Families, here's a list of must-do local recommendations to explore on your next Phoenix Staycation. 4-day weekend? School break? Take your kids on a tour of The Valley Of The Sun! Upvote your favorites, and share your tips too!
Goldfield (Ghost Town)
Beth Wood: Step back in time to 1893 while you explore Goldfield Ghost Town. Have fun learning about the past in Phoenix's only authentic ghost town. Goldfield's attractions offer something for everyone and include: panning for gold, old west gun fight, underground guided tours through mines, a ride on the Superstition Narrow Gauge Railroad, reptile exhibit, zip lining, horse back riding, jeep tours, museums, shooting gallery and more. You can also shop for souvenirs at the on-site merchants or grab a bite to eat at the Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon.
Cost: Free Admission, Price Varies per Attraction
Saguaro Lake Ranch - Tubing on the Salt River
May - Sept
Katie G.: Cool off during the hot, summer Arizona months with a float on the river. The Lower Salt River offers fun, family-friendly tubing experiences during the summer months and when water flow conditions are favorable. Families will start at the top of the river and float down on tubes as they enjoy the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Tube rentals and life jackets included in your fee. Choose from the 45 min Scenic Loop or the 2.5 - 3 hour Sheep's Crossing.
Ages: Must be 9-years-old and 4 feet tall
Cost: $15 - $20
Open Tues - Sat
Katie G.: Spend a day on the farm at Superstition Farm, a dairy farm located in Mesa. Hop aboard a tractor-pulled hayride for a 1-1.5 hour farm tour where you will learn about cows in the dairy barn and where milk comes from. Visit the petting zoo where you can pet and feed sheep, goats, chickens, horses, bunnies, turtles and pigs, which are all rescue animals. On your way out stop by the country store to sample a fresh glass of milk, grab a scoop of homemade ice cream or purchase dairy products produced on the farm to take home and enjoy.
Cost: $9.50 - $7.50/Farm Tours; $3.75 - $2.75/Petting Zoo
Arizona Museum of Natural History
Beth Wood: The Arizona Museum of Natural History features collections and exhibits focused on paleontology, history, geology, art, archaeology and more. Learn about the creation of the Earth 4.5 billion years ago, see the larger than life dinosaurs and much more. There are lots of fun kids spots throughout the museum where learning through play is encouraged.
Beth Wood: Special exhibit areas focus on science, design and technology. ArtVille is a great place for kids up to age 5 to play among different areas including the garden patio, art studio, performing art center and city block center. Older kids can act as helpers in ArtVille or design and create in the HUB. The museum's exhibits change seasonally.
Golfland & Sunsplash
Golfland open year round, Sunsplash open seasonally May-September
Beth Wood: A day of fun awaits at Golfland and Sunsplash with 30 rides and attractions in one location. Golfland features miniature golf, bumper boats, an arcade featuring over 200 games and laser tag. Sunsplash features waterslides, a lazy river, toddler play pool, rock slides, large wave pool and more. Enjoy a bite to eat at the on-site snack bars or ice cream parlor. Sunsplash operates seasonally May - September.
Cost: Starts at $3.99 per attraction. Packages available.
Beth Wood: Spend time together exploring the OdySea Aquarium and the different underwater creatures that call it home. You'll find fish, penguins, sea turtles, otters and more in this state-of-the-art aquarium.
Daily programs allow you to have a more personal experience. A sting ray touch pool, submerged escalator that goes through a deep-ocean tank, theater and live demonstration exhibits, the Kids Cove, dining options at the Lighthouse Cafe and the aquarium gift shop all add to your aquarium visit.
Cost: $27.95 Youth 2-12 years, $37.95 Adult
$15.95 Youth 2-12 years, $23.95 Adult
Beth Wood: Butterfly Wonderland houses over 3,000 butterflies from around the world. Explore the Butterfly Wonderland conservatory and its plants, trees and flowers while butterflies fly and land around you. Watch live chrysalis turn into butterflies at the Butterfly Emergence Gallery, experience a butterfly's journey in the 3D theater, see honey bees at work and meet reptiles, amphibians, exotic fish and more throughout the exhibits. Stop by the gift shop and cafe to make your visit more enjoyable.
Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs
Beth Wood: Do your kids love all things dinosaurs? Plan a morning or afternoon at Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs where you can meet "live" dinosaurs, explore interactive stations, see 18 different dinosaur exhibits, get their faces painted, go on dinosaur rides, tackle the T-Rex Obstacle course and more. An onsite cafe and souvenir shop add to your visit.
OdySea Mirror Maze
Beth Wood: Go on an adventure at OdySea Mirror Maze. You'll find different mazes that make you feel like your in a Central American Rainforest and ancient Mayan Temple in the Mirror Maze. Try to master the Laser Maze Challenge in the Zaaaapp! and Beam Buster where you'll have to crawl your way through a web of lasers while hitting mission buttons without being hit by a laser beam. Whichever adventure you chose, you'll have loads of fun!
Cost: $3.95-$12.95 per person
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
Kim Rogers: You can buy a day pass and enjoy all of the pools at the resort without actually staying overnight. During the summer months they usually have discounts.
Old Town Scottsdale
Katie G.: Although mostly a tourist destination, there is plenty of fun to be had by local families at Old Town Scottsdale. Stop by the Scottsdale Civic Center Park to run around, see the ducks and climb on the "LOVE" statue. Take a free tour of the Scottsdale Historical Museum where you can learn a little about the history of the city. If shopping is your thing, head to 5th Ave where there are plenty of shops offering everything from Western wear to jewelry and art. End the day with a delicious ice cream sundae at the Sugar Bowl, a local favorite since 1958.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
Beth Wood: Are your kids as obsessed with trains as mine are? Then plan a trip to the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. This 30-acre park features a 10,000 square foot Model Railroad Building filled with model trains and other artifacts, shops, museums, two playground areas, a machine shop, grassy areas to explore and more. Guests can also ride around the park on the Paradise and Pacific Railroad or go round and round on the "1950-vintage" Allan Herschell carousel.
Cost: FREE park admission, $2 per person train and carousel rides
Open Seasonally May - September
Beth Wood: During the sweltering summer months, bring the whole family to cool off at Big Surf Waterpark. Open May - September, Big Surf features the third largest wave pool in the U.S., Waikiki Beach. There are also seven different waterslides as well a Kool Kids Zone with slides and a climbing area for kiddos 48 inches and under, as well as a toddler play area. Covered seating areas, pool decks, concession stands and more make this waterpark a wonderful place to spend your summer days!
Cost: $22.95 youth 4 years - 47" tall, $32.95 general admission, FREE 3 years and under
Starts at $18, many packages and specials available online
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: The Crayola Experience offers only a few colorful U.S. locations to enjoy this attraction. They feature over 25 hands-on and interactive exhibits that engage the imagination and all the senses through art, design, technology, computers, play and more. They offer arts and crafts stations to design your own to take home using crayons in ways you never imagined! They also host special events throughout the year, shows on how crayons are made and cool photo opportunities! Your family will love it!
Beth Wood: Papago Park is a municipal park to Phoenix and Tempe. It boasts wonderful hiking trails that interlace the area with smooth footing and low elevation. Perfect for hiking, running and mountain biking. The Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden are both located within the park. Guests will also find a fishing lagoon, Hall of Flame Museum, Hunt's Tomb, a baseball/softball complex, golf course, archery range and more. It's a wonderful park to spend time with the family exploring.
Katie G.: If you're looking for water fun, then you'll definitely want to visit Kiwanis Park. The lake sits at the center of the park offering fishing and paddle boat rentals. The newest attraction is the 5,000-sq foot, high tech splash pad called The Cloud, opened May-Oct. The Kiwanis Wave Pool is an indoor complex offering lap swimming, zero entry and of course waves.
Other amenities at the park include batting cages, ball fields, tennis courts, sand volleyball, two playgrounds, a recreations center, picnic tables and restrooms.
Tempe Beach Park
Katie G.: If your family is looking to relax, hang out and play on the water then spend the day at Tempe Beach Park. The large green space and picturesque views make this a perfect place for families. Located at Tempe Town Lake, visitors can relax on the greenspace, go for a walk or ride a bike or roller blade around the 2-mile man-made lake. Rent a paddle boat, kayak or SUP and enjoy the beautiful view of the Tempe skyline on the water. Bring your fishing poles to try and catch trout, bass or catfish. The park hosts several events and festivals throughout the year. See calendar for what's upcoming.
Musical Instrument Museum
Beth Wood: The MIM features over 6,800 musical instruments from around the world. The museum houses special exhibits and six different galleries. The Experience Gallery lets guests play instruments and learn how they're made. The Artist Gallery features instruments from music icons like Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Johnny Cash and more. A Mechanical Music Gallery features instruments that play themselves. The STEM Gallery shows how science makes music happen.
The Phoenix Zoo
Beth Wood: Over 3,000 different animals call The Phoenix Zoo home. From insects to elephants, you'll see animals in an up-close and personal environment as you explore their exhibits. The zoo features a safari train, discovery farm, monkey village, giraffe encounters, splash pad, stingray bay and much more! Behind the scenes and guided tours are also available. There are plenty of dining and shopping options to make your visit more enjoyable. Special events and programs are offered throughout the year.
Cost: $14.95-$16.95 Youth 3-13 years, $22.95-$24.95 Adult, FREE 2 years & under; Membership start at $69
Camelback Mountain Hiking Trail
Katie G.: Camelback Mountain is one of the most well-known mountain ranges in the Phoenix area. As the name would suggest, the shadow of the mountain on the valley skyline looks like the humps of a camel. While there are a few challenging hikes located at the park, families can enjoy Bobby's Rock Trail located at the Echo's Canyon Trailhead. This short hike loops around Bobby's Rock, a large cube-shaped sandstone rock. The 200 feet elevation gain will provide hikers with amazing views of the valley below. Locals will find the best time to hike is the early morning or before sunset to avoid crowds.
Arizona Sea Life Aquarium
Beth Wood: SEA LIFE houses over 5,000 sea animals featuring 250 species including sharks, seahorses, fish, rays and more throughout their aquarium. Spend your visit interacting with different creatures in touch pools, checking out educational and interactive feeding and talk times held at different times throughout the day, going on the Dive Adventure Quiz Trail, walking through the 180-degree ocean tunnel, seeing who calls Critter Canyon home and exploring the numerous creature exhibits.
Cost: $10.95-$14.95 Youth 3-12 years, $14.95-$19.95 Adult 13+ years, FREE 0-2 years
Beth Wood: Calling all cowboys and cowgirls! Rustler's Rooste is the perfect place to go for a western experience. Their live longhorn steer, Horney, greets you at the entrance. Inside you'll find an old mine shaft, a slide leading to the dining room, live country western music, and indoor waterfall, strolling magician and unbelievable views. Dine on a menu of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Sign up for the Slide Riders Club where kids eat free for a year with the purchase of an entree. With 7 different options on the kids menu, even the pickiest of eaters will find something they'll enjoy!
Pueblo Grande Museum
Beth Wood: The Pueblo Grande Museum is located on the largest preserved 1500-year-old archaeological site in Phoenix. There's an accessible 2/3 mile long trail that goes through a prehistoric Hohokam village site as well as three different galleries to visit at the museum. These galleries feature artifacts and lessons on archaeology, Arizona history and Southwest cultures. There is a hands-on children's gallery for the little ones to explore.
Desert Botanical Garden
Beth Wood: The Desert Botanical Garden is the 140-acre botanical garden located in Papago Park that houses the world's largest collection of desert plants. Five different themed trails allow guests to explore the park while learning more about conservation, desert living, wildflowers, flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert. Special family-friendly events such as Electric Desert, Flashlight Tours, Concerts in the Gardens, plant sales and more occur throughout the year. On-site dining and shopping options are available.
Cost: Youth $12.95 3-17 years, $24.95 Adult, FREE 2 and under. Memberships start at $79
Luci's at the Orchard
Beth Wood: Have a ball while grabbing a yummy bite to eat at Luci's at the Orchard. Their outdoor splash pad helps kids cool off and burn off some energy during their visit. Everyone can enjoy breakfast or lunch items from the cafe menu, a fresh pressed juice from the juice bar or shop among the gourmet market. The inviting family-friendly atmosphere makes Luci's a local favorite.
Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Beth Wood: The Children's Museum of Phoenix features three levels of hands-on exhibits and over 300 experiences that encourage children to learn through creative play. Exhibits include the Book Loft, Texture Cafe, Noodle Forest, Pedal Power and more. A Baby Zone and Preschool level are available for younger guests.
Arizona Science Center
Beth Wood: Spend a day together at the Arizona Science Center exploring over 300 hands-on exhibits, the Dorrance Planetarium, a five-story IMAX theater, the Create Makerspace, a Cosmic Playground and much more.
Chase Field Tours
Tours offered year round, Mon-Sat
Katie G.: If you're a baseball-loving family like mine, then you will love experiencing a behind the scenes look at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This 75-minute walking tour will take you all around the stadium where you'll get up close to the db TV, one of the largest high-def video scoreboard in baseball, learn about the retractable roof, check out the swimming pool in right field and see the locker rooms. Tours are offered year-round in both English and Spanish and space is limited.
Cost: Tickets are $7 - $3/person (children 3 and under are free)
Phoenix Art Museum
Beth Wood: Featuring over 17,000 different works from around the world, the Phoenix Art Museum is the Southwest's largest art museum. Be sure to grab a Scavenger Hunt guide at the front desk so you can explore the museum's collection together. Family Sundays and other special events are held throughout the year and include free admission, storytime, crafts and activities.
Enchanted Island Amusement Park
Beth Wood: Enjoy a fun day at Encanto Park's Enchanted Island Amusement Park. Enjoy a seven-minute tour of the island on the C.P. Huntington Train, scale the Giant Climbing Wall, battle it out at the Castle Clash, get wet at the Splash Zone and more. Amusement rides geared toward children up to 10 years old include bumper boats, kiddie cars, mini-coaster, Red Baron planes, the historic Encanto carousel and more. An onsite Snack Bar offers concessions too.
Cost: FREE admission, Each attraction cost 3-5 tickets. Pricing $1.25 per ticket, $22.50 book 20 tickets, $20.25 all day pass, $46 annual pass
Arizona Horses - Trail Riding
Katie G.: Enjoy the beauty of Arizona by horseback on a trail ride through South Mountain Park. Riders can enjoy the beauty and quietness of a scenic stroll on an actual working horse ranch. An experienced guide will lead the way pointing out interesting sights and talking about the history of the park. Choose the best ride that works for your family with rides ranging from one to eight hours. You can also enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner on the trail or a sunset ride.
Ages: 2-5 (must ride with an adult), 6+ (ride on their own horse)
Cost: $40 - $150/person
South Mountain Park Preserve
Beth Wood: South Mountain Park and Preserve is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. With over 16,000 acres to explore, you can spend the day hiking or biking over 51 miles of trails from 9 different trailheads, climb to Dobbins Lookout where you'll see unbelievable views of the city, take a guided horseback tour, visit the South Mountain Environmental Education Center and much more at this magnificent park.
Pioneer Living History Village & Museum
Katie G.: Learn a little about the history of Arizona and what it was like to live in the Old Wild West during the 1800s at the Pioneer Living History Village & Museum. The 90-acre property consists of authentic and reconstructed buildings, including a blacksmith shop, mercantile, print shop, sheriff's office and more. Costumed characters walk around the village help to portray what it was like to live in the past. There is a snack bar and restrooms available. Be sure to check out the event calendar for special events offered throughout the year.
Cost: $8 - $10 (kids 5 and under are free)
Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix
Open seasonally May - Sept
Katie G.: Experience some water park fun with the family at Wet 'n' Wild Phoenix. Opened during the summer season, families can have fun sliding down thrilling water slides, relaxing in the lazy river or catching a wave in the wave pool. There are rides and slides for kids and adults of all ages. Grab a bite to eat at the Point Break Cafe and make the day of it.
Cost: $19.99 - $33.99 (season passes available)
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park
Beth Wood: Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park houses Arizona's largest collection of endangered and exotic animals on its 15 acres. Over 600 separate species call Wildlife World home. You'll find a safari park, Dragon World, zoo with outdoor animal exhibits, Adventure Land and a four-building aquarium. Enjoy fun rides, a petting zoo, baby animal nursery, daily live shows, dining options, shopping and more at Wildlife World. Summer youth safari day camps are available for children ages 7-12 years old.
Cost: $19 Youth 3-12 years, $39 Adults, FREE 2 and under; Membership $60 Youth, $125 Adult
Primary photo: Children’s Museum of Phoenix
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