One perfect day in Scottsdale, AZ

Enjoy amazing outdoors and cowboy roots on a winter visit

Fort McDowell Adventures
Photo: Gina Sabatella

Why go now: Scottsdale’s become synonymous with swank, but the town’s Western, outdoorsy roots are still alive and kicking. Feburary’s cowboy events and mild weather make it a perfect time to visit.

Trail city: Scottsdale has more than 280 miles of hiking, riding, and biking.

Get duded up: At Saba’s Western Wear (3965 N. Brown Ave.; 480/947-7664). 

Prehike stop: Grab backpack-ready sandwiches at the Hyatt Regency’s new Canyon Market (7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd.; 480/444-1234); it also has touch screens that help you pick a hiking trail.

Rent a bike: At Arizona Outback Adventures (from $25; 16447 N. 91st St.; 480/945-2881). 

Post-trail rubdown: The therapist at Bicycle Haus knows how to knead those quads and loosen up hamstrings (from $90; 7027 E. Fifth Ave.; 480/994-4287). 

Ogle the supermodels of the equine world: During the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show (Feb 17–27; $10; WestWorld; scottsdaleshow.com). 

Wanna be a real cowboy? A week at Arizona Cowboy College covers roping, riding, and branding (Feb 7–12; $2,250; cowboycollege.com).

Saddle up for a ride: On a Fort McDowell Adventures trail ride in the Fountain Hills, just east of town, you’ll splash through the Verde River and take in the views of craggy mountains, plus glimpses of herons, jackrabbits, and coyotes. From $45 for 1 hour; fortmcdowelladventures.com

Hike into the desert: Spring wildflowers start peeping out in late February at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale’s 16,000-acre backyard. You can access this wide-open desert park and its 60 miles of looping multiuse trails from a number of trailheads—we like the 4-mile loop trail from the Gateway Trailhead. Free; scottsdaleaz.gov/preserve

Do some south-of-the-border sipping: Take a load off with a round of avocado margaritas at the Mission, whose menu stretches from Mexico down to Chile. Try roast corn gorditas or deep-fried short ribs. We love the casual-yet-glam dining room and bar carved out of a historic 1920s warehouse. $$; 3815 N. Brown Ave.; 480/636-5005.

 

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  • Scottsdale map

    Directions

    From I-10 or I-17, get to downtown Scottsdale from Loop 101 or Loop 202. Info: experiencescottsdale.com

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