Scottsdale (Arizona)

Scottsdale is a city in the state of Arizona. It is east of Phoenix and is considered to be part of the Phoenix Metro Area.


Scottsdale is home to many galleries, high quality resorts, and golf courses. It is also one of the wealthier parts of the Phoenix Metro Area.

High end shopping destinations are one of the primary attractions of the city. For example, the Fashion Square Mall is near downtown Scottsdale and is one of the biggest malls in the United States. The extensive galleries to the west of the downtown also offer upscale shopping and strolling. The galleries in this area display works both from local artists and from around the world.

The view from northwest
Saloons and shops in the Old Town area

The Old Town section of Scottsdale is to the east of the gallery district . It showcases the ironic attempt of Scottsdale to both embody swank upscale style as well as a caricature of the gruff American West. This part of town is undeniably kitschy. Well over half the shops are gift shops. However, it is fun enough for a browse in a Disneyland sort of way.

The Canals

The valley of the sun has over 130 miles of canals . Most of them were built in the last 100 years to provide water for the irrigation of farm land. However, now that the valley is much less agrarian the canals are primarily used to carry away storm water. Some are also used to generate hydroelectric power.

These often overlooked gems are open to the public. One can take in the beautiful desert scenery and fresh air while strolling along them. They provide walkers, joggers, and bikers with a nice refuge from traffic. But don't try swimming in the canals, aside from being an obvious bad idea because the sides are so steep it is also illegal, along with motorized vehicles


Be sure to try one of the 200 golf courses in the Scottsdale area. Although most of the green fees are relatively high during the high season (Nov - Apr) there are a few good courses that can be played year round at a reasonable rate. Green fees are very cheap during the summer ($10 - $50 per round with cart) and if you tee-off early in the morning the heat doesn't become too bad before you finish your round.

Get in

By plane

The Phoenix metro area has several airports. The biggest and most used is the Sky Harbor Airport which is about a 20 minutes drive away from downtown Scottsdale.

There is also a smaller airport in Northern Scottsdale for smaller planes and private jets. It is also about 20 minutes from downtown Scottsdale.

Alternative Airports

Get around

Scottsdale is undoubtedly a car-centric place. Most of the city is too spread out to reasonably walk, far more people use their own cars than ride the bus, and the light rail does not come to Scottsdale.

By car

Scottsdale is laid out for cars. The roads are large and the parking, even downtown, is usually more than ample.

To keep the speed limits and traffic signals well enforced, the city of Scottsdale extensively uses photo radar. Residents often learn where the cameras are and slow down near them. However, sometimes they slow down a bit abruptly. Drivers are often well served by expecting this from time to time.

There are 3 types of cameras.
  1. Intersection cameras These cameras monitor for both speeding and the running of red lights.
  2. Stationary freeway Cameras These monitor for speeding and are intended to keep the speed reasonable. They generally are triggered 11 mph over the speed limit.
  3. Mobile Van cameras These cameras monitor for speeding from the back of white vans on the side of the road. These are harder to spot because they move locations regularly and park inconspicuously.

Generally it is easiest and safest to simply drive the speed limit and not run red lights.

By foot

Getting around by walking can take a bit of planning. Not all roads have sidewalks and distances that seem reasonable can become quite uncomfortable in the warmer months. If you have time, messing around with something like Google's street view can be well worth it.

By trolley

Downtown Scottsdale, and the neighborhood south of downtown, are each served by a trolley. Both are free and usually come by every 15-20 minutes while running.

The downtown trolley can be a nice way to get from the waterfront to old town or the gallery district with minimal effort. Here is route and hour information for the downtown trolley.


Taliesin West
Atrium of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts


Old Town Scottsdale
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park








Stay safe


It doesn't rain very frequently in Scottsdale. However, when the rain does come many lakes swell, bike paths are submerged, and roads become impassable.

If there is a notable amount of water on the road, don't drive through it. Drivers frequently become stranded in the middle of flooded washes. Cars can be swept away in a deceptively small amount of water. As you might guess, attempting to drive across such flooded roads is dangerous.

Arizona also has what they like to call a "Stupid Motorist Law." It says that if someone drives around a barricade to enter a flooded road they will be charged for their rescue.


In the summer it can get quite hot. Dehydration, heat stroke, and sun stroke become notable risks.

Drink plenty of water and stay indoors in the afternoon, during the hottest parts of the day.

Outdoor activities are usually far more pleasant in the early morning when it is still cool. Because the temperatures in the desert swing so much between night and day, morning temperatures can be quite pleasant even during the height of the summer.

Go next

Routes through Scottsdale

Glendale North Phoenix  W  S  Tempe Chandler

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.