Long before East Coast and Midwestern settlers began flooding into the Sonoran Desert, Native American tribes made their home in and around North Scottsdale ’s McDowell Mountains for two millennia. A visit to the Heard Museum North (32633 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480/488-9817, www.heard.org/north , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun., $5 adults, $4 seniors, $2 students, children under 6 free) provides a reminder that these indigenous people created a rich and unique culture.
The small museum’s two galleries showcase items from the renowned collections of the Heard Museum  in downtown Phoenix , including pots and bowls, kachina dolls, paintings, sculpture, and jewelry. It’s easy to write off these ubiquitous treasures as Southwestern clichés, but their omnipresence documents the diverse tribes throughout Arizona.
The museum’s shop gives folks the opportunity to purchase traditional and contemporary pottery, textiles, baskets, and artwork directly from Native American artisans.
Make sure to appreciate this stunning bit of desert just south of Carefree on Scottsdale Road. You’ll see the rounded rock formations that gave the neighboring Boulders Resort  its name. Don’t be surprised to see javelina, desert rabbits, or quail walking through still rather undeveloped areas. Walk next door to the adobe-inspired El Pedregal  shopping center, where you’ll find shops, restaurants, and the occasional festival in its open-air courtyard.