10 reasons you should visit Scottsdale in the summer


With temperatures frequently in the triple digits, you might wonder why anyone would want to visit Scottsdale, Ariz. during the summer. 

Maybe because it’s one of the best spa destinations in the world, boasting top resorts that are so much more than places to sleep, along with great food and shopping.

And as the temperature goes up, the prices come down. In many ways, summer is actually the smartest time to visit because it’s when luxury becomes affordable.

Here are ten reasons to grab your bathing suit and start packing.

Mermaid University at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Summer school is fun at Mermaid University at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess — Photo courtesy of Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Yes, it’s called the Princess but, during the summer, the Fairmont Scottsdale also plays host to mermaids.

Kids aged 7-12 years old can channel their inner Ariel at Mermaid University. Resident mermaid, Moon, bestows their very own Monofin Mermaid Tail upon them at the resort’s Sunset Beach, Arizona’s only white sand beach.

After a lesson in the water, they receive a diploma with their chosen mermaid name – and, of course, bragging rights. The program has gone so swimmingly that it’s come back for years in a row, proving that Mermaid University does indeed have legs. 

LON’s Underground Wine Cellar at Hermosa Inn

LON’s Underground Wine Cellar at Hermosa Inn offers the coolest culinary experience — Photo courtesy of Hermosa Inn

Talk about a cool dining experience. The underground wine cellar at LON’s, the Hermosa Inn’s award-winning restaurant, is usually available only for private events so guests eagerly wait all year for summer, when it opens to the public.

This intimate, one-of-a-kind space has a surprisingly cozy feel which is enhanced by an exclusive tasting menu prepared by Executive Chef Jeremy Pacheco and his culinary team, along with an optional wine pairing. The meal will warm your heart, but bring a sweater because the cellar is kept at a brisk 57 degrees. 

Show Stopper Shakes at Hotel Valley Ho

Red velvet Show Stopper Shake at Hotel Valley Ho — Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

Pastry Chef Audrey Enriquez has outdone herself with these Instagrammable shakes that are topped with house-made desserts. They’re meant to be shared with friends at ZuZu, Hotel Valley Ho’s signature restaurant and lounge, or at the OH Pool, where you can choose to leisurely sip away in a private cabana. 

The Show Stopper Shake flavor changes monthly, and has included fan favorites like Red Velvet and Cinnamon Horchata. You may want to make a few trips here over the summer so you don’t miss any of them. And if you’re craving a more adult beverage, try the Watermelon Freeze or Mega Mule that calls for a six-person minimum. 

Dive-In Movies at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Summer Saturday nights mean dive-in movies at Four Seasons Resort — Photo courtesy of Kevin Moul

The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North understands you may never want to leave their gorgeous free-form bi-level pool – even on Saturday night. So they transform the area into an outdoor theater where you can watch movies on the big screen from the comfort of your float. 

Surrounded by stunning views, the Saguaro Blossom pool complex is the heart of this oasis in the Sonoran Desert. What just might make the biggest splash, though, is the Pop-Cycle – an ice cream cart that attendants use to deliver ice cream, frozen treats, chilled towels, iced tea and other complimentary amenities to guests soaking in the sun. 

The Phoenician Spa at The Phoenician

 The Phoenician Spa will whisk you away from the heat — Photo courtesy of The Phoenician

An Arizona icon, this historic hotel has always been a special place. And its “ah”-inspiring spa encompasses three stories – all dedicated to pampering guests. There’s a rooftop pool, 24 treatment rooms including a Tranquility Suite for couples, Drybar, a nail salon, a retail boutique, a fitness center for personal training and a movement studio.

Summer is the perfect time to stay indoors and indulge in treatments using essential oils custom-blended especially for you. Be sure to start your visit with preparatory hot-and-cold contrast hydrotherapy, and feel free to take an extra couple of seconds in the cool shower. 

Kayaking with Arizona Outback Adventures

Chill out in a kayak with Arizona Outback Adventures — Photo courtesy of Arizona Outback Adventures

No, this is not a mirage. There really is water in the Arizona desert, and it’s an ideal place to head on a hot summer day. 

Arizona Outback Adventures will take you on a scenic guided kayak tour on the Lower Salt River, where you’re likely to see wild horses and bald eagles along with giant saguaro cactus and unique flora. This is a beginner-friendly tour that puts you at the helm of your own inflatable kayak, so you can exercise those biceps and spend the rest of the day stretched out on a chaise lounge, feeling guilt-free. 

Lincoln – a JW Steakhouse at JW Marriott Camelback Resort & Spa

Prime bone-in rib eye with king crab Oscar add-on at Lincoln – a JW Steakhouse — Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa

One of only two in the world (the other is in London), Lincoln – a JW Steakhouse is the crown jewel of the legendary JW Marriott Camelback Resort & Spa.

Executive Chef Paul Millist’s mouth-watering menu is inventive – the lobster “escargot” is brilliant – and the colorful vegetable selection is fueled by whatever’s freshest from the garden. Popovers are a welcome accompaniment to everything from unexpected soup and salad starters to flavorful steaks cooked to perfection.  

It’s billed as simple fare, but it’s really just simply delicious.

Adventure Water Park at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

The lazy river at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa is a great place to spend a lazy summer day — Photo courtesy of The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Is there anything more inviting on a 100-degree day than a lazy river?

Westin Kierland Resort & Spa has its own Adventure Water Park, so you never have to leave the premises to cool off. You can take a ride down the 110-foot-long water slide or park yourself in an inner tube and let the winding 900-foot lazy river do the moving.

On summer Saturdays, chill out with a 300-pound ice cube dropped into the Adventure Pool, choreographed FlowRider shows and wintry igloo-inspired cabanas. 

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

You’ll appreciate the view at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art — Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

The museum is not only a great respite from the heat, but it’s a lovely space in which to immerse yourself in man-made beauty that rivals the natural landscape outside. 

Presenting the best of contemporary art, architecture and design, SMoCA continually rotates its exhibitions so there’s always something interesting and thought-provoking to see and admire and discuss. One of the most surprising spots of this intimate museum is the James Turrell Skyspace in the outdoor courtyard. Take a minute to look up, to reflect and to appreciate the view all around. 

Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl is the place to get your ice cream fix — Photo courtesy of Sugar Bowl

Immediately recognizable by its bubble gum pink building, this Old Town landmark has been a beloved part of Scottsdale summers (and autumns, winters and springs) for six decades. In fact, Bil Keane has often featured it in his popular Family Circus cartoons.

This old-fashioned ice cream parlor offers a full menu of soups, sandwiches, salads and burgers, but it’’ their homemade sundaes, shakes, floats and splits that have made Sugar Bowl a Scottsdale institution and a sweet way to survive the heat. 

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