Despite a population running to the millions, Phoenix and Scottsdale occasionally like to present themselves as grown-up Wild West cow towns. But since there are more Ford Mustangs than wild mustangs around these parts, you'll have to get out of town way before sundown if you want a taste of the Old West. At the outer edges of the Valley, you'll find a couple of Hollywood-style cow towns that are basically tourist traps, but, hey, if you've got the kids along, you owe it to them to visit at least one of these places.

Cave Creek, founded as a gold-mining camp in the 1870s, is the last of the Valley towns that still has some semblance of Wild West character, but this is rapidly fading as area real-estate prices have skyrocketed and Scottsdale's population center moves ever northward. Still, you'll find several steakhouses and saloons, as well as shops selling Western and Native American crafts and antiques. The main family attraction is a place called Frontier Town, 6245 E. Cave Creek Rd. (tel. 480/488-3317;, which is in the center of town. It's a sort of mock cow town with lots of little shops, a restaurant, and a saloon. To learn more about the history of this area, stop in at the Cave Creek Museum, at Skyline Drive and Basin Road (tel. 480/488-2764; It's open from October to May on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 4:30pm and Friday from 10am to 4:30pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students 12 and older, and free for children 11 and under.

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