How to Spend a Day in Old Town Scottsdale

How to Spend a Day in Old Town Scottsdale

Out of all the neighborhoods in Scottsdale, Old Town is one of the most vibrant and beloved areas of town because it truly has something for everyone. No matter your age, it is easy to spend an entire day getting lost wandering around the many art galleries, local shops, and delicious restaurants. Whether you are just in Scottsdale for a few days, or have lived in the Valley for years, the Old Town area remains new and exciting every time you visit. 

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The Scottsdale city motto is “The West’s Most Western Town,” but for the most part Scottsdale offers an urban lifestyle experience and you won’t find too many wild horses or old-time saloons. However, if you came to Arizona looking for that Western flair, you truly won’t find a better spot than Old Town Scottsdale to experience it. 

One of the most unique aspects of Old Town is how pedestrian-friendly the surrounding neighborhood is, which allows you to park once and spend the rest of the day easily exploring the shops by foot. Once the sun goes down, Old Town transforms into a lively nighttime scene, complete with plenty of bars and restaurants options. No matter what time of a day you visit, you are sure to have a good time. 

Enjoy An Outdoor Brunch in Old Town 

Photo credit: Keeping Up with Kahla 

Start your day by having brunch at one of the many popular breakfast spots in the area, including The Montauk, Farm & Craft, or Morning Squeeze. All of these spots have beautiful patios, which makes them ideal for enjoying the fresh morning air and mountain views. 

The Montauk is one of the most photographable restaurants in Old Town. Your brunch experience here will transport you to the Hamptons, with charming New England inspired decor. This spot is also ideal for bachelorette trips, birthday parties, or special occasion brunches. If you are casually popping in for breakfast, it’s best to make a reservation to avoid waiting a long time, especially on the weekends! If you find yourself with extra time before you eat, pop into Breakfast Club right across the street to pick up a delicious iced coffee while you wait. 

Stroll Through the Main Street Art Galleries 

Once you have a full stomach from brunch, it’s time to begin exploring! Historic Old Town is a hub for the local art scene, and you could spend hours lost in the galleries and art shops. 

Walk over to the Main Street Arts District to see an incredible collection of Southwestern art. 

The history and geography of the area greatly influences the beautiful artwork you will find in Old Town. Even if Southwestern-style isn’t for you, the Main Street Art District offers galleries with a diverse array of art styles.  

Photo credit: Trip Savvy

If you are a true art aficionado, save your visit to Old Town Scottsdale for a Thursday night so you can visit during the Scottsdale Artwalk. All of the galleries open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m every Thursday night and allow guests to browse exhibits and enjoy live entertainment. At various times throughout the year, the Artwalk has themed nights as well, such as art and chocolate pairings and a Western night. 

Spend Hours Browsing Local Shops

As you walk through the streets of Old Town Scottsdale, you’ll find an assortment of boutiques and souvenir stores. One of the very best items to shop for while in Old Town is turquoise jewelry. The iconic gem has been mined in the Southwest region for centuries. Thanks to this, you can shop in Scottsdale for some of the most beautiful authentic turquoise pieces that you will find anywhere in the country. 

Visit Silver Star Jewelry on First Avenue to see their showroom full of one of a kind, locally-made jewelry. Their pieces make for a truly special gift to take home to someone! If you aren’t looking to make quite as big of a purchase, there are plenty of more affordable shops in the area as well. 

If you find yourself wanting to do some more serious shopping, take a stroll a few blocks north to Scottsdale Fashion Square mall, the largest shopping mall in Arizona. 

On your way to Fashion Square, make sure to walk over the Waterfront, where you can gaze at the canal that runs through Old Town. This area is always lively, and there are seasonal events like live music and food festivals throughout the year. 

Photo credit: Scottsdale Waterfront Shopping 

You could truly spend hours in Fashion Square, one of the 30 largest malls in the country. The mall includes a wide variety of luxury and more affordable shops with everything from Neiman Marcus to Dick’s Sporting Goods. It also includes the Harkins Camelview movie theater, ideal for catching an afternoon matinee when you are ready to sit down and take a shopping break. 

Enjoy an Extraordinary Dinner Experience 

Photo credit: The Mission 

You will find some of the best restaurants the city has to offer in Old Town, with a truly unparalleled ambience. One of the true stand-out establishments is The Mission, a Latin American inspired restaurant known for their tableside guacamole and signature margarita flavors. 

If Mexican isn’t your cuisine of choice, visit Olive + Ivy, an upscale Mediterranean spot set against the waterfront. Sip on sangria and enjoy the unbeatable decor and atmosphere. For a more casual dining experience, visit Culinary Dropout, a trendy spot with great American cuisine located a few minutes down the street from Fashion Square. This is a good spot to grab a quick bite and enjoy a house-made cocktail before going out for the night! 

Grab an Ice Cream Sundae At Sugar Bowl 

Photo credit: Phoenix New Times 

Make sure to leave room for dessert on your food tour of Old Town Scottsdale! You will not want to miss your chance to experience a brownie sundae from Sugar Bowl. This is an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that allows you to step back in time, complete with pink vinyl booths and a jukebox. It has been a staple of Old Town for over 60 years!

A fun fact to know before you visit is that Sugar Bowl was made famous by a local Arizonian: Bil Keane, the artist behind the cartoon Family Circus. He featured Sugar Bowl in many of his cartoons, and you will notice the drawings scattered throughout the ice cream shop. 

Enjoy the Vibrant Nightlife Scene 

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At night, Old Town comes alive! Old Town acts as the “downtown” of Scottsdale, and is the hub of the nightlife scene in the city. If you are looking to continue your Old West experience, head to Dierks Bentley’s bar Whisky Row or Rusty Spur Saloon, one of the oldest bars in the area that has an iconic western atmosphere. 

However, if you are looking for a true nightlife experience, head to Bottled Blond or Maya Day + Night Club where you can dance the night away. While all the bars are conveniently close together to make your bar hopping a little easier, Old Town has a lot of pedicab drivers that can take you from spot to spot if you make multiple stops throughout the night. 

There is really something for everyone in Old Town, from brunching with friends, to exploring the shops, to spending an afternoon wandering through beautiful art galleries. The next time you have guests in town or are looking for a fun outing, head over to Old Town.

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