10 Summer Day Trips from Phoenix With Kids
By the end of June, the temps are insufferable and everyone is looking for ideas to get out town. Thankfully, there are numerous options! Here is a list of 10 summer day trips from Phoenix with kids. Many of these can easily be stretched into a weekend itinerary, or combine with other activities. Whether you’re looking for a one day excursion, or Saturday-Sunday family adventure, be assured there are options for all ages, and for all budgets.
What is your favorite day trip from Phoenix? Leave a comment and let us know. We’re always looking for new places to explore!
Salt River, and lower Verde River – both of these rivers are the literal water life to Phoenix, and offer alot of popular summer activities! Swimming, kayaking, tubing, fishing and more are all abundantly available. The Salt River is probably most popular, with water access points like Phon D. Sutton and Butcher Jones, but the lower Verde River also offers cool water and beautiful scenery. Which do we like best? Possibly the Verde River, because it’s closer to us; the Salt River is definitely a good option too! For more information, check out our blog post about the lower Verde River, or the official website for the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest.
Lakes – yes, there are lakes around Phoenix! Some are man made reservoirs, to better channel the water from the Salt River and Verde River. But many offer great places for boating, swimming, hiking, and fishing! The more popular lakes are Bartlett Lake, Lake Pleasant, and Saguaro Lake. The water may not be as cool as the rivers mentioned above, but it’s definitely an easy day trip from Phoenix with kids. Pack the sunscreen, hats, plenty of water, snack and whatever else is needed to enjoy a summer family day!
Out of Africa – much more than just a quick stop over near Camp Verde, this attraction offers close encounters with a variety of animals from the African savanna, opportunities to feed and interact with them, and an exciting safari ride! There is an extensive zipline for the grownups, animal meet and greets with educational displays, and large enclosures to explore and observe the animals. Their website offers free downloadable coloring pages, and a game! Several shows are offered throughout the day, including an exciting tiger splash. My kids loved the reptile show which we stumbled upon by accident. See their website for more details, including any current restrictions or changes.
Sedona – Sedona is like another world, with towering red rocks and gorgeous scenery. About 2 hours north, it offers a wide variety of activities – and temps around 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix! Take a popular Pink Jeep Tour (recommended for ages 5 and up)! Swim or hike at our favorite Crescent Moon Picnic Site. Other popular stops are Red Rock Crossing, Grasshopper Point, West Fork at Oak Creek, or Slide Rock. You can see a suggested itinerary here. Or browse the end of this blog post.
Cottonwood/Jerome – these two quiet towns are bustling with things to do! Families often stop here on the way to Sedona or Flagstaff, or choose to spend night to experience more of the charm. The popular Verde Canyon Railroad starts here, with breathtaking views of Arizona’s backpack country, all from the comfort of a railway car. For more nature options, hike the easy Jail Trail, explore at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, or the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area. Dive in to local history at the Tuzigoot National Monument. Then hop over to Jerome, an old mining town, with some unique history. You can learn more about things to do in Jerome here, including a historical museum great for kids, ghost tours, and places to eat.
Mortimer Farms – while famous for their annual pumpkin patch, Mortimer Farms near the small town of Dewey is open year round and offers a great summer escape! Their old fashioned style rides and activities, coupled with u-pick produce makes for a fun family day. Their strawberry fields are the best! Yes, go visit in July even and you will have your choice of fresh strawberries that will delight all ages. Read more about the farm here. Prescott is also just 20 minutes away, offering the popular Lynx Lake, Watson Lake, and more.
Bearizona/Williams – head west from Flagstaff, and you’ll come across the town of Williams. The most noticeable attraction here is Bearizona, a drive-thru zoo experience with, you guessed it, bears and other wildlife to observe! There are also portions you can park and walk around to experience the animals. It’s a little on the far side for a day trip in our opinion, but do-able! Williams is a fun town to explore on its own, with the Grand Canyon Deer Farm and portions of old Route 66 for whimsical photo ops of days gone by.
Flagstaff – if we had to pick a favorite summer getaway spot, it would likely be Flagstaff. With a direct shot up I17 from Phoenix, you’re in a beautiful pines and plenty of things to do. You can view all our blog posts about Flagstaff here, including an epic list of activities. Our favorites to highlight? We love Thorpe Park and Bushmaster Park (there’s a zip line here!). We love Firecreek Coffee. We love exploring at Sunset Crater National Monument. We love hiking at Picture Canyon Trailhead, Frances Short Pond, and Hart’s Prairie. If you’re planning to stay overnight, maybe consider a visit to the world famous Grand Canyon. Did you know there’s a ski lift you can take for epic views as well?
Petrified Forest/Meteor Crater – these two day trips options are often overlooked. Petrified Forest National Park is a stark change from the pines of Flagstaff, with stunning rock layers and mind boggling petrified wood. The north visitor’s center has a great children’s area too. We’ve like to view this stop as a “drive thru” experience, pulling over 3-4 times to hop out of the car for photos. The meteor crater, located near Winslow, will be a hit or miss with the kids. It’s literally just a huge hole in the ground….but a pretty cool hole in the ground, if it interests you! We like to tell people that if you’re in the area, it’s worth a stop in your life. But don’t make a special trip just for the crater.
Payson and surrounding towns – go northeast instead of due north from Phoenix, and you’ll find Payson, which offers cooler temps and lots of activities for families! Hiking is abundant, with easy to moderate trails, and some cool history (ever heard of Zane Grey?). Browse this blog post, packed full of 12 Things to Do in Payson with Kids. We’re fairly certain you’ll want to make a weekend visit of your time here.