I have lived in the Greater Phoenix area for most of my life, and I am pretty familiar with the area now. Somewhere I like to visit often is Old Town Scottsdale, a neighbourhood in south Scottsdale based around the original townsite. Old Town Scottsdale is well known for being a very unique and trendy district, full of boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. It’s a great place to visit if you’re a tourist visiting the area, as it is a very photogenic neighbourhood as well as a great place to spend an afternoon. Old Town is very “Southwestern” themed, and it is also considered the heart of the city by many locals. I’ve never really done any posts about anywhere near where I live yet, so I thought it’d be fun to guide you all through one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the area, from a (somewhat) local!
What To See:
Here are a few of my favourite spots in the neighbourhood that I recommend you all to visit. Fun Fact: Certain stores and restaurants in Old Town have roots that lead back to the 19th century.
This is a slightly broad term, but there are a ton of different art galleries all throughout Old Town that I suggest you visit. A few in particular include the Main Street Art Gallery, the Legacy Gallery, and the American Fine Art Gallery. These galleries display many different types of art, from photography to paintings. All of the people (at least the ones I’ve met) that run or work in the galleries are also very kind and open to conversation. Many of these showrooms also sell some of the pieces they have on exhibit, so if you’re looking to purchase something this is a great place to do it! Most of these galleries are part of the Scottsdale Artwalk, which I will explain more in detail later in this post.
Possibly my favourite souvenir shop in Old Town (mind you, there are a lot) is Bischoff’s Shades of the West. It is a moderately large shop that sells everything from cacti to cowboy boots, as well as scorpion lollipops! I always find it fun to explore Bischoff’s since there are always new souvenirs in the store.
As you can tell from the photos above, Bischoff’s is also a great place to take some photos as the entire store is full of colourful and bright Southwestern and Native American themed decorations.
Another one of my favourite souvenir shops in Old Town is Mexican Imports. As you can tell from the store’s name, it mainly sells Mexican themed souvenirs and decoration pieces. The shop sells handmade ceramics, maracas, and Alebrijes, which are beautiful carved wooden animals. Mexican Imports and Bischoff’s both sell cactus candy, which I’ve yet to try, but seems quite interesting.
I really like exploring this store since pretty much everything you’ll find here is super bright and colourful, and great for a picture!
Cowboy Sign and Old Town Scottsdale Signs:
In the centre of the neighbourhood, on Scottsdale Road and Main Street, you will find the Cowboy Sign as well as one of many Old Town Scottsdale signs! The cowboy is a pretty well known landmark and it’s great for a tourist picture.
The Old Town Scottsdale signs can be found all throughout the district, and they obviously represent the neighbourhood. It’s pretty much a granted that you will walk by the cowboy sign and many Old Town signs, as they’re located right the middle of the neighbourhood.
What To Do:
Here are some things to do during your visit to Old Town Scottsdale. Fun Fact: The land that makes up Old Town was originally purchased for only $2,240.
Walk the Scottsdale Artwalk:
As I mentioned earlier, Old Town is full of art galleries and exhibits. You will find most of these down the Scottsdale Artwalk, which is mostly made up of Main Street and Marshall Way. An official art walk takes place here every Thursday night from 6:30 to 9:30, and it is completely free. The Artwalk began in 1975, which means that it has been a tradition for over 40 years.
Despite the fact that the main art walk takes place on Thursday nights, you can still visit the galleries almost every day of the week (depending on the gallery). Most of them are open to the public for free, and allow you to admire the art within the showrooms. The streets that make up the art walk are lined with lots of statues and sculptures created by a variety of different artists, and they’re a lot of fun to check out. This is a great way to spend a morning or an afternoon, especially a hot one since pretty much all of the galleries have air conditioning (what kind of store in Arizona doesn’t have AC?!).
Explore and Shop in the Stores:
Another fun thing to do in Old Town Scottsdale is to shop, since it is probably the best place to pick up a souvenir in the area. Other than Bischoff’s and Mexican Imports, there are a ton of different souvenir shops and boutiques in the neighbourhood. These stores sell a lot of interesting things, I’ve even seen a store that sells shirts that are dyed with Arizona dirt! Not too far from Old Town Scottsdale you will find the Scottsdale Fashion Square, an upscale shopping mall which is about a 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive from Old Town’s centre.
Where To Eat:
There are many different restaurants to eat at in Old Town Scottsdale; here are some of my favourites. Fun Fact: Scottsdale was originally called Orangedale, until it was changed to its current name in 1894.
The most well known restaurant in Old Town is the Sugar Bowl, an ice cream shops that also sells shakes, floats, salads, and sandwiches. As it was started back in 1958, it has a very old time, vintage feel to it; inside and out. Hanging throughout the restaurant are framed cartoons by Bil Keane, who was famous for his comic strip, Family Circus. Keane lived for over 50 years in nearby Paradise Valley. If you’re looking for a great meal, I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, but if you’re looking for more of an experience, then I would suggest ordering a shake or ice cream at the Sugar Bowl.
Brat Haüs is great, relaxed place to have dinner with family or friends, and it has a nice outdoor area with a ton of entertainment and games. They mostly serve sausages, burgers, and Belgian fries, which are all delicious! Brat Haüs is located a short walk down from the centre of Old Town.
Located in the mini “Frontier Town” of Old Town Scottsdale, Top Marks Café is a great place to stop for a gelato on a hot day. The cafe offers a wide selection of cool drinks, crepes, as well as a lot of different gelato flavours. Like many shops in Old Town Scottsdale and, for that matter, around Phoenix, Top Marks Café also offers Mexican soft drinks like Jarritos and Coca-Cola made with real sugar (just a little bit healthier than high fructose corn syrup, which is in the Coke sold in stores). The owner of the shop is a British lady, who was very kind!
That’s it for my post today. Hope you enjoyed! Have you ever been to Arizona? Let me know in the comments below.
By the way, I’m sorry for my absence on here for the last two weeks. I have been really busy with piano exams as well as school exams so I haven’t had much time to focus on my blog recently. However, I did just get on summer break this past week so I will be able to work on my blog a lot more (hence my new blog design!). Also, I’m not going to give out that much info but I am going on a really exciting trip in a couple weeks so stay tuned for lots of posts about that 🙂
As always, thanks for reading!