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37 Unforgettable Date Ideas in Scottsdale, According to a Local

civic center old scottsdale arizona

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Once a dusty western town where locals could ride their horses and hitch them to a post outside a bar, Scottsdale today is unrecognizable from those old days.

Today’s Scottsdale has over 200 golf courses, luxurious spa resorts, along with shopping opportunities resembling what you’d find on New York’s Fifth Avenue and an abundance of striking mid-century architecture.

You’ll find the requisite but tasty Mexican and southwestern restaurants in Scottsdale, where you can sip a prickly-pear margarita with your cactus taco.

But you’ll also taste French cuisine so scrumptious that you’ll swear you’re in a fancy brasserie in Paris.

Hiking is a major pastime in Scottsdale because of the vast desert scenery and variety of cactus plants, including hundreds of years old saguaros.

One thing to always remember: bring water on any hike.

37 Unforgettable Date Ideas in Scottsdale, AZ, According to a Local

Whether you’re set on a romantic date night or want to plan a full day of activities, Scottsdale has everything you’d ever want.

These ideas will help you plan a memorable date you and your partner won’t want to end.

1. Old Town Scottsdale

Located in the southern part of Scottsdale, Old Town is a great date idea and the perfect place to begin your day. Authentic American Indian goods — from jewelry to pottery.

It’s not all reminiscent of the West because you’ll see many Specialty boutiques for women & men — including upscale western wear

2. Scottsdale Farmers Market

Visit Scottsdale Farmers Market any Saturday morning except during the summer months. It’s a fun place to begin your day and people-watch.

The market hosts over 100 growers and specialty food grocers, including organic produce, flowers, natural meat, and free-range eggs.

Get a couple of homemade bagels or burritos from one of the local sellers.

3. Marshall Way Arts District 

art district scottsdale arizona
Photo by Lisa Zuba

Stroll along the streets and look at fine galleries specializing in various mediums, painting, photography, sculpture, and fibers.

Many famous artists are represented here, including American Indian and Western artisans.

4. The Scottsdale Art Walk 

If you happen to be in Old Town on Thursday evening, make sure to take part in the Scottsdale Art Walk.

It’s held every Thursday evening throughout the year. Galleries are open; you can meet artists, enjoy beverages, and listen to live music.

5. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

If you want more art, visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art on the edge of Old Town.

It’s dedicated to showing contemporary architecture, art, and design works. And it’s definitely one of the best date ideas in Scottsdale for art lovers.

6. Western Spirit

There is even Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West in Old Town Scottsdale.

The museum showcases the art, culture, and rich history spanning 19 states in the American West, Western Canada, and Mexico.

Named Best Museum by AZ Foothills Magazine, Western Spirit is a great place to view Western artists, Native American jewelry, pottery, and paintings.

The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

7. The Marketplace on 1st

marketplace on 1st scottsdale arizona
Photo by Liza Zuba

If you’ve worked up an appetite, look no further for a lunch spot than The Marketplace on 1st.

Stop in for locally roasted coffee drinks, freshly prepared salads, and their signature, baked-from-scratch incredible pastries. 

The flakiest crust and perfectly-set custard quiche can be found at The Marketplace. If you and your date feel like mingling, sit at the community table where you can meet locals.

They have a variety of kitchen and home goods for sale, along with an outstanding selection of cookbooks.

8. Arcadia Farms

Here’s another great date idea in Scottsdale. If you want a bit fancier place for lunch or brunch, go across the street to Arcadia Farms, owned by the same people as The Marketplace.

The food is scrumptious, and the setting is beautiful – inside and out.

9. Scottsdale Fashion Square

Up the road from Old Town, Scottsdale Fashion Square has something for everyone – upscale shopping from exclusive designer boutiques to taking a test drive in a Lucid Motors electric vehicle.

10. Wonderspace

If you didn’t get enough art, Wonderspace at Scottsdale Fashion Square is well worth getting tickets for before an early evening visit.

It’s truly a magnificent art show and cocktail space. Specially curated, Wonderspace has art installations from renowned artists around the world. 

11. Francine Restaurant

Score a reservation at Francine Restaurant, voted the best fine dining restaurant in Scottsdale by Modern Luxury Magazine. Located in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Park, Francine has been on every “Best of” list since it opened.

Its menu is straight out of the South of France, where celebrity chef-founder Laurent Halasz grew up.

Make sure to try the smoky grilled octopus, and the Salad Nicoise is like no other, with fresh, just-barely-seared ahi tuna — a perfect summertime dish. You can almost touch the love in the air at Francine. Truly an unforgettable experience.

12. Hula’s Modern Tiki

If you want a less fancy dining experience, make sure you stop at Hula’s Modern Tiki.

Locally owned, Hula’s brings you back to classic tiki bars and restaurants of the 50s and 60s – with a most modern flair.

The menu marries Polynesian and mainland flavors with delicious tropical cocktails — think colorful umbrellas and orchids. You’ll surely have some unforgettable fun at Hula’s.

13. Fellow Osteria & Pizzeria

Fellow Osteria & Pizzeria bills itself Italian-born and Scottsdale-raised. True to its motto, Fellow serves house-made pasta, pizza, and tasty salads and sandwiches in a bright, airy space. Make reservations to ensure your spot on the climate-controlled patio.

14. Los Olivos

Los Olivos has been housed for over 70 years in a funky building in Old Town Scottsdale. You’ll find a full traditional Sonoran Mexican food menu. The third generation of the original owners prepares the dishes.

Tortillas and salsa are homemade every day. Sip a spicy margarita, eat some chips and salsa, and admire the most unusual architecture while waiting for your enchiladas or quesadillas.

15. Taco Madera

A more modern take on Mexican food can be found at Taco Madera. Its concept is that of a contemporary Mexican steakhouse using bold flavors with sustainable and organic ingredients.

From the moment you step into Taco Madera, you and your date will feel like you’re in a very special place – the music, architectural design, award-winning food, and a long list of tequila and mezcals provide an uncommon sensory experience.

16. FnB Restaurant

Nationally acclaimed and called “the epicenter of creative Arizona cuisine” by Food & Wine Magazine, FnB Restaurant continually wins awards.

You can be certain of a spectacular meal as chef and co-owner Charleen Badman was named Best Chef of the Southwest by the James Beard Awards. FnB has one of the largest lists of Arizona wines at any restaurant.

A seasonally changing menu, all ingredients are locally sourced from some of the finest Arizona farms. FnB will give you and your date an evening to remember.

17. Virtu Honest Craft

Another nationally award-winning Old Town Scottsdale restaurant is Virtu Honest Craft. It’s located within the Bespoke Inn bed and breakfast.

Its ambiance on the outdoor patio screams romance! Virtu’s Mediterranean-style menu changes weekly, almost always including house-made pasta.

They source ingredients from local farms and seafood from top seafood markets around the world. You’ll experience an unforgettable meal at Virtu.

You no longer need to travel to Napa Valley for some great-tasting wines. Arizona has over 100 vineyards in three wine-growing regions – the Verde Valley, Wilcox, and Sonoita.

Several Arizona vineyards have tasting rooms in Old Town Scottsdale. Try one of these for an unforgettable afternoon or evening in Old Town Scottsdale.

18. LTV Winery

Sit on their patio and taste their estate wines. You can have a glass, a flight, or split a bottle at LTV Winery.

19. Merkin Vineyards

Merkin Vineyards wine comes from their 100+ acres of vines in the Verde Valley and Wilcox, Arizona.

They also have a food menu consisting of pasta, pizza, and a variety of charcuterie boards. A special treat at Merkin is their homemade gelati.

20. Carlson Creek Vineyards 

Located in a former art gallery, Carlson Creek Vineyards offers 13 varietals on their menu. You can also order specialty boards with cheese, cured meats, and olives.

Even the artwork on the wall changes periodically and is for sale.

21. Postino WineCafe

No list of wine bars would be complete without including Arizona’s own Postino WineCafe, with several locations around the Valley.

It’s a lively venue with wines from Arizona and all over the world. Postino is known for ensuring a fun evening and its famous bruschetta.

22. Civic Center Mall

Photo by Lisa Zuba

Before leaving downtown Scottsdale, walk over to the Civic Center Mall downtown. Take a romantic photo next to Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture.

love sculpture civic center scottsdale arizona
Photo by Lisa Zuba

23. Scottsdale Canals 

After the LOVE sculpture, take a stroll around the Scottsdale Canal waterways.

As part of a 140-mile-long waterway system, the canals that run through downtown Scottsdale are next to wine bars, brew pubs, and restaurants.

24. McDowell Sonoran Preserve

sonoran preserve scottsdale arizona
Photo by Lisa Zuba

If you and your date want to experience an active morning, travel up Scottsdale Road toward the McDowell Sonoran Preserve for spectacular views. The 4,000’ McDowell Mountains tower over Scottsdale.

The Preserve consists of over 30,000 acres and hundreds of miles of multi-use trails for mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, and horseback riders.

Located at the western end of the Preserve is the most popular and accessible trail — Gateway.

The 4.5-mile Gateway Loop Trail is a favorite of early morning hikers, as well as Scottsdale’s mountain bikers and equestrians. The Gateway trailhead offers exceptional facilities, including bathrooms, water, and maps. 

Always, always bring water on any hike. The low humidity tricks you into thinking you’re not as hot as you are.

Also, wear hiking or trail shoes because the trails are quite rocky, and you’ll need the stability of a specialty shoe.

multi-armed saguaros sonoran desert scottsdale
Photo by Lisa Zuba

The earlier you start out at Gateway, the better. You’ll be up close to various desert plants, including tall and multi-armed saguaros, which can only be found in the Sonoran Desert. 

Check out the Gateway Trail near sunset in the cooler months for spectacular views.

25. Taliesin West

Another unforgettable experience is taking a tour through Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s western home and former architecture school.

Set on several hundred acres in the McDowell Mountains, Taliesin is deeply connected to the desert. In-depth tours of 90 minutes are given by volunteers with immense knowledge of Taliesin and of Wright.

In fact, no two tours are the same. You’ll learn something different each time.

For a memorable evening, take the Nightfall Guided Tour that includes stunning dusk views.

You and your date will spend 60 minutes with a passionate, knowledgeable guide exploring the outdoor spaces of Taliesin West’s Historic Core. 

26. Kierland Commons

Kierland Commons gives you and your date an outdoor shopping, strolling, and dining experience.

There are a variety of stores and boutiques, along with an array of restaurants — from quick to elegant — in a Main Street style. 

27. Scottsdale Quarter

Across the street from Kierland is Scottsdale Quarter, another outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment destination.

It’s home to a park-like center with the largest pop-jet fountain in the region — lots of fun on a warm afternoon.

28. Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls

Get the New England specialty in the desert at Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls.

From traditional lobster rolls to lobster salad, you’ll enjoy a memorable lunch after a hike in the McDowell Mountains at Mason’s in the Scottsdale Quarter.

29. Mastro’s Ocean Club

Take your date to dinner at Mastro’s Ocean Club at Kierland, and you’ll experience a luxurious evening.

Acclaimed throughout the country, Mastro’s seafood dishes are unparalleled. There’s even live music to enjoy any night of the week.

30. Sunset Sonoran Jeep Tour

For the adventurous couple, take the two-hour Evening Sunset Sonoran Jeep Tour.

You’ll experience the world-famous Arizona sunset (weather dependent) on a low-speed, bumpy sightseeing tour of the scenic Sonoran Desert via the Tonto National Forest.

Your professional tour guide will teach you about the Sonoran Desert flora, wildlife, Arizona history, and Native American ethnobotanical practices that helped people thrive in the desert for hundreds of years.

You’ll see extraordinary scenery on trails that you would otherwise not be able to reach.

The tour stops at sunset at a panoramic lookout point to see the historic Great Western Trail. Watch the stars begin to shine in the dark sky. You and your date will be talking about the evening on the Sunset Jeep tour for years to come.

31. Top Golf

This is a perfect spot for the active couple. Whether you’re an experienced golfer or a newbie, Top Golf is fun for everyone.

It’s got climate-controlled hitting bays used year-round, a sports bar, and a restaurant. You can bring your own clubs or use the ones there.

32. La Hacienda at the Princess

Fine Mexican dining at La Hacienda at the Westin Princess Resort in north Scottsdale.

Experience gorgeous outdoor dining, complete with beehive fireplaces and Spanish architecture. Romance is surely to be in the air.

Upscale Mexican dishes with a large selection of tequila and agave. Make sure to order the guacamole made tableside. After dinner, take a walk around the sweet resort.

33. The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

Couples Massage at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Scottsdale has plenty of resort spas, and The Westin Kierland is one of the finest.

A special couples outing is to schedule a treatment, like a massage, together. Try Agave, The Arizona Spa & Salon at The Westin for a memorable outing.

34. McDonald’s Ranch

Horseback riding in the desert at McDonalds Ranch. The best way to get up close and personal with the desert is on horseback. See the desert the way early settlers did — from a saddle.

Everyone can ride (although weight limitations apply). McDonald’s Ranch has a horse for you regardless of your riding experience.

The guide will lead you and your date through scenic trails with endless views of the desert.

Worked up a thirst during the day? If you’re in North Scottsdale, check out one of these beer or wine bars:

35. The Whining Pig

The Whining Pig specializes in craft beers and great wines. Their stock constantly rotates to keep patrons surprised.

Locally owned, The Whining Pig offers a variety of unique grilled cheese sandwiches.

36. State 48 Lager House

State 48 Lager House State 48 refers to Arizona being the 48th state. The Scottsdale location is the site of its largest brewing system and barrel fermenters.

There is also a full-service restaurant here, along with a huge patio overlooking the McDowell Mountains. A great place to come after your hike, and you can say with confidence, “I was on top of that mountain!”

37. O.H.S.O. Brewery & Distillery

Here’s another unique date idea in Scottsdale.

Started by a group of friends who brewed beer as a hobby, O.H.S.O. Brewery & Distillery now has three breweries and distributes their beer statewide. The brewery is recognized globally with awards.

A full restaurant serves lunch and dinner in the north Scottsdale location.

In addition to their award-winning beers, O.H.S.O. is known for its sharable soft pretzel – it comes highly recommended and with a variety of toppings.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many unforgettable date options in Scottsdale, whether you’re in the north or south section. 

With 300 days of sunshine, Scottsdale offers many outdoor activities. If you’re planning day-long activities, start with a morning hike.

There is much to do all day — from hiking to horseback riding to viewing some outstanding art. 

If you’re simply going to dinner, select from one of the award-winning restaurants named here. 

And remember, these are where the locals go!

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