A Scottsdale Walking Tour

We were off to an early start. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I was on a mission. I was in desperate need of blog material and photogenic subjects. I needed some inspiration and knew Scottsdale, Arizona, was just the place to visit.

sunrise in the desert southwest

We’re off to an early start! Sunrise in the desert southwest.

I enlisted the company of my daughter and husband. Although, I’ll admit, neither were particularly eager to join me on my photographic outing. I remember there being some eye rolls and me being the subject of their amusement, but when I bribed them with mouth-watering treats found at the Scottsdale farmers market, they quickly jumped on board …. and they didn’t even complain when I told them I wanted an early start to the day …. much to my surprise, I might add.

(To enlarge photos in a gallery, simple click on any image. To return to the post, click on the x found at the top right corner)

After we were fueled with coffee and filled with sustenance purchased from local vendors at the farmers market, I consulted my little map of downtown Scottsdale. We would be going on a walking tour visiting seven of Scottsdale’s most beloved public art sculptures.

Sculptures in Historic Old Town Scottsdale

It’s impossible to visit Old Town Scottsdale and not walk by our first sculpture on the tour; The Yearlings by George-Ann Tognoni. This is a monument to wild horses and depicts three bronze yearlings galloping in full stride.

The Yearlings Scottsdale Arizona

The Yearlings sculpture

This sculpture serves as a backdrop to family photo shoots and is especially popular during the holiday season when the sleigh and Christmas tree are set up.

Another popular photo shoot spot is at the LOVE sculpture. LOVE by Robert Indiana was conceived when the United States was involved with the Vietnam War and became a symbol for peace. This famous sculpture is one of the most celebrated works within the pop art movement.

Love sculpture in Scottsdale Arizona

The Scottsdale “LOVE” sculpture sitting at a temporary site near the library.

Robert Indiana created the first version of LOVE with stacked capital letters for a personal Christmas card designed for friends in 1964. In 1965, the Museum of Modern Art selected Indiana’s LOVE design for its official Christmas card.

The original sculptural rendition of LOVE was fabricated from Cor-ten steel in 1970. It can be seen at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Dozens of other LOVE sculptures are now on display around the world.

Scottsdale LOVE sculpture

Al and me at the Scottsdale LOVE sculpture 12/17

As of this writing (12/18), the Scottsdale LOVE sculpture is located at a temporary site near the Scottsdale public library. The bridge in the area sustained severe water damage caused by a leaking fountain resulting in the closure of Drinkwater Blvd and the necessity to relocate the sculpture.

Our walk takes us into Scottsdale’s Art District

With two sculptures checked off the list, we continued our walking tour which found us venturing into Scottsdale’s Art District. The Jack Knife sculpture serves as the center of attention for the art district and sits in the middle of the road.

Jack Knife by Ed Mell is a giant bronze sculpture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco giving a nod to Scottsdale’s Western heritage and the city’s official seal.

On to the Fifth Avenue Shopping District

Who knew Scottsdale had a “Fifth Avenue” shopping district! Now for those of us that have actually shopped at the real 5th Avenue …. as in New York City’s Fifth Avenue, this Fifth Avenue is quite a bit different, but still fun. It’s kitschy, small, and is a long-time favorite with tourists boasting dozens of unique shops, award-winning restaurants, and the famous Bronze Horse Fountain.

The Bronze Horse Fountain was created by Bob Parks, who owned an art gallery in town. This piece showcases the beauty of five Arabian horses as they play in the fountain. I love how they were decorated for the holiday season with wreaths.

Bronze Horse Fountain Scottsdale Arizona

Bronze Horse Fountain

The Scottsdale Water District

We continued our trek. Not far from the Bronze Horse Fountain, we rounded a corner and walked up some stairs. We found ourselves along the Arizona Canal and noticed the bronze sculpture on the other side of a bridge.

Colorado Artist Herb Mignery is a noted western artist and sculptor. He gained early recognition for his classic and humorous western cartoons and rose to fame when he started sculpting scenes from his early Nebraska farm and ranch days.

In Passing the Legacy, a vintage 1860s horse and rider represent the original Pony Express. The lead rider reaches back to grasp the passing legacy, ready to plunge forward into a new era. It took twelve months for the artist and fabricators to refine and create the life-and-a-quarter size bronze monument, which is 20’ long.

Scottsdale Arizona Canal

As we continued our walking tour along the canal and amongst a beautiful park setting, we took great pleasure in the wonderful fall weather that Phoenix is known for.

Water is a precious commodity in a desert and controlling flood water is crucial, especially in a high density urban environment. Phoenix and her surrounding suburbs do a great job in beautifying these man-made waterways. More efforts are ongoing toward waterside recreation and beautification along these canals.

This Scottsdale section of the Arizona Canal is particularly attractive and popular with cyclists and pedestrians alike. Lighted art over and in the water are changed up regularly and the picturesque park setting serves as a great spot for festivals.

The Soleri Bridge & Plaza was designed by the late Italian architect Paolo Soleri. The bridge was designed to demonstrate the importance of solar movement.

The bridge is anchored by two 64-foot pylons and is twenty-seven feet wide on the south side narrowing to eighteen feet on the north.  Situated at a true north axis, the bridge is intended to mark solar events produced by the sun’s shadow.  The six-inch gap between both sets of pylons allows the sun to create a shaft of light as the earth moves.

Most Entertaining Sculpture

The Doors by Donald Lipski is an interesting and entertaining work of art. The structure consists of three 28 foot tall doors that lean against one another on an angle. They are made of Brazilian hardwood, mirror polished stainless steel, and thousands of hand forged steel rivets and strapping.

The Doors sculpture in Scottsdale Arizona

Approaching the “Doors” sculpture in Scottsdale, AZ

When we stepped in between the doors, we were met with a kaleidoscope effect that shines from sunlight during the day and LED lights at night. We were entertained by multiple reflections of ourselves. The experience is enhanced with sound … various sounds of bells, chimes, swooshing, and flute can be heard in and around the sculpture.

A kaleidoscope self-portrait visiting The Doors in Scottsdale Arizona

A self-portrait inside the “The Doors” – a kaleidoscope

I’d have to say, we found this sculpture rather entertaining and found ourselves lingering in and around it. I’d love to go back at night to see what it looks like all lit up from the LED lights.

End of our walking Tour of Scottsdale

Our Scottsdale walking tour visiting the most popular art sculptures in the area took us less than 2 hours full-circle and accounts for all the photo-op stopping and playing around that we did. The sculptures gave us purpose to meander down streets that we had never ventured down before. What a fun and special excuse to explore this entertaining desert southwest city!

This leisurely city walk allowed us the opportunity to see interesting sights and take note of eating establishments for future visits. There’s no shortage of fantastic eateries in Scottsdale. The biggest problem is deciding where to eat when given so many choices.

Okay … time to plan our next adventure!

Additional Scottsdale Information

For more information and downloadable maps – click here.

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62 thoughts on “A Scottsdale Walking Tour

  1. Pingback: 10 Tips for Finding Inspiration | Live Laugh RV

  2. I always love towns and cities with public art. Scottsdale looks like a fun one to explore! Glad you were able to bribe your family with farmers’ market treats to come along. :-))

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  3. Thanks for the great tour. Getting up early has it’s rewards, indeed!! While we rarely venture far from the PNW, your Arizona adventures call out. Also thanks for the recommendations of where to stay (in the comments). Maybe next year we’ll test the southwest … we’re gearing up for the winter here – and we really love winter!!

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    • I used to love my Colorado winters when I was younger … not so much anymore. It’s still pretty to look at from a distance. Enjoy your winter and if I can offer any suggestions on Arizona, don’t hesitate to reach out 😊

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  4. Great post, brings back some fun memories. We’re certainly missing our jaunts to Scottsdale with you and Al. Looks like we’ll need to do a bit more exploring there next time for the photographer in the family.

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    • City hiking can be so much fun and we’ve discovered some really interesting sights along the way. Look forward to you guys returning to the desert southwest for your winter next year!?!?

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  5. Lovely post, Ingrid! I have an affinity for western-style sculptures and had no idea there were several gorgeous ones in Scottsdale – a place we’ve never visited. I’ve just made a note on my “future travels” list and will enjoy taking that walking tour myself on our next trip to the southwest. Thank you!

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    • Scottsdale is all about the “west”. You’ll love it and I know just the tour guide 😉 When you’re ready to escape the winter in the north, now you know where to go!

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  6. A fun walk! You all had fun exploring. Those Doors were interesting. I had no idea of the bridge.

    I enjoyed our morning in Scottsdale. When I get back… we are sitting still and not going anywhere until the end of January… I would love to go to the Farmer’s Market with you again.

    Enjoy this festive time of year!

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  7. Once again, your timing is perfect! We’ll be in that area again later this winter and looking for things to do. Thanks for the introduction and some excellent ideas… the artwork is cool to see and it’s always fun to find interesting things to photograph. Plus, we’ve never met a farmers market we didn’t like!

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    • Scottsdale and Santa Fe are my most favorite farmers markets. We enjoy all the samples first and then make our purchases. A nice walk afterwards is needed 😆 I think you guys would enjoy this excursion. We loved meandering around town in search of the next sculpture on our map.

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  8. It looks like there is still more sights to see in Scottsdale than what you have already shown me. While you are still in the area, and in search of blog material, try to check out Musical Instruments Museum in Phoenix. Even if you are not musically inclined, the museum is interesting.

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    • I think you’ll really enjoy visiting. Near the intersection of Main St. and Brown (and in front of the “Yearlings” sculpture) is an information kiosk filled with lots of free info and maps including the one I used for our walking tour. “Hamburger Rehab” is one of our fav’s for lunch.

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      • Im happy you like it here, it’s a wonderful place to live. My wife and I ride road bikes and mountain bikes, we also hike the trails and go to flagstaff to snowboard. This place is special to us and I was very happy to read your story and see the awesome photos, I cant get enough of the sights here as it is

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      • if you get time while youre here head up to Fountain Hill to see the fountain and the Horse statue, also on Indian Bend here in Scottsdale when youre crossing the bridge between scottsdale rd and hayden look off to the left or right to see the Horse Statues, they are beautiful.

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        • Yes, we’ve been to Fountain Hills. Thank you for the tip on the Horse Statue location. I’ve seen photos but couldn’t figure out where they were … my sightseeing list keeps growing 😁. We’ll be in Anthem until May 1st. So, I’ll have plenty of time to explore the Phoenix valley. Our son moved to Phx in 2010 so we’ve visited often, but this is the first time we’re spending 7 months.

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  9. Scottsdale is one of our favorite places to visit. We have stayed in Old Town and always eat a meal on the patio at The Tortilla Factory. But we haven’t walked as much of the area as you did. Thanks for the insight. We’ll have to go farther afield next time. One of my favs was the chocolate shop that had chocolate high heels. Near the horse fountain. Very fun.

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    • I recently read about The Tortilla Factory and that’s on my list for a time we’re in the area in the evening. I really want to venture over to Old Town Scottsdale for some night photography, but I’m afraid that may be asking my camera to go beyond its comfort level 😆 Someday, I’ll venture into mirrorless camera territory 🎅

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  10. What a fun walk with a purpose. And, I love those blue skies. It looks like Scottsdale has an affinity for horses, at least in statues. 🙂 Did you use a certain map or walking tour from the visitor canter, or did you create your own? The door artwork would be my favorite as well and is worthy of a stop in town by itself. I’ll have to remember that for whenever we swing by!

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    • Yes, Scottsdale’s history is embedded with western life and horses. I used the map that I posted near the end of this post. The sculptures are listed in a green box. You’ll want to download the map for a clearer image. I picked up a hard copy at the visitor kiosk in front of “The Yearlings” sculpture and next to the Christmas tree. Lots of free information and maps. If you’d like to camp as close to Scottsdale as possible, check out “Westworld” in Scottsdale $31 a night for water and electric. An easy bike ride to lots of amenities but a distance to Old Town.

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  11. we have wintered in Yuma AZ for the past 25 years and have only been to Scottsdale Az 2 time and never to the art district. Since reading your fine article on the walking tour. I think we will visit Scottsdale this winter while in Yuma. Some time after the first of the year.
    Mel & Bev

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    • We’ve really enjoyed exploring and learning more about Scottsdale. If you do plan a visit with the RV, you might want to consider staying at “Westworld”. That’ll put you close to everything. Enjoy the warm winter in Yuma!

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  12. Very cool! I really enjoyed this post & all the interesting things to see, especially the door sculpture. Having lived just outside of Indianapolis for 25 yrs., I have visited the LOVE sculpture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art & the adjoining 100 Acre Park, which I highly recommend exploring. In fact, our youngest daughter had her engagement photos taken at the sculpture.

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    • Thank you! I bet that was a great location for engagement photos. We’re thinking about a Midwest visit in 2019. I’m missing the lush vegetation and pristine lakes (but not the mosquitoes). We’ll see if my plans pan out considering 2018 was a bust in that department 😏

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  13. For all the years we’ve wintered in Arizona, we have never been to the art district in Scottsdale. We were actually talking about visiting the art galleries this year. Thanks for the info, I downloaded the guide.

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    • It was definitely a very fun walking tour with lots of things to photograph. The farmers market and various districts (Old Town, Art, Water, 5th Ave) are all dog friendly. Next on my list is hiking along the canal beyond that small park area.

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