Fun Things to do in Scottsdale, AZ

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Lake Pleasant

One of the best parts about living in the Scottsdale area is exploring all the different things to do.  The cooler months bring more tourists and snow birds, but for those who call Scottsdale home it also means getting out and enjoying all the city has to offer.  There is something for everyone; if you like to shop, check out cultural spots, try out new restaurants and brew pubs, or explore the great outdoors on bike, hike or the water, you will find it in and around Scottsdale.  

One of our family’s favorite places to visit is Old Town Scottsdale.  There is a Historic Old Town where you can find t-shirts and vacation souvenirs, great restaurants, and museums.  A 5-10 minute walk will have you in the Fifth Avenue Shopping District, with more restaurants, one of a kind shops and the canal which is a great place to walk and bike along.  There are also events along the canal during the cooler months.  Across the canal is one of the biggest shopping malls in the area, Fashion Square Mall, where you will find high end retail stores like Louis Vuitton along with all the other stores you would typically find in a mall.  

If you are into architecture, Scottsdale is also a Mecca for Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts.  There are  tours offered at Taliesin West which can include the residence, studio and some of the grounds.   The Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix  also offers tours, but be sure to call ahead and put your name in because they fill up fast and are only offered 3 times a week.  You can also tour the  Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix and stay for lunch in their fine dining restaurant.  In addition there are several theaters and museums in Phoenix, if you want to see a play, musical or a popular artist on tour it is just a quick internet search.  Scottsdale also boasts several museums which include the Musical Instrument Museum, Scottsdale Museum of the West, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and the Penske Racing Museum.

There are several family friendly places to visit in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area.  Odysea Aquarium has one of the nicest aquariums in the country, that includes a touch pool and an amazing rotating aquarium called the Odysea Voyager.  Attached to the aquarium is the Butterfly Wonderland and a boardwalk.  A short drive away into Phoenix you will find both the Desert Botanical Gardens and Phoenix Zoo; if visiting during the holiday season be sure to get tickets for the Las Noches de las Luminaires or Wildlights for Wildlife.  If you are up for a 45 minute drive West of Scottsdale, you can have a fun filled day at Goldfield Ghost Town where the kiddos can pan for gold, and everyone can take tours of an old mine, and explore historic buildings. 

For hikers and mountain bikers, Scottsdale offers many trails to explore.  Some popular trails can be found at Brown’s Ranch, McDowell Mountain Preserve, Lost Dog Wash and a short drive to Paradise Valley will take you to the famous Camelback Mountain which has one of the most challenging hikes you will find in the area.  Check out some of the trails on the LEE ERNST Group YouTube channel, as Lee Ernst zips around them on his mountain bike:

If you prefer fun on the water, float down the Salt River on innertubes;  try to go on a weekday when it is less crowded,  you will probably see the wild horses hanging out in the water too. If you use the Salt River Tubing Company, be sure to call ahead so that you can find out if the water is deep enough to float down that day.  If you want to rent a boat or do some kayaking or paddle boarding, you can visit several lakes in the area which include:  Lake Pleasant, Saguaro Lake, Bartlett Lake, and Canyon Lake.  Most lakes have an area where you can just hang out and put your feet in the water too.   

This blog just scratches the surface of the things to do in Scottsdale. Whether you are moving to Scottsdale or visiting, you can find something new to do every weekend (or each visit), hopefully this list will expose you to some new places to try out.  In a future blog, we will be back to talk about restaurants and day trips from Scottsdale. Did I mention there is a lot to do?  


Carrie Ernst


Links to some of the places mentioned:

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