In Scottsdale, there are endless ways to have fun for free. While the spas, golf courses and resorts are all incredible, there are also plenty of other ways to enjoy the city without the expensive price tag. Here are some of our favorite ways to have fun without spending any cash.
Take a Ride on the Downtown Trolley
Photo credit: Taste It Tours
Sometimes it can be fun to switch up your mode of transportation and get a fresh perspective on things. Ditch your car and spend the day exploring downtown Scottsdale via trolley! The Scottsdale Downtown Trolley runs through Downtown Scottsdale and gives you an opportunity to jump off at various destinations and see the best parts of the area, including Old Town Scottsdale, Scottsdale Fashion Square, and the Waterfront area. The trolley stops every 15 minutes and runs 7 days a week. Best of all, it’s free to ride!
Visit Papago Park
Photo credit: Visit Phoenix
Load up on your SPF, put on some exercise clothes, and get ready to explore Papago Park! There is a lot of ground to cover during a visit to Papago Park. Start with the very brief hike up the mountain to see the Hole in the Rock lookout point, which is one of the highest spots in the area. It offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains and park. It is amazing to walk around and check out the different sights from all angles. This hike is under half a mile each way, and even those with minor difficulties walking should be able to manage the trek up.
Follow up your brief hike with a picnic under the palm trees in the park, or by casting a line and fishing in one of the park’s several ponds. If you are looking for a little more exercise, there are several longer walking and hiking trails in the park as well. It’s a beautiful spot to spend a day outside, and it’s completely free!
Learn About Football History at the Fiesta Bowl Museum
Photo credit: Fiesta Bowl
Calling all football fans! Every year, Phoenix hosts the Fiesta Bowl, an American college football bowl game. This event draws in a huge crowd every January, and it is always a good time! You get the opportunity to relive the excitement by visiting the dedicated Fiesta Bowl museum.
The Fiesta Bowl Museum is a free attraction where you can go and learn about the story behind the bowl game. The museum is located near the Scottsdale Fashion Mall, and provides insights into the history of the bowl game up to the present day, along with fun facts and memorabilia from various years of the bowl game. The staff is welcoming and they are very knowledgeable if you have any questions while visiting!
Enjoy the Scottsdale Quarter Splash Pad
Photo credit: Surprise AZ Mom
The ultimate outdoor activity on a hot day is a trip to the Scottsdale Quarter to visit their splash pad. Located in the main quad of the Scottsdale Quarter, the splash fountains run Monday through Saturday from 10 am-9 pm and Sunday from 12 pm-6 pm. This free attraction is a great way to let your kids cool off and splash around, while you relax in one of the comfortable lounge chairs surrounding the splash pad.
Bring your friends and grab a coffee from one of their nearby shops for the ultimate summertime hangout.
Sign up for a library card from the Scottsdale Public Library
Photo credit: Scottsdale Public Library
Scottsdale has an incredible library program available for free to anyone who lives in the city. With four locations spread throughout the city, there is guaranteed to be one close by to you. The libraries are a great place to go on a hot day to get out of the heat. Enjoy the AC, browse the shelves for new releases or DVDs, and enjoy being part of the bigger Scottsdale community! All of the locations also have great areas to study or work if you are looking for a spot to go to get out of the house.
Better yet, the Scottsdale Public Library has a ton of free events open to the public every month. From family storytime to classes on how to use Microsoft Office, the library puts on a ton of in-person and virtual programming that is all free to the public!
Have a photoshoot with the LOVE Sculpture
Photo credit: Scottsdale Public Art
Located near the Civic Center and City Hall in Scottsdale, this iconic red sculpture is one of the most eye-catching pieces of art in the city. The LOVE series of sculptures was designed by Robert Indiana during the Vietnam War, and the collection is one of the most memorable works within the pop art movement.
It is free to visit the sculpture, and it makes for the perfect backdrop to take photos. Whether you are taking family portraits or just having a photoshoot for your dog, plan a photoshoot and head over to this fun spot to snap some pictures.
Take A Hike Through The Sonoran Desert
Photo credit: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the official name for the vast ecosystem of desert land and hiking trails that surround the Scottsdale area. The McDowell Mountains are part of this large protected desert preserve, and the public is welcome to hike, bike, or ride horses on many of the trails. There are several different trailhead starting points throughout the city, and you will find maps and helpful volunteer rangers at many of the trailheads who can assist you in picking out the best hike for your needs.
There are trail options for everyone: from easy paved walking trails to strenuous eight mile hikes, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is one of the highlights of being in Scottsdale. All of the trails are free to access, and you never know what kind of flowers and wildlife you will see on your hike. The mountains are beautiful in all the seasons, and being in the preserve is the ultimate activity when you want to get out of the house.
It certainly does not have to cost a lot to plan an awesome outing around Scottsdale. Whether you are in the mood for a picnic or some sight-seeing, there are plenty of free activities that your whole family will enjoy. The beautiful desert surrounding the city acts like a free playground in your own backyard, full of incredible ways to get outside, have fun, and connect with nature.