Exploring Cave Creek and Carefree, Arizona

What to see and explore

Nestled in the northern part of the Valley, amongst untouched desert land and towering cacti, sits the neighboring towns of Cave Creek and Carefree, a mix of modern and Western, upscale homes and throwback destinations. Residents live here for the easy, laid-back lifestyle and quiet surroundings, while tourists visit for the Western charm, unique destinations, gift shops, restaurants/saloons and frequent festivals.

Stagecoach Village in Cave Creek

Cave Creek

Originally established as a gold mining town and stopping point for the U.S. Cavalry in the mid-1870s, Cave Creek still offers an abundance of Wild West character. There are numerous saloons, Western shops, art galleries, furniture stores and even rodeos to visit, with many of the locales situated along Cave Creek Road. 

Shop at destinations such as Stagecoach Village, a mix of shops and dining (inculding the famous Watson’s Hat Shop); Etania Jewelry Boutique; and Big Bronco Cave Creek. Local saloons include Harold’s Cave Creek Corral and The Buffalo Chip Saloon (where visitors also watch live bull riding!). 

Popular dining destinations inculde the Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Mañana, located in the original 1940s building from Rancho Mañana dude ranch, Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine and El Encanto.

To take a step back in time head to Frontier Town, an old Western town, which underwent a large expansion in late 2018. To explore the town’s history, visit Cave Creek Museum.

Wild Holly Gallery in Carefree

Carefree

Adjacent to the east of Cave Creek is Carefree, a town known for its easygoing atmosphere—in Carefree wander streets with names such as Easy and Ho Hum. 

The Carefree Desert Gardens is located in Downtown Carefree, as is Kiwanis Splash Park and the famous Carefree Sundial. Shops, galleries and eateries are plentiful here.Have a spot of tea at the authentic English Rose Tea Room or dine at Cafe Bink or Pizzafaros. There are plenty of shops and art galleries surrounding the Carefree Desert Gardens, including Wild Holly Gallery and Bags & Rags, and nearby sits Historic Spanish Village, one of the first buildings constructed in Carefree (now a cultural and art hub).

Gallery: Must-Visit Spots in Carefree and Cave Creek

Michelle Glicksman
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