If you’re looking for a frost-free vacation destination this winter, Scottsdale, AZ is perfect for you. Winter highs typically stay in the 65°F – 75°F temperature range. Although nights can get chilly, it’s nothing that a couple extra layers won’t fix.
With these ideal conditions, Scottsdale’s desert environment shines as an extraordinary winter destination for those escaping the snow. Read on to learn more about all there is to see and do in Scottsdale during winter.
Explore the Sonoran Desert
Cooler temperatures make winter possibly the best time to explore the landscapes surrounding Scottsdale. Early winter typically sees smaller crowds, leaving more outdoor spaces for you to enjoy on your own. Plus, winter is when rattlesnakes brumate (reptile version of hibernate), so you’re less likely to encounter them on trails.
Of the many Scottsdale outdoor activities to try during winter, hiking is certainly the most popular activity. There are great trails all around, with the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Pinnacle Peak Park marked as two of the most popular hiking areas. For a complete list of our favorite hikes, head over to our 4 Best Sunrise Hiking Areas blog post.
Another great outdoor activity that allows you to see more Sonoran Desert terrain is mountain biking. Many hiking trails are accessible for bikers, and you can cover much more ground by bike than on foot. Experienced mountain bikers can find great trails on sites like AllTrails and MTB Project. Those new to the sport – or just anyone interested – can also take a guided mountain bike tour from REI Scottsdale Adventure Tours.
BONUS ACTIVITY: You can explore Scottsdale’s desert landscapes from a bird’s eye view on a hot air balloon tour. You won’t break a sweat doing this tour like you would with the other activities, but the views are certainly extraordinary. Just be sure to wear some heavier layers for the brisk air at altitude.
Take a Swing at Scottsdale Golf Courses
Similar to hiking and biking, winter is a great season for taking a golf vacation in Scottsdale. The cool air and breathtaking desert scenery makes for excellent days out on the golf course. Of Scottsdale’s many courses, the most popular can be found at Troon North Golf Club and TPC Scottsdale. Both clubs feature a total of 36 holes that provide fun challenges to golfers of all experience levels.
If you choose to visit in late January through early February, you can also catch the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. This PGA tournament brings in over 700,000 fans every year, making it the most attended golf tournament in the world. It’s exciting to watch the pros play, while the week-long tournaments brings in a fun, party style atmosphere. Be aware, visiting during this time will make booking your own tee time at Scottsdale’s golf courses a bit more challenging with the larger golfing crowds.
Check Out Festive Winter Events
Last but not least on the list of winter activities in Scottsdale are the many festive events in town. After all, just because someone may be looking to escape the snow, that doesn’t mean they want to avoid all winter and holiday activities.
Perhaps the most popular winter event in Scottsdale is Scottsdazzle, which starts on Thanksgiving and ends on New Year’s Eve. This month-long extravaganza encompasses an immense calendar of signature events ranging from holiday experiences to culinary workshops and walking tours. There are dozens of things to do in Scottsdale during Scottsdazzle, so be sure to browse their events calendar.
Another exciting winter event is Enchant, hosted by Hallmark near Old Town in North Scottsdale. Like Scottsdazzle, Enchant runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and features a ton of festive attractions. The main attraction is the world’s largest Christmas light maze and village. Within the illuminated village you’ll find ice-skating, live entertainment, dining, holiday shopping, and more! Be sure to book one of our Old Town vacation rentals so you can be close to Enchant.
If you’re looking for more festive winter activities, you can catch impressive light displays with more live entertainment at the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park and at Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de las Luminares. You can also find fun ice skating at the Ice Den Scottsdale as well as at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
For more information on things to do in Scottsdale during the winter, check out our Scottsdale Activities page. There you’ll find even more great information on things like Scottsdale museums, shops, nightlife, and other attractions.
Finally, be sure that your winter vacation in Scottsdale comes with the perfect accommodations by booking a vacation rental with GoodNight Premium Stays. We have a fantastic selection of luxury rentals fit for any group, and you can check them out by clicking the link below!