For those who live in Scottsdale, Arizona, it's little wonder why so many people like living here and why so many are moving here from all over the country. To me, the reasons are obvious.
There are many reasons why Scottsdale is incredibly popular. Great climate, lots of entertainment venues, good public schools, and friendly locals. In fact, according to Niche, a popular school and community ranking company, Scottsdale comes out on top on a number of different surveys. Read More...
For example, out of 228 cities surveyed, Scottsdale ranks #1 for the best city to retire in. It ranked 24th as the best city to live in and 22nd as having the best public schools.
None of this was apparent when the first settlers arrived to this sage brushed and dusty part of the United States. While not a wild “shoot ‘em up” cowpoke town like Dodge City or Tombstone, Scottsdale was a decidedly western town, settled by a hardy group of farmers and ranchers in the late 1800’s.
However, from its earliest days, Scottsdale attracted educated and artistic groups of people. Even in the early 1900’s, Scottsdale was known for its culture and support for the arts, as well as for its resort hotels such as the Ingleside Inn (1909) and Jokake Inn (1922).
The streaming flow of art through the city is not the only activity whereby locals are entertained. Scottsdale welcomes a breadth of amusements, especially surrounded by beauty of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the Sonoran Foothills.
When I think of art, or more specifically, of art galleries, New York City is usually the first to come to mind. And it should. Some of the nation’s leading art galleries and museums can be found in Manhattan.
However, it would surprise many that Scottsdale is also a major arts center with hundreds of galleries, many in the city’s Historic Arts District. There’s everything from classic western art, native American art to modernism and abstract expressionism. Many acclaimed artists lived, worked, and showed their work in Scottsdale including Maxfield Parrish, Jackson Pollock, Fredrick Sommer, and the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, to name just a few.
Art museums abound in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and there’s an art museum for every taste! There's the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Heard Museum full of American Indian fine art artifacts, and the Phoenix Art Museum which holds over 18,000 works of art.
There’s no shortage of the performing arts in Scottsdale either. If you like theater, dance or music, Scottsdale will have something for you. The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Art’s mission is “…to present traditional and contemporary arts of interest to a worldwide audience (and to have)…thought-provoking experiences with artists and speakers to foster creative expression…”.
This statement says it all and shows that the institution strives to present world-class performances for all to see. Many Broadway plays feature in Scottsdale as well. And there are, of course, smaller theater groups in the area, and Arizona State University also puts on a number of events all year for the general public.
If you go to Scottsdale, you certainly won’t lack for cultured, professional performing arts events.
With over 200 golf courses, Scottsdale is often called the world’s finest golf course destination. You can also catch the Phoenix Open golf tournament which is held in late January through early February each year. You might see Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson hitting a birdie and floundering in a sand trap, who knows.
Outside of golf, there are plenty of sports events happening across the city, from professional teams like the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Coyotes and Suns to the ASU college teams, to even the little leaguers and farm teams that practice on the local fields.
Scottsdale has a number of festivals every year. As you’d expect, Scottsdale throws some pretty good western-themed festivals including the Wild West Week which honors the city’s pioneer and cowboy heritage.
There’s also the Parade Del Sol - one of my favorites - which has all kinds of western-themed events such as pony express reenactments, cowgirls on parade, and the Trail End Festival.
And if its art you want to see, there is an annual arts festival too.
While the nightlife in Scottsdale may not compare to New York City, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs to keep night owls busy. And if you like Southwest cuisine and Mexican food, you are in the right place because Scottsdale, and the surrounding areas, have some of the best in the U.S.
While Scottsdale does not have any three-star Michelin ranked restaurants – there are only four in the entire U.S. – it does have a number of top restaurants that any city would be proud of. And, of course, you can get every type of cuisine here. But if you want to taste food indigenous to the region, stick to Southwest and Mexican cuisine, it’s amazing.
Scottsdale is a nature lovers wonderland, and it’s one of the things I like most about living here. There are a number of parks dotted throughout the city. However, one; The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is, without a doubt, the leading recreational park in the area. In fact, it is the largest urban park in the U.S. with over 180-miles of trails.
You can hike, picnic, horseback ride or just enjoy the desert scenery at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The place is truly amazing.
What kind of western town would Scottsdale be without a rodeo? If you like bucking broncos, bull riding and rodeo clowns in a barrel, don’t worry, the Scottsdale rodeo has all that and more.
While you're here, uou’ll want to visit the Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and go to old Scottsdale during Western Week where it transforms into an old time western town with parades, rides, western reenactments, and the Indian Festival.
There are a number of other museums which focus on Arizona’s and the Southwest’s western heritage as well as stores where you can buy authentic cowboy boots, chaps, and other apparel.
A cultured and well-rounded city would not be complete without having a major university nearby. Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and University of Arizona are located in Flagstaff, Tempe, and Tucson respectively, and host hundreds of events every year.
You can attend everything from music recitals and art exhibits to lectures and sporting events. The universities provide a youthful energy adds so much life to the community.
It comes as no surprise that Scottsdale has some of the most renown retirement communities in the nation. Not surprisingly, 45% of the city’s population is older than 50-years old, 25% of that falling between the ages of 60 and 79.
What first attracted retirees to the area was the warm, dry climate and low cost of living. Florida may be more popular, but with its often-muggy weather, rainstorms, and hurricanes, many wisely choose Arizona instead.
Scottsdale boasts not only a large number of retirement communities, but many different kinds. It has everything from active adult communities that hardly feel that they are for seniors at all, to assisted living facilities. There are golf communities, elite communities, and communities that cater to modest lifestyle living.
So, when my time comes to hang up my spurs, I won’t have far to travel to find a place to retire.
You can find pretty much anything in Scottsdale that you are looking for. All the major departments and retail outlets have stores in the area. There are quite a few malls in the city and parking, unlike in New York or San Francisco, is a breeze.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for upscale fashion items or Dollar Store discounts, Scottsdale has shopping for every budget. But perhaps the best shopping items, not surprisingly, are western garb. Want to get decked out like a cowboy? You’ll find the real-deal here.
Perhaps the coolest shopping venue in Scottsdale is the Barrett-Jackson auction where some of the world’s most expensive and unusual classic cars are sold. In 2018, over 325,000 people attended the auction including movie stars, sport figures, and other celebrities.
Almost 50-years ago Russ Jackson and Tom Barrett started the auction to help raise money for local charities. Since then, it has become one of the nation’s premiere auto auctions having sold everything from the 1981 Delorean, the car made famous by the movie “Back to the Future” to Shelby Cobras, the iconic – and super-fast - American sports car.
If you are planning on bidding on a car just make sure your wallet is full because some of these vehicles run well into the seven figures.
As you can see, Scottsdale is no backwater provincial town lacking in culture or activities to entertain the whole crew. Quite the contrary, the city is a leading entertainment and cultural center of the Southwest. And with its sunny year round climate, outdoor activities can be enjoyed 12 months a year. That’s why I really like living here myself.
Finally, Scottsdale provides something for every taste and interest. And if you couple that with its relatively low cost of living compared to cities on the coasts, it’s pretty amazing more people aren’t flocking here. Well, actually they are, in droves.
So, if you were ever thinking of selling your home, I can assure you that there is no shortage of people who will pay top dollar for it right now.
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