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Ace Bailey founded Scottsdale, Ariz., tour operator Ultimate Art & Cultural Tours in 2006, and she’s been showing visitors the city’s hidden gems ever since. Following are her tips on digging into Scottsdale’s creative side.
Favorite hidden gem:Our public art is something you’re likely to walk by without noticing. Don’t miss Soleri Bridge, designed by Paolo Soleri and intended to mark solar events. Be sure to also visit “The Doors and Sound Passage” sculpture by Donald Lipski and Jim Green, which gives visitors the chance to stand inside a giant kaleidoscope.
Hottest new neighborhood:Downtown, especially the area around the Garden Apartment District, which is comprised of midcentury apartments, converted condos and newbuilds. Guests can walk, bike or ride the free trolley to fabulous restaurants here, as well as to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, outdoor festivals, the Arts District, theaters and more.
Favorite place to eat:Alo Cafe is a wonderful breakfast and lunch place in a downtown midcentury house. There’s also Karsen’s Grill, a little neighborhood spot with great food — I tell people it’s like walking into “Cheers!”
A tourist activity that is actually worth the hype:Hiking Camelback Mountain. It’s an amazing outdoor experience with breathtaking 360-degree views of the valley from the top.
A cultural sight to see:Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. This new attraction serves as an anchor for local arts and culture and enhances the respected gallery community on nearby Main Street.
What Scottsdale visitors are most surprised by:Many people come here for the weather, golf, spas and shopping, but we are so much more than that. Visitors are surprised by our public art, how walkable downtown is and how easy it is to get from a bustling urban environment to an unspoiled desert ideal for hiking and biking.
I believe Scottsdale’s image is changing from a dusty cowboy town to a thriving urban environment that still respects the elements that give it its charm.
Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureauwww.experiencescottsdale.com
Ultimate Art & Cultural Tourswww.ultimatearttours.com