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Things to do in Scottsdale

Itineraries for Your Trip to Scottsdale

Scottsdale locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Scottsdale for Families

Curated by Elisa Parhada travel writer with family, work, and vacation ties to the Grand Canyon State.

Surrounded by a backdrop of beautiful mountains and stately saguaros, Scottsdale is the ultimate desert playground. But it's not just resorts and golf courses that make this area a great escape. Families will find plenty here to make lasting memories.

With more than 330 sunny days a year, the weather is sure to cooperate, allowing you to hit the pool more than once. You'll have almost endless opportunities to explore the mountains and deserts around town, whether by gold panning, hiking, biking, or kayaking. Do like the locals do: Bring plenty of water and plan the most strenuous activities in the morning when it's coolest.

Sunny weather is practically guaranteed in Scottsdale, so a swimsuit is a must.

If you only have time for one thing, make it a nature adventure in the Sonoran desert.


Day 1

Scottsdale packs a lot of potential in its Old Town area, with history, restaurants, shops, and attractions. Kids might love Wonderscapes, an interactive art installation inside Fashion Square. Top off the afternoon at a Scottsdale landmark, Sugar Bowl, for epic ice cream treats.

Enjoy an afternoon on the water in the Salt River, where you can go tubing, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. Keep a look out for wild horses, which are often seen on the shores for a drink. This is a great way to experience the beauty of the Tonto National Forest.

Day 2

Make today one to enjoy the splendor of the desert. Start with exploring the McDowell Sonoran Preserve on foot or bike to see saguaros and keep your eyes out for javelinas, lizards, and bighorn sheep.

For lunch, introduce the kids to Indian fry bread or Indian tacos at a unique Native American restaurant called the Stand. Head north in the afternoon to explore the Bradshaw Mountains to try your hand at gold panning.

Day 3

Scottsdale is surrounded by epic canyons, historic Wild West ghost towns, and railroad adventures. Consider an all-day trip to explore Arizona's desert landscapes and culture with a trip to Tombstone, just south of Tucson. If you took the themed world talents of Disneyland and mixed them with the cosplay artistry of a comic convention you'd get Tombstone. A visit to the town will make memories that every kid will fondly remember.

Alternatively, jump on the train to the Verde Valley or take in the view of the Grand Canyon for a drive on Route 66 and the beauty of the Sonoran desert.

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