Things to do in Scottsdale

Things to do in Scottsdale

Scottsdale, Ariz., is renowned worldwide for its resorts, golf courses, and desert foliage. The city is more than a winter getaway for snowbirds. Whether you’re moving to Scottsdale solo or with a family in tow, you will find plenty to occupy your days and nights. Here are some of the city’s best features.

Free attractions in Scottsdale

Not just a golfing destination, Scottsdale has high-caliber amenities that are free on certain days of the week.

Desert Botanical Garden

One of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the Scottsdale area is the Desert Botanical Garden. This garden features over 50,000 desert plants spread throughout a beautiful 140-acre space. Spend hours admiring the huge variety of desert plants on display. Admission is free on the second Tuesday of every month, making it among the top things to do in Scottsdale for families.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Scottsdale is home to a thriving art and culture scene, and the best place to fully appreciate this is the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum hosts a handful of exhibits displaying modern art and sculpture and is the perfect place for families to escape the heat and take in some beautiful works of art from local artists. Admission is free every Thursday and every second Saturday of the month.

Scottsdale Artwalk

Every Thursday evening, head down to the Scottsdale Art District for Artwalk, where galleries stay open late for visitors to admire the works of local artists.

Family-friendly activities in Scottsdale

Bring the kids along for a family fun day at these spots around Scottsdale.

Eldorado Aquatic and Fitness Center

On hot summer days, families want to beat the heat in the shade — even better, in a pool. The Eldorado Aquatic and Fitness Center is a public pool facility with a lap pool and water park-style water slides. This public spot is excellent for families to cool off and have fun in the summer sun.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Scottsdale is full of outdoor spaces that show off local history. The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is an excellent place for families to come and enjoy displays of the region’s railroading history. The park features old train engines, a carousel, miniature train rides, and an expansive indoor model railroad exhibit. This park is a fantastic place for families to enjoy the sunshine together, and when it is hot, the indoor model railroad exhibit is a great place to come and enjoy the shade.


Scottsdale is known for its thriving golf scene, which includes numerous courses and country clubs. For families who love golf and spending time together outdoors, Topgolf is an excellent place to spend an afternoon together. Its driving range setup makes it easy to stay cool and keep track of your kids.

Scottsdale nightlife

While not necessarily renowned for its nightlife, Downtown Scottsdale presents several viable options for would-be revelers. The District is a vibrant space featuring live music, food, and cocktails. The interior design alone can keep you occupied for hours, so craft beer and dancing are a bonus. Just across the way, you can find The Living Room, a sleek nightclub with DJ sets on weekends. On the same block, Hi Fi Kitchen & Cocktails offers a vintage experience with dancing and adult milkshakes.

Shopping in Scottsdale

In Scottsdale, nothing beats the heat like a blast of air conditioning when walking into your favorite retail spaces. Located near the city’s center, Scottsdale Fashion Square features designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Gucci — a great spot for high-end fashion. The city’s Art District thrives with several galleries and studios open for browsing. The Art District forms part of Old Town Scottsdale, a district with the latest word in fashion and accessories.

Outdoor recreation in Scottsdale

With its characteristic dry heat and moderate weather from October through April, Scottsdale is a paradise for hikers, bikers, and all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts.

Brown’s Ranch Trail

On sunny spring days, a great place to get some outdoor recreation is Brown’s Ranch Trail. This hiking trail has scenic views of local plants, including various cacti and desert wildflowers. The trails wind all around Brown’s Mountain, a striking feature in the desert. The gorgeous views of the surrounding area make Brown’s Ranch Trail one of the most iconic things to do in Scottsdale.

Tom’s Thumb Trailhead

Tom's Thumb is another excellent trail for those who can’t get enough of the fantastic hiking in Scottsdale. This area features striking views of densely vegetated hillsides and mountains, with stunning wildflower blooms in the spring. The scenery can’t be beaten on this hike, making it some of the best outdoor recreation in Scottsdale.

Continental Golf Club

Golfers of all skill levels will love Continental Golf Club, a public golf course in the heart of Scottsdale with 18 holes, beautifully kept greens, and stunning views of the surrounding area.

Parks in Scottsdale

Scottsdale locals know they need not commit to a full day’s hike to get into nature.

George Cavalliere Park

For families who want to enjoy parks together, one of the best is George Cavalliere Park, located toward the city's northern end. This park features a large shaded playground (perfect for warm sunny days), grassy fields, and several basketball courts.

McKellips Lake Park

McKellips Lake Park
is one of the best parks close to home for families living on the south end of Scottsdale. This park features walking trails surrounding a beautiful lake — the perfect place to enjoy a sunset walk.

Eldorado Park

You might not expect lush green parks in the middle of the desert, but that's Eldorado Park, where you will feel like you’ve discovered a desert oasis. The park and its many trees surround a beautiful lake, offering perfect spots to sit and witness local wildlife. The park also offers sports fields and complexes for locals looking to stay active with things to do in Scottsdale.

Hire a great Real Estate Agent

Now that you know some things to do in Scottsdale, you’re that much closer to a fulfilling life in this sunny city. Ready to test the market for a luxury desert home? Let Michael Osborn of M.O.R.E Homes put his expertise to work for you.

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash

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