Chaplain Winfield Scott, Scottsdale's first resident, fell in love with the Valley when he homesteaded here in the 1880s. During his frequent travels, he promoted the land as "unequaled in greater fertility or richer promise." A small close-knit community soon formed at Brown Avenue and Main Street.
Today the little village has grown up—215,000 people now live here. Scottsdale, once billed as "The West's Most Western Town," boasts innumerable porch-fronted shops selling Western and Native American art, international art, crafts, and Western clothing. Both residents and visitors enjoy the top-notch specialty shops, art galleries, cultural events, resort hotels, restaurants, nightlife, and beautiful landscaping. Scottsdale, just east of Phoenix and just north of Tempe, makes an excellent base for a stay in the Valley if you can afford the premium prices. More than 25 resort and day spas cater to their guests.
Scottsdale Civic Center Mall area downtown makes a good starting or resting place with its fountains, sculpture, and flowers. The Scottsdale Historical Museum, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art, and a large library surround the central plaza. Shoppers need only cross Brown Avenue on the west to visit Old Town Scottsdale's shops and restaurants. Many of the galleries stay open late and offer artists' demonstrations for the Scottsdale ArtWalk (480/990-3939, www.scottsdalegalleries.com) 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays year-round. Scottsdale welcomes you with lots of free parking.
Scottsdale Trolley (480/421-1004, www.scottsdaletrolley.com, Mon.-Sat., mid-Nov.-late May) provides a free service connecting Old Town Scottsdale with nearby Marshall Way, Fifth Avenue, Galleria Corporate Center, and Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Scottsdale Historical Museum (The Little Red Schoolhouse)
Scottsdale was so small when this schoolhouse opened in 1909 that all the town's children could fit into its two classrooms. From the 1920s into the '50s, Mexican agricultural workers used the building as a schoolhouse and community center. Today, photos and artifacts in the Little Red Schoolhouse (7333 Scottsdale Mall in the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall complex, just east of the intersection of Brown Ave. and Main St., 480/945-4499, www.scottsdalemuseum.com, noon-4 p.m. Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat., closed July-August, free) remind us of the town's past. Located near the center of the original Scottsdale, the schoolhouse makes a good place to begin a tour of the modern city. You can pick up a self-guided walking-tour map of Old Town Scottsdale at the schoolhouse.
House of Broadcasting
Old photos and news clippings illustrate stories of radio and television broadcasting in Arizona (upstairs in Santa Fe West at 7150 E. Fifth Ave., just west of Scottsdale Road, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily). You'll learn about personalities who appeared over the years and see vintage equipment.
The galleries are housed in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the adjacent Gerard L. Cafesjian Pavilion, an ingenious adaptation of a cineplex.
Scottsdale Center for the Arts and Museum of Contemporary Art
Galleries of contemporary art, an 800-seat performing arts theater, a cinema, and an outdoor amphitheater occupy the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the adjacent Gerard L. Cafesjian Pavilion, an ingenious adaptation of a cineplex (7380 E. Second St. in the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall complex, two blocks east of Scottsdale Rd. and two blocks south of Indian School Rd., 480/874-4666, www.scottsdalearts.org, noon-5 p.m. Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Wed., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thurs., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat., closed Mon.-Tues. and opens noon Wed. in summer, call for extended hours in winter, $7 adults, $5 students, free for ages 15 and under, and everyone gets in free on Thurs.). Each building has a museum store, where you'll likely find items related to current exhibits.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Rail buffs of all ages hop on a five-twelfths-scale train for a ride around this park's grassy acres (7301 E. Indian Bend Rd., just east of Scottsdale Rd. and 1.7 miles west of the 101 Loop, 480/312-2312, www.therailroadpark.com). The train rides and a 1950 carousel operate daily 10 a.m. to between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., Sept.-May, depending on the month; call for summer hours. Stroll over to the Mogul-type Baldwin steam engine and the two historic railway cars behind it; the cars—one has served several U.S. presidents—are open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Sun., Oct.-May. The Merci Train boxcar on display nearby brought gifts from France after World War II. Stillman Station, a replica, sells tickets and souvenirs. One of two historic railway stations houses a hobby shop and the other offers snacks, as does a Southern Pacific caboose. On Sunday afternoons you can see live steamers and visit several model railroad clubs, each running a different scale train. Other attractions in the park include playgrounds, a small xeriscape arboretum, and reservable picnic ramadas.
On to North Scottsdale