Scottsdale is one of Phoenix's satellite towns and is a great alternative to the busy city as a base and for heading out on a driving tour of central Arizona. It has some history and a bit of a Wild West look in its Old Town, while national travel deals in Scottsdale can be sourced online.
Of the many airports about Phoenix, Sky Harbor Airport has the most flight options and is close to Scottsdale by rental car expect a 20-minute drive. Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is a good alternative. There are no direct Amtrak rail services to Phoenix, but you can get there by bus. By road, Scottsdale lies beside US-101, the Phoenix loop. It crosses both the east-west I-10 and the northbound I-17.
Scottsdale is big into shopping and saloons and you'll find both downtown, while the best place to shop for clothes is the huge Fashion Square Mall. Head to the Old Town for that American West look, with 5th Avenue displaying the best of it's goods for Native American crafts. There's also an upscale gallery district in town and Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West is a must-see museum. Those with kids should see the Phoenix Zoom located to the south of Scottsdale by rental car.
Scottsdale is also known for its canals, dozens of them originally built to quench the land. Off to the northwest by car rental from Scottsdale is the stunning Camelback Mountain park and hike to the top for breathtaking views. A nice 45-minute drive north is the cool town of Cave Creek, while northeast is the expansive Tonto National Forest.
If it's hot, be sure to take in one of the water parks here, such as Mesa Sunsplash, which is accessible by Scottsdale car rental. There are dozens of golf courses in the area, too, some with reasonable green fees. Both the Old Town and Downtown areas have good bars and eateries, or you could hit the Scottsdale Waterfront to shop and eat at the same time. For food and history, get on a walking tour, such as the Taste of Old Town.
Scottsdale is one of the safer Phoenix suburban areas, with a visible police presence and well lit streets. It gets very hot in summer so always prepare and let someone know if driving out into the big reserves.