There are few better places to raise a family than North Scottsdale, Arizona. This area has been consistently rated one of the safest cities in the U.S., one of the best run cities and one of the best communities for young people. It is located about 30 minutes north of Phoenix in the scenic Sonoran Desert. With a close balance of nature and access to urban areas, the area has plenty of things to do for the whole family.
Being in Arizona, North Scottsdale has mild winters and very warm summers. Temperatures can get above 100 degrees in the summer, but the low humidity means it feels much cooler. The area becomes a popular place during the winter months as thousands of tourists from colder states visit for a taste of sunshine. It is pretty easy to get around. The area is close to Route 101 and the Scottsdale Airport.
North Scottsdale is part of the general Scottsdale Unified School District, which was named Arizona’s “Most Excelling” school district. The district has 30 schools that serve about 23,000 students. There are 9 schools with an A+ grade of excellence rating and 87 National Board Certified teachers, according to the district website. Schools have an 85 percent graduation rate and the class of 2017 earned about $70 million in scholarships. Nearby schools include Desert Mountain High School, Desert Canyon Middle School and Redfield Elementary School.
The people of North Scottsdale take pride in the environment, both working to preserve the Sonoran Desert and explore all of the local beauty. Many families take advantage of the extensive trail network and go hiking, biking or animal watching. Springtime is an especially great time for a hike as the wildflowers bloom along the trails.
One place to take the family is the McDowell Sonoran Preserve located near the McDowell Mountains. Open from sunrise to sunset, this preserve has more than 180 miles of trails. The preserve also has the award-winning Bajada Nature Trail. This trail is great for families, those new to hiking or wheelchair users. The trail is a half mile long and it has several interactive exhibits that tell stories of the area. The preserve offers a Family Passport which uses a scavenger hunt to teach children about the local wildlife. Those who get their passports stamped at all five trailheads receive a preserve bandana.
Another family-friendly nature area is the Scenic Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The trail covers a total of seven miles both out and back and it has little elevation gain. Fans of sleeping in the open air can make use of one of the park’s 76 campsites. There are two areas for picnicking that include a grill and a nearby playground. The park also hosts stargazing programs on Saturday evenings.
North Scottsdale is close to the borders of the Tonto National Forest. At nearly 3 million acres, this forest is the largest in Arizona and the fifth largest national forest in the U.S. The forest has several interpretive areas that take visitors through ruins from 1500 AD and has views of the historic Theodore Roosevelt Dam. Many people head to the forest to cool off from the heat at Saguaro Lake.
Families can enjoy indoor fun at the nearby OdySea Aquarium. At more than 200,000 square feet, this aquarium is the largest in the Southwest. Exhibits include Rivers of the World, with Piranhas from Brazil, and Sharks of the Deep. There are also touch pools where children can feel a passing stingray. The aquarium offers special tours where people can get close to marine animals. Children nine years and older can put on a wetsuit and SeaTREK helmet to get face to face with the aquarium’s fish. Groups can learn more about African black-footed penguins with their Penguin Interaction Program.
The Musical Instrument Museum in nearby Phoenix has activities for all ages. First opening in 2010, this museum is the largest of its type in the world. It has more than 6,500 instruments on display from 200 countries. Museum guests can play some of the instruments in the experience gallery. The museum also hosts several performances where visitors can hear the sounds of the unique instruments. Instruments from big name musicians such as John Lennon, Carlos Santana and Maroon 5 are inside the artist gallery. The museum offers several classes for children, such as the Mini Music Makers for those ages 0-5 and the Junior Museum Guides for grades 6-12.
The Big Surf Waterpark is a popular place to take the family on the warmer summer days. This waterpark has a few bragging rights as it was the first to have a wave pool in the U.S. Families with toddlers can head to the Captain Cook’s Landing where the kids can play on pool animal structures. Smaller children can slide down the rainbow colored Otter Slides in Bora Bora Bay. The daredevils of the group will enjoy the many water slides, including The Black Hole, Tahitian Twisters or Hurricane slides. The wave pool is still open, and visitors can rent boogie boards and surf boards.
By: Jeremy Alderman