Scottsdale is a unique destination in Arizona that offers a classic Western atmosphere coupled with high-end activities that both kids and adults can enjoy. It's a smaller city that's a suburb of the much larger Phoenix, so you don't have to worry about crowds when you explore the best of what this destination has to offer. It's easy to embark on an unforgettable vacation experience when your family travels here. You just need to find the top activities to explore. Discover the best activities to do with kids in Scottsdale, and find out how you can create the ultimate itinerary.
1. Old Town
In Scottsdale's Old Town, you'll find a variety of shops and restaurants that the whole family can enjoy. All of them tend to have a notable Southwestern flair that shows off the rich culture of the region. Be sure to check out the local art galleries as well. The natural beauty of the area tends to draw artists, so galleries are quite prevalent in Old Town. Visit on a Thursday night, and you can enjoy the ArtWalk event in which people are invited to take a closer look at the works on display in the local galleries. Of course, your kids may prefer the ice cream shop and the video game arcade.
2. Scottsdale Civic Center Mall
The Scottsdale Civic Center Mall is one of the most iconic spots in all of Scottsdale. This outdoor space features vibrant, well-maintained green space along with fountains and diverse, colorful flowers. Additionally, you'll find sculptures around the mall area showcasing whimsical designs, with many by local artists. This area is also home to the Scottsdale Public Library that has an impressive children's book section with many titles and a castle-like sitting area. Don't forget to check out the art museum and performing arts center here as well.
3. OdySea Aquarium
If your family is interested in marine life, you'll find plenty at OdySea Aquarium. As one of the largest aquariums in the Southwest, it features 200,000 square feet of exhibit space that's home to charming creatures like otters and penguins along with more fearsome creatures like sharks. Your kids will especially enjoy the touch pools where they can have hands-on experiences with creatures like stingrays and sturgeons. Even the bathrooms here are exciting as shark tanks are set up above the sinks.
4. Butterfly Wonderland
At Butterfly Wonderland, you'll find one of the largest butterfly conservatories in the entire country that your family can enjoy. The glass atrium mimics a rainforest habitat that butterflies love, allowing them to flutter around freely numbering in the thousands. You'll also find a 3D theater that offers an immersive and entertaining educational experience that kids and adults alike can enjoy. Plus, this facility houses more than 24 species of reptiles and amphibians to see. You may even be able to see a live transformation of a chrysalis as it changes into a butterfly.
5. Laser and Mirror Maze
The Laser and Mirror Maze is a stunning attraction that your kids will absolutely adore. It can be quite challenging at times, forcing participants to bring out their best ninja skills to navigate the web of lasers facing them. The mission is to make it to the vault without setting off any of the lasers. While the premise itself is quite simple, actually getting it done will require a bit of skill to pull off. Kids will love the challenge and the aesthetic allure of colorful lasers presenting obstacles in a black-walled maze.
6. Surprise Your Eyes
If you're looking for a more unusual experience, be sure to check out Surprise Your Eyes. This stunning attraction centers around optical illusions where you'll find fascinating trick art perfect for your vacation and your Instagram. While you're here, you and your kids can embark on several adventures that feel real, like fighting inside a video game and walking on the surface of the moon. Both indoor and outdoor attractions are available here with a wide variety of artworks that seemingly come to life within the frame.
Kids who love dinosaurs will find themselves in paradise when they visit Pangaea. This interactive attraction features more than 50 animatronic dinosaurs that function within intricate recreations of their prehistoric habitats. When you visit this attraction, you'll feel as if you've been transported back millions of years to see dinosaurs as lifelike as they can get. Plus, you'll find rides, educational shows, and even high-end dining options with dishes for both adults and kids to enjoy. Don't forget to check out the gift shop as well for dinosaur-themed gear.
8. VR Xtreme
Whether you and your kids are interested in video games or simply thrilling experiences, you're sure to find fun at VR Xtreme. This attraction boasts impressive virtual reality technology with 24 unique games and experiences to enjoy. The experiences are quite varied, with one showcasing one of the most realistic and high-definition driving games on the market and another that lets you test your marksmanship. One of the VR experiences even lets you ride a roller coaster off the top of a skyscraper, though it's entirely virtual. You'll even find viewing screens for spectators, so your family can watch you get the high score when it's your turn.
9. McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic & Fitness Center
At the McDowell Mountain Ranch Aquatic & Fitness Center, you'll find virtually endless fun in the sun that the entire family can enjoy. The water park is the star of the show here with a playground area for kids to enjoy along with an 8-lane lap pool and a diving well for adults. Plus, it features a 600-foot river as well. In addition to the water attractions, you'll also find 3 soccer fields, a fitness center, and a skate park if you or your kids are looking for some skateboarding fun.
10. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
When you and your family visit McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, you'll find a wide variety of stunning trains and train rides that kids and adults alike can enjoy. Think of it as a combination of old-fashioned trains and the Wild West with attractions like the Scottsdale Charros Carousel and the Arboretum Train. The star here, however, is the Paradise & Pacific Railroad. In addition to the trains themselves, you'll find a fascinating museum along with a playground that your little ones are sure to enjoy with things to do for both younger and older kids.
11. Scottsdale Stadium
Scottsdale Stadium is a great place to catch a game of America's favorite pastime, baseball. What you can see here depends largely on when you visit. If you stop by in the summer, you can see the Arizona League Giants play their home games here. Visit during the right time in the fall, and you can see the Fall League's championship game here. Springtime visitors can see the training sessions of the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers among other teams as they prepare for the regular season.
Skydiving is a thrilling experience, but lots of people are hesitant to venture up into the clouds and jump out of a plane. With iFLY, you don't have to. This destination is an indoor skydiving facility in which you can experience the sensation of skydiving within an indoor tunnel. With help from an instructor, you'll find yourself floating and having fun. Don't forget to consider the virtual reality options as well. They can add an entirely new level of fun to your experience as you virtually visit exotic locations like the Swiss Alps or Hawaii. Kids as young as 4 can participate.
13. Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
At the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, you'll find a variety of rescued animals that you and your little ones can see. These animal rescues come from a variety of different species, though they tend to be animals native to the area. They include bobcats, wolves, coyotes, black bears, and foxes. Additionally, you'll find impressive birds here like red-tailed hawks and great horned owls. Not only can you see these majestic animals in person, but the guides can offer valuable information about them and the center's conservation efforts.
Wonderspaces is an incredible destination in Scottsdale where you'll find numerous artworks on display from local and international artists. Don't expect typical art displays, however, as the exhibits here are better classified as art shows and immersive installations that encourage direct interaction. This kind of interaction will especially appeal to your little ones. Some of the previous exhibits here included one in which participants could add color to a large screen by moving their arms, along with another that showcased intricate rhythms produced by an orchestra of sewing machines.
15. McDowell Sonoran Preserve
If your family is interested in outdoor adventure, McDowell Sonoran Preserve is one of the best destinations in town. You'll find more than 225 recreational trails here spread out through a total area of 30,500 acres. The hiking terrain tends to be fairly easy to traverse, so even young kids can embark on the adventure. Plus, there are plenty of convenient facilities with bathrooms, water, and information about the trails. When hiking through the area, you'll find yourself frequently met with stunning views. Hiking isn't the only option here, either, as you can also try biking and horseback riding. Additionally, rock climbing opportunities are available.
16. MacDonald's Ranch
While you'll find plenty of attractions in town that seek to capture the adventure of the Wild West, nothing is quite like MacDonald's Ranch. Here, you'll find horseback rides that the entire family can enjoy, but that's just the beginning. You can also embark on moonlight rides and stagecoach rides to embrace what transportation was like all those years ago. Your kids can additionally enjoy a hay bale maze and a petting zoo with friendly barn animals. Various lawn games are present here as well that you and the kids can enjoy.
17. Octane Raceway
When you visit Octane Raceway, you'll find a high-speed activity that the whole family can enjoy. There's an indoor and outdoor track that's a third of a mile long with separate adult and junior races. For adult races, the winner has to conquer 14 laps with top speeds of 45 miles per hour. Junior races last 10 laps with top speeds of 25 miles per hour. While there is no minimum age requirement, your little ones will need to be at least 4-feet-6-inches tall to drive. Additionally, you'll find an arcade here along with laser tag and a miniature bowling alley.
18. Tolmachoff Farms
At Tolmachoff Farms, your family can enjoy a wide variety of activities for kids and adults alike. You'll find plenty of fresh produce, with some you can even pick yourself like pumpkins. Additionally, you'll find a corn maze and a petting zoo with farm animals that your kids can interact with directly. You'll also find a bounce house and pedal carts. Just keep in mind that the hours here are relatively limited. Most of its attractions are open during the fall, but you'll also find a few fun things to do during other times of the year such as the winter holiday season. It's a good budget vacation option with kids as admission under 2 is free.
19. Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve
If your family is interested in impressive geological formations and history, the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve has plenty of both. You'll find more than 1,500 ancient petroglyphs showcasing recognizable images like spirals, deer, and hunters. You can learn all about what the different petroglyphs mean at the visitor center. At certain times, your kids can enjoy stories told by rangers that offer even more insight into these ancient works of art. Plus, the hikes in the area are all easy, so even your young kids can handle the trails.
20. Pinnacle Peak Park
Pinnacle Peak Park is one of the best destinations to visit if you're looking for a hike that offers stunning views without having to worry about long trails. The trail here is short, not even reaching 2 miles each way, so it's perfect for novices and small children. Along the way, you'll find plenty of stunning scenery and viewpoints that let you take in the Arizona backcountry. Additionally, you don't have to worry about any wildlife, as animals tend to steer clear of the path given how busy it often is.
21. Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park
When you visit Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park, your family can enjoy a diverse array of exotic animals. The safari park is especially appealing as it offers a tram that takes guests past monkeys, cheetahs, ostriches, and more. You'll even see lions, wildebeests, and antelopes. The reptile exhibit is fascinating, as it's home to a crocodile and a massive 20-foot python. Don't forget to check out the baby nursery as well to see small baby animals that are adorable despite the fact that many will grow up to be ferocious.
22. Dolphinaris Arizona
At Dolphinaris Arizona, you'll swim with dolphins without having to travel to the coast. Right in Scottsdale, kids can get up close and personal with charming marine life and can pet, touch, and hug dolphins. An enclosed seawater pool is also available to swim alongside them. Just remember that kids need to be at least 3 years old to participate, and kids younger than 7 have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian in all the activities. Aspiring dolphin trainers can even enjoy classes to learn how it works behind the scenes.
23. Penske Racing Museum
The Penske Racing Museum offers a collection of memorabilia and exhibits of one of the most successful and long-lasting racing dynasties in history. You and your family can explore that rich history with several cars including a replica of the 1963 Pontiac Catalina that won the Riverside 250 that same year. That's just the beginning, however, as you'll find all sorts of vehicles that have won major races. Many trophies are on display as well. When you visit, you'll also find a gift shop and a café, so you can spend plenty of time here without worrying about getting hungry, and you can take home some souvenirs.
24. Western Spirit
Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West is a fascinating attraction that shows off the rich history of Arizona and the American West in general. You and your family will be able to see impressive artworks as well as reenactments of iconic events. Films and concerts are also presented here, and everything has a distinctly Western theme. Kids who love Westerns will certainly find fun, but even if they don't, it's a good place to introduce them to this fascinating time in history that still influences Scottsdale and the larger area to this day.