tour is a great way to discover more about Old Town and its points of interest. Click here for details.
5. Shop at Scottsdale Fashion Square
It’s no secret that Scottsdale is known for its high-end stores and unique malls. The Scottsdale Fashion Square is the premier mall in Scottsdale, and it’s perfect for an evening stroll or a dinner date. My wife and I enjoy stopping by to browse a few of our favorite clothing stores or heading here for date nights.
If you want a taste of the finer things in Scottsdale, Fashion Square is the perfect place to start. You’ll enjoy the beautiful storefronts and exciting atmosphere. There are over 200 stores to visit, plus a movie theater if you tire from shopping.
Whether you’re visiting Scottsdale in the heat of the summer or cool winter days, Scottsdale Fashion Square is the perfect date night, family excursion, or place to spend a few hours. No visit to Old Town is complete without a visit to the Fashion Square.
6. Scottsdale ArtWalk
The Scottsdale Art Walk makes the city one of the most unique and exciting destinations. The Scottsdale Gallery Association partners with Scottsdale to organize a free art walk each Thursday evening from 7 pm to 9 pm. It occurs in Scottsdale’s Art Gallery along Gallery Row on Main Street from Scottsdale Road to Goldwater Boulevard.
It also stretches north on Marshall Way, across Indian School Road to the Horse Fountain. My wife and I complete this walk as soon as the temperatures drop in the fall. We explore the galleries, the new paintings, and the fountains and stop at restaurants and bars for refreshments.
Go at your own pace and enjoy all of the talented local artists within the Scottsdale area; an event that began in 1975 and has continued to grow year after year ever since. Don’t miss out on one of the most unique local events in all of the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas.
7. Old Town Farmers Market
The Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market is the biggest and arguably best farmers market in the valley. It’s open from mid-October until the beginning of June each year. Every Saturday morning, visitors get a few hours to peruse local goods and it’s a great place to pick up some gifts to take home.
The vendors rotate and vary weekly, so take advantage of the exciting array of goods and deals available. I visit this farmers market at least once a month, during the cooler times of the year, to spend a few hours exploring. The vendors are always extremely friendly and many know me and my wife by name and do their best to remember us.
Make the most of the 100-odd local growers and specialty food producers that show up every Saturday looking to sell their goods. The Old Town Farmers Market is one of the best places for small businesses to sell, so it’s nice to be able to support them.
8. Complete the Scottsdale Wine Trail
Many people wouldn’t assume that Arizona is a destination for wine tasting, but Old Town Scottsdale has 7 wineries that all feature tasting rooms. All the wineries are within walking distance, and the wineries have teamed up to create the Scottsdale Wine Trail.
It’s another tour and adventure that makes Old Town Scottsdale an amazing place to visit. The wineries include Aridus Wine Company, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, LDV Winery, Merkin Vineyards, Salvatore Vineyards, Carlson Creek, and the Wine Collective of Scottsdale.
The vineyards are all within a few blocks of one another, so you can take the tour any time of year without exhausting yourself. I recommend purchasing a $5 wine passport that allows you to redeem $2 off a wine tasting at each location.
9. Eat at Some of the Phenomenal Restaurants
Old Town Scottsdale is home to the best restaurants in the valley. Whether you want a unique Mexican restaurant or a top-quality steakhouse, you have all the options you would ever want.
My wife and I head to Old Town Scottsdale regularly for date nights, and we’re yet to even come close to running out of restaurants to visit.
Some of our favorite places to eat are Olive & Ivy for Mediterranean, Cafe Monarch for fancier dishes, and Daily Dose Old Town Bar and Grill for breakfast. Old Town Scottsdale restaurant owners know that competition is fierce, so they’re always on their game and do their best to keep things fresh and exciting.
You don’t have to spend excessive amounts to get a delicious meal. Plenty of small, local restaurants are affordable and offer generous portions.
10. Go on a Hiking Adventure
The Scottsdale Desert Classic Hiking Adventure is a three-hour hike through the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Depending on your preferences, the guide will adjust the hike to fit your physical abilities. On the tour, you’ll learn about the plants and geology of the Sonoran Desert, and stop for refreshments at a beautiful lookout point.
You’ll get snacks and beverages while on the tour and will receive a backpack, sunscreen, and all the materials you’ll need for the hike. Before setting off, you’ll meet at the Gateway Trailhead within the Sonoran Preserve. An expert guide will be on hand to answer any questions you may have, and can provide even more hikes to consider for the rest of your stay.
I regularly hike within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in the cooler months. My favorites include Tom’s Thumb, the Gateway Loop Trail, and Inspiration Point. This is a beautiful park near Old Town that provides you with an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Click here for details.
11. Morning E-Bike Tour
Electric bikes are the most comfortable and exciting way to get around Old Town Scottsdale. This two-hour, eight-mile tour given by a local guide takes you around Old Town and to all the best sites. What I love about this tour is that you don’t have to stay too close to your guide as you’re given earbuds to listen to, meaning you can ride along comfortably while listening.
You’ll meet in Old Town, be given a bicycle and a helmet, and go on your way. The trip will show you local museums, some of the best restaurants, and places to check out in your own time once you’re done with biking for the day.
It’s smart to do this tour on your first day in Scottsdale. My wife and I did it on our first vacation here, and we were thankful we did – we essentially planned out our entire trip with the guide. This bike tour of the beautiful Old Town sights is guaranteed to be money well spent. Find out more here.
12. PHAT Cruiser Tour
If electric bikes aren’t your style, this 2.5-hour tour on fat tire scooters of Old Town Scottsdale and the surrounding areas might catch your interest. The tour company is the only PHAT tour operation in the country, so you’ll have exclusive access to some unique and entertaining transportation.
The tour includes visiting Tempe Town Lake, Papago Park, Hole in the Rock, the Desert Botanical Garden, Hunt’s Tomb, Old Town Scottsdale, and Continental Golf Club. The 11-mile tour includes an expert guide and an advanced audio system to help you keep up with what’s being said.
I rode these PHAT scooters as part of a trial run they were doing for the tours, and absolutely loved it. The path you follow is easy to maneuver, and you won’t ever be concerned for your safety. Meet at the Scottsdale Segway Tours near the Scottsdale United Methodist Church at 9 a.m. for your training before the tour. Click here for details.
13. UTV Off-Road Adventure in the Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is best explored on a UTV. Get off-road, drive through the sand, crawl boulders, and see all the desert can give you. This guided excursion provides access to many places of the desert near Old Town that most people don’t even know exist.
The UTVs have all the power you could need to get that blood pumping and are 2-seaters, meaning you can bring a few family members or close friends along to share in the experience. I love to take my UTV out into the Sonoran Desert whenever possible and this tour is a fantastic opportunity for those visiting.
It’s filled with awesome trails, and finding some peace and quiet along the way is easy. If possible, go in the spring, so you can see the spring bloom – the flowers contrasting with the desert landscape are beautiful. This tour meets off of 4 peaks road in Fort McDowell.
Address: Four Peaks Wilderness Area
14. Go Rappelling
The rappelling adventure in Scottsdale is one of the best adventures you’ll find in the area. Hike through the Sonoran Desert outside of Scottsdale, climb to the peak, and rappel your way to the bottom with the support of a trained guide the entire time.
This half-day adventure was a blast. I did it with friends, and we all had an incredible time. We left early in the morning, enjoyed the hike, and had a great thrill rappelling down the peak. The guide provides sunscreen, helmets, ropes, and a harness so all your equipment is taken care of.
Rest assured that you’ll be safe on your adventure, knowing that the guides are all trained professionals, and will ensure you’re comfortable for the duration of the experience – don’t miss out on this exhilarating adventure. Find out more here.
15. Go Horseback Riding
A new tour available in the Scottsdale area is a horseback ride and horse country estate tour outside Old Town Scottsdale. It’s a half-day horseback riding tour where you’ll be picked up in a Mercedes Sprinter van, taken to the estate, and given a private look around.
The tour is capped at 14 people, so you’re promised a private and intimate experience in this pristine part of the city. Horseback riding in this area is a treat and it’s really special being able to appreciate the beautiful mountain views and wildlife in this way. Learn more here.
Address: Pickup from your hotel or residence is included
Quick Travel Itineraries For Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is easy to maneuver. All listed activities are within 30 minutes of Old Town, with many located in the city. Creating itineraries for Old Town is a joy but it can be hard to know where to start. Below, I’ve listed some ideas to help plan your stay, from 1 day to 1 week in blue-skied Scottsdale:
1 Day in Old Town Scottsdale Itinerary
If you only have one day in Old Town Scottsdale, start with breakfast at the Daily Dose Old Town Bar and Grill and head out on the rappelling tour for the morning and early afternoon. If you’ve visited on a Thursday, finish the night at the Scottsdale Art Walk.
2-3 Days in Old Town Scottsdale Itinerary
A few days in Old Town Scottsdale is just about right. You can comfortably experience all of the restaurants, tours, and best things that the city has to offer.
1 Week in Old Town Scottsdale Itinerary
A week in Old Town Scottsdale lets you experience the best things within and around the city. You can’t go wrong with six or seven full days traversing the desert, restaurants, and nightlife. There’s so much to see after all.
For your first day, do the Old Town Scottsdale Segway Tour. It’s a two-hour tour, but it allows you to ask an expert about the best things to do in Old Town Scottsdale once the tour is over. Take their advice and spend the rest of the day exploring the city and what it offers.
For the next few days, enjoy some of the best tours the area has to offer. The best way to start is with the rappelling tour because it gets you out in the desert and gets your adrenaline pumping. At night, visit Culinary Dropout for dinner.
Some other options to consider are the horseback riding tour, this guided UTV tour, and the two-hour e-bike tour of the city. The guided hike through the Sonoran Desert in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is another great option for an afternoon or evening.
If you’re a first-time visitor, stay near 5th Ave. Shopping District. It’s close to the nightlife and shopping as well as some of the best restaurants in the city.
Where to Stay in Old Town Scottsdale
These are a few of the best neighborhoods in Old Town Scottsdale for tourists:
5th Ave. Shopping District – best for first-time visitors
For those who want to be conveniently located near the best boutiques, shops, coffee shops, and restaurants, I suggest staying on 5th Ave. Shopping District.
You can find almost any style; modern, vintage, Native American, or designer, and a huge advantage of staying here is that most places of interest are within walking distance of each other. The Lux at Craftsman puts you within walking distance of 5th Ave.
Civic Center Park- best for families
Civic Center Park in Old Town Scottsdale has 21 acres of green lawns, trees, and flowers. It’s also full of museums and venues like the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a great place for families to stay as you’ll be just a few miles from Old Town but will have more peace and quiet away from busyness.
The Hilton Garden Inn is a great place for the entire family to stay as it’s conveniently located for many activities, offers a stunning outdoor pool, and has an on-site restaurant.
Entertainment District – best for nightlife
Located in the northeast corner of the Old Town Scottsdale area, the Entertainment District may look calm during the day, but it truly lights up at night. After dark, the nightclubs and restaurants come alive with music and impressive cocktails. Some of the most notable bars in the area are Dierks Bently Whiskey Row, Bottled Blonde, and Skylanes.
Senna House is a great hotel if you’re looking to be in the heart of the entertainment district.
Best Restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale
There are so many fantastic eateries that it’s hard to narrow them down, but here are some of my favorites and the best restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale:
Olive and Ivy
Olive and Ivy is a delicious Mediterranean restaurant set on the waterfront of Old Town Scottsdale, but the vibes of the restaurant make you feel like you are in France.
They serve up fresh bread, pasta, sandwiches, and salads. And don’t forget about the 45 different wines to choose from to go alongside your meal! A popular dish is the beet salad or the sea scallops. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the entire valley. Click here for directions.
Cafe Monarch is known to be one of the top three fine-dining restaurants in North America. Make a reservation and escape to this elegant, family-owned gem known for a rotating menu of fresh and local ingredients. Because of its excellence, be prepared to spend money on this dining experience – it’s worth every dollar.
My most recent trip to Cafe Monarch was amazing. Right downtown, Cafe Monarch is in the perfect location. Click here for directions.
If you’re looking for local craft beer and woodfired pizza, Craft64 is the place for you. The owners have carefully considered every element of this restaurant; the mozzarella is made homemade each day, and the produce used on the pizzas is local to the area. Start your dinner with Caprese Salad, then move to the Fico Pizza, and finish with their Tiramisu.
I love Craft64 Scottsdale. The pizza and salad are some of the best I’ve had. Click here for directions.
Old Town Scottsdale may be known for its nightlife, but it is also home to several delicious brunch spots like the Breakfast Club, where you’ll find the best of both worlds – a chill coffee shop vibe with brunch food made from local and fresh ingredients. If you aren’t sure what to order, you can never go wrong with their original Ham Bene. Click here for directions.
If you’re looking for classic American food, don’t miss out on Culinary Dropout. This gastropub is known for its pretzel bites, pork ribs, and fried chicken. Combine that with live music and craft beer, and you’re set for a fun dining experience. Additionally, the menu is quite affordable, with sandwiches and entrees ranging from $16-33.
Culinary Dropout is perfectly situated in Old Town Scottsdale. Click here for directions.
Getting to Old Town Scottsdale
The best way to get to Old Town Scottsdale is by flying into one of the two airports in the Phoenix Area; Sky Harbor or Mesa Gateway. After landing at one of these airports, I suggest picking up a rental car and self-driving to Old Town.
Alternatively, you could rely on ride-share like Uber or Lyft or electric scooters parked on many corners. What’s nice about the areas is that once you’re in Old Town, many things are within walking distance from each other. And don’t forget about the free trolley that circles around the Old Town area.
If you’re doing a road trip around Arizona and are driving into Old Town Scottsdale in your own vehicle, it is pretty easy to get to as there are only a few main interstates in the greater Phoenix region.
Things To Do in Old Town Scottsdale: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Old Town Scottsdale:
Old Town is known for its vibrant and walker-friendly downtown, unique shops, exciting nightlife, and countless restaurants.
The best time to visit Old Town Scottsdale is between October and May.
Old Town Scottsdale is definitely worth visiting. It’s the perfect destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties, friend trips, family vacations, and romantic getaways.
You should plan to spend 3 full days exploring Old Town Scottsdale. More if you wish to explore the surrounding areas.
Yes, Old Town Scottsdale is safe. It’s a particularly walkable city, and it’s safe to do so during the day or night. As with anywhere you choose to travel to, use common sense and avoid flashing valuables where unnecessary.
The most popular thing in Old Town Scottsdale is to shop during the day and explore the food and drinks scene at night.
The famous street in Old Town Scottsdale is 5th Ave. It’s lined with unique shops and restaurants to discover.
Scottsdale is the best shopping destination in all of Arizona. It’s home to the Fashion Square Mall and 5th Ave. in Old Town Scottsdale.
Old Town Scottsdale has a little bit of everything for visitors. Get in the outdoors, experience exciting nightlife, and eat at some of the best restaurants in the valley. Combine these with the amazing art scene, and you’re in for one of the best vacations you’ve experienced.