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In Arizona, Scottsdale is a popular desert city that’s known for its ritzy golf courses, luxurious resorts, vibrant nightlife, and endless spa treatments. Furthermore, Scottsdale is also one of the most popular cities for bachelorette parties. Only Nashville hosts more bachelorette parties in the USA!
In nearby Tempe, Arizona State University fuels Scottsdale’s youthful and energetic vibe on weekends.
So, unsurprisingly due to Scottsdale’s popularity, prices here are high, high, and high.
Peak season prices will literally make your jaw drop onto the floor. If you have cash to burn, you can seriously spend your entire salary on resort fees, swanky outdoor activities, and all day spas.
And I wouldn’t judge you for it. Live your truth.
Yet, I’m sure as you’re reading this post, you’re wondering whether or not Scottsdale is even a good destination for solo travelers, especially adventurous spirits who want to do more than relax in a resort pool all day.
I can confidently say “yes!” that Scottsdale is perfect for solo travelers, especially if it’s your first time visiting Arizona or even the American Southwest. It also doesn’t matter if you’re spending two days in Scottsdale or two weeks.
Ultimately, you’ll discover so many wonderful things to do alone in Scottsdale that you won’t want to leave the city. I know I didn’t want my solo trip to end.
13 Lovely Things to Do Alone in Scottsdale AZ
In this guide, I came up with 13 wonderful things to do alone in Scottsdale.
… Well. Technically, 12 things. I had to add a super special day trip to this blog post because I couldn’t resist (sorry, I know it’s cheating).
In an attempt to be inclusive, I tried to cover a variety of interests, ranging from outdoor activities to indulgent self-care, but, of course, I wasn’t able to see and do everything with a single long weekend in Scottsdale.
Feel free to use my own solo travel experiences as a starting point, but research your own personal interests afterwards to complete your itinerary. We’re all different. You want your solo trip to fill you with happiness.
Check Out a Museum
I personally adore exploring museums alone. I’m not distracted and fully able to absorb the knowledge around me. I can also read as much or as little as I want without upsetting someone else.
So, if you love museums, then you’re in luck. Scottsdale has several of them.
My personal favorite was Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, which is located smack in the middle of Old Town Scottsdale. This two story museum invites visitors to learn about the history of the American West. Exhibits frequently change. You can spend two hours in this museum and still have exhibits to see.
Additionally, art fans will love Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Like Western Spirit, exhibits change a lot. Unfortunately, on my visit, most of the galleries were closed, but admission was optional and donation-based.
Lastly, if you have time to go to downtown Phoenix, The Heard Museum is completely dedicated to Native American art and history, and absolutely worth a visit. The museum frequently hosts special events, too, so check the calendar ahead of time.
Without a doubt, the city’s museums are among the best things to do alone in Scottsdale.
Climb the Hole in the Rock Formation
Even if you’re not a hiker, Hole in the Rock is a easy and short hike with breathtaking views of the desert. I’m not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. However, I promise you that this is a hike simple to squeeze in an afternoon and do all alone.
Wear comfortable shoes and bring water even though the hike is short. It only took me about twenty minutes to reach the rock’s viewpoint, but I definitely stayed for awhile to watch planes take off from Sky Harbor International.
I’ve also heard that Hole in the Rock is a wonderful place to see the sunset or sunrise. You will find Hole in the Rock in Papago Park, which is nicely situated between Tempe and downtown Phoenix. Phoenix Zoo is also nearby and easy to tie into your visit here.
Desert Botanical Garden Walk
Not far from Papago Park is Desert Botanical Garden. Oh my goodness, this botanical garden actually brought tears to my eyes, because it was so, so, so incredibly beautiful. If you’ve never visited the Southwest, then you’ll marvel at the size of the cacti. They are seriously amazing.
I loved that I could take my time in this garden. I could’ve easily spent hours alone here. The Desert Botanical Garden offers over 140 acres of pure tranquility where you feel as if you’ve far away from the city, yet at the same time, are exploring a safe and confined environment. It’s the perfect spot if you want to explore the desert but don’t feel super equipped for it.
Explore Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale is touristy, but still a lot of fun to explore. You will find a wide variety of shops and restaurants. I know I liked just roaming and stumbling upon shops.
Furthermore, Old Town Scottsdale is very pedestrian friendly, and you won’t need a car during the day, which is great because parking seems like a bit of a nightmare, haha.
For a fun way to get around and learn some history, opt to take a Scottsdale Segway Tour throughout Old Town. I saw a lot of these tours on my visit, and they looked super enjoyable, with plenty of people laughing!
Smack in the middle of Old Town, you’ll also find a booth with maps and other tourist information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! The tourist information booth has very friendly workers, and they will point you in the right direction of places that you would like to see on your visit.
Guided Day Trip to the Grand Canyon
Okay, I know this day trip is technically not one of the great things to do alone in Scottsdale, but come on. If it’s your first trip to Arizona, you know that you will want to see the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park is an American Icon.
I took this small deluxe Grand Canyon tour on my trip. It was the perfect introduction to the Grand Canyon. Yes, you will start early in the morning and spend a lot of time on the bus, but the bus is small and cozy, and the whole journey really isn’t that bad. Plus you spend three hours in Grand Canyon National Park.
My solo trip to Grand Canyon National Park is an experience I will never forget.
By booking this tour, you won’t have to worry about driving yourself all the way to the Grand Canyon. Win/win.
Plus I loved the bonus stop at Williams on iconic Route 66. It spurred my inner sense of adventure and felt like I went back in time.
So, if you have the time to spare a day of your itinerary, try and go to the Grand Canyon. You won’t regret it.
Indulge in Scottsdale’s Restaurant Scene
Scottsdale has a lot of fantastic restaurants that you’re able to enjoy alone. All these restaurants have plentiful bar seating, so you can treat yourself to a wonderful meal without standing out like a sore thumb. Personally, I still struggle with eating alone in public, and sitting at the bar helps me feel more confident.
In particular, I loved my prickly pear margarita and steak avocado tacos at The Mission. The bar was very spacious and the Himalayan Salt Wall is an interior decorator’s dream come true. I also treated myself to dinner at Citizen Public House. They make a mean chop salad that is chopped perfectly right at your table. You can add protein (of course I added bacon and avocado) to your salad, which makes for a filling and healthy dinner.
For breakfast, Prep and Pastry’s homemade pastries were to die for.
You won’t run out of desert-inspired cuisine in Scottsdale.
If you’re still nervous about eating alone, then I recommend booking yourself on the Old Town Scottsdale Food Tour where you will sample treats from many places and make new friends at the same time. Well worth it.
Public Art Walk
Scottsdale has plenty of great public art. You can even schedule a public art walk and do a little photography. You can even do a self-guided public art walk tour for free.
Checking out all the gorgeous public art is the perfect way for a solo traveler to experience Scottsdale’s creative scene without spending a ton of money.
Show Stopper Shake Lunch
Um, Scottsdale isn’t a place to count calories. You know why? Because one of the most delicious and absolute best things to do alone in Scottsdale is devouring a Show Stopper Shake allllll for yourself.
I love milkshakes. Love ’em. So, if you’re on vacation, why not replace a meal with a decadent milkshake. No one else is around to judge you!
You can find this Instagram worthy milkshake at Zuzu located inside Hotel Valley Ho.
Spa Date for One
Okay, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the spas in Scottsdale. For solo travelers looking to spoil themselves, you’ve absolutely came to the right place to feel pampered. And who doesn’t like a little indulgence every once in a while?
Keep in mind that spas are super popular in Scottsdale. I’ve read that some treatments needed to be booked at least four weeks in advance during peak season.
So, if spas are on your solo travel agenda, book all your treatments early so you don’t have any unexpected and negative surprises!
Sunset Desert Hiking
Seeing the sun set in the desert is an intimate experience like no other. I highly recommend doing a sunset desert hike as a solo traveler. However, at the same time, I don’t underestimate the power of nature, and wouldn’t suggest wandering in the nature preserves around Scottsdale alone close to dark.
My advice? Go with an experienced guide.
Mad Desert Trekking offers both sunset and sunrise guided hikes. You’ll learn so much about the desert’s wildlife and come away with a new appreciation. This company also provides hikes of Camelback Mountain. However, you need to be in good physical shape and an experienced hiker to conquer the mountain. It’s not easy.
As for the sunset and sunrise hikes, I would classify the trail as moderate, because you gain 700 feet in elevation and most of the trail is quite rocky. I’m not a skilled hiker by any stretch of the imagination and did fine.
Without a doubt, your adventurous desert hike will be one of the highlights of your solo trip to Scottsdale.
Stroll Scottsdale’s Coffee Trail
Scottsdale is home to wickedly delicious coffee. I feel like coffee shops were almost created for the solo traveler. You’ll see plenty of people (who are alone) curled up with a book or working on their laptops.
Lots of coffee shops exist all over Scottsdale. You’ll probably have to revisit the city to go to all of them. As a starting point, use this Coffee Trail guide to jumpstart your mornings in Scottsdale.
Taliesin West is enchanting. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio, and now is open to the public for tours. You can either take a guided tour or a self-guided audio tour, but make sure to book a reservation in advance. Tours sell out and fast.
Self-guided tours are done using headphones. So perfect for solo travelers who don’t want to talk to strangers, haha.
Both the exterior and interior of Taliesin West are beautiful. Photography is allowed everywhere. Just keep your flash switched off.
Keep in mind that if you’re using a rideshare, Taliesin West is far into North Scottsdale and it may take some time for your rideshare to reach you.
Weekly ArtWalk in Old Town Scottsdale
Last but not least, if you’re in Scottsdale on Thursdays, then you ought to go to the Scottsdale ArtWalk and explore the galleries. Scottsdale’s galleries are open until 9:00 pm. and serve little treats, as well as glasses of wine. Many local artists are also available for conversation and to promote their art.
As a solo traveler, I felt very welcome in all the galleries and chatted with a lot of creative spirits. I also felt very safe walking around at night. ArtWalk is quite popular, so you won’t feel weird or awkward being out on the streets alone in the evenings.
Consider buying a small painting if you have cash to spare.
Solo Travel Scottsdale Tips
I wanted to share some additional Scottsdale travel tips as a bonus. Over all, Scottsdale is a delightful city and easy for travelers to navigate without too much trouble.
Beware of Non-Solo Friendly Activities
Unfortunately, some activities will only allow bookings for a minimum of 2 people. It’s obnoxious and frustrating. All I can say is take your business and money elsewhere, haha.
All the tours and activities that I’ve promoted in this guide welcome solo travelers. So you will have no problem keeping your days busy and exciting, but just be aware that some tour companies only take bookings of two.
What About Hot Air Balloon Rides?
Argh, I wasn’t going to mention hot air balloon rides at all, because I don’t like negativity, but at the same time, I want to share my honest opinion.
Personally, I don’t think you should book a hot air balloon ride if you’re a solo traveler who is also on a tight schedule and wants to maximize their time.
Now, if your itinerary has lots of spare time, then sure, go for it.
However, hot air balloon rides are so insanely dependent on the weather conditions. Which, yeah, safety first. Still, the cancellations and re-bookings are a pain in the butt. I read somewhere that the average hot air balloon is canceled seven times before the winds are favorable enough to fly.
I had my own hot air balloon ride canceled twice. Yup, twice.
As for the second time, it was canceled literally five minutes before my hotel pick up at 5:15 in the morning. Again, safety first, but I’d be lying if I said I was happy about it. It’s also not uncommon for riders to actually get to the airport before their ride is canceled.
I don’t want to sound like a brat. It’s not my intention and if you actually live close to Scottsdale, then sure, go for it. However, for most solo travelers, your time is valuable and better spent elsewhere.
How to Get Around Scottsdale
Ugh, I hate to suggest it, because doing so is a pain, but I highly suggest renting a car in Scottsdale. Sorry.
Scottsdale is super spread out. I took rideshares everywhere, and while this arrangement worked fine, I feel like I could’ve seen and done so much more if I had my own rental car. I probably would’ve saved some money too!
What to Bring to Scottsdale
You’ll spend a lot of time outside in Scottsdale, so you’ll want to be prepared, especially for a solo trip.
- Bathing Suit: Planning on hitting the spas or hopping in the pool? Then don’t forget to bring your bathing suit with you, friend!
- Hiking Boots: A lot of the trails in and around Scottsdale are very, very, very rocky. You need a strong pair of hiking boots for most desert hikes. Seriously, don’t skimp here unless a broken ankle is appealing to you.
- Leggings: I practically lived in leggings in Scottsdale. Leggings are especially important for outdoor activities.
- Lonely Planet Southwest USA: I’m a huge fan of Lonely Planet. This Lonely Planet Southwest USA guide covers Scottsdale, as well as the entire region, which is helpful if you’re planning a longer solo trip.
- Reusable Water Bottle: You need to drink a ton of water to stay healthy in the desert. Always have a reusable water bottle on hikes. As a side note, once you drink half your water, turn around to go back, and never, ever, ever hike in the middle of the day in summer. Dehydration and heat stroke are sneaky.
- Sunblock: Use lots of sunblock even if you think you don’t need it. You don’t want to bring a red sunburn back as a souvenir from your solo trip to Scottsdale.
- Sunglasses: I personally think an adorable vintage pair of sunglasses fits in well with Scottsdale. You’ll look like a 1920s star with these shades!
- Wide-Brimmed Hat: Scottsdale’s strong sun will burn your face even in winter. Bring a foldable brim hat with UV protection to keep your skin cool and happy.
When to Visit Scottsdale
Personally, I loved Scottsdale in winter. The temperatures were super comfortable for sightseeing, and the sun shone in the sky every single day, which was a huge bonus!
On the flip side, while I’m normally a huge proponent of summer travel, I recommend avoiding Scottsdale in June, July, August, and even parts of September. Scottsdale is in a desert, and the dry heat makes dehydration a lot easier.
Where to Stay in Scottsdale
I personally recommend staying near Old Town Scottsdale. You’ll have easy access to the shops, art galleries, museums, and restaurants, while at the same time, gorgeous nature exists only a short drive away.
There are no hostels in Scottsdale. If you’re traveling alone, prepare your wallet for a more “upscale” solo trip. I listed a couple of suggestions below to jumpstart your research.
Resorts & Hotels in Scottsdale
- Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows: This high-end desert oasis is geared toward Millennials (as are all Andaz hotels), and is seriously a place to unwind and relax. Perfect if you’re willing to splurge on your solo trip to Scottsdale. Compare prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com.
- Hotel Valley Ho: This retro hotel was originally built in 1956 and is a downtown icon! Come here for a splash of Scottsdale’s history. Compare prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com.
- Hyatt House Scottsdale/Old Town: I stayed at the Hyatt House in Old Town, and thought it was perfect! This more budget-minded option will free up some money for activities. Compare prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com.
If you prefer to rent an apartment, Vrbo has some lovely options such as this gorgeous condo that’s perfect for a single person!
I hope you liked reading about all the lovely things to do alone in Scottsdale. You’ll truly enjoy it. The desert is spiritual in many ways, and the Old Town’s fun vibe is great, even if you’re traveling by yourself. Have a fantastic trip!