On a recent family trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, we explored the best the city has to offer for all ages. I returned from the trip and was reminded just how great of a getaway this southwest destination is. For us, it felt elevated and relaxed, had the right amount of adventure, and was the perfect opportunity to wind down.
For my second time in Scottsdale, I explored it from an entirely new lens. This time with a toddler in tow. It’s not an easy feat to travel with a little and if you have, you may know that choosing the right place to go can be tricky. When planning our family trips, it’s important that there is a balance of things to do for everyone. What we got up to in Scottsdale was exactly that — we found ourselves enjoying several activities together and actually relaxing.
The foundation of our trip here was downtime spent at lovely hotels with epic views. Both hotels we stayed at offered an opportunity to reset, something I very much was looking forward to starting the year with. Then afternoons and evenings were spent exploring Scottsdale. Gems like architecture, art, design, and culture were the heart of our experiences. The trip was the perfect blend of vacation meets travel. Time at the pool met time in an interactive museum. Dining out in lively restaurants was balanced with slow meals at the hotel. It’s what I crave these days when traveling with my family.
After spending four nights in this beloved getaway set in the Sonoran Desert, I’m sharing my curated family travel guide to Scottsdale, Arizona. Check it out below.
*This trip is in partnership with Experience Scottsdale as always, all opinions are own.
**This post contains affiliates which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you choose to make a purchase. As always, all things recommended are my own opinion and your support is always appreciated.
Family Travel Guide to Scottsdale, Arizona
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Scottsdale, Arizona
When is the best time to visit Scottsdale?
Scottsdale has a distinct break in seasons for the year. For those looking for cooler months but still warm enough to be outside, November through March are the best months. The months of April-May are mild in heat but are warm. Come summer, June through September, the temperatures are high but this is one of the most affordable times of year to travel to Scottsdale. If you’re looking for luxury for less, you’ll want to look into these months when you can enjoy the pool, dining, and early rounds of golf.
How many days in Scottsdale?
My preference for any getaway in the US in a new destination is a minimum of three nights. I find that it gives you ample time to settle in. My suggestion for Scottsdale is to spend three to five nights here to enjoy all that the city and surrounding area have to offer.
Do I need a rental car in Scottsdale?
I highly recommend having a rental car in Scottsdale for easy access to get around if you plan to explore. That said, if choosing a central hotel, you could utilize Uber and taxis to get around. I like to utilize Kayak.com to search for the best rates.
What is the best way to get to Scottsdale?
The closest airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport which is around 15 or so minutes from downtown Scottsdale.
Flying with a toddler? Check out this post on how to survive
Where to Stay in Scottsdale, Arizona
Set on 23 acres and only 5 minutes from Old Town Scottsdale is the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows. This is a lovely stay for a family as the bungalows and suites are spacious and laid out across the property. They had everything we needed and the pack-and-play was set up in the room for us on arrival. We spent two nights here to kick off our time in Scottsdale and enjoyed getting to explore the property’s amenities.
One day I spent the afternoon at Palo Verde Spa for a massage, we dined several times at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen, and our daughter loved running around the resort. There are hammocks, fire pits, and the main pool (there is also an adult pool if you want some quiet time!).
For those looking to be really close to downtown, this is a great option as it’s a quick drive to things like the museums, restaurants, and Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. The stay here felt like a boutique hotel with a focus on art and lovely landscapes. Peruse the best rates at the Andaz Scottsdale.
For those looking for a resort experience, look no further than JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. This is known as Bill Marriott’s favorite property in the portfolio and it’s easy to see why. It’s laidback, yet elevated, and boasts the most incredible views of Camelback Mountain.
The rooms are spread out across the property, centered around the main pool. The casita-style rooms received a recent renovation so each is refreshed and equipped for families. We enjoyed the spacious property, the onsite playground, and dining at Lincoln Steakhouse and Rita’s Cantina & Bar. Next time, I’ll be sure to visit The Spa!
At the top of the property, you can even access the hiking trails that explore Mummy Mountain. And for those who would like to golf, there are 36 holes of championship golf. Find the best rates here.
Where to Eat in Scottsdale, Arizona
This was one of the liveliest and yummiest meals we had in Scottsdale. It’s formal yet laidback, their Latin food here was phenomenal. We really enjoyed the tableside guacamole, the steak tacos, and their tostadas. And don’t forget to order a margarita! I would recommend booking a reservation here as it was very busy even mid-week.
On property at the Camelback Inn, this was a meal that took us by surprise. A more formal steakhouse and bar, the food at Lincoln is elevated and unique. Start with popovers, order the lobster claws done escargot-style, and end with one of their prime cuts of dry-aged beef.
If you’re in the mood for Napoletana-style pizza, please look no further. Chef Gio is a certified pizzaiolo by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. A.K.A., his pizza will transport you to Naples, Italy. The back patio is super charming, and be sure to order the meatballs to start.
Every dish was loved here, from the truffle pasta to the whole branzino. It’s a lively setting, upscale, and makes for a great date night out. I’d order any of the fresh pasta, and I was a fan of the house Caesar salad.
Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen
Right by the pool at the Andaz Scottsdale is their eclectic, art-focused restaurant called Weft & Warp. We dined here three times, and I can tell you that the whole menu is wonderful. They serve brunch until 1:30 pm. I loved their chilaquiles and the house burger was a favorite.
Rita’s Cantina & Bar
A fun and upbeat eatery at Camelback Inn is Rita’s Cantina. Come in for a casual lunch, a great dinner, or even go in for breakfast. I really loved their breakfast buffet, if you’re staying on the property.
Right in Old Town Scottsdale is Original Chopshop. Their food is healthy, with a variety of wraps, salads, and acai bowls. It’s a quick bite but so good.
Hash Kitchen Gainey Ranch
Okay if you’re looking for the party of the town for brunch, look no further. From skillets and cannoli donuts to cereal shooters and a huge build-your-own Bloody Mary bar (the only of its kind in Arizona), Hash Kitchen feels like a party of its own. The food is tasty and has large portions (you could easily share a skillet!), and it’s really fun for the whole family.
The Best Things to Do in Scottsdale (that are fun for the whole family!)
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)
A highlight of our time in Scottsdale was spent visiting SMoCA. They have several exhibits, but arguably our favorite was the Skyspace by James Turrell called Knight Rise. There are only so many open around the world to the public. So this opportunity to walk into the open-air space with a portal to the sky has such a special feeling to it. While our toddler ran around in wonder, we enjoyed getting to soak in this architectural masterpiece. Win-win!
Old Town Scottsdale
There is a lot to pop in and out of in this part of Scottsdale. It is the best part of Scottsdale to go for a walk with your kids and a stroller since it’s so walkable. Many of the restaurants listed above are in this area (all very kid-friendly), so you could plan to stroll and eat. I’d recommend spending time in the shops on 5th Avenue (pop by Cartel for coffee) and then making your way south toward the historic district for a bit of that “Old West” feeling. My favorite store to peruse in Old Town was Bischoff’s at the Park. The store had a lovely selection of Native American pottery and art.
For a fun experience for the whole family, prebook tickets to Wonderspaces. This interactive contemporary art gallery is designed for your senses. We felt super comfortable with our toddler who was quite boisterous as she interacted with several of the spaces. I don’t want to ruin too many of the surprises, but let’s just say we had some good laughs ourselves. You can even stop by the bar first and browse the pieces with a cocktail in-hand!
Spa Day at Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary
For a parent who is looking for some R&R, book a treatment at Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary at the Andaz. I went in for a classic massage, and just felt so refreshed afterward. I took full advantage of the steam rooms and private jacuzzi in the back — such a treat!
Kayak the Lower Salt River with REI Co-op Experiences
This was such a blast, I went solo on this one (toddler is a tad too young). It was a guided tour put on by REI Co-op Experiences and their local Adventure Center team. We kayaked for around 1.5 hours down the Lower Salt River, it was super lowkey and no experience was needed. Everything was taken care of by the team, they had snacks, water, and kayaks ready to go. We kayaked down the river with epic views of the Sonoran Desert and even could see the Four Peaks mountain range. On our trip, we even saw wild horses cross the river and a bald eagle. It’s very close to Scottsdale, I’d recommend booking this experience for those wanting to be out in nature. *Call ahead to see which ages may be best appropriate
For me, this is an absolute must-do when in Scottsdale. A chance to walk Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West feels otherworldly. It is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is set right in the foothills of Scottsdale. It was a winter home for him and where he led his architecture lab. They now offer a self-guided audio tour which I would recommend booking in advance for ticketed times.
Hiking in Scottsdale
It can’t go unnoticed that Scottsdale is one of the best places to go hiking. There are many spots to choose from, but a favorite for me is always the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, with over 225 miles of trails. If you’re looking for more trails to explore, check out these 7 trails.
Golf in Scottsdale
Known as the “World’s Finest Golf Destination”, for those who want to get out on the course, this is the place to do it. There are over 50 to choose from, many resorts have their own as well. Here is an expert overview of golf courses in Scottsdale.