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Over 25 of the Best Things to do in Scottsdale with Kids

Over 25 of the Best Things to do in Scottsdale with Kids

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.

Fun Things to do in Scottsdale with Kids

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!

Ride a Horse at McDonald’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 six can ride, regardless of experience. The guides and horses know how to handle city slickers.

If you have younger cowpokes try a stagecoach ride by reservation! Enjoy the same Old West experience without having to sit on a horse. Or just enjoy the large petting zoo and games offered at the ranch. 

Scottsdale is one of our favorite weekend getaways from Phoenix. See what else made the list!

Catch a Baseball Game at Spring Training

Going to a Spring Training game is one of the best things to do in Scottsdale with kids
Autograph Signing at Spring Training, photo by 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.

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 by 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 WonderlandUnlike many butterfly exhibits, this one is open year round! You definitely won’t want to miss the bug vending machine where you can purchase things like chocolate-covered bugs.

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. There is also an arcade that will surely keep kids while they win prizes.

Older kids and teens will have a blast at the Museum of Illusions which has several different exhibit which are mind-bending and perfect for hilarious Instagram photos.

One of the newer attractions is the UFO Experience which showcases exhibits on various UFO conspiracies like alien abductions and famed alien sightings. Do you believe?

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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 by 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. During the summer they even show old Western movies to keep everyone enntertained and cool inside the air conditioning.

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.

Thursdays are “Pay What You Want” days where you can enjoy free admission or pay a small donation to help support the museum. This is a great day for families with younger kids to visit.

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. 

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 byVisit 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 by 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.

Explore the Desert on a Hummer or UTV Tour

Stellar Adventures
Image via Stellar Adventures

It would be a shame to visit Scottsdale and not get out into the beautiful Sonoran desert which surrounds the town. One fun and adventurous way to do it to take either a Hummer, ATV, or UTV tour with Stellar Adventures.

The most relaxed adventure is when you leave the driving to the pros on the Hummer tour. Kids only need to be three years old to join these tours. Consider booking the night tour and head out into the desert for some amazing stargazing.

UTVs seat up to four people. Drivers must be 16 and passenger need to be at least six. This is a great option for families because it is cost effective and the parents can take turns driving.

If you have teens and tweens they will likelyt be interested in driving their own ATVs. You can drive an ATV beginning at 12 years old and rest assured that these tours are guided by professionals. You can also book a UTV and ATV onthe same trip to mix and match the experience.

Solve Clues and Explore Scottsdale on Puzzle Rides

Puzzle Rides Scottsdale
Photo via Puzzle Rides

If your family loves escape rooms and puzzle games, they will surely have a blast on Puzzle Rides. This unique experience encourages families to solve clues and work together while their puzzle guide tours them around town on a golf cart.

Like escape rooms, there are different levels of Puzzle Rides you can sign up for, so you can find the perfect one for your family. The Pirate’s Treasure Adventure allows children as young as five to join, but is still a challenge for the teens and adults in the family. And your awesome guide makes sure everyone is having a blast the whole time.

Quick Adventures Just Outside of Scottsdale City Limits

Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden photo
Praying Mantis Sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden, photo by milomingo

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.

Here are more of our favorite things to do in Phoenix with kids, as well as free things to do in Phoenix and the best Mexican restaurants in Phoenix.

Where to Eat in Scottsdale with Kids

A selection of tasty dishes from Hash Kitchen. Credit MVMT Studios
A selection of tasty dishes from Hash Kitchen, photo by 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
Photo by 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. 

Book your stay at the Great Wolf Lodge.

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 and all of our great Great Wolf Lodge Tips.

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 by 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 by 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. 

This resort also made our list of the best resorts with water parks in Arizona.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

Pool at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Photo Credit Visit PhoenixHyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
Photo by 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 by 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.

Tiffany Vaughn