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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Self-parking is $15/night; valet parking is $24/night.
- Check-in is at 4:00pm; check-out is at 11:00am.
- There is a resort fee of $38 (+ tax) per day. Includes a complimentary morning session to Trailblazers Family Adventure Center for children ages 5-12 for up to three children (lunch may be added for an additional fee).
- A courtesy shuttle runs to Scottsdale Quarter and Kierland Commons, 10:00am-4:00pm daily.
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.
- Kids For All Seasons
- Two iconic golf courses
- Three swimming pools (family, toddler, adults-only)
- Modern + immaculate guest rooms, casitas, and suites
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 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 patios, private outdoor shower, private jacuzzi, oversized tubs, 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.
- Check-in time is 4:00pm; check-out time is 12:00 noon.
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 (for an additional fee). 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.
- 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.
- A resort fee of $40 (+ tax) will apply to each night of your stay. Benefits include self-parking, poolside activities, and bicycle rentals.
- Check in time is 4:00pm; check-out time is 12:00 noon.
JW Desert Ridge Marriott Tucson 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.
- 5 pools
- Lazy river
- 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!
- Check-in time is 4:00pm; check-out time is 11:00am.
- Self-parking is $10/day; valet parking is $20/day.
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!
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!
Desert Botanical Garden
If you are new to Arizona or visiting from another state/country, the 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.
When you plan your trip to Scottsdale, check the show schedule at Phoenix Theatre. 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. The theatre shares a space with the Phoenix Art Museum in central Phoenix, but don’t be deceived by the city-center location! It’s a lovely theatre, inside and out – with a lush courtyard, bronze sculptures, outdoor seating, and a full bar in the atrium.
- You can sign up to receive emails from Phoenix Theatre to help you current on the show line-up. Unfortunately, Phoenix Theatre 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!
- From 6–10 pm on the first Friday of each month, Phoenix Art Museum is open to the public with voluntary donation admission.
Scottsdale hosts many special events throughout the year. We’ve done our best to highlight the most notable options below. These are annual events so that you can plan ahead for each year.
Hot Chocolate 15K/5K
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Scottsdale in the winter (hello 70-degrees and sunshine!), you may want to plan your trip around the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, which makes its way to the city every December. Your registration fee includes a comfy sweatshirt, sweet stations throughout the course, a post-race party, and a chocolate bar shaped metal. The course itself is notably blasé, but you’ll have a blast if you do it with a friend.
What are your favorite things to do in Scottsdale?