We recently spent a full day in Old Town Scottsdale! Scottsdale is our hometown and the Old Town area is one of our favorites to wander as there is so much to do within walking distance. Whether you’re visiting from out of town or a Phoenix local, here is a fun list that will keep kids smiling as you explore Old Town.
Scottsdale Civic Center Park – this area is a great place to start! There is no playground, but kids will love the foundations and ducks, running in the green grass, and admiring the gorgeous flowers. The LOVE statue is a great family photo op! Also, newly installed by the ponds are Sun Lanterns (and they glow at night). Further down are fun little merry go rounds, another contribution from the Scottsdale Public Art. Our kids played on these for a good half hour.
Across from the merry go rounds is the Scottsdale Historical Museum. It is free to tour. The employees are so friendly and pointed out a few exhibits which would interest our kids. Don’t miss ringing the huge bell! Also pick up a free brochure explaining the self guided tour of Old Town and its history. Even if you don’t follow the exact route, it’s very helpful and interesting to refer to when walking around, a great mini-history lesson of the city for older children.
Scottsdale Civic Center Library – also in the park area is a huge library with a fabulous children’s area. (You can park in the parking garage for free, but only for 3 hours.) Kids will love the castle decor, the little tower for reading or playing, and all the toys and educational activities scattered around at various tables. Ask a librarian about storytime hours too!
Food Time – there are endless options in Old Town! Some of our kid friendly favorites are Rehab Burger, Morning Squeeze, Breakfast Club, Arcadia Farms, and Brat Haus. For sure, don’t miss stopping for some ice cream treats at the Sugar Bowl! This 1950’s style diner has amazing floats and malts, epic sundaes and yummy single serve scoops. There’s even a small arcade in the back. We love taking visitors here!
Also, if you’re in the mood for coffee, there are several independently owned shops that we visit often. Try Cartel Coffee, Sip Coffee, Four ‘Till Four, or Regroup Coffee for your caffeine fix or pastry time.
Shopping – Old Town has some of the best shops for purchasing souvenirs, gifts or unique items with a Western or Arizona theme. Jewelry and art stores are also in abundance! Two of our favorite stops for kids are Bischoff’s Shades of the West and Scottsdale Southwest – both have a great kids sections of books, toys and clothing. Cactus Hut is also a fun store. Also, Zoolikins has a selection of Arizona themed kid items, as well as being a fantastic resource for all things baby related (carriers, cloth diapers, food utensils, and classes).
There’s also a huge mall, Scottsdale Fashion Square, with two floors of shopping, a Harkins theatre, a huge food court and more. We love the Disney Store here!
Desert Stages Theatre is also located in the mall. We recently saw a youth production of Peter Pan and are eagerly waiting for Aladdin Jr. to come to stage later this year. These types of shows are a great way to introduce theatre to children. See their website for their current season and consider making an evening show during your next Old Town visit!
Mini Social – next to Zoolikins is an indoor play area for ages 6 and under. They offer a variety of toys and activities, along with a small cafe of drinks and food. If the weather drives you indoors, or you want to meet up with friends, this is a great option! Cost: $5-9/person, depending on age and number of children.
Ride the Trolley – There are numerous free parking garages around Old Town, and to make the deal sweeter, there’s a free trolley to transport you around town! Stops are labeled, or you can flag one down at any place besides a stop light intersection. The one we rode also had a driver giving a brief history of various places. The kids loved seeing things from a different perspective and it allowed us to see more without wearing out little legs.
Museums – there are a couple options for indoor exploring. Other than the historical museum, there is The Art of Ice Cream Experience and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. The Art of Ice Cream has a coloring wall, a ball pit, a bowling alley and more — all with an ice cream theme! Think color and cute Instagram photos of the kiddos. Tickets are $15/adult, $13/ages 4-11 (3 and under are free). The Western Spirit Museum has a large collection of art, pottery and western apparel, like an impressive collection of saddles. In our opinion, it is not geared for children, but they do a good job offering kid friendly activities on the western theme. Our kids enjoyed the three tables to design their own movie posters and the western “Chutes and Ladders” game (and mom loved them being distracted for 10 minutes so she could actually read the signs). Be sure to ask for the children’s clipboard of special activities; complete a sheet and return it to the welcome desk for a free prize! Adults are $15/person, children 6-17 are $8/person (5 and under are free). Also, from November-April Scottsdale residents are free on Thursdays with proof of residence.
Arizona Canal – we absolutely love bike riding along this canal, but it’s also perfect for walking and meandering. The paths are wide and paved, you will likely see ducks in the water too which kids will enjoy. Located along the west end of Old Town, you can access all the shops and restaurants before or after exploring, including trolley stops. If you are inclined to take a bike ride, there are several rental shops, from electric bikes to kid bicycles.
Thanks for joining us in our little tour! Please let us know if you have a favorite stop in Old Town. We’re always excited to check out new places in our hometown.