Scottsdale, Arizona, might be known as “The West’s Most Western Town,” but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to horseback rides, hoe-downs and cowboy steaks when you visit. On a Scottsdale vacation, you’ll find plenty of Old West art and architecture to explore — especially in Old Town — as the city is a renowned international art destination and home to buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and other notable architects.
Below are seven ways you can explore Scottsdale’s art galleries and bustling creative scene.
Stroll the ArtWalk
Take a break from boot-scooting down the authentic boardwalks in Old Town to experience one of the country’s oldest art walks. During the experience, you can peruse the plentiful art galleries in Scottsdale. Cruise the cobbled streets of the arts district in a horse-drawn carriage or old-time trolley when you want to give your feet a rest.
There are plenty of galleries to browse along Main Street and Marshall Way, where the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk happens every Thursday between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Bubbling fountains, plant-shaded courtyards, live entertainment and enticing aromas from some of the city’s best restaurants provide a pleasant backdrop for the experience.
Stop by Cafe Forte to nosh on their signature appetizer, Baked Brie en Croute. Continue your meal at Grimaldi’s, where you can design your own brick-oven pizza from a list of more than two dozen fresh ingredients.
Plan a Trip Around Seasonal Festivities
In March, the Scottsdale Arts Festival takes over the Scottsdale Civic Center, a perfect place to explore beautiful, flowering gardens amid splashing fountains . The three-day festival showcases breathtaking artistry from the best local talent as well as delicious fare from local restaurants and live entertainment.
Food is truly an art form at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, held in April each year. More than 35 restaurants participate in the event, with some of the area’s most renowned chefs giving demos. Learn how to concoct tasty treats with cactus fruit, or get a handle on how to whip up low-carb versions of Mexican classics. As the cherry on top of the experience, check out beautiful confections guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Water, art and light are the focus of Canal Convergence, a 10-day festival in November that features artistic light installations around and above the Scottsdale Waterfront. The daily schedule includes music, dancers and other live entertainment.
Peruse Public Art
Get your camera ready when you take a public art tour or visit stunning public works on your own. Keep an eye out for some of the area’s permanent installations: A 26-foot steel jackrabbit known as One-Eyed Jack greets you upon entering the Arts District from Marshall Way. Copper Falls at the Scottsdale Waterfront plays melodic tones as water cascades over metal domes, creating its own natural rhythm as it interacts with the flow of the canal.
Find an interactive map of public art installations throughout the city on Scottsdale Arts‘ website. Better yet, take a public walking tour covering about three-quarters of a mile in Old Town to get the backstory of more than a dozen public art installations.
Take a Ride to South Scottsdale
Ride the Scottsdale Trolley’s Mustang Route to get from Diamond Resorts’ Scottsdale Villa Mirage or Scottsdale Links Resort to the Old Town Scottsdale art galleries. It’s also easy to get to and from The Scottsdale Waterfront and the Civic Center via trolley. Enjoy the sights on this complimentary and hassle-free transport that picks up just south of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard on Northsight Boulevard.
Bronze in the Sun
The Bronze Age is alive and well at Cosanti, located in neighboring Paradise Valley. Here, you can see the famous foundry that crafts Paolo Soleri wind bells. Let the music of bronze and ceramic chimes orchestrate a soothing experience as you stroll through lush desert landscaping on the grounds. Take home a hand-signed, original bell by the world-famous architect and craftsman, choose a hand-crafted bell whose song speaks to you or select unique jewelry pieces to bring home as gifts.
Scottsdale is also home to the only bridge crafted by the artist. Visit the Scottsdale Waterfront to experience this one-of-a-kind structure, which is a solar calendar as well as a pedestrian walkway. The bridge casts no shadow on June 21, extensive shading on December 21 and also notes the spring and autumn equinoxes. Observe the shifting light as you follow a red stripe that visually guides you across the bridge.
Delve Into History
A walk through Old Town not only delights the senses with aromas from its restaurants and confectionaries, but it is also an ideal way to take a stroll back in time. Catch up on the city’s historic facts at The Little Red Schoolhouse — now a history museum – or run your hands over the original brickwork at the Mexican Imports shop, which is a great place to pick up memorable souvenirs.
Discover Wright’s Timeless Architecture
Explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter “laboratory” at his expansive hillside home in Scottsdale. Taliesin West nestles into its luxuriant desert landscape, making a scenic backdrop for vacation photos at any time of year. Spring and fall bring vibrant blooms that add to the structure’s natural beauty.
Take a drive to view more than a dozen of Wright’s homes and other buildings in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Paradise Valley. Consider booking a tour at the Arizona Biltmore, Gammage Auditorium or the David Wright House to get the full story behind the famous architect’s storied designs.
Scottsdale is a burgeoning destination for art aficionados and casual enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re looking for a weekend escape or longer getaway, the West’s Most Western Town has options to keep any art lover occupied.