Backyard bucket list: Scottsdale edition
Maybe it lives in the back of your mind or maybe it’s written down somewhere, like in a journal – but either way, most of us have one: a bucket list. While our global adventures may be on hold, it’s the perfect time to take advantage and appreciate all that can be found right here at home, in your own backyard. From sunset hot air balloon rides over the desert to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, here are five bucket-list-worthy things you can do in Scottsdale.
Sunset hot air ballooning
Fly high and enjoy the breathtaking, 360 views of the varied desert landscape on a hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders or Hot Air Expeditions. Both offer sunrise and sunset flights (vary by month) for picturesque scenery you can’t find anywhere else and an experience so tranquil, it often takes passengers by surprise. We promise, your beloved desert looks different from above!
Off-roading in the Sonoran Desert
Nearly ½ of Scottsdale’s land mass is Open Space, which makes for endless off-roading opportunities and a number of local companies lead adventures through the desert’s rugged terrain. Take the driver’s seat on an ATV tour with Green Zebra Adventures or let the guide take the wheel on Stellar Adventures’ desert Hummer tour, both full of action and excitement.
Immerse yourself in art
Right in our backyard we have a public art program that rivals much larger cities, with nearly 100 permanent pieces throughout the city! Plan a self-guided walking tour or sit back and enjoy a golf cart tour with JoyRidesAZ through Old Town Scottsdale. If you want to beat the heat and stay in your air-conditioned car, follow this driving route for a curated tour of outdoor public art in North Scottsdale. Or, step inside and visit Wonderspaces, a year-round, evolving art show featuring extraordinary artwork from around the world! For a more immersive art experience, visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, his winter home and laboratory. Visitors can take guided tours through the UNESCO World Heritage Site to see Wright’s living quarters, studio, theatre and gardens – even sketches and photos – up-close and personal.
Did you know? Scottsdale boasts more spas per capita than any other U.S. city. We live in a wellness mecca! Indulge in top-notch relaxation and rejuvenation at any one of the city’s resort spas, including The Spa at Camelback Inn, Spa Avania and The Phoenician Spa. Each offer treatment menus with desert-inspired facials, massages and wraps for a uniquely Arizona spa experience and renewal of the body, mind and soul.
Sunrise hiking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Scottsdale protects nearly 31,000 acres of untamed desert land known as the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the largest urban preserve in North America (and fourth largest in the world!) A sunrise hike in the Preserve – when the air is crisp, the land is quiet and there’s views of Saguaro cacti as far as the eye can see – is sure to provide a life-long memory. While many locals are familiar with Gateway Trailhead, did you know there are more than 200 miles of trails to explore?
It’s important – now more than ever – to take time for experiences that push us to new heights (literally!) and energize the spirit. And the best part is, you don’t have to go far. Explore your backyard through the lens of a visitor; it’s pretty rad.