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3 Days in Scottsdale for Foodies

Curated by Elisa Parhadwho's been visiting and writing about Arizona for more than a decade.

Most people think of golf courses, wellness retreats, and poolside hangouts when Scottsdale comes to mind, but it has a serious foodie scene, too. From indigenous recipes to mean street tacos to an Arizona wine industry, Scottsdale showcases it all. Consider Old Town your base—it's where you'll find eateries of all sorts, along with historic buildings, museums, shopping, and the waterfront. Since you can't eat all the time, I suggest you intersperse your food trails with hiking, biking, and water trails in the wide-open Sonoran desert.

With more sunny days than many vacation spots, be sure to bring your swimsuit.

If you only have time for one thing, make it Old Town, packed with history, culture, and serious eats.


Day 1

Begin exploring Scottsdale's vibrant food scene in Old Town Scottsdale. In addition to its many cultural and historic points of interest, you'll find coffee roasters, cafés, the Old Town Scottsdale Wine Trail, and many fine dining establishments. You could taste your way through town, and I suggest you do.

Walk a little further afield in the Old Town area to see the Waterfront, Solieri Bridge, Fashion Square, and Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West. Finish off the day with a spectacular Mexican dinner at The Mission, complete with its famous 16-ingredient guacamole.

Day 2

Leave today for the Sonoran desert—a wild place with native flora and fauna. Here, you can travel by foot or bike to see javelinas, saguaros, palo verde, and mesquite. I suggest trying some Native American foods, such as fry bread or Indian tacos at The Stand in Scottsdale or Fry Bread House in nearby Phoenix.

Head back to Old Town for some good evening fun in the brewpubs, tasting rooms, and dive bars of Scottsdale. For a more fine-tuned exploration of the drink scene, check out the Scottsdale Ale Trail or Scottsdale Wine Trail.

Day 3

In the morning, explore an iconic spot for recreation: the Salt River. This is a prime place to see the Tonto National Forest from the water via kayak and be on the lookout for wild horses, known to drink from the water's edge.

One of my favorite things to do in any city is take a cooking class to learn much more than a new recipe or two. This is a great place to ask chefs where they shop for ingredients, go out to eat, and about the local food culture.

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