Things to Do in Scottsdale, Arizona

Many Scottsdale Activities and Attractions

Sculpture of cowboy on bucking horse in Old Scottsdale
Richard Cummins / Getty Images

Scottsdale, Arizona's slogan is "The West's Most Western Town". With a population of over 200,000 and more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Scottsdale continues to grow its population as well as its tourism. More than seven million people visit Scottsdale each year. You may wonder, what do they do there besides lounge at exquisite resorts, and eat at fine restaurants? Well, here is our list of some of the best Scottsdale attractions that you won't want to miss.

While Scottsdale has a reputation for being where the rich and famous come to play and shop, you might be surprised at how many things you can do in Scottsdale that are free. If you are on a budget, check out Free and Cheap in Scottsdale.

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      Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction
      Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson

      The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company is well known for being the premiere classic car auction company in the United States. At the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction even the most serious collector will find enticements in the form of some of the most exclusive vehicles available at auction.

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      Paper Kite on flowers - Butterfly Garden
      Denis Bringard / Getty Images

      At Butterfly Wonderland you can walk amongst thousands of butterflies in the largest butterfly atrium in the country.

      Next door, kids (probably ages seven and up) will have a blast trying to master the mazes at OdySea Mirror Maze.

      In the same complex, Odysea Aquarium invites people of all ages to experience the wonders of the creatures that live in our oceans, seas, and rivers.

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      Dolphinaris Arizona
      Courtesy of Dolphinaris Arizona

      Meet and greet a bottlenose dolphin at Dolphinaris Arizona in Scottsdale. A variety of packages are available, some in the water and even a land option if you don't want to get wet. In any case, you'll learn about these magnificent creatures and have a unique experience in the desert.

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      Fiesta Bowl Museum
      Courtesy of Ziegler Fiesta Bowl Museum

      In central Scottsdale, at the corporate offices of the Fiesta Bowl, you can stop in during the week and visit the Fiesta Bowl Museum. Trophies relating to college football are on display, as are exhibits about the history of the Fiesta Bowl organization, its volunteers and the games. The museum is free.

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      Golf course at Phoenician Resort, Scottsdale.
      John Hay / Getty Images

      If you are a golfer you will find paradise in Scottsdale. There are about 50 golf courses just in Scottsdale. Championship courses of all types can be found here, including TPC Scottsdale where the Waste Management Phoenix Open is played each winter as one of the first PGA tournament events of the year.

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      Topgolf isn't just a driving range where you can hit a hundred balls. It's also a place where a group of friends or family can play target golf in friendly competition utilizing user-friendly technology. This isn't a simulation. You'll hit real golf balls with real clubs. All levels of golfers will have fun.

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      Golf course at Phoenician Resort, Scottsdale
      Jan Butchofsky / Getty Images

      A hot air balloon ride can give you a view of Scottsdale that relatively few people ever see. It's a truly unique experience!

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      This greenbelt in Scottsdale actually connects four parks: Vista Del Camino, Eldorado, Indian School, and Chaparral. The greenbelt is 12 miles long and is the most popular place in town for inline skaters, as well as joggers, cyclists, walkers, and anyone with a dog. There are sports fields, ramadas, fishing lakes, tennis courts, and more.

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      Part of Arizona State University, the Kerr Cultural Center was originally intended as a hall for chamber music. Chamber performances are still held there, as well as other types of musical programs and concerts. This is a smaller venue, making the programs intimate and enjoyable.

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      Kerr Cultural Center
      Courtesy of Kerr Cultural Center

      Unique park amenities for the young ones include a lovely carousel. This park is special because of the trains and railroad-related exhibits. A ten-minute train ride also takes you through an arboretum located in the park.

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      Each winter, Arizona and guest Native American representatives present outdoor programs featuring music, dance, and cultural interpretations. Free admission.

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      Cowboy with 'Welcome to Old Town Scottsdale' sign
      Charles Cook / Getty Images

      If it isn't too hot and you like to walk and window shop, forget that traditional mall and make your way to downtown Scottsdale. Here you'll find winding streets full of unique shops and galleries. You may also hear this area referred to as Fifth Avenue Shops.

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      Parada del Sol
      Courtesy of Western Spirit Scottsdale's Museum of the West

      Professional cowboys from all over the country converge on north Scottsdale for the Parada del Sol Rodeo. The Rodeo is a culmination of various Scottsdale events sponsored by the Scottsdale Jaycees, including the Parada del Sol Parade.

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      Scottsdale Art Shows

      Two art shows come to Scottsdale each winter and stay for about six weeks. Both the Arizona Fine Art Expo and the Celebration of Fine Art are popular attractions for serious art lovers and non-serious art browsers alike.

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      Each Spring, thousands of people converge on the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall for a three-day festival packed with entertainment, art, crafts, interactive activities, artist demonstrations, and more.

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      Every Thursday night you can stroll the streets of downtown Scottsdale and enjoy special exhibits with artists' receptions, demonstrations and more. It's free—unless you fall in love with a work of art and decide to take it home with you.

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      The Scottsdale Center for the Arts holds musical and theatrical events, festivals, and educational programs throughout the year.

      The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is in the same complex.

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      Scottsdale Culinary Festival
      Courtesy of Scottsdale Culinary Festival

      Each April, Scottsdale hosts a multi-day festival of food, music, entertainment. Did we mention food? This very popular event is a fundraiser for arts and art education programs for students in the Valley of the Sun.

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      The most popular mall in the greater Phoenix area is located near downtown Scottsdale. Shopping at unique one-of-a-kind boutiques and people-watching are all popular activities at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Don't worry, there are plenty of stores for regular working folks, too.

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      Sculpture of cowboy on bucking horse in Old Scottsdale
      Richard Cummins / Getty Images

      In the category of free entertainment, how about getting in the car and going on a hunt? Scottsdale has an extensive collection of award-winning public art, which includes the lizard-laden walls of the Pima Freeway, the fishy decor of Indian School Road and many other indoor and outdoor displays. At the Web site link provided, you can learn about them, find out where they are, and hunt them down yourself.

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      Trolley bus in downtown Scottsdale
      Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images

      A two-hour free guided tour on the Scottsdale Trolley where you'll learn about the districts, galleries, restaurants, shopping, and history of the downtown Scottsdale area.

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      Spring training baseball at Scottsdale Stadium, Arizona
      Kerrick James / Getty Images

      During the entire month of March each year, the valley comes alive for baseball fans with Spring Training Baseball. The Cactus League allows the fans to see lots of teams and players up close and personal for a reasonably priced ticket. The San Francisco Giants call Scottsdale Stadium home during Spring Training. At Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, north of downtown Scottsdale, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies play Cactus League baseball.

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      Taielsin West by Frank Lloyd Wright in Scottsdale
      Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

      Nestled in the foothills of the rugged McDowell Mountains and surrounded by the spectacular Sonoran Desert lays a 600-acre complex called Taliesin West. This Scottsdale attraction was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. You can visit this Frank Lloyd Wright winter residence which is still home to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Guided tours of the grounds and buildings are available.

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      Close-up of man riding longboard
      Westend61 / Getty Images

      Got a skateboard or inline skates? At Eldorado Park in Scottsdale, the skate park is free to the public.

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      Western Spirit Scottsdale's Museum of the West
      Courtesy of Western Spirit Scottsdale's Museum of the West

      In the downtown Scottsdale Arts District, right off Scottsdale Road and Main Street, you'll discover one of the newest additions to the many wonderful Scottsdale destinations. This museum celebrates the Old West through paintings, sculptures, film, lectures, and other community events.