13 Free Things To Do In Scottsdale, Arizona

If someone had told us a while ago that you can literally visit and do tons of activities in Scottsdale for FREE, we would've just laughed it off. I mean, seriously! Which city would allow you to do things for free? None, right?

Wrong! Today, when we actually researched and tried deeply, we found out that there are several activities and places in Scottdale, Arizona, that you can visit for free. 

While Scottsdale is well-known for its lavish resorts and expensive retail areas, there are plenty of free activities to enjoy the city's natural beauty, cultural depth, and lively community spirit without breaking the bank. 

Be it an art lover, adventure freak, outdoor enthusiast, or simply a history buff, this blog will list down the best and most free things to do in Scottsdale without spending a penny. Now, put on sunscreen, wear your favorite pair of shoes, get your shades on, and let's start exploring!

1. Civic Center Mall

If you're looking for cultural entertainment in Scottsdale, Arizona, Civic Center Mall will definitely be a priority. This beautiful landscape is stretched over 21 acres of land and is the cultural and civic hub of the city. You can attend the ongoing performances in theaters, a broad range of concerts by renowned artists, and many exhibitions around the year.

The Civic Center Mall has a lot of open areas for strolls, picnics, and community activities. Its unique lagoon, built by architect Edward L. Varney, gives a peaceful touch to the scenery.

With that being said, all these free local activities make the Civic Center Mall a must-visit on your next trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Civic Center Mall

2. McDowell Sonoran Preserve

If you're someone who doesn't like staying indoors and is wondering what to do in Scottsdale, then we've got the perfect place for you. McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a paradise for nature lovers and passionate hikers. It's stretched over 30,000 acres, and this pristine desert landscape provides you with free hiking trails for beginners and experts.

The park offers spectacular vistas of the surrounding mountains and distinctive desert plants, from the easy and family-friendly Gateway Loop to more difficult trails like Tom's Thumb Trail

Bonus Tip

It can be sunny in the daytime, so must carry your sunscreen with a higher SPF, a cap, shades, and suitable hiking shoes.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

3. Old Town Scottsdale ArtWalk

So many people have asked us about things to do in old town Scottsdale, so here we've answered. You can join Scottsdale's Old Town ArtWalk. Every Thursday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., galleries and studios open their doors to the public, transforming the streets of Old Town into an open-air art gallery.

If you love walking with your loved one or a group of friends, then wander through the charming streets to witness a beautiful collection of artworks, and converse with the local artists that are present there. The ArtWalk is a gateway to the history, traditions, and overall cultural experience of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Old Town Scottsdale ArtWalk4. Scottsdale Museum Of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)

Visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art for an unforgettable experience. Relax; you won't have to pay a heavy entrance fee to enter the museum because entry is free every Thursday after 5 p.m.

You will find thought-provoking artwork, exhibited by some of the most outstanding and globally praised artists. The museum provides a unique and immersive art experience for all art fans, from creative installations to mesmerizing visual exhibits.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)5. Scottsdale Rodeo Museum

Still searching for things to see in Scottsdale? The Scottsdale Rodeo Museum is the ideal location! We've always seen people giving good reviews about this museum, so the hype must be real! 

If you're eager to learn the rich history of the Wild West and experience the exciting world of rodeo, this is the perfect place on your list. You can expect to find an enriched collection of memorabilia, artifacts, and exhibits from the rodeo evolution in Arizona. You'll get a look inside the adrenaline-pumping world of cowboys and cowgirls, from rodeo champions to vintage gear. 

If you're a rodeo enthusiast reading this blog right now or someone who's just curious about Western heritage, then the Scottsdale Rodeo Museum promises a pleasant affair. What is the best part of it all? Avail the entry to the museum absolutely free! So, round up your friends and family and saddle up for a day of cowboy adventure at the Scottsdale Rodeo Museum. Yahoo!

Scottsdale Rodeo Museum6. Arizona Canal Trail

Tie up your shoelaces and get ready to hit the Arizona Canal Trail, a dramatic pathway that stretches through Scottsdale, Arizona. You can enjoy the view of urban bustle from the trail, which runs alongside the scenic Arizona Canal. 

Enjoy a leisurely stroll or bike ride while admiring the canal and surrounding desert scenery. For people looking for Scottsdale, Arizona, attractions, this trail will definitely satisfy their desires. It's best for outdoor activity and to get a refreshing view of nature's beauty.

Arizona Canal Trail7. Scottsdale Artisan Market

There’s no trip unless there’s some local shopping sprees and souvenirs for your loved ones involved. We couldn't miss this one! Scottsdale Artisan Market is a local market in different spots in Scottsdale. You can find them easily, as it's more crowded than other local markets, or you can find them on Google Maps too. 

This market sells gorgeous handcrafted goodies by local artists. There is also a beautiful collection of vintage jewelry, handmade pottery, exclusive paintings, and carefully crafted sculptures.

It's a fantastic opportunity to support the local artist community while also finding some treasures to take home with you.  Don't miss the opportunity!

Scottsdale Artisan Market8. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

Don't we all just wish to sit and travel by train? Especially if you're traveling with kids, you don't want to keep them from visiting this thrilling and adventurous park in Scottsdale. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a must-visit park featuring a 10,000-square-foot model railroad exhibit, a playground, picnic areas, and multiple historic railroad exhibits. 

The Scottsdale Charros Carousel, which is almost 50 years old and free to ride, is available. You can easily spend a few hours or a whole day in this park with your family and let the kids play to their fullest.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

9. Scottsdale Greenbelt

The Scottsdale Greenbelt is a 12-mile ribbon of beautiful parks and natural areas that runs across the city. 

If you're tired of all the extravagant activities and exclusive things to do in Scottsdale, Arizona, you might just want to relax for a day. If that is the case, you must visit Scottsdale Greenbelt. It's a perfect place for biking, jogging, running, and walking. You can think of it as a family picnic spot.

You will also find different bird species just wandering around. The Scottsdale Greenbelt will not disappoint, whether you are a nature enthusiast or simply searching for a peaceful respite in the center of the city.

Scottsdale Greenbelt10. Scottsdale Waterfront

You are welcome to visit the Scottsdale Waterfront and spend some quality time with your travel partners along the Arizona Canal. This spot is home to some of the most famous shops, restaurants, and picturesque walkways.

You don't only have to sit there; you can also stroll around and witness the exhibited public art and beautiful weather of Arizona. There may be different events or activities taking place at this location at particular times of the year.

Scottsdale Waterfront11. Brown's Ranch Trailhead

Since we're making a list of free things to do in Scottsdale this weekend, we couldn't leave this one out. Visit the Brown's Ranch Trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve to explore the magnificent desert environment. This trailhead connects to a number of hiking and biking trails that are suitable for people of all skill levels. While some walks are more difficult, there are other shorter and more careful choices for newbies. 

Bonus Tip

Wear comfortable clothes, bring plenty of water, wear jogging shoes, apply sunscreen, and enjoy the day!

Brown's Ranch Trailhead12. Explore Old Adobe Mission

Scottsdale has a treasure trove of history! You'll learn so much about its traditional and cultural importance when you visit the Old Adobe Mission, one of Scottsdale's historical landmarks. It was built in the late 1930s and to date, it is one of the oldest structures in the city.

The Old Adobe Mission Tour is one of the must-do things to do in downtown Scottsdale because you'll never forget this experience. Although you'll need to pay a minimal fee for the guided tour, the rest of the exploration is free. The mission's architecture and design highlight the area's cultural history and provide a look into its past.

Explore Old Adobe Mission13. Desert Botanical Garden (Free Admission Days)

It is located in Phoenix, which is not far away from Scottsdale. To visit the Desert Botanical Garden, you might have to pay the entrance fee, but there are particular community access days when you can enjoy free admission to this stunning desert oasis. 

What to expect in the Botanical Garden, a broad range of desert plants display their beauty all across the Sonoran Desert. To learn about the particular free admission days, visit their official website and take advantage of this opportunity. 

Desert Botanical Garden (Free Admission Days)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Scottsdale most known for?

Scottsdale is known for its large, luxury resorts, championship golf courses, and high-end boutiques, but Old Town Scottsdale is the city's beating heart.

How do I spend a day in Scottsdale, AZ?

Begin your day with a hike in McDowell Sonoran Preserve, then head to Old Town Scottsdale for shopping and dining, then to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and finally to a relaxing spa treatment.

Is Scottsdale expensive to visit?

A seven-day trip to Scottsdale costs about $1,607 for a single traveler, $2,886 for a couple, and $5,411 for a family of four.

Is Scottsdale more expensive than Phoenix?

Scottsdale is slightly more expensive than Phoenix, with median rent and house values substantially above the metro average.


Scottsdale, Arizona, is a dream destination for travelers and adventure freaks, as this city has a lot to offer everyone. There are tons of attractions and free things to do in Scottsdale.

There's plenty for everyone to enjoy without breaking the budget, from experiencing the natural beauty of McDowell Sonoran Preserve to immersing oneself in the rich history of the Scottsdale Rodeo Museum.

Scottsdale is the kind of city that allows you to experience its natural beauty, contemporary art, exquisite culinary exposure, and relaxing spa treatments. All this is within a reasonable budget. You can save a lot by visiting the spots we've mentioned in the blog for free. Enjoy!

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