Scottsdale’s lush desert landscape and scenic views offer endless opportunities for socially distanced outdoor adventure — no matter the season. Best known for attractions and activities such as luxury spas, desert tours, golf courses, national parks and top notch restaurants, the city has grown as one of the most popular destinations on the West Coast, but even much so in a pandemic when people are looking for secluded destinations with plenty of activities and offerings. Needless to say, Scottsdale has got many of us hooked!
And if outdoor adventures aren’t your thing, there are also plenty of opportunities for distanced lounging poolside at exquisite resorts that are a minimum capacity, not to mention, eating outdoors at fine dining restaurants, where many offer some amazing views.
There’s no doubt that the destination has something to offer for anybody, and we’ve included a guide below on how to spend an idyllic baecation, girlfriend getaway or family vacation in Scottsdale.
Road tripping throughout Arizona is perhaps one of the best things about your visit to Scottsdale. Not only do you get to take in the scenic views, it’s a great option for those who are trying to avoid public transit during the pandemic. But if you do choose to get to Scottsdale by air, Phoenix airport is the closest choice, while nearby drivable surrounding destinations include Sedona or the Grand Canyon.
One you’ve arrived, you’ll want to make Mountain Shadows your home base, as it’s perfectly nestled below Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain. As one of the newest properties in town, there’s an enhanced level of sanitization at the boutique resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Adjacent to Scottsdale, the property features 183 guest rooms, a luxury wing with 42 resort condominiums and suites, a restaurant with an exhibition kitchen, two pools, a high-tech fitness facility, and a fully revamped 18-hole short course. If you’re more into mid-century modern architecture, Hotel Valley Ho is a true icon in downtown Scottsdale and has hosted the likes of Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 50s and 60s. The property features 241 rooms including luxurious suites in The Tower, VH Spa for Vitality + Health, hip meeting and event space, the serene Oasis Pool, and seasonal American cuisine at ZuZu and the ZuZu Lounge. The best part about both of them? You won’t have to worry about troves and troves of other guests, if safety is your concern.
After some rest and relaxation, you’ll want to get some “me time” in at one of the surrounding spas, which is what Scottsdale is most known for. At the top of your list will be Spa Lamar, a one-stop spa shop where guests can achieve all of their health, beauty, and wellness goals in one very relaxing place. As Arizona’s oldest and largest resort-style day spa, massages, facials, and body treatments include all-day use of steam, sauna, pool, and whirlpool at no extra charge. And the co-ed setting lets couples steam, soak, sauna, and swim together. The best part? You can rent out the entire spa for yourself and loved ones, to make it a perfect pod-destination for those worried about interactions with other guests.
After a day of traveling, you’ll want to get some grub in, and the most obvious choice would be at Mountain Shadows. Hearth ’61 serves seasonal American fare both indoors and outdoors, that is rich in tradition. Renowned Chef Charles Wiley takes his inspiration from the beautiful flavors of local and organic ingredients, crafting food that is delightful in its simplicity.
You’ll wake up, and the first thing that should be on your agenda is seeing the beautiful Sonoran Desert from 5,000 feet above ground. Hot air ballooning is a wonderfully fun and surprisingly tranquil experience for visitors of all ages — especially romance and thrill seekers (what doesn’t say adventure than floating into the sky in a 10 person basket?). Hot Air Expeditions ballooning is a wonderfully fun and surprisingly tranquil experience for visitors of all ages. Don’t think that you need to wake up at the crack of dawn for an awesome hot air balloon adventure either. Afternoon flights also provide magnificent views of desert terrain and towering mountain ranges, as well as the opportunity to spot local plant life and wildlife. The best part, you’ll even be served with breakfast hors d’oeuvres and champagne following your sunrise flight (because when they say it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, AM counts too!).
The next stop is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a protected area of land consisting of Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountains and Sonoran Desert. In May 2009, the Gateway Trailhead opened as the main entrance into the preserve, welcoming hikers of every physical ability level. Whether you want to hike your own adventure, or go on a guided tour, Wild Bunch Desert Guides offers an opportunity for exploring this special piece of land.
After leaving McDowell Sonoran Preserve, you’ll surely work up an appetite. Stratta Kitchen is a brand new, casual counter service restaurant from the mind of James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Stratta. The standalone restaurant serves up fresh, seasonal Mediterranian food for lunch and dinner daily.
Rise and shine! Scottsdale isn’t going to explore itself on your last day. But first things first: breakfast. You’ll want to head to Farm & Craft for some healthy and sustainable food in a community-style atmosphere to fuel the day ahead. The restaurant boasts a seasonal wellness menu featuring four paths to optimal health, including an anti-inflammatory diet, increasing probiotic levels, maintaining high levels of antioxidants and reducing your overall stress — perfect for those wanting to make healthy options while traveling.
From there it’s time to enjoy an exhilarating day in the famous Sonoran Desert, off-roading on some of the best trails in the stunning Bradshaw Mountains, located on the northern edge of Phoenix. Arizona Outdoor Fun’s 2-hour ATV adventure showcases the rugged desert wilderness with trails that feel like dirt roller coasters. And it’s perfect for capturing those pictures for the ‘gram too.
The final day in Scottsdale calls for an extraordinary departure dinner. Perfect for curious foodies, ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho serves up imaginative shared plates from Executive Chef Russell LaCasce and colorful cocktails in a stylish, mid-century modern space complete with a sleek bar and shaded patio. Your final moments will be spent sipping perfectly curated cocktails and toasting to a 3-days well spent.