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Scottsdale with Kids: 27+ Things to Do in the West’s Most Western Town

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Scottsdale may be best known for its abundance of swanky spas, golf courses, and shopping malls. Thankfully, families will find a wealth of kid-friendly attractions here, too. As a family travel expert who spent half my childhood living in Scottsdale and then moved back to this Southwestern city with my brood several years ago, I am sharing my picks for the 27 best things to do in Scottsdale with kids.

While visiting this expansive Phoenix suburb, you will likely wander beyond its borders. For that reason, I have included the best activities in neighboring areas as well. Join me in exploring Scottsdale, Arizona's plentiful offerings for families!

Scottsdale with kids sunset
Scottsdale sunset with kids (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

This story is brought to you in partnership with Expedia.com.

1. Old Town Scottsdale

Wander Old Town Scottsdale’s art galleries and shops in search of Southwestern jewelry and interesting souvenirs. Highlights for kids in downtown Scottsdale include horse-drawn carriage rides and the pinkety-pink Sugar Bowl ice cream shop with its attached video game arcade.

ArtWalk takes place every Thursday night (besides Thanksgiving). That's when galleries throw open their doors from 7 to 9 pm and invite guests to get a closer look at masterpieces created by Arizona artists. It's one of the best free things to do in the Valley of the Sun!

Old Town Scottsdale fountain
Old Town Scottsdale (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. Scottsdale Civic Center Mall

Also located in Old Town Scottsdale is the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall. This beautiful outdoor space in the heart of Scottsdale is filled with whimsical sculptures, flower-filled gardens, and burbly fountains.

Pop into the expansive Scottsdale Public Library’s children’s section to cozy up with a good book in a make-believe castle. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts are also located here.

Scottsdale Civic Center Mall
Scottsdale Civic Center Mall (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. OdySea Aquarium

Located at the Arizona Boardwalk, OdySea Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Southwest. This attraction will wow the whole family.

Otters, penguins, and sea turtles are favorites at this 200,000-square-foot aquarium. Roll up your sleeves to pet stingrays, sturgeons, and other sea creatures in touch pools.

Before you leave, be sure to take a potty break to view sharks swimming above the bathroom sinks!

OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale with children
OdySea Aquarium (Photo credit: OdySea)

4. Butterfly Wonderland

Also located at Arizona Boardwalk, Butterfly Wonderland delights visitors with its display of fluttering beauties in America's largest butterfly conservatory.

Start at their 3-D theater to watch Flight of the Butterflies. This film shows the impressive annual migration of monarch butterflies.

Then get a firsthand view of the metamorphosis of butterflies and moths in the fascinating Butterfly Emergence Gallery. The highlight of any visit is the Conservatory, which is filled with free-flying butterflies and moths in a garden setting complete with a koi pond.

Additionally, your family can view other insects plus reptiles, amphibians, honeybees, and tropical fish during this educational experience.

Kids at Butterfly Wonderland
Kids at Butterfly Wonderland (Photo credit: Butterfly Wonderland)

5. Hiking in Scottsdale with Kids

Scottsdale's landscape will amaze first-timers to Arizona. This is especially true if your family visits in spring. That's when the desert bursts with beautiful blooms.

Always be sure to bring plenty of water, a hat with a brim, and sunblock. If visiting the city of Scottsdale during warm (or hot!) weather, plan to hike early in the morning before temperatures soar.

Wildlife you might see on trails includes bobcats, snakes, and javelinas (often thought to be wild pigs but they're actually peccaries). You may also spy all sorts of birds like darling Gambel's quails or road runners. Meep! Meep!

Hiking in Scottsdale in spring
Hiking in Scottsdale in spring (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin

Camelback Mountain in Phoenix is so named for its animal shape. This is probably the most famous place to hike in the Valley of the Sun. It's not, however, the best choice for inexperienced hikers or families with young children.

Instead, I recommend Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Park at the Gateway Trailhead, where there are public restrooms, maps, and a choice of three hiking trails.

Gateway Trailhead to the McDowell Mountain Preserve in Scottsdale
Gateway Trailhead to the McDowell Mountain Preserve (Photo courtesy of Experience Scottsdale)

6. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

If your kids are loco for locomotives, then Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a must. A sizable playground and a smaller Old West-themed play area are fabulous for kids. Model railroad exhibits and full-sized train cars might be interesting for your family to explore at the Scottsdale Railroad Museum, too.

The highlight, though, is the Paradise Pacific Railroad. This ride-on miniature train chugs through the expansive grassy park.

The Scottsdale Charros Carousel is also super fun. It features antique horses and two wheelchair-accessible chariots.

Buy hotdogs, hamburgers, and ice cream at the Snackstop. Or pack a lunch to enjoy at picnic areas while watching the choo-choo.

In November and December, buy your ride tickets online in advance and expect long lines to see their Holiday Lights display from the seat of the train. A limited number of Fast Pass tickets are available and well worth the extra cost.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park train with kids
Paradise Pacific Railroad at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (Photo courtesy of Experience Scottsdale)

7. Water Parks in and Near Scottsdale

With toasty temperatures for several months of the year, it should come as no surprise that water parks are plentiful in the Phoenix area. Keep in mind that these are typically open seasonally, so be sure to check hours before you go.

Some Scottsdale resorts, like the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, offer water features like water slides and lazy rivers for their guests as well. Read more about these and other Scottsdale hotels via Expedia.

Big Surf

Located in nearby Tempe (home of Arizona State University), Big Surf opened in 1969. It boasts the world's first wave machine, a particular hit with older kids.

In addition to the Waikiki Beach Wave Pool, this water park offers more than 19 waterslides of different sizes and scare levels. Little kids will enjoy Captain Cook's Landing, a splash and slide area.

A rainbow of waterslides at Big Surf Water Park
A rainbow of waterslides at Big Surf Water Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix

Formerly known as Wet N' Wild, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is the largest water park in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Situated in Glendale, it's filled with more than 700,000 gallons of water and features over 30 attractions.

Golfland Sunsplash

Thrill lovers will love the vast array of waterslides plus a water coaster at Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa. A 450-gallon wave pool, two splash play areas for young kids, and an activity pool will keep families content for hours.

Plus, the water park scenes from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure were filmed here. Gnarly, dude!

McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center

Significantly smaller and less expensive than the other options listed above, the McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic Center is the only water park on this list that's actually located within Scottsdale. One winding waterslide, a pleasant lazy river, high and low diving boards, and a zero-entry splash pad make this an affordable and fun place for families to cool off.

McDowell Mountain Aquatic Center in Scottsdale with kids
McDowell Mountain Aquatic Center in Scottsdale (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. Cactus League Spring Training

Take kids of all ages out to a ballgame when in Scottsdale. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, Arizona makes the perfect location for baseball spring training.

Fifteen teams call Arizona their spring training home. This includes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco Giants.

They play at 10 different locations throughout the Valley, like Scottsdale Stadium and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Learn more about taking your kids to spring training in Arizona from our friends at Tips for Family Trips.

Cactus League spring training at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona
Cactus League spring training at Salt River Fields (Photo credit: SaltRiverFields.com)

9. Musical Instrument Museum

Displays at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix are truly interactive. Visitors don headphones that come to life with music and information as exhibits are approached. Musical diversity appears before your ears and eyes with songs and videos of concerts and dances, colorful displays of familiar and unusual instruments, plus traditional costumes, and huge photographs.

Children and adults even get a hands-on opportunity to make music with a variety of instruments from around the world in the Experience Gallery.

Musical Instrument Museum
Musical Instrument Museum (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Phoenix Zoo

As a former multi-year member of the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, I'm a bit of a zoo snob. Thankfully, the Phoenix Zoo is truly one of the best zoos I've ever visited.

In fact, the Phoenix Zoo is the largest non-profit, privately owned zoo in the U.S. Most animal exhibits are large and lush, and the focus is on conservation and education.

This zoo is home to nearly 400 different species of animals. In addition to popular residents like giraffes, orangutans, and elephants — look for indigenous animals like coyotes, mountain lions, and Mexican gray wolves.

A family of giraffes at the Phoenix Zoo
A family of giraffes at the Phoenix Zoo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

In addition to impressive animal exhibits, there are some features at the Phoenix Zoo for kids that should not be missed. Harmony Farm provides a petting zoo and playground for young children. Meanwhile, you'll have a tough time pulling bigger kids away from the Enchanted Forest play area. (I know I do!)

Children will want to take a spin on the zoo's carousel, too. The Endangered Species Carousel features faux ride-on endangered animals.

When it's hot outside, bring along swimsuits to cool off at the Leapin' Lagoon and Yakulla Caverns splash pads. Alternatively, check out the Phoenix Zoo Lights nighttime displays in winter.

Also, look for interactive animal experiences like stingray feeding, camel rides, and giraffe feeding for an additional charge.

Carousel at the Phoenix Zoo with kids
Carousel at the Phoenix Zoo (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Desert Botanical Garden

Just around the corner from the Phoenix Zoo is the Desert Botanical Garden. Go here to wander along paved paths lined with desert flora like cactuses, wildflowers, succulents, agave plants, and ocotillo trees. Displays teach visitors about the indigenous plants and people of the Sonoran Desert.

Make a reservation at their onsite sit-down restaurant, Gertrude's (children's menus available). Or grab a quick bite at the Patio Café.

Mid-October to Mid-May, go at night to see the desert come to life in the Electric Desert — a light and sound experience.

Learn more and buy your Desert Botanical Garden tickets with Expedia.

Chihuly glass sculptures at the Desert Botanical Garden
Chihuly glass sculptures at the Desert Botanical Garden (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

12. Arizona Museum of Natural History

Plan to spend a few hours at the interactive Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa. Kids love to pan for gold in a courtyard outside. Wander through the Lost Dutchman Mine exhibit and “lock up” your family members in its jail cells.

Then explore a Hohokam village. Stop to grind maize with stone tools. Then put together giant puzzle pieces to form pictures of Native American pottery.

Most impressive among the permanent exhibit, though, is Dinosaur Mountain. This display of life-sized animated dinosaurs on a cliff features booming “flash floods” that send water gushing down the display every 23 minutes.

Dinosaur Mountain at Arizona Museum of Natural History
Dinosaur Mountain at Arizona Museum of Natural History (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

13. Arizona Science Center

The Arizona Science Center in Downtown Phoenix rocks! You definitely could spend a whole day exploring the center.

With hands-on experiments complete with nobs to crank and buttons to push, children are too busy having fun to realize they’re learning something, too. The onsite Dorrance Planetarium is one of the largest and most technologically advanced in the nation, too.

My favorite exhibit is Forces of Nature. Step aboard the “stage” to experience a five-minute show. (It repeats every 15 minutes). This may be too scary for toddlers and preschoolers, but big kids love to experience a (mild) earthquake, windstorms, thunder, lightning, and more.

Expedia explains more about what to expect at the Arizona Science Center.

An outdoor exhibit at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix with kids
An outdoor exhibit at the Arizona Science Center (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

14. Horseback Riding and More at MacDonald's Ranch

Saddle up for fun at MacDonald's Ranch. This horse stable offers guided trail horseback rides and stagecoach rides through the desert. If traveling with a group of eight or more, book a desert cookout along with a hayride, stagecoach tour, or horseback adventure for a truly memorable experience.

When visiting Scottsdale in October, plan to attend the annual MacDonald's Ranch pumpkin patch. Expect a petting zoo, pony rides, good old-fashioned games, and a barbecue food truck. The highlight is boarding a horse-pulled hayride or tractor-pulled train to a pumpkin patch surrounded by saguaro cactuses and sagebrush.

MacDonald's Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona
MacDonald's Ranch (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

15. Children's Museum of Phoenix

Designed for kids from birth through 10 years, the Children's Museum of Phoenix offers all sorts of opportunities to PLAY. Most visitors spend two to four hours exploring the museum's 14 exhibits.

Kids love to build forts and cities in Building Big and then navigate their way through a Noodle Forest. Climbing structures, a pint-sized pretend grocery store, a book loft and more add to the fun at this museum. Maximize fun and learning during this interactive experience with my Children's Museum of Phoenix tips.

Kids playing at the Phoenix Children's Museum
Kids playing at the Phoenix Children's Museum (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

16. Miniature Golf and Theme Parks

Amusements like mini-golf, video game arcades, and theme park rides abound in the Valley of the Sun. Whether you want a full-blown amusement park experience or you're looking for a couple hours of distraction, your kids are in for a treat.

Golfland Sunsplash

Even when its water park closes for the season, Golfland Sunsplash in Mesa continues to amuse guests. Enjoy three miniature golf courses as well as bumper cars, bumper boats, laser tag, and a huge arcade with prizes.

Miniature Golf at Castles N' Coasters in Phoenix
Miniature Golf at Castles N' Coasters in Phoenix (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Castles N' Coasters

For full-sized outdoor rides including a log ride and a few roller coasters, head to Castles N' Coasters in Phoenix. You'll also find four mini-golf courses and tons of indoor arcade games.

Although my kids and I had a ball at this theme park, ride safety didn't seem to be the highest priority. Plus, given the area of town, I'd advise sticking to a daytime visit.

Jake's Unlimited

Located indoors in Mesa, Jake's Unlimited is a bit of a trek from Scottsdale but it's one of my kids' favorite places in the Valley.

Included with the price of admission are video games and five rides. Favorites are a full-sized carousel and bumper cars. Pay additional fees for bowling, games with prize tickets, and laser tag.

Also free of charge until 8 pm is an unlimited buffet of pizza, pasta, salads, sodas, and soft-serve ice cream.

Peter Piper Pizza

Peter Piper Pizza is part restaurant, part arcade. Choose from several locations throughout the Valley, including two in Scottsdale. The pizza and wings are decent, but the primary reason to come here is for video games and prizes.

Glow Putt

Glow-in-the-dark miniature golf at Glow Putt is always in season in Scottsdale. “Charge” your golf ball by placing it inside blacklight tubes throughout the course. Kids especially like the hole with a spinning wheel that tells golfers to moo like a cow or kick the ball with their feet to avoid penalty strokes.

After a round or two of glowing putt putt, head upstairs for a delicious treat at the Sweet Republic ice cream shop.

Glow Putt Mini Golf in Scottsdale, AZ
Glow Putt Mini Golf (Photo credit: Glow Putt)

17. Championship Golf Courses

Full-sized golf courses are plentiful in the Valley of the Sun. In fact, the Scottsdale area boasts over 200 golf courses.

Spring is the most beautiful time of year to hit the links in Scottsdale with ideal temperatures in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit. Budget seekers, however, will appreciate discount pricing on world-class courses in summer.

Every February, golf lovers flock to the Valley to attend the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world, the Phoenix Open takes place at the Tournament Players Club (TPC) Scottsdale. This 36-hole course is open to the public and offers private lessons for adults and kids alike. 

For a unique golf-themed excursion, reserve a bay at Topgolf Scottsdale. Here your family can dine and drink while hitting micro-chipped golf balls at giant dartboard-like targets in an outfield. Kids of all ages are welcomed at Topgolf.

Troon North Golf Club
Troon North Golf Club (Photo credit: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale)

18. Taliesin West

Parents and budding architects will appreciate a visit to Taliesin West. Once the winter home of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, today it is the headquarters of his foundation. It is open seven days a week for self-guided audio tours and 90-minute guided walking tours.

Taliesin was a hub of architecture education for over 88 years, with graduate students building their own shelters in the Sonoran Desert. The School of Architecture closed at this location in 2020 and moved to Arcosanti, an experimental town about one hour outside Scottsdale.

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the world's most well-known architects. He is renowned for his Prairie Style, which incorporates elements of nature like water, stone, and plants in structural designs.

Residents of the Valley of the Sun are proud of Wright's influence in Arizona. While in Scottsdale, you will likely drive on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, one of the busiest streets in the city.

Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's former home
Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's former home (Photo credit: marcoscasiano, Depositphotos.com)

19. Hot Air Ballooning in Scottsdale

Floating above the desert in a hot air balloon is an experience your family will long remember. In fact, with 300 days of sunshine per year in Scottsdale, the area offers more flyable days than anywhere else in the United States.

Choose from shared or private flights with Hot Air Expeditions and Rainbow Ryders. Ages 5+ can take to the sky for a magical journey over the desert.

Rainbow Ryders hot air Balloon flight
Rainbow Ryders hot air Balloon flight (Photo credit: Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co.)

20. Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

For a roaring good time, make reservations for the Scottsdale Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Expect jousting horses, sword fights, falconry, and a queen overseeing it all.

Families root for their knight while chowing down on food like chicken, potatoes, and corn on the cob. (No utensils allowed!) Vegetarian options are available as well.

Plan to come an hour or so early to get the best seats, peruse the shops, and maybe purchase a themed drink (with alcohol or without).

Think this dinner show is just for kids? My family was hosted by Medieval Times for my Game of Thrones-enthusiast husband's birthday celebration. He kept leaning over throughout the performance and saying, “Best birthday ever!”

Medieval Times Scottsdale
Medieval Times Scottsdale (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

21. Afternoon Tea at the Phoenician

Treat your family to a traditional afternoon tea at The Phoenician, one of the most luxurious resorts in the Valley of the Sun. Enjoy hot tea, tea sandwiches, scones, and petite pastries in the hotel's sumptuous lobby. Parents can up the fancy factor by ordering a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne. All of this is accompanied by a live piano performance.

Make your reservation now because this popular experience tends to fill up! The Phoenician happily provides gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian menus with 24-hour advance notice.

Afternoon tea sweets at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale
Afternoon tea sweets at the Phoenician Resort (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

22. iFLY Indoor Flight Experience

Children as young as 3 and adults of any age can get a taste of what it's like to soar in the air at iFLY in Scottsdale. iFLY explains how their experience differs from skydiving on their website, “At iFLY, you don’t jump or fall, you fly gently on a cushion of controlled air.” In addition, those aged 6 to 70 can add to the experience with a Virtual Reality flight.

Young teen boy flying at iFly Scottsdale
My son during his iFly flight (Photo credit: iFly Scottsdale)

23. Hall of Flame Fire Fighter Museum

The Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum in Phoenix boasts the world’s largest collection of vintage fire trucks. Vehicles range from a 1725 English hand pumper to more modern engine-powered models.

Make a game of your visit by asking kids to select their favorite from the museum’s more than 90 fire trucks. There is one climb-aboard fire engine for make-believe rescue missions, too.

Also look for a touching memorial to fallen fire rescue heroes, with a special display for those who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers in New York.

Most of the trucks are strictly hands-off, which can make a visit with toddlers and preschoolers somewhat nerve-wracking. But grade-schoolers who dig fire engines would like to spend an hour or so here.

vintage fire truck
View vintage fire trucks, similar to this one, at the Hall of Flame Museum (Photo credit: ysbrand, Depositphotos.com)

24. Live Theater Performances for Families

For families who want to see live theater on vacation, you can find that in Scottsdale. If you're willing to travel outside of Scottsdale, then look up what's playing at Arizona Broadway Theater in Peoria or take a peek at traveling Broadway productions at Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium in Tempe.

Don Bluth Front Row Theatre

Want the best seats in the house? You can't go wrong at Don Bluth Front Row Theatre! That's because there are only 76 seats, which surround the stage on all sides.

You just might be surprised by the caliber of talent this little live theater puts forth. I know I was!

Look for family-friendly productions like Mary Poppins, It's a Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz.

Desert Stages Theatre

Located within Scottsdale's huge Fashion Square Mall, Desert Stages Theatre offers a Main Stage, a smaller Actor's Cafe, and Youth/Teen productions. Each year this theater presents 250 performances.

Alice in Wonderland production at Desert Stages Theatre
Alice in Wonderland production at Desert Stages Theatre in their previous location (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

25. Octane Raceway

Adults and kids alike enjoy racing speedy go-karts at Octane Raceway. Also on site are a video game arcade, laser tag, and mini bowling alley.

Junior drivers must be at least 46 inches tall to participate. For participants under age 16, junior races top out at 25 mph.

Meanwhile, grown-up races go up to 45 miles per hour. Parents can compete against kids in a junior race (at junior speeds, of course).

Octane Raceway in Scottsdale, AZ
Octane Raceway (Photo courtesy of Experience Scottsdale)

26. Regular Season Professional Sports in Arizona

In addition to being a hub for baseball spring training, Arizona is home to four men's Major League sports teams plus a professional Women's National Basketball Association team. No matter the season or your sport of choice, you're sure to find a game to enjoy during your Scottsdale vacation.

Sports lovers can watch the Arizona Diamondbacks play in regular season games in the impressive Chase Field with its retractable roof in downtown Phoenix. Meanwhile, both the Phoenix Suns men's basketball team and Phoenix Mercury WNBA team play at the Talking Stick Resort in Phoenix. For hockey, head to the Phoenix suburb of Glendale to watch the Arizona Coyotes play.

Additionally, the Arizona Cardinals football team has not won a Superbowl (yet!). But their home stadium, State Farm Stadium in downtown Phoenix, has hosted a couple.

Look for tickets to Arizona sporting events via TicketLiquidator.

Arizona Diamondbacks game at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix
Arizona Diamondbacks game at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix (Photo credit: neilld, Depositphotos.com)

27. More Play at Arizona Boardwalk

In addition to OdySea Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland, the Arizona Boardwalk campus in Scottsdale offers even more play for families.

My kids love Laser + Mirror Mazes with its colorful reflective labyrinth and challenging laser-filled walk-through puzzle.

Surprise Your Eyes is a fun spot for Instagrammers, with all sorts of interactive trick art displays for your photo-taking pleasure.

Dinosaur lovers will roar with delight at Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs. In addition to life-sized animatronic dinos on display, kids will enjoy a T-Rex obstacle course, a fossil digging area, dinosaur temporary tattoos, and a small dinosaur ride.

A dinosaur egg photo op outside Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs in Scottsdale with kids
A dinosaur egg photo op outside Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

VR Extreme is a modern arcade of sorts, where all experiences involve immersion in a new world via the wonder of virtual reality.

At Johnny's Playground, children can bounce and slide on an array of inflatables in an indoor playground while parents rest their feet.

Look for special events like live concerts throughout the year at Arizona Boardwalk, too. Plus, enjoy an array of shops and restaurants at this entertainment complex.

Arizona Boardwalk in Scottsdale with kids
Arizona Boardwalk (Photo credit: Arizona Boardwalk)

More Tips for Visiting Scottsdale with Kids

All year long, your family is sure to have plenty to explore and enjoy in Scottsdale. Keep in mind that winters are likely chillier than you think, and summers are even toastier than you might imagine.

As you can see from reading this list of fun things to do in Scottsdale with kids, many popular destinations are in neighboring cities and towns. Plus, Scottsdale is very spread out. Therefore, you will likely need a rental car unless you plan to spend most of your time at your resort.

Scottsdale is one of the safest places to visit in all of Arizona, with most crimes being related to property theft. As when visiting any city, exercise reasonable caution when out exploring.

Old West-themed Playground at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale with Kids
Old West-themed playground at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Book Your Scottsdale Family Vacation with Expedia

Expedia has everything you need to book your trip to Scottsdale with kids. From hotels, airfare, and car rentals to vacation rentals and activities — Expedia has got you covered.

Expedia logo

Whether you're planning a month-long trip or a weekend getaway, Expedia can connect you with the best travel deals to destinations in Arizona and around the world. Explore more of Scottsdale and book your vacation with Expedia.com!

Shopping at Scottsdale Quarter
Scottsdale Quarter Fountain (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore More Things to Do in Arizona

Explore the best outdoor activities in Scottsdale, which are fabulous during fall, winter, and especially spring.

Visiting in winter? Take a look at the best Christmas activities in Scottsdale.

If you're planning a summertime trip, then be sure to read our tips for a Scottsdale summer vacation.

You can't visit Arizona without visiting the state's famous national park. Read my tips for exploring the Grand Canyon with kids.

Things to Do in Scottsdale with Kids

Save this List of Kid-Friendly Scottsdale Activities

Dreaming of a Scottsdale family vacation? Save this list of the top things to do when visiting Scottsdale, AZ with kids. Just pin the image above to Pinterest. Go ahead and follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you're at it!

Would you like to visit Scottsdale with kids? Share your tips or questions in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: I received monetary compensation from Expedia related to this blog post. My family was also hosted by The Phoenician and Medieval Times. All opinions are mine, as always.

 
About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, TravelMamas.com. She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. Jaime Berk says

    I live in Scottsdale, and this is a wonderful collection of all of the great things our beautiful city has to offer! Thank you for creating this beautiful and informative page!

  2. Hi Colleen,

    I’m 61 living in San Diego, I have visited Az many times, and like the affordable life. My fear is the heat
    I’m scared at my age, it’s a big move will I be able to handle the heat.

    Thanks Jodi

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Hi Jodi- My parents are in their mid-70s and love the heat here in Phoenix! It’s so much easier to tolerate, I think, than very cold weather and snow as we age. I suppose it really depends on how sensitive you are to heat. We Arizonans don’t spend too much time outdoors in summer unless it’s in a swimming pool or we get up very early for a hike. I suggest coming out for a visit mid-summer before your move to see how you feel. Good luck with your decision!

  3. We currently live in the Atlanta area after 20 years in Chicagoland. Everything “fun” here is soooo expensive – even or esp compared to Chicago where they offer free days to even the pricey places. The Atlanta zoo and aquarium are cost prohibitive for families. Are museums and such crazy expensive in AZ?

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Hi Lori –

      Some of the activities on this list can be expensive, especially when paying for entrance tickets for many family members. However, others are quite affordable. We lived in San Diego for 15 years where prices are much higher for most things, so pricing does feel like a bargain to us. For example, San Diego Zoo entrance tickets are currently $58 for adults and $48 for children whereas the Phoenix Zoo prices are $25 and $17 respectively (and even cheaper when you buy online in advance).

      Also, there is a great option for locals to get free entrance to many Arizona attractions by picking up complimentary Culture Passes at libraries. Examples include the Desert Botanical Museum (these go fast!), Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Arizona Science Center. You must show proof of residence, though, and passes tend to run out towards the end of the month.

      Additionally, many attractions offer a Free First Friday of the month, like Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Arizona Science Center, and Phoenix Art Museum.

      I hope that helps!

  4. Elizabeth O says

    This is such a great guide and its ideal for families too. I will have to add this on my bucket list.

  5. Emily Fata says

    Oh my gosh, Scottsdale looks so lovely! Though I’ve never yet been myself, reading about your adventures here make me want to come over all the more.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      I hope you can come for a visit someday, Emily! Scottsdale really does have so much to offer all ages!

  6. Emman Damian says

    I haven’t been in Scottsdale yet. I have always wanted to visit the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. I hope to see it soon.

  7. I bet there is more stuff you can do there. The outdoor activities looks super fun. The carousel seems to be good.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Oh, yes! There are plenty of tasty restaurants, amazing resorts, seasonal events, full-sized golf courses, incredible spas, beautiful biking paths, and more to explore in Scottsdale!

  8. Subhashish Roy says

    Scottsdale has such amazing things to offer in variety. I love holidaying in such places which have an abundance of nature too. Love to be there sometime.

  9. Lian Wright says

    I have never been to Arizona, but I would love to go! There is so much to do in Scottsdale. My kids and I would love seeing the museums, playing mini put, and going to the water parks!

  10. Myrah Duque says

    What a great place! I will have to consider traveling to Scottsdale! It seems there s something for everyone!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Definitely a lot to do in Scottsdale and you could always combine with a trip to the Grand Canyon!

  11. CherishingFlo says

    I didn’t know there was a six flags near there and the aquarium sounds fun I looove aquariums! Sounds like Scottsdale has more to offer than I thought!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      To be clear, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is a water park — not a full-blown amusement park — but still lots of fun! OdySea Aquarium is huge & so impressive, I’m sure you’d love it!

  12. Marcos K. says

    This is the coolest guide I’ve ever read. Love the images
    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Brianne Tursi Manz says

    I love everything that Scotsdale has to offer for a family. So many attractions to take in. It seems like it’s never-ending fun!

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