A Local’s Guide to Scottsdale, Arizona

Seth Heald, owner of Arizona Outback Adventures, shares his favourite spots, from happy hour to outdoor exploration. 
 

Mountain biking through the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Photo by Jill Richards.

Originally from Charlottetown, P.E.I., Seth Heald moved to Arizona to study at Arizona State University. He soon got hooked on the area’s warm, sunny climate and decided to start his own adventure guiding outfit in Scottsdale: Arizona Outback Adventures. Here are some of his desert-city favourites.

Best restaurant

The Vig. The Vig Burger or the Pad Thai are my favourites. [The McDowell Mountain location] has fantastic views of the mountains, it’s convenient to a lot of the outdoor activities that my wife and I like to do and it’s a great place to go after a hike or bike—it’s got a relaxed vibe so you can show up in your hiking or biking clothes.”

How to get around

“By bike. There’s a type of riding for everyone here, from the paved paths that connect north Scottsdale to Old Town Scottsdale—and even as far south as Tempe—to the more than 100 miles of single-track mountain bike trails. It’s just easy to get around the city by bike, and for the most part, it’s not very hilly.”

Educational attraction

“I like visiting the Phoenix Herpetological Society—I’ve been fascinated by reptiles and amphibians since I was a kid.”

Happy hour

Four Peaks Grill and Tap is a popular spot for happy hour after work. It’s got a fun vibe, the service is always great and I think they have the best beer in Arizona. My favourite is the Hop Knot, an IPA.”

Local gem

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Many people don’t realize that over a third of Scottsdale’s land area is a mountain and desert preserve, and there are hundreds of miles of trail through it. You can have a true wilderness experience with only a 15-minute drive from your hotel.”

Top day trip

“Tucson is a great destination with a ton of diversity. The history there is fascinating, and it has the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is an amazing outdoor zoo. And be sure to take a drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. You can experience every ecosystem that exists between Mexico and Alaska all in one short drive.”

Getting there: WestJet flies to Phoenix 55 times a week from eight Canadian cities, and to Mesa three times a week from Calgary and Edmonton.

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