Things to do in Scottsdale

Located just east of Phoenix, Arizona, Scottsdale has earned itself a reputation as not only a great resort town, but also as one of the best cities in the country to settle down, raise a family or even retire. Known as “The West’s Most Western Town,” Scottsdale covers about 185 square miles in the Sonoran Desert. This desert city offers beautiful scenery, warm temperatures, a variety of neighborhoods with quality communities, and a booming economy.

Scottsdale Attractions

One look around Scottsdale and a person might wonder why there would need to be anything other than the beautiful scenery to attract anyone to the city. Once the eyes start to get weary due to looking from a distance, plan a trip to get to the heart of the desert. Hot air balloon expeditions and jeep tours abound throughout the area to provide up close and personal views. If this gets too close, enjoy a weekend at the Arizona Balloon festival in nearby Chandler. This annual event draws balloon enthusiasts from all over to the Arizona warmth in November.

A spot that cannot be missed is the Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin. At least half a day should be set aside to explore the outstanding premises. Visitors can learn about his design and philosophies while viewing his work first-hand.

For the adventure-minded, turn back the clock and step into the Wild West at the Rawhide 1880s Western Town, Arizona’s largest western theme park. Rides and attractions can be found around every corner and visitors never know when a gunfight might erupt in the middle of town. Shoppers will find more than fifteen stores carrying items like rattler heads for that hard to buy for person. The best part about Western Town – it’s free!

Old Town Scottsdale

Scottsdale boasts the slogan, “West’s Most Western Town”. It still has the old west flavor in spots, but it has grown-up. Full of contemporary amenities which makes it one of America’s favorite vacation destinations. Most people refer to all districts of downtown Scottsdale when they speak of the old town. Even if some of those districts like the Waterfront area is relatively new.

Although many of the buildings that currently house boutiques, bars, and restaurants are of southwestern architecture, the real place to experience the true flavors of its old west roots is to tour the authentic “Old Town” area where wooden sidewalks and rustic traditions are preserved.

Take a self-guided tour of Old Town. It only takes an hour or so unless you patronize some older shops, tours the museum, has a brew, or just pokes along. The tour should begin at the “Little Red School House” which was built in 1909 and now houses the Scottsdale Historical Museum. There are locations that will conjure up visions of the early days of the farming and ranching days. The building that houses the landmark Rusty Spur Saloon was built in 1921.

The map of Old Town is painted right on the sidewalks which makes it convenient to follow the tour at your own pace.

Amusement Parks in Scottsdale

Add a little fun to your stay in Scottsdale. Visit these parks, amusement centers, and theme parks for a day in the sun.


Family-focused attractions at this thrill park include mini-golf, go-karts, volleyball & an arcade.

Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass

Chandler AZRawhide at Wild Horse Pass on the Gila River Indian Community is an authentic replica of an 1880’s town.

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park – Arizona

The heart and soul of Great Wolf Lodge Scottsdale is its gigantic indoor water park. Splashy rides such as Alberta Falls—a four-story double-raft water slide—and a zero-depth-entry wave pool with 3-foot swells surround the park’s iconic hub: a four-story treehouse with a 1,000-gallon tipping bucket. Younger kids will have a blast with the water slides and gentle spray features of Whooping Hollow and Cub Paw Pool.

The water park, which hovers around 84 degrees all year long, isn’t the resort’s only family-friendly activity. You’ll also find an arcade with more than 100 games and mini bowling at Ten Paw Alley.

Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs

If your little one loves dinosaurs, get ready, they’re coming to the Valley. Land of the Dinos is an indoor interactive exhibit and educational center located at OdySea in Scottsdale. Complete with realistic recreations of prehistoric habitats and more than 50 life-like robotic dinosaurs. There are 50 animatronic dinosaurs (roughly 25-30 different species) vividly surrounded by their habitats for you to enjoy – along with additional dinosaur-themed activities.

Phoenix Zoo

Phoenix Zoo has approximately 1,200 animals on exhibit at our Zoo, including our collections of mammals, fish, invertebrates, birds, and reptiles.

Recreations & Leisure

The state of Arizona offers more than 300 golf courses. And, it is no secret that Scottsdale offers some of the best golfing in the country. Aside from the beautiful climate, many of the area courses are located in the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt. Considered an engineering wonder of the world, the greenbelt is one of the country’s most impressive flood-control projects, producing lush parklands. Additionally, these seven and a half-mile area offers lakes, recreational facilities, parks, and an extensive path system for skating, biking, walking, and jogging.

Aside from its neighborhood parks, the city of Scottsdale offers over 40 parks, three community pools, an aquatic center, and 15 community centers. Each option offers nonstop recreation possibilities all year long. From intensive physical fitness to fishing to social functions, there is very little that Scottsdale cannot offer.

Sports enthusiasts have not been forgotten in this great city. A popular Scottsdale tournament is the Arizona Men’s Tennis Classic. Professional male tennis players compete for head-on while the locals choose their favorites. A short drive into Phoenix can result in one of any number of professional sporting events including an Arizona Cardinals football game or a Phoenix Suns basketball game.

Arts in Scottsdale AZ

With over 125 at last count, Scottsdale has more art galleries per capita than any other city in the US. This means there is a little bit for every taste. For a sampling of the works of some of the southwest’s most exceptional artists, save Thursday evenings for the Scottsdale ArtWalk. For more than 20 years, downtown galleries have opened their doors to the public. Additional gallery opportunities are offered through the Summer Spectacular ArtWalk in July and the Western ArtWalk in December.

Fine arts are celebrated in Scottsdale every year with the arrival of the Celebration of Fine Arts Exhibit in the winter. This festival draws more than 100 artists and an estimated 50,000 buyers, making it one of the biggest art markets in the West. Shortly after its end in March, the Summer Concert Series at el Pedregal Festival Marketplace runs from mid-April through mid-September. These are just two of the 25 art and music festivals happening throughout the year.

Scottsdale’s art scene is not without its museums. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art takes a more sophisticated approach to its exhibits. An extensive collection of Native American artifacts can be found at the Heard Museum North. The museum’s collection has been internationally recognized for its appreciation of the Native American heritage.

Those looking for enjoyment from the performing arts, Scottsdale is an excellent place to start. The Center for Performing Arts sponsors numerous local venues from live performances to original productions. Those of all ages wishing to study the performing arts can find many outlets and opportunities for the novice to the experienced.

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