Arizona Staycation Ideas – Things to do around Phoenix!

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It’s that time again for talking about options of summer fun things to do! For the past cou­ple of years a large group of blog­gers have teamed up to bring you great 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 two years & am thrilled to do it again!
Phoenix, AZ Staycation Ideas

Just like the past few summers, gas prices here con­tinue to hover not too far below $4/gallon. So, once again, many fam­i­lies will be look­ing for ways to save money on vaca­tions or may even find them­selves stay­ing closer to home this summer. Summer fun activities here in the hot Sonoran Desert mtyp­i­cally need to involve water or being indoors. Thank­fully, there are many good things to do around the Phoenix area that not only fit those require­ments, but are rel­a­tively inex­pen­sive (many even FREE)! So, whether you’re local and plan­ning a true stay­ca­tion or will be vis­it­ing Phoenix this sum­mer, here are some fam­ily fun things to con­sider:

Indoor Play- Stores/Museums/Restaurants

Stuffington Bear Factory

How fun to go see how teddy bears are made! You can drop-in and tour the fac­tory for FREE every day (Monday – Saturday at 1pm)! There are addi­tional touring/field-trip options, includ­ing the addi­tion of stuff­ing your own bear (for a fee). Get all info on the Stuff­in­g­ton Bear Fac­tory tours here.

Playgrounds Fun Zone

PlayGrounds Fun Zone & CafeThis 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.

Harkins Summer Movie Fun – Kids can enjoy a movie a week for 10 weeks, for less than $1 per film! Talk about a great way to enjoy a few hours in a nicely air-conditioned area for little cost! Harkins theaters are our favorite! This year is going to be our first year doing this!

Cer­reta Candy Com­pany– This long-time, family-owned busi­ness in His­toric down­town Glen­dale offers FREE tours Monday-Friday at 10am and 1pm! I remem­ber tak­ing tours there as a kid, see­ing how the fab­u­lous candy is made, enjoy­ing some del­ish sam­ples, and then some­times get­ting to make a Choco­late Pizza at the end (for an addi­tional fee). Grandma & Grandpa took the boys here after Baby Brother was born and they had a great time! Edu­ca­tional and yummy! A win-win! Cerreta Chocolate Factory Tour

– Peter Piper Pizza 

Every Tues­day from 10am-12pm, kids can enjoy lunch, tokens for play, and a themed make-n-take craft for only $4.99. Con­tact your local Peter Piper for more information!
We call the Cabela’s here (at West­gate) “the indoor zoo”. There are hun­dreds of ani­mals on dis­play in dif­fer­ent loca­tions of the store (albeit no longer living)–very much like a museum and store all in one! We enjoy hav­ing a piece of fudge and walk­ing around the store check­ing out all the ani­mals. You can check for special events–there are often educational presentations!
Arizona Museum of Natural History – My boys call this the dinosaur museum, but there is much more to it than just dinos! It’s great fun!  Arizona Museum of Natural HistoryOrgan Stop PizzaThis 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 check out a fun video from there over on Disney Mentor Moms!
Children’s Museum of 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’s always such a treat for the boys when we make a trip there!
Arizona Science Center – We took the boys to the Science Center this past winter for a fun Dinosaur exhibit. There are many awesome permanent exhibits and often some special temporary/traveling exhibits as well. The center is probably best for ages 5 – early teen, but even Little Brother (only 3) had fun playing!
Musical Instrument Museum – It’s only been open a few years and has much acclaim! We had the pleasure of checking it out for the first time a few months ago and absolutely loved it! You can see our review of the MIM here. Our favorite spot was the Experience Gallery where the kids could play a variety of instruments. They loved this! MIM Experience Gallery

*New*- Butterfly Wonderland – I am SO excited to check this out this summer! It’s opening May 25th and is slated to be America’s largest butterfly atrium!! How fun to be able to go to an indoor rainforest in the middle of the Arizona desert!

Chase Field – 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. Many night games also include a fire­works show fol­low­ing the game.Chase Field is very fam­ily friendly, espe­cially with the St. Joseph’s Sand­lot. Fea­tures include a kids’ play­ground, tod­dlers’ play­ground, bat­ting cage, future field, Baxter’s Den and more! Chase FieldFor some extra fun for the baseball fans in your life, then take a take a tour of Chase Field!

University of Phoenix Stadium – if base­ball isn’t your thing, maybe a tour of the Uni­ver­sity of Phoenix Sta­dium, home of the AZ Cardinals, would be fun for football enthusiasts.

Outdoor Water Play


Wet 'N Wild JrWet ‘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!


Keep in mind that the sum­mer is “off-season” for hotels & resorts here. 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 water play fun:

Want to do a little exploring of other parts of Arizona? Then, be sure to click over to last year’s list of great places to visit all over the great state of Arizona!

What are YOUR favorite inexpensive/family-friendly places? With a metropolitan area as large as Phoenix, I know there is a lot more to include. So, if you’re favorite Phoenix area spot is missing, feel free to share in the comments below!

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I’m Sara, a mom to three adorable boys living in the Arizona desert. As a former teacher, I love sharing my passions with others. So, have a look around for creative inspiration about cooking, creating, celebrating, traveling with kids, and more everyday mom endeavors!


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10 Responses

    1. Thanks, Kari! I know! There is SO much to do here! One of the reasons living here is great! 🙂

  1. These are great ideas.
    Do you have any that are in the East Valley?
    Glendale and most of these are over an hour away for some of us East Valley Moms.

    1. Hi Carrie! Yes…I covered a few in this post! the Arizona Museum of Natural History is in the East Valley, as is Organ Stop pizza. The Butterfly Wonderland and MIM are technically also in the east valley as they are in Scottsdale.

  2. My kids love going to the Arizona Museum for Youth (AMY – soon to be renamed IDEA). The play area has something for all ages and the museum always has something the kids love! They also love going to Jambo Indoor Amusement Park. They are constantly begging to go there. Both places are in Mesa for those in the Easy Valley.

    1. Great tips, Valerie! My boys have been begging to go to Jambo Park lately! We need to make a trip! 🙂

  3. Great info some things on here like the candy company I never heard of living here almost 10 years. The McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is another great place in Scottsdale for kids.

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