Our 8-day adventure in Arizona started with a flight from San Francisco to Phoenix. From there, we planned to rent a car and start a road trip that would take us to Sedona, Page and finally the Grand Canyon!
We knew we would only have a few hours to spend in Phoenix so we thought it would be better to just focus on one specific area and avoid commuting too much. That’s when Scottsdale popped up as a good option to visit.
Scottsdale is apparently one of the wealthier parts of the Phoenix Metro Area, with high-end shopping malls, golf courses and resorts. We spent most of our time in Old Town Scottsdale, which is an enclave of jewelry & art boutiques as well as bars, cafes and restaurants all within short distance of each other. It really reminded us of Dubai, with a touch of Wild West!
Although it was a short visit, we had a great time in Old Town Scottsdale. Below I gathered a few recommendations below for those who are planning to a short visit like us.
Eat & Drink
Start your day right with a cup of coffee at Cartel Coffee Lab. Nice setting and their coffee is delicious. With plenty of seating area and free wifi, it makes an awesome place to spend an hour or so doing some reading or working on your laptop.
If you’re in search of an even more relaxed atmosphere, make sure you check out Schmooze Coffee & Juice Bar. This place is absolutely gorgeous! It has a patio with beautiful flowers and water fountains, where you can sit and enjoy a juice or refreshing iced tea. When we visited, it was their soft opening and I can already tell this is going to be a popular hangout, no doubt!
For lunch, I can recommend Barrio Queen – it serves amazing Mexican food in a fun atmosphere. Prices are reasonable and food is delicious and fresh.
We loved our casual dinner at Crisp Premium Pizza. A casual joint owned by a couple from New York, they serve grandma style pizza that takes pride in premium quality ingredients. The tomato sauce was really fresh and the crust was as crispy as it can be.
Other restaurants that look promising were Olive & Ivy, serving Mediterranean inspired food in a luxurious setting and Diego Pops, a vibrant & fun Mexican restaurant famous for their tacos and margaritas.
See & Do
If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s numerous hiking trails for different skill levels. Two of the most popular ones are Camelback Mountain (strenuous) and The Gateway Loop in The McDowell Sonoran Preserve (4.5 miles). Whichever you choose to try, make sure you take lots of water and sun protection.
If you prefer to stroll around, be sure to check out the Arts District, an area full of inspiring art galleries and sculptures.
Alternatively, you may want to rent a bike and aimlessly tour around Old Town and alongside the Arizona Canal. We spotted the bike-sharing app LimeBike that offers the first ride for free and a couple of dollars for the 2nd ride onwards. The area is very safe to bike and easy to navigate so this might be a great way to maximize your time there.
We went into Fashion Square on our way back to our hotel so that we could get some cool air. It turns out we left the mall with 3-4 new clothing items – oops! This place has all the well-known brands like H&M, ZARA, Forever 21 and also lots of smaller brands. Perfect place to get any last minute items before moving onto the next destination!
(Fun fact: the Fashion Square Mall is apparently one of the biggest malls in the United States!)
If you are into crafts or jewelry, check out E 5th Avenue where you will find lots of interesting local boutiques (some of them sell mass-produced native american crafts that don’t look very authentic, so make sure you peruse well before you buy)
On this trip we decided to stay at Motel 6 as we were staying for just one night on our way to Sedona. It was simple, convenient and safe – and that’s all we needed. If you’re looking for a budget option near Old Town Scottsdale, look no further!
Old Town Scottsdale was a pleasant surprise for us who set foot in Arizona for the first time ahead of a long road trip. Would love to be back and explore more next time!
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