Scottsdale during summer: Visiting the desert during the hot part of year and saving money

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Scottsdale AZ boasts dramatic desert scenery and all the outdoor activities that go with it — posh resorts with sparkling pools, and some of Arizona’s finest shopping. Still, summer isn't usually at the top of most people's list of ideal times to explore Scottsdale. Here's what to know about exploring Scottsdale during summer – yes, it's hot but the city has some incredible resort pools and summer prices just might lure you in. 

Photo: Experience Scottsdale.

Getting to Scottsdale

Scottsdale sits conveniently close to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport – a 15 to 20-minute drive – making it an easy vacation spot to reach from just about anywhere.

Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. Photo: Experience Scottsdale.

Not Exactly a Prime Budget Travel Destination

For all its virtues, Scottsdale isn’t exactly a place known for budget travel. A cruise through the city’s pristine streets treats the eyes to well-manicured golf courses, specialty shops, galleries, and high-end restaurants. Scottsdale's high season is from December through February, when the weather is pleasantly warm and sunny and makes a great escape from colder, northern destinations. 

The average July high in Scottsdale is 105 degrees, which makes the city’s plethora of outdoor activity choices uncomfortable and unsafe in the summertime so anyone visiting Scottsdale during summer is going to want to stick close to the resort pool where it's nice and cool. 

Since hotel stays will account for the biggest chunk of the budget when it comes to visiting Scottsdale, off-season travelers will find incredible hotel deals in summer when not as many visitors seek it out as a travel destination.

Save on hotels in Scottsdale during the summer

The Hotel Valley Ho, once a playground for celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, is a fun and quirky upscale retro hotel in the heart of Scottsdale. During the summer, rooms can be booked for as low as $183 per night. The property also offers various specials throughout the year, including a fourth night free, a twenty percent discount on prepaid rooms, and other food and wellness packages that help save money.

The Scottsdale Resort & Spa, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, has off-season rooms as low as $131 per night. Hotels in Scottsdale are going to be two or even three times more expensive during high season, so staying during the summer can shave a substantial amount of money from the travel budget, leaving room for shopping, dining, and other activities.

The pool at The Scottdale Resort and Spa. Photo: Experience Scottsdale.

Choose A Hotel With Lots Of Activities Included

To keep costs low when hotel prices are high, look for resorts with lots of activity inclusions.

Many of Scottsdale’s finer resorts have free activities for their guests, such as movies, trivia pool games, complimentary craft classes, and more. The Phoenician Scottsdale wins, with the most free amenities for guests, as well as a handful of affordable paid activities, such as Mixology classes and higher-end crafts, such as customizing a water bottle.

Some resorts also have complimentary transportation around Scottsdale – most limit it to a three-mile radius – but this can save money on gas or rideshares. The Scott Resort and Spa really does it up in style and takes guests around town in a vintage teal 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. Many of Scottsdale’s resorts also offer loaner bikes for guests to use to get around town.

A higher-end resort in the high season may seem out of budget, but when guests factor in the amenities included, they’ll find their overall activities budget will be less.

Pro-tip: Check to see if your hotel is included under a larger brand, such as Marriott, Hilton, or IHG. The Scottsdale Resort & Spa is Hilton branded and the Phoenician is Marriott branded, so check those Hilton Honors and Bonvoy benefits to stretch vacation dollars further. You'll get even more benefits if you have status with one of the hotel brands, usually fairly easy to obtain as a frequent traveler or with a co-branded credit card. 

The Scott offers guests limited transportation around the area in this vintage Chevrolet. Photo: Experience Scottsdale.

Save by Choosing No-Frills Accommodations…Maybe

Scottsdale has no shortage of more budget-minded accommodations. The city is home to no-frills brands such as Rodeway Inn, SureStay Plus by Best Western, and Quality Inn and Suites. A budget hotel doesn’t mean a bad hotel and if funds are limited, it is worth doing some cost comparisons to see what is the best fit.

However, do the math. The regular Hampton Inn price might not be as great as the summer discounted resort hotel price, especially when you factor in all the inclusions. With lower-priced accommodations, travelers will be giving up amenities such as bike loans, local transportation, pool games, and more. 

Other Free Activities in Scottsdale

Although the combination of summer heat and tempting hotel specials might make you want to stay put at the pool, there's a selection of other activities in town for anyone who wants to brave the temps. 

The free Scottsdale ArtWalk takes place in the Old Town Arts District every Thursday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (except Thanksgiving). Special Gold Palette ArtWalks are held seasonally and feature exhibitions and entertainment around the evening's theme. Credit: Analisa Shah for Experience Scottsdale.


Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain looms high over the Scottsdale landscape, this free hike one of the most popular trails in the area. Camelback Mountain is considered a challenging trail, so make sure to have proper footwear, and enough water, and read trail reviews before attempting, especially when the weather is hot. Early morning hikes are safest during summer. 

Pinnacle Peak Park and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve both have trail systems that are completely free to use. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve also has helpful trail guides and many free programs, including guided hikes and bike rides.

Arts, Culture, and Splash Pads

Other free activities in Scottsdale include public art walking tours – Scottsdale’s Old Town has lots of outdoor public art spaces to check out – and various free concerts throughout the year. There are also several free splash pads located throughout Scottsdale, perfect for cooling off when the sun blazes. And sure, splash pads were designed with kids in mind, but nothing stops an adult from taking a turn through the streams of cooling water, if the mood strikes.

While most Scottsdale area museums are not free to enter, most offer free or discounted days or reciprocal admissions. Check out a free Culture Pass from the Phoenix Library. A Culture Pass gives free admission for two people to a rotating list of participating arts and cultural institutions.

More Free Things/Free Days in Scottsdale  
Desert Botanical Garden Second Tuesday of every month is a free community day. Active duty military free w/ valid ID.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Every Thursday and the second Saturday of every month is pay-what-you-wish day.
Scottsdale Art Walk Multiple outdoor art installations are always free.
Scottsdale Rodeo Museum Always free, donations are accepted.
Fiesta Bowl Museum Always free to enter.



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