Top 10 Things to do with Kids

By local contributor
JoAnne Zeterberg

If your Scottsdale vacation is a family affair, get ready to create some wonderful new memories with these kid-tested (and parent-approved) activities that are great fun for the whole family.


Sonoran Desert Adventures

Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert is a scenic natural playground that’s just waiting to be explored. Jeep tours, guided hikes, horseback rides and river floats are just some of ways you can experience the desert. Tip: The Bajada Nature Trail at the Gateway to Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve is stroller-friendly and ideal for families with small children.


Musical Instrument Museum

At MIM, families will discover unique instruments and music from around the world. High-tech headphones and multi-media displays immerse you in global musical traditions, while the hands-on Experience Gallery lets kids of all ages try their hand at instruments like guitars, gongs and gamelans.


Desert Botanical Garden

The desert comes alive along the Garden’s themed trails. Special classes and seasonal events geared toward families cover topics such as hummingbirds, the art of nature, summer Flashlight Tours and astronomy.


Phoenix Zoo

Feed a giraffe. Touch a stingray. Ride a camel. It’s all in a day’s play at the Phoenix Zoo! Whatever you do, don’t miss Monkey Village, the nation’s only walk-through squirrel monkey exhibit.


Odysea Aquarium

The Southwest’s largest aquarium takes you on a one-of-a-kind voyage through the rivers and oceans of the world. You’ll see thousands of sea creatures, including sharks, penguins, sea turtles and exotic fish. This state-of-the-art aquarium includes a 3D movie, SeaTrek™ underwater ocean walking, and interactive experiences for the whole family!


MacDonald’s Ranch

Saddle-up and explore the Sonoran Desert like the cowboys did! MacDonald’s Ranch offers horseback and stagecoach rides, as well as a petting zoo and free pony rides for cowpokes under 5 years old.


Sugar Bowl

This 1950s-style soda fountain has been serving up classic American fare and ice cream treats for more than 50 years. Try the Dusty Road Sundae or gosh-Awful-Gooey Banana Split.


McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Kids of all ages will enjoy riding the Paradise and Pacific Railroad along its one-mile track. The park also offers carousel rides, playgrounds and model railroad exhibits.



Spend your day with the kids at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). With the most compelling art and design displayed from around the world, the creative kids will enjoy experiencing and learning about these eye-catching exhibitions.


Butterfly Wonderland

Thousands of colorful butterflies fly free in a lush rainforest atrium at Butterfly Wonderland. The largest butterfly pavilion in America will captivate you with the 3D movie “Flight of the Monarchs,” as well as the Emergence Gallery, honeybee hives, a stingray touch tank and other live-nature exhibits.


All this exploring is bound to work up an appetite – don’t miss these great places to eat with kids!