Named the Best Arts Festival in 2010 by the Phoenix New Times, the Scottsdale Arts Festival has showcased the fine arts since 1971. This year, nearly 200 jury-selected artists from around the United States and Canada contribute vibrant paintings, glass and ceramic sculptures, photography, and connect-the-dots sketches framed with macaroni. Throughout the festival, artists engage guests with interactive projects. Tunes from live bands swirl past attentive eardrums while mouths are occupied at gourmet food trucks serving such great festival eats as hot dogs, barbecue, pastries, and more. Throughout the day, pintsize patrons and kids of all ages can skip over to Imagine Nation to participate in artistic activities, such as walking down Kid’s Way and creating a paper hat.
For all their ubiquity, chain restaurants seldom embody the same character and culture as their independently owned counterparts. That’s where Arizona Food Tours comes in. With their signature A Taste of Old Town Scottsdale tour, the company introduces visitors to the idiosyncrasies and food of the desert burg, from classic western grub to the local wine bars that pour cabernet and red zinfandel for diners and thirsty cacti.
According to a local legend, The Panic Park was once a thriving amusement park before the previous owner stored toxic waste on the grounds, turning workers into zombies and all of the structures into spooky sites. Bone-chilling areas such as Hellbilly Hideout and Zombie Stunt Show pulse with paranormal creatures, and the Toxic Waste 4D Maze challenges visitors to make it out alive without borrowing toxic materials to unfairly grow sonar whiskers from their nostrils. Veteran entertainment-industry insiders George Nelson, Sid Kramer, and Clifton Laderer helm the production, combining their years of experience to scare anyone over the age of 12.
The Hall of Flame Fire Museum and National Firefighting Hall of Heroes have almost one whole acre of fire history packed into their exhibits, including more than 90 fully restored pieces of firefighting equipment from across the ages and the world. The four galleries of machinery are grouped by era, for the most part, making the grounds a virtual tour through time. Take in the view of one of America's earliest motorized fire engines with the Type 400 and contrast it with an English Angus engine formerly used by the Nottinghamshire department, among many others. Or head to the helmet collection to see more than 400 helmets from Great Britain, Germany, France, and America. There are also many hands-on activities for children, such as interactive exhibits, an American LaFrance truck to gambol and cavort upon, Junior Firefighting workshops, and storytimes for the littlest firefighters.
A spine-chilling labyrinth of dark corners, creatures back from the undead, and eerie, abandoned spaces await any brazen guests who dare enter the maze-like Dark Scares Haunted Attraction—voted "Best Haunted House" in 2011 and 2012 by Arizona Foothills Magazine. The haunted hotel unleashes a live cast of tormented spirits that have checked in and show no intention of checking out for all eternity, as long as the water pressure in the showers remains satisfactory.
During their 20-minute voyage through the demented dungeon, guests must steel themselves in anticipation of sudden spooks emerging through the walls, vacated guest rooms appearing through mysterious doorways, and other ghoulish scares. Guests may wear costumes of their own when visiting Dark Scares, though masks are not permitted.