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Things to Do on a Budget in Scottsdale, Arizona

scottsdale budget travel

Positioned east of Phoenix, Scottsdale has long been a must-visit for Arizona tourists. Boasting a wealth of spas, golf courses and resorts, it’s built a reputation as a desert oasis – the perfect place to put up your feet and treat yourself.

But far from a succession of putting greens and aromatic saunas, Scottsdale provides plenty of things to enjoy on a budget too! Let’s take a look at six of the best things to do in Scottsdale Arizona, that won’t require you take out a second mortgage.

1. Tour the city on the Scottsdale Trolley

Free transport to all of Scottsdale’s most famous attractions? You heard right! The Scottsdale Trolley has become somewhat of an attraction itself, operating seven days a week from 6am to 10pm. It even has a tour of its own, taking visitors on a journey through the art and culture of Downtown Scottsdale every Thursday.


2. Take a trip back in time at the Scottsdale Historical Museum

Located in Old Town Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Historical Museum is set up inside the city’s very first school. Because of this the space is understandably limited, but the museum still holds an enormous amount of information about the city’s first settlers, and is a must for history buffs.


3. Sample the smells and tastes of the Old Town Farmers Market

Open every Saturday morning, the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market is a feast for the senses. Alongside the fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and meats, you’ll find handmade delights like pastries, jams and hot foods, live entertainment, cooking demonstrations and more. Free to enter, the Old Town Farmers Market highlights the close-knit sense of community that Scottsdale is famous for.

 credit: nearbynews.com

4. Play conductor at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

A 30 acre park that takes pride of place in the heart of Scottsdale, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park offers visitors the perfect family day out. Ride the Paradise and Pacific railway, gaze at the intricate model railroads, take a look at the history of rail travel at the Scottsdale Railroad Museum, or enjoy the fun of the vintage 1960s carousel which still operates to this day. And the best bit? The park is free to enter!

5. Check out the art around Civic Center Mall

The mall might not be the first destination that comes to mind for visitors of Scottsdale, but it should be. Surrounding the Civic Center Mall you’ll find some stunning works of outdoor art, most notably the LOVE sculpture that seems purpose-built for keen Instagrammers! And if you haven’t had enough art after a walk around the outside of the mall, inside you’ll find the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (or SMoCA for short).


6. Get a sense of scale at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Opened in 2009 and covering no less than 36,400 acres, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve aims to protect and sustain the natural desert habitat near Scottsdale. A wealth of trails wind through the preserve, and are strictly for non-motorized use, maintaining the natural quiet of the stunningly desolate landscape. If you want to check out what Scottsdale might’ve been like pre-settlement, look no further!


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