Scottsdale is a hot spot for inspiring architecture and world-class art. In fact, the city’s collection of acclaimed museums, architectural wonders, renowned galleries and world-class performance spaces are just some of the reasons American Style has voted Scottsdale one of the “Top 25 Arts Destinations” numerous times over. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss.
See Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in a new light with the two-hour Night Lights tour (seasonal). Wright’s desert masterpiece comes to life with a luminous, jewel-like quality set against a backdrop of Scottsdale’s stunning city lights. Daytime tour options include the daily 90-minute Insights tour and the seasonal, two-hour Desert Shelter tour.
Tour time: 2 to 4 hours
Call on the experts at Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours for the 411 on local landmarks like the Hotel Valley Ho. The Valley Ho is one of the best examples of mid-century modern design in Scottsdale and was a favorite of Hollywood’s “It” crowd in the 1950s and 60s.
Tour time: 90 minutes to full day
The Gateway Trailhead provides a breathtaking entry into Scottsdale’s 30,000+-acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve while minimizing its impact on the desert. Rammed-earth walls, solar power, a rainwater harvesting system and a roof covered in native desert cobble are just a few of the architectural highlights of this LEED-certified building.
Tour time: 60 to 90 minutes
Check out the latest comedy, dance, theater and world-music performances at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Headliners who have recently graced the stage include Alan Cumming, Martin Short, Jane Lynch, David Sedaris, The Peking Acrobats and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
Tour time: Varies by show length
Enjoy free, action-packed cultural activities like the Scottsdale ArtWalk (every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) or the self-guided Scottsdale Public Art Walking Tour, which introduces you to 10 fabulous art installations on an easy 60-minute walk through downtown.
Tour time: 1 to 2 hours
See, hear and play instruments from around the world at the Musical Instrument Museum. More than 5,000 instruments and cultural artifacts are on display, including instruments played by icons like Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Carlos Santana. Stay for lunch and enjoy delicious global cuisine at MIM’s Café Allegro.
Tour time: 4 to 6 hours
SMoCA celebrates modern art, architecture and design through thought-provoking, changing exhibitions. The museum, an ingenious renovation of an old movie theater by architect Will Bruder, also is home to “Knight Rise,” a James Turrell skyspace that allows you to track the sun’s colorful path across the desert sky.
Tour time: 2 hours
Designed by the late artist, architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri, downtown’s Soleri Bridge & Plaza is at once a pedestrian passage, solar calendar and gathering place along the Scottsdale Waterfront. The installation also includes a monumental bronze bell designed by Soleri.
Tour time: 30 minutes
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West celebrates the pioneer spirit of the American West through changing exhibitions of fine art, rare historic artifacts and cultural treasures. Be sure to check out the interactive exhibits, live performances, outdoor sculptures and museum store.
Tour time: 1.5 to 2 hours