While the Grand Canyon State welcomes outdoor enthusiasts with open arms, visitors looking for indoor adventure enjoy plenty of options, too. Arizona boasts a mix of expansive regional shopping centers that are destinations in themselves, as well as offbeat artisan enclaves that feature one-of-a-kind items you won’t find anywhere else in the nation.
High-end shopping havens
Arizona’s famously sunny weather lends itself to open-air malls, where enjoying the sunshine is as much a part of the experience as browsing the shops. One standout in this genre is the upscale Kierland Commons in Scottsdale. In addition to the 70 retailers on-site – ranging from Anthropologie to Z Gallerie – the open-air “lifestyle center” offers restaurants, outdoor concerts, pedestrian-friendly boulevards and access to the nearby Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.
A few miles south, not far from Camelback Mountain, lies a mall worth spending some time indoors for. The massive Scottsdale Fashion Square, one of the region’s premier luxury malls, features roving concierge and personalized shopping services, tourist and transportation assistance, and more than 200 high-fashion boutiques, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Bulgari, Cartier, Swarovski, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York.
The upscale Phoenix suburb is also home to the more rustic Old Town Scottsdale, with Wild West-style storefronts and wooden boardwalks lined with bustling bars, restaurants and fine-art galleries. Check out the district’s Thursday night ArtWalks for a little after-hours browsing, enhanced by live music, artists receptions and a festive atmosphere.
Greater Phoenix isn’t the only metro area offering a posh shopping experience. Tucson’s elegant, open-air La Encantada allows shoppers to take in the city’s saguaro-studded foothills while shopping the likes of Tiffany & Co., Tommy Bahama and MAC Cosmetics. The 37-acre property also features unique spaces for gourmet market AJ’s Fine Foods, fashionable maternity-wear boutique A Pea in the Pod and designer jewelry store Pierini.
Easy access to great bargains
Conveniently accessible from either Interstate 10 or U.S. Highway 60 is Arizona Mills, a sprawling indoor outlet mall in Tempe that holds more than 175 brand-name stores. Tenants include discount outlets for Burlington Coat Factory, JC Penney, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Disney Store, Kenneth Cole, Charlotte Russe, Gap, Reebok and Samsonite.
Arizona Mills offers a bonus for the traveling shopper – they have several “Shop, Stay and Play” package deals in conjunction with nearby hotels that include lodging, entertainment and dining options, as well as transportation to and from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
On Greater Phoenix’s far northern edge, just off Interstate 17, lies the Outlets at Anthem shopping complex. The salmon-hued, red-tiled property houses more than 75 brand-name stores, including factory outlets for Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Polo Ralph Lauren, Guess, Bose, Gymboree and Lane Bryant. Vacation package deals and preferred-customer discounts are available for the out-of-town shopping-obsessed.
Those traveling Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix and seeking a shopping break are in luck. The Outlets at Casa Grande offers more than 42 retail outlet stores with bargains on such brands as Guess, Gap, Reebok, Liz Claiborne, Izod and Levi’s, not to mention furniture, appliances, books and more.
Arizona’s artist enclaves
After a short jaunt down Arizona Highway 179 off of Interstate 17, you’ll come to the red rocks of Sedona and Tlaquepaque – possibly the prettiest shopping destination in the state. Billed as an “arts and crafts village,” it features Spanish Colonial architecture, burbling fountains shaded by giant sycamore trees, charming cobblestone walkways – and the occasional picturesque courtyard wedding ceremony.
Tlaquepaque’s 40 specialty shops include a microbrewery, several fine-dining establishments and posh jewelry boutiques. The center also boasts numerous art galleries showcasing sculptural bronzes, hand-blown glass, oil paintings, large-scale photography and hand-woven fabrics, many with Native American or Southwestern themes.
Artist colonies on a smaller scale are sprinkled throughout Arizona, including in the reinvigorated Old West copper-mining towns of Bisbee and Jerome, and the former capital of the Arizona Territory, Prescott. Artwork also has a considerable shopping presence in downtown Flagstaff (located 75 miles south of the Grand Canyon) and the former Spanish Colonial garrison of Tubac, less than an hour’s drive south of Tucson along Interstate 19. In these artist enclaves, as you stroll the sidewalks and browse the galleries, you can often meet the artists themselves, and sometimes even see them at work – giving you a great story to take home with your purchases.