More Scottsdale Neighborhoods
Find the Best Things to Do in Old Town
By Patricia Escarcega
Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson Local Expert
About Old Town
Photo courtesy of flickr/dru bloomfield
Scottsdale is famous for sprawling, luxurious resorts, championship golf courses, and high-end boutiques, but the heart of the city is Old Town Scottsdale. This Western-tinged quarter celebrates the city’s past while still remaining a lively point of destination for locals and visitors.
Whether you’re shopping for hand-crafted jewelry, dining at a hot new gastropub, or stepping behind the red velvet rope at a downtown nightspot, this lively, pedestrian-friendly zone is one of the most popular and unique neighborhoods in Scottsdale and the Phoenix Metro area.
See & Do
Despite its Western heritage and reputation as a Mecca for cowboy art, Scottsdale boasts one of the Southwest’s most progressive modern art museums and a thriving contemporary art scene. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, or SMOCA, was founded in 1999 and features five galleries of revolving exhibitions with works by local, national, and international artists. The outdoor sculpture garden is a photo-worthy destination for modern art lovers, and the gift shop is well-stocked with classic design furnishings and objects, art and architecture books, and imaginative gifts.
Scottsdale is a city of constant reinvention, and nowhere is this more evident than in Old Town Scottsdale’s revolving line-up of cafes, gastropubs, and wine bars. Change may be a constant, but Cowboy Ciao remains a long-time favorite foodie destination in this part of town. Imagine a Spaghetti Western come to life and you have Cowboy Ciao, a colorful and lively restaurant featuring art on the walls and dramatic lighting. Call it Border Baroque, but whatever you call it, delight in the creative fusion of Modern American and Southwestern cuisine, with a healthy dash of global influence for good measure.
Old Town Scottsdale is still a destination for dressed-to-the-nines club-goers looking for a wild night on the dance floor. But for those seeking a more sophisticated night in Old Town, swanky lounges and wine bars like Kazimierz World Wine Bar can make you feel as if you’ve escaped into your own private desert hideaway. High tables, low tables, plush sofas and chairs, wooden wine casks, and live music playing in the background add to the cozy sensuality of this hidden jewel.
Back in 1956, Hotel Valley Ho was Scottsdale’s chic new hotel, drawing stars like Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood to its posh suites. Today, after extensive renovation, the hotel is every bit as cool. This mid-century landmark boasts colorful rooms featuring glass walls that open onto private balconies or patios. The VH Spa and Café ZuZu are popular destinations for guests and locals alike.
You’ll want to commemorate your visit to Old Town Scottsdale by picking up a uniquely Arizona souvenir at one of the 5th Avenue boutiques and galleries. One of the largest specialty shops in Old Town is the Gilbert Ortega Indian Jewelry and Gallery, one of the city’s largest purveyors of fine Native American jewelry, arts, textiles, crafts, and furniture.