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Things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona

Updated: May 1, 2022

Scottsdale, Arizona is the perfect vacation spot for couples, babymoons, families, girl's or boy's trips and everything in between. From the vast amount of resorts to the beautiful landscapes, there's something to do for everybody.

As a local resident of Scottsdale, Arizona I decided to put together a list of my favorite things to do here in Scottsdale and the surrounding areas for all of my visiting clients and anyone else who may need it.


If you are visiting in the summertime be sure to pack loads of sunscreen and light clothing. It gets pretty hot here (Don't worry, It's a dry heat 😉)

If you are visiting in the winter, pack some warm clothing such as sweaters. Even though it's the desert, It can get pretty cold here.

Where to stay:

There are so many amazing resorts in Scottsdale! Here is a list of some of my favorites and reasons why they are my favorites.

  1. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess- This resort is absolutely stunning! There are six pools and one of them even has a beach area with sand leading to the pool and another has a waterslide with zero-entry waters. The poolside service is incredible and you can spend your days ordering food and drinks while lounging. There is also a kids club and a family recreation center. Of course there is a golf course as well.

  2. The Phoenician- This is the ultimate resort. It is huge and there is so much to do. There's a large golf course, waterslides, tree house, kids club, spas, kid's zone splash pads, athletics club,

  3. Great Wolf Lodge- This is the most family friendly resort I have ever been to. There is a huge indoor water park, restaurants, ice cream shops, rock climbing, bowling, mini golf, arcade, build-a-bear, themed rooms, and so much more all in the resort.

  4. Hotel Valley Ho- This hotel is very trendy. It's perfect for couples or an adult's trip. It features a spa, a really cool bar and restaurant with really fun drinks, and it's located close enough to old town to walk or take a trolley. Hotel Valley Ho plays music with a live DJ sometimes on weekends and hosts a lot of pool parties.

Where to eat:

I am a fast food junkie myself, but when I do eat out here are my favorite spots

  1. Daily Dose Old Town- This is a great place to brunch. With a trendy setting, indoor/outdoor seating, and yummy food how could you go wrong?

  2. Grimaldi's Pizza - The pizza is amazing and the kids get a little ball of dough to play with while you wait for your food. If the wait time is long consider checking out the Old Town Candy and Toys shop for some cool unique gifts and toys (if you are eating at the Grimaldi’s in old town).

  3. Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers- The best cheeseburgers I have had in a long time plus they have a dog friendly patio!

  4. Sugar Bowl- You can't miss this pink 50's style diner. The ice cream is great, but the vibe is even better. They have been open since 1958 and you will step back in time when entering the doors. Fun fact: Bil Keane, The creator of the Family Circus comics would sit at the sugar bowl and get inspiration by watching the families there.

  5. Soda Jerk Milkshake Bar- I had to add one more because this is my absolute favorite place. The milkshakes are huge and so extra with full cookies or brownies or candies on top. You absolutely have to visit this place for a treat. In winter they also have hot chocolate that is so good and also has full size cookies and other topping.

What to do with kids:

When the kids get bored of playing in the pool, these are some really fun things for them to do.

  1. The Phoenix Zoo- The Phoenix Zoo is huge and of course so family friendly. there are splash pads, jungle gyms, carousels, food, gift shop, and so many cute animals.

  2. Desert Botanical Garden- If you enjoy plants and florals and want to see what Arizona has to offer without possibly running into some scary creatures, this is a great spot. There's also a kid's area with tons of great imagination play items.

  3. McCormick Stillman Railroad Park- The place is perfect for a sweet little family outing. It has a model train museum, a train to ride on, a playground, a carousels, and a little ice cream shop. Remember how I mentioned Bil Keane, The creator of the Family Circus comics before? Well this was also one of his favorite spots to visit and people watch for inspiration.

  4. The Arizona Boardwalk- It's not a boardwalk on a beach like you may be used to, but it's an outdoor courtyard surrounded with fun places to visit. These places include Butterfly Wonderland (go indoors and watch butterflies flutter around and land on your kiddos), OdySea Aquarium ( enjoy some cool time indoors while exploring the ocean floor), restaurants, ice cream shops, Dinosaur exhibits, and so much more.

  5. Phoenix Children's Museum- This is the ultimate kid's play center with huge towers to climb, imagination stations, and interactive play areas.

Museums/ Old West:

Scottsdale is so deeply involved in it's culture and art.

  1. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art- Scottsdale is HUGE on art. This museum is just one of many showcasing beautiful contemporary art. It has some amazing architecture and interactive exhibits.

  2. Western Spirit: Scottsdale's museum of the west- A museum that celebrates Arizona's western history.

  3. HEARD Museum- This museum showcases the history and art of the native American cultures.

  4. Goldfield Ghost Town OR Tombstone- If you love westerns or history then these places are great to visit. Go to the saloons for some cold sarsaparilla, watch a gun show, and mine for gold.

Hiking/Outdoor Activities:

Arizona is huge in it's hiking culture. It's basically a lifestyle here.

  1. Hole in the rock- This is a short hiking trail near the Phoenix Zoo. It's just as the title says, a hole in some gorgeous red rocks. This is perfect for a sunset hike as the sunset radiates through the hole in the rock. (It’s also a great location for photos)

  2. Camelback Mountain: This is one of the most popular hiking spots.

  3. Salt River- There is tubing during the spring and summer time or you can just explore the river during the fall and winter. (Another great location for photos in some water with unique mountains in the background)

  4. Saguaro Lake Ranch Stables- These stables are perfect for a fun horseback ride through the salt river and surrounding area.

  5. Cathedral Rock- If you are looking for a great hiking spot with epic views this is the place. It is located in Sedona, Arizona and a bit of a drive from Scottsdale. There is a moderate hike up to the plateau for beginner hikers or hikers with kids. There is also a bit more advanced of a hike that goes all the way to the top of the mountain. It's a pretty steep hike with a bit of vertical climbing involved, but so worth it. (This is such a gorgeous location for photos as well, I definitely don’t mind traveling there for a photoshoot depending on the day)


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