The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat offering some amazing hikes for the whole family. There is a very generous amount of different hikes, too, at various degrees of competency and fitness level. For example, the Gateway Loop is very rocky so remember to wear your hiking boots and bring poles! Alternatively, Browns Ranch is a lot easier and a chance to enjoy the desert scenery in greater depth as you won’t have to look down all the time! Or what about the Bell Pass, the Sunrise, or the Wingate? The list continues! There really is a trail for anyone who wants to get out and enjoy desert nature at its finest.
If the family enjoys mini-train rides, a lovely park with concessions, and model railroading, make sure you stop in at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Kids (and dads!) of every age will adore the huge 15 in. gauge railroad, Magma Arizona Railroad locomotive, a railroad museum and much, much more. There are hundreds of square feet of meticulously constructed dioramas with every gauge of model train running around, together with interactive buttons that allow you to activate various equipment, sound and light parts! The generously sized park has several play areas, a carousel and a gift shop to purchase snacks and souvenirs.
If you’re looking for a casual family place for a fun day out, head for Butterfly Wonderland. Its remarkable state of the art facility is home to an incredible glass atrium that provides the perfect tropical rainforest habitat for thousands of butterflies from all over the world that fly around freely. There is an educational “Flight of the Butterflies” 3D movie to see, and of particular interest to the kids, I’m sure, an interactive insect exhibits. There is also a café serving tasty refreshments as well as a gift shop. And don’t forget to bring the zoom camera!
Take the family for a leisurely stroll through historic Old Town to get a real taste of Scottsdale. The area is conveniently situated downtown, within an easily walkable neighborhood filled to the brim with award winning restaurants, fine art galleries, souvenir outlets, jewelry shops and unusual stores. As you walk past the Little Red Schoolhouse, Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop and Rusty Spur Saloon, you’ll easily feel transported back in time. There are some nice cafes around too, if you just want to sit for a while and watch the world go by.