Trying to find a day in Scottsdale without near perfect weather is like trying to find the elusive leprechaun. You’re not sure he exists and and you’ve definitely never seen him. We’ve been to Scottsdale more times than I can count because it is such an easy place to travel to from Denver. The weather is perfect every time and Scottsdale with kids is an easy vacation. We usually don’t go out of our way to plan too much when we visit, and typically just go with the flow. But we’ve been there enough times now to confidently plan three perfect days in Scottsdale pretty easily. The city has so many activities and so many happenings that three days probably isn’t enough, but if you’re planning a quick weekend trip, three days is perfect. Whether you’re there on a couples holiday or a family friendly Scottsdale weekend, the sky is the limit.
Scottsdale itinerary Day 1
Arrive at the airport and take a taxi to Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. A super family friendly hotel with beautiful desert decor (think palm trees and cacti and glistening waterfalls and fountains), the Princess is a favorite for families and couples alike. This hotel has about a million Scottsdale kid’s activities. The six pools, spa and four restaurants beckon you to relax, recharge and reconnect with your family. If there’s something in the Scottsdale area that you want to check out, the friendly concierge is more than happy to help you. Spend this first day relaxing by one of the 6 onsite pools. If you have kids with you, don’t miss Sonoran Splash with two waterslides for whole family fun.
After enjoying some time at your first hotel, head out for some evening entertainment, courtesy of Old Town Scottsdale. One of our favorite places! Old Town is filled with art galleries, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and more. Old Town Tortilla Factory is a kid friendly restaurant perfect for some first night eats. Not only is the adobe decor totally charming, the food is great, even for picky eaters.
Looking for a restaurant a little more upscale? Try House Brasserie. Adorable house with an amazing outdoor patio. Complete with a white picket fence. We loved the twinkle lights over the patio and the staff could not have been more delightful. After dinner, stroll around the street and check out art galleries or take a trolley ride for some family fun.
Get your ride on with a horseback riding adventure at MacDonald’s Ranch. McDonalds has something for everyone. Horseback riding, stagecoach rides, hay rides, a petting zoo and a pumpkin patch. Private rides and group rides are available, and they even offer moonlight rides. You can also combine a ride and a cookout for the whole family. MacDonalds really loves to give families a true Western experience.
After your morning horseback ride, meander over to your next resort, the amazing Four Seasons Resort at Troon North. As stunning as every Four Seasons, this resort is super family friendly and luxe at the same time. Sweeping panoramic views of the desert, beautiful laid out adobe architecture, a huge pool and a separate kid’s pool. When you’re at the Four Seasons, you never want to leave. Let the kid’s enjoy some time at the inclusive kid’s club (5 and over) and sit back and relax at the pool for a couple of hours. Take a family hike up Pinnacle Peak, located right next to the resort. Enjoy a casual dinner at Proof, complete with an old fashioned soda fountain. If you’re lucky enough to be at the resort on a Thursday, enjoy Starry Nights with the resort astronomer and his high powered telescope. Allen will tell stories about the stars that will enthrall your whole family. Go to bed early because day 3 involves a very early morning.
Get up, complaining all the way (like I always am in the morning), for an early morning hot air balloon ride with Hot Air Expeditions. They’ve been around for 25 years and are highly recommended everywhere you look when seeking hot air balloon rides. Nothing can describe a hot air balloon ride other than the word “magical”. The sights, the sounds, the sunrise are all spectacular. For an additional fee, they’ll even pick you up at your hotel. After your amazing experience in the air, you’ll enjoy a glass of champagne and a gourmet breakfast.
No trip to Scottsdale is complete without hiking Camelback Mountain. It’s quite an adventure, so make sure you’re prepared with plenty of water and make sure you’re in reasonable enough shape. Kid’s under 8 might have a tough time with it, so if you’re traveling to Scottsdale with kids, take heed. Should you decide the hike is too much, a perfect family friendly activity for you afternoon is The Art of Ice Cream, an immersive, social art experience with an ice cream theme! Pretty sure every kid in the world would enjoy this. Not surprisingly, ice cream is served!
After your very busy day, check in to your third and last hotel, the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa. Another immaculately groomed resort with a desert feel, the Omni has special gifts for kids checking in, plenty of resort activities and it’s in a central location, easily accessible to local favorites such as Old Town and Scottsdale Fashion Square. A late afternoon swim is perfect before heading out for dinner on the patio of Olive and Ivy, only 3 miles away. Great food and a laid back atmosphere, we love this restaurant. The patio has a fantastic atmosphere.
Sadly, your Scottsdale itinerary for 3 perfect days in Scottsdale has come to an end. But hopefully you have time for brunch! Look no further than Virtu – a charming little restaurant tucked in the Bespoke Bed and Breakfast. The menu is amazing and it often changes daily. And the courtyard is to die for. The perfect little brunch spot.
If flight times allow, rent a bike at Omni and take a bike ride. Paradise Valley, where Omni is located, has bike trails suitable for every age and it’s a great bonding experience (at least until a kid falls down and starts screaming about a teeny tiny scrape, which is pretty typical of my family).
We’re always vaguely sad when we have to leave Scottsdale. We have great friends there and I send my travel clients there very regularly. We’ve even considered moving there. Scottsdale is as great in the summer as it is on the winter (provided you can stand some pretty hot days). A few adjustments to your itinerary and you have a great summer vacation too. Next on my list – 3 perfect summer days in Scottsdale 🙂
More amazing resorts:
Andaz Scottsdale – Andaz is part of the Hyatt brand and very hip and happening. I love the open concept lobby, which lacks an “official” check in desk and has people waiting to sit down with you in one of the comfy chairs to check you in. The pool is right off the lobby and the grounds are immaculate and very mod. This resort is perfect for a girl’s weekend away.
Westin Kierland – This resort is a family vacation institution! It’s absolutely huge and truly has something for everyone. There are traditional room and suites and it even has a waterpark.
Hotel Valley Ho – Valley Ho is legendary. It’s been in Scottsdale forever and the only word to describe it is…..cool. It has a huge 1950s mid-century modern vibe going on and you can almost see Bing Crosby walking around with a martini. Definitely more for adult weekends than family weekends!
More amazing restaurants:
The Herb Box – We’ve been here a few times now and it never disappoints. Amazing food, gorgeous outdoor courtyard. Herbs everywhere. Need I say more?
Frank and Lupes – yummy. Mexican food is the BEST. Our family is all about unlimited chips and salsa and crispy ground beef tacos. Extra cheese. This place is super family friendly and well located.
Planning a trip to Scottsdale? I can help! I plan girl’s trips, bachelorette parties, bachelor parties and family vacations there almost every month. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about my travel planning here.