Best of the West in Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale’s past is steeped in Native American traditions and Western lore. From the area’s first inhabitants, the Hohokam, to the young town’s ranching days and colorful cowboy culture, discover the history behind “The West’s Most Western Town.”
Explore Native American Culture
- The Heard Museum in Phoenix and Heard Museum North in Scottsdale draw from a collection of more than 40,000 art and cultural objects to explore American Indian history. In addition to multi-media presentations, films and hands-on activities for children, the Heard Museum also hosts annual special events like the World Championship Hoop Dance Competition in February, Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in March and the Katsina Doll Marketplace in April.
- From A.D. 450 to 1450, the greater Scottsdale area was inhabited by the Hohokam, whose history and culture is yours to explore at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. A 2/3-mile interpretive trail takes you around the 800-year-old Hohokam platform mound ruin, while other exhibits cover Hohokam houses and their ingenious canal irrigation system.
- The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch is home to the Native American Learning Center where you can speak with a member of the Hopi tribe and learn about their history and culture. The Hyatt also offers Native American dance performances every Friday evening at 5:00 p.m.
- Every January through April, the free Native Trails performances bring traditional Native American music, dance and art to Scottsdale Civic Center Mall. A variety of tribal dances ranging from inter-tribal powwow dancing to world championship-level hoop dancing are offered most Thursdays and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Experience Scottsdale’s Frontier Past
- Rawhide 1880s Western Town is Arizona’s largest Western-themed attraction and features stunt shows, stagecoach and burro rides, live country music, shops and much more. At the Rawhide Steakhouse & Golden Belle Saloon, you can rustle up some of the finest mesquite-grilled steaks and other cowboy delicacies this side of the Rockies.
- If you’ve always dreamed of being a cowboy, saddle-up and head out to the Arizona Cowboy College. You’ll learn the finer points of horsemanship and cattle ranching, ride alongside working cowboys, and eat and sleep under the starry desert sky.
- The Scottsdale Historical Museum, housed in the 1909 Little Red Schoolhouse, chronicles Scottsdale’s history with photographs, artifacts and changing displays. Be sure to check out the bronze sculpture of Scottsdale’s founder, Winfield Scott, just north of the museum.
- For live country music and plenty of boot-scootin’ fun, check out the Rusty Spur Saloon and Handlebar J. The Rusty Spur in downtown Scottsdale offers live music 364 afternoons and nights a year, as well as a cozy dance floor and adult libations. Just a short drive north of downtown, Handlebar J entertains with live music nightly, including the Herndon Brothers Band, which headlines every Wednesday through Sunday.
And, if you’d like to take home a piece of the West, browse the art galleries of downtown Scottsdale where you’ll find an outstanding collection of Western- and Native American-inspired creations. Downtown also offers numerous shopping opportunities if you’re in the market for some stylish new cowboy boots or authentic Native American jewelry.