If you’re looking for a perfect winter destination without traveling too far then look no further than Scottsdale, Arizona where there are warm temperatures year-round! This desert oasis is the perfect escape from the frigid cold up north. Below are my top picks of all the amazing things you can do here in winter!
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EXPERIENCE THE SONORAN DESERT AT ITS BEST
One of the best reasons to come to Scottsdale in the winter is because of the weather! It is always around 70 degrees here during the colder months, which means you can feel comfortable doing many of their amazing outdoor activities, such as hot air balloon rides, hiking, and horseback riding.
HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE WITH RAINBOW RYDERS.
One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert is from the sky. I recommend booking a morning hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders, Inc. They have been doing this for 34 years and have won several awards for their excellence. During the tour you’ll see the beauty of Scottsdale from a bird’s eye view. Then at the end of the tour you get a celebratory toast. It is simply incredible!
HORSEBACK RIDING WITH MACDONALD’S RANCH.
Since you are in the southwest it is only appropriate to go horseback riding at a proper Western ranch! Do a tour with MacDonald’s Ranch through the pristine Sonoran Desert. This family owned farm is as traditional as it gets with their western style houses and welcoming atmosphere. You’ll even get to wear traditional cowboy attire during the ride! This is a great option for families because they also have activities for kids, such as, a petting zoo and pony rides.
HIKE AT BROWN’S RANCH
If you are into hiking, don’t miss Brown’s Ranch. This trail goes back to the year 7,000 BC when the Hohokam Indian’s would farm and build irrigation systems here. In the 1900’s, this area became a cattle ranch owned by E.O. Brown. You can still see some of the remains of a ranch house and chicken coup along the trail. It is a very scenic trail, accessible for all hikers, and a favorite for mountain bikers! Today it is part of the majestic McDowell Mountain Preserve.
LUXURY LODGING AT A LOWER PRICE DURING WINTER
Winter, Arizona’s secret season, is a great time to visit the Sonoran Desert because you can stay at luxury hotels for a lower price, up to 30% off of peak prices!
The Four Seasons Hotel is located in the scenic desert foothills of Pinnacle Peak and is conveniently located steps from so many amazing and fun desert activities. Each room is a spacious casita with epic desert mountain views. On property, there are three restaurants, a bar, two world-class golf courses, a spa, a bi-level pool, and unique experiences that you can join, such as stargazing in the desert and wine tasting. In particular, winter is a great time to come here for golfing, which is not available in many parts of the country this time of year, but in Scottsdale you can enjoy it in seventy-degree weather!
The Four Seasons Hotel is also home to the contemporary Spanish steakhouse, Talavera. They serve up hearty meals like paella, dry aged steak, and jamon iberico. Plus, they offer a selection of 500 wines to pair with your meal! If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Thursday, you can also enjoy the live flamenco guitarist.
ENJOY COZY WINTER DINING AND COCKTAILS
Year-round Scottsdale has a world-class dining scene with chefs coming from all over the world to cook up delicious dishes. Here are some of my favorite restaurants and bars for the winter season.
7011 E Indian School Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
The Coach House has been a staple of the Scottsdale community since 1958. This local dive bar does something amazing during the holiday season; they cover the entire interior with festive Christmas lights!
TOMASO’S ITALIAN KITCHEN
23655 N Scottsdale Rd #120, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Tomaso’s Italian Kitchen is run by Chef Tomaso Maggiore. He is an Italian born and trained culinary expert that has run the best Italian Restaurant in the valley since 1977 and opened this new restaurant in Scottsdale recently. I highly recommend the caramel candy wrappers, the burrata, chicken parmigiana, and their famous meatballs. All pasta is made in-house daily, so you know it’s fresh. It’s the perfect spot for authentic, “real deal” Italian.
10199 E Bell Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
The Vig is a fun neighborhood tavern specializing in American food and craft cocktails. They have a terrific patio with bocce ball and a cornhole court too! Their menu is diverse with American, Mexican and Asian inspired dishes. You must try the cinnamon skillet – it’s delicious!
If you have time check out the McDowell Mountain Park, which is walking distance, there are stunning views of Scottsdale there. They have a cozy Get outdoor fireplace that is perfect for winter!
DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN: LAS NOCHES DE LAS LUMINARIAS
If you are visiting during the holiday season, there is an amazing immersive light display you can visit. It is called Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden, which houses the world’s finest collection of arid-land plants from deserts around the world. During these special nights, 8,000 twinkling lights and glowing Wild Rising creatures illuminate the pathways as holiday music plays. It is a great way to spend time with friends and family, and it is very Instagrammable!
GET A SPA TREATMENT
Scottsdale has more spas per capita than any other city in the country! One way to fight the dry winter air is to get a rejuvenating facial at one of their many spas. The Spa at the Four Seasons offers a gold repair facial that utilizes the many benefits of gold to repair micro-damage and calm the skin. Gold is a power house ingredient that has healing, anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and firming properties. Your face will be left glowing and rejuvenated!