Floating high above the earth, the only sound the roar of the fire heating the balloon. The wind through your hair as your horse takes off in a gallop along a dessert trail. The conviviality of new friendships formed while brewing and tasting wine. These are some of the things to do in Scottsdale. These adventures await plus numerous more for you to discover.
Arizona is famous for its natural beauty and culture. According to Arizona Office of Tourism, 32.1 million people visited Arizona in 2020. With the warm sunny weather and beautiful natural sights, who can blame them. Plus if you are visiting for a while, there are many amazing west coast parks to explore.
Some years back, my husband and I traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona for my best friend’s wedding. The wedding was Sunday evening. Since we had never been there, we decided to make a long weekend of it . We arrived Friday afternoon and left Monday morning. In between, we went horseback riding, wine making, hot air ballooning, and picnicked by Lake Saguaro. This was in addition to attending the wedding and a pre-wedding party the night before. Arizona is majestic with numerous things to do in Scottsdale. We would need many weekends to visit them all.
Where to Stay in Scottsdale
According to Trip Advisor, these places to stay in Scottsdale provide the best values.
- The Scottsdale Resort & Spa
- Scottsdale Plaza Resort
- Sheraton Desert Oasis Villas
- Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
- The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch
Horseback Riding Through the Arizona Desert
The wind blew too hard for us to go hot air ballooning Saturday morning so we ate a leisurely breakfast. Then we headed out to Ft. McDowell in Scottsdale to ride horses. We arrived at 11 am, and for the next hour and a half we rode through the desert and across a creek on horseback. My husband and I are not experienced riders, but we traveled in a guided group. My horse almost ran off after some wild horses. He also kept stopping to eat and then would gallop to catch up with the other horses. It made for quite the adventure. Ft. McDowell also offers Segway tours, hiking tours, and driving tours through the desert. Longer excursions include lunch or dinner.
After our equestrian adventures, we went to Su Vino Winery, Scottsdale. Two older Italian couples greeted us. We sampled several wines until we found the one we wanted to create. The owners showed us how to mix the ingredients. Then my husband and I took turns mixing. We chose a label and name for our wine. Since the wine wouldn’t be ready for a month, the owners offered to ship the wine to us. Then the fun really began. The owners invited us to sit down for more wine, Sambuca, and a platter of Italian olives, meats, etc. It was an amazing way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Soaring Over Scottsdale in a Hot Air Balloon
Sunday morning we woke up very early for our hot air balloon ride. When we arrived, the sky hadn’t turned gray yet. We learned the mechanics of the balloon and my husband helped spread out the balloon and use the fans to inflate it. As the sun rose we climbed into the balloon. Manufacturers state the balloons can go as high as 18000 feet. We ascended 5000 feet over the desert due to aircraft flying at 7500. The view mesmerized us. We looked down to see jack rabbits and coyotes. The flame of the balloon roared, but that was the only sound we could hear. It brought serenity to us.
While soaring above the desert, the pilot recounted the history of the first hot air balloon flight. In 1783, the first manned hot air balloon flew over France. Unfortunately, the balloon flew off course. An angry mob of peasants greeted it with pitchforks, not understanding what it was. After that, balloons carried Champagne aboard as a symbol of peace. Rumor has it, if you follow a balloon to its destination, you will be offered Champagne as a friendly gesture.
Afterwards, we hopped in our rental car for a scenic drive to Lake Saguaro. We were planning a boat ride. However, we missed the boat so we had a picnic lunch in our car instead. We could have taken a later boat, but we had a wedding to attend. The wedding was on a golf course at sunset. We were sorry to leave these majestic skies the next day. Hence, we will have to return some time soon.
More Things to do in Scottsdale
- Party Bike Pub Crawl of Old Town Scottsdale
- Butterfly Wonderland
- McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
- Tom Thumb Trailhead
- Penske Racing Museum
Where to Eat in Scottsdale
Trying to figure out where to eat while finding things to do in Scottsdale? According to trip advisor, these are some of the best places to eat in Scottsdale for local cuisine. When in Rome…..
- Mowry & Cotton -serves local cuisine with vegetarian and vegan options, also serves brunch
- Roaring Fork – serves local cuisine, southwestern, happy hour
- Butters Pancakes & Cafe – best breakfast in Scottsdale
- Grassroots Kitchen & Tap – American bar and grill
- The Mission – Mexican, southwestern
- True Food Kitchen – healthy foods
Also, check out these sponsored links for some ideas on what to bring on your romantic weekend…
Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Whoa, you packed in horseback riding, wine making, hot air ballooning, and a picnic by Lake Saguaro all before a wedding like it was nothing. That is awesome, haha!
So, I have never been to Scottsdale yet but I think that you sold me on going if for nothing but wine making at Su Vino Winery! Darcee would absolutely love that since she loves drinking wine & exploring wineries. Plus it sounds like the owners are tons of fun!
As for me, I have yet to tick off Hot Air Ballooning from my bucket list, so that would be my #1 but it all sounds amazing there!
Hope you get to go. I am a crazy planner so I am able to cram a lot in without us feeling like we need a vacation to recuperate. It’s all about the balance of activities. Hot air ballooning is inherently relaxing.
Scottsdale has lots to offer! I love horse riding, especially with such a stunning backdrop. Hot air ballons are always fun, I did this in Kenya and Myanmar!
Wow, I can imagine Kenya must have been amazing. I have only been there through a virtual experience, but I hope to go some day.
We had only a short stay in Scottsdale. But enough to know we want to return one day. We were actually surprised at how many winery areas we found in Arizona. It would be fun to make our own wine at Su Vino Winery. But a hot air balloon would definitely top our list.
This looks like a fun place especially with the hot ballooning stuff pitched in between. Turkey has made its name in the hot ballooning field. Never knew even Scottsdale Arizona, provides the same facility. It definitely looked total fun out there. Nice way to spend the holiday with the family.
Horseback Riding Through the Arizona Desert is on my bucket list. I love Arizona, spent there over a month, but would love to back. Scottsdale is perfect for the holidays.
I only went that one time, but I want to go back too, especially after hearing about so many trips from my friend who lives there