So you’re feeling like a trip to the Sonoran desert, a land of endless possibilities. Well, where better to start than visiting Scottsdale? Known as “The West’s Most Western City”, Scottsdale has a truly unique feeling of modern luxury and a time almost forgotten. These cowboys know how to live, that’s for sure!
One of many stunning cities in the Phoenix area, this place is perfect for vacations with kids for its scenic landscape, safe downtown and family-friendly activities. But don’t just take our word for it; here’s a list of the best things to do in Scottsdale with kids.
In the area for a while? Check out our guide to Arizona.
- What is the weather like in Scottsdale?
- Where’s best to stay in Scottsdale?
- The 9 best things to do in Scottsdale with kids
- Why you should visit Scottsdale today
What is the weather like in Scottsdale?
The summers in Scottsdale are hot and dry, characteristically of their area in the US. The winters are cool, and it is mostly clear all year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically goes from lows of 7°C to highs of 41°C; it rarely goes below or above!
Based on this data, it’s important to time your journey appropriately! In the middle of summer, that famous Arizona heat can be a little bit overwhelming if you are not prepared.
If you are travelling in the summer, make sure to stay hydrated and protected from the elements. If you’d rather keep out of the heat, then we recommend planning your trip around the cooler months.
Where’s best to stay in Scottsdale?
Scottsdale has no end of stunning accommodations to make your family vacation as special as possible. Being a celebrated holiday destination, you’re in safe hands! Prefer a more homely experience? Check out Air BnB!
Courtyard by Marriott, Scottsdale Salt River
Two words: THAT pool. This gorgeous hotel on the edge of the city brings a luxury experience without the price tag. With a great swimming pool, varied catering options and renowned hospitality, this place makes for the perfect place to unwind after a day out in the city.
Courtyard by Marriott, Scottsdale Old Town
This is another great hotel right in the heart of the city. Your children will be pleased when they find out that this hotel is pet friendly, meaning the whole family can come along! There are also a number of attractions right on your doorstep – so you can guarantee your kids will sleep the whole night through by squeezing in a quick game of bowling before bed!
The 9 best things to do in Scottsdale with kids
Phoenix Zoo is the proud home to over 3000 animals and, with so much to see, promises outdoor adventures and lifelong memories! With plenty of animals and plenty of exhibits to explore, this zoo makes for a great day out for the whole family.
Alongside hosting exotic animals and fan favourites like orangutans, Komodo dragons and tigers, the park also boasts a petting zoo. This makes it a perfect setting for children ages 2 to 10 to socialise with different types of animals.
Top Tip: if you’re visiting on a warm day, wear a hat! The park is vast, with only little patches of shade.
Desert Botanical Garden
This botanical garden offers a really unique experience in one of the most geographically fascinating settings in the world; when else can you explore all of the best plants and flowers the desert has to offer?
Guests can walk through 5 different trails to learn more about the wildlife that thrives in the Sonoran desert. We’d recommend keeping an eye on the calendar, as the Desert Botanical Garden hosts a number of captivating classes, events and exhibitions for adults and children alike!
Although some of the scenery may not be interactive enough to entertain younger children, this garden will be of interest to older members of the family and those with a keen interest in botany.
Top tip: Bring a hairbrush! There are some great family photo opportunities in this garden.
Scottsdale Railroad Museum
The Scottsdale Railroad Museum is an important part of the City’s heritage, with wholesome origins.
In 1967, the Fowler McCormick’s donated 100 acres of McCormick Ranch to the City of Scottsdale, insisting that it be used as a park for all to enjoy. Their hope was that this gift would encourage others to give as well, making Scottsdale a better place to live for generations to come.
A favourite amongst families with young children, this Scottsdale museum is free to the public. On your visit, you can expect train and carousel rides, model train-building sessions and free tours around the museum to delve deeper into the engineering history of the area.
Top tip: Visit this place over the festive period to see it transformed into a winter wonderland!
This is one of the most stunning parks in Arizona and another free attraction. For those reasons, this place may be one of the best things to do in Scottsdale with kids! The park has a selection of paved and dirt trails for a day out in the elements.
Also home to the famous Hole In The Rock, the area is a nice way to experience the desert without having to venture too far from civilization.
Papago Park also has well-maintained fishing ponds and shaded areas throughout; these make for some great spots to relax and picnic with the family. This place comes equipped! Bathrooms are available, as well as drinking fountains, to keep everyone happy.
Top tip: Visit around sunset or sunrise; the scenery will blow you away!
A truly magical experience like no other, Butterfly Wonderland is one for people that REALLY like butterflies… In this rainforest experience, guests get up close and personal with many different breeds of butterflies in a tranquil, vibrant floral setting.
You have been warned; these butterflies are not shy! Guests can sit in the enclosure and feel at one with it whilst the butterflies come and go as they please from one person to another. It’s essentially a petting zoo for butterflies!
Top tip: Check out the gift shop; there are some really nice, quirky souvenirs on sale that make for perfect presents.
Sometimes known as the Old Town, Downtown is considered to be among the most lively and unusual urban downtown centers in the American Southwest!
Its pedestrian-friendly streets are home to world-class art galleries, museums, restaurants and the civic center mall. If you prefer to stay on the beaten track, there’s a historic tour of the town, too.
As this is a known tourist spot, there’s a tangible buzz about the place with all sorts of new sounds, tastes and cultures to explore!
Exploring downtown spaces like this can be exhausting for younger children and even adults, but don’t worry; Downtown Civic Centre Park offers a welcome respite from all of that shopping and people-watching!Top tip: If you can’t get enough of exploring inner cities, why don’t you take a look at our guide to travelling in Phoenix as a family?
Adventure Tours is the top tour company in Scottsdale and offers a few different options for exploration with their expert guides. The kids will feel like they’re in an action movie; this is a heroic way to explore the area for sure!
As a guaranteed hit amongst the whole family, we’d recommend their Jeep tours! These unique tours provide an exciting, bumpy, yet comfortable ride in this fascinating landscape. What’s more, all the staff are expertly trained and selected to make the tour as fun and organic as possible.
If you’d rather take it slow, These guys also offer a hiking tour service.
Top tip: Astrology lover? Opt for one of the stargazing tours; these nighttime events are a perfect way to finish a day and will leave you (and, more importantly, your children) at peace and ready to relax.
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
This non-profit zoo is an uplifting and educational day out in the Northwest region of the city.
Dedicated to giving each animal a chance at rehabilitation before being released back into the wild, the attentive volunteers give guests loads of background information on each animal as you are shown around the center.
It’s important to note this center does not take walk-ins – any tours have to be arranged prior to visiting.
Top tip: This zoo has recently (November 2022) become the new home to two Mexican Gray Wolves. As an endangered species, it’s a real treat to see in real life and as good a reason as any to visit!
Scottsdale Stadium is a well-preserved and much-loved slice of the city’s baseball heritage; it almost feels like you’ve stepped into a time machine when seated on those bleachers!
What’s more American than going to see a baseball game? With a 12,000 capacity, This stadium is a classic baseball experience and home of the San Francisco Giants!
For families with younger children, we’d recommend Spring training games for the most family-friendly atmosphere: these run from Monday to Thursday. In classic baseball style, weekend games tend to be more of a party atmosphere!
For those driving to the venue, locals recommend you arrive an hour or so early for easy parking, which is also free.
Why you should visit Scottsdale today
Whether you’re looking for a resort experience or a wildlife adventure, Scottsdale has it all. It just goes to show the wild west isn’t all about cacti and cattle ranches.
We hope you feel like you now have everything you need for your Scottsdale Vacation! But why stop after exploring Scottsdale?
We’ve got some fantastic guides on its surrounding areas and even beyond if the family feels like taking on some famous American roads.
FAQs about travelling to Scottsdale
Do I need a car in Scottsdale?
A car is not essential in Scottsdale! If you are staying in or around Old Town Scottsdale, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops and fun things to do within walking distance. If you want to venture out of Old Town Scottsdale, you can take an Uber!
That being said, if you were planning to explore greater Arizona, with Scottsdale as your base, there are plenty of great car rental places to help with this.
Why is Scottsdale, AZ, so popular?
Over the years, Scottsdale has become increasingly popular because of its natural beauty, lively nightlife scene, world-class resorts and golf courses.
This surge in popularity has caused a snowball effect, leading to the development of many design-forward restaurants and coffee shops.
Is Scottsdale a safe city?
Scottsdale is a fairly affluent area with a low level of crime relative to other American cities. While the city is safe, locals rate the northern and downtown areas as the safest. For this reason, it’s considered a great family vacation destination.
What sports teams are there in Scottsdale?
The Valley of the Sun is home to teams from all of the major professional sports leagues, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and Phoenix Coyotes.
How many days do you need in Scottsdale?
Four days in Scottsdale is a good amount of time to experience the town and surroundings. If you have more time, then great, you definitely will not run out of things to do in Scottsdale with kids anytime soon!
More about our TFVG Author
Ross lives for the sun, sea and SNOW! Anything involving a snowboard, polarised shades and sheddin steep peaks, he is there.