The town of Carefree was conceived in the mid 1950's, the brainchild of K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington, a pair of investors who envisioned a master-planned town smack in the middle of the Arizona desert. The pair acquired the land in 1955 and homebuilding began in 1958. By the 1970's, about 300 homes had been constructed, and some of the roads were paved. Today, the Northern Phoenix suburb boasts a population of nearly 4,000, and the town features homes and amenities that attract people from around the world in search of rest, relaxation and the lifestyle found only in the Southwestern United States.
From the beginning, developers began tying in the regions' link to the old Southwest, as well as Carefree being a destination for people on the lookout for rest and relaxation. The new homes were on streets with names like Tranquil Trail, Easy Street, and Ho and Hum Roads, as well as Long Rifle, Stage Coach and Bloody Basin. Carefree's town motto is "Home of Cowboys and Caviar, Where the Old West Meets the New."
That motto couldn't be truer as people flock to Carefree for its quiet lifestyle. The average population is 3,363, according to U.S. Census figures from 2010. But officials in Carefree estimate that the population swells to 4,000 or so in the winter, when snowbirds from other parts of the country return to take advantage of the warmer climate and year-round outdoor activities, starting with Golf at the private Desert Forest Golf Club, the Civana Resort and Conference Center, or at any of the number of other clubs in easy driving distance. In fact, with Carefree being mentioned by the upscale Robb Report, with nearby Scottsdale as "One of America's Best Places to Live" for golf, it's a good idea to reserve ones tee time early.
Artists have found the scenery around Carefree to be conducive to their creative process. One such artist is Virginia Brooks, whose oil paintings reflect images of the American Southwest, from the scenic desert vistas to local architecture and landmarks. The artist has a separate portfolio featuring images from the Tuscany region of Italy and the Provence region in France. Brooks' studio is open year-round, and the longtime resident often acts as impromptu tour director for groups of visitors, giving artists demonstrations and talks. A great place to see the work of Brooks and other artists is at the annual Carefree Fine Art and Wine Festivals, which take place in January, March and November.
Carefree is also home to the Carefree Sundial, erected in 1959 as the beginnings of the town were being built. The Sundial, 95 feet in diameter, is the third largest sundial in the western hemisphere. It's "gnomon" (the portion of the sundial that casts the shadow) stands 35 feet and extends out 72 feet. To see the Sundial, find your way to Sundial Circle Plaza, which is located in the center of town on Easy Street.
Shopping and DiningCarefree is a haven for small shops and boutiques, mostly lifestyle, clothing and health-oriented stores, where finding a product unique to the area or handmade is not difficult. One such shop is the Mumbo Jumbo Boutique, a local spot where ladies can find an array of handmade clothing ranging in style from Victorian era to modern. Of course after finding the perfect outfit, a lady might want to get her hair and nails done, and many do at Studio C Hair Salon, located on Hum Road. A full listing of local shops can be found on the Town of Carefree website.
For the staples of life like food and drink, locals rely on Bashas', an Arizona-based grocery chain and purveyor of baked goods that are made from scratch, a full-service butcher market, fresh local produce, and award-winning, hand-crafted chef entrees. There are also banks such as Chase and Wells Fargo in town, as well as a CVS Pharmacy. Those with greater shopping desires need only drive two miles over to Cave Creek, where larger assortments of supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and retailers exist. Carefree and Cave Creek are sister towns that are so close by that they actually share a Chamber of Commerce, as well as a host of popular festivals and activities throughout the year.
Carefree is blessed with a dynamic selection of local restaurants ranging from casual to upscale —and some might say unique. Carefree Station Grill and Bar is a popular spot to have a romantic dinner, cocktails with friends, or a leisurely Sunday Brunch. Lovers of Italian food flock to Giordano's Trattoria Romana Restaurant, where pasta, seafood, and daily specials leave them wanting to return. The English Rose Tea Room has been described as "the finest tea room in the Southwest" and features salads, sandwiches, pastries, and of course, afternoon tea. An entire list of local restaurants is available on the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber website.
Parks and RecreationThere are ample outdoor activities to be found from golfing to hiking, horseback riding, and biking. Many take advantage of the nearby Cave Creek Regional Park, a 2,922 acre park that ranges in elevation from 2,000 to 2,060 feet, providing hikers and equestrians with striking terrain and unparalleled views. The park also offers activities such as moonlight hikes. For those that prefer to stay in town, there is an event or two nearly every month of the year at the Amphitheatre of the Gardens at Carefree Town Center, starting with a Farmer's Market every Friday, and the Carefree Art and Wine Festival. The annual Carefree-Cave Creek Balloon Festivaltakes place every January at The Carefree Resort.
LivingLife in Carefree has been described as being both upscale and down to earth. There are spacious and luxurious architecturally designed homes as well as townhomes, casitas and condominiums for those that prefer a cozy feel to their home. With the sun shining more than 300 days a year on average, outdoor activities abound, including tennis and golf at one of three local clubs.
Those craving sporting events, theatre or opera can drive 45 minutes to downtown Phoenix where a variety of popular activities are available. The Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball team call Phoenix home, as do the Phoenix Suns professional basketball team and the Phoenix Coyotes professional hockey team. The Arizona Cardinals professional football team plays at the multipurpose University of Phoenix Stadium in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. There are also numerous movie theaters in Phoenix, as well as the Arizona Broadway Theatre, where live stage productions are held to appreciative audiences.
Schools, Health and TransportationThe Cave Creek Unified School District services Carefree, providing P-K through Grade 12 learning. There are five elementary schools within the district and two junior high schools and a bus schedule that takes students to and from school each day. Cactus Shadows High School serves grades 9-12 and has membership in the respected International Baccalaureate Program, giving the school access to an assortment of international educational programs. Cactus Shadows is one of the few public high schools in Arizona to receive a distinguished Great Schools rating of 9 out of 10. CCUSD consistently scores in the highest range and has had numerous highly performing and excelling achievement designations from the Arizona Department of Education. Schools within the district also provide popular sports and after school activities.
There are plenty of medical professionals with offices in Carefree, as well as several urgent care centers for drop-in and after-hours appointments. Patients looking for a one-stop shop might make an appointment at Carefree Internal Medicine, where practitioners, specialists and nurses are said to provide old fashioned and comfortable approach to medicine. Carefree Internal Medicine also offers dentistry by appointment. There is not yet a hospital in Carefree, but residents in need have been satisfied with hospital services in nearby Phoenix or Scottsdale.
Valley Metro does not provide public transportation to Carefree at this time. Arizona Shuttle is available for charter services, such as taking a large group to a sporting event or special occasion throughout the state, as well as some package delivery.
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Updated: 23rd August, 2019 6:29 AM.