Phoenix, Arizona, has a tendency to fall off the radar in terms of family vacation destinations, but it’s truly a fantastic large city with all the usual activities and attractions —plus some extras—for family fun. Looking for things to do in Phoenix with kids? We have a few suggestions to help you plan the perfect family vacation.
Outdoor Kid-Friendly Activities in Phoenix
Camelback Mountain is a great place to visit to take in all the beauty nature has to offer. If your family lives for the outdoors, hike Camelback Mountain. With an elevation of 2,704 feet, the beautiful views of Phoenix and the land beyond it are worth the trek up. Go it alone on one of two trails or schedule a guided hike. You can even post your climbing time and take a look at how other hikers are doing.
You can also check out an Arizona Cardinals football game while you’re in town. If you and your kids are football fans, tailgating and going to a game together is an unforgettable experience. And kids 2 and younger can be permitted with a “lap pass” instead of a ticket. (Note that there’s a limit of one lap pass per adult game ticket.)
The Phoenix Zoo is another must-do when you’re in Phoenix. Get there early in the day and do the less shaded trails first (the Arizona Trail and the Africa Trail), as they’re sunny and best done before the day gets too hot. They have splash pads which are a great way to cool off as needed. And make sure the family dresses appropriately, has sunscreen, and stays hydrated.
Arizona Hummer Tours are something you can’t do everywhere. What better way to see the Sonoran Desert than riding in a Hummer? Grab the kids and explore a 1000-year-old Indian Fort, ghost towns and other Native American ruins while taking in the gorgeous views of the desert. The average tour length is just under three hours and exciting for everyone, especially those interested in Native American history. Open 8a.m.-8p.m. everyday.
Indoor Kids’ Activities in Phoenix
If you’ve got little ones or need something else fun to do indoors, check out Pump It Up, an indoor inflatable playground. The kids will burn off energy as they bounce around. They have three locations around the Phoenix area so you’re sure to find one a convenient commute.
For the aspiring firefighters and future heroes, the Hall of Flame Fire Fighting Museum is not to be missed. Over 90 fully restored pieces of equipment, from the 1700s to the 1960s, are on display as well as a gallery devoted to the history of wildland firefighting. This museum is the largest of its kind and will have your young daredevil ready to tame the flames. Open 9a.m.-5p.m. everyday but Sunday (12a.m.-4p.m.).
Not too far away in Scottsdale is Crackerjax Park, famous for having a little bit of everything both inside and outdoors, and all of it fun. Play Alien Invasion Laser Tag, Water Wars, volleyball or golf. Test your skills in bumper boats, go-karts, batting cages or chill out in the arcade. With something to please everyone, even the most adventurous child will be happy all day. Open 10a.m.-10p.m. every day but with a late close on Saturday at midnight.
There’s also a variety of kid-friendly museums in Phoenix. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is great for kids up to age 10. With over 300 play experiences, there’s plenty to stimulate little imaginations. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday, 9a.m.-4p.m. Or if you’re after something both adults and kids will get a kick out of, the Musical Instrument Museum allows you to play instruments from all over the world. You can also see a selection of instruments from the world’s best-loved musical icons (John Lennon and Elvis Presley, to name a few). Open 9a.m.-5p.m. everyday.
Desert Botanical Garden is really gorgeous and worth the visit. The activities planner here deserves kudos for going above and beyond with extraordinary events. Another event known as “Monarch and Milkweed Saturdays” begins at the end of September until early November. You can also bring your four-legged friends for a walk on Dogs’ Day on November 16. Admission is $4 per pet with proceeds going to the Arizona Humane Society. The Garden open 8a.m.-8p.m. every day.
The holiday ice skating returns in late November and runs until early January at the Phoenix Holiday Ice Rink. Polish your blades and practice your balance on the ice for a fun-filled afternoon of exercise and fresh air. Skating is broken into sessions so take a look at the site in advance.
For those with happy feet, attend Ballet Arizona’s Nutcracker Festival in the fall. Holiday festivities and performances are sure to delight any budding ballerina. All proceeds from this event support the programs and students of The School of Ballet Arizona.