Do you know how you tell the tourists from the locals in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area at this time of year? The locals are the ones who are all bundled up! Yep, that’s what hubs and I found on our trip last week to escape the winter cold of Idaho. We were basking in the beautiful Arizona sunshine, with temps in the mid 70’s. The locals wore long sleeves and sweaters!
It was a short, four-day trip, but we had done our research and enjoyed some of the best the area has to offer:
1) The Phoenix Art Museum
Our first major stop was the Phoenix Art Museum. Our Christmas gift to each other was a membership to NARM (The North American Reciprocal Museum Association). This membership not only gives us entry into our own Boise Art Museum, but also 973 other member institutions around North America. The museum did not disappoint. In particular, the museum houses some outstanding contemporary pieces – some of our favorites thus far!
Mass (Colder, Darker Matter) by Cornelia Parker
Proposing that matter is never truly destroyed, but merely transformed, this piece is made from the charred remains of a Texas Baptist Church that was struck by lightning.
2) Roosevelt Row
The Roosevelt Row Artists District is a continually evolving funky area of Phoenix, infused with artist studios, public art, murals, street art, events, and locally owned businesses.
Durant’s Steakhouse on Central Ave. is a Phoenix icon not to be missed. A long-time hotspot for Phoenix movers and shakers, Durant’s was opened by “Jack” Durant in 1950. Regulars know to enter through the back door to get an insider’s view of the kitchen operation. You then move into the dining area, where you will find the signature red -flocked wallpaper design and red Naugahyde booths chosen by Durant himself.
Jack Durant’s motto was: “Good friends, great steaks and the best booze are the necessities of life.” And holy cow – that was the best steak ever!
4) McCormick – Stillman Railroad Park
If you are a train affectionado, McCormick – Stillman Railroad Park is a great place to spend the morning. Full-sized engines, Pullman cars, a carousel and scale trains for kids of all sizes make this rail museum a family friendly destination. But the part we most enjoyed was the 10,000 square foot building dedicated to model railroad layouts in all scales. Not only did this fire up Jeremy’s motivation for his own railroad, but I’m pretty sure that in the end, it’s going to cost us some money!
5) Old Town Scottsdale
The original Scottsdale townsite is a collection of art galleries, small specialty retail shops, dining venues, museums and cultural attractions. It is entirely walkable, or a free trolley makes a continuous loop to make sightseeing simple. You can find all the information you need at a display staffed by Scottsdale Ambassadors at the corner of Main Street and Brown Avenue.
6) The Scottsdale Artwalk
If you can arrange your schedule to do so, you will want to be in Old Town Scottsdale any Thursday evening from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. During those hours, the galleries along Main Street and Marshall Way invite you to enjoy a 40-year tradition of strolling and enjoying Old Town’s lively art scene. Often, artists themselves are in the galleries, and the street musicians, good food and drink, and festive atmosphere make this a must-do event.
We barely scratched the surface of all the things to do in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. What we did learn from the trip is that it is easy to understand why the “snowbirds” head to this fabulous state. I know we will certainly return!