With the mercury hovering around 110 during the summer, a lot of people head out of town. For many of us, though, our kids are in camp a few times or you’re like me and don’t want to bust outta Dodge and head where everyone else is heading. I like going out of town as much as the next person, but I don’t like crowds. Besides, Scottsdale has some fantastic activities, resorts, and adventures that can turn summer vacation into a fun summer staycation. If you’ve found this post looking for fun things to do in Scottsdale and the Phoenix area you’ve come to the right place! Scottsdale Vacation Ideas.
I’m joining a group of bloggers from across the country to share with you fun things to do ‘at home’. Or, if you do happen to be going to any of the 20-or so cities being covered you’ll have a pretty comprehensive list of great things to do.
Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the surrounding area is HOT in the summer, I’m not going to lie. It may be a dry heat, but so is a convection oven. Before BabyGirl came along, CycleGuy and I would head to the mall and window shop. That’s great when you don’t have kids. With kids, it’s a new kind of “not awesome”. Kids don’t want to schlep all over the mall, and it may cost you more than actually taking a vacation by time you get out of all the mall with all the purchases you make to appease the kids.
Whether you’re staying in town, or hitting the road, I’m bringing you some of the best summer fun options in Scottsdale and the surrounding area.
Many of the local resorts have special summer rates. Take advantage of a getaway without have to get away? Enjoy the pool and amenities, and dine like you’re on vacation.
Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort and Spa, recently unveiled its $50-million renovation. Through Sept. 6th, the resort is offering several staycation packages, including a spa package starting at $220/nt which includes two 60-minute Swedish Massage; a golf package with unlimited tee-times for two at Camelback Golf Club for $279/nt; as well as advance purchase room-only rates starting at $119/nt.
This summer, the InterContinental Montelucia Resort and Spa has two special offers. Whether it’s a resort credit or spa treatments that entice you, the resort has promotions that will have you relaxing the entire time.
JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa Family Flings & Swing Summer Package is back again this year. With nights throughout the summer starting at $149, this package is valid through the end of the year! Amenities include free golf after noon, kids meals, and a $50 resort credit. The hotel is waiving its $25 resort fee and will not charge for self-parking. Free bike rental and tennis time is also included.
The Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino is offering a SunSational Getaways package starting at $139/nt through Sept. 7th. With a $75 resort credit, free membership into Fort McDowell Casino Winners Circle, a $10 casino credit, and 20% off spa services this will be a popular promotion. Families have access to free dive-in movies at the pool, and a poolside BBQ on Friday nights. With over 10 promotional packages, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.
Scottsdale Plaza Resort, Paradise Valley, brings back its summer staycation special with nights starting at $129/nt with $100 resort credit (per day!) toward restaurant, pool or spa/salon services. There are also golf, spa, shopping, and romance packages with exceptional discounts. These summer promotions run thru Sept. 3rd.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, is celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a Silver Summer Celebration. With rates starting at $125/nt, all guests will receive a surprise gift at check-in. Recently, the resort implemented their daily resort fee which includes access to the Trailblazer Family Adventure Center.
Four Seasons Scottsdale Resort at Troon North, Very Important Kids package, starting at $194/nt thru Aug. 31st
This promotion requires a minimum two-night stay and includes a $100 resort credit for every two nights, snack mix at turn-down, a free in-room family movie and a poolside smoothie for up to two children per room. The resort’s kids program is free for all guests and poolside cabanas are free on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa offers several summer specials. With packages for golf, spa services, and the FlowRider you can decide if you’re making this a family staycation, a girl’s only weekend, or a guy’s golf outing. For weekend visits, the resort is offering Food Truck Friday, Sundae Sundays, as well as a host of special events. In addition, if your kids have had enough time in the sun or you want a relaxing spa day the Digital Kids Zone Summer Camp program is on-site.
Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch has several special offers this summer, through Sept. 9th. The Splash into Summer package includes a guest room, free dinner and free golf for kids with a paying adult, free Camp Hyatt and free parking, along with family and kids activities poolside each day. Rates vary, but start as low as $179/nt. This will be the first summer for the new 3-story high waterslide at the Hyatt Scottsdale.
One of my favorite places in Scottsdale for Afternoon Tea, The Phoenician is offering two special summer discounts. With rates starting at $169/nt, the Funician Family Package is valid May 30th through September 2nd. And to celebrate their 25th Anniversary, The Phoenician is offering an “OUR25TH” rate for $199/nt and each subsequent night at only $25.
Summer Like a Local at the FireSky Resort & Spa, a Kimpton Hotel, with rates starting at $109/nt beginning in June. Use rate code: ARIZO to enjoy the reduced rate, a complimentary bottle of wine from an Arizona winery, and a 25% spa discount.
Local Public Pools
Kiwanis Wave Pool
One of the few indoor pool options, this wave pool is always a comfortable 84 degrees. Ride the 3-foot waves, or zip down the 127-foot long double spiral water slide until the sun goes down. You can rent a tube on-site. If you have inexperienced swimmers, check the rules regarding flotation assistive devices.
Cost: $5 per person ages 2-12; $7 per person age 13 and older. Season passes $36-$46.
Location: 6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe
Tempe Pools & Splash Pads – run by the city of Tempe, there are two public pools, one splash playground and three neighborhood spray pads. The Splash Playground located at Tempe Beach Park is part of the Tempe Town Lake project that offers many outdoor water activities.
Mesquite Aquatic Center
The only pool in Gilbert with a double water slide, kiddie slide, diving board, full concession stand and play mushrooms in a zero-depth area, this pool is very popular and fills up early.
Cost: $1 per person ages 17 and younger; $3 per person ages 18 and older.
Location: 100 W. Mesquite St., Gilbert
Buckeye Aquatics Center
This city pool offers a zero depth area with water features, 10-foot high dive, low dive and 160-foot water slide. With a variety of day and evening programs, there’s sure to be something for everyone in the family.
Cost: $2 per person. Season pass $50-$150.
Location: 207 N. Ninth St., Buckeye
Foothills Recreation & Aquatics Center
With two giant slides, a zero-depth entry leisure pool with spray features, an aquatic playground and a lazy river you’re sure to have a great time, no matter how old you are.
Cost: $2.50 per person ages 3 to 17 and 55+; $5 per person 18 and older; children under 3 free.
Location: 5600 W. Union Hills Drive
Rhodes Aquatics Complex
Who knew summer and winter would collide? FlowRider combines snowboarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding, and is designed for all skill levels. The pool has a beach entry, three diving boards and elaborate splash pads and tumble buckets for the smaller swimmers. There are a variety of shade structures and concession stands.
Cost: Pool is $2 per person ages 17 and younger; $4 per person ages 18 and older; season pass $210. FlowRider is $5.50 per hour ages 17 and younger; $11 per hour ages 18 and older; punch ticket rates also available. Check pool for available discounts on Mondays.
Location: 1860 S. Longmore, Mesa
Apache Junction welcomes swimmers at its state-of-the-art Superstition Shadows Aquatic Center which features two water slides, diving boards, and a vortex whirlpool. There is also sand volleyball,and a zero-depth, beach-entry pool.
Cost: $1 per person ages 17 and younger; $2 per person ages 18 and older. Season passes $45-$95.
Location: 1091 W. Southern Ave, Apache Junction
With two water slides and the separate diving well with diving boards this pool is a Phoenix favorite. It also has several water features and an 8-lane competition size pool with beach entry.
Cost: $1 per person ages 17 and younger and seniors; $3 per person ages 18 and older. Season passes $20-$75.
Location: 17010 S. 48th St., Phoenix
Another Chandler favorite, This huge aquatic complex boats a zero-depth entry and water playground, a lazy river with a dumping bucket barricade, two water slides (one enclosed), a vortex whirlpool and an interactive water structure with two toddler slides, water guns, and valves kids can open and close. There are shady areas for kids and parents alike.
Cost: $1 per person ages 2-17; $2.25 ages 18-54; $1.25 per person age 55 and older; children under 2 are free. Family season pass (for Chandler residents only), $112.
Location: 5901 S. Hillcrest Dr., Chandler
The best public-pool bargain in the Valley, this pool has a beach entry, large water slide , several water features as well as two diving boards and plenty of shaded seating for Mom and Dad.
Cost: $0.50 per person ages 17 and younger; $1.50 per person ages 18 and older. Season passes (family) $60.
Location:21321 N. 86th Drive, Peoria.
Surprise joined the supersized public pool party in 2002 with their own aquatic center featuring zero-depth entry with water-play features for the little ones, two water slides and a diving well with two diving boards. Kids go crazy for the vortex whirlpool, which will open with the rest of the center Saturday, May 26. Check the website for special programs and events, including an Itty Bitty Beach Party, Dive in Movies and a 4th of July Pool Party.
Cost: $1 per person ages 17 and younger; $2 per person ages 18 and older. Season passes $20-$80.
Location: 15831 N. Bullard Ave., Surprise
Indoor Fun Spots
Makutu’s Island – A multilevel indoor playground for kids which includes several play areas, an arcade, a 35-foot slide (children younger than 5 must have parental/guardian supervision), and tunnels and mole holes in the 25-foot indoor oak tree.
Jambo! Indoor Amusement Parks – formerly Jeepers!, this children’s “entertainment center” offers several amusement-park-style rides, including a mini roller coaster, bumper cars, spinning cups, safari train and carousel.
Arizona Museum for Youth – although advance sign-up is required, this hands-on, kid-friendly museum is a great way to entertain kids in an education setting.
Arizona Museum of Natural History – often called the dinosaur museum (formerly known as Mesa Southwest Museum) is more than just dinos.
Butterfly Wonderland – Opening May 25, this one-of-a-kind museum boasts the largest butterfly pavilion in the United States. The pavilion is designed to be an interactive experience of both education and beauty. Not just a place to see butterflies, Butterfly Wonderland is the first phase of “Odysea in the Desert, a 35-acre, multi-million-dollar entertainment complex that will include the largest aquarium in the Southwest region (scheduled to open in 2015); an IMAX theatre; a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum; and a “Taste of the World” culinary showcase with 14 to 16 distinctive international restaurants.
Chandler Museum – from the first inhabitants to the pioneers, to the modern age, learn about the history of Chandler, AZ.
Arizona Capitol Museum – why not cap off Arizona’s Centennial with a visit downtown to the capital area. Tour one of the legislative chambers and see a portion of the USS Arizona battleship as well as learn about the history of the state that joined the union on Valentine’s Day 1912.
Tempe History Museum – after undergoing a major renovation, this museum takes you through the history of the valley’s college town and how it came to be one of the premier cities in the country.
Pump It Up – with 4 locations around the valley, this Tempe-based indoor inflatable playground is a fun way for kids to get exercise and give mom and dad a respite from the heat.
Amazing Jake’s Food & Fun – a rock wall, go-karts, laser tag, bowling, mini golf and kiddie rides, this Mesa fun-town is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Arizona Science Center – one of the premier science centers in the country, the exhibit galleries here keep everyone engaged and entertained with plenty of hands-on exhibits as well as an IMAX theater and interactive spaces.
Rosson House – located near the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix, this 1895 Victorian home provides a glimpse into life during the territorial period of Arizona.<
Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting – a favorite of both boys and girls, as well as adults of any age, this exhibit of firefighting history includes over 100 wheeled firefighting vehicles as well as a hands-on area for kids.
Mesa Historical Museum – another opportunity to beat the heat and learn about one of the cities that makes up the Phoenix-metro area.
Heard Museum – one of the premier native american museums in the country, everyone will enjoy this look at the history and beauty of the native people
Musical Instrument Museum – one of the only musical instrument museums in the world, the MIM showcases musical instruments from around the work, including the fiddle used in Harry Potter and a banana harmonica. BabyGirl wrote a review of the musical instrument museum if you’d like to learn about it from a young girl’s perspective.
Halle Heart Children’s Museum – open by appointment only, this is a small museum to help kids learn about the heart and being healthy. Maybe not as fun as a roller coaster, but when BabyGirl went she enjoyed herself and learned a lot.
Chase Field Tours – get a glimpse of this unique domed Major League Ballpark and see what makes the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks so special.
Stuffington Bear Factory – a local destination, Stuffington Bear Factory offers FREE daily tours Monday through Saturday at 1:00pm. This mini tour takes about 15 to 20 minutes, and you get to see the manufacturing floor up close. Check out the site for more details on the variety of animals they offer. Located just east of AZ51 on Thomas, Stuffington has been a valley institution since 1959.
Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park – a National Historic Landmark, this park is a way to learn about the Hohokam people. With a good part of it being outside you’ll want to go early and dress accordingly.
Oceanside Ice Arena – who can’t use a day to cool off in a 50-degree fun spot? Rent a pair of skates and make this a family affair!
Arcadia Ice Arena – another location to truly beat the heat! Offering open skate as well as day camps, this location is sure to help you beat the heat.
Laser Quest – recommended for ages 7 and older, suit up in this high-tech play space and go on missions as you score points in this modern game of hide-and-seek.
Octane Raceway – formerly F1 Race Factory, this indoor racetrack is an opportunity for kids to see what driving is all about.
Dave & Buster’s – let the kids go while you enjoy the Wi-Fi! A full arcade with plenty of kid favorites, plan on spending several hours here.
Local Library Culture Pass Program – With 12 local library systems participating, there are hundreds of opportunities to visit 12 popular destinations FREE. The Culture Pass gives library cardholders free admission for 2 people at participating local museums when they “check-out” the admission at their library. Check with your local Phoenix-area library for details.
Children’s Museum of Phoenix – in less than 5 years, this museum has become one of the top-rated children’s museums in the country with hands-on, interactive exhibits for kids up to about 10 years old.
Phoenix Art Museum – one of the largest art collections in the southwest, this museum has programs specifically for kids 12 and under. PhoenixArtKids helps kids understand the look but don’t touch concept of the main part of the museum but also includes a kid-friendly section. Special programs held throughout the summer.
Wells Fargo History Museum – learn about the role Wells Fargo (and their famed stage coaches) had in shaping Arizona and the southwest. This is one of several Wells Fargo museums throughout the US.
Cabela’s Kids Kamp – free weekly programs held on Monday evenings give kids an opportunity to learn about the outdoors and how to stay safe
Harkins Summer Movie Fun – with 10 movies for about $1 each this is a way to beat the heat and have a few hours of not hearing the kids complain about being hot.
Great Arizona Puppet Theater – nearing its 30th year, this theater offers kids of all ages great entertainment
Arizona Challenger Space Center – part of the Smithsonian Institute, kids with an interest in space will love this museum.
Penske Racing Museum – tucked inside a car dealership, this little museum is FREE but features dozens of pristinely maintained race cars. The Penske team is the winningest team in Indy Car racing.
Cabela’s Kids Kamp – Throughout the summer, Cabelas offers FREE 45-minute educational sessions on a variety of topics. The local Cabelas is out in Glendale and could easily occupy kids of all ages for a few hours.
Bass Pro Shop – Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, the local Bass Pro Shop in Mesa will hold Family Summer Camp from 1-5pm. With a variety of activities, games and treats for the kids, this FREE program is one sure way to beat the heat.
Arizona Desert Botanical Garden – one of the top gardens in the country, Desert Botanical Garden offers a terrific flashlight tour during the summer months. See what the desert does when the sun goes down.
Phoenix Zoo – arrive early to beat the heat and have the best opportunity to see the animals
Wet ‘n’ Wild Phoenix – water slides and attractions for kids of all ages
Splash Pads – located around town at many of the outdoor shopping areas, water features beckon children to cool off while mom and dad relax.
Castles and Coasters – rollercoasters in Phoenix? Absolutely! For little kids and big kids alike, you can get your thrill on with coasters and big drops.
Enchanted Island – part of the Encanto park area, this amusement park has a variety of carnival-type rides and attractions kids love. There are also pedal boats and a carousel.
Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium – encounter wildlife up close. Check their website and local flyers/coupon booklets delivered to your home for coupons.
Taliesin West – Renown architect Frank Lloyd Wright established Taliesin West as his winter home. Now part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the property is home to learning for visitors and students alike. While Wright did not spend many summers here, today it is a fully-functioning school and office complex. This summer, the property will be open for the Summer Junior Architect Tour for school-aged children and their families.
Arizona Biltmore Dining After Dark – head out when the sun goes down for some dinner and shopping. Select restaurants will offer a pre-fixe menu from 8pm to close which includes an appetizer, two entrees, two alcoholic (or non alcoholic) beverages, and one dessert for either $50 or $35, depending on the establishment.
The Capitol Grille Summer Dining Specials – From June 1st – August 31st, you can enjoy the “Beat the Heat” dinner menu for $39.00 per person. With an appetizer, choice of select entrees and accompaniments, and dessert this menu is sure to please when you don’t feel like heating up the grill. If lunch is your thing, for $16 if you dine between 11am and 3pm between June 24 and September 30 Monday-Friday you can select a 3-course lunch from the “Plates” lunch menu.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, stop in to Posh Restaurant for the Sunset Summer Discount with discounts on tasting menus and wine pairings.
Wednesday – Sunday after 4pm, Cafe Forte Bistro & Wine Bar, in the heart of the Arts District in downtown Scottsdale, enjoy a 3-course pre-fixe dining experience for only $29 per person.
Through 11/11/13, Michael Dominick’s Steakhouse offers a special military program for veterans. Starting May 24th through Veteran’s Day, veterans and a guest receive 50 percent off dinner or early bar menu items. Valid identification showing your military status is required. Excludes alcoholic beverages.
Where it’s said to be 10-degrees cooler, Pinnacle Peak Patio is offering a free appetizer or dessert with the purchase of two entrees. This promotion is valid May 24th through August 31st.
Morton’s, The Steakhouse is rolling out the red carpet with its summer 4-course pre-fixe menu. For $49 per person, their favorite menu items are offered on a select menu for your. Choose an appetizer, salad, entree and side, and dessert for a truly elegant meal. Valid through September 30th, you must print out the special menu and take it with you as this menu is not available from the standard Morton’s menu.
While there are a lot of things on this list, it’s not comprehensive. There are hundreds and hundreds of great activities around the valley. If there’s something you think others would enjoy, please share in the comments. Enjoy your summer! Or, if you’re just thinking of visiting the Phoenix-area you now have a great list of things to do.
If you happen to be in the Phoenix area for Thanksgiving, check out my Ultimate Guide to Dining Out on Thanksgiving.