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Fun Things to Do in Phoenix with Kids

A roundup of the best family activities in Phoenix. From activities for kids, and places to visit, to family-friendly restaurants, here’s your ultimate guide to fun things to do in Phoenix with kids.

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As a Phoenix local who happens to be a professional author covering all the fun things to do for date nights and family activities, I am asked often for recommendations for fun things to do in Phoenix with kids.

I am a parent of two energetic boys, we get out often, try everything, and have learned what are the real winners and favorite family activities in Phoenix. And we can no longer gatekeep the best places for families in the Phoenix metro!

Whether you’re visiting Phoenix for a day, or you’re a local, here is your ultimate guide of fun things to do in Phoenix with kids.

Family Friendly Museums in Phoenix

The Phoenix Children’s Museum

 As Phoenix residents, this is our favorite place to take our kids! We’ve had a pass for two years and it just never gets old. There are so many hands-on activities for kids to enjoy, play areas to get wiggles out, an art studio, and a changing special exhibit every season. It’s right in the center of Downtown Phoenix, and such a great place to take kids! 

​- The Musical Instrument Museum 

Visit The Musical Instrument Museum is such a cool and unique experience! I thought every major city had one of these until I got wise to the fact that this is the only of its kind in the U.S. What, good job landing that Phoenix! It’s floors and stories of the history of music and musical instrument invention throughout the world. You’ll love the modern pop pieces down to the most ancient civilizations’ musical instruments. It’s a robust museum of high caliber that everyone who goes really seems to enjoy. And kids love the hands-on exhibits and fun interactive displays. 

– i.d.e.a. Museum 

Our family had a pass here for a year and it was the best money spent to keep my younger kids busy! I’d say it’s ideal for 1-7 years of age. It’s a great place with interactive exhibits 

– Arizona Science Center 

This gem of a museum is in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, and has so many interesting exhibits! 

– Phoenix Art Museum

While this might not be a premiere museum with the most famous works of art, it’s still a great one worth your time! Check out their special events, and free admission days for a fun experience. 

– The Heard Museum 

This one-of-a-kind museum is one of the wonderful places of Arizona documenting Native American history, Expect to learn a lot, see amazing artifacts, and learn a lot. 

– Arizona Natural History Museum

 This is perhaps the most underrated museum in the great Phoenix area. Get ready for a fantastic dinosaur museum full of amazing exhibits. We love visiting, and loved taking our Jurassic Park family costume pictures here too!

– Hall of Flame 

This museum is also referred to as the Firefighter Museum and is a little kid’s dream full of fire trucks and interesting facts. Everyone always comments how they enjoy this museum so much more than they expected, and it’s one of the best places for hyper toddlers. 

Fun Places for Families in Phoenix

– Phoenix Zoo 

The zoo is so well-kept, and has a fantastic layout! It’s open year-round, but we’d recommend hitting it up in the fall or spring when it isn’t too hot. Zoolights are also fantastic and a lot of fun during the holiday season

– Desert Botanical Garden 

If you can visit one place, I’d try to make it this one! I know we take our beautiful Sonoran desert for granted as Arizonans. Every time someone comes to visit fo the first time they comment how they had no clue that the desert was actually this pretty. And also, we get asked often where they can get an iconic cactus picture with a big saguaro cactus.  The Desert Botanical Gardens have your back with some of the most picturesque scenes and beautiful foliage of the desert. 
Plan a cooler evening or go during the winter and spring months to see the best blooms and Arizona landscapes. 

– McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park 

If you have a vehicle-loving child, this place is tops! You can purchase inexpensive tickets to take a train ride on a smaller sit-down train. There are parks to play on, a carousel that honestly makes me feel like I’m at Disneyland, and historic trains to tour. Don’t miss the train depot for plenty fo model trains 

– Butterfly Wonderland 

Experience thousands of butterflies in their habitat. This is a magical experience and one of the favorite things kids love doing for field trips in the greater Phoenix area. 

– Odysea Aquarium 

You will have the best time taking kids of all ages to this aquarium! We were pass holders for three years, and went every week, and had the actual best time every time! I love that toddlers are enchanted by the sea creatures, and teenagers love this spot too! They have cool play experiences for younger kids to enjoy like a giant water table and interactive games. It’s such a cool stop just off the 101 freeway in Scottsdale. 

– Sea Life Aquarium

Sea Life Arizona is a hidden gem of an aquarium tucked in the Arizona Mills Mall. It’s a smaller-sized aquarium with lots of fun ways to see sea life creatures. 

– Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs 

Get ready to interact with robotic dinosaurs in this great option for younger kids. 

– Jade and Clover 

Want a unique family fun experience? Try booking a succulent class at Jade and Clover. You’ll walk away with your own work of art and a succulent to remind you of your fun experience in the desert. 

Iconic Arizona Destinations 

– Papago Park

Get ready for some pretty desert views, easy hikes, and a favorite photography destination ticket right into the city of Tempe.  

– Goldfield Ghost Town

This is a recreated western town that locals love and is a lot of fun for tourists! You’ll find some shops, fresh food, and plenty to see and do at this charming spot.  

– Tovrea Castle

​Check and see if tours are available and if you can schedule one. This iconic place sits right off a major freeway and has the most interesting story and history of old west Arizona. 

– Camelback Mountain Hike

Wanna see the vest views of the Valley of the Sun? Hike Camelback Mountain! Just be sure to check the trails, some are harder and some are easier for kids. Also, pack plenty of water and make sure to keep your valuables with you as cars are sometimes targeted at the parking areas. 

– South Mountain Park

This is one of the favorite hiking destinations for locals. The hikes are easy and the views give a big reward with spanning views of the Phoenix skyline. 

– Spring Training Games

Arizona loves hosting the MLB teams for spring training and catching baseball season early. But even if you can’t make it during the spring, a Diamondback’s game in their covered and air-conditioned arena is still a fantastic place to be in this baseball-loving community. 

Water Parks, Pools, and Splash Pads

– Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix 

This is THE water park in the Phoenix metro with tons of water slides, a lazy river, an area for little kids, and a wave pool to chill in. 

– Golfland/Sunsplash 

If you want thrilling water slides, this is your spot! Their mini golf is always a fun stop too! 

– Great Wolf Lodge 

This is a destination spot many people come to Phoenix as their vacation. It’s a special experience and has the best kids activities the entire family loves! The premiere stop is the indoor water park with fun water slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and tons of toddler-friendly areas too. But you’ll also find rock climbing walls, indoor ropes courses, mini-golf, indoor rock climbing walls, bowling, and fun magical quests. I’d highly recommend staying at the hotel, but you can also get a day pass to go swim and enjoy the water without a hotel stop. 

Fun Centers

– Castles and Coasters

​As far as amusement parks go, this is a smaller one but still full of plenty of fun rides and fast roller coasters. They have arcade games, mini-golf, and plenty of fun for elementary-aged kids through adults.  

– Encanto Park/ Enchanted Island

 If you want an amusement park for the younger crowd, Encanto Park is tops! They have a handful of rides for kids of all ages, and plenty for the younger crowd. Our kids love the train ride through the park, the dragon coaster, and the bumper boats best. 

– Legoland Discovery Center

​If you have a Lego lover, they will love this mini Legoland with a few rides and lots of mini figures to build and enjoy. 

– Uptown Jungle

Their slogan is “Wearing kids out since 2001” and let me tell you, I feel that deeply each time we go. Kids can climb, bounce, jump, and explore to their heart’s content. 

– Dave and Busters

Get ready to enjoy some old-school arcade games and earn all the tickets at this fun center. 

– Jake’s Unlimited

This is a great place to entertain and feed the whole family! They have a decent buffet with pizza, pasta, and salads. The arcade games are tops, but their bowling alley, laser tag, VR, and fair-style rides take it to the next level for fun! 

– Main Event

Enjoy bowling, arcade games, and lots of family fun at this air-conditioned fun center perfect for a birthday party or family date. 

Free Things to Do with Kids in Phoenix

– Check out the Extensive Parks 

– Find a Splash Pad (check out our Phoenix Splash Pads guide) 

– Visit Museums on First Friday 

– Check out a Culture Pass 

– Go for a Hike 

Great Family-Friendly Restaurants in Phoenix

Family Friendly Pizza Places in Phoenix 

If you didn’t know, we’re a little bit famous for our pizza! Try any of these destination pizza places that are great for date night, but also for older children and little kids alike! 

Pizzeria Bianco 

– Cibo 

– Pomo 

– Federal Pizza 

Excellent Mexican/Southwest Food Options 

Barrio Queen 

– El Blanco Tacos + Taquilia 

– El Gallo Blanco 

– Backyard Taco (fast, cheap, big party friendly) 

– Boca Taqueria 

Gadzooks Enchiladas 

Favorite Family Restaurants and Fun Experiences 

– Oreganos

 This is a local favorite that tourists love too! Italian food meets the southwest with some creative flavors to classic dishes. Get the Alfredo the Dark with chicken, Big Rig with Meatballs, and a pizza cookie if you want to try the favorite crowd-pleasers. 

– Pita Jungle 

Their kids meals are healthier choices kids love. And it’s hard to go wrong with most items on their menu, but definitely get humus and pitas. 

– Postinos 

Get a bruschetta board, and thank me later!

– Joe’s Farm Grill

 This gem is in the East Valley, but it’s been featured on The Food Network. The food is farm fresh, with the farm out back. There are giant picnic tables outside with room to run, play, and enjoy conversations with friends. 

– The Farm at South Mountain 

This place not only has great picnic-style food, it’s also a great place to run around outside, and play games, and it’s a perfect place for a small gathering or party. 

– Rustler’s Rooste

Get your old west on with a western-themed steakhouse complete with live country music and a tin slide. It’s so much fun and a great way to celebrate your time in the old West United States! 

– Organ Stop Pizza 

There are only two of these unique experiences in the country, and it’s one of the best things to take a family to experience! Enjoy a pizza buffet dinner with show organ performance. The organ rises from the floor, takes requests, and includes light shows, theatrics, and plenty of fun for the whole family. The food is better than you’d think, and truly a fun places for 

Younger Kids Favorites

– The Children’s Museum (Great for ages 1-11) 

– I.D.E.A. Museum 

– Gigglez 

– Freestone Park Petting Zoo 

Enchanted Island at Encanto Park (3-11) 

– Holly Heart Museum 

– Fire Museum 

Older Kids Favorites

– Castles and Coasters 

– Dave & Busters 

– Shopping at Scottsdale Fashion Square 

– K1 Speedway 

– Golfing at Golf Courses 

Day Trips from Phoenix for Families

– Grand Canyon

I mean why not visit one of the 7 Wonders of the World while you can? The views are stunning! You can plan day hikes, overnight hikes, or just explore viewing areas. If you’re feeling like a little splurge, take a guided helicopter tour or jeep tour of the Grand Canyon. 

– Antelope Canyon

Check out amazing rock formations that you’ll see featured by National Geographic and wall calendars! It’s one of the most photogenic locations and a very cool experience children of all ages can appreciate. 

– Flagstaff 

During the summer months, many Phoenicians escape the heat and head to higher elevations and cooler temps in Flagstaff. Families love the outdoor adventure ropes course, riding the sky life, listening to live music downtown, and enjoying the Lowell Observatory

– Williams 

Not only does Williams host the famous Polar Express train ride during the holiday season, you can take a Grand Canyon Railroad tour any time of the year! You’ll also find Bearizona not far, a great petting zoo with endangered species preserves, and a mountain roller coaster kids of all ages love. 

– Sedona

Sedona houses some of the most beautiful red rock meets forest scenes you’ll ever behold! The hiking is amazing, there are plenty of fun shops and restaurants to explore. Don’t miss a Sedona Jeep Toure guided tour through the beautiful area for breathtaking views and a little adventure. 

– Pinetop/Lakeside 

If you want to escape the heat and see the mountains, head East of Phoenix to Pinetop/Lakeside! Plan a day trip, or rent a cabin and go enjoy beautiful hikes, kayaking, fishing, and the beauties of the mountains. 

– Tucson 

Check our list of the best Tucson date ideas. We wrote this post in partnership with Visit Tucson, and we took our toddler with us. There are a lot of gems in this smaller city that’s full of history. 

– Tombstone 

If you want to see the Old West, this is your place! Walk where Billy the Kid walked, watch a gun show reenactment, stop by a saloon, and step into some old-west history! 

– Bisbee 

This former copper mining town is now a mix of old West meets modern art. There’s excellent food, and fun tours, and it’s said to be one of the most haunted places in the world with plenty of tall tale ghost stories. You can avoid those easily if you have young kids, but most enjoy the quirky stories of minors, visitors, and even a donkey who haunts the place. We loved doing the Bisbee ghost tour, a guided ghost tour walking through the small town. It’s something I think families with elementary-aged and teenage kids would get the biggest kick out of! 

– Jerome 

Welcome to another old west town full of tall tales and ghost stories. Jermone leans into this with a unique experience full of tours, run-down buildings, and even ghost-themed restaurants. 

Enjoy Your Time in Phoenix!

There are so many other fantastic things to do in Phoenix, it really is such a great place to live and fun place to visit. We hope this helps your family find some fun and enjoy this great city!

Like these fun things to do in Phoenix with kids? Be sure to check out these posts too:

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