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ROAD TRIP: Guide to Scottsdale

guide to scottsdale

Want to get away for a few days without the cost of a plane flight? Consider Scottsdale - an upscale and modern city just two hours north of Tucson.

Resplendent with excellent shopping, fine dining, and beautiful parks, Scottsdale is a delightful urban vacation destination. Though some refer to it as "Snobsdale" due to its reputation as a city of wealth and luxury, it's a city that is well worth a visit. Balmy weather, ample sunshine, and opulent resorts make it a travel paradise - for both locals and visitors from afar.

Below we have updated the best hotels, attractions, restaurants, and activities in Scottsdale. Are you wondering where to stay and what to do on your next trip? This guide will keep you in-the-know. We will edit this page regularly with new finds and fun places. Happy road-tripping!

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SCOTTSDALE

If you are booking accommodations in Scottsdale, you will have no shortage of hotel and resort options. Many of the best luxury resorts in Arizona can be found in or near Scottsdale. We've listed our favorites in alphabetical order below, along with insider tips to make the most of your stay.

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a gorgeous upscale resort in north Scottsdale, conveniently located off of the 101 near Bell Road. Among other amenities, the resort boasts six heated swimming pools, five restaurants, two fitness centers, two golf courses, a spa, three boutiques, and a kid’s club.

The Sonoran Splash Pool is a particular favorite for families since it has a beach-entrance pool, a simple splash pad, and two big waterslides. The Sunset Beach Pool also has big appeal since there is white beach sand to play in. With palm trees swaying and plentiful lounge chairs, you’ll feel like you made a trip to the coast.

OVERVIEW

  • Well & Being Spa
  • Two waterslides
  • Two golf courses
  • One splash pad
  • Beach-entry pool
  • Six pools
  • Catch & release fishing
  • Trailblazers Kids Club (ages 5-12)
  • Trailblazers Family Adventure Center

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Visit Fairmont Princess Scottsdale during a holiday. The Princess is one of the best resorts in Arizona for programming and events. For example, Christmas at the Princess is absolutely magical with 3 million dazzling LED lights and displays, a 6,000 square-foot skating rink, Frosty’s Ferris Wheel, Christmas Carousel, Polar Glide ice slide, a 4-story Christmas tree, and an official meet-and-greet with Santa.
  • Upgrade to Fairmont Gold for a decadent and delightful experience. The Fairmont Gold Lounge will make your trip even more comfortable and stress-free with deluxe complimentary breakfast every morning, complimentary coffee and beverages all day long, complimentary hors d’oeuvres every afternoon, and complimentary desserts in the evening.
  • A courtesy shuttle runs to Scottsdale Quarter and Kierland Commons, 10:00am-4:00pm daily.

FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS AT A GLANCE

  • Address: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale
  • Part of Scottsdale: North Scottsdale (but still south of the 101)
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 11:00am
  • Parking: Self-parking is $15/night; valet parking is $24/night.
  • Resort Fee: $38 (+ tax) per day. Includes a complimentary morning session to Trailblazers Family Adventure Center for children ages 5-12 for up to three children.
  • Peak Season: 
  • Off-Season:
  • Social Media: Follow Fairmont Scottsdale Princess on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BOOK A ROOM | call 480-585-4848

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

Tucked away in a secluded part of North Scottsdale, Four Seasons offers the ultimate luxury resort experience. Your whole experience at Four Seasons will be perfectly polished from the immaculate guest rooms to the sparkling swimming pools to the excellent on-site dining options. If you are seeking EXTRA for your upcoming getaway, Four Seasons has it. Extra posh. Extra lavish. Extraordinary. 

OVERVIEW

  • Modern + immaculate guest rooms, casitas, and suites
  • Excellent on-property dining options
  • Kids For All Seasons center and programming
  • Two iconic golf courses
  • Three swimming pools (family, toddler, adults-only)
  • The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
  • On-site hiking

GOOD TO KNOW

  • The Kids For All Seasons program is FREE for hotel guests. You can drop off your children (ages 5-12) anytime between 9:00am and 5:00pm for supervised fun. The kids space is one of the best in the resort industry: an arts & crafts area, toddler room, foosball, ping pong, air hockey, chalk wall, lego nook, wii room, xbox room, and movie theatre (with cushy leather armchairs!).
  • If you're willing to pay a little extra, you can snag some pretty sweet in-room features. Examples: private outdoor shower, private plunge pool, patio with flat-screened TV, outdoor fireplace, etc. 
  • Toddlers (4 and under) eat FREE at PROOF, which is a super kid-friendly on-site restaurant. Little ones are served on plastic trays with child-sized utensils and given etch-a-sketch tablets while waiting for the food. 
  • Expecting? Four Seasons Scottsdale offers a Hello Baby package, which includes a maternity pillow for use during your stay, an ice cream sundae, and $100 resort credit.

FOUR SEASONS RESORT SCOTTSDALE AT A GLANCE

  • Address: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, 10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr., Scottsdale
  • Part of Scottsdale: North Scottsdale
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 12:00pm
  • Parking: Self-parking is complimentary; Valet parking is $35/night.
  • Resort Fee: $35/night
  • Peak Season: January to April (rooms start at $679/night)
  • Off-Season: Memorial Day to Labor Day (rooms start at $189/night)
  • Social Media: Follow Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BOOK A ROOM | READ OUR RESORT REPORT | Call 480-515-5700

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch

For family fun or a couples getaway, consider Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch. Conveniently located in Central Scottsdale, the property is posh, but comfortable - with green lawns, relaxing fountains, and serene outdoor spaces. The pools are among the best of any resort in the state with a sandy beach, a 3-story waterslide, waterfalls, and volleyball net - plus adults-only options. If you have little ones, you'll be grateful for the chance to relax since the sandy beach is shallow and offers lots of fun without deeper waters. Also on-site is a playground, biking/running trails, tennis courts, and gondola boats rides (additional fee). 

OVERVIEW

  • 27-acre resort
  • Golf course
  • Spa Avania
  • Sandy beach
  • Tennis courts
  • Hiking shuttle
  • 3-story waterslide
  • Gondola boat rides
  • Rock climbing wall
  • 8 restaurants & bars
  • Camp Hyatt for ages 3-12
  • Giant Chess, Jenna, Connect Four
  • Rooms, suites, and casitas are available
  • 2.5 acre water playground with 10 pools

GOOD TO KNOW

  • For a date night, the Italian gondolas are a very romantic option. Steered by professional Italian singers, you'll be serenaded as you glide serenely around the lake. 7:00pm – 10:30pm, daily. Prices: Adults (ages 13+): $10 per person; Children (ages 12 and under): $5 per person; Private Ride: $60
  • If you can spring for a casita suite, you won't be disappointed. The casitas are indeed mini houses with living areas, kitchenettes, separate bedrooms, rooftop patios, and water right outside your door.

HYATT REGENCY SCOTTSDALE RESORT AT A GLANCE

  • Address: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, 7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale
  • Part of Scottsdale: Central Scottsdale
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 12:00pm
  • Parking: Self-parking is complimentary with the resort fee and when dining at the resort.
  • Resort Fee: $40 (+ tax). Benefits include self-parking, poolside activities, and bicycle rentals.
  • Peak Season: January to April (from $399/night)
  • Off-Season: June to August (from $139/night)
  • Social Media: Follow Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BOOK A ROOM | Call 480-444-1234

JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

JW Desert Ridge is a popular staycation destination due to its lazy river, water slide, and family-friendly atmosphere. Traditional guest rooms are available, as well as luxury suites with more square feet. This resort also has the advantage of being walkable to the Desert Ridge Marketplace (with access to a movie theatre and dozens of shops + restaurants) and being within 10 minutes of the Musical Instrument Museum. While not technically in Scottsdale, this resort is in north Phoenix and super close to Scottsdale attractions.

OVERVIEW

  • 5 pools
  • Lazy river
  • Waterslide
  • Revive Spa
  • Championship golf
  • 7 Restaurants, including a Starbucks

GOOD TO KNOW

  • JW Desert Ridge is walkable to the Desert Ridge Marketplace, a lively outdoor shopping mall with a splash pad and a movie theatre. The marketplace includes In-N-Out, Chipotle, Old Navy, Albertson's, Target, Cold Stone Creamery, and Barnes & Noble, among many other shops and restaurants. Not in the mood to walk? The resort offers a complimentary shuttle to and from the marketplace. 
  • The Family Escape Center at JW Desert Ridge is a small, but fun, space. Mornings are reserved for "kids club," where you can drop off your kids for arts & crafts, movies, and more. Afternoons are open time for families to enjoy the center together. The center features lawn games, ping pong, foosball, video gaming systems, and arts & crafts. You may even be able to munch on a snack!

JW MARRIOTT PHOENIX DESERT RIDGE RESORT AT A GLANCE

  • Address: JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, 5350 E. Marriott Dr., Phoenix
  • Part of Scottsdale: North Phoenix (not technically in Scottsdale, but super close)
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 11:00am
  • Parking: Self-parking is complimentary; Valet parking is $29/day.
  • Resort Fee: $39.40 per night. Includes: fitness center access, sporting facilities or equipment, internet access, phone calls, self parking.
  • Peak Season: 
  • Off-Season: 
  • Social Media: Follow JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort on Facebook.
  • BOOK A ROOM | READ OUR RESORT REPORT | Call 480-293-5000

The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort

Originally opened in October 1988, The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale is a luxury family-friendly resort with beautiful grounds, enticing facilities, and attentive staff members.

OVERVIEW

  • Luxurious & modern guestrooms
  • KidZone - splash pad, treehouse, waterslide
  • Phoenician Spa
  • Adults-only pool
  • Athletic Club
  • 8 Dining options

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Scottsdale Fashion Square is a about 7 minutes away by car - Crate & Barrel, J. Crew, Janie and Jack, Kate Spade, Lululemon, Nordstrom, Sur La Table, Chipotle, Fired Pie, Johnny Rockets, Paradise Bakery & Cafe, Shake Shack, Starbucks, Harkins Theatres.
  • Little ones, 3 years-old and younger, eat free when ordering from the children’s menu with the purchase of an adult entrée at most of the on-site restaurants.

THE PHOENICIAN AT A GLANCE

  • Address: The Phoenician | A Luxury Collection Resort, 6000 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale
  • Part of Scottsdale: South Scottsdale (near Old Town Scottsdale)
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 12:00pm
  • Parking: Self-parking is $20/night; Valet parking is $33/night.
  • Resort Fee: $35/night (includes in-room wireless internet, daily morning yoga, cocktail mixology, one hour of tennis court usage + equipment daily, two hours of daily bicycle rental, 50% off fitness classes, and supervised childcare while dining at resort restaurant)
  • Peak Season: February through April
  • Off-Season: Summer (late May to early September)
  • Social Media: Follow The Phoenician on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BOOK A ROOM | call 480-941-8200

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa

If you’re looking for a luxury resort with plentiful family activities, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa will not disappoint.

OVERVIEW

  • Luxurious & modern guestrooms and casitas
  • Pool with lazy river, waterslide, and beach entry
  • Adults-only lap pool
  • Tennis courts
  • Fitness center

GOOD TO KNOW

  • When you check-in, you can head over to The Mining Co (aka “the department of fun”) to pick up a weekly activity guide and a compass for an on-property scavenger hunt. Kids can walk the property to get stamps on their compass. Every location visited will earn your child a (super cute) pin to attach to their lanyard.
  • Splurge on a casita for added space and the convenience of a kitchen. Casita Village is also right next to the waterslide and lazy river.
  • Note that the waterslide has a 42″ height requirement so small swimmers may not be able to slide.
  • Bring your own reusable water bottles. A single bottle of complimentary water is available in all guest rooms. SPG guests receive two complimentary bottles of water. In addition, water dispensers are available on every guest room floor for guests to use to fill their water bottles or other containers as they wish.
  • If you forgot sunscreen or want to pick up a deli sandwich, Safeway grocery store is less than a mile away.

THE WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT & SPA AT A GLANCE

  • Address: The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, 6902 E. Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale
  • Part of Scottsdale: North Scottsdale (but still south of the 101)
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 11:00am
  • Parking: Self-parking is $16/night; Valet parking is $31/night.
  • Resort Fee: $35/night. Includes: spa access, health club access, sporting facilities, shuttle service, internet access, phone calls, and in-room coffee.
  • Peak Season: mid-January to mid-April and early October to mid-November; average peak rate is $559/night
  • Off-Season: Memorial Day – Labor Day; average off-season rate is $179/night
  • Social Media: Follow The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa on Facebook.
  • BOOK A ROOM | call 480-624-1000

THINGS TO DO IN SCOTTSDALE

There are plentiful attractions in Scottsdale - museums, restaurants, parks, and hiking trails. We've included some of our favorite destinations below.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

One of the best parks in the Phoenix metro area can be found in Scottsdale. The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a 40-acre park, which features a mini train ($3/rider), a glittering carousel ($3/rider), a 10,000 sq ft model railroad building (free!), and several well-designed covered playgrounds with misting features. With free admission, it's a shoe-in stop for your Scottsdale visit with kids. Children two and under ride free on the train and carousel!

  • Address: McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, 7301 E. Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale
  • Part of Scottsdale: South/Central Scottsdale
  • Hours: See the park website for hours.
  • Cost: Admission to the park is free. Attractions are available for an additional fee. 
  • Parking: Free

Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly Wonderland, which opened in 2013, offers beautiful and appealing spaces. Your experience begins with a 15-minute 3D movie about the flight of butterflies. You are then escorted to the 10,000 square foot conservatory - the main attraction with flowers in every color and up to 4,000 flittering butterflies. Wander around with your camera and your imagination. Stay long enough and a butterfly will land on your clothes or hair for an up-close and personal encounter. Also inside the facility is a mini aquarium, gallery, and cafe. All in all, your visit will likely take you a maximum of two hours - which makes the cost of admission quite steep at $21.95 for adults and $13.95 for children (ages 2 and under are free). Aside from the costly price tag, the wonderland is a unique and kid-friendly attraction.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • OdySea Aquarium and the Laser & Mirror Maze are adjacent to Butterfly Wonderland (and owned by the same parent company). Combo tickets are available.
  • If you like scary or sensational souvenirs, be sure to bring cash to spend at the Edible Insects Station. You'll find chips made with cricket protein, chocolate covered ants, coconut brittle mealworms, and scorpion lollipops. Great for stocking stuffers too!

AT A GLANCE

  • Address: Butterfly Wonderland, 9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale
  • Part of Scottsdale: Central Scottsdale
  • Hours: 9:00am-6:00pm daily
  • Cost: $21.95 for adults; $13.95 for kids
  • Parking: Free

Desert Botanical Garden

If you are new to Arizona or visiting from another state/country, Desert Botanical Garden will enchant you. You'll be introduced to desert plants, flowers, and scenic views in a super-accessible environment. Strollers and wheelchairs will feel right at home on the wide, paved paths. Admire cacti, an edible garden, artwork, and colorful architecture. If you're wondering how it compares to venues closer to home, you might call it a cross between Tohono Chul Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (minus the wildlife). Gorgeous for special events and appealing to desert newcomers.

AT A GLANCE

  • Address: Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
  • Part of Scottsdale: In Phoenix (between Tempe & Scottsdale, within 8min drive of Old Town Scottsdale)
  • Hours: 7:00am-8:00pm daily (May through September); 8:00am-8:00pm (October through April)
  • Cost: $24.95 for adults; $12.95 for kids (children under 3 are free)
  • Parking: Free

The Phoenix Theatre Company

When you plan your trip to Scottsdale, check the show schedule at The Phoenix Theatre Company. This intimate 378-seat theatre is state-of-the-art. You'll be surprised by the exceptional stage designs, stellar casts, professional orchestra, and special effects. It's a lovely theatre - with a lush courtyard, bronze sculptures, outdoor seating, and a full bar in the atrium.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • You can sign up to receive emails from The Phoenix Theatre Company to help you current on the show line-up. Unfortunately, The Phoenix Theatre Company only occasionally puts on family-friendly productions. We saw Mary Poppins several years ago and it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. We wish there were more shows like that one on the docket!
  • The theatre shares a space with the Phoenix Art Museum in central Phoenix. From 6–10 pm on the first Friday of each month, Phoenix Art Museum is open to the public with voluntary donation admission.

AT A GLANCE

  • Address: The Phoenix Theatre Company, 1825 N. Central Ave, Phoenix
  • Part of Scottsdale: Phoenix Theatre is near Downtown Phoenix (not in Scottsdale).
  • Hours: See show schedule
  • Cost: Varies
  • Parking: Free parking is available in the several surface lots adjacent to the complex.

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