The Free Monthly Downtown Scottsdale Art & Cultural Trolley Tour

Free trolley bus in Art District of downtown Scottsdale.

Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty Images 

The Downtown Scottsdale Art & Cultural Trolley Tour provides a short but broad look into the downtown Scottsdale scene, past and present. The tour, presented by Ultimate Art and Cultural Tours, gives participants a unique glimpse into the different districts that comprise downtown Scottsdale from the unique perspective of the Scottsdale Trolley.

This Scottsdale trolley tour takes guests through Old Town Scottsdale, Craftsman Court, the Civic Center area, the Scottsdale Arts District including Marshall Way and Main Street, 5th Avenue Shops, and the Scottsdale Waterfront.

You'll hear a bit about history, learn about some of the people that put Scottsdale on the map and note some architectural aspects of the area. Whether you're wondering where to eat or have a glass of wine or where to buy expensive bronze statues or custom t-shirts or you're interested in museums, theatres, culinary schools and classes, historic hotels, or public art, your tour guide is sure to cover these topics and more!

At the beginning of your Scottsdale trolley tour, you'll be provided with a map of the tour route, and you will be able to pick up free materials about galleries and other places of interest in downtown Scottsdale. The tour is free, but reservations in advance are required.

Location: Old Adobe Mission, 3817 N Brown Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Website: Downtown Scottsdale Art & Cultural Trolley Tour

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Who Should Attend and Tour Tips

Scottsdale, Arizona, Old Town, Old Adobe Mission with cross at top.
Charles Cook/Getty Images

The Downtown Scottsdale Art & Cultural Trolley Tour is a guided trolley tour of downtown Scottsdale where participants will discover aspects that they never knew before and can use that new information as a jumping off point for other in-depth tours or exploration on their own at another time.

While there is some history offered, most of this Scottsdale trolley tour focuses on becoming familiar with downtown Scottsdale as it stands today—the galleries, the shops, dining and drinking spots, the Waterfront and the mall. From local trivia to myths and neighborhood development strategies, you'll certainly get to know this area better in a couple of hours than you ever could on your own.

Most of the Scottsdale trolley tour guests are local residents. Scottsdale can be a bit complicated if you don't spend a great deal of time there, and this tour helps locals become more familiar and comfortable with exploring downtown Scottsdale attractions and neighborhoods. However, visitors to the area are certainly welcome to sign up for the tour as well.

Tips for Participating in the Scottsdale Trolley Tour

Tours are limited to about 20 people, which is about the number of people that can fit on one Scottsdale trolley car, and aside from boarding the trolley and an optional art gallery pit stop, the tour itself doesn't require walking.

The first 15 minutes of the tour takes place in the Old Adobe Mission, where a docent shared some of the history of the area and the local churches. After the Mission visit, guests board the Scottsdale trolley and the Tour Guide calls attention to various points of interest as Ollie the Trolley transport them around downtown Scottsdale neighborhoods and districts.

The trolley is air-conditioned, but the seats are hard, and there is an advantage to sitting facing the right side of the trolley because it offers better views of the architecture and more points of interest than the left side.

You should be sure to bring water as no beverages or snacks are available for purchase. There are also no activities for children and no restrooms on board the trolley, so be sure your child is ready for the tour and won't get too bored.

The entire tour takes less than two hours, is wheelchair accessible, and allows cameras of all types on board. However, the trolley does not stop for photo opportunities, so you'll have to take as many pictures as you can to make sure you get the best ones.

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Downtown Scottsdale Art & Cultural Trolley Tour: When, Where, How Much

Downtown Scottsdale with Arizona Canal in foreground
Bruce Yuanyue Bi/Getty images

The Downtown Scottsdale Art & Cultural Trolley Tour is offered once per month, on the second Saturday of the month. Tour participants meet at 10:30 a.m. at a designated downtown Scottsdale location and the tour is usually completed by 12:30 p.m.

This Scottsdale trolley tour is free. It is funded by sponsors, the presenting tour company, and, as budget permits, by the City of Scottsdale. Parking is free in downtown Scottsdale. You may park on the street or in an outdoor or covered parking garage nearby. There are plenty of free parking spaces within a block or two of the tour meeting place, but note that free parking has time limitations.

The Scottsdale trolley tour is presented by a local tour company, Ultimate Art and Cultural Tours, LLC, and reservations for the tour must be made directly with them. About a week before the tour date, participants will receive specific instructions via email.

Beware! This is a popular tour and often books up months in advance. I recommend that you make your reservations well ahead of schedule. If the tour date you want is already full, get on a waiting list. As reservations are canceled, people on the waiting list will be contacted. If you have a reservation and find that you can't attend, please notify the tour company as soon as possible so that others on the waiting list might be accommodated.