Old Town Scottsdale is the not only the oldest area in Scottsdale, it is also in my opinion the most happening. First settled in the 1880’s, this neighborhood is now a bustling collection of interesting shops and restaurants.
Downtown Scottsdale may be a hub for shopping and dining, but there are also some interesting historical sites to explore in the area, as well as hiking trails and kid-friendly spots with live music. With such an exciting merge of old and new, we were excited to visit Old Town Scottsdale, AZ on our epic summer family road trip across the US.
In this article, we provide a list of the top things to do in Old Town Scottsdale with kids and provide family-friendly hotel recommendations to help you plan a wonderful trip to Scottsdale, AZ.
Here’s what’s in this article:
Unique area attractions
- Old Town Trolley
- Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
- Western Spirit: Scottsdale Museum of the West
- Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center
- McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Kid-friendly live music & nightlife
- Best Western Plus Sundial
- The Saguaro Scottsdale
- Scottsdale Marriott Suites Old Town
- The Scott Resort & Spa
Best family Resorts
- The Phoenician
- Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa
- Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa
- Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Family friendly restaurants
Parks & hiking trails
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Kid-friendly Scottsdale Attractions
7447 E. Indian School Rd., Ste. 205 Scottsdale, AZ 85251
The free Old Town Trolley takes you around Old Town Scottsdale (literally) in a 45-minute loop. The trolley runs every 15 minutes 7 days a week from 10:00am to 9:25pm. It is a convenient way for families to get around and visit some of Scottsdale’s most popular locations.
7374 E. Second St. Scottsdale, AZ 85251
What makes SMoCA such a cool place to visit is that it is located on a beautifully landscaped 21-acre park right in the middle of Old Town Scottsdale. The museum features innovative exhibits and educational programs. What was once an old movie theater is now a re-imagined space with 5 unique galleries dedicated to contemporary art, architecture and design. It is a great place for the community and visitors to gather and explore, as admission is free to the public.
3830 N Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
This museum is a celebration of the history and art of the American west. Its aim is to educate, inspire and engage visitors in the stories from the old west with high-quality exhibits and educational programs. There are a ton of cool artifacts on display that bring history to life. It is a very interesting way to learn about the history of the region and feel connected to the place you’re visiting.
27026 N 156th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85262-9524
The SWCC rescues wild animals that have been injured, abandoned or had their home destroyed. The ultimate goal is to rehabilitate and release them back into the wild, but it is also an accredited sanctuary for those animals that can not be returned to the wild. The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is open to the public for tours, but by appointments only. You can head to the website and choose from the tour times available and have a truly unique southwest experience.
7301 E Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Built on land donated to the city of Scottsdale with the intention of making a public space that all could enjoy, the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park opened in 1975. Still a popular family attraction in Scottsdale, the railroad park is free admission! However, you do need to purchase tickets to ride the Paradise & Pacific Railroad train, the carousel and to tour the historical railroad museum for a small fee. Kids under two ride the train for free and kids under 12 get free admission into the train museum, so it really makes for an affordable day out with the family in Scottsdale.
Kid-friendly Live Music in Scottsdale
7245 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
One of those great Old Scottsdale bars is The Rusty Spur, which was originally a bank. It is rustic and lively, there is live music daily and the kids are allowed, which is basically our definition of kid-friendly. Whoohoo! Interestingly enough, the vault that once held money is now used to hold liquor. We hung out at the Rusty Spur Saloon with our kids pretty much all afternoon listening to live music, which amazingly they have all day, every day. We chose Rusty Spur as one of our top 11 favorite kid friendly places with live music across the entire US.
3712 N Scottsdale Rd Suite 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Every weekend you can hear the sweet tune of live music coming from JoJo Coffee House. Start your day off right with Saturday and Sunday brunch from 10:00am to 2:0pm. You and your family can enjoy yummy food, craft coffee or even beer and mimosas while you groove to live performances. On Saturday afternoons from 2:00pm to 5:00pm it is your time to shine or watch others give it a go with open mic time!
10401 E McDowell Mountain Ranch Rd #1, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Twisted Lizard Tavern & Grille has a hip atmosphere against a gorgeous desert mountain backdrop. Opening at 3:00pm, this is a great spot to come for dinner with the family to enjoy good food, drinks and live music. Live performances happen Thursday through Saturday, usually starting around 7:00pm. However, days and times of performances do vary, so you want to check out their events calendar first.
Kid-Friendly Hotels in Scottsdale
7320 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Located right across the street from the Entertainment District and just minutes from Old Town Scottsdale, the Best Western Plus Sundial offers complimentary breakfast, balconies for enjoying the warm deserts nights and a relaxing outdoor pool. It is a great choice for a family vacation to Scottsdale. We will definitely be staying here again. You can see our full in-depth review of the Sundial Hotel HERE.
4000 N Drinkwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
The Saguaro is a brightly colored hip hotel, located right next to Old Scottsdale. Complete with a lively pool and various lounge areas with fire pits, this hotel is a great choice if you are looking for affordable fun in the middle of the action.
7325 E 3rd Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Location is everything with hotels in the city of Scottsdale and the Marriott is located in the heart of Old Town. In addition to the comforts one would expect from a Marriott, there is also a lovely rooftop pool and patio with fire pits.
4925 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
This hotel is a lush oasis in Old Town Scottsdale, complete with two pools and a lagoon. The main pool, or La Boca Pool, is luxurious with private cabanas available for retreating from the hot desert sun. It also happens to be located right off the Canal Club Poolside restaurant, perfect for keeping those day drinks coming. The second pool is the La Playa or beach pool. Yes, there is sand and guests are encouraged to build their best sand castles.
Best Family Resorts near Scottsdale
6000 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Considered a premier luxury resort, it is also one the best Scottsdale family resorts. First of all, there is the Funician’s Club. This children’s program for ages 5-12 offers daily outdoor and indoor activities as well as crafts and movie and game nights. Then there are the pools! There are several pools actually, including a kid zone, complete with a suspension bridge, tree house, spray guns and water spouts. Seriously, how fun is that?
4949 E Lincoln Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85253
The desert is hot and you just can’t go wrong with multiple sparkling pools. The Kasbah Pool and Oasis Pool are perfect for hanging out with the family, sipping on something cold while the Joya Terrace Pool is reserved for spa guests only. For the kids, there is the Omni Kids Crew program which includes a backpack filled with fun items like an activity book, crayons, stickers, game cards, binoculars and a tabletop game. They also receive milk and cookies delivered to their guest room on the first night.
7500 E Doubletree Ranch Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
This 27-arce resort oozes family-friendliness. The 2.5-arce water playground has a 3-story high waterslide and a sand beach that will have your kids squealing in excitement. Keep dry playing on the Lost Dutchman’s Playground or hanging out at the Camp Hyatt kids club where days are filled with fun activities and learning. In addition to all the above, there are numerous family activities available throughout the resort.
7575 E Princess Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
This place is loaded with family fun. There are six pools, including Sonoran Splash which features two 200 ft waterslides! One is a really cool after dark techno water-slide that has disco lights, music and fog! Where was this when I was a kid? In addition to all that, there are dive-in movies, a free-form lagoon with lagoon fishing available, a family adventure center, sport court and playground!
Historic Sites in Scottsdale
7333 E Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Housed inside the Little Red Schoolhouse is the Scottsdale Historical Museum. The Little Red Schoolhouse was built in 1909. Not only was it used as a grammar school for the local children it was also the community hub where it functioned as a church, Sunday school, town hall, county court office, polling place and Red Cross bandage rolling facility. Later, this would be the building where Mexican-American students would attend. Now, the Little Red Schoolhouse can be visited as a historical museum with relics and exhibits on display. Kids will find the the class photos of the kids from the early 1900’s interesting as well as viewing the one-room schoolhouse display.
3821 N Brown Ave Scottsdale, AZ 85251-4407
The Old Adobe Mission is not as old as the California missions, which were built in the 1700’s, but it does have some history. Built in 1933, the Old Adobe Mission is the oldest standing church in the city of Scottsdale, built by the Mexicans who settled in the area in the early 1900’s. Today, you can visit the Old Adobe Mission and see historical artifacts, photos and documents.
12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259
This was the Arizona laboratory, school and winter home of architect Frank Llyond Wright. A UNESCO Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark, it was established in 1937 and built entirely by Wright and his apprentices. Today the home is open for tours and you can visit this magnificent space with your family. The goal is to inspire the world through beautifully designed spaces.
Scottsdale Restaurants for Families
7210 E 2nd St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251-5602
This highly rated burger joint is said to be the perfect mix of salty, sweet, ooey and gooey. The restaurant’s theme is based on the idea that it is therapeutic to slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Their menu features an eclectic mix of outrageous dishes like gnarly salads, peanut butter and jelly burgers, killer wings, and spicy mac n cheese, just to name a few. They even have adult milkshakes!!! Although it is in the middle of the desert, this place has a fun beachy vibe with a menu that will please everyone in your group.
6000 E Camelback Rd, at The Phoenician, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Located inside The Phoenician, Mowry & Cotton has a modern meets old west atmosphere with relaxing open-aire patio perfect for enjoying the desert sunshine and a wonderful conversation with your family. The menu features regionally inspired American cuisine using fresh locally sourced ingredients. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mowry & Cotton makes for the perfect spot to grab a bite any time of day.
6922 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
If you like pizza and beer, then Craft 64 is the spot for you. This restaurant is very popular among locals, serving up some of the best wood-fire pizza, craft beers and wines. In addition to pizza, they have an impressive selection of salads and appetizers as well, like house made mozzarella caprese salad, charcuterie boards, various bruschettas and sandwiches. They use organic ingredients made fresh everyday and locally sourced produce, so you know it is going to be yummy.
3815 N Brown Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Enjoy modern latin cuisine against the backdrop of old world elegance. The Mission features homemade tortillas, salsas and sauce that are made fresh daily. My kids LOVE guacamole and at The Mission the guac is made fresh at the table, which is fun to watch as well eat! For parents, you will love the Margaritas made with frothy egg whites. On Sundays, The Mission holds their Sunday Pig Out, which features all you can eat pork tacos and half priced drinks!
4222 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251-3633
Who doesn’t like cold beers and cheeseburgers, am I right? Well, if you are looking for a crowd-pleaser you found it. With yummy dishes like fried pickles and buffalo chicken tot chos (tater tot nachos), as well as a wide selection of burgers, this a great place to pig out. Kids will love all their favorites, like grilled cheese, burgers, tots, mac n cheese and chicken fingers while parents will love the adventurous dishes and huge beer selection. Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers has a fun sports bar vibe that makes for a great time, especially if a big game is on.
Parks and Hiking near Scottsdale
7729 East Greenway Rd., Ste 100 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
This non-profit conservancy is dedicated to preserving the Sonoran desert and mountains. The preserve contains the McDowell Mountains as well as 30,500 contiguous acres and has over 200 miles of hiking trails to explore. There are also three accessible trails, the Kovash Family Trail, the Bajada Nature Trail and the Jane Rau Trail, that are great for strolling with kids and grandparents. Plus there are interactive exhibits that tell the story about the desert and give you a deeper understanding about the surrounding nature. The conservancy is open from sunrise to sunset and is free to the public.
31313 N 144th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85262
Explore the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Tonto National Forest with guided horseback rides, cowboy cookouts, entertainment and games. Located near the Rio Verde River and between the McDowell and Mazatzal Mountain Ranges, Cave Creek Outfitters allows you to experience the beauty of the desert while still being a part of the bustling city of Scottsdale. Learn about wildlife and plants on a relaxing horseback ride suitable for all ages. It really makes for a unique experience for families visiting Scottsdale.
26802 N 102nd Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85262
If you like to hike, then you will like this moderate trail through the Sonoran Desert. There are even rock climbing routes, if interested. Along the trail there are interpretive displays with useful information and you can even book interpretive tours, moonlight walks and astronomy talks! Definitely check out their event calendar if you are looking to get more out of your experience at Pinnacle Peak Park.
That’s a Wrap!
Surprisingly, out of all the places we visited during our summer road trip the kids couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved Scottsdale, AZ. Maybe it was the hot desert nights swimming under the stars or the days taking it slow, wandering from store to store and from bar to restaurant. Scottsdale is a desert beauty, beckoning visitors to come and relax. Needless to say, if Old Town Scottsdale wasn’t on your bucket list before, it should be now.
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