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Your Best Family Trip Yet
Nestled amidst a 30,000-acre desert playground and the stately McDowell Mountain Range, Scottsdale is chock-full of outdoor activities that are sure to become unforgettable family memories. With year-round sunshine and resorts that cater to travelers with children, Scottsdale is an ideal destination for your next family trip—and as a background for this year’s holiday card photo.
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    Photo By Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch
    Day 1
    Head to the Ranch
    After you arrive in Scottsdale, make your way to the ranch—the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch, that is. The staff at this 27-acre property in the shadow of the McDowell Mountains are experts at catering to families. Ten swimming pools with 45 waterfalls and even a three-story waterslide will delight kids. When they tire from swimming, kids can check out Camp Hyatt to make pinch pots, Native American headbands, and listen to a cowboy storyteller recount tales of the Old West. The spa and five on-property restaurants will appeal to parents as well. Relax after your day of travel with some pool time, then choose from Italian or Southwestern cuisine for dinner before surprising the kiddos with a bona fide gondola ride!
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    Photo By OdySea Aquarium
    Day 2
    Saddle Up
    Head into the Sonoran Desert on a horseback ride with Cave Creek Outfitters for a true Wild West experience. Groups are kept small, so the wranglers are always ready to assist novice riders, while guides will share legends of the desert. At the end of the ride, kids can learn some cowboy games: hanging horseshoe ring toss, tomahawk throwing, bow and arrow archery, and stationary steer roping. It’s all followed by a kid-friendly meal of a grilled hamburger or chicken breast, with all the fixings including baked beans.

    After you’ve brushed off the dust from the trail, head for another landscape entirely at OdySea in the Desert. With its tropical, Indiana-Jones atmosphere and fun mirror maze, kids will be game to explore. OdySea in the Desert also includes the largest aquarium in the Southwest, so your trip to Arizona can include some unexpected shark-spotting and penguin selfies. The adjacent Butterfly Wonderland is home to some 3,000 of the colorful insects and features a new Edible Insect Station. Adventurous eaters can snack on chips made from crickets and chocolate covered ants!
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    Day 3
    A Four-Wheel Drive Adventure
    Head out this morning on a Jeep adventure along the fabled Apache Trail. This route, used for centuries by Apache traders, spotlights some of the most stunning scenery in the Southwest, and offers chances to spot many animals that call the desert home, including bighorn sheep, javelina, deer, mountain lion, and eagles. You’ll pass sheer canyon walls and pristine lakes before stopping at Tortilla Flat, an old stagecoach stop where you can sample prickly pear cactus ice cream. For dinner, head to the local favorite, Barrio Queen, where tacos and burritos are served amidst a colorful Day of the Dead themed décor. Parents will appreciate the margaritas in chipotle, cucumber, and ginger variations.
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    Day 4
    Ride the Rails
    It’s all aboard at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, a unique park operated by the city of Scottsdale. Covering some 30 acres, the park offers rides on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and a 1950s vintage Allan Herschell carousel. Walk through history in the Scottsdale Railroad Museum and check out the new 10,000-square-foot building that houses model railroads.

    Lunch at The Thumb and fuel your system at this combination gas station and restaurant that offers some of the best BBQ around. After lunch, head for AZ on the Rocks. Here kids can learn the basics of rock climbing, and after a short orientation on using a climbing rope, they will soon be scaling the 30-foot climbing walls.

    If your kids aren’t completely wiped out yet, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West will fascinate older kids with tales of the people who settled the West and the Native American nations that lived in the region before they arrived.
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    Day 5
    Spend Time by the Pool
    You’ve covered a lot in four days, and it’s likely that your kids will appreciate some time sitting poolside at the Hyatt Regency before you head home. While you may be exhausted, you haven’t exhausted the family outing options in Scottsdale—perhaps you’ll try to squeeze in a helicopter flight above the Grand Canyon or a spin on the tracks in a go-cart on the Octane Raceway. Or maybe it’s better to leave something for your next visit.