Scottsdale is just a four-hour flight from Toronto and under three hours from Vancouver, which is just one reason a million Canadians head to Arizona every year looking for sunshine, red rocks, and some of the best spas and golf courses you can find.
Although Old Town Scottsdale is brimming with restaurants, bars, party buses, and wineries and has a hopping nightlife, it’s a fantastic destination for a family trip with kids of all ages.
Enjoy a family meal on the spacious patio at Olive & Ivy | Image Credit: Delight in the Desert for Experience Scottsdale
Visit in the summer when desert temperatures are shockingly high, and enjoy indoor activities like world-class museums, aquariums, and galleries. You’ll benefit from the big savings available during the summer months. Or plan to visit when it's cooler and sample exhilarating outdoor adventures suitable for kids, including horseback riding, kayaking, ATV rides, and soaring over the desert in a hot-air balloon.
Here are the best family-friendly activities to enjoy in Scottsdale.
Keep-Cool Indoor Activities for Kids in Scottsdale
Playing with penguins at OdySea Aquarium
The Odysea Aquarium is home to thousands of species of aquatic life, including sharks, turtles, exotic fish, and a kid’s cove featuring three interactive areas for little ones to explore.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West at dusk | Image Credit: Andrew Pielage
Older kids and teens with a penchant for design will enjoy wandering around Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, the world-famous architect's winter home. There’s plenty to see outside too, so book an evening tour and escape the daytime heat.
Train ride at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Train enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, where kids can ride on a Paradise and Pacific Railroad, view a massive 10,000-square-foot model railroad building and play in one of two shady parks.
Active Family-Friendly Adventures in Scottsdale
Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch | Laura Doyle
Get on the water with your teens and tweens to kayak on Saguaro Lake or The Lower Salt River with Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. They’ll provide life jackets and kayaks and get you down to the dock and back. Check individual itineraries as the minimum age varies from 10 to 12 years old, depending on your route.
Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch stable manager Kevin Patterson riding toward the Bulldog Cliffs. | Image Credit: FindingOurSomeday.com
After you’ve all cooled off on the water, walk to the stables where you can go horseback riding also with Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. Kids aged seven and older can be a cowboy or cowgirl for the day and enjoy amazing views of the Bulldog Mountains along safe trails. Smaller children from two years old can take a complimentary ten-minute pony ride at the stables.
Sonoran Desert off-road tour with Stellar Adventures | Credit: Jenna McKone for Experience Scottsdale
See the Sonoran Desert at speed on a thrilling ATV tour with Stellar Adventures. Kids aged 12 and over can drive themselves whilst younger children from six and up can be passengers while their parents drive a four-passenger UTV.
Flying over the Sonoran Desert at sunrise with Hot Air Expeditions
If your crew prefers a more peaceful view of the desert, get up early and take a gentle flight with Hot Air Expeditions. Kids must be a minimum of five years old and there is a yummy breakfast to look forward to once you’re back on the ground.
Scottsdale's Best Family-Friendly Accommodations
"Kids for All Seasons" program at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. | Image Credit: Christian Horan Photography
The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is proudly family-friendly and has the Kids For All Seasons program which features a huge range of activities led by camp counsellors, including ping-pong competitions, Lego building, art classes, and supervised nature walks. The resort also provides complimentary family amenities such as cribs, highchairs, diapers, and baby shampoo for your convenience.
Kids relaxing at Sunset Beach at the Fairmont Scottsdale PrincessKids enjoying a photo scavenger hunt at The Phoenician | Experience Scottsdale
Or simply splash around in the kid's pool and combine two fun activities in one, with their dive-in movie sessions. Kids can also watch a movie while they swim at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and The Phoenician as well.
Whichever season you visit, you’ll find plenty to entertain your entire family in Scottsdale.