There’s no better place to begin a tour of “The West’s Most Western Town.” This touristy hodgepodge of restaurants, bars, and Old West–themed boutiques is a little cheesy, but you’ll find some historic sites along with the kitschy shopping and art. And even if you’re not a big shopper, the live music courtesy of singing cowboys on horseback and Native American performers makes for a fun “only in Arizona” experience.
Start at the beautifully landscaped Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, a 21-acre park ringed by chic hotels and restaurants, hole-in-the-wall bars, arts venues, and the city hall and library. The walkways, shaded by mesquite trees, and cool fountains attract visitors and residents year-round. You’re likely to see friends playing chess in the sunken garden or a young girl posing for pictures in an elaborate white dress for her quinceañera (a Mexican coming-of-age ceremony held on a girl’s 15th birthday).
Across from the statue of Winfield and Helen Scott on the western end of the mall, you’ll find the Little Red Schoolhouse (7333 E. Scottsdale Mall, 480/945-4499, www.scottsdalemuseum.org , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sat., noon–8 p.m. Sun., closed July–Aug. and holidays), the original 1909 Scottsdale Grammar School that now houses the Scottsdale Historical Society. Inside, artifacts from the Scotts’ home and a collection of historic photographs illustrate the city’s modest beginnings as a territorial farm community.
Head east to the outdoor amphitheater, a popular site for festivals and outdoor concerts. You can see Robert Indiana’s iconic Love sculpture on the lawn, along with a host of other public artworks.
On the far eastern end of the plaza, you’ll see the Scottsdale City Hall, designed by native Arizonan Benny Gonzales, whose mid-20th-century modern interpretation of traditional Southwest design transformed the region’s architecture.