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Top 10 Spring Activities in Scottsdale


As the winter chill gives way to the warmth of spring, Scottsdale, Arizona, emerges as a beacon for travelers and locals alike, looking for the perfect blend of outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, and relaxation. Spring in Scottsdale is not just a season; it's a vibrant celebration of life, with the desert landscape bursting into bloom and the city buzzing with activities and events catering to every interest. Whether you're a nature enthusiast eager to explore the trails, an art aficionado looking to immerse in the local culture, or someone seeking to unwind in luxury, Scottsdale offers a springtime experience unlike any other.

This guide to the top 10 spring activities in Scottsdale is designed to help you make the most of this glorious season. From hiking in the pristine McDowell Sonoran Preserve to attending the eclectic Scottsdale Arts Festival, and savoring the outdoor dining scene, there's something for everyone. Each activity is chosen not only for its unique appeal but also for its ability to connect you with the heart and soul of Scottsdale. So, pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to discover the myriad ways to celebrate spring in Scottsdale.

1. Hiking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Spring in Scottsdale is synonymous with hiking, thanks to the city's crown jewel, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This vast, protected desert habitat spans over 30,500 acres and offers more than 200 miles of trails designed for all levels of hikers. In spring, the preserve comes alive with a colorful display of wildflowers, cacti blooms, and wildlife, making it a prime time for nature lovers to hit the trails.

Among the most popular trails is the Gateway Loop, a moderate hike that offers stunning views of the McDowell Mountains and the surrounding desert. For those seeking a bit more challenge, Tom's Thumb Trail is a rewarding choice, leading hikers to a distinctive granite formation with panoramic vistas. First-time visitors should consider bringing plenty of water, sunscreen, and a camera to capture the breathtaking scenery. The best times to visit are early morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are cooler and the landscape is bathed in golden light.

2. Attending the Scottsdale Arts Festival

Each spring, the Scottsdale Arts Festival transforms the downtown area into a vibrant celebration of art, music, and creativity. This multi-day event showcases the works of hundreds of national and international artists, ranging from painting and sculpture to jewelry and photography. But it's not just about visual art; the festival also features live music performances, gourmet food trucks, and interactive workshops, making it a perfect outing for families and art lovers alike.

To fully enjoy the festival, plan to spend a day exploring the various exhibits, and don't miss the opportunity to chat with the artists about their work. Participating in a workshop or watching a live performance adds another layer to the experience, offering insights into the creative process and the chance to engage with the arts in a hands-on way. With something to capture every imagination, the Scottsdale Arts Festival is a testament to the city's thriving cultural scene and a must-visit spring activity.

3. Exploring Old Town Scottsdale

Spring is the perfect season to wander through the charming streets of Old Town Scottsdale, where the past and the present blend seamlessly. This historic heart of the city is brimming with unique boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants that offer a taste of the local culture and cuisine. As you stroll through the area, the mild spring weather complements the exploration of Scottsdale’s Western heritage, showcased in its architecture and public art installations.

One of the highlights of Old Town is its thriving art scene. The Scottsdale Arts District is home to numerous galleries that feature contemporary and Native American art, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Thursday night art walks are a community staple, inviting visitors to enjoy the cool evening air while discovering the diverse artistic offerings. For those interested in the culinary arts, Old Town's dining scene is unmatched, with options ranging from cozy cafes to upscale restaurants, all offering patios to enjoy the spring ambiance.

4. Golfing at Premier Courses

Scottsdale is a golfer's paradise, especially in spring when the weather is ideal for hitting the links. The city boasts more than 200 golf courses, offering stunning desert landscapes and designs by some of the sport’s most renowned architects. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced golfer, Scottsdale’s courses provide challenges and pleasures in equal measure.

For those looking to play where the pros have, TPC Scottsdale hosts the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open and offers an unforgettable golfing experience. Meanwhile, courses like Troon North and Grayhawk Golf Club offer breathtaking views and immaculate fairways that blend with the natural desert surroundings. Booking a tee time in advance is advisable, especially in the spring season, when the demand is high. Many clubs also offer golf academies and clinics, perfect for those looking to improve their game in a picturesque setting.

5. Spa Day at Luxury Resorts

After a day of adventure or exploring, there’s no better way to unwind than by indulging in a spa day at one of Scottsdale’s luxury resorts. Spring is the ideal time to take advantage of outdoor treatment areas where you can enjoy massages, facials, and body treatments in the midst of serene desert beauty. Many of Scottsdale's spas incorporate native elements, such as local herbs and mineral-rich clay, into their treatments, offering a unique and revitalizing experience.

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and the Boulders Resort & Spa are just a couple of the destinations known for their exceptional spa services. These resorts not only provide a wide range of treatments but also access to saunas, steam rooms, and meditation spaces, ensuring a holistic wellness experience. Booking in advance is recommended, especially for specialty treatments or packages that offer the full luxury spa experience.

6. Desert Botanical Garden Visit

A visit to the Desert Botanical Garden is a must for anyone in Scottsdale during the spring. This 140-acre garden is a living museum, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the desert plant life, with more than 50,000 plants on display. Spring is particularly special as it brings an explosion of color with wildflowers and cacti blossoms, providing a spectacular backdrop for leisurely walks and photography.

The Garden hosts a variety of events and exhibits throughout the spring, including the Butterfly Exhibit where visitors can walk among hundreds of fluttering butterflies in a specially designed pavilion. Guided tours are also available, offering insights into the desert ecosystem and the opportunity to learn about the conservation efforts. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the Desert Botanical Garden offers a unique and enriching experience.

7. Hot Air Balloon Rides

Experience Scottsdale from an entirely new perspective with a hot air balloon ride. Spring offers the perfect conditions for ballooning, with clear skies and mild temperatures creating the ideal setting for floating above the desert landscape. Witnessing the sunrise or sunset from the basket of a hot air balloon provides breathtaking views of the mountains, desert, and city below.

Safety is paramount, and Scottsdale's reputable ballooning companies ensure a memorable and secure experience. Most rides conclude with a traditional champagne toast, adding a touch of celebration to the adventure. For those seeking romance, a private balloon ride offers an intimate experience, while group flights provide a fun way to meet new people. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during the spring months when demand is high.

8. Outdoor Dining and Rooftop Bars

Scottsdale's spring weather is perfect for outdoor dining and enjoying the vibrant nightlife at rooftop bars. The city's culinary scene comes alive in the spring, with restaurants offering seasonal menus that feature fresh, local ingredients. Rooftop bars provide not only delicious cocktails but also stunning views of the desert landscape and starlit skies.

For a memorable dining experience, check out the Mission Old Town for modern Latin cuisine in a chic setting with outdoor seating. If you're looking for panoramic views, the Rooftop Lounge at the Hotel Valley Ho offers a retro-modern vibe perfect for enjoying the sunset. Reservations are a good idea to secure the best spots, especially on weekends.

9. Horseback Riding Tours

Embrace the spirit of the Southwest with a horseback riding tour through Scottsdale's picturesque landscape. Spring is the perfect time for such an adventure, as the cooler temperatures and blooming desert flora create an unforgettable setting for riders of all levels. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced equestrian, Scottsdale offers a variety of trails that showcase the rugged beauty of the Sonoran Desert, complete with majestic saguaro cacti and colorful wildflowers.

Local stables and ranches offer guided tours that can take you through the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, along the banks of the Salt River, or through the Tonto National Forest. These tours provide not just a ride, but a journey into the history and ecology of the region, often led by guides with deep knowledge of the area. For a truly unique experience, consider a sunset ride, where the fading light paints the desert in shades of gold and crimson.

10. Wine Tasting at Local Vineyards

Scottsdale may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of wine, but its proximity to Arizona's burgeoning wine regions makes it a hidden gem for oenophiles. Spring is an ideal time for wine tasting, as the weather is perfect for visiting the vineyards and tasting rooms that are just a short drive from the city. The Verde Valley, Sonoita, and Willcox are among the wine regions accessible from Scottsdale, each offering a distinct experience with a variety of Arizona wines.

In Scottsdale itself, wine bars and tasting rooms provide a curated selection of local and international wines, paired with expert knowledge from sommeliers. Places like Carlson Creek Vineyard Tasting Room and LDV Winery Tasting Room offer intimate settings for discovering new favorites. Many venues also host wine tasting events in the spring, providing the perfect opportunity for enthusiasts to deepen their appreciation of wine in a social setting.


Scottsdale in spring is a treasure trove of experiences, blending natural beauty, cultural richness, and luxurious relaxation. From the adventurous spirit of hiking and hot air ballooning to the serene enjoyment of spa days and garden visits, there's something for everyone in this vibrant city. As the days grow longer and the desert comes alive with color, Scottsdale invites visitors to explore its many wonders.

Whether you're drawn to the artistic vibrancy of the Scottsdale Arts Festival, the culinary delights of outdoor dining, or the tranquil beauty of a horseback ride through the desert, Scottsdale offers a springtime experience that is both unique and unforgettable. So, pack your sunscreen, bring your sense of adventure, and discover all that this desert oasis has to offer. With so many ways to enjoy the season, a spring visit to Scottsdale promises memories that will last a lifetime.

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