Summer vacation is almost upon us! For many, that means family vacation (or maybe even a staycation). It means planning family fun activities and looking for ways to keep kids busy. Here in the hot deserts of Phoenix, Arizona, it means finding fun ways to stay cool! For the past few years a large group of bloggers have teamed up to bring you budget-friendly, family fun ideas for things to do around cities across the nation! I’ve covered both Arizona & Omaha in the Staycation series for the past 3 years & am thrilled to do it again! So, what you’ll find below is a list of some of our personal favorite things to do in the Phoenix area (or places/activities that come highly recommended by friends). Because this list is geared toward “summer fun”, I’m focusing mostly on indoor activities (or those things that involve water play). After all, no one enjoys doing too much outside in 110-120 degree heat unless a pool or splash pad is involved!
One of our favorite ways to staycation here is by staying at one of the MANY awesome resorts! The summer is “off-season” for hotels & resorts in the Phoenix area, so you can often score great deals of $149 or less per night at some really high-class places (plus sometimes resort credits & other bonuses too). Here’s a short list of some that are known for having some great family activities and/or water play fun:
- The Westin Kierland (we stayed here and it’s wonderful! You can see our full Westin Kierland review here)
- Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (view a family review of the Fairmont on Desert Chica Ramblings)
- Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch (view a family review of the Hyatt on All for the Boys)
- Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak (view a family review of the Pointe on Family Travel Magazine)
- Arizona Grand Resort (we’ve stayed here & they have a great pool area)
Museums & Indoor Play
- Arizona Challenger Space Center (Peoria) – Big Brother went here on a field trip this year! Great for kiddos who are interested in space!
- Arizona Museum of Natural History (Mesa)- My boys call this the dinosaur museum, but there is much more to it than just dinos! It’s educational & fun – great way to spend the day!
- Arizona Science Center (Phoenix)– There are many awesome permanent exhibits and often some special temporary/traveling exhibits as well (we loved the fun Dinosaur exhibit). Be on the lookout for LivingSocial or Groupon deals as there have been some great ones lately!
- Butterfly Wonderland (Scottsdale)- An amazing butterfly atrium with other hands-on exhibits for the kids! You can read our Butterfly Wonderland review here.
- Cerreta Candy Company (Glendale) – This long-time, family-owned business in Historic downtown Glendale offers free tours! For a fee, kids can make a delicious chocolate pizza!
- Chase Field (Phoenix)– Baseball is the sport of the summer and Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks, offers some relatively inexpensive family fun. Single-game tickets can be purchased for less than $10 each and each year there are various family package deals that include food & drinks and/or other special promos. The Sandlot inside the stadium offers fun for kids like a kids’ playground, toddlers’ playground, batting cage, future field, Baxter’s Den and more! For some extra fun for the baseball fans in your life, then take a take a tour of Chase Field!
- Children’s Museum of Phoenix (Phoenix)– This is such a great place for kids, with lots of hands-on exhibits and interactive fun for kiddos up to about age 10 or so! It can be pricey though, so see if you can snag two free passes from any of the local public libraries!
- Great Arizona Puppet Theater (Phoenix)– The puppet theater is simple in design, but we’ve taken the boys multiple times and they always enjoy it!
- Main Event (Tempe) – A super fun play to eat, bowl, and play! We’ve been a couple of times since they opened in November. the boys LOVE it! You can read our Main Event review here.
- Musical Instrument Museum (North Phoenix)– This is a one-of-a-kind, amazing museum in north Phoenix! You can see our review of the MIM here.
- Organ Stop Pizza (Mesa)– This awesome restaurant is very close to the Museum of Natural History, so we always plan to have dinner there if we’re making a trip to the museum. The original Organ Stop used to be in the heart of Phoenix and my mom actually worked there in the 70s! It’s SUCH a fun place! You can
- Playgrounds Fun Zone (Peoria) – This is our absolute favorite play place! They often run deals & specials, so be sure to check out their website. For more info & pictures, you can read our full Playgrounds Fun Zone review here.
- Pump It Up - The boys LOVE it here – so much fun jumping around all the inflatables! There are 3 locations around the Valley for kids to enjoy!
- Stuffington Bear Factory (Phoenix) – Go see how teddy bear’s are made! Big Brother had a great field trip here, but they also offer FREE tours to the public!
Outdoor Water Play
- Splash Playground at Tempe Beach Park
- The fountains at the Scottsdale Quarter
- Kidsplash Fountain at Desert Ridge Marketplace
- Splash Zone at Enchanted Island Amusement Park
- Yakulla Caverns Splash Pad at the Phoenix Zoo
- Splash Pad at Rio Vista Community Park
- Interactive fountain/splash pad at Westgate
Wet ‘n Wild Phoenix - Located in the North Phoenix area, this is a fun place to cool off over the summer. Last year, they opened a whole Wet ‘n Wild Jr. area. This is perfect for younger kids! The boys had a blast playing here!
Additional Summer Fun Ideas…
Local Library Culture Pass Program – Members of most of the Phoenix metropolitan cities’ public libraries can check out a Culture Pass good for FREE admission for 2-4 people (depending on the venue). Participating venues include some great summer destinations listed above like like the Children’s Museum, Arizona Museum of Natural History, Arizona Science Center, Arizona Museum for Youth, and more!
Harkins Summer Movie Fun – We LOVE this! Such a budget friendly way to cool off! Kids (& their parent(s)) can enjoy a movie a week for 10 weeks, for less than $1 per film!
Buy a POGO Pass!! Pogo Pass is a membership that provides you 12 months of FREE access to the best entertainment venues in Phoenix (I’m an affiliate). Check it out: SO many awesome Phoenix area venues, right?! The pass is good for 12 months from the date of purchase and normally sells for $99 each. But, using the FAMILYDEAL promo code, you get passes for just $39.98 each!
To purchase: Go to the Pogo Pass website and use the code FAMILYDEAL to get each pass for just $39.98!
For more info on the POGO Pass deal, you can visit my POGO Pass post! We have the passes ourselves and think it’s a GREAT deal!!!
More Arizona family fun ideas…
Be sure to check out the posts below to get more detailed ideas about the specific areas listed:
With a metropolitan area as large as Phoenix, I know there is a lot more that could have been included. So, if you’re favorite Phoenix area spot is missing, please tell us about it in the comments below!