It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and debatably the best time to explore the exclusive neighborhoods of Phoenix-Scottsdale. With pleasantly mild winters and festivities galore, the Valley is a top place to spend the holidays. Use this guide to embark on new adventures and take your winter season to the next level.
The Sonoran Desert is recognized as one of the most unique places on the continent.
The winter months make for the perfect time to hike, bike or simply go on a stroll alongside giant Saguaros and jaw-dropping scenery. Pinnacle Peak Park features a distinctive granite summit that can be seen from much of the Valley. It’s a pristine destination for moderate hiking. The 3.5-mile trail takes hikers through a lush landscape that’s home to a plethora of wildlife such as gila monsters, desert tortoises and the notorious diamondback rattlesnake.
If you’re looking for something to get you in the holiday spirit…
Look no further than the well-established Scottsdale Fairmont Princess. Each year, the hotel transforms into a winter wonderland. The resort holds the Christmas at the Princess festival through January 2nd. Guests can go ice skating and see more than 60 million lights at Arizona’s longest-running AAA Five Diamond hotel. This year’s new additions include sledding on Snow Mountain, Frosty’s Ferris Wheel and an Ice Maze. Visiting the Princess during the holidays is a highly anticipated tradition for many families in Scottsdale.
Car lovers rejoice!
Collector cars from around the planet will be in town for the annual Scottsdale Auto Auctions showing in late January. Guests can expect to see restored classics, muscle cars and unique European models over the nine-day event. Since the 1970s, this show has been known to feature some of the rarest cars in the world and this year’s line-up will include Barrett-Jackson, Gooding & Company and Russo and Steele.
It’s holiday lights galore!
The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a great place for families to visit year-round, however, the Christmas festivities really kick things up a notch. Visitors can hop onboard the Paradise and Pacific Railroad to experience all the holiday magic through January 2nd. The park is known for its historic Charros Carousel, railroad museum and Hartley’s General Store where guests can enjoy a cup of hot cocoa in the wintertime.
Tea party, anyone?
Attend a holiday tea party at the Phoenician while holiday music is played by renowned pianist Alan Comyns. The luxury resort is consistently rated for having the “Best Afternoon Tea” by the Phoenix New Times and Arizona Republic Readers. Finger sandwiches, fresh-baked buttermilk and cranberry scones, tea pastries and three-course meals; tea at the Phoenician has it all. Guests can opt for private dining options or even enjoy their meal poolside.
This time of year is great to visit the Soleri Bridge and Plaza.
Designed by the famous artist, architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri, the Soleri Bridge and Plaza are along the Scottsdale Waterfront. The bridge is much more than just a passageway over the canal but a true architectural achievement. It features a solar calendar that goes into full effect on an equinox or solstice—making the winter solstice, December 21st, a great day to visit. The bridge is located at Camelback and North Scottsdale Road.
For those who miss more traditional winter weather and colder temperatures, ice skating is always an option.
The Ice Den in Scottsdale is a state-of-the-art ice skating rink and the official practice facility for the Arizona Coyotes. It has repeatedly ranked as one of the top 10 in the country by USA Today. The 150,000 square foot facility is home to Mountainside Fitness training center, an Over Easy breakfast diner and 18 Degrees, North Scottsdale’s newest neighborhood grill.
The Phoenix area has an array of beloved dining options and special Christmas menus during the holidays.
Start Christmas Day at Hearth 61 at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley with a delicious brunch served in the ballroom. This restaurant plans to serve a festive three-course meal later in the day. Dishes will include Charred Spanish Octopus, Braised Beef Short Rib and Eggnog Creme Brûlée. Sip on a cocktail at Hearth 61’s bar which has been ranked as the “Most Beautifully Designed Bar” in Arizona by Architectural Digest.
Looking to just grab a drink?
Enjoy unique cocktails and irresistible cuisine at the Jade Bar in Paradise Valley. Hang out on the patio near the fireplace on cooler desert evenings. The contemporary bar is best known for its enticing menu and drinks made with premium spirits, local fresh juices, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Guests can look forward to enjoying live music during their visit as well.
The outdoor explorations are nearly endless.
Visit the highly rated Mohave Trail that offers a variety of climbing and flat land with views of the Valley. This moderate hike is known for having beautiful wildflowers to enjoy along the way. Pet lovers will be pleased to know dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they’re kept on a leash.
The season isn’t complete without attending a classic holiday performance.
Ballet Arizona’s The Nutcracker is a fan favorite in the Valley and is deemed as one of the top performances in the country. Attendees will see Clara’s winter wonderland adventures as she takes on the Sugar Plum Fairy and very mischievous mice. The Phoenix Symphony performances takes this production to a top-notch level.
An iconic holiday tradition that has continued for more than four decades…
For a truly breathtaking evening, go to Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Listen to live music, entertainment and see more than 8,000 hand-lit luminarias around the garden. This year, Las Noches de Las Luminarias will last through the end of the year. The garden holds a silent night on December 21st. This particular evening is meant for self-reflection and rejuvenation while walking the candlelit trails. The Desert Botanical Garden is an incredible feat all on its own with more than 50,000 plants—the largest garden of its kind in the Southwest.
Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and embrace all the Old West has to offer.
We’re talking about a scenic horseback ride at Saguaro Lake Ranch Stable this winter, of course. Just east of Phoenix, the guided trail rides are known for being unlike any other trail near the Valley. Guests can take in the sights and sounds of the towering Bulldog Cliffs and majestic Salt River that winds through the property. Both experienced and novice riders are welcome.
Known as the largest holiday lights show in North America.
Lights of the World in downtown Phoenix is a must-see during the holidays. It’s a magical experience that features more than 10 million lights and lanterns. The show has authentic Chinese food, crafts and 75 stunning displays. Lights of the World showcases different cultures from around the globe.
Near perfect winter temperatures give you the perfect opportunity to explore all the Valley has to offer this holiday season.
Whether it’s a hiking day-trip, dazzling holiday lights or exploring new Christmas menus, the highly regarded neighborhoods of the Phoenix-Scottsdale area won’t disappoint. As a top destination area, more and more people are choosing to call Arizona home and spending the holidays warmly. If buying or selling luxury real estate is on your mind, let us know and we’ll fill you in on how we’re able to help luxury sellers make commanding sales and luxury buyers find the right property.