Where to See the Old West in Scottsdale
Credit: Birgit Tyrrell / Alamy

Scottsdale bills itself as the “the West’s most Western town.” Although a bit of a stretch, the city does have cowboy roots, and it offers a little Western fun for visitors, especially in Old Town, where you’ll find a few historical sites along with the kitschy shops and tourist-friendly restaurants and bars. For example, Cavalliere's Blacksmith Shop, near the Old Adobe Mission, is a fourth-generation family-owned business that has been producing horseshoes and metal work since it opened in 1909. Exploring this pedestrian-friendly quarter, it’s also not uncommon to see singing cowboys on horseback and Native American musicians and dancers. To really get a feel for the Old West, though, consider your own horseback adventure outside of the city. Whether it’s a private lesson at Arizona Cowboy College or a hayride adventure to a campfire dinner courtesy of MacDonald’s Ranch, there’s nothing like a little cowboy adventure.

Cave Creek

First settled by ranchers and miners in the 1870s, the town of Cave Creek just north of Scottsdale fervently maintains its Old West character: old-fashioned honky-tonks with live music, steak and rib joints, and funky vintage stores. The touristy Frontier Town shops and bars are fun—but the weekly rodeos and Western dancing at Buffalo Chip Saloon are the real deal.

Arizona Cowboy College

Yee-haw! Pull on your boots, grab your hat and learn the in’s and out’s of cowboyin’. From horseback riding to roping and shoeing, this working cattle ranch offers private and group lessons, as well multi-day sessions and weeklong cattle roundups. Special kids’ camps, which can include overnight rides, are available.

Saba’s Western Wear

For more than 85 years, “Arizona’s original Western store” has been outfitting real-life cowboys with leather goods, hats and buckles the size of a horseshoe. Check out the two locations in Old Town, which offer overwhelming array of Western gear, including the state’s largest selection of handcrafted boots.

MacDonald’s Ranch

This 1,300-acre ranch in North Scottsdale is a family-friendly bit of Western fun: horseback rides, hayrides and cowboy cookouts and stagecoach rides. The scenic trail rides through the desert give you a taste of what it must have been like to traverse this rugged and isolated landscape before the days of cars and big cities.

Old Adobe Mission

Hispanic and Yaqui Indian families constructed Scottsdale’s first Catholic church in 1933. The white-stucco façade and domed bell tower of the Spanish Colonial Revival church were inspired by the Mission of San Xavier del Bac, south of Tucson. Step inside to view the original adobe bricks through a small cutaway on the north wall.