Set in the Salt River Valley at the base of the McDowell Mountains, Scottsdale is often thought of as a destination for luxury resorts, golf and wellness. But this city offers a thriving art scene, outstanding culinary choices and plenty of outdoor adventure.

Day 1

Soleri Bridge, photograph by Halie Sutton/Experience Scottsdale.

Morning: Start with breakfast at JOJO Coffeehouse, where you can build your own omelette or opt for lighter fare, such as the avocado toast. After, walk to East Main Street to explore more than 30 galleries, including the Gebert Contemporary Art Gallery, which showcases abstract paintings and sculptures by international and emerging artists.

Afternoon: Stroll along the picturesque Scottsdale Waterfront and admire the Soleri Bridge and Plaza, the city’s most impressive public art project. This striking pedestrian bridge was designed by famed Italian architect Paolo Soleri and spans the Arizona Canal.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, photograph by Constance Higley.

Evening: Enjoy JoyRidesAz’s three-hour Sizzling Culinary Dinner Tour featuring three local eateries. A professional guide will escort you via golf cart through six districts, where you’ll savour Scottsdale’s sights, history and delicious food alongside local beer and wine.

Day 2

Cholla Trail, photograph by Mountain Shadows/Experience Scottsdale.

Morning: Beat the crowds, and heat, with a sunrise hike up Camelback Mountain. Drive to Invergordon Road, where you’ll find parking, then walk 800 metres to the Cholla Trail. This roughly five-kilometre trek is not for novices, but the panoramic views of Scottsdale and Phoenix are breathtaking—be sure to carry water and sunscreen.

Afternoon: Head to Old Town for an early lunch at The Mission, a restaurant and bar serving modern Latin fare. Order the guacamole and fish tacos, and wash it down with a pomegranate margarita. After, browse the charming shops nearby.

Guacamole at The Mission, photograph by Halie Sutton.

Evening: Explore downtown’s Scottsdale Wine Trail on foot and visit six tasting rooms. Begin with the sauvignon blanc at Salvatore Vineyards, and then make a clockwise loop to finish with a syrah at Carlson Creek Vineyards. Later, dine at FnB, an acclaimed, vegetable-centric eatery helmed by chef Charleen Badman.

Day 3

Morning: Grab an artisan bagel at New Wave Market before driving to Taliesin West, once architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter residence and studio. Book a guided tour to experience this UNESCO site and National Historic Landmark in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains.

Afternoon: Spend your afternoon at the impressive Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Divergent Materiality: Contemporary Glass Art runs through Oct. 13, and Aakash Nihalani’s Back Round, an interactive installation using everything from masking tape to metal, is on exhibit until Oct. 20.

Museum of Contemporary Art, photograph by An Pham.

Evening: Drive 15 minutes northwest of downtown for dinner at elements, an upscale restaurant serving Asian-accented fare in the Sanctuary Resort on Camelback Mountain. Revel in the Charred Edamame, Asian Oyster Rockefeller and Korean BBQ Short Ribs as you watch the stunning sunset in Paradise Valley.

Upcoming Events in Scottsdale

Here are festivals celebrating contemporary and public art during the months of October and November.

Scottsdale Contemporary Month

Oct. 26 to Nov. 25

Take part in the bevy of art and design events happening throughout the city. On the 26th, kick off festivities with the Larsen Art Auction and bid on pieces by contemporary artists.

Canal Convergence

Canal Convergence.

Nov. 8 to 17

During this free, 10-day event, artists from around the world showcase 10 large-scale public art projects along the Arizona Canal. Attend workshops and performances or try an art tour by bike.

[This story appears in the October 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]