There can be a lot of pressure around planning a date. Maybe you want everything perfect to ensure a successful first date or to blow your partner away with a special anniversary celebration. Regardless of whether you’re still looking to find your person, vying for a second date, or wanting to impress your long-term partner, it always helps to have some date ideas in Scottsdale on hand.
To ensure you’re always ready for any kind of date, we’ve selected some of our favorite night and day date ideas in Scottsdale and neighboring Phoenix. From casual spots and outdoorsy attractions to fancy restaurants and elaborate adventures, our list includes plenty of ideas to help inspire your next romantic outing in the Grand Canyon State.
1. Go Up, Up, and Away
Of all the romantic things to do in Scottsdale, a hot air balloon ride definitely secures a top spot. For this whimsical date idea, you and your sweetheart will venture into a hand-crafted wicker basket and glide up to 3,000 feet into the air while reveling in the 350-degree views of the enchanting desert scenery below. Once touching ground, you and your date will experience the Balloonist Ceremony reserved for first-time flyers and receive a catered spread for you to relish after your exciting air adventures.
2. Float Down the River
For a fun and flirty day date in Scottsdale during the summer months, zip over to nearby Mesa to tube along the Salt River. You and your honey are sure to have a ball as you recline in your inner tubes and let the gentle flow of the river guide you through the stunning Tonto National Forest. After cooling off in the refreshing river water, you’ll have just enough time to enjoy a picnic at the end of the run before shuttling back to your car.
3. Sip Some Local Vino
Who says you need to go to Napa to find good wine? Not us! In fact, there’s a fabulous wine trail right here in Scottsdale where couples can sample all the local varieties. Invite your partner along to Downtown Scottsdale for an afternoon of sipping vino at the seven tasting rooms all within walking distance of one another. These lovely local establishments serve award-winning wines that are yours for the tasting! Sip and stroll, but just be sure to eat some food along the way and schedule a sober driver to transport you both home at the end of the day.
4. Explore the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Venturing around the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is easily one of our favorite date ideas in Scottsdale. This protected desert landscape is a treasure trove of wonders, home to more than 730 types of plants and animals. Head out on one of the many trails together in search of colorful cactus flowers, red-tailed hawks, black-tailed jackrabbits, and mule deer. Remember, this is the wild desert, so bring plenty of water and keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.
5. Flutter Around at Butterfly World
When you and your date visit Butterfly World, you won’t be the only ones stealing butterfly kisses! This whimsical habitat is one of the largest butterfly conservatories in North America, featuring roughly 70 different species of these winged critters. While you’re there, don’t miss out on feeding the koi fish, visiting the rainforest reptile exhibit, and even witnessing butterflies emerge from their chrysalis in the emergence gallery!
6. Saddle up at MacDonald’s Ranch
Giddy up! For this unique day date idea in Scottsdale, put on your cowboy boots and get ready to go for a gallop—or at least a gentle trot around the Sonoran Desert. At MacDonald’s Ranch, you and your love can saddle up and ride horses around the scenic property with sweeping views of the desert scape. Want to take the romance up a notch? Book the moonlight ride, where you mount at sunset and explore the desert from horseback under the glow of the evening sky.
7. Belly up to the Bar at Rusty Spur Saloon
If you prefer more laidback date ideas in Scottsdale, skip the fancy spots and grab two stools at the Rusty Spur Saloon. This rustic country western joint is Scottsdale’s oldest bar, which opened its doors in 1951. However, the establishment dates back much further than that, as it was originally built in 1921, serving at the local bank. You and your date can sip on margaritas and nosh on some cowboy burgers while admiring the local history and listening to some of the finest live country music in town!
8. Get a Table for Two at Cafe Monarch
Whether you’re celebrating a special anniversary or want to make a good impression on your first date, Cafe Monarch is the place to go. This elegant restaurant exudes romance with candle-lit chandeliers, Spanish artwork, and antique flair, yet its decadent cuisine is what really steals the show. You and your date can choose from the caviar selection, a four-course prix fixe menu, or even the chef’s eight-course tasting. Of course, you’ll also discover specialty cocktails and divine desserts to further treat your palates. Do realize there is a dress code, so remember to dress accordingly!
9. Spoil Yourselves to a Spa Day
Did someone say massage? Plan a spa day for two if you and your partner are looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating date idea in Scottsdale. This city has quite a few spas to choose from, but our vote goes to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess’ Well & Being spa, where you can treat yourselves to pampering skincare and body treatments. This inviting spa also features a Swiss shower, eucalyptus inhalation room, and co-ed grotto waterfall, ensuring you both leave the resort feeling your finest.
10. Take a Day Trip to Neighboring Phoenix
Phoenix is just 13 miles east of Scottsdale, making it an ideal destination if you’re craving a change of scenery. When it comes to date ideas in Phoenix, the options are endless! If you’re in search of an outdoorsy outing, take a hand-in-hand stroll around the stunning flora at the Desert Botanical Garden or marvel at the views during a hike of Camelback Mountain. Prefer to see some exhibits? You and your honey will enjoy losing track of time while admiring the exhibits at attractions like the Pueblo Grande Museum, Arizona Science Center, and the Phoenix Art Museum. If you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Downtown Phoenix for some grub before making your way back to Scottsdale.