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Scottsdale Neighborhoods

Compared to other major metropolitan areas in the United States, Scottsdale is a relatively small city with a population of slightly more than 235,000. You’d be hard-pressed to find an “iffy” part in all of its 184 square miles; you won’t see any dense pockets of warehouses or industrial neighborhoods, just well-groomed homes, shopping centers and commercial office parks, punctuated by the occasional saguaro cactus. There’s also not a clear distinction between neighborhoods, as the 31-mile-long city just flows seamlessly from each individual district. But, if you had to break it down, Scottsdale’s neighborhoods would have more of a geographic distinction—starting with North Scottsdale at the very tip of the city lines.

North Scottsdale

Much of Scottsdale—and the Greater Phoenix area, for that matter—is spread out; this is especially true in North Scottsdale, where homes, golf courses and other developments are built to blend into the Sonoran Desert landscape. Houses, banks, grocery stores and restaurants are all painted in various neutral hues of tan, but not in a boring, suburban style. If anything, North Scottsdale is Arizona at its best, where architecture and design are true to the environment. It’s also home to two of Scottsdale’s most well-known resorts, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa (just outside Scottsdale in Carefree, Ariz.), both of which are the best examples of desert architecture in the area.

Central Scottsdale

Central Scottsdale is best known for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, 16,400 acres of preserved desert landscape in the heart of the city, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, the architect’s original winter home. As you travel south along Scottsdale Road and pass Arizona State Route 101 into Central Scottsdale, you’ll see things become more condensed; houses and shops are closer together, but it’s still not always walkable. It’s here that the bustle of an urban environment becomes more apparent, with mixed-use complexes like the Scottsdale Quarter (home to Arizona’s first H&M shop) and Kierland Commons, a main street-type center with high-end retailers, regional restaurants and office and residential space. Other Central Scottsdale highlights are The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, the Fairmont Scottsdale (where Arizona’s branch of the Willow Stream Spa is located) and TPC Scottsdale, the home course for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Paradise Valley

Though it’s technically its own township with an independent government council and mayor, you could drive into the Town of Paradise Valley without even realizing you’d crossed a border. A bedroom community of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley is anything but a misnomer. With its patches of tall palm trees and homes that are a square foot short of being dubbed mansions, it’s safe to say that Paradise Valley probably played a major role in Scottsdale’s being named the “Beverly Hills of the Southwest.” Besides the palm trees, though, Beverly Hills and Paradise Valley have one very important thing in common: a reputation as a celebrity playground. For their covert honeymoon, celebrity power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce ditched the beaches of St. Tropez for the secluded mountainside retreat of Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa.

Downtown Scottsdale

By far the most pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in the city, downtown Scottsdale has seen more than $3 billion in development since 2007-2008. The new districts, SouthBridge and the Scottsdale Waterfront, center on the Arizona Canal—an ancient Hohokam Indian canal that once served as an alleyway. Downtown is the place to go to fulfill all your childhood dreams of becoming a cowboy or cowgirl. Old Town pays homage to the city’s Western roots and has rows upon rows of Western-themed shops that, while they’re the perfect answer to your inner child, can be a bit kitschy. The Western theme of Old Town is a nice juxtaposition to the more modern and youthful draws, like the mid-century Hotel Valley Ho and the new(ish) W Scottsdale Hotel & Residences. The true anchor of downtown, Scottsdale Fashion Square, is the largest mall in the Southwest.

South Scottsdale

South Scottsdale borders the college town of Tempe, Ariz., home to Arizona State University. Because of this, it’s not quite as ritzy as the rest of the city, but it’s a major center of development for education and science-related projects. One such project is SkySong, a joint venture between ASU and Scottsdale that’s 1.2 million square feet of office, research and business space.

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