If you love shopping and beautiful scenary take a drive up to Carefree and Cave Creek. Both towns are located North of Scottsdale, tons of unique shopping opportunites. Cave Creek has a very old western feel and some cool shops from local artists. And some yummy "old west" style restaurants.
Just north of Scottsdale, Drive through the small towns of Cave Creek and Carefree. Beautiful drive with pretty mountains and hills. Carefree started as an old west mining town when gold was found there. It is now a small planned community with beautiful homes and great views. The small downtown area has some nice boutique shopping and you can see the World's largest sundial.
Whenever I have out of town visitors who want to see the old west, I take them to Cave Creek. Cave Creek is a scenic, touristy town north of Phoenix full of western shops, art galleries, and great restaurants and bars.
The drive to Cave Creek is breathtaking. The drive takes you though a desert preserve full of cactus, coyotes and wilderness. You can see for miles and the mountains surrounding Cave Creek are very beautiful. I've never taken anyone there who didn't love it, and a few people have even talked about moving there!
So consider this a MUST see on your trip to Phoenix.
Cave Creek is about 1200 feet higher than Phoenix, so it is a bit cooler (they say it occasionally even gets a little snow).
My favorite places to eat in Cave Creek?
The Cracked Crab has the best seafood I've ever had.
The Horny Toad has great BBQ sandwiches and beer.
The Satisfied Frog has great chicken, chili beer, and an old-west style great piano player. The place looks like it is right out of an old western.
El Encanto is one of my favorite mexican restaurants.
Can you tell I love to eat when I am there??
It is easy to get to Cave Creek. Just take Scottsdale road (north of the 101 freeway) north from Scottsdale north, until it becomes Tom Darlington Drive (at the corner of Carefree highway and Cave Creek road). Continue north Until you run into Cave Creek road. Take a left (west) and drive through beautiful Cave Creek.
It will go in a circle around Black Mountain and will eventually run back into Carefree highway. Make a left (east) and proceed back to Scottsdale road and take it right (south) going back the way you came in.