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Scottsdale with Kids – 24 Fun 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 24 best things to do in Scottsdale, AZ 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 peddling Southwestern jewelry and souvenirs. 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 Southwestern artists. Highlights for kids in Old Town include horse-drawn carriage rides and the pinkety-pink Sugar Bowl ice cream shop with an attached video game arcade.

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, a beautiful outdoor space 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, the largest aquarium in the Southwest, will wow the whole family. Otters and penguins 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 living fluttering beauties in America’s largest butterfly conservatory. Start at their 3-D theater to watch “Flight of the Butterflies” — a film about monarch butterflies’ impressive annual migration. In addition to butterflies and moths, your family can view other insects plus reptiles, amphibians, honeybees, and tropical fish on display.

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 when the desert bursts with beautiful blooms. Be sure to bring plenty of water, a hat with brim, and sunblock — no matter where you choose to hike. If in Scottsdale during warm (or hot!) weather, plan to hike early in the morning before temperatures soar. Wildlife you might see on the trails includes bobcats, javelinas (often thought to be wild pigs but they’re actually peccaries), snakes, and 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, so-named for its animal shape, 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 Mountain 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. The highlight, though, is the Paradise Pacific Railroad, a ride-on train that chugs through the expansive grassy park. The Scottsdale Charros Carousel is also super fun, with its antique horses and two wheelchair-accessible chariots. Model railroad displays and full-sized train cars might also be interesting for your family to explore. Buy hotdogs, hamburgers, and ice cream at the Snackstop or pack a lunch to enjoy at a picnic table 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 five+ 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 current hours before you go. Some Scottsdale resorts, like the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, offer water features like waterslides 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 and boasts the world’s first wave machine. Now, 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 included that’s actually located within Scottsdale. One winding waterslide, a pleasant lazy river, high and low diving boards, and a zero-entry splash play area 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 the kids 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, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers call Arizona their spring training home. 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.

For regular-season games, buy tickets via Expedia to see the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

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, it’s 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. 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!) When it’s hot outside, bring along swimsuits to cool off at the Leapin’ Lagoon and Yakulla Caverns splash pads. Children will want to take a spin on the zoo’s carousel, too, which features faux ride-on endangered animals. Look for interactive animal experiences like stingray feeding, camel rides, and giraffe feeding for an additional charge. Additionally, check out the Phoenix Zoo Lights nighttime displays in winter.

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

At the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa, wander through the Lost Dutchman Mine exhibit and “lock up” your family members in its jail cells. Then explore a Hohokam village, stopping to grind some maize with stone tools or put together giant puzzle pieces to form pictures of Native American pottery. Kids love to pan for gold in a courtyard outside. Most impressive, though, is Dinosaur Mountain, a display of life-sized animated dinosaurs on a cliff with booming “flash floods” that send water gushing down the display every 23 minutes. Plan to spend a few hours at this museum.

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! 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! You definitely could spend a whole day exploring the center.

My favorite exhibit is Forces of Nature, which simulates natural phenomena for those brave enough to step aboard the “stage” to experience the five-minute show (which repeats every 15 minutes). It may be too scary for toddlers and preschoolers, but big kids love to experience a (mild) earthquake, wind storms, 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 rides and stagecoach tours 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.

If visiting Scottsdale in October, then plan to visit the annual MacDonald’s Ranch pumpkin patch. Expect a petting zoo, pony rides, olde tyme 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. 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. Most visitors spend two to four hours exploring the museum’s 14 exhibits. Maximize fun and learning with our 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, Arcades, and Rides in Scottsdale and Beyond

Amusements like mini-golf, video game arcades, go-karts, and theme park rides abound in Scottsdale, Phoenix, and surrounding areas. Whether you want a full-blown amusement park experience or you’re looking for a couple of hours of distraction, your kids are in for a treat.

Golfland Sunsplash

Even when the water park closes for the season, Golfland Sunsplash continues to amuse guests with 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 plus four mini-golf courses and tons of indoor arcade games, head to Castles N’ Coasters in Phoenix. Although my kids and I had a ball at this theme park, ride safety didn’t seem to be the highest priority and given the area of town, I’d advise sticking to a daytime visit.

Octane Raceway

Adults and kids alike enjoy racing speedy go-karts at Octane Raceway. Junior drivers must be at least 46 inches tall to participate. Grown-up races go up to 45 miles per hour. Meanwhile, for participants under age 16, junior races top out at 25 mph. Parents can compete against kids in a junior race (at junior speeds, of course). Also onsite are a video game arcade, laser tag, and mini bowling alley.

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

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 five rides (like a full-sized carousel and bumper cars) and video games. Also free of charge until 8 pm is an unlimited buffet of pizza, pasta, salads, sodas and soft-serve ice cream. Pay additional fees for bowling, games with prize tickets, and laser tag.

Glow Putt

Glow-in-the-dark miniature golf at Glow Putt is always in season in Scottsdale, no matter the temperature outside. “Charge” your golf ball by placing it inside blacklight tubes throughout the course. Kids especially like the hole with the 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)

Peter Piper Pizza

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

Crackerjax

Outside at Scottsdale’s Crackerjax, enjoy miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages, and go-karts. Inside, play video games for prizes or challenge your family to a round of Alien Laser Tag.

Bumper Boats at Crackerjax in Scottsdale with kids
Bumper Boats at Crackerjax (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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

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

18. Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

For a roaring good time, make reservations for the Scottsdale Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Families root for their knight while chowing down on food like tasty chicken, potatoes, and corn on the cob. (No utensils allowed!) Vegetarian options are available as well. Expect jousting horses, sword fights, falconry, and a queen overseeing it all. 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)

19. 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. First, select your favorite hot tea for your own personal pot from herbal (non-caffeinated), white, green, and black options. Parents can up the fancy factor by ordering a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne. Then, diners are served darling tea sandwiches with fillings like English cucumber with fresh mint cream cheese, or classic egg salad with watercress. Next, buttermilk and cranberry scones appear with tempting toppings including Devonshire cream, lemon curd, and fresh strawberry preserves. Finally, it’s time to dig into an array of beautifully presented tea pastries like a mango mousse tartlet and a milk chocolate bavarois.

All of this is served in the resort’s sumptuous lobby and accompanied by a live piano performance. The Phoenician happily provides gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian menus with 24-hour advance notice. Make your reservation now because this popular experience tends to fill up!

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

20. 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.

iFLY Indoor Flight Experience in Scottsdale
iFLY Indoor Flight Experience in Scottsdale (Photo credit: iFLY)

21. 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 having everyone select his or her very favorite from the museum’s more than 90 fire trucks. There is one climb-aboard fire engine for make-believe rescue missions. 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 will 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)

22. 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 73 seats, which surround the stage on three 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)

23. Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs

Dinosaur lovers will roar with delight at Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs at Arizona Boardwalk. In addition to life-sized animatronic dinos on display, kids will enjoy a T-Rex obstacle course, 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)

24. More Play at Arizona Boardwalk

In addition to OdySea Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland, and Pangea Land of the Dinosaurs — the Arizona Boardwalk campus in Scottsdale offers even more play for families. My kids love the Laser + Mirror Mazes. At Ripley’s Believe It or Not, families will be amazed by a wacky collection of intriguing objects and astonishing artifacts like a life-sized model of a prehistoric snake and a statue of the world’s tallest man. Surprise Your Eyes is a fun spot for Instagrammers, with all sorts of interactive trick art displays for your photo-taking pleasure. VR Extreme is a modern arcade of sorts, where all 24 experiences involve immersion in a new world via the wonder of virtual reality. Finally, at Johnny’s Playground, children can bounce and slide on an array of inflatables in an indoor playground while parents rest their feet.

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

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

Tips for Visiting Scottsdale with Kids

No matter when you visit Scottsdale, your family is sure to have plenty to explore and enjoy. Keep in mind that winters are likely chillier than you think, and summers are even toastier than you might imagine. Temperatures swing up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit from night to day, so unless visiting in summer, layers are a must. The best weather of the year can be found in spring, March through May, when average temps are in the dreamy 70s. Winter is when prices are at their highest, with many visitors escaping cold weather locations. Meanwhile, in summers with temperatures as high as 120 degrees F, bring great deals on high-end resorts.

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)

It doesn’t rain much in Scottsdale, but when it does, gushing buckets of water pour from the sky. Arizona’s monsoon season typically reaches its peak in late summer. That’s when we get most of our rain for the whole year. After the rain stops, the sun will soon be shining again. Lightning storms are common in summer and are beautiful to behold.

As you can see from reading this list of things to do in Scottsdale, AZ 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.

Expedia logo

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. 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

Scottsdale is beautiful year-round. 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.

Headed to Northern Arizona? You’ll definitely want to read my Grand Canyon tips!

To explore America’s biggest ghost town, check out my tips for visiting Jerome, Arizona.

Discover the charms of Arizona’s territorial capital in my guide to Prescott.

Things to Do in Scottsdale with Kids

Save This List of Things to Do in Scottsdale

Dreaming of a Scottsdale family vacation? Be sure to 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!

If you’re planning a trip to Arizona, then you’ll want to read my advice for visiting Grand Canyon with kids and check out Jerome, Arizona — America’s biggest ghost town.

Would you like to visit Scottsdale with kids? Have you ever been? 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

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. 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!

  2. Marcos K. says

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  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. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

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