Glow parties by the pool, aquatic adventures at a massive aquarium, indoor skydiving and more—Scottsdale, Arizona has it all. Known for its quirky Old Town shops and amazing public art, Scottsdale is the spot to be for families. With loads of indoor options for hot days and some of the best hotel pools in town, you know you want to spend some time here. Tons of options can be found below, keep reading!
When the heat is on, head to iFLY indoor skydiving for a major adrenaline rush. With the help of an instructor, kids ages three and up (and their lucky grown-ups) get to experience what it’s like to skydive without having to jump out of a plane. Want to take your flight to the next level? Add on a “high fly” where you and the instructor fly even higher off the ground.
iFLY Indoor Skydiving
9206 Talking Stick Way
At Scottdale’s OdySea Aquarium, you can come face to face with over 30,000 marine animals in floor-to-ceiling windows and interactive exhibits. Touch pools allow little ones to experience creatures like sea anemones “first hand.” Kids will get a kick out of the penguins’ antics and they will not want to leave the water table once they get there. Take your crew on board OdySea Voyager, where you are “submerged” in a “submarine” and taken on an aquatic adventure (really you are in a theater that rotates 360 degrees through different exhibits). Don’t miss a pit stop in the bathrooms at the entrance—sharks swim by as you wash your hands!
9500 E Via De Ventura
In the same complex as the aquarium you will find Butterfly Wonderland, a garden where you can see these beautiful creatures up close. First stop at the Emergence Gallery where you can see hundreds of live chrysalis as they emerge naturally into beautiful butterflies. Then step inside the conservatory where more than 3,000 butterflies flutter among the tropical plants. In addition to these flying creatures, learn about rain forest reptiles and bees in other exhibits. Pro tip: buy your OdySea Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland tickets together to save a few bucks. You can exit and reenter both throughout the day if you need to leave to grab a bite to eat.
9500 E Via De Ventura
Located in the Old Town district, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art offers 9-12 rotating exhibits per year. The current Infinity Room exhibit will make you feel like you are suspended in space through the use of mirrors and light. Wild Thing brings together works of art that represent animals from the museum’s permanent collection. Don’t miss a particularly kid-friendly area of the museum just through the gift shop. Here is an art room where kids can make origami animals and other creations or invent a poem with the magnet words on the wall. Pro tip: the museum is free on Thursdays and after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
7374 East Second Street
For pancakes a big as your head and other crazy concoctions, grab at table at Hash Kitchen. This spot has a fun vibe with a DJ spinning tunes on the weekend and a massive Bloody Mary bar. Kids can get waffles, pancakes and more from the kids’ menu, or order one of their special pancakes like Reese Peanut Butter Puff that is drizzled with chocolate and peanut butter sauces. You’ll see loads of wild specialty adult beverages here like the disco slushies served in a disco ball! Pro tip: a half order of the special pancakes (shown above) is more than enough for even the biggest appetite.
8777 N. Scottsdale Road
For lunch, the place to be is New Wave Market where the sandwich is king. You can’t go wrong with the schmaltz chicken salad sandwich or the BLT that adds avocado on top of house made Hawaiian bread. The grilled cheese is sure to please the pickiest toddler as well as just-off-the-plane parents.
Save room as within the same building is Super Chunk Sweets and Treats. Super Chunk makes all of their confections in house like their cake scratch ice cream and giant snickerdoodle cookies. Take home a bag of peanut brittle, you won’t regret it.
New Wave Market/Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
7120 E. 6th Ave. #19
There’s a reason that families flock to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. This hotel has huge rooms, pools and restaurants around every corner and loads of activities to keep the kids busy and the parents relaxed. The summer brings foam and H2Glow parties where the kiddies can dance the night away to jams by DJ Splash.
Dive-in Movies bring favorites like the Lion King and Pocahontas to the Sunset Beach pool. The Sonoran Splash pool has two water slides, games and even an ice cream cart that comes through in the afternoon. Close out your Saturday night with fireworks, which you can see from your poolside lounge chair.
Visiting over the holidays? The hotel has an amazing Christmas at the Princess program with on-site ice rink!
Perhaps the best kid feature at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is their Trailblazers Recreation Center. They offer drop-off kids club daily from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. for kids from 5-12. It is free until 11:30 a.m. for hotel guests and kids who stay until 1 p.m. receive lunch for a $15 fee. Pro tip: book your spa time while the kids are at kids club!
Head here in the afternoon to ride on the virtual reality game (ages seven and up), play a game of ping pong or meet the resident bearded dragon named Skittles. Trailblazers is also a great spot to grab pool floaties, goggles and everyone’s favorite mermaid tails if you’ve forgotten them at home. Join in special events like catch-and-release fishing derbies and Mermaid University for an additional fee.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
7575 East Princess Drive
Just a short drive from the Phoenix airport, Scottsdale offers a great balance of activities and opportunities to relax. For more information on what to do when you visit, check out the Experience Scottsdale website.
—photos and story by Kate Loweth
This trip was paid for by Experience Scottsdale but all the opinions belong to the writer.