Fun things to do in Scottsdale Arizona
May 3, 2004 6:42 PM   Subscribe

I'll be accompanying my significant other to the Scottsdale, Arizona area for the next few days while she attends a conference. Since I'm just along for the trip, I'll have several days worth of time to fill. I've already looked up the 'best' used book and record stores according to the local weekly. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to spend the remainder of my time (ie sightseeing / attractions / shops)? I'm not very outdoorsy but I'm willing to fake it.
posted by adamkempa to Travel & Transportation around Scottsdale, AZ (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hey Adam... I'm right next door to Scottsdale in Tempe. I dunno what the heck people here do for fun. I mostly mountain bike and eat cheap mexican food -- but let me warn you. It's going to be HOT. Expect daytime temps to go well over 100 this week with a sharp drop after the sun goes down.

Tourism... lesse... The Heard Museum in downtown phx is pretty nice. If you're game for getting up early, there are about a billion nice places to hike. My local faves are Papago park, South Mountain, and the Lost Dutchman's trail area. But really, anywhere you go is gonna be awesome. As long as it's not 2:00 in the afternoon, that is... then it's gonna suck. If you plan on doing stuff outside, bring water.

This is making me feel like I should get out more... I'm not even sure what to suggest. I took in a ballgame here the other day... and that stadium is pretty remarkable, if that's your cup of tea. Tucson, particularly either the airplane graveyard, the titan missle museum, or the desert museum, are all pretty nice daytrip choices from Scottsdale.

Oh well... if you need a recommendation for a good mexican food place for dinner and whatnot, let me know.
posted by ph00dz at 7:17 PM on May 3, 2004

Keep the hotness in mind. It's going to be WAY hot out there, and unless you're a desert rat you won't be prepraed for it.

Stick to mostly indoor activities during the day. Or take a day trip out of Phoenix and head up to Prescott, Sedona, or even Arcosanti (an experience).

At night, I'd wander around downtown Tempe (the Mill Avenue area). Nice shops, Cafe Bola (Boa) has great Italian food.

Definitely rent a car. It's not a transit-friendly area.
posted by answergrape at 7:48 PM on May 3, 2004

Taliesin West is neat, if you're a Frank Lloyd Wright fan at all.

Definitely heed answergrape's advice about the rental car; you're not going anywhere without one, as (if I remember correctly) nothing is close to anything else. And always take water with you everywhere; I was there in August (!!) a few years back and nothing can prepare you for the dry furnace heat of Arizona, if you're not used to it.
posted by arco at 8:04 PM on May 3, 2004

Arizona's tough if you're not into hiking or golfing. The good advice here that I'd second is a) drink lots of water, and b) don't rely on public transportation or on hoofing it: rent the car.

1) For my money, you can do the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and with that, take in all the natural plant life in an hour, without worrying about being stung or bitten or anything. Good times. For me, I'm done with nature after that.

2) If you're interested in getting OUT of scottsdale and doing nature stuff, about three hours south is Kartchner Caverns, which is actually pretty cool. If you go, call ahead; you need tickets. You can then hit Tucson on the way back, which has very nice book/record shops too, as well as nice sandwich shops and breweries. The drive from Tuscon to Phoenix is neat-o too; you get to see something that looks like an abandoned amusement park, oodles of ostriches, and where commercial jets go to die.

3) Maybe you want indoor stuff, maybe you're a museum junkie. Still, Phoenix Art Museum's permanent collection is... meh. I wouldn't go out of my way.

4) The Scottsdale Center for Contemporary Art is equally hit or miss. But it's free on Thursdays, it's at the edge of a nice public park space, and you can get a very good cocktail when you're done at a patio bar next door called AZ88. They also have a Turrell skyspace in that area, which you really ought to park your keister in at least once just before twilight, if you've never done that before.

Apart from that, what ph00dz said. Heard Museum is nice. A ballgame is worthwhile, particularly if you're used to older ballparks. And reconcile yourself to outdoors-y things, or you may be a bit bored.
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:36 PM on May 3, 2004

Response by poster: Wow, tons of great suggestions already. Thanks a lot everyone. What's your favorite mexican food place ph00dz?
posted by adamkempa at 8:45 PM on May 3, 2004

In my opinion anyway, if you want a truly great mexican food experience, you've gotta go to Los Dos Molinos. You'll have to be prepared to get your drink on, as there's generally a wait for a table... but they have excellent margaritas. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is lovely, especially on a nice, summer evening. Depending on where you are in Scottsdale, though, I understand that there a number of pretty good places right in the downtown area. I haven't been there, but the Old Town Tortilla Factory is supposed to have some of the best margaritas in town.
posted by ph00dz at 9:36 PM on May 3, 2004

A follow-up on ph00dz's comments abouut mexican food. I would have recommended the same two restaurants. Old Town Tortilla Factory is nice, and has gorgeous patio dining. They take reservations, and can get pretty busy -- particularly on Friday and Saturday nights-- so you may want to make one. That's right in downtown Scottsdale too. I will say that if you eat there, make certain that you limit yourself to the (really quite good) house specialities on the menu; the rest of the food is really quite pedestrian. For my money, Los Dos Molinos is the better bet, unless a) you're not into spicy foods, (Los Dos makes stuff hot) or b) atmosphere is as important to you as food (OTTF's patio is really really nice). Los Dos is where I usually go when I'm jonesing for good Mexican food.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:41 PM on May 3, 2004

Organ Stop Pizza is good fun.

You can hike Camelback Mountain if you time it right -- very early in the day is probably the best idea (though earlier or later in the year is probably better :). The hike starts easy, ends steep, but really isn't that hard if you're in some kind of aerobic shape and come prepared with good footgear.

Pick up a copy of Arizona Highways, or sift through a few at a library. Even if you never actually visit anywhere in Arizona, it's fabulous reading, and you might stumble on something interesting for the Scottsdale area.

The Phoenix public library had just been completed in 1999 when I was living there, and I thought it was a fabulous place to spend indoors on hot summer days.... cool looking building too.
posted by weston at 11:40 PM on May 3, 2004

If kitch is your thing, "Rawhide 1880s Western Town" (address & phone on this page) is sort of fun, in a really cheesy way.

Also, you could try heading to Old Scottsdale, which is pretty touristy but is right next to a decent gallery district. The area is centered on Scottsdale Rd and Indian School Rd.
posted by me3dia at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2004

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