27 Things to Do When You’re in Scottsdale on Business
Heading to Scottsdale, Arizona for a business trip?
You’re about to visit the West’s Most Western Town.
Since Winfield Scott started farming the town in 1888, Scottsdale has undergone a rich and varied growth. Today, this old ag city is a thriving business epicenter in Arizona.
Of course, where tourism and industry are, culture and entertainment follow.
Whether you’re looking to grab a quick bite during work hours or want to sightsee in your downtime, here are the popular must-sees in the “old west” city of Scottsdale.
Table of Contents
1. How to Get Around Scottsdale
2. Getting Familiar With Downtown Scottsdale
3. Exploring the Outdoors? Check Out These Must-Sees
4. Stay Cool
5. Looking for an Adventure in Scottsdale? Try These Thrills
6. Places to Eat and Entertain in Scottsdale
How to Get Around Scottsdale
There’s no shortage of things to do in the area, but before you start your itinerary planning, you need to know how you’ll get around.
The main industry in Scottsdale is tourism, so you will find several modes of transportation. Your exploration range is limited only to your preferred form of travel.
From walking and biking to public transportation, Scottsdale has you covered.
If you prefer to drive yourself, you can rent a car at the Phoenix Airport (PHX). Since this airport is the main hub for travelers headed to major destinations like Sedona and the Grand Canyon, it’s served by all major rental companies like Enterprise, Hertz and Budget.
It’s a quick 15-mile trip from PHX to Downtown Scottsdale, so many corporate travelers prefer to book a rideshare or hail a taxi upon arrival. Depending on where you’re going, Ubers are affordable at around $20 one-way. This website walks you through ordering a rideshare and where to go for pick-up based on your terminal.
Public Transportation and Green-Friendly Alternatives
If rideshares aren’t your thing, or you prefer public transportation, you have a variety of choices. Jump on the Scottsdale trolley for free, and ride it to any of its multiple stops in the greater Phoenix metro area. Take the Valley Metro transit system with bus service to and throughout Scottsdale.
Want to get around sustainably, but more on your own schedule?
You’ll find e-mobility hubs for bike rentals, scooter rentals and Segway tours centrally located around the city. Rent them by the hour or by the day.
Scottsdale is pedestrian-friendly, particularly if you hang out in the Downtown area. Whether you want to stay close to your hotel or explore the city, you’ll be able to get there by private or public transport.
Getting Familiar With Downtown Scottsdale
Downtown Scottsdale is called Old Town Scottsdale, and that’s probably where you’ll be staying while you’re in the city on business.
Despite the name, Old Town is quite modern. It’s a hip, urban center full of shopping, restaurants, hotels and nightlife.
If you only plan on staying in this part of town and walking the neighborhood, that’s perfectly okay. You could spend all your free time in Old Town without running out of things to do and see.
Within a short walk of most of the business hotels, there are delicious restaurants, delightful shopping centers and a hotbed of culture and nightlife. Here are some of the can’t-miss favorites popular with visitors and locals.
Restaurants in Old Town
What are you craving? Whatever it is, it’s on the menu in Old Town somewhere!
Check out these crowd favorites and make your list of must-try eateries.
Evo is locally owned and run by chefs specializing in handmade pasta, sauces and flavorful meats. This restaurant is a winner for a work meeting or end-of-the-day unwinding.
Located inside a wine show, this bistro offers a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy while you sample the unusual dishes on the menu.
The Breakfast Club
It commands the same cult following among locals as its movie namesake does with children of the 80s. Visit this spot for delicious, strong coffee, all-day breakfast meals, and a wide array of other menu choices.
Bourbon and Bones
A steakhouse specializing in prime cuts of meat, hip music and cocktails. The vibe is perfect for your corporate tribe.
Farm and Craft
Healthy menu selections are straight from the farm to your table. From breakfast foods to tasty sides and dinners, Farm and Craft proves nutritious can be delicious.
Ready to do some serious window shopping or load up on souvenirs and Old West memorabilia? The Old Town shopping centers have it all. The buildings date back to the 1920s but offer everything modern-day shoppers desire.
Old Town Scottsdale’s shopping district houses more than 150 shops and restaurants catering to every budget and taste. Authentic Mexican and Native American arts and crafts are available, as are high-end luxury boutiques.
Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall is another shopper’s paradise. Over 200 brand-name stores and restaurants are in this indoor plaza, as well as a movie theater.
Culture and Nightlife
Old Town is home to plenty of pubs, speakeasies and cocktail bars. When you’re ready to let down your hair and unwind from a day of meetings, head to Citizen Public House for dinner and a drink in this original gastropub.
Transport yourself back into the Prohibition Era with a trip to Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar. This speakeasy is only accessible through an unmarked back door. Once you’re inside, enjoy wine, whiskey and a meal in a timeless environment.
Dancing under the stars is on the menu each weekend at AZ/88. Thirty years in business have given this bar time to perfect their martinis and other drinks. If you need a place to relax, patio seating is waiting for you.
Booking for a group? See the answers to common questions here.
Exploring the Outdoors? Check Out These Must-Sees
Scottsdale is smack dab in the Sonoran Desert. The sunsets are gorgeous, the panoramas are majestic and the places to see them are endless.
Lovers of the outdoors will want to visit the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, MacDonald’s Ranch and the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park while staying in Scottsdale.
The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Preserve
This preserve includes over 30,000 acres stewarded by an organization called the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. The area is permanently protected as a southwest wildlife conservation center. Its desert habitat remains untouched by motorized vehicles.
Located at the foot of the McDowell Mountains, the gateway trailhead of the preserve leads to more than 225 miles of interconnected hiking, biking, and horse riding trails. Coming from Downtown Scottsdale, it’s about a 16-mile drive to reach the preserve.
You knew Old MacDonald had a farm, but in Scottsdale, he’s got a ranch. Corporate groups often send their travelers to MacDonald’s Ranch for horseback riding gatherings and team-building activities with a little Wild West atmosphere.
The venue provides individual and group tours for horse riding, petting zoo experiences and more. A hop, skip and jump from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, you can visit both of these when you have a full-day break or plan a company event with your colleagues.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
A quick three-mile jaunt from Downtown Scottsdale brings you to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Operated by the Scottsdale Parks and Recreation Department, this park’s 30 acres boast all things railroad-related. It’s a one-of-a-kind park where you can see a 1950 vintage carousel, ride on the original Paradise & Pacific Railroad or visit themed museums.
Shops and restaurants dot the park. Playgrounds provide something to occupy little ones, and the open space is ideal for picnics and naps in the fresh air. Check the Park Events page to find out what’s going on here during your stay.
Trails are all over Scottsdale. When you want to hit a relatively easy hiking path, try Pinnacle Peak Park. It’s an out-and-back trail that’s a little under 2 miles long, and you can get to the trailhead from town in less than twenty minutes.
Related: 19 Things To Do In Tempe on Business
The Arizona desert is known for its extreme temperatures. While you’re in Scottsdale, you might prefer to explore indoor culture over the scalding heat outside.
For a bit of natural charm without the beating sun, take the 7-mile ride to Butterfly Wonderland. This indoor rainforest paradise showcases dozens of species of this beautiful flying creature. You’ll also learn about how other types of insects (as well as fish and birds) interact.
Interested in architecture that puts a unique spin on the “Old West” feel?
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West home does the trick. Fifteen miles away from the heart of Scottsdale, this building was the famous architect and scholar’s winter home and desert laboratory. Built in 1937, it’s as unique as the desert landscape around it.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Explore exhibits related to design, history, architecture and modern art without leaving Old Town. The museum is a short walk from Downtown Scottsdale and perfect for spending a couple of hours between meetings.
Other popular indoor attractions include:
- Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
- Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
- The Desert Botanical Garden
- Penske Racing Museum
Some attractions are slightly outside Scottsdale, nearer to Phoenix.
Looking for an Adventure in Scottsdale? Try These Thrills
Maybe shopping, self-guided outdoor activities and relaxing afternoons are too tame for you. You’re looking for thrills and adventure while you’re in the desert. Luckily, Scottsdale has you taken care of here, too!
What better way to explore this land of coyotes and cacti than taking an ATV ride or mountain biking trek? These guided tours last anywhere from two to four hours and take you through the wilds of the Sonoran Desert.
There’s nothing like a hot air balloon ride over the desert — if it’s not already, this should definitely be on your bucket list. If you have a few hours early in the morning, schedule a sunrise balloon ride with one of the many reputable companies in Scottsdale. It might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Places to Eat and Entertain in Scottsdale
In between your work schedule and your leisure planning, you need to eat, and Scottsdale is known for its unique dining venues. Branch out and try new cuisines, or find your favorite comfort meals. There’s something for everyone within the city limits.
Whether you’re on your own, with colleagues or entertaining a client, these restaurants are winners:
This exclusive restaurant is a go-to for corporate meetings. If you’re aiming to impress a client, the ambiance, cocktails and elevated fare here will help you meet that goal.
Located on the luxury side of the Scottsdale Fashion Square, Francine is all about le midi. If French cuisine and atmosphere appeal to you, you’ll love Francine.
The Beverly on Main
The locals choose to hang out at The Beverly, and so should you. The cocktail lounge’s menu is full of upscale varieties of American comfort food, and on the weekends, a DJ handles live music and entertainment.
For upscale, organic Mexican fare, including vegan options, visit Toca Madera. Sit with your colleagues or clients and sip on an exquisitely crafted mezcal cocktail while you relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
Top of the Rock
Looking for breathtaking views while dining on five-star recipes? Head to Top of the Rock, located at Marriott Phoenix Resort Tempe at The Buttes. It’s a little outside Scottsdale, but the panoramic view of the valley and the meals are worth every mile.
It’s not hard to find an incredible restaurant to wine and dine in Scottsdale. Narrowing it down to just one is where the struggles are real!
See also: Should You Book a Hotel or Motel?
A visit to Scottsdale is always a treat, even on a business trip. When you can squeeze out some time in your busy schedule, there’s more than enough in this gorgeous desert town to keep you occupied.
Tour the scenic and historic Old Town as you meander down the streets with specialty delicacies like ice cream or coffee. Hit the gift shop and bring home presents to your loved ones.
In Scottsdale, there’s always something to see and do.
Cara Meglio is a Copywriter at Hotel Engine. She assists with content creation, researching and writing articles to help businesses improve their travel experience and discover helpful solutions with Hotel Engine. Cara has a passion for travel of all types. Based in Denver, CO, Cara loves exploring the Mountain West as well as international destinations.