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Arizona Boardwalk: Tips to Visit this Family-Friendly Attraction

Visiting the Arizona Boardwalk offers you a full day (or two!) of fun, family amusement. It's where you will find some of the top Scottsdale attractions, including Odysea Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland, and the Mirror Maze.

At this one-of-a-kind entertainment destination, you will also find some great restaurants and places to do a little shopping. This entire complex is within the Talking Stick Entertainment District.

We've also included some recommendations on where to stay nearby.

Arizona Boardwalk Attractions

9 Marquee Attractions on the Arizona Boardwalk

Most people visit the Arizona Boardwalk for its wonderful and family-fun attractions. This section offers details about each one, so you can plan your stay before you arrive. Paid admission is required for many of these attractions.

1. OdySea Aquarium

A caiman alligator at the OdySea Aquarium

The OdySea Aquarium is one of the most visited attractions on the Arizona Boardwalk. From the minute you set inside and see the globes hanging about 30 feet overhead, you know you are in for a treat!

After you buy your tickets (or show them your pre-purchased tickets), you will then head up the escalators for the start of your journey.

You will find dozens of displays with animals, such as turtles, fish, and penguins.

When we visit, we love spending some time in the walk-through aquarium, catching a live presentation in their theater called the "Voyager," and relaxing as we watch the jellyfish float around in the water.

Note: Check out the bathrooms on the first level right after you enter the OdySea for a fabulous surprise! I know this seems weird, but they were voted #1 during the “America’s Best Bathroom” contest in 2017. Yes, there is the best bathroom contest every year in the USA. I’m completely serious, and so are the judges and contestants.

It is at 9500 East Via De Ventura, Suite A-100.

>> Find more details about visiting the OdySea Aquarium

2. Butterfly Wonderland

A colorful butterfly at Butterfly Wonderland

Another one of the marquee attractions here is the Butterfly Wonderland. This is our personal favorite on the boardwalk.

Your journey starts by watching a 3-D movie. You will then head over to the main attraction here, which is the butterfly conservatory.

This conservatory has over 2 dozen species of butterflies, so no matter how long you spend here, you probably won’t be able to see them all. Watching them fly around, dancing from leaf to leaf or tree to tree, and flapping their wings is so entertaining. Some may even land on you!

The Butterfly Experience was recently named a PAL and Certified Autism Center by the IBCCES.

Once you are done in the conservatory, you can check out some of their other animal exhibits, including the Tropical Waters of the World, Rainforest Reptiles, and others.

It is located on the Arizona Boardwalk at 9500 East Via de Ventura, Suite F-100.

>> More details about visiting

3. UFO Experience - The Truth is Out There

This is a must-see for those who doubt that extra-terrestrials have visited the Earth! And, if you are a believer, you definitely will want to explore this more.

The UFO Experience is loaded with incredible information and exhibits on these amazing creatures and how they have contacted humankind. In this attraction, you will find over 200 exhibits ranging from alien lifeforms to models of them and their spaceships, and even interactive experiences to get a real feel of what it would be like to meet them.

As you enter, you'll see a short movie to give you an idea of what is going on right now. You then get to play a very amusing laser shooting game, "Alien Hunter," where you try your best to keep the universe safe!

One of our favorite exhibits is about alien abductions and encounters with aliens. It is very interesting and informative while also being fun family entertainment at the same time.

The UFO Experience is located at 9500 East Via de Ventura, Suite E250.

4. Laser + Mirror Maze

Laser and Mirror Maze in Scottsdale

Are you ready to test your skills in the Mirror Maze and Laser Challenge? This is an exciting, action-packed activity that your entire family will love!

The Mirror Maze lets you try your hand at a mirror-filled maze with twists and turns meant to confuse you. Some of the fun of the maze includes trying to get out of a classic Mayan Temple in the jungle and crossing an old bridge that might fall down, or you’ll disappear into the water forever. It also allows you to find butterflies as you walk around the Amazon rainforest.

Are you as fast as a cheetah? As nimble as a ninja? As strong as a superhero? You will need to be all these as you try to get through their laser maze!

With this maze, you click the start the timer button, enter the room, and lasers start appearing all around you as you move through it. When you think you’ve found the perfect path, BOOM, another laser appears in front of you.

If you hit too many lasers, you will have to start again.

However, if you are a master laser maze runner, you can stop the timer at the end and see which of your friends or family has the best time!

Last but not least, there is the Beam Buster, where you TRY to hit as many lasers as you can in 30 seconds. It is a race against time, so be quick. Again, you can compare your time to others with you.

Note: According to the attraction, any age is acceptable for the Laser Maze and Beam Buster. However, it is recommended kids be at least 5 years old as they may be scared during the Mirror Maze.

It is located at 9500 East Via de Ventura, Suite F-110.

5. PANGAEA: Land of the Dinosaurs

What is that you hear? It sounds like the ROAR of a Tyrannosaurus Rex right behind you, and it is, so you better run away quickly! Whew, you are safe now and realize that it is just a replica of one. However, since the dinosaurs look so real, you might think you have entered the actual land of the dinosaurs as they move around during the demonstrations.

PANGAEA: Land of the Dinosaurs offers an educational experience with detailed exhibits about more than a dozen dinosaurs, from the velociraptor to the oviraptor.

They also offer daily events where you can learn even more about these ancient creatures.

There are lots of opportunities for cool photographs that your kids will love. There are also special touchpads where your kids can “mark off” all the dinosaurs they have seen and get a little reward at the end of their stay.

On top of the dinosaur exhibitions, there are areas to do face painting, opening an egg to find a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur, glitter tattoo, and the most favorite of all for kids, the bouncy dinosaur exhibit. This is similar to bounce houses, but in this one, your kids can actually climb inside a dinosaur!

Note: Some reviews we read on this said it is best for young kids and can be expensive for what you can do here. We loved our visit, but keep this in mind before your book your tickets.

It is located at 9500 East Via de Ventura, Suite C-100

6. Ripley's Believe It or Not!

For those that don't know about Ripley's Believe It or Not, you are in for a treat! This incredible attraction offers exhibits that are too crazy to be true, but evidence proves they are true.

Some of these include two-headed cows, amazing artifacts, and massive art pieces made out of toys. It is one of 29 Ripley's Museums from around the world, so you know that there will be something that you haven't seen, or possibly even imagined, here.

We also love that there are loads of interactive games, weird art, and stories of people who seem too wild to be true, Yet they are the real thing!

It is located at 9500 East Via de Ventura, Suite D-220.

7. Museum of Illusions

This is one of the weirdest and wildest museums. We know your family will love it!

Dedicated to making you question your sense, what is up and what is down, and what is sideways too, the Museum of Illusions will test the boundaries of your mind (and your camera!).

This museum has over 60 attractions that will make you feel like you are defying gravity and even flying around the room at times. Some of the best ones include the "Rotated Room," which will allow you to walk on walls, or the "Ames Room," where you will seem to grow and shrink depending on where you are, among others.

This is a great attraction for family entertainment as it was specifically built for all ages so that everyone can join the fun and adventure.

It is located at 9500 East Via de Venture, Suite 600.

8. CyberQuest Arcade

This is another great spot for family fun as all of the arcade games here are non-violent. You can visit for free, but you do have to pay to play.

To play the games, you'll need to purchase a card, put as much money/credits on it as you want, and use it to start your games. Most of them cost around 50 cents to 2 dollars each.

Games you'll find here include classic video games, car racing games, and even more current games. They also offer special events, contests, birthday parties, and more.

If you play certain games well, you will walk away with some tickets you can exchange for gifts or toys.

There is also a small cafe inside it if you want to grab a bite to eat.

Note: If your little ones are in school, they can get up to $10.00, depending on their grades. So, make sure to bring along their report card, and give them a free reward for working so hard!

It is located at 9500 East Via de Ventura, Suite D-120.

9. Johnny's Playground on the Arizona Boardwalk

This is the perfect location for kids of all ages when you are on the Arizona Boardwalk! This playground includes loads of inflatable and bounce houses for your little ones to jump around on and inside.

There is also a jungle gym here for kids that want to swing around and climb, as well as a special area just for the younger ones so they can play around and be safe, and lots of relaxing areas for parents to hang out and watch their kids have fun.

You'll find it in their outdoor courtyard.

Shopping at the Arizona Boardwalk

The Arizona Boardwalk is also home to a handful of shops with some items to pick up before you leave. Some of the gifts you will find here include books, toys, stuffed animals, and more.

  • Arizona Territory Trading Post: This store offers several items related to the wild, wild west. You will find shirts, keychains, postcards, native American-crafted items, and even food items such as salsa, soups, candies, and more!
  • Butterfly Treasures: This is the gift shop inside Butterfly Wonderland. They have books, toys, outfits, shirts, and other gear. Pretty much anything you can imagine is butterfly-related here.
  • Arizona Four Peaks Mining Company: This is a really cool store since everything available has been mined from the Four Peaks Amethyst Mine, which was discovered in the 1800s. Not only do they have loads of beautiful jewelry for purchase, but they also have a free mining experience for everyone to enjoy. This is a great way to take home a piece of Arizona to remember your trip every time you look at it!
  • OdySea Treasures: This is the official gift shop for the aquarium. You will find dozens of marine-related gifts and treasures, including books, clothing, and more.
  • The Soap Bubble: If you love soap and an at-home spa experience, then you must stop here! It features local, handmade soaps with dozens of scents. You will also find some popular high-end soap brands, sugar scrubs, bath salts, and body butter. If you need a few more spa accessories, such as robes and pajamas, you will find those here too.

>> More places to go shopping around Phoenix

Restaurants and Food on the Arizona Boardwalk

Sugar Drop Scottsdale

Having fun on the Arizona Boardwalk? Need something to help you refuel?

Here you will find multiple dining experiences for both food and snacks.

  • Johnny Rockets: This is the most popular place to eat. It offers an old-fashioned dining experience with burgers, shakes, and fries. You will also find fresh salads, yummy malts, and even veggie burgers.
  • Frozen Penguin: If you are looking for a bit of dessert, check out Frozen Penguin with their homemade cookies and brownies made from scratch. Then put delicious ice cream in the middle of them, and you have the perfect cookie sandwich ever!
  • Pangaea Dinosaur Grill: Another great place to get a full meal is the Pangaea Dinosaur Grill. You'll find Mediterranean cuisine and a few dinosaur themed-dishes and desserts!
  • Sugar Drop Candy Shop: The last place on our list will allow you to cure your sweet tooth. What we love about the Sugar Drop Candy Shop is that there are amazing candies, snacks, and fun games. There are also clothes and other fun gift options.

Annual and Free Events

In addition to the daily attractions and activities available at the Arizona Boardwalk, their outdoor courtyard regularly hosts fun and free events.

Check their calendar before you visit to see what additional events they have planned during your visit.

Where to Stay Near the Talking Stick Entertainment District

Tru by Hilton Scottsdale Salt River

Only a half-mile from the Arizona Boardwalk is the 3-Star Teu by Hilton Scottsdale Salt River. This hotel gets great reviews and offers an outdoor swimming pool, free hot breakfast, and connecting rooms.

Talking Stick Resort

Just over a mile south of the boardwalk is the Talking Stick Resort. This 4-star hotel offers outdoor pools, a casino, and easy access to their Talking Stick Golf Club with two courses and an eatery.

Staybridge Suites Scottsdale - Talking Stick

About two and a half miles from the Arizona Boardwalk, you will find Staybridge Suites Scottsdale - Talking Stick. This hotel offers an outdoor pool, spa, workout facility, and comfy rooms.

Arizona Boardwalk Pinterest Pin

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