Arizona is a park lover’s dream. With a steady mix of national parks, state parks, and sports facilities, the Grand Canyon state often feels like one big playground. It’s easy to see why Arizona parks are regarded as some of the best in the nation. Arizona is naturally gifted with huge swaths of land and year-round sunshine. Its best parks take full advantage of the benefits the state has to offer while having top-notch facilities and locations. Here are the best parks located in the state of Arizona.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is one of the best parks for families in the state. This 30-acre park located in Scottsdale features playgrounds and museums for people of all ages. It includes several playgrounds, grassy play areas and even a vintage carousel. The grounds also hold picnic tables and host vendors selling ice cream treats. The main draw, however, are the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and Arboretum replica trains. Kids can take a train ride through the park for just $2 while getting a tour of one of Scottsdale’s most beautiful parks.
Scottsdale is widely regarded as having some of the best parks in the country. In fact, this was a key factor in the United States Conference of Mayors naming it the “Most Livable City” in 1993. Out of the myriad parks in Scottsdale, Chaparral might be the very best. This 100-acre park includes a greenbelt multi-use path surrounding a large lake for boating and fishing. There’s also a pool, playground, community center, sporting facilities and a dog park. On any given weekend, this park is packed with families, sports teams, and athletes taking advantage of the many features of this multi-use park.
McDowell Mountain Ranch Park & Aquatic Center has such good facilities that it seems like it belongs at a resort. This park includes an eight-lane, 25 lap pool complete with one-meter and three-meter diving boards. It also includes a large tube water slide, play pool and a lazy river. Aside from the pool area, it also includes a skate park, fitness center, and hosts many fitness and swimming lessons. McDowell Mountain Ranch Park is often rented out for large parties and host’s competitive and recreational swimming teams.
Scottsdale Sports Complex is a 71-acre state of the art sports facility. The park has 10 carefully-groomed sports fields designed to offer tournament level playing conditions. The fields attract recreational, national and regional tournament play for soccer, lacrosse, football and rugby. In addition to its many fields, the park also features a lighted basketball court, shaded playground, and multi-use paths.
Scottsdale’s Civic Center Mall is a jack-of-all-trades park. It has gorgeous fountains, grassy lawns, and a lagoon all of which serve as a great backdrop to the many events and festivals hosted on its grounds. The outdoor amphitheater is an ideal place to take in an evening concert. Shops, restaurants, and the iconic Scottsdale Center also surround the park for the Performing Arts. This can’t miss park is a great option for a leisure afternoon or a large-scale festival.
Reid Park is a 24-acre city-owned park that includes a zoo with over 500 animals. Founded in 1967, the non-profit zoo within the park includes over 500 animals and houses everything from birds to farm animals and monkeys. The park also includes lakes, Ramada’s, and playgrounds that add to the zoo experience.
If measuring by pure beauty, the Japanese Friendship Garden might be the best park in the state. Named Ro Ho En, this 3.5-acre park includes 50 varieties of plants, 1,500 tons of handpicked rock, a 12-foot waterfall, and a 300-fish Koi pond. It’s impossible not to feel tranquility and calmness while walking through the garden. This may not be your standard park, but the carefully crafted garden is an ideal place to take a walk and enjoy the sunshine of Arizona.
Catalina Park is one of the oldest parks in Tucson and was built in 1902. Today, it’s a four-acre located next to the popular 4th Avenue shopping district. The park has numerous amenities that make a trip worthwhile. There’s a shaded playground area, exercise stations around the park, and areas for grilling and picnics. For hot summer days, kids can enjoy the splash pad. This play fountain area is bustling with families looking to escape the heat in a fun environment.
Papago Park is known for its desert trails leading to some of the most scenic vantage points in the Valley. Its famous “Hole in the Rock” trail is a natural rock formation and offers picturesque sunset views. Park visitors can hike, mountain bike, or walk around the park and it’s large fishing lagoon. The park also includes an exercise course, baseball and softball facilities, archery range, and dog park.
Slide Rock is a 43-acre park in Oak Creek Canyon—a few miles away from downtown Sedona. The park is named after a stretch of creek water that is slippery and allows visitors to ride down the water chute like a slide. This state park is a huge tourist attraction and makes for one of the most unique park experiences available. After sliding down the creek, many visitors picnic and enjoy the sun on the stunning red rocks of Oak Creek Canyon.