Come springtime in Scottsdale, visitors flock here for Cactus League spring training. With 15 MLB teams playing at 10 stadiums around town, it’s easy to keep busy watching your favorite boys of summer lose their winter doldrums. But one does not live by baseball alone—especially not in Scottsdale. Here are some of the best things to do, see, and eat around town.
Things to Do
Scottsdale’s crown jewel is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, 30,000 acres of pristine desert and mountains at the city’s northeastern edge. Multiple trailheads access 225-plus miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails, which range from short nature walks to all-day loops up and down steep switchbacks. For a group with varying stamina, try the Marcus Landslide trail, a 3.6-mile out-and-back trek with killer views, interpretive signage about area geology, and enough of a gentle incline to feel like you’re getting a workout. Bonus: If the winter rain gods smile, spring wildflowers abound.
To balance out the baseball, look to Scottsdale’s troika of cultural pillars, starting with Taliesin West. Frank Lloyd Wright established his winter home and architectural community here in 1937, creating a campus of angular, desert-integrated buildings at the base of the McDowell Mountains. A variety of tours are offered, but you can’t go wrong with the twice-monthly outdoor happy hours or the serene yoga, tai chi, or meditation programs.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) is a modern downtown building with four galleries and a lounge that showcase often-edgy art, architecture, and design with ever-changing exhibitions. After a tour of the museum, head to the courtyard to sit a spell in artist James Turrell’s “Knight Rise” installation, a room-like setting with ceiling opening that offers a meditative look at the heavens.
Not far away, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is filled to the brim with everything from cowboy artifacts and Hopi pottery to art by Western masters such as Maynard Dixon, Thomas Moran, and Edward S. Curtis. And, yes, you should gladly exit through the gift shop for cool Western-inspired fashions, jewelry, home accessories, and books.