Scottsdale Is Known for ... Five of Scottsdale's most unique features and characteristics.

More than 100 galleries line the streets of downtown Scottsdale, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that Scottsdale rivals Santa Fe as the Southwest’s premier art Mecca. Every Thursday night, the city plays host to one of the nation’s oldest Art Walks, drawing artists, professional dealers, and art aficionados to downtown Scottsdale (for more than 30 years). Bob Park’s famous bronze horse fountain, one of the most photographed spots around town, reigns over the Marshall Arts District, where tree-covered courtyards and bubbling fountains provide a relaxing backdrop for exploring Scottsdale’s thriving gallery scene. Although traditional Western Art still holds sway over Scottsdale galleries, the city also has a flourishing contemporary art scene. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) champions innovation and vitality in the visual arts with ongoing exhibits of contemporary and modern art.

Luxurious desert resorts are Scottsdale’s premier calling card, drawing celebrities, winter visitors, families, and couples seeking a private escape into the desert. The Hyatt, Four Seasons, Waldorf-Astoria, and Hilton all offer their own sumptuous versions of a desert paradise, replete with sprawling desert gardens, private poolside cabanas, world-class spas and dining, championship-level golf, and guided excursions into the desert wilderness. Outdoor living is elevated to high art at these Scottsdale resorts, where open fire pits, outdoor lounge seating, poolside dining, and private decks and balconies are standard amenities-all perfect for watching desert night skies erupt with stars.

Few cities in the Southwest offer the range, diversity, and innovation of the Scottsdale culinary scene. Scottsdale is home to over 600 restaurants, as well as the award-winning Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute. Award winning chefs, along with a large population of young kitchen apprentices, means that there’s no shortage of raw talent in this foodies’ paradise. You’ll find some of Arizona’s most upscale restaurants in Scottsdale, as well as the Southwest’s most adventurous techniques and creative use of indigenous ingredients. Traditional Southwestern flavors provide a basis for bold culinary experiments that fuse traditional Continental, California, and Latin American cooking with Scottsdale’s own unique take on regional and global cuisine.

If the phrase “retail therapy” means anything to you, watch out. Scottsdale is home to Scottsdale Fashion Square, the largest shopping center in the Southwest. This upscale fashion park is where couture comes to live: Barney’s, Macy’s, Carolyn Herrera, Louis Vuitton, and Armani are just some of the famous names gracing the mall directory. Downtown, the Fifth Avenue Shops feature a collection of eclectic, cowgirl-chic boutiques, jewelry design, apparel, and unique Southwestern gifts.

Scottsdale would not be a first-class destination without the natural splendor of the Sonoran Desert. Although hot desert temperatures keep things slow around town during the summer, the natural beauty of the city’s desert vegetation and geography, including Saguaro-studded hillsides and scenic foothills, draw thousands of visitors every year. Scottsdale offers nearly 100 miles of hiking, horseback-riding trails, and biking. Popular spots include Pinnacle Peak Park, Camelback Mountain, and the expansive McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which offers almost 20,000 acres of pristine desert readymade for your next outdoor adventure.

Copyright, all rights reserved Patricia Escarcega
Patricia Escarcega has lived in the Arizona desert since she was a teenager. She works as a writer and editor in Phoenix

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