Whether you live here or are planning a trip to Scottsdale, be prepared to make unforgettable memories with these activities that have been tested by kids and approved by parents. These engaging activities are suitable for all ages.
Experience the Sonoran Desert
Discover the breathtaking natural beauty of Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert, a vast playground for outdoor enthusiasts. From thrilling Jeep tours and guided hikes to peaceful horseback rides and scenic kayaking trips, there are endless ways to immerse yourself in the desert landscape. For a gentle introduction to the Sonoran Desert, take a stroll along the Bajada Nature Trail at the Gateway Trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Along the trail, interactive displays provide an educational experience for young adventurers, showcasing the diverse plant and animal life of the desert. This trail is also suitable for strollers, making it a great option for families with young children.
Museum of Musical Instruments
The Musical Instrument Museum, a renowned destination for families in Scottsdale, features a diverse collection of instruments and music from various cultures. Through advanced headphones and interactive displays, visitors are fully immersed in the rich musical heritage of different regions. Additionally, the interactive Experience Gallery allows individuals of all ages to experiment with instruments such as guitars, gongs, and gamelans. Be sure to visit the Collier STEM Gallery, which delves into the scientific principles behind popular instruments and the human perception of sound.
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden offers five themed trails that showcase the vibrant life of the desert. These trails cover various topics such as the relationship between plants and people in the Sonoran Desert, desert wildflowers, and desert living. Every spring and fall, the Butterfly Pavilion at the Garden hosts over 2,000 butterflies, which are indigenous to the Southwestern region of the United States, for visitors to interact with. Additionally, the Garden also hosts family-friendly events and activities throughout the year. Keep an eye on the Desert Botanical Garden’s website for the latest updates!
Experience a unique journey through the rivers and oceans of the world at the biggest aquarium in the Southwest. Witness a vast array of marine animals, such as sharks, penguins, sea turtles, and rare fish. This modern facility offers interactive touch pools, the innovative SeaTrek™ underwater ocean walking, and the OdySea Voyager, a one-of-a-kind interactive adventure in the world’s only rotating aquarium.
Gather your group, my friends! It’s time to discover the Sonoran Desert in the same way as the cowboys did – by riding on the back of a reliable horse! MacDonald’s Ranch presents horseback riding opportunities suitable for both beginners and experienced riders. In addition, visitors to the ranch can partake in stagecoach rides, a petting zoo, yard games, and pony rides for children aged 10 and below. For the ultimate cowboy experience, don’t miss out on the Ranch’s seasonal cookouts, which feature a horseback ride or hayride, followed by a scenic dinner during sunset, a bonfire, and live entertainment.
Sugar Bowl in Scottsdale
A stop at the Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant is a must-do when exploring Old Town Scottsdale. For over six decades, the establishment has been dishing out traditional American dishes and refreshing ice cream delights from its iconic pink building on Scottsdale Road. Indulge in a juicy cheeseburger or a classic PB&J sandwich, and top it off with a delectable dessert like the beloved Tin Roof Sundae. Adorning the walls of the restaurant are original sketches from Bil Keane, the creator of Family Circus.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a top contender when it comes to enjoyable activities for young children in Scottsdale. The little ones will surely enjoy a ride on the 1/12-scale Paradise and Pacific Railroad, which runs along a one-mile track. The park also features playgrounds, picnic spots, model railway exhibits, and a traditional carousel. During the holiday season, the park transforms into a magical display of lights and decorations, making it a must-visit destination for tourists.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Do you have any up-and-coming artists in your household? Come visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and take some time to discover captivating displays of art and design from various parts of the globe. These visually striking and often interactive exhibitions inspire the mind and inspire artistic expression in individuals of all generations. Don’t forget to check out James Turrell’s “Kight Rise” skyspace installation at SMoCA for a one-of-a-kind perspective of the desert sky and its ever-shifting illumination.
Butterfly Wonderland, known as one of the top spots for families to explore, completes our list of enjoyable activities for children. Within the Conservatory, which is the largest of its kind in the country, visitors can witness thousands of vibrant butterflies flying freely in a tropical rainforest setting. The main attractions include a 3D film called “Flight of the Monarchs” and the Emergence Gallery, where newly hatched butterflies can be observed. Additionally, live-nature displays such as honeybee colonies, a hands-on stingray exhibit, and various rainforest reptiles can also be found.