Nearest big city: Phoenix
Where can you top off a morning of hiking and rock climbing through the desert with an afternoon of high-end shopping and a night of craft cocktails and dancing? In the “West’s most Western town” — aka Scottsdale.
Phoenix’s smaller neighbor (population: 256,000) is a booming, business-friendly city that welcomes visitors from around the world for events like the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show and its Parada Del Sol, an annual parade featuring live music and dance followed by a block party.
Where there’s this much activity, there are also job prospects. Scottsdale ranked in the top 10 on our list for job gains over the last five years with 14% growth. It shows no sign of slowing down, with another 14% job growth expected through 2025.
The city also boasts architectural beauties such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter residence, Taliesin West, and a historic arts district. Shoppers can head to local boutiques or malls like the Scottsdale Fashion Square with over 240 stores and restaurants. In the evenings, Scottsdale’s walkable Old Town lights up as those looking for a lively night out head to craft cocktail bars and clubs like Clubhouse at Maya.
For nature lovers, Scottsdale is home to the roughly 30,500-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve where you can find horse rides and guided hikes. For sports lovers, it’s a prime spot just several miles from Arizona State University. The minor league baseball team Scottsdale Scorpions play home games at the local stadium, and, for college football fans, the Fiesta Bowl takes place just 30 minutes away in Glendale. — Mallika Mitra