Scottsdale is A Family Affair
Scottsdale is the perfect vacation destination for families. And that includes Fido, your favorite pooch. Scottsdale overflows with both indoor and outdoor adventure. Sun, blue-skies, and southwestern-style escapades. Scottsdale is a place where kids can be kids and parents can be big kids. Parenting magazine recognized the destination on its 2010 "Best Cities for Families" list while Travel + Leisure named Scottsdale, AZ one of the best warm-weather family adventure places to visit.
Revel in rough and tumble dune buggy adventures and safari wildlife tours Soak in Scottsdale's stunning Sonoran Desert from atop a soaring hot air balloon or riding on horseback! Discover living history with Native American hoop dancers and staged Wild West shootouts; or explore exotic wildlife such as venomous Gila monsters and entertaining Roadrunners. In short, Scottsdale takes its family fun very seriously.
Resorts Roll-Out Red Carpet for Families
At these Scottsdale resorts, kids are more than just welcome, they're given the royal treatment. Named after frequent visitor and 1950s TV star, William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy), the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa's Hopalong College is a seasonal program offering educational and recreational kids programs such as arts and crafts, tennis, and other outdoor fun.
Not to mention campfire cookouts at this mountainside resort's Old West town featuring a saloon, livery stable, mercantile and other mock storefronts. Camp Hyatt Kachina at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch teaches campers about the area's unique flora, fauna and culture with activities including Navajo and Hopi bead-working, Southwestern sand art and visits by Native American dancers and cowboy storytellers.
There's a cool new cat in town at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess' Bobcat Billy's Clubhouse where the resort's mascot "Bobcat Billy" invites "cubs" to a whole-new resort camp alongside his adventurous storytelling sidekick Arizona Janey. From "Mad Scientist Monday" to "Friday Fishing," every day brings themed games, sports, Southwestern crafts, animal interactions, and photo and video safaris. Games and activities rotate, so youngsters ages 5 to 12 discover something new about Arizona each day.
At The Phoenician, explore a treasure trove of family fun, including organized endeavors at the Funician's Kids Club along with lawn activities like badminton, volleyball and croquet. There's also a Family Activity Center for kids and teens featuring foosball, air hockey, board games, a movie theater, and Nintendo Wii consoles.
Family fun abounds at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa with the CFO, "Chief FUN Officer," kicking off family vacations with a kid-friendly check-in area called the Kierland Mining Co. and continuing with poolside activities such as hula hoop, limbo and relay races, and evening fun including pajama parties and Kierland Kampfires. Excitement continues during the Kierland Family Challenge, where families compete in Pie Eating, Balloon Pop, Bobble Head and other games for a chance to win a complimentary room night.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North makes family vacation a breeze. With the Kids for All Seasons program, the little ones receive a complimentary stuffed animal, juice, and cookies upon check in, and are treated to activities like foosball, ping pong, and pool time during their visit. Kids even get tasty menus at the resort's restaurants.. And to make it feel more like home, night lights and kid-size terrycloth robes are available upon request.
Montelucia Resort & Spa's Planet Trekkers Kids Club is an interactive day camp (http://www.montelucia.com/) that offers arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, a gaming room, and gelato tastings. Kids can hang out at the Club while mom and dad dine at the resort, rejuvenate at the spa or relax by the pool.
Expand Appreciation of Culture
Between exploring prehistoric Indian ruins and slicing though the air inside a rumbling WWII bomber, who knew learning could be so much fun? Discover 1,500-year-old Hohokam Indian ruins and full-scale reproductions of prehistoric homes created by Arizona's original adobe builders at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park.
Founded in 1929, the Heard Museum and Heard Museum North Scottsdale feature a world-renowned collection of American Indian cultural art and fine art, unique exhibits and special events - headlined by the annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest, a drum-filled affair where intricately costumed American Indians from across North America come to compete.
Guests at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort, meanwhile, need not even leave the property to explore Scottsdale's deep cultural roots. Home to the Native American and Environmental Learning Center, visitors learn about Scottsdale's native Hopi Indians through art, jewelry, textiles, pottery and Katsina dolls, as well as take interpretive tours through the Native Heritage Seed Garden.
In downtown Civic Center, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art offers exhibitions sure to hold the attention of even the youngest patrons, as well as free admissions on Thursday, when the museum stays open late to offer everything from guest lectures to hands-on art demonstrations. The Young@Art gallery at the adjacent Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts features the work of students and aspiring artists. Don't forget to check out Native Trails, presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and produced by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, a free series of Native American dance performances presented every January through April at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall.
Outdoor Adventure in Scottsdale
In a setting as splendid as Scottsdale's Sonoran Desert, outdoor adventure is at the top of every family's to-do list. Offering nearly 20,000 acres of hiking and biking, the McDowell Mountain Regional Park is a must experience.
Nestled amidst Papago Park's rolling red buttes, the Desert Botanical Garden is home to five thematic trails illustrating everything from how desert plants are used for nourishment to the blooming beauty of desert wildflowers. On Saturday nights, families are invited to explore the desert flora and fauna after dark during the Garden Flashlight Tour allowing them to see, hear and feel the desert in a whole new way.
Put civilization in your rear-view mirror when you hop-on a Jeep or Hummer tour for a rousing off-road adventure. Led by professional drivers well-versed in the area's adventurous history and native wildlife, riders can extend their adventure with visits to abandoned mining encampments, Native American ruins or even a ropin' demonstration followed by a campfire cookout.
True thrill seekers, meanwhile, will want to slide behind the wheel of one of Desert Wolf Tours' and Green Zebra Adventures' self-drive Tomcar tours. These rugged two-seaters require only 10 minutes of instruction before drivers 18 and older scamper off on a follow-the-leader journey into the wilds of Scottsdale's desert outskirts.
The Phoenix Zoo was voted one of the top five in the nation for kids for their creative family programming. For the artist in the family, try Wild Art where children create a unique work of art inspired by animals found in the zoo or for the animal lover, the Critter Keeper program allows kiddos to spend a day in the life of a zoo keeper. Walk on the wild side with the Family Wilderness Experience Night Camp where the whole family sleeps in a tent and enjoys campfire s'mores, a night hike, private safari train tour and a day of zoo exploration.
All Aboard The Trains
Family favorite, Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park features a carousel, railroad-themed exhibits and a small-scale steam train chugging passengers around a mile-long track. The park's newest addition is the $2.2 million model train building designed for learning about and experiencing model trains with touch screen computer activities.
For those looking to ride the real thing, Northern Arizona offers two historic train adventures that requires a day trip. A stunning tour though Arizona's mountainous Bald Eagle country on the Verde Canyon Railroad near Sedona, and the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona, which has been thrilling tourists with a train ride right to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1901.
Wet and Wild
Although Scottsdale AZ is in the middle of one of America's largest deserts, families are never left high and dry. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess' kid-friendly Sonoran Splash is a 6,000-square-foot water recreation area featuring two of the state's longest resort water slides.
The Phoenician boasts nine pools and its 11-million gallon Necklace Pool and Lagoon where families can help feed the resident Koi fish. But that all pales in comparison to the spine-tingling excitement of the 165-foot waterslide, which is transformed during summer holidays into an "electric waterslide" complete with fog, lasers and pulsating music.
Located in downtown Scottsdale, Kimpton's FireSky Resort & Spa's verdant inner courtyard hides a spacious pool deck including a sandy beach pool, Mediterranean-inspired lagoon, and torch-lit heated outdoor pool and hot tub.
The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort tempts with two-and-a-half-acres of water wonderland, including 10 separate pools, 28 fountains and 47 sparkling waterfalls. Kid favorites include a spiraling three-story waterfall and "beach pool" featuring 500,000 pounds of toe-curling sand trucked in from Monterey, California to form a 50-foot-long, 70-foot-wide shoreline.
Offering more than 575,000 gallons of wet n' wild fun, including a 110-foot-long waterslide and 900-foot-long lazy river ride, The Westin Kierland Resort's Adventure Water Park is a splashing good time. Lined family friendly cabanas, the pool deck is complemented by a children's play area with pop-jet water fountains and a shallow pool for small children and babies. Plus, The Westin Kierland Resort is one of several Scottsdale resorts that feature poolside cinema as part of their dive-in movie programs during the summer month. Other places to catch a pool- side flick include The Phoenician, Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale.
Major League Baseball Spring Training
Scottsdale Stadium is the spring training home to Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants. The stadium combines big-league entertainment with small venue charm. Held during the perfect 75-degree weather of March, get up close and personal with baseball player idols during designated autograph time. Families are encouraged to pack a picnic lunch and watch from the grassy lawn seats just behind the outfield wall.
Other Cactus League favorites, Colorado Rockies and Arizona's Diamondbacks, have the last at-bat at the new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick that opened in spring 2011. The 11,000-seat ballpark's scenic location provides awe-inspiring views of the Camelback and McDowell Mountains.
The Family Dog is Right at Home
FireSky Resort's BONE Appétit package offers pet-toting guests a customized doggie welcome, including gourmet treats, toy, dog walk, leash, and doggie bed and bowl. W Scottsdale goes above and beyond to pamper pets with its P.A.W. (Pets Are Welcome) program offering everything from pet turn-down service to a specialty menu with items such as baked salmon, grilled chicken and rice.
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa introduces all cats and dogs to its Kierland Companion Club and provides a Westin Heavenly Dog Welcome Kit with a special ID tag, clean-up bags, eating dishes and a Westin Heavenly dog bed. Vacationers traveling without their pet can make friends with Scotty, the resort's Scottish terrier rescue who says hello with a friendly tail wag or clever trick.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess makes bringing family's best friend on vacation easy. The Paws on Board program accommodates pets less than 25 pounds for an additional $25 per night and includes a "Woofer" or "Purr-fect" gift set featuring a plush bed, ceramic food and water bowls, food mat, pet toys and of course, treats. With plenty of pet-friendly paths and grassy areas nearby, a leisurely afternoon walk is a must for the vacation itinerary.
In the heart of Scottsdale's grass-lined Greenbelt recreation area, Chaparral Park offers a four-acre off-leash area where the people watching is often as exciting as the dog walking. Here, rover can roam across three acres of play features, water fountains and grassy terrain, conveniently separated into areas for active and passive doggies.