My mom has been living in the Phoenix area for several years now and we love getting the opportunity to go and visit. While their summers are scorching, winter and spring are wonderful times to visit with tons of sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s (F)-and even warmer in the spring. We were planning a trip to the U.S. for the holidays this year, so I decided to go early with the boys and spend 10 days with my mom in that gorgeous sunshine. We had a great time and were thrilled to soak up some rays especially since we were heading into a big Arctic blast in the Midwest just after.
Having visited now several times, we’ve come up with a guide for our favorite family friendly activities in the Phoenix area. Every time we visit, we are pleasantly surprised by just how much fun stuff there is for families. Check out our top tips below!
1) Take a hike!
Whenever we visit Phoenix, we love to explore the desert and get out for a hike. In the past, Lukasz and I would go on our own and leave the kids with my mom. But since he wasn’t there this time and the boys have turned into pretty good little hikers, I decided to find a family friendly hike for the three of us. The Lost Dutchman State Park is one of the first places Lukasz and I hiked many moons ago when we first visited my mom in Arizona before kids were even a glimmer in our eye. So when I read about the Treasure Loop Trail, a 2.5 mile loop that is suitable for kiddos, I knew we should check it out!
This trail was so lovely and scenic and easy enough for the kids! I’d definitely recommend it.
For a quick and easy hike without having to leave the city, try the short trek to the top of Falcon Hill in Mesa!
The bonus of this little hike is that there’s a great park and playground at the bottom of the hill. We made the quick trek up and down and then the kids burned off the rest of their energy at the playground!
There is tons of hiking in the Phoenix and surrounding areas, which is one of the things we enjoy the most about visiting! Nothing better than getting out for some wonderful, warm sunshine on a winter’s day.
2) Visit a Museum
The Phoenix area has some wonderful museums and it’s definitely worth hitting up at least one of them during your visit, if not more! Our favorite has been the Children’s Museum of Phoenix…an awesome adventure for young kiddos. There are plenty of others too, like the IDEA museum in Mesa, the Musical Instrument Museum, and The Arizona Science Center. If you have a train lover, don’t miss the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Inside are four large model railroads and many exhibits…kids can push buttons to make objects in the display move around. And outside you can even purchase tickets to ride the little steam train. There’s also a playground on the grounds so you can definitely make an afternoon out of it!
3) Visit the Phoenix Zoo
The zoo is always a good way to entertain the littles and the Phoenix Zoo is a fairly nice one. My littlest is nuts for animals so we paid extra to do the giraffe feeding. He loved it, of course! The zoo is located right next to the Desert Botanical Garden and also Papago Park, an area with some easy and short hikes, so you could definitely pair it up with another activity to make a full day of it.
4) Visit the Desert Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden in Phoenix is a really nice one with different trails you can explore to get a glimpse of lots of different desert plants. You can pick up an activity sheet for your kiddos when you get your tickets to keep them engaged throughout your visit. They also have regular events and activities, such as movies under the stars, an event where you can enjoy the gardens decked out in lights for the holidays, and tons of other stuff, so check their website before you go!
5) Lego Discovery Center
The Lego Discovery Center was still under construction the last time we visited, but this time my two Lego nuts were absolutely set on checking it out. We just went to Legoland in Germany last year, so I had to let them know ahead of time that this would be MUCH smaller with only a couple of rides. It didn’t matter at all as they still an absolutely wonderful time! I do think the Legoland Discovery Centers are geared a bit more towards younger kids, so I’d probably recommend it for kids 10 and under.
The Center has two rides, a really cool 4D movie, a room with lots of lego creations that you could move with the push of a button, a play area with climbing and slides, and lots of create-your-own lego areas. My kids loved the car assembly and racing station. There’s also a space for toddlers with duplo and smaller slides. There’s a snack/lunch bar if you want to make a day of it…(my kids easily could have!). Also wifi available for the parents if you want to get some work done while they have a blast in the play areas. The Lego Discovery Center is located at Arizona Mills outlet mall and you can also buy a combo ticket to the SeaLife aquarium that is right next door. We’ve been there before and enjoyed it. It is small, so you could definitely do both in a day.
6) Family Fun at Fat Cats
Fat Cats in Gilbert is a fun place with lots of attractions for families. They have a movie theater with reclining seats and food delivery, a bowling alley, arcade, and glow in the dark mini golf. My kids were in heaven and completely wore themselves out here! We started at the arcade which has lots of different games for all ages and then saw a movie. The movies are very reasonably priced and we wound up spending the whole afternoon and evening here!
7) Riparian Preserve
We met an old friend at Riparian Preserve in Gilbert and it was such a pleasant surprise. There are some unique play areas for kids with climbing walls, a water pump, a sand area with dinosaur tracks, and lots of trails to explore. The preserve is an innovative idea by the town of Gilbert to combine water resource development with wildlife habitat, education, and recreation. The waterways are home to many species of both local and migrating birds and it is a great place for birdwatchers. For kids aged 7-13 years old, Riparian Preserve even offers guided bird watching walks!
8) Urban Jungle Fun Park
My mom conveniently lives super close to this fun indoor playground. It’s a trampoline park, but they’ve also got climbing walls, super slides, an obstacle course, and a “mega play structure.” There’s a soft play area for toddlers and even a lounge with massage chairs for parents to relax while your littles run off their energy. My kids had an absolute blast here! They also frequently have Groupon deals available, so make sure to check online before you go.
9) Kids’ Yoga
As a last little bonus tip, if you are into yoga I’d highly recommend checking out a Saturday morning class at Yoga Pulse Studio in Mesa. You can sweat it out in a hot yoga session while your kiddos enjoy a kids’ yoga class across the hall. After class they’ll love the smoothie bar, and the best part of all is the first class is free! My kids are still talking about this one and I am constantly wishing we had something like this here in Geneva!
I love that every time we visit Phoenix, we discover new family friendly places to explore and things to do. It’s a great family-friendly destination! Have you been to the Phoenix area? Tell us about your favorite things to do there!