10 Best Things to do in Scottsdale with Kids

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Ready for a family vacation full of adventure, culture, and natural wonders? Time to visit the kid-friendly town of Scottsdale, Arizona!

Whether splashing in one of the amazing pools at a luxury resort or pretending to be a cowboy in the wild west, your family will love all the things to do in Scottsdale with kids.

Things to do in Scottsdale with Kids

1. Hike through the Sonoran Desert 

Hiking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is one of the best things to do in Scottsdale with kids
Hiking in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve | Photo Credit: Myles McGuinness for Experience Scottsdale

Over 400 miles of trails meander through the desert hills of Scottsdale, and a quarter of those reside in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Start at the Gateway Trailhead for trail options for all levels including the paved Bajada Loop Nature Trail (0.5 miles) and the Gateway Loop (4.5 miles). Then head over to Lost Dog Wash and hike along the rocky terrain with excellent southern views. 

Prefer to bike? Check out these guided mountain bike tours in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. 

Another option for a trail with breathtaking views is Pinnacle Peak Summit Trail. At 3.5 miles round-trip and gaining 1,300 feet elevation, little feet may not make it to the summit. But don’t worry, great views and desert critters await all along the trail so you can turn back whenever you need to.

Improve your hiking experience with our blog article: Hiking with Kids…Get Out There!

2. Ride a Horse at MacDonald’s Ranch

horseback riding in the Sonoran desert in Scottsdale
Horseback Riding in the Sonoran Desert | Photo by Tiffany Vaughn

Channel your inner cowboy with a horseback ride past towering saguaros. At MacDonald’s Ranch, anyone over the age of five can ride, regardless of experience. The guides and horses know how to handle city slickers.

If you have younger cowpokes try a stagecoach ride. The same old west experience without having to sit on a horse. Or just enjoy the large petting zoo, pony rides, and games offered at the ranch. 

3. Catch a Baseball Game

Going to a Spring Training game is one of the best things to do in Scottsdale with kids
Autograph Signing at Spring Training | Photo Credit: Leah Overstreet

Every March, 15 major league baseball teams move to the Phoenix area for Spring Training. 

Scottsdale houses stadiums for three of those teams; the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium, plus the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Field. The spring training experience lets fans get a close up view of their favorite athletes in action for a fraction of the price.

For more information, check out our blog article Arizona Spring Training: The Cactus League with Kids.

In the fall, baseball fans can root for the Scottsdale Scorpions, the local minor league team. Tickets cost under $10, and kids 15 and under are free.

4. Experience One-of-a-Kind Attractions at Arizona Boardwalk

The Deep Ocean Escalator at OdySea Aquarium Credit OdySea Aquarium
The Deep Ocean Escalator at OdySea Aquarium | Photo Credit: OdySea Aquarium

Entertaining attractions for all ages can be found at the complex known as Arizona Boardwalk.

First, take a ride on the world’s only rotating aquarium exhibit at Odysea Aquarium. Then stand among thousands of butterflies in the glass atrium of Butterfly Wonderland

For the dinosaur lover, visit Pangaea: Land of the Dinosaurs and roam through life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. When you are ready for a challenge try your ninja skills at the Laser + Mirror Maze. Or let your gamer go wild with virtual reality gaming at VR Xtreme

On top of all these attractions, Arizona Boardwalk also offers rotating exhibits, shops, and dining. Make sure to check their website for special events, too. 

5. Window Shop in Old Town Scottsdale

Old Town Scottsdale's Fifth Avenue is a great place to shop for unique gifts, jewelry, fashions and mementos. Credit: Christine Johnson Things to do in scottsdale with kids
Old Town Scottsdale’s Fifth Avenue is a great place to shop for unique gifts, jewelry, fashions and mementos | Photo Credit: Christine Johnson

You can’t have a true Scottsdale experience without some shopping. For a fun western gift shop the whole family will enjoy, try Cactus Hut or Scottsdale Southwest Gift Shop

Another favorite is Bischoff’s Shades of the West Gift Shop where leather moccasins, cowboy boots, and belt buckles line the walls.

No need to worry about tired feet while shopping. A free trolley makes frequent stops around Old Town to pick up weary travelers. Or stay aboard and take a charming tour of Old Town.

When you need a break from the knick knacks, head to Civic Center Park. The art installations provide fun photo backdrops and kids love to visit the ducks. Then pop inside the Civic Center Library and check out the castle décor, games, and toys in the children’s section.

6. Ride the Rails at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

mccormick stillman railroad park is one of the best places to visit in Scottsdale with kids
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park | Photo by Tiffany Vaughn

Dreams come true for train lovers at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

After hitching a ride on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad, visit the model railroad building which houses 10,000 square feet of interactive model trains. Then climb aboard the Scottsdale Railroad Museum, housed in historic railway cars.

In addition to all the train fun, this park features a vintage 1950’s carousel and multiple playgrounds with a water feature. Be sure to bring a picnic lunch. Plenty of picnic tables and grassy lawns cover the grounds.

Take a look at our guide Arizona Train Ride for Kids for more rail riding fun.

7. Pump Up Your Adrenaline with Indoor Extreme Fun

Rock Climbing Wall Photo by The White Mountain School Wikimedia Commons
Rock Climbing Wall | Photo by The White Mountain School/Wikimedia Commons

When the weather’s hot but the kids are full of energy, you need some indoor things to do in Scottsdale with kids. Put that energy to good use at AZ on the Rocks rock climbing gym. The instructors here help all ages and abilities learn to scale the 14,000 square feet of climbing terrain. 

Does your little daredevil dream of skydiving? Make his dream come true at iFLY Phoenix. Kids as young as three can participate in indoor skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Experience all the thrill of free falling, without actually falling.

Use this deal to book your indoor skydiving adventure. 

For the taller crowd (54” and up), race down the track in high-speed race karts at Octane Raceway. The ⅓ mile track starts indoors, winds through an outdoor section, then continues inside. Shorter family members can still have fun at the full arcade, mini bowling alley, or virtual reality arena. 

8. Discover Arts & Culture at Local Museums

The sculpture courtyard at Western Spirit Scottsdale's Museum of the West features eco-friendly weeping wall. Credit Chad Ulam
The sculpture courtyard at Western Spirit Scottsdale’s Museum of the West | Photo Credit: Chad Ulam

Learn about the wild west at the Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. Discover culture, history, and art from the 19 states of the American West. Kids stay engaged through interactive activities in the exhibits.

Scottsdale Historical Museum also teaches about local history. This free museum is located inside a former school house. Visitors can even ring the old school bell. While there, grab a brochure for a self-guided tour of Old Town.

things to do in scottsdale with kidsKnight Rise by James Turrell at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Credit Photo by Sean Deckert
“Knight Rise” by James Turrell at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art | Photo by Sean Deckert

Find inspiration at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition to rotating art exhibits, families enjoy the hands-on kids’ area. In this art room kids create their own art pieces and poems inspired by current exhibits.

9. Attend a Family-Friendly Performance

Medieval Times Photo by WikimediaCommons Boris Kasimov
Medieval Times | Photo by Boris Kasimov/WikimediaCommons

Enjoy dinner and a show at Medieval Times. Once you step inside the Scottsdale Castle, you’ll be transported back in time to experience horseship, falconry, and of course, jousting. Kids will love that eating with their hands is actually encouraged!

Book tickets for Medieval Times Scottsdale

Or visit Desert Stages Theatre to experience the local acting talent. The beautiful theater located in Scottsdale’s Fashion Square offers Broadway-inspired musicals and dramatic performances. 

10. Play a Round of Golf (or Mini-Golf)

Things to do in scottsdale with kids Family at Putting Green at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Photo Credit Visit PhoenixHyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
Family at Putting Green at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale | Photo Credit: Visit Phoenix/Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

Year round sunshine makes Scottsdale, Arizona a top golfing destination.

Most of the city’s popular courses offer classes and programs for all ages, including Kierland Golf Club, McCormick Ranch Golf Club, and The Phoencian Golf Club.

Additionally, Troon North Golf Club provides a family golf program with special discounts for juniors playing with adults.

Not ready for a full course yet? CrackerJax Family Fun and Sports Park boasts an award winning golf driving range and two mini-golf courses. Challenge teens and adults on the Optical Delusion course, or let the little ones have a go through the Amaze N’ Golf course. 

Topgolf Scottsdale at Riverwalk Photo Credit Experience Scottsdale
Topgolf Scottsdale at Riverwalk | Photo Credit: Experience Scottsdale

In the heat of the summer, bring your game inside at Topgolf. Rent a climate-controlled bay by the hour and play high-tech golf games to improve your driving skills.

Or hone those putting skills at Glow Putt, Scottsdale’s indoor, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course.

Quick Day Trips Just Outside of Scottsdale City Limits

Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden photo
Praying Mantis Sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden | Photo by milomingo 10 Best Things to do in Scottsdale with Kids 1

With neighboring Phoenix so close, visitors looking for things to do in Scottsdale with kids would be remiss to exclude the amazing museums outside the city limits.

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix provides hours of imaginative play in their pool noodle forest and gigantic play structure. Located just across the street, Arizona Science Center invites kids to learn through interactive exhibits and experiments.

The popular Musical Instrument Museum invites visitors to don headphone and hear the music of different cultures as they view instruments and ritual costumes. Guests are even encouraged to play along on the unique instruments in the experience room.

On a nice day, walk among unique varieties of desert plants at the Desert Botanical Garden. Or visit animals from around the world at the Phoenix Zoo. Kids especially love visiting the goats at the petting zoo.

Where to Eat in Scottsdale

A selection of tasty dishes from Hash Kitchen. Credit MVMT Studios
A selection of tasty dishes from Hash Kitchen | Photo Credit MVMT Studios

The culinary delights of Scottsdale’s trendy restaurant scene make it one of the top dining destinations in the United States.

Start your day with the creative menu at Hash Kitchen. Popular dishes include Almond Crusted French Toast and Fruity Pebble Pancakes. 

Or stop by Butterfield’s Pancake House for made-from-scratch breakfast, including mouth-watering crepes and some of the best omelettes in Arizona.   

For a delicious burger in a fun, “beach-vibes” environment, go to Rehab Burger Therapy. Reviewers rave over the Mac and Cheese burger and sweet potato tots. And if you are brave enough to try the PBJ & Bacon Burger, you won’t regret it. 

A visit to the southwest deserves a southwestern meal. Old Town Tortilla Factory offers up southwestern cuisine with a Mexican twist in a 1930’s adobe home. The spicy Red Chile Pork Chops topped with Ancho raspberry sauce bring just the right amount of kick. And the Achite Ribs are a crowd favorite. 

Sugar Bowl Photo Credit Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl | Photo Credit: Sugar Bowl

A tour of Scottsdale wouldn’t be complete without a stop by Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant. This historic pink building has been providing classic American dishes and decadent ice cream treats to customers since the 1950’s.  

Where to Stay in Scottsdale with Kids

Arizona knows the importance of a great hotel pool, and all the best ones happen to be located in Scottsdale!

Great Wolf Lodge

Things to do in scottsdale with kids Talking Stick Treehouse at Great Wolf Lodge, Scottsdale Photo by Tiffany Vaughn
Talking Stick Treehouse at Great Wolf Lodge, Scottsdale | Photo by Tiffany Vaughn

Why settle for a big pool when you can have a whole indoor waterpark?! Great Wolf Lodge is a destination in itself. This kid-focused resort provides activities and entertainment just for the kids, although adults have fun too. 

In addition to the water slides, rides, and pools, other non-water related attractions fill the resort. From rock climbing to bowling, there is something for every minute of the day. And delicious on-site dining options make it so you never have to leave the resort.

Read our full review of Great Wolf Lodge Scottsdale

Fairmont Princess

Kids relaxing at Sunset Beach at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Credit Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
Kids relaxing at Sunset Beach at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess | Photo Credit: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Four family-friendly pools (plus two just for adults) adorn the grounds of the Fairmont Princess Scottsdale.

The Sonoran Splash pools boast two 200-foot long water slides and the Sunset Beach pool features, you guessed it, a white-sand beach. Each pool hosts different activities including poolside games and dive-in movies. Around the resort families also enjoy the fishing lagoon, desert tortoise enclosure, and playground.

Westin Kierland Resort & Spa 

Adventure Pool at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Credit The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Adventure Pool at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa | Photo Credit: The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

This resort is loaded with dining options, luxury accommodations, and family-friendly amenities. In addition to the three golf courses, families can spend time playing the OK Corral lawn games.

And of course they have an amazing pool. The Adventure Water Park at the Westin Kierland Resort features a lazy river, waterslide, and Kierland FlowRider. 

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch 

Pool at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Photo Credit Visit PhoenixHyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
Pool at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale | Photo Credit: Visit Phoenix/Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

Leaving all the amenities at this resort may take some convincing. The pool features a 3-story waterslide and sandy beach.

The top-rated golf course at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort offers lessons for all ages, and a 28’ high rock climbing wall looks too fun to skip. Singing gondoliers even offer rides around the resort’s 7-acre lake.

The Phoenician

The Phoenician Casita Lawn Photo Credit The Phoenician
The Phoenician Casita Lawn | Photo Credit: The Phoenician

This full-service Phoenician Resort bursts with family fun, including an activity center with video games, pool tables, and more. The pool area is three levels and features a waterslide, treehouse, and splash pad.

They also offer a kid’s club for parents who want to take advantage of the onsite spa or adults-only pool.

About the author

Tiffany Vaughn is the one of Trekaroo's Travel Experts located in Arizona. She is also an avid explorer of local and remote destinations. She and her five kids enjoy tagging along with Dad on business trips to find new adventures. She believes that there are always new experiences to discover, even in your home town.

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