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    Scottsdale Arizona: what to see between Old Town, Art Disctrict and surroundings

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    Joel Fulleda

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    Central Arizona welcomes us. The city of Scottsdale Also renowned for its golf courses, it shows off its artistic flair. All these features put together make it particularly interesting.

    We are in the Salt River Valley, also known as the "Valley of the Sun" (the valley of the sun), surrounded by the Salt River and Mount Camelback 825 meters high, whose shape resembles the hump and head of a kneeling camel. We are located in the metropolitan area of Phoenix, capital of Arizona, enclosed by the counties of Pinal and Maricopa. And in the latter is our destination which takes its name from its founder Winfield Scottsdale and which has just over 273.000 inhabitants.

    If you are planning your Arizona tour it can therefore be considered a good base for visiting some of the most important attractions in the south-central area of ​​the state.


    • How to get there and how to get around
    • The Old Town of Scottsdale
    • Scottsdale's Art District and cultural attractions
    • A little entertainment for young and old
    • The natural parks
    • Scottsdale events
    • Where to shop
    • Where to eat
    • Accomodation
    • What to see around Scottsdale

    How to get there and how to get around

    Those who do not like cold weather are in the right place; here the winters are mild and the summers very hot but pleasantly dry. The rains are infrequent and concentrated mainly between April and June. Scottsdale is easily reached from the airport international shared with Phoenix (3400 E.Sky Harbor Blvd.), which is about thirty minutes from our destination. This modern airport surprises us but we like it; it is atypical for its collection of contemporary art located within the various terminals in order to welcome visitors with a sense of warmth and pleasantness.

    We recommend renting a car to indulge yourself in complete freedom; getting familiar with the automatic gearbox is not difficult and driving here is not stressful. Those who prefer the mezzi public can opt for it Scottsdale Trolley, a free bus that runs both the nine blocks of downtown and the southernmost area of ​​the city and surrounding areas.

    The Old Town of Scottsdale

    When you think of Arizona, your mind plunges into the legendary times of the far west and rightly so, but present-day Scottsdale is now so much more. In its surroundings, nature is sovereign but the city is also a fervent center dedicated to art without neglecting attractions suitable for young and old.

    The main attraction in the city is found in the downtown area; it is the Old Town (N.Brown Ave., E.Main, E.1st St., N.Scottsdale Rd.) Located in what used to be the first core of Scottsdale. The buildings in the neighborhood recall the times and western architecture and this is what we are looking for together with more modern realities, so a walk along the wooden pedestrian walkways and a visit to the emporiums is a must. The step back in time is evident even though there are art galleries, restaurants and the hub of nightlife here.

    One of the stops on the walk in the neighborhood is the Old Adobe Mission (3817 N. Brown Ave.), a church built in 1933 by Mexicans who settled in Scottsdale using adobe (a mixture of earth and organic materials). To admire the workmanship of the stained glass windows. Also in downtown it is nice to walk along the Waterfront of the Salt River (7135 E.Camelback Rd.). Here among fountains, sculptures, trees and flowers you can see refined residential buildings, offices and restaurants.

    Scottsdale's Art District and cultural attractions

    Art lovers shouldn't miss theArt District, enclosed between Main St., 1st Ave., Scottsdale Rd. and 69th St., where art galleries are concentrated that weekly organize evening events to attract the attention of visitors in a particular way. Works of contemporary and modern art combined with architecture and design are exhibited at the Mocha, Museum of Contemporary Art (7374 E.2nd St.).

    The museum shop sells creative items from around the world. The building, which can be visited upon purchase of an entrance ticket, opens at noon and is closed on Mondays and during the main holidays. Still on the subject of museums, we suggest some options. The Museum of the West (3830 N. Marshall Way) celebrates the art, history, culture and tales of the American West through events and exhibitions.

    Taliesin West (12621 N.Frank Wright Blvd.) instead, it was the residence and winter studio of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright who fell in love with Scottsdale at the beginning of the last century; now the structure is an architecture school and a design studio. This particular 240-hectare complex, nestled in a hilly desert area at the foot of Mount McDowell, is open to the public and offers paid ninety-minute tours for which reservations are strongly recommended. It may be interesting to stop by the shop in this particular building.

    But there is another thing six kilometers west of Talesin that deserves a mention and a visit; and the Cosanti Foundation, founded by the architect Paolo Soleri, a student of Wright, to continue his studies of "arcology", a mixture of architecture and ecology designed to create new urban habitats. Inside, the wind bells and bronze sculptures are famous.

    A little entertainment for young and old

    Moving on to another topic, the complex called Odysea in the Desert (9500 E.Via de Ventura) was created for the enjoyment of young and old and consists of three buildings: Odysea Aquarium, Dolphinaris and Butterfly Wonderland. Odyssey Aquarium is an aquarium with penguins, otters, carp, trout, sharks and rays to pet. Do not miss the experience of an underwater dive lasting about an hour that follows a specific path, then a walk through a covered tunnel allows you to admire the beauty of the great coral reef. There is also a movie about humpback whales.

    Al Dolphinaris you live an educational and at the same time joyful experience; you can swim with dolphins, meet up close and observe the experts who take care of them. The Butterfly Wonderworld is the largest indoor butterfly in the United States; it is a habitat that reproduces a tropical forest in which butterflies from all over the world fly freely. A 3D movie completes the visit.

    For families with children we recommend the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (7301 E.Indian Rd.), An amusement park with a play area, a model railroad, the train museum, and a ride on this mode of transportation. To top it all off, there are shops and a general store. For those who want to take advantage of their holiday to practice golf, we recommend the Westin Kirkland Golf Club (15363 N. Clubgate Dr.), one of the best golf courses in the area. But one of the newest and hottest attractions of the moment is Segway Scottsdale Tours (4140 N. Miller Rd.), Which leads to discover Scottsdale as a group on a fast and comfortable means of transport, the Segway, which also gives a great sense of freedom.

    Plan your Segway tour

    The natural parks

    To nature lovers we point out two areas where nature is sovereign. The first is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (7447 E.Indian School Rd.), A Sonoran desert setting with saguaro cactus and organ pipes. Here you will find trails for 290 kilometers ideal for walking, climbing, cycling and mini jeep tours: one of the most famous is the Tom’s Thumb Trail, a route of moderate difficulty about six and a half kilometers long among rocks, wild flowers and hawks' nests. Its name thumb derives from a rock that has the same shape whose highest point is 412 meters.

    The other natural wonder immersed in the Sonoran desert that we point out is the Pinnacle Peak Park (26802 N.102nd Way); along a scenic route of about three kilometers you can climb rocks, meet desert turtles, coyotes, gray foxes, bobcats and pumas.

    For the less adventurous, for those who do not climb cliffs and do not venture into the meanders of the desert, there is the possibility of feeling equally immersed in the atmosphere of the far west by visiting a ranch. In the Sonoran desert we recommend the MacDonald Ranch (26540 N. Scottsdale Rd.) Which offers accessible activities for all, such as horse riding, stagecoach rides, outdoor cooking for groups and observing farm animals; in October the garden is full of pumpkins ready for the celebration of Halloween. This is a great place for parties, events and birthdays.

    Scottsdale events

    It would not be bad to combine the visit of Scottsdale and its surroundings during an event and in this regard we would like to recommend a few. It is held in February Scottsdale Arabian Show (16601 N. Pima Rd. - Westworld of Scottsdale) which consists of competitions, shows, seminars and gala parties related to the world of beautiful Arabian horses.

    To the more "fashionistas" we propose it Scottsdale Fashion Week which takes place in March. Presentations of national and international luxury brands alternate with music shows. The Scottsdale Culinary Festival is held for six days in April at the Civic Center (7375 E.2nd St.). The theme of the event is food that ranges from fine dining experiences to cocktail making and there is also a picnic with demonstrations by a talented chef.

    At the end of October you can attend the Spooktacular Hot Air Balloon Festival (7555 N.Pima Rd.) With guided tours in hot air balloon, also in the Halloween theme given the month in which the event takes place. Live music, fireworks, haunted paths and food complete this event. In December, the Christmas holidays also make the puppies happy in the event called Holiday Pet Festival (16601 N.Pima Rd. - Westworld of Scottsdale) with lots of fun proposals ranging from the competition for the best "four-legged friend" costume to photos with Santa Claus. There is no shortage of veterinarians ready to answer all questions.

    Where to shop

    It is always nice to take home a memento of your trip and in the Old Town you will find south western items, artisan boutiques as well as luxury shops. Jewelery shops with local stone creations abound in the defined area Fifth Avenue Shops, shopping is guaranteed and you can also admire a particular fountain with horses. We also report The Promenade (Frank Lloyd Wright and N. Scottsdale Rd.), A shopping center with the spire, a triangular-shaped sculpture that lights up at night.

    This whimsical creation is the work of the previously mentioned architect Frank Llyod Wright. The Kirkland Commons (15205 N. Kirkland Blvd.) instead is an open-air mall. Lovers of luxury brands can go to the Scottsdale Fashion Square (7014 E.Camelback Rd.) In a refined setting of big names.

    Where to eat

    A trip isn't complete without a taste of local cuisine. The restaurant has an informal atmosphere flag (3821 N. Scottsdale Rd.-Old Town) specializes in American and South Western dishes accompanied by fine margaritas cocktails. From Monarch Coffee (6934 E.1st Ave. - Old Town), a restaurant that has received many awards, it is possible to have a dining experience ranging from romantic to extravagant in a very pleasant setting. The menu features dishes with seasonal and local ingredients combined with a good wine list. Here the needs of vegetarians, vegans and celiacs are met without problems.

    Dishes of modern Latin cuisine can be sampled from The Mission (3815 N. Brown Ave. - Old town). In this elegant restaurant with romantic charm by candlelight you can decide whether to eat indoors or outdoors warmed by the heat of the fire. Japanese cuisine is offered by Kyoto Scottsdale at the Waterfront (7170 E. Stetson Dr.). In this restaurant, sushi dishes and food cooked in the large plate around the diners are served with the teppanyaki method. But you can't leave Scottsdale without setting foot on a must visit like the Rusty Spur Saloon (7245 E. Main St.) with excellent live music, a true country icon in the Old Town also frequented by celebrities from the world of entertainment and cinema.


    Scottsdale is very popular. There are various options to stay overnight but generally the costs are quite high (however variable depending on the period). Starting from the slightly more expensive accommodations we point out it Scottsdale Marriot Suites Old Town (7325 E.3rd Ave.) where guests stay in suites with sitting area and balcony. The hotel has an outdoor pool, fitness center and outdoor patio. Try his restaurant, the 3rd Avenue Grill, with south western cuisine.

    In the Art District is located the Bespoke Inn (3701 N. Marshall Way) where each room has a different style and decor. The property features a private patio, a beautiful courtyard and a rooftop swimming pool. At guests' disposal there are free bicycles, plus there is the convenience of having a restaurant in the structure.

    Not far from the Old Town it deserves to be considered theHyatt House Scottsdale (4245 N.Drinkwater Blvd.) featuring an outdoor pool and hot tub; it is a 20-minute drive from Sky Harbor International Airport and offers free Wi-Fi in all rooms as well as a breakfast buffet.

    For those who prefer a less urban location and more immersed in nature, we recommend two accommodation facilities. The Four Peaks B&B (29424 N.138th St.) has a south western feel even in the furnishings of the rooms and suites. Breakfast can be served directly in your room or on the patio. There is a swimming pool available to customers. Puppies are welcome.

    Even the hotels of the normally more affordable chains (Days Inn, Extended Stay, Country Inn & Suites) are a little cheaper in this city but you can search for offers through the search engines or you can opt for an accommodation a few miles from the city.

    Discover all the Scottsdale hotels

    What to see around Scottsdale

    Scottsdale offers fun, attractions, culture and lots of nature for all visitors to enjoy. We also recommend discovering this corner of America by combining it with the cities and towns around it. In fact, leaving the city area means continuing to discover natural beauty, culture and art. To do this, if you do not use rental vehicles, you can use the company's public buses Valley Metro which also operates services to and from Scottsdale. The countries of Tempe (where we mention Papago Park), Kitchen (where we point out the panoramic cruise on Saguaro Lake), Chandler e Glendale they are approximately 15-30 minutes from Scottsdale and can be visited on day trips.

    Even the capital Phoenix it is very close (about 25 minutes); there is so much to see starting with the Penke Racing Museun with its exhibition of famous cars, from the original museum of musical instruments continuing with the art and science museums, with the interior of the State Capitol (the Capitol) , with the Romanesque basilica of St. Mary, with the area of ​​the Historic Heritage Square, with the zoo and the botanical gardens. Basketball fans will appreciate the spectacular performances of the Phoenix Suns in the NBA championship.

    Full day tour to Phoenix and Scottsdale

    And if you haven't visited the Grand Canyon (4 and a half hours) or the town of sedona (two hours) with its breathtaking red rocks also join these two northern Arizona destinations to the vacation in Scottsdale. Let us remember that every corner of Arizona is a surprise and that even the lesser known destinations hide beauties. Like the first explorers and pioneers, browse, discover the neighborhoods and interact with the locals in order to fully grasp the essence of the reality in which you find yourself.

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