Parents’ Travel Guide: What to Do in Scottsdale with Kids

With its golf courses, outdoor activities and enchanting desert landscape, Scottsdale, Arizona makes for the perfect family vacation spot for travellers with young children in tow.

Oct 1, 2014
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North outdoor pool
After a morning of desert exploring, the whole family will enjoy lounging poolside at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

There’s no gray zone with the desert—it either moves you, or it doesn’t. Although Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is just a 40-minute drive from bustling Phoenix, a vacation here will make you feel like you are cocooned in a blissful oasis in the wild desert wilderness. Tucked up into the foothills of Pinnacle Peak—accentuated with signature saguaros and the occasional crooning of coyotes in the distance—the Resort’s 40-acre (16 hectare) property channels desert Zen.

Why go

  • Plenty of sunshine. Scottsdale gets an incredible 330 days of sunshine a year.
  • Warm temperatures year round. Winter at your house is more than likely comprised of sleet and slush, with temperatures dipping below freezing. Winter in Scottsdale, however, means brilliant blue skies, T-shirt weather and plenty of pool time with temperatures around 70 degrees F (21 degrees C).
  • A chance to get to know the Sonoran Desert up close. This picturesque Southwestern region boasts plenty of biodiversity and stunning views.
  • Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. It’s the ideal luxe basecamp for outdoor excursions.

What the kids will love

  • A family nature hike up nearby Pinnacle Peak. Spotting quail, lizards and fascinating desert plants (all signed) will quickly become a favourite memory.
  • Roasting marshmallows over the patio fireplace.
  • Admiring the different kinds of cacti, including teddy bear cholla, prickly pear and strawberry hedgehog.
  • The family-friendly Dive-In movie nights. This unique seasonal activity lets families watch a movie from the pool and enjoy a themed buffet.
  • Leisurely bubble baths your room’s deep soaking tub.
  • Going on a scavenger hunt. They’ll have a blast following clues and finding treasures hidden all around the property grounds.
  • Kids For All Seasons. Kids can drop in for daily craft sessions, nature walks, playing on the Lego table or with Nintendo Wii at the Resort’s complimentary kids’ club.
  • Friday night stargazing with astronomer Richard Allen.

What you will love

  • The smell of mesquite wood crackling in the outdoor chimeneas that dot the winding pathways.
  • The Resort’s bright, festive Mexican-inspired design.
  • Saguaro cactus as tall as a house.
  • Lounging by the pool with a mango smoothie as the sun paints the rocky hills red.
  • Watching the stars from your walled courtyard patio, wrapped in a plush robe and frosty margarita in hand.
  • Dropping off the little ones at Kids For All Seasons while you join a morning hike, followed by yoga or nine holes of golf.
  • Tequila and local brew tastings.
  • Killer views of the glittering city lights below from Talavera restaurant’s al fresco balcony.

Look for

Mel, the resident bobcat, who frequents the front entrance courtyard in the early morning waiting for plump cottontails. If you’re up at dawn, linger on the patio sofa for a chance to see him. Even if you don’t see him in person, just grab a latte and paper, and enjoy. The sound of singing birds and the earthy morning air is lovely enough as it is.

Eat this

For grown-ups
Be sure to try the velvety buffalo tenderloin with bacon and a blackberry demi-glace at Talavera restaurant, the Resort’s modern take on the classic steakhouse with an emphasis on farm-to-table dishes.

For kids
They’ll have plenty to choose from off of Talavera’s cute pig-shaped menu, a colourful riff on a butcher’s pork cuts, with protein, starch and greens categories. The whole-wheat penne with chicken and broccoli is a healthful and tasty option. (Children ages one to four eat free at several dining spots on the property.)

Your whole family will be giddy over the special goodies the chef conjures up. The triangular, chocolate-dipped Rice Krispies treats, doubling as garnish to a short-stack of chocolate chip cookies over a bed of gummy bears, delivered with a jug of milk for a bedtime treat is a definite crowd-pleaser.

For the family
Don’t miss Proof, an American canteen, the Resort’s playful vintage Americana-themed restaurant that hits the comfort food classics, with ingredients hailing from all 50 states. The fun indoor-outdoor dining venue includes an old-time soda fountain that’s open for lunch and dinner, though some splurgers may want to order a milkshake at breakfast. Bonus: All ice cream is house made. Parents will love the spiked ice cream floats, while kids will love the “Sundae Socials” on Sunday afternoons featuring buy one, get one free ice cream sundaes, shakes and floats.

5 family to-dos

1. Outdoor adventure. The desert is your playground—and it’s literally right outside your door. Let the experts at Four Seasons partner Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) customize an adventure for your family.

Depending on your sporty inclinations, you might want to do a half-day mountain biking tour, a full day of trekking and kayaking or rafting the Salt River, or a Grand Canyon fly-and-hike. There’s also a four-day hiking tour to the red sandstone cliffs of Havasupai.

2. Bubble gum manicure with the girls. Treat them to a bubblegum-themed (and scented) Bubble Yummy manicure, pedicure or haircut for kids at the Spa.

3. Golf lessons with the boys. Ask the Concierge about the family-friendly golf programme, ideal for beginners of all ages. Juniors play free after 3:00 pm.

4. Kids For All Seasons. Kids ages five to 12 can stay all day (9:00 am to 5:00 pm) at this complimentary day camp, or just drop in for an hour or two. Warning: Most won’t want to leave! On the roster: swimming, crafts, archery, roping, kids’ golf, desert nature walks, horseshoes, air hockey, cooking classes, Foosball, Nintendo Wii, board games, movies with popcorn, plus seasonal fun like trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving at Halloween. For older kids, there’s a new teen hangout centre, too.

5. Experience the local colour. Mingle with bikers and cowboy crooners at Greasewood Flat, located just across the road. There’s live music by the bonfire at this rough ‘n’ tumble outdoor eatery set in a vintage bunkhouse and stagecoach stop. Be sure to try the bacon green chili cheeseburger—a house specialty.


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