10 Best Family-Friendly Museums in Scottsdale That the Whole Family Will Love

Scottsdale's rich Western heritage and natural desert beauty make it a natural choice for a family vacation. From horseback riding through the desert to hiking the McDowell Mountains, Scottsdale offers plenty of opportunities for fun and exploration. Scottsdale also has several family-friendly museums that will appeal to both parents and kids.

The Musical Instrument Museum, for example, tops our list for its array of hands-on exhibits and interactive displays. Kids and parents will enjoy viewing the museum's vast collection of musical instruments from around the world.

If your kids love trains, be sure to plan a stop at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. The park features historic locomotives, a carousel, and a train museum with model railroad displays. For a sweet snack or train souvenir, stop by Hartley's General Store for hand dipped ice cream, food and drinks, and Thomas the Tank toys. You can even take a fun one-mile train ride around the park.

For a fun glimpse into Arizona's territorial past, head north of Scottsdale to the Pioneer Living History Museum. The 85-acre property features a mix of authentic and reproduced buildings, including a blacksmith shop, sheriff's office, jail and opera house. Costumed craftspeople bring the whole thing to life, showing what life was like in pioneer-era Arizona.


The Commemorative Air Force seeks to preserve a flying example of every aircraft from WWII, and the Arizona Wing is home to some of the most famous airplanes of the era, including the B-17G Flying Fortress Sentimental Journey (still in flying...  Read More

Arizona's territorial days are recreated on this 85-acre property, where costumed craftspeople work among authentic and reproduced buildings. Special events like a lively bluegrass festival, a Civil War reenactment, and an antique tractor show...  Read More

Many visitors to Old Town Scottsdale stroll right past this local gem, located on the grassy pedestrian mall in the downtown district. The Scottsdale Historical Museum seeks to present, preserve, and interpret local Scottsdale and the cultural...  Read More

Heard Museum

Heard Museum North is the Scottsdale extension of the world-famous Heard Museum in Downtown Phoenix. The North Scottsdale facility features two exhibition galleries, a gift shop, and a garden cafe. The world-renown collection of the Heard Museum...  Read More

Presenting the world's largest display of firefighting equipment, this museum highlights 100 restored pieces of hand-to-hand, horse-drawn, and mechanized firefighting equipment from 1725 to 1961. Additional exhibits include a fire truck for...  Read More

Five galleries and a sculpture garden make up the nucleus of this facility. Additional exhibits of interest include displays of international art, architecture and design, with a predominant focus on hometown attributes. The focus of the SMoCA...  Read More

Scottsdale's new Museum of the West celebrates the spirit, history and culture of the American West. The museum calls itself a "study in the west," featuring Western art, storytelling, and historical artifacts that help convey the story and...  Read More

Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale is an unique facility featuring an indoor rain forest environment that is home to the largest butterfly pavilion in America. The museum features a 3D theater, butterfly emergence gallery, conservatory, a live...  Read More

The Musical Instrument Museum, also known as the MIM, celebrates art, music and culture by documenting the history of musical instruments from around the world. Everyone from Carlos Santana to Tony Bennett have sung the praises of this bright,...  Read More

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a train-lover's haven located in the heart of Scottsdale, Arizona. The park offers train and carousel rides for all ages, open green space for family picnics, historic Arizona railroad artifacts, model...  Read More


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega has lived in the Arizona desert since she was a teenager. She works as a writer and editor in Phoenix with her four dogs and two cats.

She received her MFA in Creative...  More About Patricia