The Wild West comes to life and shares the historic Scottsdale streets with intriguing art galleries, parks like Scottsdale Civic Center, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, modern craft breweries, foodies’ favorite haunts, charming wineries and Scottsdale Wine Trail, and shops that beckon you to wander in and explore their wares. Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona, is steeped in the Old West cowboy history and has morphed into a hip, trendy destination for travelers looking for a fun adventure.
When you wander the streets of Old Town, the historic district in downtown Scottsdale, you will find unique storefronts offering locals and visitors an experience unique to the area. Beautiful art installations grace green spaces and street corners and embrace Scottsdale’s Native American history and intermingle it with her classic cowboy legends.
Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
What to Do in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona – 11 Amazing Activities for a Memorable Visit
1. Sip And Sample Scottsdale
The best way to explore a new-to-you location is by walking the streets with a townie and tasting all the amazing local cuisine. Arizona Food Tours takes the classic happy hour and turns it into a walking tour/crawl through local haunts with its Sip and Sample Scottsdale tour. Learn local history, explore signature cocktails and cuisine, and immerse yourself in the Scottsdale experience.
While strolling the streets with your guide, learn the fascinating history of how Scottsdale came to be a hub for the Old West. Enjoy being greeted at each restaurant like an old friend as you taste and sip your way across Old Town. Your foodie adventure can be as hot and spicy or laid back as you like, accommodating your personal tastes. Be prepared to enjoy some amazing cocktails and delicious plates. Arizona Food Tours, based out of the sub-neighborhood of Scottsdale Civic Center, offers a selection of touring and tasting options that are perfect for a small group outing.
You will visit a selection of restaurants that may include the likes of Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse, featured on Diners, Drivin-ins, and Dives because of their amazing smoked meat. At the ultra-modern AZ88, a fun Southwest saloon oozing with ambiance and cocktails, you can sip a classic Moscow Mule with an AZ88 twist.
The Mission takes classic Latin cuisine to the next level. Its signature tacos will be the yardstick by which all future tacos will be measured. Evo, with its sumptuous Italian flavors, will transport you out of the desert and across the ocean to a small Italian kitchen. The Brat Haus beer garden is Old Town party central, where everything is house-made — including the condiments — and ready for you to enjoy with a craft beer fresh from the tap. Finish off your tour with a scoop of a sweet Italian treat at Gelato Cimmino.
Local fresh produce can be found at the Old Town Farmers Market.
2. Brew Sampling Tour
JoyRidesAZ will zip you around Scottsdale in a comfy, open-air golf cart. Forget the walking, this is a door-to-door service tour company that offers a large selection of pre-planned and customizable tours. It’s owned and operated by Kirk and Monica, a lively couple with extensive knowledge of Scottsdale. Joy Rides is a fun and intimate way to see Old Town Scottsdale through a specific tour-focused lens.
The Brew Sampling Tour will take you out and about for a tour of local bars and saloons that offer a taste of Old Scottsdale history and a few frosty pints. On the Urban Historic Tour, you will be enchanted with stories of cowboys and gold-rushers. The Instagram Tour takes you to some of the most Insta-worthy spots, and since Scottsdale is home to an amazing street-art culture, there are scores of beautiful installations to choose from.
Some of the stops on the Brew Sampling Tour, where you can sample eclectic craft beer, are the Sunup Brewing Company, Craft 64, and Goldwater Brewing Company.
3. Old Adobe Mission
This Catholic mission church, simply known as the Old Adobe Mission, is a basic adobe-style structure that welcomes everyone. Take a moment out of your busy sightseeing day in Scottsdale to reflect in quiet contemplation by visiting the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church. Built in 1933 when Scottsdale was a boomtown, the church now welcomes visitors seeking a spot for reflection and prayer.
Take a few minutes to quietly wander through the church, you will find many statues and icons dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Old Adobe Mission is a beautiful church and a popular spot for Catholic weddings.
4. LDV Winery Tasting Room
Wine, nectar from the grape, is more than just a glass at the LDV Winery Tasting Room. Strategically situated in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, comfy chairs beckon you to sit back and enjoy beautifully crafted wines. The rustic vineyard decor sets the stage for sampling excellent wines.
Enjoy one of several expertly-pared flights, sample different varieties, or share a bottle with a friend. Sip full-bodied reds or crisp whites while you enjoy people-watching from your curbside patio seat. The Tasting Room staff offers knowledgeable descriptions of each wine; thereby taking the guesswork out of your selection. If your nightlife activities have you pressed for time, you can purchase a bottle to enjoy later, or a selection to be shipped home.
LDV also offers special events, like its Sip and Learn Series, led by LDV Winemaker Curt Dunham. Special LDV Winery Vineyard events allow guests to get up close and personal with their wine.
5. Bespoke Inn
This oasis courtyard in the center of the Arts District in Old Town is where outdoor tile-backed fountains sparkle, elegant fire pits abound, and intimate seating treat guests like old friends. A hidden gem, the Bespoke Inn is more than a hotel, it is an experience. When you step through the garden gate, you are transported to a secret garden that invites you to linger and soak up the private patio atmosphere and great weather, because even in the winter, Scottsdale is sunny. The gardens evoke feelings of European courtyards where quiet, intimate conversations between longtime friends happen every day.
The rooms and suites at the Bespoke are casually elegant. Thoughtful touches like Smeg coffee makers grace the kitchenettes along with special details unique to each room. When you return from a day of touring, a dip in the rooftop infinity pool is just the luxurious detail that makes your stay special.
6. Virtu Honest Craft
Sharing the elegant courtyard at the Bespoke Inn is Virtu Honest Craft, run by James Beard–award nominee Chef Gio Osso. The shifting three-course menu reflects the changing premium, seasonally available products, allowing Osso to create the most amazing progressive meal for his guests. Sumptuous plates like housemade chestnut pappardelle served with marsala braised lamb neck, pomegranate, and goat cheese fondue garner the highest praise from Virtu’s dedicated foodie fans.
Eating inside is a treat; the cozy, kitchen-side dining offers a nightly show, with the staff dashing off exceptionally crafted dishes to hungry guests. Dining outside transports you to a beautiful cafe where guests linger over delicious wine and delectable dishes. Dinner in the wild, wild West never tasted so amazing.
7. FnB Restaurant
FnB Restaurant is tucked away from the bustle of Old Town down a side street, enveloped by buildings. The outdoor dining space is reminiscent of a garden party with wait staff busily delivering delectable dishes to waiting connoisseurs. Gorgeously quaffed plates are a feast for your eyes and a treat for your tastebuds. Known for expertly crafted vegetables that are served with unique pairings like the refreshingly light sugar snap peas with mascarpone or the fried green tomatoes that are nothing short of classic — FnB is a dining experience.
While the highlighted produce takes center stage, you need not worry; the steak, chicken, and fish are equally well attended to, delivering perfection to discerning downtown Scottsdale diners.
8. Scottsdale’s Museum Of The West
Art surrounds you in Scottsdale. Outdoors and indoors, the art is on display for all to appreciate. The respect and collection of artifacts are evident in the ongoing and changing exhibits at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West (SMoW). As a Smithsonian affiliate, Scottsdale’s Museum of the West features a wide range of locally focused, artistic works.
You can explore Scottsdale Museum exhibits like the photographic collection of Barry M. Goldwater and Marjorie Thomas’ paintings of local indigenous people. Scottsdale’s artists capture the Southwest’s history, allowing the public to learn and appreciate the region’s local contributions to current-day society and the contemporary art scene.
Among the many things you can do in Scottsdale, be sure to enjoy a quiet moment in the Sculpture Courtyard where the exhibits change regularly. However, the contemplative nature of the modern-meets-western courtyard art always reflects Scottsdale’s history and her people.
9. Scottsdale’s Public Art Collection
In addition to visiting art galleries, you can wander the streets of Scottsdale and view interesting and contemplative public art across the city. Scottsdale Public Art’s permanent collection includes commemorative statues, intriguing waterfalls, contemporary sculptures, and interactive installations. A stop at the Horseshoe Falls monument is where you can take a respite in the cooling mist emanating from the river rock that surrounds perfectly stacked horseshoe towers. The towers are cleverly arranged in a horseshoe shape, reinforcing the Western theme.
Every Thursday night, the Scottsdale Gallery Association (SGA) hosts an ArtWalk down Main Street. Casually stroll through over two-dozen galleries, two museums, and past several of Scottsdale’s public art installations showcasing collectible art pieces, Native art, and decorative work. Several times throughout the year, the SGA hosts festive, themed Gold Palette ArtWalks for your strolling pleasure.
10. Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), a major attraction in the Scottsdale Civic Center neighborhood, offers guests a peek into the world of contemporary art and design. The curated exhibits are inspiring and challenge your artistic thought process.
The museum is just under a mile from Hotel Valley Ho — a living work of Midcentury Modern design, a style that preceded the minimalist design of SMoCA. Walking from Hotel Valley Ho to the museum is an interesting hop on the timeline of design.
Pro Tip: If all that walking has you hungry, stop by Los Olivos Mexican Patio, a little place with tasty Mexican food right across the street from SMoCA.
11. Experience Bars in Old Town Scottsdale
Whether you’re in the mood for a dive bar, a lounge, or a Vegas-style dance club, you’ll find it in Scottsdale. Here are some of the cool bars that Scottsdale has to offer.
Scottsdale’s most iconic dive bar has recently expanded to include a large covered outdoor patio to accommodate the growing number of visitors, but it preserved that classic, rustic feel of the place.
Coach House is the most popular bar in Old Town Scottsdale, so don’t be surprised if you need to wait in line to grab a seat.
Pattie’s First Avenue Lounge
Pattie’s First Avenue Lounge is a great place to chill out, shoot some pool, try ping pong, and enjoy some pretty inexpensive drinks.
Local DJs spin every Friday and Saturday night and give Pattie’s that true club feel that makes it a very popular spot on the weekends.
With its daytime pool parties and live DJ club nights, Maya feels like a Las Vegas dance club.
Their outdoor restaurant and beer garden offer 20,000 square feet of space for drinking, eating, and playing the best backyard games ever like cornhole, giant pong, skeeball, and more.
Visiting Scottsdale — And Beyond
If you’re ready to visit, go to Experience Scottsdale where you’ll find more information for your perfect Scottsdale getaway. When you are ready for some local hiking, you will be better prepared after you read 12 Tips For Successfully Hiking Camelback Mountain In Phoenix.
Scottsdale is one of many Arizona sites that has captured the imagination of travelers. Many, like Sedona, are simple but enjoyable day trips from Scottsdale.
Is There Any Water Fun Near Old Town Scottsdale?
Yes, Old Town Scottsdale is fantastic for water lovers. There are plenty of lakes and rivers near Scottsdale that offer all kinds of recreation options like kayaking, fishing, SUPing, and river rafting while soaking up the Sonoran Desert sun.
What Is Papago Park Near Old Town Scottsdale Known For?
The Desert Botanical Garden, the Phoenix Zoo, and The S’edav Va’aki Museum are all situated in Papago Park which is only a few minutes’ drive from Old Town Scottsdale. The park is also known for its red rock hills dotted with holes like Swiss cheese.
What Part Of Old Town Scottsdale Is Best For History Lovers?
Historic sites in Old Town Scottsdale are on full display along Brown Avenue. The Old Adobe Mission, Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop, built in 1910 and still owned and operated by the Cavalliere family and Parada del Sol Rodeo Museum are all there.
Where To Shop In Old Town Scottsdale?
In Scottsdale’s storied Fifth Avenue. It will take you past kitschy souvenir shops, elegant boutiques, Native American jewelry stores, and a handful of the city’s best restaurants. Scottsdale’s storied Fifth Avenue has been a fashion stalwart since fashion shows paraded down the street.
Is Nightlife Good In Old Town Scottsdale?
Yes, it is. Old Town is packed with a tremendous amount of bars. They all spring into life and get started around 10:30 pm-11 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. However, there are no drinks after 2 am.