Explore Phoenix-Scottsdale

Phoenix and Scottsdale for Auto Enthusiasts: Where to Go

Follow this Phoenix and Scottsdale guide to the best places to see cars and and car-related activities.

Paddles have been raised and gavels have been pounded, and another season of collector-car auctions in Scottsdale has come and gone. What? You weren’t in six-figure buying mode anyway? It so happens that the Valley of the Sun is a great place to be a car lover any day of the year. Because our roads don’t suffer snow or salt, and our skies rarely rain, local drivers parade their four-wheeled beauties every day—tops down where applicable. Spend a day ogling Arizona automobiles, and don’t be afraid to ask an owner what’s under the hood. “Car people” love to talk (and we love to write, so you’ll find more of our (and we love to write, so you’ll find more of our tips on Phoenix car auctions, raceways and dealers here).

Morning

Penske Racing Museum, Phoenix
Visit Penske Racing Museum to see cars that have won the Indy 500 and NASCAR races. (©Penske Racing Museum)

Any mechanic knows the importance of grease, so have breakfast at a beloved “greasy spoon,” 5 & Diner. The likes of steak and eggs and Denver omelets are served in a chromed-out, 1950s-themed environment, and your waitress may very well address you as “hon.” From the north Phoenix location of 5 & Diner, head east to Penske Racing Museum. Indy 500-winning and NASCAR race cars, an IROC winner and various pace cars are neatly aligned and annotated along an impossibly shiny black floor, and extracted racing engines sit on pedestals—as they should. Admission to the museum is free, but be forewarned: The collection sits on a sprawling Penske Automotive Group campus, where glimpses of factory-fresh Bugattis, Aston Martins and Land Rovers can stir expensive emotions. Pass downtown Scottsdale’s three-story BMW dealership on the way to Scottsdale Fashion Square, which has a Tesla Motors gallery (no car sales, just info and logoed swag) tucked among its high-end shopping and jewelry boutiques. 

Midday

Green restaurant, Tempe
See this wall of car doors at the restaurant Green. (©Green)

Have lunch at the mall. No, really. The patios of Z’Tejas and Kona Grill overlook Fashion Square’s valet circle, which could be considered a runway for hot cars. Order queso and guacamole at Z’Tejas and watch for a two-tone Ford GT40. Or summon sushi at Kona Grill and cross your lucky chopsticks for a Maybach sighting. Off-site lunch alternatives for auto lovers: a fired pizza at Gelato Spot, where signs in the parking lot show favoritism for Ferraris, or a vegan bacon burger at Green, where one wall is mounted with several colorful car doors. Don’t leave Scottsdale Road without visiting the Barrett-Jackson Collection Showroom; B-J’s 2015 auction concluded across town at a spacious equestrian facility on Jan. 18, but this store stays open year-round to market select vehicles and share their stories.

Local Motors
Learn all about cars at Local Motors. (©Local Motors)

Spend the rest of the afternoon in the vicinity of Interstate 10 and Wild Horse Pass Boulevard in Chandler for the potential of three types of automotive experiences. The Bondurant School of High Performance Driving requires advance registration to participate in any closed-course classes, but looky-loos are welcome to “watch and learn” from the bleachers. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park loans its drag strip and longer tracks to manufacturer-testers, car clubs and such; most perimeter fencing is see-through chain-link, so try a little spying if the front gate is barred. And Local Motors is a car “micro-factory,” where customers who have purchased a street-legal, off-road-nimble Rally Fighter automobile work with a professional team to put it together. Visitors to Local Motors can watch the work, shop for cool accessories, and learn about the company’s adventures in crowdsourcing and inventing.

Evening

Another meal, another mall. Since you’re in Chandler, do dinner at Sir Veza’s Taco Garage inside Chandler Fashion Center. The Tucson-original Mexican restaurant is decorated in themes from hot rod, lowrider and motorcycle culture—and who doesn’t love a chandelier made of wrenches? If it’s a Friday night, go back to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for Friday Night Drags. If it’s a Saturday night, hang out with local car hobbyists at the weekly car show behind the McDonald’s at The Pavilions at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Want more? Check out our “dude’s day” itinerary for men in Phoenix and Scottsdale.