Just east of Phoenix, you can find Scottsdale, a desert city in Arizona that is famous for its spa resorts and golf courses. In Scottsdale, you will find plenty of family fun, especially outdoors. Whenever you want to take a break from exploring the outdoors, there’s a lively dining and shopping scene waiting to be explored.
From sampling the Southwest cuisine or exploring the desert in the Sonoran preserve, here are the 10 best things to do while in Scottsdale, Arizona.
1. OdySea Aquarium
Children and adults alike will love exploring the OdySea Aquarium, one of the newest and most unique aquariums in the United States. It might seem odd to have an aquarium in such close proximity to the Sonoran Desert but don’t let that fool you. Once you step inside, you’re bound to be amazed!
The aquarium spreads over 200,000 square feet (18,580 square meters) with highlights like the Penguin Point, where you can get up close and personal with actual penguins. There’s also the Deep Ocean Escalator that will plunge you deep underwater where you can spot sharks and different fish species.
Address: 9500 East Vía de Ventura A-100, Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Website: OdySea Aquarium
2. Butterfly Wonderland
This is one of Scottsdale’s most impressive and unique facilities - an indoor rain forest that supports a butterfly pavilion, which is the largest in the United States. Get ready to see thousands of butterflies from around the world as you explore the tropical rain forest.
Highlights of Butterfly Wonderworld also include a live ant colony and a honey bee exhibit. Children will definitely love this unique experience, but so will adults!
Address: 9500 East Vía de Ventura, Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Website: Butterfly Wonderland
3. McDowell Sonoran Preserve
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve marks another record for Scottsdale. This is the largest preserve of its kind in the US and definitely a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Here you will find over 200 miles (321 kilometers) of biking, hiking, and horseback riding trails in over 74,000 acres (30,000 hectares) of pristine desert.
Access and parking are free all day long, so take your time relaxing and exploring. Bajada Nature Trail is a must. Don’t forget to stick around for sunset, either, as it looks amazing from here.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Address: 18333 N Thompson Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Website: McDowell Sonoran Preserve
4. Downtown Scottsdale
Take a walk in Old Town Scottsdale to get a grasp of what the city used to look like in the bygone years. Many of the buildings in the area date back to the 1920s, giving you an idea of how the city looked almost a hundred years ago.
The downtown area is filled with chic boutiques, cafes and souvenir shops, so there will be plenty to explore for all budgets. You can also check out the Scottsdale Historical Museum if you’re tired of shopping and want to learn some of Scottsdale’s history.
Website: Downtown Scottsdale
5. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Right in the heart of Scottsdale, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park has train and carousel rides for all ages. The many green spaces in the park are perfect for a picnic with the family, while the history behind the train and railroad artifacts will fascinate any train lover.
The park is also home to various events around the year, so make sure you check in advance. Even if you don’t catch an event, there will still be plenty to see and explore at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Address: 7301 E Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Website: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
6. Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Hashknife Pony Express Arrival and Celebration; Feb. 10, 2017 at Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West. Photo Courtesy the City of Scottsdale.Posted by Western Spirit Scottsdale's Museum of the West on Tuesday, 14 February 2017
There’s no better place to feel the Western spirit than at the Scottsdale Museum of the West. Incredible artifacts such as John Wayne’s signed business card or blankets that once belonged to Navajo Chiefs will paint a vivid picture of the past - as will the museum’s Western art. The story continues outside, where visitors get to wander through a courtyard with a sculpture garden and an outdoor amphitheater.
Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Address: 3830 N Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Website: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
7. FnB Restaurant
After all the outdoor exploring, you will definitely be hungry and in search of a great place to eat. FnB Restaurant is located in downtown Scottsdale and the first thing that will impress you will be the charming decor and setting.
Once you take a seat and open up the menu, you’ll have plenty of choices. Whether it’s local or globally inspired dishes that interest you, everything here is made from locally-sourced ingredients of the best quality. Previous guests recommend the butterscotch pudding as a must-try for dessert and the halibut or rib-eye as great dinner choices.
Address: 7125 E 5th Ave #31, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Website: FnB Restaurant
8. Penske Racing Museum
Penske Racing Museum is a definite must-see for race car aficionados. With over 9,000 square feet (836 square meters) of amazing race cars, trophies, and memorabilia on display, this two story museum is open to the public and free of charge. Spot the stock car that Rusty Wallace raced to his final victory in 2004 as you enter the museum!
Penske Racing Museum
Address: 7125 E Chauncey Ln, Phoenix, AZ 85054
Facebook: Penske Racing Museum
9. Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
Different from any zoo or animal park you’ve seen before, the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is a wild animal rescue center that teaches children valuable lessons on animal rescue. The animals that make a full recovery after rescue are later set free into the wild, but there are also animals that remain in the shelter on a permanent basis. The staff at the center are always friendly and ready to share a story or two about their work and the animals here.
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
Address: 27026 N 156th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85262
10. Octane Raceway
Octane Raceway is an indoor/outdoor go-karting venue for all ages that features a third-mile (.5 kilometer) track. The track is a lot of fun for all skill levels and will take you through both indoor and outdoor sections.
The entertainment doesn’t stop here, however, as the venue has plenty more to offer, such as a bowling alley, a pit crew challenge, and arcade games. This is definitely the right place for a few fun hours with friends or family.
Address: 9119 E Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Website: Octane Raceway
Explore Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona is one of those cities that has something new to offer around every corner. From desert trails and chic downtown art galleries to a butterfly sanctuary and a fun encounter with penguins at the new OdySea Aquarium, Scottsdale is a city for all ages. So get ready to be amazed!
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