Must-See Scottsdale: A List of Major Sites

Nestled in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale, Arizona, is a city known for its posh resorts, vibrant art scenes, and extensive outdoor activities. While the well-trodden paths to places like Old Town Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art are famous, there’s a hidden side to this desert city that many visitors—and even some locals—rarely explore. Here’s a guide to some off-the-beaten-path destinations in Scottsdale that promise unique experiences and serene beauty away from the usual crowds.

1. McDowell Sonoran Preserve’s Lesser-Known Trails

While the Gateway Loop Trail receives its fair share of foot traffic, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve holds over 200 miles of trails that range from easy strolls to challenging hikes. Trails like the Tom’s Thumb Trail offer breathtaking views and a peaceful atmosphere without the bustling crowds. For those interested in both solitude and scenery, the less frequented East End Trail reaches the highest point in the preserve, offering panoramic views of the valley.

2. Pinnacle Peak Park’s Quiet Corners

Pinnacle Peak is a local favorite, but not all who visit take the time to explore its less popular routes and lookout points. Instead of sticking to the main trail, try branching off to some of the side paths that offer beautiful desert flora, interesting rock formations, and quiet spots perfect for contemplation or a picnic away from other hikers.

3. Xeriscape Garden at Chaparral Park

This hidden gem within Chaparral Park showcases a stunning variety of desert landscaping. The Xeriscape Garden is not only a sanctuary for those interested in botany and sustainable landscaping but also a peaceful retreat for visitors seeking a assisted living scottsdale moment of tranquility. The garden’s winding paths and shaded benches make it an ideal spot for escaping the afternoon heat.

4. Cosanti Originals

While many tour Paolo Soleri’s architectural achievements at Arcosanti, his Scottsdale studio, Cosanti, tends to remain under the radar. Visitors can explore the earth-formed concrete structures and the famous bronze bell foundries. Cosanti offers a glimpse into the innovative mind of Soleri, where architecture and ecology blend seamlessly.

5. Scottsdale’s Museum of the West’s Back Galleries

While the main exhibitions at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West capture most of the attention, the back galleries often feature rotating exhibits that many miss. These galleries highlight lesser-known aspects of Western American history, featuring everything from Native American artifacts to rare cowboy memorabilia.

6. The Simple Farm

Venture just a bit north of downtown Scottsdale to discover The Simple Farm, an operational farm that opens its gates to the public on market days. Visitors can purchase organic produce, locally made caramel, and fresh-cut flowers, all while enjoying the pastoral setting rarely found so close to the city.

7. Solstice Park

Newly opened, Solstice Park remains relatively undiscovered by most of Scottsdale’s residents and visitors. The park offers stunning landscapes, interactive art installations, and star gazing platforms that align perfectly with solar events. It’s a quiet place to enjoy nature’s beauty and the celestial wonders.


8. Rusty Spur Saloon’s Off-Hours

The Rusty Spur Saloon is a well-known Scottsdale landmark, but visiting during off-hours allows for a more relaxed experience. Early afternoons offer the same authentic Old West ambiance without the evening crowds, making it a perfect time to soak in the historical atmosphere and enjoy some live local music.