For eight years we have made the trek south for a winter get away and have yet yo get sick of it for many reasons. Though our activities have changed from sunbathing and drinking our days away to keeping busy with two little ones we still manage to have a ton of fun.
We primarily go to see family but even without that I always recommend Phoenix as a family trip to others? Why? The flights are inexpensive and short – under 3 hours! And short flights are key with little ones. The weather is almost always good, in 8 years we have gone there for usually two weeks at a time and have only had rain two days. There is so much to do not only in Phoenix but in surrounding areas that might be a day trip or an overnight trip away.
I wanted to share some of the things we have enjoyed doing as a family while holiday-ing in Phoenix so in case others are considering heading south you know what you can get up to. These are in no particular order.
Legoland Discovery Centre (Tempe)
We just found this one this year as it opened only a year ago in the Arizona Mills mall. It was a rainy day so I went to Google and found this little gem! This would appeal from ages 2+ I would say. Chloe was a tad small for most things but still had her share of fun. When I asked Chad the ages that might like this he said 2-50 😉 If you have a child under 5 I would recommend going Monday-Thursday as they have Toddler Time and it is only $16 for an adult and toddler, extra people are only $11, so we paid under $30 for our family.
There are two rides that reminded me of ones you would find at Disney, you can go on them as much as you want and Avery loved both. There is a 4D theatre that plays movies every 30 minutes and again, go to as many as you want as they change.
The coolest thing was miniature land in my opinion. They had a whole room of cities, an airport, a stadium, landmarks and more built out of Lego.
There are buttons to animate different pieces, so Avery loved pushing all of those.
In the main area there are so many Lego stations, ones for girls (Lego Friends), ones where you can build and test Lego cars, a Duplo area, bins of Lego to just create and more.
There is also a play zone area that kids can go into – we avoided it since I knew I might never get Avery out of there 😉
You could spend hours here for sure!
This Zoo is near where we stay (Surprise, AZ) and we have been a few times. It never disappoints! I do find it pricey, but that seems to be most zoos. We always seem to find 2 for 1 coupons though so it is a worth a look around for those.
I feel like this zoo goes on forever and has every type of animal. Every time we go there are more! From birds, monkeys, lizards, sharks (there is a aquarium), baby animals, bears, rhinos, giraffes, kangaroos, sea lion, tigers you could not ask for much more from a zoo!
You can feed some of the animals but do need 50 cents – so bring your quarters! A highlight is feeding the giraffes:
I find this zoo rarely busy, especially in the afternoons. The mornings are filled with schools but they all seem to leave after lunch and it feels like you have the park to yourself.
They have some rides throughout the zoo and a newer area with more rides. Though these do cost extra $$ and you need cash! We did not know this and only had enough for a carousel and train ride. The train ride goes through some animal enclosures and is okay but at $6/person I am not sure it is worth it. I just had a very insistent toddler that HAD to ride the train.
We spent 5 hours there and did not even get to any of the animals shows or encounters this year since there is so much to see without going to those, but I really regret not taking a break to sit and watch an encounter/show.
This is located in downtown Phoenix and another gem we visited for the first time this year thanks to Nicole’s recommendation. We went after lunch and it closed at 4pm so just to note for others – but I did find a few hours to be enough time, though you could spend much more time here.
Where to start?! This is great for kids of all ages, babies to 12 for sure. The coolest thing about it is that every play area and room they have, there is an enclosed area for babies!
There is a giant play structure right as you come in and some play areas for the smaller kids, from there you can go up to level two and/or three and there are endless activities and stations for kids.
Avery’s favourite was probably the grocery store where kids could get there own cart and “shop” from the shelves, checkout and do it ten times over.
There was play houses to play in, fort rooms to build every fort imaginable, play cars to drive, art studios, an outdoor play area, a “noodle farm” – see the family photo below, a play cafe and a ton of sensory play areas.
Avery cried when we left and asked to go back the whole 45 minute drive home in case you wanted to know how much she liked it 😉
Out of Africa – Wildlife Park (Camp Verde)
This is about 90 minutes north of Phoenix but worth the trip as it is a completely unique zoo experience. I actually would recommend going to this zoo, staying in Sedona (another must see with the scenery!) and then heading north to the Grand Canyon for a 2-3 day trip.
This zoo is designed to be like a safari, so you can take an open air bus through the animal enclosures where the animals come right up/in to the bus! I got to pet a giraffe when we went through. These tours run throughout the day and from their website I see they know offer upgraded ones as well that I would try for sure.
Whenever we visit Scottsdale I feel like I am in California more than Arizona for some reason. It is the trendy spot to go, with great shopping, cool restaurants and lots of window shopping. I will never forget the one year we went and grabbed fro-yo (this back when you could not get it here!) and went for a walk only to find a doggy yoga class in a park! If nothing else it was great entertainment 🙂
Fashion Square Mall is a must go to if you want to shop, it has every store you could want and a lot of higher end stores you might not find all together elsewhere.
Almost every time we go we find one sport game to go to, from Spring Training games that are all over Phoenix to NHL games ( there is also good shopping and restaurants around the arena), basketball and University sports you can easily find a game to go to and usually for really good price. I actually really enjoyed both basketball and baseball games in the past!
There is so much more I have not touched on, hiking, golfing, more great shopping, and endless day trips! Going to Phoenix never gets old for us with so much to see and do and I owuld go back every year if I could!