Scottsdale On and Off The Trolley

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Wooden interior of the Scottsdale Trolley
Exploring Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona and beyond on the Scottsdale Trolley

A fun way to explore Scottsdale, Arizona, sometimes called “The West’s Most Western Town”, is to spend a day hopping on and off the free Downtown Trolley. Trolleys run every 15 minutes daily from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. On Thursdays service is extended to 9:00 pm. Downtown Scottsdale has plenty of free parking. You can park your car and explore via the trolley and your feet.

Old Town Scottsdale

Sign of cowboy with lasso Welcome to Old Town Scottsdale sign

The trolley’s Old Town Route runs through Old Town Scottsdale, where you’ll find rustic old west buildings, modern shopping and dining, art, and entertainment.

Walking tour map on the sidewalk of Old Town Scottsdale
Walking tour map available on the sidewalk under your feet
Horse and carriage driving through Old Town Scottsdale
Horse and carriage rides are available

Historic Old Town Scottsdale

Wide street with rustic old-West style buildings on either side  in Old Town Scottsdale

Scottsdale Road/East Main Street was founded in 1894. It was named after U.S. Chaplain Winfield Scott who brought early settlers to Scottsdale’s desert. A collection of rustic buildings recreate an Old West feel. Inside the buildings you’ll find souvenir and other shops, restaurants, and other businesses.

Statue of Winfield Scott standing beside horse carrying wife Helen
Statue by George-Ann Tognoni depicts Scottsdale founders Winfield and Helen Scott

Near the Scott statue, close to the intersection of E. Main and N. Brown, sits the Scottsdale Historic Museum. The little red schoolhouse housing the museum was originally Scottsdale Grammar School, built in 1909 to handle increased enrollment in the existing wooden school. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Scottsdale. And, yes, it does include a replica of a one-room school, circa late 1800s. Check the museum website for hours.

White adobe mission church in Scottsdale
The adobe Mission, built in 1933, was Scottsdale’s first Catholic church. It is still a spiritual centre today. Interior is open to tourists.

Civic Center Mall

The Scottsdale Civic Center Mall features almost 21 acres of green space, where you can rest or picnic and enjoy fountains and public art.

Love sculpture in Scottsdale - Red letters L and O atop V and E to spell love
The iconic Love sculpture by Robert Indiana in Scottsdale Civic Center Mall
Sculpture in fountain at Civic Center Mall in Scottsdale
Sculpture in fountain at Civic Center Mall


Scottsdale waterfront

Over a thousand years ago, Hokoham Indians built a rich canal system for irrigation in what is now the Greater Phoenix Valley. The canals are still used today, managed by the Salt River Project. In 2006, the Scottsdale Waterfront Project turned the canal running through downtown into a waterfront destination with commercial, residential, and cultural amenities.

Metal pylon of Soleri Bridge at Scottsdale Waterfront
Soleri Bridge & Plaza

The Soleri pedestrian bridge was designed by Paolo Soleri. Two sets of pylons create a solar calendar. At each solar noon, light coming through the six inch gap between the pylons produces a shadow, the length of which varies depending on the time of year. At summer solstice, when the sun is highest in the sky, there is no shadow.

Totemic art panels on the Scottsdale Soleri Bridge
Three of the ten 3,500 pound totemic panels on Soleri Plaza.
Panels were designed by Paolo Soleri with Roger Tomalty and produced at Cosanti in Scottsdale

Shopping and Art

Shopping alley in Scottsdale
One of many interesting shopping alleys

Old Town Scottsdale contains designer boutiques, souvenir shops, art galleries, and stores selling native jewelry and authentic southwestern furniture, all within walking distance of each other. The 5th Avenue Shopping District, the original arts and crafts area, now home to restaurants, nightclubs, and shops. In the Art District, located in the heart of Old Town along Main Street and Marshall Way, you’ll find gallery upon gallery offering a wide variety of fine art. Every Thursday galleries, which usually close at 6 pm, re-open from 7 to 9 pm for Scottdale’s Artwalk.

Art sitting structure near 5th Avenue, Scottsdale
Bronze horse statue featuring 5 horses in a ring around a central fountain
“Bronze Horse Fountain” by Bob Parks at the corner of 5th Avenue and Marshall Way is one of the most photographed landmarks in Scottsdale
Gray building with turquoise trim of the Scottsdale Fashion Square
The northern-most stop of the Downtown Trolley is Fashion Square, a beautiful, upscale shopping mall

Beyond Old Town

From late December through March, two additional trolleys run from Fashion Square, allowing you to explore further. The Scottsdale Day Tripper travels north along North Scottsdale Road. The Paradise Valley Resort Trolley goes into the luxury resorts west of Fashion Square.

Blue and green spire
Scottsdale Spire on the corner of the Promenade Shopping Center lot in North Scottsdale, a stop on the Day Tripper

You can find the Scottsdale Trolley map and schedule here.

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Exploring Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona and beyond on the Scottsdale Trolley #Arizona #Scottsdale #trolley

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  1. Hi Donna, you have definitely motivated me to try the Scottsdale Trolley. To date I have only passed through but would certainly make it a planned stop now. Helen Scott projects the strong demeanour that I’m sure was needed to pioneer the West. The ancient canal system is intriguing and speaks to fixed communities at an earlier time than I might have guessed.

    1. The canal system is interesting. It does speak to civilization in this area in a much earlier time. There is renewed interest at the moment in making the canal areas more of an attraction/meeting spot as they were in earlier times. Many are now more like back alleys. The Scottsdale Waterfront is a great example of turning the canal into a meeting spot.

  2. I am actually surprised that all of this is new to me. My Dad lives about an hour from there and I have an uncle in Scottsdale, yet whenever I visit we meet him somewhere for a meal. I had never realized I was missing so much interesting things in Scottsdale, next time we are seeing the sights and using the Trolley.

    1. There are a lot of interesting things to see in Scottsdale. And it is so easy to get around, with the free trolley and lots of free parking. Downtown Scottsdale is very walkable.

    1. The main downtown trolley is more frequent that the ones going to north Scottsdale and the resorts. But I recall us waiting for it longer than we should have. But it was still fun.

  3. I used to take my son on the Scottsdale trolley when he was a toddler. He loved it so much, especially when the conductor let him ring the bell. It also served as fodder for making up bedtime stories!

  4. What a wonderful tour of photos you shared of Scottsdale. I guess I didn’t stay long enough on my last trip through town to see those interesting sites. Love the horses.

    1. Thanks Neva. You aren’t alone in loving the horses. I learned they are one of the most photographed landmarks in Scottsdale. I imagine the LOVE statue must get its fair share of photographers too.

  5. Wow! And here I had pictured Scottsdale as a sleepy place filled with old folks (shame on me!) The trolley sounds like a fun way to explore this city and it looks like there’s more than enough to keep the sightseers plenty busy with an art district, museums, restaurants, etc. Thanks for the tour and I’m adding this to my list of must-sees when we travel around our own country!

    1. The trolley is fun. There are a lot of retired people staying in the area in and around Scottsdale during the winter, but I wouldn’t describe Scottsdale as sleepy.

  6. We’ve GOT to get to Scottsdale – we have so many friends there and your post just made me feel guilty (in a good way!). We’ve been told a million times that it’s a great place with great things to do – and you just proved it! Thanks for sharing! -Veronica

  7. No, I haven’t been on the Scottsdale trolley and it’s been a long time since I’ve been to old Scottsdale. When I visit family in Phoenix, I’ve been to Scottsdale, but mainly stayed in newer areas. I’m missing out on something!

  8. We were in Scottsdale a couple of years ago and loved it. Took a foodie tour and saw many of the same sights in your photos! We did not know about the trolley though or we would have definitely used it. Good to know for our next visit!

  9. If I ever get to Arizona I’ll try to get to Scottsdale. So much history, and I love the idea that people are still using those ancient canals.

  10. The trolley does look fun! And the ArtWalk looks like a great way to take in some different art works…

  11. I have never been to Scottsdale, but it looks really fun! I do keep hearing good things about it. Last year a 90 year old man told me that I looked like a “Scottsdale girl” 🙂 I always wondered what he meant.