Find Scottsdale Family Fun
Family-Friendly Suites and On-site Features at Orange Tree Resort
Trendy Scottsdale is just a stone's throw away from all the fun family activities offered in Scottsdale, but with so much more to offer out your front door!
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15 Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona
- Get out there and play in the Arizona sun! In Scottsdale, there's so much to do to make every member of your family happy! Check out our top 15:
- Visit the Grand Canyon
- Take a picture in front of a Saguaro cactus (who in your group can find one with the most arms?)
- Go soaring
- Tour Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal home, studio and architectural laboratory and school
- Visit Mexico! Scuba dive in the Sea of Cortez
- Take a Bike ride through the Sonoran Desert
- Visit an Arizona mining town
- Catch a wave
- Visit Lowell Observatory—where Pluto was first discovered
- Walk along a 2/3-mile (1km) interpretive trail featuring the archaeological prehistoric Hohokam Indian ruin.
- Take in a Cactus League baseball game
- Go tubing on the Salt River
- See ancient petroglyphs
- Experience the thrill of NASCAR racing
- Visit an ocean in the desert.
Activities in Scottsdale, AZ
Play and stay under the Arizona sun in the hottest destination in the west - Phoenix!
Go NASCAR! Families…start your engines. Since the mid-1960s when it opened drivers like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and the Unsers appreciated the action at Phoenix International Raceway. In 1988 PIR popularity exploded onto the national racing scene when NASCAR’s Cup Series came to the Valley of the Sun. The rest is racing history. This now-legendary west Phoenix racetrack, carved in the foothills of the beautiful Estrella Mountains, has hosted more than 58 IndyCar races, plus the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and USAC—now one of the biggest events in the state of Arizona. It’s not exactly cheap to take the whole family, but “rods” will love the tailgating, people watching, and unique chance to hear the roar of the engines up close and personal. And, kids under 12 are admitted free with a paying adult. 7602 S. Avondale Boulevard, Avondale, AZ 85323. (623) 463-5400.
Experience the quiet wonder of gliding at Turf Soaring School. The thrill of a lifetime is riding world famous “thermals” (up to 5000 feet!) above the gorgeous Sonoran Desert. Take off in a beautiful sailplane near Lake Pleasant; quietly float above gold mines and old wagon trails while enjoying distant views of Black Canyon and New River Mesas and Mt. Humphrey, near Flagstaff. Aerobatic rides are available for true thrill seekers. Experienced pilots using powerful tow planes make this an outing you will remember for years—and you’ll take home your own personal logbook to ensure it. 8700 W. Carefree Highway, Peoria, AZ (602) 439-362. Open Wed-Sun, 9am-5pm.
Think of tubing down a refreshing river when it’s hot out. Ahhh…you can see why the Salt River is favorite escape for locals. While The Valley of the Sun is not known for its rivers, this one is legendary. Shuttle services out to various river “launch points” are available, or you can drive yourselves. Just rent a tube and hit the river for a lazy, sometimes crazy, afternoon. (It does get crowded!) Tubing season runs from May to September. Several Valley outfitters rent tubes. July and August and weekend are busiest. Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen, a hat, water—and a rope to attach a cooler to a tube if you want snacks and drinks along the way. (480) 984-3305. Usery Pass and Power Road, Mesa, AZ. Salt River Recreation offers shuttle-bus service to and from your starting point and rents tubes for $13 (cash only) for the day.
Take a spin through the Sonoran Desert on a bike! Bring your own, rent one at the resort or take a tour from a biking outfitter like Desert Biking Adventures—providing guided desert mountain and cross-country biking tours in/of the Southwest since 1992. Customize the tour from easy to challenging to fit your family’s requirements. There’s arguably no better way to see the desert glories than from the seat of a bicycle. The tours follow established mountain trails and roads and are easy to moderate to navigate. The good news, the trails are such that most of the ride is downhill. (602) 320-4602 or (888) 249-BIKE. 7119 E. Shea Boulevard, #109-297, Scottsdale.
HISTORIC & CULTURAL
Taliesin West was built by Frank Lloyd Wright and his apprentices in the 1930s and was constantly expanded and modified by the architect until his death in 1959. Wright and his apprentices literally created Taliesin West out of the desert by gathering rocks from the desert floor and sand from the washes to keep the design in balance with the surrounding environment. The site, considered one of the Wright's greatest masterpieces, was designed to serve as Wright's personal home, studio and architectural laboratory. Today, visitors can choose from a broad range of tours that showcase Wright's brilliant ability to integrate indoor and outdoor space. As the international headquarters for The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, guests to Taliesin West also enjoy a variety of exhibits and entertainment programs. (602) 860-8810. Open during the winter months. 12621 Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Scottsdale, AZ.
Phoenix’s treasured Heard Museum is considered one of the world’s top museums for the education and interpretation, display and sale of Native American art, jewelry, rugs, pottery, katchinas, and beading. Dwight and Maier Heard started the museum in the 1920’s with their already-legendary personal/ private collection of Native American art. Visitors literally stand in the Heard’s former living room and gaze at beautiful art they had personally collected and protected—some dating back to the 1800’s. In 2006-07 the museum expanded to include multiple galleries, a cafe, auditorium, museum shop and bookstore, education center, courtyards and an amphitheater. Year round programming includes international hoop dancing competitions, music, art fairs and, of course, education and varied exhibits. You must see the stunning 7-foot steel door created by Hopi artist Michael Kabotie; it graces the entrance to the Museum’s Berlin Gallery. (602) 252-8840. Open daily 9:30-5:00pm. 2301 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix.
The nearby Phoenix Art Museum is becoming tastier by the year. The largest art museum in the Southwest, expanded in 2006-07, features world-class exhibitions and a collection mix of over 17,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern & contemporary art. PAM is also known for its Western American art and bedazzling fashion design galleries. Not to be missed are the Thorne Miniature Rooms of historic interiors, shopping in The Museum Store, and lunch in Art Museum Cafe by Arcadia Farms, if you have time. And, take the older kids into the “spacious” Infinity Room. This installation, accessed by the floating staircase, is an “out of this world” experience. The Museum presents a variety of on-going public programs, including film showings, lectures, Family Sundays, gallery talks, and more. Free parking and barrier-free access. (602) 257-1880. Closed Mondays. 1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix.
The Arizona Science Center in downtown’s Copper Square features over 350 hands-on exhibits, a 206-seat planetarium with a 60-foot dome, and a giant screen theater with an Iwerks projection system. Science related demonstrations are conducted daily, providing fun and interactive experiences (call for schedule) like Blood Lab, Optics of the Eye, and Stomach This! —a digestive system demo. And, if this makes you hungry there’s a great café in the Science Center plus a fascinating gift shop on site, complete with unique toys and take-homes—related to science, of course. (602) 716-2000. 600 E. Washington Street.
As a bonus, the Center is located on Historic Heritage and Science Square, a striking remnant of Phoenix’s Victorian past. This unique area encompasses the only remaining group of residential structures from the original town site of Phoenix. And, why not plan to enjoy the Science Center and then take in a downtown sporting event? In season the Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field Ballpark (the only sports facility in the world featuring a retractable roof, air conditioning, and a natural turf playing field! - US Airways Center (201 E. Jefferson Street. 602/379-7878), also nearby, is home to the NBA's Phoenix Suns, AFL's Arizona Rattlers, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and hosts concerts and other family entertainment options. Check out the schedule when you’re in town. (Note: construction of the Phoenix light rail system will disrupt traffic downtown and elsewhere through 2008.
At Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park you can experience a prehistoric Hohokam Indian ruin. Walk along a 2/3-mile (1km) interpretive trail featuring the archaeological site and then visit the Hohokam Houses exhibit with reconstructed homes. Inside the Land and the People exhibit tells the story of the ancient Hohokam. The changing gallery showcases exhibits on topics such as archaeology, southwestern cultures, and contemporary American Indian arts. Let your children discover the excitement of archaeology in the hands-on exhibit Explore Archaeology. Exciting workshops, tours and events are available year round. The Museum Store features authentic Indian arts, books on the Southwest, and other unique items. (877) 706-4408 / (602) 495-0901. 4619 E. Washington Street, Phoenix.
The mission of the Deer Valley Rock Art Center is to preserve and provide public access to the Hedgpeth Hills petroglyphs site; it includes a museum, nature and interpretive trails and rock sites with 1,571 petroglyphs on 570 boulders. Petroglyphs are designs made by carving or scratching away the dark layer of rock varnish on a rock's surface to expose the lighter rock underneath. The Center, part of Arizona State University on-going research efforts, works to further the understanding, preservation and interpretation of rock art—from this specific area and around the world. Rock art may have been created for a variety of reasons: magic, ritual, place markers, shamanism, vision quest, symbols or important events. It is integral to the history, rituals and belief systems of the people who made it. To see so many examples of rock art in one place is truly a chance of a lifetime. (623) 582-8007. 3711 W. Deer Valley Road, Phoenix.
Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arizona's and the Southwest’s largest mall, is known for its high-end tenants, rivaling beautiful Biltmore Fashion Park (located six miles to the west). Scottsdale is a shopper’s paradise and at Fashion Square you’ll find great people watching plus Coach, St. John, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Dana Buchman, Kenneth Cole New York, Max Mara, Max Studio, and TUMI. Neiman Marcus even opened one of its exclusive Horchow Collection Show Rooms at the mall and Barneys New York is slated to open in 2009. To keep your family entertained for several hours or more, there are also plenty of restaurants, a food court and two movie theatres on site. Located at the corner of Scottsdale Rd. and Camelback Rd., the entire mall district (to the south) is being transformed into a larger, mixed-use “waterfront development” that includes condos, the “Old Town” shops, restaurants, night clubs and some of the Southwest’s best art galleries. (602) 990-7800. 7014-590 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, AZ) Take time to stroll the unique and beloved Old Town Scottsdale streets and the renowned 5th Avenue shops that “mix it up” with many unique family-owned shops, fine art galleries and businesses featuring gifts, souvenirs, Native American handcrafts, home furnishings, galleries, cafes and theatres. (602) 945-0962.
Old Town Tempe, Arizona Mills and IKEA are just a few of the shopping spots that will tickle you and your pocket book during your Phoenix visit. Downtown Tempe’s Mill Avenue District delivers as a “college town” shopping and dining district with its funky stores filled with gifts, jewelry, souvenirs, vintage clothing and footwear and specialty books. There’s also Valley Art Cinema on Main Street showing first run art film—or plenty of bars and restaurants to visit depending on your timing (and interest in hanging out with a predominately college-aged crowd).
Many gourmets consider Phoenix a culinary destination of note; there are hundreds of great restaurants located throughout the Valley of the Sun, from 4-star to fanciful, from indigenous to international options, and in all price ranges!
Surfs up in Tempe! No kidding. Big Surf jam-packs over 15 slides into its 20-acre facility and thrills kids of all ages with its two-million gallon wave pool, Waikiki Beach—which claims to be the first one in America. Hurricane Falls (with its legendary Black Hole!) features three thrilling body slides; the Avalanche, Cyclone, and Tsunami Slides are exciting tube rides. And then there’s the Abyss and Kilauea Cove (gulp) where only the brave venture. Little ones can play at Captain Cook’s Landing in the wading pool; older kids and adults have fun playing water basketball and volleyball at Mauna Loa Bay. And everyone loves the robust snack bar. Honestly, you have to see this place to believe it. For big families, it can be a little pricey— but for a day’s worth of water, sun and fun, it can’t be beat. Remember: pack the sunscreen! From I-10 E exit 147A-B and merge onto AZ 202 Loop E. (8 miles) Take Exit 8 for McClintock Drive; turn left at McClintock. (480) 947-7873. 1500 N McClintock Drive, Tempe. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day, 10-6pm. Hint: buy tickets on line in advance to avoid long lines. Look for discount coupons at Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, and Taco Bell.
Visitors from outside the area, especially gardeners and plant lovers, won’t want to miss a stroll through the remarkable cacti and succulent display of Phoenix’s renowned Desert Botanical Garden. One of only 44 botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums, this 145-acre garden allows guests the chance to see over 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species, plus experience 20,000 plants representing 4,000 species in a unique desert-habitat environment laced by easy to navigate paths. Enjoy the delightful outdoor patio café while soaking up the sunshine, then shop in the fanciful Garden Shop for a special desert memento. (480) 941-1225. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. Open daily, except major holidays, seasonal hours. In summer, evening visits are more comfortable; strollers, scooters, wheelchairs and umbrellas are available to rent.
The family may want to pop “next door” to the Gardens for a outing at the spacious Phoenix Zoo—voted one of the best Zoo’s in the country for kids. Over the Thanksgiving to New Year holiday season visitors are treated to Zoo Lights, a fantastical display of motion and light aglow throughout the entire complex—one of the largest holiday light shows in the Southwest featuring 2.5 million lights. The Zoo also features a unique Sanctuary for animals “in need” because of threats from extinction, disease, behavioral problems, etc. (602) 273-1341. 455 North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix) Both the Gardens and the Zoo are located in Papago Park—Phoenix’s version of New York’s Central Park. Make a day of it! Plan to hike, climb and picnic on Papago Park’s nearby red buttes before or after the Garden and Zoo visits.
And if you think Arizona’s Cactus League is a horticulture club, think again. A dozen Major League Baseball teams—the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Anaheim Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Diamondbacks—warm up under Arizona’s gorgeous spring time sun during Cactus League spring training in March and April.
Tempe Diablo Stadium
48th Street & Broadway
Maryvale Sports Complex
3600 N. 51st Avenue
San Francisco Giants
7408 E. Osborn
Chicago White Sox
10710 West Camelback Road, Glendale
1933 S. Ballpark Way Goodyear
Kansas City Royals
15960 N. Bullard Avenue, Surprise
San Diego Padres
Peoria Sports Complex
16101 N. 83rd Avenue
15960 N. Bullard Av., Surprise
1235 N. Center, Mesa
Phoenix Municipal Stadium
5999 E. Van Buren Street
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
7555 N. Pima Road
(888) 490-0383 or (480) 362-WINS
1933 S. Ballpark Way, Goodyear
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
7555 N. Pima Road
10710 West Camelback Road, Glendale
Peoria Sports Complex
16101 N. 83rd Avenue
Even with the great attractions in the Phoenix area, if guests just wanted to kick back and relax at the Orange Tree Golf Resort who could blame them? There’s plenty to do in this lush little piece of paradise that retains the gentrified comforts established when it initially opened as the Century Country Club.
Dad’s prayers are answered. Exceptional golf is a hallmark of the Phoenix area and it doesn’t get any nicer or more convenient than playing on the classic Orange Tree Golf Course. This 18-hole, PGA-rated course boasts 6,762 lush yards of mature, tree-lined tranquil beauty and strategic challenges including over 100 sand traps and six holes with water. Naturally there’s a fully equipped pro shop, full driving range, locker rooms, practice putting greens and two bunkered practice chipping greens. Private lessons are available. Then, retreat to your room for a sumptuous in-room spa massage to round out your perfect “stay in” vacation day. Reservations taken up to 60 days in advance.
Change into your swimsuit and head for the pool where you can kick back, splash around with the kids and read a magazine or that book you’ve been trying to finish. No hurries, no worries. Fix a quick microwave lunch back in your room and then consort the Resort’s activity schedule to see what’s on tap for this afternoon. Or stroll down to the whirlpool for a long soothing soak while you watch the sun set.
Day Trips in Scottsdale, Arizona
- Arizona - The Grand Canyon State
- Canyonlands – Cowboys, Cattle, Copper, Canyons and Critters
- Rocky Point, Mexico