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Kids Activities in Phoenix: My 25 Top Picks from Around The Valley

You will find dozens of fun kids activities in Phoenix that your entire family will love. We've pulled together our top 25 to make it easier to help you plan your stay!

Some of our top picks include a stroll around the Desert Botanical Garden, a chance to explore the Phoenix Zoo, and tons of places to go hiking. You will also find some great sporting events, amusement parks, and family-friendly aquariums.

1. Desert Botanical Garden

Cactus Orange Flowers in Bloom at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

Your kids will love checking out all the gorgeous, and strange plants, in this 140 acre botanical garden (55 acres under cultivation). There are 5 different major trails that all are designed to give visitors a journey through a different environment. Some of these include the desert, the nature loop, and others. Our favorite is the Desert Living Trail as there are loads of blooming plants, bees (don't worry, they aren't aggressive), and butterflies all around you.

The Desert Botanical Garden also has classes if you and your kiddies want to learn more and there are often special art exhibits on display. There are two restaurants on site if you get hungry or thirsty. If you go at sunset, you will see the sun set and it is like nothing you've seen before.

>> Learn more about what to expect when you visit

2. Phoenix Zoo

A zebra at the Phoenix zoo hanging out.

Just a 10 minute drive from downtown, the zoo is one of the best kids activities in Phoenix. It's where your kids will be able to see over 3,000 animals all over the 125 acre park. Everyone in your family will love the tigers, monkeys, brightly colored birds, and more. We love that there is usually just a glass window between the animal and us so we get a very closeup and personal view of them.

You can often see the staff feeding them and you can ask them questions about the animals as they are always happy to tell you more.

You can also check out this historic carousel or ride around on one of their Rydables. 

It usually takes us about 3 to 4 hours to explore the zoo. With kids, you could probably spend the entire day here. If you only have a few hours, make sure to plan out which areas you want to visit so you can see everything while you are there! 

>> More tips to visit the zoo

3. Papago Park

Hole in the Rock Papago in Phoenix

The beauty of Papago Park is that it is within easy walking distance of the Phoenix Zoo (or a very short 5 minute drive if you want to do that). This is one of the kids activities in Phoenix that is great for young ones as it has lots of space for walking, running, and hiking to explore.

If you want to do more than hike, there is mountain biking, a lake to go fishing, an archery range (wow!), and more.

This park is probably most famous for the "Hole in the Wall" which is a massive arch in one of the mountain ranges where you can walk through. It is best in the early morning to see the sun rise, or the evening to see the sun set, but it is great at any time.

4. Musical Instrument Museum

China section at the Musical Instrument Museum.

Another one of the fun kids activities in Phoenix is the Musical Instrument Museum (also known as MIM). This indoor museum features musical instruments from around the world. 

In addition to the instruments, your family will enjoy traditional costumer worn during musical ceremonies as well as the videos that show traditional dances from dozens of cultures. 

On the first floor, you will also get the chance to see pieces owned by top musicians. This section features items from performers such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Maroon 5. 

You will want to plan out your visit here too. In order to see and experience this entire museum, it could take anywhere from four to five hours. We usually spend about 3 hours here and don't quite get a chance to see everything on one visit.

>> More tips to visit this Phoenix museum

5. Butterfly Wonderland

Butterfly on an Orange Flower at Butterfly Wonderland.

Honestly, the title of this attraction doesn't do it justice. The main part of this attraction is a large tent where there are thousands of butters flies from 70 species flying freely. 

Jill and I honestly think this is one of the best kids activities in Phoenix since the butterflies are all around you flying and landing on leaves and plants in this massive tent like structure. You could spend a couple of hours in here just checking out all the different species.

Your journey will start out with a 3-D movie (and kids are always trying to "grab" the butterflies in it which is fun) and then you'll head into the butterfly tent. After that you'll go through a special exhibit about both desert creatures and more.

Fun Fact: The butterflies may even land on YOU! As you leave the tent, they will check you front and back to make sure there isn't a butterfly trying to escape.

6. OdySea Aquarium

Black fish in the aquarium at Odysea

Located almost directly beside the Butterfly Wonderland, this aquarium is another one of the best kids activities in Phoenix.

The OdySea Aquarium is massive, and you can spend hours just watching the fish, alligators and sharks. That being stated, kids of all ages absolutely love the penguin exhibit (your kids can even do a special one on one penguin event as an add-on). With over 30,000 animals, there is something that everyone in your family will love.

There is also the amazing Voyager exhibit where you sit in theater type seating to watch the wildlife swim in their exhibits as the theater seats move in a circle. It is hard to explain but it is like a round-about where you sit, they ride moves in a circle, and you get four different environments to watch.

It is like nothing else Jill or I have ever seen or done. Don't worry as it moves very slowly, and it isn't dangerous.

>> Learn more about what it's like to is this popular aquarium

7. Other Kids Activities in Phoenix at The Arizona Boardwalk

Chocolate shake at Johnny Rockets in the Arizona Boardwalk

As if the OdySea Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland wasn't enough, the Arizona Boardwalk has a few other fun kids activities in Phoenix for you to enjoy. Some of our favorites include the Laser + Mirror Maze where you and your family has to work together to duck, dive, and crawl through a maze while not touching the lasers. There is also Pangaea where dinosaurs and other prehistoric monsters come to life.

These two are the most popular but there are many others at the Arizona Boardwalk. These include a Virtual Reality game and the Polar Place Ice Bar. If you and your little buddies get hungry, there are many food choices for your dinning enjoyment.

8. Sea Life Aquarium

Lucky for you and your kids, Phoenix actually has two aquariums in the city. This one is a bit smaller, but still holds thousands of animals for you to see and interact with here. We love that there are touch exhibits where your little ones can feel what some of the sea creatures feel like and get a whole new experience of them.

Something that makes this aquarium different than the OdySea is that it has a 360 degree tunnel so you can feel as if you are actually fully under the water when you go through it. It really is an amazing experience and something you'll never forget.

This aquarium also has the Critter Collection where you can touch insects, tortoises, and more including spiders (no way for Jill and me!). There are also educational talks and more.

9. Legoland Discovery Center Arizona

Who doesn't like Legos? Pretty much everyone that Jill and I have met do! Well, unless they are being stepped upon, then you might not like them as much. Luckily, there is no chance of that happening at another one of the top kids activities in Phoenix.

Some of the attractions inside include a 3-D movie, MINILAND which has a miniature city made of Legos, a special kids' play zone, and a section where you and your kids can meet your favorite Lego characters in full human size!

There are other exhibits and rides in the LegoLand Discovery Center, and it will be a thrill for your kids and bring you back to your childhood as you venture through it. You can also buy tickets for this and the Sea Life Aquarium as a combo to save some money.

10. Children's Museum of Phoenix

Designed to inspire kids' intellect and desire to explore the world around them, this is a great start when you and your kids visit the Valley of the Sun. There is the Art Studio, where they can learn how art and science can be combined, BlockMania where they can learn how to use blocks to set up buildings or other structures, Move It! where kids play outside and push things around and they can build friendships with others that are doing the same.

This is a great way to help your kids grow and expand their intellect. The best part is they may not even realize they are learning and think they are just playing around. For that matter, you might see something you never noticed yourself, which means you all can learn together as a family. How often does that happen?

This museum is recommended for kids up to 10 years of age.

Fun Fact: The Children's Museum of Phoenix was voted "The Best Place to Take Kids in The Valley" by Phoenix Magazine's Best in The Valley.

11. Day Trip to the Grand Canyon

There is nowhere else in the world like the Grand Canyon. It stretches more than 18 miles across with a total area of around 277 miles. The best way to get here is by driving up on your own, take a guided tour, by plane or even by HELICOPTER!!!!

Simply stated, you will want to see one of the 7 wonders of the world and it will be something your kids will never forget. I know that I saw it when I was 10 and I still visit it every few years since it still amazes me every single time.

Many of the top guided trips start early in the morning, take the full day, and include food and drinks. Some of them also add in Sedona, Flagstaff or other sites that you'd probably never experience by yourself.

FYI: Jill and I have done several of the tours and they are all amazing in their own way. The amount of information, the views, and the ability to just relax and take it all in as someone else does the driving is something that cannot be imagined.

12. Arizona Science Center

Like the Children's Museum of Phoenix, this is another one of the top kids activities in Phoenix where they can learn as they play. Some of our favorite exhibits include the "Flight Zone" where kids can climb into an actual aircraft and experience what it is to like to fly, SOLARVILLE where kids can learn all about the benefits of solar power, and our favorite experience, the Dorrance Planetarium which is a 360 degree light experience.

It is definitely a great place for the whole family to play and learn at the same time. This museum is appropriate for children ages 3 and up. 

13. Spring Training Baseball Games

PLAY BALL!!!!!

I'm a huge baseball fan so this is the perfect location for us to take in several spring training games. The good part of that is all of the games are in the Phoenix area and so much less expensive than the Major League Baseball games everywhere else. I personally love that I get to see the star players closeup and in person. The reason this is one of the best kids activities in Phoenix is that they will be able to do the same.

It's also a great chance to check out those up and coming players too. There is nothing like saying "I saw them when they were just starting in the majors!"

In addition to the games, there are usually specials and fun events that happen during to entertain the kiddies too.

You will find all 15 teams in the Cactus League right here in Phoenix. Most of them are from the mid-west and west. Some of the teams that play here includes the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, The Texas Rangers, and many more.

14. Other Sporting Events

Now if you aren't a fan of Spring Training baseball, Jill and I still have you covered as there are so many fun sporting events all year long. We love that we can basically see a professional team no matter what season here. 

Just to give you an idea here is a short list: The NBA's Phoenix Suns, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, The NFL Arizona Cardinals, MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks, the NHL's Arizona Coyotes, the USL's men's and women's Phoenix Rising teams. The choices really are mind boggling compared to many other major metropolises in the USA.

In addition to professional sports, you will also find college games, semi-pro, minor league, and other fun sporting events throughout the year.

In other words, you will be able to find something for you and little ones to enjoy.

15. Pueblo Grande 

This indoor and outdoor attraction is wonderful for kids of all ages with exhibits that feature interactive learning and adventures. The first part of Pueblo Grande is inside an adobe building and has photos and exhibits about the Hohokam people, who are the Native American people who lived here for years and in fact, several still live here.

After looking around this area, you then go outside and follow a path that will lead you to different areas that highlight the way of life that the Hohokam people lived in the desert. The fun part is that this is one of the kids' activities in Phoenix that your whole family can enjoy. You will all experience mud huts, stand inside some of their historic structures, and learn more about their way of life.

Depending on when you go, there are events and demonstrations that are suitable for all ages. One of the most important one is the Annual Navajo Rug & American Indian Art Auction in November.

16. Castles N' Coasters

Get ready to go up, down, around, and pretty much any way your body can go as you ride the coasters, bumper cars, and other fun rides. There are so many that you could easily spend the entire day here.

There are more than 20 to choose from and, since we love being scared (while also being safe), one of our favorite coasters is the Desert Storm coaster. It's a fantastic ride that you and your kids will never forget.

If your kids don't want to ride coasters, then they can experience other fun activities including games for younger kids or the virtual reality rides.

Castles N' Coasters also has loads and loads of other choices too such as an arcade with video games, pinball, and other games where you can compete against each other. This arcade is massive with 3 levels, over 150 games, and more than 10,000 square feet!

When you decide you and the family need to take a break, there are six stands/restaurants inside this Phoenix attraction.

Note: Some of the rides have a height requirement, so you will need to check this in advance if your smaller once want to ride the coasters. 

17. I.D.E.A. Museum: Kids Activities in Phoenix

A museum dedicated to helping kids have fun, while also learning that science, math, and education can also be fun and exciting, is why we think this is one of the best kids activities in Phoenix.

The plan of this museum is to encourage kids to find a way to learn that will open their minds to new experiences while also engaging parents to help them. It is a great way for a family to work together, become closer, and find ways to do the same at home since everyone can work as a team.

Some of their fun exhibits include teaching kids to do a puppet theater show, creating their own artwork, playing out stories in front of a green screen, and so much more. There are also traveling exhibits so you will always find something new no matter how many times you visit the museum.

The I.D.E.A. Museum is a perfect place for most families since they suggest the children are between 0 and 12 years of age which means there is something for everyone.

18. Six Flags - Hurricane Harbor

With a name like "Hurricane Harbor" you know this one of the best kids activities in Phoenix. This Six Flags water park has a variety of rides that are perfect for thrill seekers all the way to those looking for a more relaxing experience. 

There are loads of options here including rides for adults, ones where adults can go with their kids, kids by themselves, and pretty much every other kind you can imagine.

There are also special events and displays that you can check out while taking a break from the rides.

If you and your family get hungry, there are a number of restaurants throughout the Hurricane Harbor. We try to eat healthy (well, most of the time), so we love that there are vegetarian options and more.

Note: Some of the rides have a height requirement, so you may want to check this in advance before you arrive to know what your little ones will be able or not be able to do before you arrive.

19. South Mountain: Kids Activities in Phoenix

This is one of our favorite parks as it is massive and encompasses more than 16,000 acres with miles and miles of trails! South Mountain includes 3 different mountain ranges which are the Gila, Guadalupe, and Ma Ha Tauk. You will often see people walking, jogging, riding their mountain bikes, and even horse riding along the trials and in the park.

Something we love about this park is that we can get some of the best views of the sunset from Dobbins Lookout, which tops out at just over 2,300 feet. It is a favorite for locals and tourists alike.

Now, if you or your kids aren't up to doing the walk or climb, then you can just easily drive your car up the aptly named "Summit Road" until you get to the top. Then you can just park your car and walk up and get a totally incredible view of The Valley of the Sun.

Either way, make sure to bring water so you can stay hydrated and safe. It's one of our most recommended kids activities in Phoenix because there is so much space to spread out and enjoy the outdoors.

20. McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

"All Aboard!!!"

You are likely to hear that as the conductor gets ready to leave the station and give you a fun ride around the park. It's one of the best kids activities in Phoenix because this park includes both the train and a colorful carousel. If you aren't in the mood for a ride, there is a cute model railroad, a museum, and a playground for kids of all ages.

When you and the little ones get hungry, there is a nice snack shack to get a bit of food. Something else that makes this such a great place to visit is that it is free all year long! You will have to pay a few bucks to ride the train or the carousel, but that is it.

Here is a little local only secret: There is a special Arboretum train ride that only runs on Saturdays and Sundays from May to October. It roams through the 2-acre park and is totally worth the few bucks it costs to ride it!

21. Arizona Museum of Natural History

The exterior of this museum has a massive T-Rex dinosaur tearing out of the structure. That is just an idea of how much fun, and excitement, you and your family will have in this museum. There is basically everything that is known about natural history and science in this massive museum. You can learn all about then Native Americans who lived in this area, the dinosaurs who roamed it over 65 million years ago, and so much more.

What we really enjoy is that this is basically a group of many different museums and societies that work together to show you and your kids the best, and most current information about our world. All the exhibits are fun and there are traveling exhibits too so that you and your family will always find something new.

As I'm totally a dinosaur geek, you can guess that my favorite areas are all three exhibits about them, while Jill's is "Origins" where you can see how the museum uses cool objects, lights, and more to reconstruct what it would have been like well before the Earth was created billions of years ago!

There is no question that this is one of the best kids activities in Phoenix.

22. Arizona Railway Museum

CHOO CHOO!!!!

Hop on and away we go to the Arizona Railway Museum! This museum is dedicated to displaying artifacts and exhibits related to trains in the Southwest and Arizona specifically. We both think this museum is a great choice of kids' activities in Phoenix since they are able to see what it used to be like in the west when railroads were king.

They have over 30,000 train related artifacts, but our favorites are always the massive trains and engines at the museum. There is just nothing like seeing these massive, and classics, in person. They also have special exhibits and events during the year, so check ahead and see if you can visit during one of them.

Note: The Arizona Railway Museum is ONLY open on Saturdays and Sunday. It is NOT open during the weekdays so make sure to plan accordingly on your trip to The Valley.

23. Mesa Golfland Sunsplash

The name says it all as this is a great place to get some sun, get wet, and play some golf all at the same time! This attraction is full of fun and surprises as there are over 30 rides, many of which are family or kid friendly, videos games, and totally fun miniature golf courses. Lots of families have told us that their favorite is "Thunder Falls" where the whole family can get in a single rubber raft and ride the waves down almost 7 stories!

If you want a little more relaxation, then check out the Golfland Fun Center which has over 200 videos games, laser tag games, 3 excellent mini-golf courses, bumper boats and so much more. It is perfect for the young, or the young at heart, in all of us! If you get hungry, you can easily find food all around the Mesa Golfland Sunsplash Park.

Note: There are height requirements for some rides, so check in advance to ensure your kids can ride them all.

24. Crayola Experience Chandler

Whenever I think of Crayola crayons, I'm immediately transported back to my childhood and how much fun it was making a mess on a piece of paper, or on a wall (which didn't always please my parents). And that is exactly why this is the perfect place for kids and adults as they can show their creative spirit throughout this experience.

A favorite of ours is the exhibit where you paint with wax and then watch as the colors "melt down" the paper. Two other popular sections are the Rainbow Room where you draw on the ground, and a "virtual" room where they can design anything they want.

The Crayola Experience's store has the world's largest selection of Crayola products you can find anywhere! The Crayola Experience suggests that guests "dress for mess" since they are going to get stuff all over them while here. 

The experience is for people of all ages and kids 2 and under are free.

25. Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park

Not nearly as well known as the Phoenix Zoo, this may be the last on the list of kids activities in Phoenix, but it is in no way the least! This attraction has over 600 animals, many of them endangered and rare and is a special place for children to experience. Not only will they see amazing wildlife, but they will learn about them and why it is so special to take care of them and environment. Kids will also love the petting zoo and the live shows.

The zoo is amazing enough by itself, but then when you add in the aquarium and safari park, this is just a fantastic way to spend a day. The aquarium has the longest underwater tunnel in Arizona so you can see water life close up and in person. If you want to try something else, check out some of the rides like African Safari Train, the Skyride where you can take a tram over the park and see animals below, or even a roller coaster!

This park definitely combines the most of a zoo, an aquarium and a festival park compared to any of the others on this list. So, if you want everything in one place, check this out!


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