Free Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

If you’re looking for sunshine and sophistication, Scottsdale should be your vacation destination out west. With high-end shopping and innovative dining experiences downtown, along with world-class golfing, serene spas, and a sweeping desert backdrop, Scottsdale has it all. Scottsdale vacation rentals range from cozy condos on luxury golfing resorts, to extravagant modern properties draped in pink bougainvillea, with private pools and whirlpools that really make the most of the year-round sun.

Entertainment and Recreation Around Old Town

“Old Town” Scottsdale is a Phoenix-area hub for nightlife, shopping, and the arts. It is also ripe with activities that can get the blood pumping amid the desert backdrop.

Named after western-style buildings that pack a series of pint-sized blocks, “Old Town” refers to the heart of downtown Scottsdale. The quaint yet charming neighborhood is a hotspot for residents and tourists alike. Trendy boutiques, bars, and cafes are scattered throughout the area, but frequenting these stops can become quite costly.

Those looking to save a few bucks can check out these free things to do in Scottsdale, all within a few miles of Old Town:

Take a Stroll on the Scottsdale Greenbelt

The Scottsdale Greenbelt is a two-lane pedestrian path used by walkers, runners, cyclists, and rollerbladers. The relatively flat and windy trail traverses 25 miles of the city. Within a couple of miles east of downtown Scottsdale, this manicured path meanders through several parks with sand volleyball courts, urban fishing, and Frisbee golf. There are numerous shaded spots for picnics and barbeques.

Chaparral Park Has a Hundred Acres of Recreational Activities

There are many parks with playground equipment, a few barbeques, and grassy fields. Chaparral Park boasts all that and much more across one hundred acres. Located on the northwest corner of Camelback and Hayden Roads, this park features a city pool, dog park, urban fishing, volleyball, basketball, and a 10-station exercise course that connects with the Scottsdale Greenbelt.

Scottsdale ArtWalk Offers Free Entertainment for Art Lovers

The Scottsdale ArtWalk provides an opportunity to visit dozens of diverse art galleries that line the streets of downtown Scottsdale. From 7 to 9 p.m. every Thursday (except Thanksgiving), members of the Scottsdale Gallery Association open their doors along Main Street and Marshall Way in the heart of Old Town. There’s something to suit nearly every taste, from Western and Mexican to modern and abstract.

In addition, to live music and artist receptions, many galleries offer wine and light appetizers for free. The “open house” atmosphere is friendly and sure to spark a lively discussion about various art forms and styles.

Hike Camelback Mountain for an Intense, Scenic Workout

Hikers hankering for a challenging trail can tackle Camelback Mountain near downtown Scottsdale. The 1.2-mile trek up Echo Canyon Trail starts off steep — and doesn’t level off. Hikers navigate sheer, red sandstone cliffs and boulders and encounter plant life typical of the lower Sonoran Desert, including palo verde trees and prickly pear cacti.

The 360-degree views of the Valley are well worth the effort to the top. Multimillion-dollar homes fan away from the base of the mountain into a cityscape sprawling as far as the eye can see.

The trailhead is on Echo Canyon Parkway, just east of Tatum Boulevard off McDonald Drive. The parking lot fills up quickly, so arrive in the early morning to snag a spot.

Free Travel with the Scottsdale Downtown Trolley

Travel in and around Old Town for free with the Scottsdale Downtown Trolley. The 22-passenger, vintage vehicles have wooden seats, leather handhold straps and tinted-glass windows. Stops are dotted throughout all high-traffic areas. Free rides run every 15 minutes, seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursdays, the Trolley runs until 9 p.m. to accommodate folks attending the Scottsdale ArtWalk.

There are many free things to do in Scottsdale that cater to all interests and ages. To learn more money-saving tips in the area, visit Cheap Dating Destinations in Scottsdale.

Scottsdale’s high-end charms

Scottsdale has more spas per capita than anywhere else in the country so, if you’re looking for some serious pampering, Scottsdale will soothe your cares away. The downtown area is also bustling with world-class restaurants and high-end shops. It’s been described as “a desert version of Miami’s South Beach” and there’s a buzzing late night scene in which to indulge. One of the most popular tourist attractions in town is Taliesin West, the winter home of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Its long lines stretch across the desert foothills of the McDowell Mountains to the north of the city.

Galleries, golf and the spirit of the West

Scottsdale enjoys a vibrant arts scene; with events through the year at its many galleries and workshops. Art lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. In “the West’s most Western town”, do make time to explore the Southwest’s Native American cultures at the Heard Museum and breathe the spirit of the frontier at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. If you’re staying at your Scottsdale vacation rental with kids, they’ll be sure to love watching the busy fluttering of bright butterflies at Scottsdale’s Butterfly Wonderland, or seeing the massive dinosaur skeletons at the Arizona Museum of Natural History in nearby Tempe.

Winter sun in Arizona

In Scottsdale, the winters are mild to warm, while summers are scorching hot. In fact, come the summer months, temperatures can easily push into the 90s and early 100s – and this heat means it’s possible to snag a bargain on your Scottsdale vacation rental during this period. By contrast, January through April is peak season in Scottsdale – with the comfortable temperatures drawing in visitors eager for a bit of winter sun. This is the best time to enjoy the golf and the plentiful outdoor activities in this part of Arizona.

A sprawling desert backdrop

Scottsdale is located in the northern reaches of the Sonoran Desert and you can explore the landscape’s charms at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a 30,000-acre pristine desert wilderness to the north of Scottsdale. To see the desert at its most beautiful, head to one of the trailheads at dusk for a sweeping skyscape of oranges and violets, making way for starry desert skies. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers many miles of trails for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Serious hikers and climbers should head to Camelback Mountain or Pinnacle Peak Park to earn stunning mountaintop views.


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