Is your family looking to step away from their daily bustling lives for the weekend? Fortunately, Arizona has a litany of museums, exhibits, and parks that can entertain kids and spark their imaginations. These activities can occupy kids and bring forth childlike wonder in adults. Next time the kids say they are bored, consider one of the following family-friendly activities for a day of fun.
The Arizona Science Center provides such an informal, hands on approach to education that it’s easy to forget you’re learning. Kids will have their hands and brains full during a trip to this 164,000-square-foot institution. The Science Center continually impresses through a revolving door of interactive exhibits. They also have impressive mainstays like the Dorrance Planetarium and the Evans Family SkyCycle’s high-wire bike ride.
The Children’s Museum of Arizona is an area for kids of all ages to tap into their imaginations. This downtown Phoenix museum has over 500 educational programs addressing arts and culture, early learning through play, health and wellness, environmental awareness, and cultivating tolerance and understanding. The Children’s Museum constantly brings in new programs that help ensure kids are entertained year-round.
The i.d.e.a. Museum aims to inspire children to experience the world through art, creativity and imagination. This 20,000-square-foot museum is full of interactive space for kids to develop their creativity. The exhibits are focused on art, science, engineering, and design and include three main areas and an outdoor atrium. The museum aim to support learning by providing opportunities to engage senses and encourage creativity.
Sea Life is a 26,000-square-foot interactive aquarium that brings marine life to the desert. The aquarium contains 250 species of aquatic creatures including sharks, seahorses, and rays. Families attending the aquarium can explore the many exhibits including interactive touch pools and a 180-degree ocean tunnel. The staff also hosts many educational demonstrations and feedings throughout the day.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is a 30-acre playground and one-of-a-kind park. It includes several playgrounds, food vendors, and even a 1950-vintage Allan Herschell carousel. Located in the heart of Scottsdale, this park is famous for its two replica trains. Families can take the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and the Arboretum trains on a tour of one of Scottsdale’s most popular parks. Their newest attraction is a 10,000-square foot model railroad building that includes four model railroads and a variety of hands-on exhibits.
How does spending the day with black bears, wolves and bison sound? At Bearizona Wildlife Park, you can do just that. Tucked away in the Kaibab National Forest is the home of this unique wildlife park. The park is explored by vehicle. Guests get to drive through the park, and get a close-up look at some magnificent animals in their natural habitat. Following the ride, families can stroll through the 20-acre walking area of the park, featuring exhibits and shows with smaller animals.
Golfland Sunsplash is both a waterpark and amusement center featuring over 30 rides and attractions. The park is separated into two. In Golfland, families can play miniature golf, over 200 arcade games, laser tag, and drive bumper cars. In Sunsplash, the attractions include a 450,000-gallon wave pool, a lazy river, and thrilling waterslides.
Challenger Space Center is a dream for kids that list astronaut as their future profession. The surviving families of the Challenger Space Shuttle founded this museum to honor the crew’s memory. The out-of-this-world exhibits include a life-sized satellite model, a gravity game, and real gear from space shuttles. Kids are encouraged to learn and explore the wonders of the universe through classes, camps, and field trips.
The Valley Youth Theater is a theatre company dedicated to helping young people achieve their full potential in the performing arts. The theater relies fully on talent between the ages of seven and 19. The group has received more than forty awards and was voted “Best Live Theater” by azcentral.com. Their family friendly shows are engaging for theater fans of all ages.
Rawhide Western Town transports families back to the Wild West of 1880s Arizona. Visitors can tour this decked out western town and its many family friendly attractions. Western themed activities include hay wagon rides, gold panning, mechanical bulls, and rides on the Rawhide Express Train. Families will want to stick around and enjoy the live action stunt shows at the Six Gun Theater.
The Musical Instrument Museum (called the “MIM”) is widely recognized as one of the best museums in the United States. It displays more than 6,500 instruments collected from nearly 200 countries. The expansive music museum features state-of-the-art audio and video technologies that allow guests to observe, listen, and play instruments from around the world. The MIM has been one of the top 20 museums in the U.S. and the top attraction in Phoenix by TripAdvisor.
The Phoenix Zoo is 125 acres and is home to over 1,400 animals–30 of which are endangered or threatened. The zoo hosts many educational camps and programs as well as animal exhibits that allow kids a chance to see their favorite animals in an intimate setting. Kids will have the opportunity to enjoy the petting zoo, stingray exhibit, educational tram ride, and camel rides. The zoo also includes Monkey Village—the only-walk through squirrel monkey exhibit in the United States.
Lego fans of all ages can enjoy the new LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Arizona Mills Mall. Though targeted towards children ages 3-10 this center is a paradise for all Lego lovers. It includes two Lego rides, a 4D cinema, and a creative workshop with tips on Lego building. Locals can also enjoy Miniland–a miniature model of Arizona constructed out of Lego bricks and including various Arizona landmarks.
This butterfly haven is the largest indoor rainforest conservatory in America. The butterfly pavilion houses over 3,000 beautiful butterflies, tropical plants and flowers from across the globe. Additionally, Butterfly Wonderland features a 3D theater, interactive nature exhibits and conservatories for fish and insects.
Out of Africa is the ultimate adventure for animal lovers. The park is an authentic replica of a real African Bush Safari with over 40 exotic big cats including lions, tigers, and jaguars. On a trip to the park, families can witness animal behavior up close through a safari tour and animal presentations. In addition to big cats, the park has hundreds of mammals, reptiles, and birds from diverse areas of the world.