High-end shopping in the Valley comes in the shape of a big backward L. It begins 4 miles north of the heart of downtown Phoenix with the hip and trendy boutiques at Central Avenue and Camelback Road. Follow Camelback Road (the first leg of the L) east 2 miles and you’ll pass more juicy shopping stops, including the Camelback Esplanade, the Town and Country Shopping Center, and swanky Biltmore Fashion Park. Another 6 miles due east of that, the intersection of Scottsdale and Camelback roads is ground zero for Scottsdale shopping, with the gigantic Scottsdale Fashion Square and many, many surrounding blocks of art galleries, boutiques, jewelry stores, Native American craft stores, and Western shops, all collectively known as downtown Scottsdale. Old Town Scottsdale, the city’s main tourist destination, is a couple miles south of here.
For the other leg of the L, head north on Scottsdale Road, though 10 miles of ever-swankier shopping territory with high-end strip malls on both sides of the street. You’ll also find some shopping areas on parallel Hayden and Pima roads. Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter, two major malls with high-end retailers, are 8 or 9 miles north of downtown Scottsdale.
Malls & Shopping Centers
The traditional suburban malls you’d find in any big city ring the Valley; two worth noting are the Desert Ridge Marketplace (at Tatum and the 101, in north Phoenix) and the Tempe Marketplace (at McClintock Road and the 202, in north Tempe), both open-air affairs with lots of chain restaurants and a big movie multiplex.
Antiques & Collectibles
Downtown Glendale (a suburb northwest of downtown Phoenix) is the Valley’s main antiques district, with a great concentration of dealers on Glendale Avenue between 56th and 59th avenues, plus a few more in the blocks just north. The Melrose District, close to downtown Phoenix on 7th Avenue between Indian School and Camelback roads, has a dozen or more vintage, collectible, and furniture stores of highly variable quality, with the emphasis on midcentury modern furnishings.
The Valley’s unexpectedly strong and active arts scene is most visibly manifested in the First Friday gallery walk, which centers on Roosevelt Row, right off Central Avenue just north of downtown. There are big crowds but it’s a great diversion for interested families, students, singles, and art lovers, who will appreciate being exposed to the Valley’s most venturesome underground artists and its up-and-coming stars. (Third Fridays are a quieter alternative.)
Downtown Scottsdale has its own Thursday ArtWalk every Thursday even in summer, from 7pm to 9pm, centered on Main Street just south of Indian School Road, but also stretching up Marshall Way to Fifth Avenue. A little more genteel, it focuses on established commercial galleries—from cowboy to contemporary, from the garish to the sublime. It’s a great time to mingle with other art lovers in a casual atmosphere, meet some artists and craftspeople, and even grab a cup of wine or two.
Some of the most important contemporary arts galleries from Scottsdale have moved to downtown Phoenix.
Up-and-Comers on Roosevelt Row—Just off Central Avenue, stretching along Roosevelt Road almost to 7th Street, a dozen or more locally owned art galleries are devoted to finding the next generation of Phoenix artists. Quality, of course, varies greatly, and the upheaval wrought by ASU’s expansion means it’s changing all the time. But you’ll definitely find interesting work to check out at Monorchid, Modified Arts and the Eye Lounge, each within a block of the intersection of 3rd Street and Roosevelt Road. There’s a good guide at rooseveltrow.org.
There aren’t too many big-chain bookstores left; what remain are a few large Barnes & Noble locations in some of the suburban malls ringing the Valley. The one closest to tourist areas is at 10500 N. 90th St., Scottsdale (tel. 480/391-0048). In Phoenix, there’s also a Bookmans, a sprawling operation with vast selections of used books, DVDs, and pop collectibles (8034 N. 19th Ave.; www.bookmans.com; tel. 602/433-0255); there’s one in Mesa, too.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.