Travel Tips

Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Scottsdale, Arizona

Locations in this article:  Phoenix, AZ

Ask the Locals Travel Guide: Scottsdale, ArizonaPeter’s radio show is coming to us live from The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Situated on 250 acres at the base of Camelback Mountain, this luxury hotel is a destination in its own right.

But there’s also plenty happening in downtown Scottsdale and the surrounding desert, so check out what the locals recommend when you visit Scottsdale.

Ace Bailey, President, Ultimate Art & Culture Tours

Scottsdale has one of the nation’s premier arts districts. With more than 150 galleries in the area, Art Galleriesthere is definitely art to suit every taste. Every Thursday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the main art district is open for a public ArtWalk, a tradition in Scottsdale for more than 30 years.

The galleries are open to showcase the art while offering visitors a chance to interact with the artists, while local musicians perform on the street. Once a month there is a specialized ArtWalk—coming up on March 11 is the second annual Glass Act ArtWalk which will showcase the works of glass artists.

Get help capturing the beauty with Rick Sammon’s Landscape Photography in Arizona – Photo Gallery & Photo Tips.

Silver SpringZuZu Emporium is a great little antique store inside a home that was built in the 1940s. And surprise, it’s owned by musician Stevie Nicks’ mom and run by her cousin. You can find wonderful treasures from crystal and china to Madam Alexander dolls.

Daily Dose is a restaurant owned by Chef Matt and his wife Jen Lynn, which is a great spot for any meal of the day and huge favorite among locals. One of my favorite dishes is the gingerbread pancakes served with warm peaches.

Café ZuZu inside the Hotel Valley Ho takes comfort food to an amazing level. Executive Chef Chuck Wiley’s beef stroganoff is probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten!

Scottsdale is one of 5 Great Places to Catch Baseball’s Spring Training.

Angelica Elliott, Wildflower Curator, Desert Botanical Garden

Most people don’t realize that Arizona’s Sonoran Desert has such a diversity of annual wildflowers which begin blooming in late February and last until May. This winter was dry between October and December, but there were heavy rains in January and February that should yield some blooms. Even if there aren’t any wildflowers, you can still experience the desert landscape—the variety of cacti offers a kaleidoscope of colors.

Along with the 50-acre Desert Botanical Garden, there are plenty of places where people can experience the desert scenery.

South Mountain Park is about a 10 to 15-minute drive from downtown Phoenix (or about 35 Flowering cactusfrom Scottdsale) and offers several hiking trails, mountain biking and horseback riding trails. It covers more than 16,000 acres, with golden and purple wildflowers typically blooming in the western part of the park—check out the Bajada Trail and the National Trail for prime viewing.

For help capturing it all, don’t miss Rick Sammon’s Landscape Photography in Arizona – Photo Gallery and Photo Tips.

Estrella Mountains offers almost 20,000 acres of desert and mountain scenery. There are more than 33 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, ranging from short, flat terrain such as the 2.4-mile Baseline Trail to the more strenuous Pederson Trail that runs almost 9 miles.

White Tank Mountains is west of the area, climbing as high as 4,000 feet in some parts, with 25 miles of trails. Water from occasional flash floods runs off the mountains and gouges pits into the white granite below, hence the name “White Tank.” The Waterfall Trail is a mild 2-mile hike with various types of cacti, desert mistletoe, and ancient petroglyphs along the way.

The iconic Superstition Mountains are about a 30-45 minute drive from of Phoenix. The drive on Highway 88 (sometimes called the Apache Trail) is one of the most scenic in the area with trails, lakes, and desert flora and fauna. Look for giant saguaro cacti, agaves and other perennial cacti and succulents, and in March the wildflowers should start to blossom. Note that as you drive along Highway 88 it can get very narrow with sheer cliffs, especially as you get closer to the different lakes/reservoirs, but it is a breathtaking drive.

For more information on Scottsdale, Arizona, visit

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Learn more: Rick Sammon’s Landscape Photography in Arizona – Photo Gallery and Photo Tips.

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