Find Family Fun in Phoenix
Keep the Whole Family Entertained, On-site and Off
Destination: Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix Arizona is a year-round destination filled with fun family activities that will please every member of your family! Hit the links, do some shopping or just bask in the Arizona sun and enjoy the mountain scenery that surrounds you.
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15 Things to Do | Activities | Day Trips | Events Calendar
15 Things to Do in Phoenix, Arizona
Get out there and play in the Arizona sun! In Phoenix, there's so much to do to make every member of your family happy! Check out our top 15:
- Visit the Grand Canyon
- Take a picture in front of a Saguaro cactus (who in your group can find one with the most arms?)
- Go soaring
- Hey kids! Come join us and create a unique souvenir at one of our scheduled resort activities.
- Visit Mexico! Scuba dive in the Sea of Cortez
- Catch a Baseball, Basketball or Hockey game! Phoenix has all the premier sports teams for fans of all ages.
- Visit an Arizona mining town
- Catch a wave
- Visit Lowell Observatory—where Pluto was first discovered
- Walk along a 2/3-mile (1km) interpretive trail featuring the archaeological prehistoric Hohokam Indian ruin.
- Take in a Cactus League baseball game
- Go tubing on the Salt River
- See ancient petroglyphs
- Experience the thrill of NASCAR racing
- Visit an ocean in the desert
Activities in Phoenix, AZ
Play & stay under the Arizona sun in the hottest destination in the west - Phoenix!
Go NASCAR! Families…start your engines. Since the mid-1960s when it opened drivers like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and the Unsers appreciated the action at Phoenix International Raceway. In 1988 PIR popularity exploded onto the national racing scene when NASCAR’s Cup Series came to the Valley of the Sun. The rest is racing history. This now-legendary west Phoenix racetrack, carved in the foothills of the beautiful Estrella Mountains, has hosted more than 58 IndyCar races, plus the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and USAC—now one of the biggest events in the state of Arizona. It’s not exactly cheap to take the whole family, but “rods” will love the tailgating, people watching, and unique chance to hear the roar of the engines up close and personal. And, kids under 12 are admitted free with a paying adult. 7602 S. Avondale Blvd., Avondale, AZ 85323. (623) 463-5400.
Experience the quiet wonder of gliding at Turf Soaring School. The thrill of a lifetime is riding world famous “thermals” (up to 5000 feet!) above the gorgeous Sonoran Desert. Take off in a beautiful sailplane near Lake Pleasant; quietly float above gold mines and old wagon trails while enjoying distant views of Black Canyon and New River Mesas and Mt. Humphrey, near Flagstaff. Aerobatic rides are available for true thrill seekers. Experienced pilots using powerful tow planes make this an outing you will remember for years—and you’ll take home your own personal logbook to ensure it. 8700 W. Carefree HWY, Peoria, AZ (602) 439-362. Open Wed-Sun, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Think of tubing down a refreshing river when it’s hot out. Ahhh…you can see why the Salt River is favorite escape for locals. While The Valley of the Sun is not known for its rivers, this one is legendary. Shuttle services out to various river “launch points” are available, or you can drive yourselves. Just rent a tube and hit the river for a lazy, sometimes crazy, afternoon. (It does get crowded!) Tubing season runs from May to September. Several Valley outfitters rent tubes. July and August and weekend are busiest. Make sure you bring lots of sunscreen, a hat, water—and a rope to attach a cooler to a tube if you want snacks and drinks along the way. (480) 984-3305. Usery Pass and Power Rds., Mesa, AZ. Salt River Recreation offers shuttle-bus service to and from your starting point and rents tubes for $13 (cash only) for the day.
Chandler Skate Park is awesome, dude! When the park opened in 2000 Thrasher Magazine named it among the top 5 skate parks in the United States. Some of the best skateboarders in the world have found their way to south Chandler to enjoy this 35,000 sq. ft. facility. There’s concrete bowls, decks, blocks and metal rails to be used for free by skateboarders and in-liners. There’s an area nearby for picnicking and a playground to keep the smaller kids happy. (480) 782-2640. Located at 4500 S. Basha Road, Chandler, AZ; Open: 8 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. /winter; 7 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. summer.
Take a spin through the Sonoran Desert on a bike! Bring your own, rent one at the resort or take a tour from a biking outfitter like Desert Biking Adventures—providing guided desert mountain and cross-country biking tours in/of the Southwest since 1992. Customize the tour from easy to challenging to fit your family’s requirements. There’s arguably no better way to see the desert glories than from the seat of a bicycle. The tours follow established mountain trails and roads and are easy to moderate to navigate. The good news, the trails are such that most of the ride is downhill. (602) 320-4602 or (888) 249-BIKE. 7119 E. Shea Boulevard, #109-297, Scottsdale
HISTORIC & CULTURAL
Phoenix’s treasured Heard Museum is considered one of the world’s top museums for the education and interpretation, display and sale of Native American art, jewelry, rugs, pottery, katchinas, and beading. Dwight and Maier Heard started the museum in the 1920’s with their already-legendary personal/ private collection of Native American art. Visitors literally stand in the Heard’s former living room and gaze at beautiful art they had personally collected and protected—some dating back to the 1800’s. In 2006-07 the museum expanded to include multiple galleries, a cafe, auditorium, museum shop and bookstore, education center, courtyards and an amphitheater. Year round programming includes international hoop dancing competitions, music, art fairs and, of course, education and varied exhibits. You must see the stunning 7-ft. steel door created by Hopi artist Michael Kabotie; it graces the entrance to the Museum’s Berlin Gallery. (602) 252-8840. Open daily 9:30-5:00 p.m. 2301 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix.
The nearby, Phoenix Art Museum is becoming tastier by the year. The largest art museum in the Southwest, expanded in 2006-07, features world-class exhibitions and a collection mix of over 17,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, modern & contemporary art. PAM is also known for its Western American art and bedazzling fashion design galleries. Not to be missed are the Thorne Miniature Rooms of historic interiors, shopping in The Museum Store, and lunch in Art Museum Cafe by Arcadia Farms, if you have time. And, take the older kids into the “spacious” Infinity Room. This installation, accessed by the floating staircase, is an “out of this world” experience. The Museum presents a variety of on-going public programs, including film showings, lectures, Family Sundays, gallery talks, and more. Free parking and barrier-free access. (602) 257-1880. Closed Mondays. 1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix.
The Arizona Science Center in downtown’s Copper Square features over 350 hands-on exhibits, a 206-seat planetarium with a 60-foot dome, and a giant screen theater with an Iwerks projection system. Science related demonstrations are conducted daily, providing fun and interactive experiences (call for schedule) like Blood Lab, Optics of the Eye, and Stomach This! —a digestive system demo. And, if this makes you hungry there’s a great café in the Science Center plus a fascinating gift shop on site, complete with unique toys and take-homes—related to science, of course. (602) 716-2000. 600 E. Washington Street.
As a bonus, the Center is located on Historic Heritage and Science Square, a striking remnant of Phoenix’s Victorian past. This unique area encompasses the only remaining group of residential structures from the original town site of Phoenix. And, why not plan to enjoy the Science Center and then take in a downtown sporting event? In season the Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field Ballpark (the only sports facility in the world featuring a retractable roof, air conditioning, and a natural turf playing field) US Airways Center 201 E. Jefferson Street. (602) 379-7878, also nearby, is home to the NBA's Phoenix Suns, AFL's Arizona Rattlers, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and hosts concerts and other family entertainment options. Check out the schedule when you’re in town.
At Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park you can experience a prehistoric Hohokam Indian ruin. Walk along a 2/3-mile (1km) interpretive trail featuring the archaeological site and then visit the Hohokam Houses exhibit with reconstructed homes. Inside the Land and the People exhibit tells the story of the ancient Hohokam. The changing gallery showcases exhibits on topics such as archaeology, southwestern cultures, and contemporary American Indian arts. Let your children discover the excitement of archaeology in the hands-on exhibit Explore Archaeology. Exciting workshops, tours and events are available year round. The Museum Store features authentic Indian arts, books on the Southwest, and other unique items. (877) 706-4408 / (602) 495-0901. 4619 E. Washington Street, Phoenix.
Deer Valley Rock Art Center:
The mission of the Deer Valley Rock Art Center is to preserve and provide public access to the Hedgpeth Hills petroglyphs site; it includes a museum, nature and interpretive trails and rock sites with 1,571 petroglyphs on 570 boulders. Petroglyphs are designs made by carving or scratching away the dark layer of rock varnish on a rock's surface to expose the lighter rock underneath. The Center, part of Arizona State University on-going research efforts, works to further the understanding, preservation and interpretation of rock art—from this specific area and around the world. Rock art may have been created for a variety of reasons: magic, ritual, place markers, shamanism, vision quest, symbols or important events. It is integral to the history, rituals and belief systems of the people who made it. To see so many examples of rock art in one place is truly a chance of a lifetime. (623) 582-8007. 3711 W. Deer Valley Road, Phoenix.
Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arizona's and the Southwest’s largest mall, is known for its high-end tenants, rivaling beautiful Biltmore Fashion Park (located six miles to the west). Scottsdale is a shopper’s paradise and at Fashion Square you’ll find great people watching plus Coach, St. John, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Dana Buchman, Kenneth Cole New York, Max Mara, Max Studio, and TUMI. Neiman Marcus even opened one of its exclusive Horchow Collection Show Rooms at the mall and Barneys New York is slated to open in 2009. To keep your family entertained for several hours or more, there are also plenty of restaurants, a food court and two movie theatres on site. Located at the corner of Scottsdale Rd. and Camelback Rd., the entire mall district (to the south) is being transformed into a larger, mixed-use “waterfront development” that includes condos, the “Old Town” shops, restaurants, night clubs and some of the Southwest’s best art galleries. (602) 990-7800. 7014-590 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ. Take time to stroll the unique and beloved Old Town Scottsdale streets and the renowned 5th Avenue shops that “mix it up” with many unique family-owned shops, fine art galleries and businesses featuring gifts, souvenirs, Native American handcrafts, home furnishings, galleries, cafes and theatres. (602) 945-0962.
Old Town Tempe, Arizona Mills and IKEA are just a few of the shopping spots that will tickle you and your pocket book during your Phoenix visit. Downtown Tempe’s Mill Avenue District delivers as a “college town” shopping and dining district with its funky stores filled with gifts, jewelry, souvenirs, vintage clothing and footwear and specialty books. There’s also Valley Art Cinema on Main Street showing first run art film—or plenty of bars and restaurants to visit depending on your timing (and interest in hanging out with a predominately college-aged crowd).
Arizona Mills—Arizona's largest value-oriented mall with over 175 shops and carts, themed-restaurants and entertainment venues is also located in Tempe. If you’ve ever been to a Mills center you know to expect crowds, lots of bargains and plenty of family fun! Kids will love the Harkins Luxury 24 Cinemas, GameWorks, an IMAX Theatre and the mall’s huge food court. Have you ever been to IKEA? If not, now might be a fun time to check one out. These stores are totally amazing—specializing in Swedish-style furniture and accessories for people on a budget, Tempe’s IKEA is a 342,000 sq. ft. emporium of home furnishing innovation and ideas. You can easily spend half a day here. In fact, IKEA operates an affordable on-site restaurant inside the store so weary shoppers can rest their feet—in case the shopping venture turns in to a full day. (480) 496-5658. Open daily. 2110 W Ikea Way, Tempe, AZ. I-10E, exit 158/Warner Road.
Many gourmets consider Phoenix a culinary destination of note; there are hundreds of great restaurants located throughout the Valley of the Sun, from 4-star to fanciful, from indigenous to international options, and in all price ranges! Check out our Dining section at or near Legacy Golf Resort.
Surfs up in Tempe! No kidding. Big Surf jam-packs over 15 slides into its 20-acre facility and thrills kids of all ages with its two-million gallon wave pool, Waikiki Beach—which claims to be the first one in America. Hurricane Falls (with its legendary Black Hole!) features three thrilling body slides; the Avalanche, Cyclone, and Tsunami Slides are exciting tube rides. And then there’s the Abyss and Kilauea Cove (gulp) where only the brave venture. Little ones can play at Captain Cook’s Landing in the wading pool; older kids and adults have fun playing water basketball and volleyball at Mauna Loa Bay. And everyone loves the robust snack bar. Honestly, you have to see this place to believe it. For big families, it can be a little pricey— but for a day’s worth of water, sun and fun, it can’t be beat. Remember: pack the sunscreen! From I-10 E exit 147A-B and merge onto AZ 202 Loop E. (8 miles) Take Exit 8 for McClintock Drive; turn left at McClintock. (480) 947-7873. 1500 N McClintock Drive, Tempe. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day, 10:00-6:00 p.m. Hint: buy tickets on line in advance to avoid long lines. Look for discount coupons at Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, and Taco Bell.
Visitors from outside the area, especially gardeners and plant lovers, won’t want to miss a stroll through the remarkable cacti and succulent display of Phoenix’s renowned Desert Botanical Garden. One of only 44 botanical gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums, this 145-acre garden allows guests the chance to see over 139 rare, threatened and endangered plant species, plus experience 20,000 plants representing 4,000 species in a unique desert-habitat environment laced by easy to navigate paths. Enjoy the delightful outdoor patio café while soaking up the sunshine, then shop in the fanciful Garden Shop for a special desert memento. (480) 941-1225. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. Open daily, except major holidays, seasonal hours. In summer, evening visits are more comfortable; strollers, scooters, wheelchairs and umbrellas are available to rent.
The family may want to pop “next door” to the Gardens for a outing at the spacious Phoenix Zoo—voted one of the best Zoo’s in the country for kids. Over the Thanksgiving to New Year holiday season visitors are treated to Zoo Lights, a fantastical display of motion and light aglow throughout the entire complex—one of the largest holiday light shows in the southwest featuring 2.5 million lights. The Zoo also features a unique Sanctuary for animals “in need” because of threats from extinction, disease, behavioral problems, etc. (602) 273-1341. 455 North Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. Both the Gardens and the Zoo are located in Papago Park—Phoenix’s version of New York’s Central Park. Make a day of it! Plan to hike, climb and picnic on Papago Park’s nearby red buttes before or after the Garden and Zoo visits.
If the gardeners (and birders!) in your group want to expand their viewing experiences to include a display of 3,200 desert plants from the world’s desert and semiarid regions, a hour’s drive east of Mesa will deliver you to Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum near Superior, AZ. A scenic drive along the mysterious and colorful Superstition Mountains provides the backdrop for your clan to discuss the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine on the drive out to Arboretum. The lush Queen Creek riparian canyon where the Arboretum is located is Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical treasure featuring trails that are accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, stunning views, and many areas for resting and picnicking. (520) 689-2811. Drive 55 miles due east of Phoenix on HWY 60 (MP #223) toward Superior and Globe.
And if you think Arizona’s Cactus League is a horticulture club, think again. A dozen Major League Baseball teams—the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Anaheim Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Diamondbacks—warm up under Arizona’s gorgeous spring sun during Cactus League spring training in March and April.
Tempe Diablo Stadium
48th St. & Broadway
1235 N. Center, Mesa
Maryvale Sports Complex
3600 N. 51st Ave.
Phoenix Municipal Stadium
5999 E. Van Buren St.
San Francisco Giants
7408 E. Osborn
San Diego Padres
Peoria Sports Complex
16101 N. 83rd Ave.
(623) 848-4337 / (800) 409-1511
Kansas City Royals
15754 North Bullard
Surprise, AZ 85374
(623) 594 -5600
Chicago White Sox
Tucson Electric Park
2500 East Ajo Way
Tucson, AZ 85713
Hi Corbett Field Randolph Park
3400 E. Camino Campestre
Tucson, AZ 85716
Yes, you’re in the thick of it all in one of America’s most famous playgrounds, but no need to rush out every day. There’s plenty going on at the Legacy Golf Resort to keep your tribe thoroughly entertained and delightfully pampered—without even leaving the premises.
Grilled sourdough bread stuffed with flame roasted Fuji apples, sour cream and oodles of syrup. Does this sound like a nice way to begin your day? Or, perhaps you enjoy more traditional favorites—like oatmeal or omelet’s? No problem. Everything is served with a smile at the The Grille at The Legacy Golf Club. Take it slow, read the paper, and plan for an unplugged day brimming with nurturing pastimes. Maybe you and the kids want to do pool time and serious sun bathing? You can always prepare an easy lunch in the room, fiddle around playing board games or putting together a puzzle borrowed from the front desk. How does a long nap sound? (We’re known for our peace and quiet!) Call the Resort’s Concierge and see what activities are lined up for the day. There’s always something fun going on! In the evening you could sign up for a group hike—a fun way to meet some of the other Resort guests.
Did someone say, “When’s tee time?” Phoenix’s Legacy Golf Course is close to the action in Phoenix and Tempe and yet feels remarkably remote and peaceful—probably because it’s bordered by 160,000 acres of the South Mountain Preserve. Offering players stunning views from every tee, The Legacy Golf Course challenges golfers of all levels with rolling terrain and manicured greens. Designed by renowned architect Gary Panks, the 6,908-yard, par 71 Legacy was the site of the 2000 LPGA Standard Register PING tournament and has two of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 instructors” available for group and individual lessons. There’s a remarkable pro-shop on-site featuring designer men and ladies’ apparel. And the delectable food service at the resort’s The Grille at The Legacy Golf Club is consistently good.
Locals visit the Legacy just to take advantage of the Resort’s many spa services, so, why not you? Start with a light breakfast at the The Grille at The Legacy Golf Club or take a water aerobics class. Get the kids lined up with one of the daily resort activities, then head over to the Spa for a classic European facial or antioxidant-therapy facial designed to stimulate circulation and respiration of the skin. You can literally feel the stress fade away. Body wraps? You bet. Herbal, mud or kelp—which one sounds most inviting? With convenient daily hours (open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.) your Spa visits can be spaced throughout the day to allow you time at the pool with the kids, lunch, or an afternoon nap in your room. Don’t go home without enjoying a massage; there’s Swedish and Therapeutic as well as deep tissue massages— for those needing extra help relaxing even the deepest muscles. And, if you’re not a sun goddess but want everyone to know you’ve been to Arizona, treat yourself to a bronzing session at the spa and go home with a beautiful, all-over body tan. (We won’t tell if you don’t.) Reservations are required and can be made in advance of your visit. Call (602) 714-1189 for more information.