As an East Valley native, I’ve spent most of my life living east of the Loop 101 and can even remember when parts of it were being built. At some point in my early twenties, I moved to the Old Town Scottsdale/Arcadia area and planted roots. Little did I know then, but ten years later, I’d still be living here…married, raising kids and working all in my former bar-hopping, mimosa-brunching stomping grounds.
These days, my life as mom of two school-aged kids is a lot less brunch and a lot more…kid stuff. Surprisingly enough, Old Town is pretty kid friendly during the day and we manage to stay busy exploring our little corner of the East(ish) Valley.
We LOVE Chaparral Park. It’s a quick 5 minute drive from our house, but also about 5 minutes from the 101. The playground is covered, providing ample shade and is wheelchair accessible with wide ramps and has accommodating swings. Bonus for me, is all the woodchips…no sand to be dumped in my car and house.
There is a pond for fishing or watching the many ducks and geese swim. Lots of grassy area, tables and a big, hilly, walking path that’s especially fun on scooters. The benches around the playground are placed close enough where I can let my 5 and 7 year old run free, but also be within my sight.
My 5 year old even ventures over to the nearby basketball court to shoot hoops. If you bring your dog, there’s a water fountain on the ground for him or her! Chaparral Dog Park is also nearby and a local favorite for letting the dogs run free. In the summer, Chaparral Pool is also there and has a beach style pool that is open to the public and fun for the kids.
Heading out with kids? We love Diego Pops! The food is delicious and so are the margaritas! After Diego Pops, head over to Sugar Bowl for dessert. My kids can be bribed to do just about anything in exchange for a trip to Sugar Bowl. My 7 year old gets a banana split and my 5 year old loves their root beer floats! There is an old time-y arcade to play in to work off that sugar rush.
If you’re looking for a date night spot, our go-to’s are Hand Cut Chophouse for a casual date or Maple&Ash if we’re feeling fancy. Hand Cut is trendy, but delicious burgers and one of kind cocktails. They have the best fries in Old Town. Maple&Ash is a whole experience. Dress code is enforced, the decor is super swanky and plan on being a little spendy. Their handmade pasta is known as “pillows of love” and they are just that: love. I highly recommend a reservation at either place, as getting in without one can be a challenge.
After dinner, head over to the speak easy at Hotel Adeline. You go into a wooden phone booth, pick up a pay phone (hey kids, let me tell you about the 1900’s), say the secret code (the front desk can help you with that) and gain access via a secret door to the best bar in all of Old Town. I try a new drink every time we go and always have a new favorite.
Favorite thing about your area for your family:
We love the walkability of Old Town and how busy it always is. There is always something to do either with the kids or for a date night. We love chatting with tourists about the area and giving our local advice to them! We also really enjoy just walking around the Waterfront, art galleries and shops. We often grab a coffee from Press or Fourtillfour and just take a few hours meandering around.
Favorite Play Place:
One thing majorly lacking is indoor play places. Pre-COVID, we loved visiting Mini Social. They serve coffee and have space for littles to play and moms to sit. They’ve just recently brought back play time, check their website for specifics since it’s every changing businesses reopen.
Favorite free/nearly-free activity:
I’m a sucker for the library. The Civic Center Library has so much to offer kids. My kids love their story time and the kids area built around a castle. It’s such an inviting place to hang out and read books and play (quietly). We love to take a walk around the Civic Center Park (unfortunately under construction until 2023) and grab lunch somewhere nearby. The Old Town Farmer’s Market is HUGE and a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. It‘s free to just walk around and sample, but I recommend going hungry because there is a lot of food vendors and you’ll leave disappointed if you don’t try something!
During the summer you can find us walking around Scottsdale Fashion Square and enjoying their AC. We love to window shop, go to the movies (hello Harkin’s summer specials!) and the kids love the food court choices. I let them each pick where they want to go and it makes for a fun meal for the whole family and everyone got to pick what they wanted. They just put in a Salad n Go in the food court and it’s been my go-to.
Favorite neighborhood class:
If you can’t tell, we love utilizing the city programs and services. My kids have done swim lessons through the City of Scottsdale and successfully learned to swim within one summer. El Dorado Pool has a slide and other kid-friendly activities like lessons.
A little outside of our “Old Town Scottsdale” bubble, but we also love Engineering for Kids in Phoenix. With after-school programs, summer camps and classes, parties, and evening/weekend classes – you can always find something to meet your needs! They bring the fun of science, technology, engineering, and math education to kids, ages 4 to 14. Kids have the opportunity to design, build, test, and refine their own creations in a safe and fun environment. This summer they will be at Octane Raceway in Scottsdale (closer to home) and my kids are super excited to try out their new VR gaming session! They will also be in Gilbert, NE Mesa, Ahwatukee! Check them out!
Check out the rest of where we play here!