10 Best Free Things to Do in Scottsdale

Scottsdale is a sightseer's delight. The unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert serves as a backdrop for exploring the city, which manages to be at once both highly cosmopolitan and ruggedly Western. Even better, you don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the city. 

Take a stroll around Old Town, Scottsdale's historic city center, which gives visitors a sense of the city's cowboy heritage while showcasing its modern eclectic array of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops. While you're in Old Town, stop in at the Scottsdale Historical Museum, located inside the city's first school house. The museum is small but provides insight into the lives of the city's founder and early settlers.

For families, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is an excellent free attraction that will entertain kids of all ages. Older visitors too will enjoy the park's model train displays as well as the retired locomotives now parked on the grounds of the railroad park.

Scottsdale has a thriving, internationally ranked art scene. If you're in town on a Thursday night, set aside some time for the city's popular art walk, which traverses downtown's Marshall Way Arts District.

For a great photo opportunity, don't forget to take a stroll along Scottsdale's Civic Center Mall, home to downtown's most popular outdoor art, including the famous "Love" sculpture.

If you're a college football aficionado, check out the Ellie & Michael Ziegler Fiesta Bowl Museum in downtown Scottsdale. The museum documents many of the greatest moments in Fiesta Bowl history. You can check out an array of exhibits...  Read More

Scottsdale Civic Center Mall features almost three acres of pristine open public space. The park is located in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, running eastward from Brown Avenue to 75th Street, and then southward from 1st Avenue to 2nd Street....  Read More

This desert park, dotted with red rock and weather-sculpted buttes, is located near the zoo and the botanical gardens. A network of trails runs through the grounds, and fishing lagoons punctuate the landscape. Ramadas (covered picnic shelters)...  Read More

Marshall Way Arts District

Scottsdale has achieved international recognition as a haven for art collectors, with more than 100 galleries and a thriving local population of nationally-recognized artists. The Marshall Way Arts District is the place to explore Scottsdale art...  Read More

Cosanti Originals

Cosanti, located off busy Doubletree Road, is the working studio of world-renowned architectural innovator Paolo Soleri. Look for the rustic sign along the road that says "Soleri, Visitors Welcome." The rambling desert property features terraced...  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

When you want an up-close experience with the majestic beauty of the desert, head to Pinnacle Peak Park in Scottsdale. Pinnacle Peak is one of the Valley's most iconic natural landmarks and a popular destination for local hikers and visitors....  Read More

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve protects more than 30,000 acres of pristine desert in north Scottsdale. This is a hiker's paradise, with more than 115 miles of trails, including more than 60 miles of shared-use trails. Trailhead gates are open...  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

Old Town Scottsdale is the heart of the city, boasting sparkling fountains, green lawns, and outdoor sculptures celebrating the city's Old West heritage. Art galleries, museums, boutiques, and cafes line the streets of Old Town, offering both...  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