Thank you to Experience Scottsdale for hosting us on our trip! While most of this trip was complimentary for us, these are our opinions are ours.
Scottsdale, Arizona is known as a desert destination with 5-star resorts, great spas, and golf courses perfect for honeymoons, minimoons, babymoons, and destination weddings. And now having visited we can see that the area has more with a unique local culture, strong food scene, great wine, adventurous activities, and inspiring art galleries all surrounded by the picturesque desert landscapes.
5 Reasons to Honeymoon in Scottsdale
Being in the desert means you do not have to worry much about rain. It is sunny 300 days a year so you can plan on spending plenty of time by the pool and can count on an outdoor destination wedding.
Spring and Fall weather brings the ideal warm weather and in the Summer months from late May through September you can expect it to be hot. The good news is the air is dry and when it gets hot fewer tourists visit the area and resort rates can drop. When we were there in June, temperates ranged from 95- 100°F. While it was hot, I preferred that weather over the humid 85° weather we experienced on the East coast the week before.
We think any couples trip should include some adventure. Lounging at the pool is essential, but at some point, you need to do something that you will remember for years to come. With the climate and desert landscape, there is a huge variety of adventurous activities.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
We went on our first hot air balloon ride with Hot Air Expeditions and highly recommend the experience. You have to wake up very early, which was not a problem for us since we came from East of the area, 2 time zones away.
The views from the sky of the city and the surrounding desert landscapes were stunning and it felt like we were tranquility floating in the clouds. Even looking up was inspiring to see the simple interior of the hot air balloon with just a few ropes and the colorful balloon several stories high.
As we began to approach the landing, our pilot warned us of a possibly bumpy landing, but instead we lighly touched down and came to a stop after a short skid accross the ground.
After a smooth landing, we enjoyed a champagne toast as part of the legendary Balloonists Ceremony and a breakfast. 10/10 experience, would recommend.
Close to Scottsdale is the Sonoran Desert where you can go on an ATV adventure with Stellar Adventures. A guided tour took us on winding trails that fed our need for speed and excitement. Our tour guide was very attentive to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves while also staying safe. He took photos of us throughout the trip, brought water for us, and stopped to show us wildlife as we went.
I’ve been on an ATV tour before, but this one was the best we have been on due to the unique winding trails through the desert and having a fun group to go out with.
Another beautiful area near Scottsdale is the Tanto National Forest. We were able to get acquainted with the area by going on a horseback ride with Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. Michelle and I go horseback riding regularly and sometimes find group trail rides less than thrilling, but what made this outing unique was the scenery.
After leaving the barn we could quickly see the majestic Goldfield mountain range and were able to continue through the trail to see plenty of Saguaro cactus and the Lower Salt River. If we had more time we would have loved to stay at the ranch and kayak on Lake Saguaro and hike to see the wild horses.
Full disclosure, we are not golfers. I love to play a game a Top Golf (they have a location in Scottsdale) or a pitch & putt course, but that is as far as I will go with golf. But, if you like golf, you likely already know that Scottsdale is a perfect destination for you with over 200 golf courses in the area.
A trip to the spa is essential during a honeymoon. With the dozens of luxury resorts with spas on-site and additional day spas in town, there are plenty of options of where to go for a spa treatment. a has wellness therapies inspired by Sonoran Desert Botanicals, ancient Native American healing techniques, and curative traditions.
We went to Spa Lamar, a day spa in Scottsdale for couples massages. The spa may not be a pristine and luxurious as the spas at the 5-star resorts, but that is reflected in the prices which are 30-40% lower.
Upon arriving at Spa Lamar we were given towels and directed to the changing rooms. The relaxation area includes an indoor seating area, steam room, sauna, and outdoor pool. When it was time for our massage, our therapist came to find us, asked us our preferences, and took us to the couples treatment room. After a relaxing Swedish massage, we spend some time in the pool before going on our next activity.
Scottsdale is full of great restaurants. During our 5 day trip, we enjoyed every meal and were surprised at how great the food scene was. Additionally, there is a Scottsdale wine trail which consists of five wineries in Old Town Scottsdale. See below for our top restaurant picks.
When you look at the accommodations available in Scottsdale you will see all the major luxury brands with unique amenities that will make your stay enjoyable. You can find resorts with multiple pools, childcare, several restaurants to choose from, spas, golf courses, and other unique amenities. If you are interested in smaller boutique hotels or budget-friendly resorts you can find it in one of the dozens of resorts in Scottsdale.
The Hermosa Inn
We started our stay at The Hermosa Inn, a AAA Four Diamond property in the heart of the city. Accommodations include only 43 luxury guest casitas with deep soaking tubs in a garden setting. We enjoyed the smaller size of the resort which made us feel at home.
The pool is at the center of the property and is a quiet place to relax and lounge around on the provided floats. On cooler evenings you can relax around one of the firepits and if you are interested in spa treatments those can be arranged on site.
Another loved highlight is the food at LON’s at The Hermosa Inn which provides an intimate dining experience perfect for a honeymoon.
Fairmont Princess Scottsdale
We also stayed at Fairmont Princess Scottsdale which was completely different. This is a good choice for you if you are looking for large resorts with plenty to do. There are 6 different pools, one with a few waterslides, a golf course, a large spa with an adults-only pool that has been awarded as USA Today’s “10 Best” Reader’s Choice Top 10 Winner Best Hotel Spa, several restaurants, and other activities and amenities.
Art & Culture
For a smaller city in the middle of the desert, Scottsdale surprised us with the amount of local culture and art that was in the area. There is the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art as well as tons of art galleries to see around town.
The Musical Instrument Museum is one of the best museums in the world in our opinion. It is more than just a building filled with 8,000 instruments, but a museum showing how the common thread of music has touched every human on the planet.
We loved seeing the similarities and differences between the music of countries around the world and how they influenced each other. As you walk around you see videos with examples of the music played with each instrument.
The museum is divided up be regions with the North America section being the most popular with instruments from musicians you will recognize.
Where To Eat
Scottsdale is full of great restaurants with plenty of variety. We’ve recommended a few choices below, but are sure there are many more. One thing we did notice is the restaurants at the larger resorts tended to be overpriced and had less character, which is fairly typical of resorts.
Hash Kitchen -The upbeat vibe and DJ at Hash Kitchen keeps moods high. The menu is full of highlights including a build your own Bloody Mary bar and unique cocktails. There are seltzer cocktails served in a disco ball cup and several varieties of mimosas like a Mega Glitter Bomb Mimosa which is a 25 oz champagne flute. served with your choice flavoring, glitter cotton candy, and a hash pinwheel
For food, you cannot go wrong. We enjoyed the cannoli donuts, short rib hash, and a short stack of lemon blueberry pancakes. It was so good we wanted to go back the next day but did not have time.
Prep & Pastry – If you want a mimosa, Prep & Pastry has you covered. We enjoyed the unique and delicious variety of breakfast dishes like Cast Iron Duck Confit and the plant-driven Monsterbowl.
The Herb Box – The Herb Box has a casual feel with upscale food. We enjoyed the gouda mac & cheese and the enchilladas.
Olive & Ivy – Located in the Old Town Scottsdale waterfront area, Olive & Ivy is a Mediterranean restaurant with California Influence. We went for lunch and loved the bacon-wrapped dates and had gourmet salads. We would love to go back for some of the flatbreads and pasta that looked amazing.
Lon’s – Located at The Hermosa Inn, Lon’s is a perfect place for a relaxed and romantic dinner for two. We sat outdoors next to a fountain and enjoyed the cool evening weather. You can expect local ingredients and high-quality seafood like the fried lobster appetizer that come with fried peppers. To end the meal, order a tower of churros.
Marcellino Ristorante – You’ll find authentic Italian cuisine from a chef born and raised in Italy. It truly reminded us of Italy with the decor, live music, and great food made with simple, high-quality ingredients.
The Mission – Living in Austin, it’s hard to get excited about Latin cuisine anywhere else, but The Mission nailed it. The Faroe Island Salmon was cooked to absolute perfection and the pumpkin bread pudding was a perfect way to end the meal.
El Chorro – Go to the historic El Chorro restaurant for a romantic dinner in a serene setting. Start with famous warm sticky buns that date back to when the location was a school for girls. Our highlights included the lobster bites, compressed melon salad, grilled lamb chops, and the El Chorro chopped vegan delight.