Old Town is the heart of Scottsdale and home to some of the Valley’s best restaurants, shopping, and art galleries. Here’s a quick guide to what to see and do.
You’ll find everything from fine dining to fast burgers and beers in Old Town. One of the most popular and quintessential Scottsdale restaurants is Cowboy Ciao, known for its award-winning global fare, superb cocktails and lengthy wine list, and its eclectic décor.
For comfort food with a modern twist, try Café Zuzu, the swanky restaurant inside the Hotel Valley Ho. Nearby, Citizen Public House serves hearty dishes like meatloaf, rack of lamb, and roasted Cornish game hens along with craft cocktails. It was also named one of Esquire Magazine’s Best New Restaurants in America in 2011!
If you’re looking for something a little more casual, head to Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers. It’s exactly what you’d expect: a laidback joint for half-pound burgers and an icy cold brew.
Hungry for some Mexican-inspired dishes? The Old Town Tortilla Factory serves enchiladas and tacos as well as puts a flavorful spin on meatloaf, salmon, and filet mignon. Our tip: Eat on the patio and order one of 120 tequilas to sip with your meal!
Another option for amazing Mexican food is The Mission, where you can order tableside guacamole, duck carnitas empanadas, and a variety of street tacos.
If you haven’t been before, make a reservation at the Pink Pony. Although the restaurant has been recently updated and is under new management, it’s an Old Town fixture that has been popular with spring training fans for decades.
End your Old Town visit on a sweet note at another Scottsdale classic, the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant, famous not only for its sundaes and other treats but for being the inspiration for the ice cream parlor in Bil Keane’s cartoon, “Family Circus.”
Scottsdale is home to more than 100 art galleries, many of which are located in Old Town. Start at King Galleries, renowned for its collection of Native American pottery. Each piece is hand coil built and stone polished, making it one of the most authentic places to find Native American pottery.
Trailside Galleries focuses on paintings with traditional Western themes as well as wildlife scenes and landscapes while Wilde Meyer Gallery showcases Western works with a more contemporary style, including some abstracts.
Meanwhile, On the Edge Gallery, so called because it is located “on the edge” of the arts district, displays the works of more than 40 Arizona artists. Items range from sculptures to fiber art to large decorative items and small gifts.
Don’t have a budget for collectible art? Browse Old Town’s shops and boutiques to find a one-of-a-kind treasure. Gilbert Ortega Galleries should be your first stop. Even though this family-owned storefront is a gallery selling Native American jewelry, it also has a good selection of souvenirs and gifts.
For Western wear, look no further than Saba’s Western Wear. The original store dates back to 1927 and sells hats, boots, and both traditional and contemporary clothes. If you want to engage in some serious power shopping head to 5th Avenue where you’ll find more than 90 specialty shops including Kokopelli Southwest Gifts, Classy Jazzy clothing shop, and the Angel Store.
You can bring a taste of Scottsdale home when you shop at Sphinx Date Ranch. The mother-daughter team that owns the store sells Medjool dates in gift tins as well as edible gifts, Arizona wines, and craft beer. Or, you can bring back childhood memories while satisfying your sweet tooth at Old Town Candy & Toys.
Museums and stuff
Some of Scottsdale’s best attractions are located in Old Town. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is Arizona’s only permanent museum dedicated solely to contemporary art, architecture, and design. Exhibits rotate nine to 12 times throughout the year, keeping the experience fresh.
Next door, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts hosts more than 1,000 indoor and outdoor performances, educational programs, festivals, and other events each year.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, the city’s newest art museum, is also located in Old Town. There, you’ll find everything from finely tooled saddles to oil paintings, Fredric Remington bronzes, and Native American rugs.
History buffs should plan a visit to the Scottsdale Historical Society Museum, housed in the 1909 Little Red Schoolhouse. Inside, displays chronicle the city’s history through photographs, artifacts, and changing displays.
Old Town hosts several of Scottsdale’s best events. Every Thursday, area galleries open their doors from 7 pm-9 pm for ArtWalk Thursday. The event is free and runs along Main Street from Scottsdale Road to Goldwater Boulevard and on Marshall Way north of Indian School Road to Fifth Avenue.
Every Saturday now through July 2, the Old Town Farmers Market is held at 1st Street and Brown Avenue. The market showcases local organic produce and seasonal and specialty items like apples, flowers, natural pork, beef, fish, free range eggs, local cheeses, fresh-baked artisan breads, jams, and fresh-made tamales.
Saturday evenings attracts foodies for the Food Truck Caravan. Between five to eight of the caravan’s 35 participating food trucks park near 5th Avenue and Goldwater Boulevard from 6:30 pm-9 pm. After you place your order, listen to music and browse the fine arts on display. The Food Truck Caravan runs through June 23.
Through April 10, you can also listen to free outdoor concerts in Scottsdale Civic Center Park at Sunday A’Fair. There is also a fine arts and crafts market. Native Trails, featuring Native American dancing, music, and storytelling, is held in the park, too, on Thursdays and Sundays from 12 pm-1 pm through the end of March.
Scottsdale is full of amazing museums, shopping, and events all year long. It’s why it was named “Most Livable City” many years ago, and why that title continues to hold true today. Check out the best of classic Scottsdale in Old Town, and feel free to give me a call for more Old Town recommendations!