Scottsdale, Arizona never disappoints with its endless opportunities for adventure, fine dining, and shopping. Families visiting the area can expect unique boutiques and galleries, a wide range of historic and cultural sites, and easy access to the desert both in and around the city. All of these come together to create a place all ages can enjoy. Here’s what to try if you’re spending a weekend in Scottsdale with grandparents.
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*We were guests of Experience Scottsdale for the purpose of this review. As always, opinions are 100% our own.
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Fun Things to Do in Scottsdale with Grandparents
If you only have a weekend to explore Scottsdale, you’ll want to cover some of the highlights that appeal to all ages. This itinerary is completely flexible, so pick and choose what works best for your group.
Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is one of our favorite places to visit in Scottsdale with grandparents. Each ticket comes with a headset, but it isn’t a typical audio tour. While walking through the museum, the headphones pair up with the exhibit as you stand in front of it. Once you’re connected, the audio explains what you see and shares music from that instrument.
The entire museum is filled with these interactive displays and everyone can enjoy learning the stories behind the exhibits. One of the current exhibits is the Artist Gallery with instruments and memorabilia of famous artists. There are also rooms featuring instruments and music from around the world. This will take some time to fully explore, so be sure to plan accordingly.
If you’re visiting with younger children, head to the Experience Gallery where anyone can play musical instruments in the room.
Lunch at Café Allegro
After your visit, everyone can grab lunch at the on-site restaurant, Café Allegro. This is not your typical cafeteria-style food. The restaurant features global cuisine and a variety of rotating dishes. It’s the perfect spot to refresh before heading out to the next activity.
For a fun interactive experience all ages can enjoy, head to Scottsdale Fashion Square and the immersive art show called Wonderspaces. The exhibits are separated into rooms, and each one features a work of art. It’s an excellent opportunity for grandparents and grandchildren to discuss what they see and how they interpret the artist’s intention.
After your visit, spend some time shopping or admiring the art throughout Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Dinner in Old Town Scottsdale
Wrap up the day with dinner at one of Scottsdale’s fun Old Town restaurants. We recommend Diego Pops serving up traditional Mexican dishes with a flare, or Hula’s Modern Tiki, which has a variety of island-inspired dishes.
Day 2 – Weekend in Scottsdale with Grandparents
Desert Botanical Garden
While young children might not appreciate the vast number of desert plants at The Desert Botanical Garden they can certainly appreciate an opportunity to be outdoors wandering through this beautiful space.
The Desert Botanical Garden has five different trails, each one highlighting a desert theme such as wildflowers or desert living. They frequently host seasonal exhibits (the Butterfly Pavilion and Las Noches de Las Luminarias are favorites) and there are several docents throughout the park teaching visitors about life in the desert.
After lunch, head to the Garden’s on-site restaurant, Gertrude’s, which is known for creative cuisine showcasing flavors from around the world. Their seasonal offerings feature local growers and producers, resulting in some of the best food the area has to offer. Its outdoor patio space is perfect for relaxing after exploring the gardens.
Note: The Phoenix Zoo is adjacent to the Desert Botanical Garden if you’re up for more outdoor adventures.
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)
The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art isn’t very big, but that’s the appeal. If grandparents want a place to slow down (and cool off), the museum is a great option for families (and children under 18 are free). There are several exhibit spaces with rotating artwork and a couple of outdoor exhibits kids will enjoy.
Dinner at Farm & Craft
Head to Old Town Scottsdale for dinner at Farm & Craft. The restaurant focuses on healthy and sustainable food and serves a variety of flatbreads, salads, burgers, and bowls. We promise everyone will find a new favorite.
Breakfast at Hash Kitchen
If everyone is up for a lively breakfast, head to Hash Kitchen which serves an out-of-this-world breakfast with a side of live music led by the resident DJ.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Time to work off that breakfast by heading outdoors. McDowell Sonoran Preserve covers more than 30,000 acres and offers a variety of hiking trails for all abilities.
There are four accessible trails within the preserve that would be perfect for multigenerational families. Look at the Bajada Trail, the Jane Rau Nature Trail, Kovach Family Nature Trail, and the Camino Campana Trail. Each one is less than a mile roundtrip with minimal elevation gain and allows everyone to see the beauty of the desert landscape up close.
Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter
After your hike, head back into the city for lunch (or a late afternoon snack) at one of their outdoor shopping centers, Kierland Commons or Scottsdale Quarter (they are across the road from one another).
For a sit-down lunch, we recommend Postino. For quick and easy, grab lunch at Shake Shack. If everyone wants something sweet, we recommend Frost for gelato or Creamistry for liquid nitrogen ice cream.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
One last stop that we would recommend is the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, a 30-acre park dedicated to all things train-related. There are model railroads, playgrounds, the Scottsdale Railroad Museum, and a miniature train ride that takes families through the park. A fun way to end your weekend in Scottsdale with the grandkids!
Dinner at the hotel
Where to Stay in Scottsdale with Grandparents
We recommend staying at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch with grandparents. This stunning property features Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture, perfectly incorporating the hotel with the stunning natural beauty of the land.
Families will love the 2.5-acre waterpark with a three-story slide and sand beach. Adjacent to the pool is a game area with giant Jenga and ping pong. Guests also have access to the adjacent Gainey Ranch Golf Club, tennis courts, Native American Learning Center, walking trails, fitness center, Spa Avania, five restaurants, and nightly entertainment.
There are a variety of rooms available for families. We had a spacious double queen with a courtyard view that had a private fire pit we used in the evenings. There are also suites that sleep up to 6, and two casitas if your family wants more space to spread out. It’s one of the best Scottsdale resorts for families.
If you’re considering a trip with grandparents, we highly recommend a weekend in Scottsdale. The city has a balanced mix of outdoor adventures and indoor activities with a thriving restaurant scene making it an excellent choice for all ages.