Is Summer the Best Time to Visit Scottsdale?

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When it comes to visiting the American Southwest, many people will tell you to skip the summer months. For many spots in this part of the US, the summer months mark high season – meaning bigger crowds and higher prices.

If you're planning a trip to see the national parks in the Southwest, I generally wouldn't recommend the summertime.

But when it comes to summer in the cities in this part of the country? Well, that's a different story. In fact, when it's hot and all the tourists are taking to the road and filling up national parks, it can be the perfect time to think about a city getaway.

And if we're talking city getaways in the Southwest, we have to talk about Scottsdale, Arizona.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Diego Pops in Scottsdale
Diego Pops in Scottsdale

I've visited Scottsdale three times now, twice in the winter and once in the summer. And while I would have expected to enjoy my visit during the cooler winter months better, the truth is that Scottsdale is equally as awesome to visit in the summer.

Don't believe me? Read on to learn why summer might actually be the best time to visit Scottsdale!

Note: This post is brought to you as part of a paid partnership with Experience Scottsdale. But, as always, all opinions are 100% my own and based on my personal experiences!

Why summer is the best time to visit Scottsdale

1. It's a dry heat

Scottsdale mural

It's true, if you bring up the fact that summer temperatures in Scottsdale often reach into the triple digits to any local, you'll immediately be met with the “But it's a dry heat!” response.

As someone who really doesn't love the heat (but also someone who, being from the Midwest, associates heat with humidity), I've always rolled my eyes at this statement in the past. But guess what? In Scottsdale, it really IS a dry heat!

On my first trip to Scottsdale, it was 108 degrees F (42 degrees C) in early June – and this was considered relatively mild for Scottsdale at that time of year. But I still found it bearable to walk around Old Town Scottsdale, sit outside on patios, and even visit a nature preserve one morning.

Amanda in Scottsdale
Look at me NOT melting from humidity!

The high summer temperatures in Scottsdale might seem daunting, but that lack of humidity really does make a huge difference.

2. Lower rates / more deals

Summertime is “low season” in Scottsdale. This makes it the best time of year to plan a getaway to one of the area's fancy resorts since they run some of their best deals in the summer months.

Summer deals in Scottsdale often include lower hotel rates (up to 60% off peak season rates!), as well as savings on everything from tours to dining to sometimes even shopping. Find more Scottsdale summer deals here.

Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale
Hotel Valley Ho

3. Fewer people

It would make sense that since summer is low season in Scottsdale, you're likely to find fewer tourists. And the tourists that you do find are often locals taking advantage of the summer deals – yes, the “staycation” is alive and well here!

Fewer people traveling can mean more open chairs around the pool, less of a wait at bars and restaurants, and in general just a slower and more relaxing pace of life.

Andaz Scottsdale Resort
Have the pool all to yourself on a summer morning

Things to do in Scottsdale in summer

If I've convinced you that Scottsdale might be a place you'd like to consider for a summer trip of your own, here are some of the things you should plan to do there:

1. See the sunrise from a balloon

Hot air balloon in Arizona
Sunrise views

Okay, so this one actually takes place in the nearby Phoenix area, but it still counts. It's also perfect for the summer months, since the hours around dawn are some of the cooler ones you can enjoy.

A morning hot air balloon ride like this one with Hot Air Expeditions mixes a little adventure with the relaxing silence of floating over saguaro cacti as the desert wakes up. Plus, they usually run some summer deals!

Amanda in a hot air balloon

2. Hit the trails – in the morning

If staying on the ground is more your speed, an early morning hike might be the perfect way to start off a day in Scottsdale. Hiking is a popular pastime for both locals and visitors, and the area has ample trail options.

My pick is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, about 20 minutes from downtown Scottsdale. The 30,500-acre preserve is home to 8 major trailheads that connect to more than 200 miles of desert trails. Most of the trails here are less than 5 miles long, making for the perfect morning hike spot.

(And there are shorter trails, too, in case the morning is too hot!)

McDowell Sonoran Preserve
In the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Another great hiking area is in Pinnacle Peak Park, where you can hike part (or all) of the Pinnacle Peak trail in the morning.

Note: Just please be careful with summer hiking. Take tons of water with you, along with proper sun protection. And don't start any hikes after about 10 a.m., as it's just too dangerous to hike here in the heat of summer.

3. Relax by the pool

Want to beat the heat by the water? It's easy to do in Scottsdale, where nearly every hotel has at least one pool.

Scottsdale hotels with great pools include Hotel Valley Ho, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, The Phoenician, and Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows.

Some Scottsdale resorts even have full water parks with lazy rivers, water slides, splash pads, and more. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, and Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa all have massive pool complexes.

Hotel Valley Ho pool
Hotel Valley Ho pool

If relaxation is calling your name instead, you could rent a luxury poolside cabana. Cabana rentals are often only available to hotel guests, but a couple hotels (like Hotel Valley Ho, Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa, and Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa) allow non-guests to reserve cabanas for the day, too.

RELATED: Where to Stay in Scottsdale Based on Your Travel Style

4. Have a spa day


Scottsdale is known as a spa city, so having a relaxing spa day should also go on your summer to-do list. Scottsdale has no shortage of fantastic spas, many located at some of the top resort hotels in the area.

The fanciest luxury spas in Scottsdale include:

  • The Spa at Four Seasons Scottsdale
  • Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
  • Sanctuary Spa at the Sanctuary Resort
  • Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort
  • The Phoenician Spa
  • The Spa at The Boulders

Other lovely spas include Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary at the Andaz Scottsdale, the VH Spa at Hotel Valley Ho, and La Vidorra at The Scott Resort & Spa.

And if you want to make your whole getaway a relaxing, spa-like experience? Then I can highly recommend a stay at CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa in the nearby town of Carefree, Arizona. Read about my stay at CIVANA here.

CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa
CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa

5. Beat the heat indoors

Prefer climate-controlled environments to the outdoors in summer? No worries! Scottsdale's museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants all have excellent air conditioning. In fact, some spots keep it so chilled that you might want to carry around a sweater!

Museums you should visit include the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, and the interactive Wonderspaces is also worth a stop.

Wonderspaces in Scottsdale
Wonderspaces is a great place to beat the heat

You can also pop in and out of Scottsdale's numerous art galleries and boutiques, or even go wine tasting along the Old Town wine trail (LDV Winery Tasting Room is my favorite!).

6. Stay cool on a patio

One thing I love about Scottsdale in summer is that al fresco dining (and drinking) is still possible thanks to a large network of misters and fans that are always hard at work on hot days.

These actually make sitting outdoor bearable, even with temps in the triple digits.

LDV Winery in summer
Misters and shade at LDV Winery
Schmooze patio
Misters making the patio at Schmooze cool

7. Go golfing

Along with resorts and art, Scottsdale is also known for its excellent golf courses. Playing a round might be the perfect low-key activity for a hot summer day.

And if you're like me and not really a golfer? You can still get a taste of the game at Topgolf, which melds golf with a giant game of darts (instead of struggling with golf balls on greens, at Topgolf the goal is to hit them into big color-coded targets). This is a great activity for a larger group, and you play in semi climate-controlled golf bays – with fans and misters in the summer, of course!

8. Cool off at the river

Kayaking the Lower Salt River
Kayaking the Lower Salt River

When the weather gets hot in Scottsdale, the locals take to the water. One of the most popular spots to cool down on a hot day (other than the pool, of course) is the Salt River. This 200-mile-long river is not far at all from Scottsdale, and you can enjoy it on a tube, raft, or kayak.

I booked a Lower Salt River Kayaking Tour with the local REI Co-op Experiences, which was a beautiful and relaxing paddle. And, since the Salt River is fed from up in the mountains, the water is always nice and cool in the summer – perfect for swimming!

If you're lucky, you might even see some of the wild horses that live within the nearby Tonto National Forest. They come to the Salt River to drink and cool off, and your best bet to see them is in the mornings during the summer months.

Kayaking the Lower Salt River
A perfect summer paddle

This of course isn't an exhaustive list – there are plenty of other things to do in Scottsdale, too! But if you're planning a summer trip to Scottsdale, these are all the things that would go on my personal must-do list.

READ NEXT: 3 Days in Scottsdale, Arizona: 3 Itineraries for 3 Different Types of Travelers

Would you ever want to visit a desert city like Scottsdale in the summer?

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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11 Comments on “Is Summer the Best Time to Visit Scottsdale?

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  1. Totally agree with what you’ve said here! If you plan on visiting the national / state parks, summer isn’t great since it gets so hot and it’s very crowded. But otherwise I think a trip out west in the summer is a great plan! I’m dying to get back to Arizona (fall is my personal favorite time to visit).

      Summer is sometimes the only time many people can travel because of schedules, but I agree that I try to avoid national parks and other really popular spots in the summer months.

        As far as Arizona being dry heat that is the biggest bunch of bull that I’ve ever heard in my life… anybody that’s lived here or grown up here that says dry heat has no idea what they’re talking about… Yes Arizona has dry heat generally from about May to the end of June… from July until the end of September is when the disgusting hot humid sticky muggy monsoon season starts…. temperatures reach 100 to 115 with 35% to 50% humidity and a 65% dew point… do you know what that feels like????it’s nothing like 85 degrees with 100% humidity it’s a hundred times worse…You are reading this from a man who worked 10 summers in Arizona outside.. I’m not one of those people who walk from the restaurant to the car inside the cold air conditioning and says oh it’s not that bad…I will take 100….115 dry heat any day over 95 degrees with a 65% dew point… the humid…muggy season is from the end of June beginning of July to the middle of September and it’s brutal… I have noticed over the past 10 years the Summers here are getting worse and the monsoon season is getting longer… whoever says the Arizona desert is a nice place to visit in the summer is out of their mind…

          I’m from Ohio. Our summers are often 70-80% humidity with temperatures in the 80s and 90s. I’ll take 35% humidity any day!

            Ohio gal here too. Our favorite time of the year to visit Scottsdale is the summer. Call us crazy but we love it!

    one of my favorite place to experience, but unfortunately I cant go anywhere because of this pandemic. Nice post and thank you for sharing. Keep safe everyone

      Hopefully we’ll be able to revisit our favorite places again soon!

    We planned a trip to the US this year but due to pandemic we are sitting at home. Anyways, when everything will be fine, me and my wife will surely visit here.

    Hi Amanda,
    My husband and I spent a few days in Scottsdale a couple of years ago in early May after a trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed a morning at the Desert Botanical Gardens and I remember having an amazing pizza at Grimaldis and ice cream at the Sugar Bowl. I have to confess though that due to the heat I spent most of my time in the pool. We would love to return one day.

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