Things to do in Phoenix with kids including family activities in Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, and more.
I love Phoenix AZ – it’s one of my favorite places to travel with kids. The desert landscape of Phoenix is so different from what I’m used to in New England, but it’s absolutely beautiful. There are so many great things to do in Phoenix with kids, including many that allow you to explore the beautiful scenery. Here are some of my favorites. Note that some of these attractions aren’t specifically in the city of Phoenix, but rather in the Greater Phoenix area, in cities like Tempe, Chandler, and Scottsdale. They are all easily accessible from wherever you are staying.
Disclosure: I’ve experienced some of these things on my own, and some on two separate press trips (at no cost for purposes of review). This post contains affiliate links. A purchase and/or click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
Family Attractions in Phoenix
The Desert Botanical Garden. This gorgeous park is best explored in the morning, before the sun gets too hot. While it’s definitely a place you’ll enjoy exploring without children, there are also plenty of kid-friendly exhibits. If you, like me, live in an environment that is completely different from the desert, it’s fun to see the various cacti and other desert plants.
Spring training baseball games. My family loves baseball, and spring training is one of the best things for baseball fans to experience. It is a great way to see major league teams play up close, in a reasonably priced environment. With all of the Cactus League teams playing right in the Greater Phoenix area, you can catch several games during a vacation. Our favorite team, the Red Sox, doesn’t play in the Cactus League, but it’s still fun to watch the games. Spring training games take place during the month of March, so plan your vacation accordingly.
The Phoenix Zoo. The Phoenix Zoo, located right near the Desert Botanical Gardens, is one of my favorite zoos of all time. It features loads of exhibits, family activities, and kids’ programs. It also can get very hot, so visit in the morning and be sure to bring lots of sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Although it is located next to the Desert Botanical Gardens, I’d recommend visiting on separate days.
McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. If you have a little one who loves trains, you’ll have to check out the 30-acre McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. There’s a playground, train rides, railroad museum, and lots of open space. We loved visiting this spot when the kids were little because there was plenty of room for them to run around and get their energy out while we were out exploring the area. It’s operated by the city of Scottsdale’s Parks & Recreation Department.
Hot Air Ballooning. Nothing promotes family bonding like checking something off your bucket list. Head out on an early trip on a hot air balloon, and you’ll never forget it! I’d definitely recommend this for older kids rather than younger ones, as it can definitely be a bit scary.
Musical Instrument Museum – I wasn’t sure of what to expect from a museum dedicated to musical instruments, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised by my visit. In addition to showcasing a variety of musical instruments, the MIM also explores the role that instruments play in the various cultures of the world. Because it’s indoors, the MIM is a great place to explore in the rain or extreme heat. It’s huge, so you could easily spend lots of time there.
Arizona Sea Life Aquarium – This aquarium, located in the Arizona Mills Malls, is all indoors, making it a great way to escape the heat. It’s perfect for young kids, and features a number of family-friendly exhibits. Purchase tickets online in advance for guaranteed entry and a discounted rate. It doesn’t take too long to explore, so it’s great for an afternoon visit after spending the morning doing something else.
Legoland Discovery Center – Located adjacent to the Arizona Sea Life Aquarium, the Legoland Discovery Center is a must-visit for any family with young kids. Combo tickets are available for both the Legoland Discovery Center and Arizona Sea Life. Like the Aquarium, it’s a great spot for an afternoon visit.
Tempe Center for the Arts – Families will enjoy a show with Childsplay at the Tempe Center for the Arts. These kids’ shows are perfect for young kids and often include a Q&A with the performers after the show. Check the theater’s schedule in advance to see if there is a kids’ show happening during your family vacation.
Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse – Being from New England, I always enjoy seeing western shows. Rawhide, an 1880s Western town, offers a steakhouse, kids’ activities, shops, and wild west shows. Admission is free (except for special events), but you can purchase tickets for individual shows and attractions. You can also purchase wristbands that offer unlimited attractions and shows. Attractions include a climbing wall, a kids’ mechanical bull ride, a stunt show, burro rides, a petting zoo, and panning for gold.
Want to go bird watching? The Desert Rivers Audubon offers a complimentary bird watching tour on the first Saturday of the month from November to April. During our press trip visit, we had the opportunity to go on one of these tours. It’s a great way for kids to learn about the birds in the area. My kids loved it.
Where to Stay in Phoenix, AZ
The Greater Phoenix, Arizona area offers a number of kid-friendly resorts that are perfect for a Phoenix family vacation. We especially love to find a great resort with kids’ activities, a huge pool area, and other family amenities. Find the perfect hotel, and you’ll be able to spend much of your vacation enjoying those family amenities.
Here are some of the resorts that we’ve been able to review:
You can see more Phoenix hotel reviews here.