Although it might not seem like it at first glance, Scottsdale is, in fact, one of Arizona’s most thriving cities. With its western flair and modern culture, plus a dynamic combination of history and art, there’s plenty to see and do here. Check out our top recommendations.
Old Town Scottsdale takes visitors back in time. Located in the heart of Scottsdale, it celebrates the western history that shaped Scottsdale while incorporating modern elements with a wide array of shops, art galleries and food. Take a ride on the trolley or grab some ice cream at the Sugar Bowl. Learn some history and relax with any number of leisurely activities.
The largest butterfly pavilion in the United States is located right in Scottsdale. Butterfly Wonderland provides a massive rain forest atrium that is home to thousands of butterflies. There is also an ant colony, a honey bee hive and a 3D theater.
The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is a space for all forms of art. It has five galleries and a sculpture garden dedicated to fine art, all of which emphasize modern art. However, other areas of the museum are dedicated to honoring other art forms. These include a film theater and events focused on literature, music and a lecture series. SMoCA also provides a space to encourage creativity.
About a 30-minute drive from Scottsdale, Rawhide is one of the area’s biggest attractions. Built to replicate an old western town, Rawhide delivers in every way. With some of the best food around – from a steakhouse to an ice cream parlor and a saloon – it also offers the chance to experience games, shopping and even live stunt shows.
Like most nature parks, McDowell Sonoran Preserve serves nature lovers. With six beautiful trails to choose from, this park is a great place for hiking. In addition, there are guided tours within the park, and mountain biking is popular here as the terrain of McDowell Sonoran Preserve is perfect for it.
The tours at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West are focused on the legendary architect himself. The area served as a home and architectural studio for Wright, and his time there has been well preserved. Taliesin West is also one of Wright’s most groundbreaking works and proves how well Wright was able to combine the outdoors with the indoors to create beautiful architecture.
Marshall Way Arts District is the area where Scottsdale separates from its western roots and focuses on contemporary art. Many forms of art, by both local and nationally renowned artists, can be found on display here. The biggest night for the district is every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm, when there is an art walk that brings the streets to life with art, music and food.
MacDonald’s Ranch is primarily a horseback riding stable. It offers lessons for riders of all experience levels. The ranch also has hayrides, stagecoach rides, a pumpkin patch and a museum. There is almost always live music and space for cookouts.
Though essentially a park for all activities, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has a distinct train theme. There is a train museum on the premises as well as models of old trains dispersed around the area. You’ll also find a general store, a restaurant and a train you can ride. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is ideal for a family picnic or just a stroll around. Handily enough, it is also in very close proximity to the city center.