Here is a list of some fun things to do in and around the Phoenix area. We have linked to more in-depth reviews of each of the things to do listed here. We would love to hear your feedback on these locations as well as any others that we do not have listed here. You can follow us on Instagram at @phoenixwithkids to learn more about where we are going, what we’re doing, and who we are.
Whether you are an Arizona native, or a visitor looking for things to do in Phoenix, this guide is for you!
Table of Contents:
- Best things to do in Phoenix
- Free things to do in Phoenix
- For Younger Kids
- For Teenagers
- Places to Eat
- Where to Stay in Phoenix
Best things to do in Phoenix
The state of Arizona has a population of over 7 million people, and almost 5 million of them live in metro Phoenix, in Maricopa County.
There are things to do year-round:
- In springtime, baseball fans descend upon the Phoenix area for spring training, games, and amazing outdoor hiking.
- In summer while it is hot outside, there is still a lot to do and many indoor activities are available. In the summertime, visitors will often explore the many lakes and resorts with swimming pools available in Phoenix.
- In the fall, visitors to Arizona often travel to Sedona and Flagstaff to view, beautiful, fall foliage, and experience cooler weather. Metro Phoenix has many activities in the fall, including pumpkin patches, concerts, and more. Arizona, and especially metro Phoenix is known for its amazing climate during November to May.
- The winters in Phoenix are some of the best in the world, with daily high temperatures in December averaging 68°. Our winter nights can dip into the low 30°s but rarely will see snow. During the winter months, Arizonans explore the state, and hiking, golf, sailing, and other sports are extremely popular.
What are the best things to do in Phoenix?
Notable as one of the defining mountains, central to the phoenix landscape, Camelback Mountain is a top-tier mountain hike. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, Camelback Mountain is free, and there are two trails to choose from. This mountain is busy on the weekends and it is recommended only in winter and spring. The 2 hiking trails ascend 1,280 feet.
The Heard Museum offers a glimpse into the past present and future of American Indians, in the southwest. See and learn about travel culture as it was in the past and is now.
Papago Park and Hole in the Rock
One of the best short hikes in Arizona, A short 0.3-mile hike that takes you to a hole or cave in a mountainside. It offers exceptional views of the city and the Phoenix Zoo, and it is a good hike, even during the warm spring. Open to the public year-round, with free parking.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
Here you can learn about Scottsdale, and the American southwest, including its old cowboy days.
Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting
This is a museum with something for everybody. See, touch, and learn about firefighting throughout American history. The museum includes more than 100 firetrucks and firehouse memorabilia.
The McCormick Stillman Railroad Park
Nominated by Phoenix With Kids as one of the best parks in the nation, the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park offers endless fun to kids of all ages. If you’re visiting during the winter months, or spring or late fall, consider a trip to this park. It includes two trains that you can ride, a museum-quality showcase of model trains, a carousel, and a large covered playground.
Japanese Friendship Garden
A beautiful garden set in the picturesque, phoenix, landscape, with beautiful trails anybody can enjoy. The 3.5-acre garden includes a Koi pond with 300 fish, a 12-foot waterfall, and stone footbridges.
Goldfield Ghost Town
Goldfield Ghost Town is one of the best ghost towns and abandoned western towns that you can visit in the metro Phoenix area. We have been taking our friends and family here for years, and each time it is an enjoyable experience. This Ghost town is built on the site of a Goldfield town, which was an active Goldmine back in the 1800s.
Today, it is mostly a reconstructed town and tourist attraction. There are two several very interesting things to do at Goldfield’s Ghost Town, one is the new zipline, which they recently introduced, and the other is the reptile exhibit, one of the best in the southwest.
The Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale
Even if the only musical instrument you play is the radio, you’ll find the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), a fascinating experience. This museum contains 8,000 instruments from more than 200 world countries. Take your time and explore musical instruments from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, America, and Asia.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West
Visitors to Scottsdale have remarked that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West is one of the top things to do in Scottsdale. If you are interested in architecture then we highly recommend visiting. There are many different custom tours available, so check the website for Taliesin West to learn about tours. This is both an indoor and outdoor venue.
Free Things to do in Phoenix
Phoenix has a wonderful public library system that is free and open to the public. There are numerous branches located all over the valley, and many of them host events daily.
Furthermore, each of the cities that make up metro Phoenix has its own library system, and they are also free to join.
Hole in the Rock is one of the most iconic mountains in Phoenix, Arizona. So, it’s no wonder it is one of our favorite things to do in Phoenix. This mountain quite literally has a giant hole in it. You can hike up to the hall. It is very popular and is a short 0.3-mile hike. Almost anybody can do this hike, children, and adults. Entry to this Papago Park is free and it is open year-round.
If you wanna visit Phoenix and are interested in going on a bike ride, then we suggest checking out the bike rides around Tempe town lake. This week is not far from downtown Phoenix and offers beautiful views of the Tempe skyline, and the mountains nearby. There are ample bike trails around the lake and a bike trail that goes all the way to Mesa. This bike trail is mostly flat and level and offers beautiful views of the salt River as you progress east.
Bikes are available for rent on the south side of Tempe town lake.
Another wonderful bike trail is the canal system throughout the valley. The canals are level and bikers can take bikes for miles along these canals. A great place to start is in the old-town Scottsdale area. Bike rentals are available in Scottsdale, at numerous locations.
We have compiled a map of the best parks in all of metro Phoenix. Our map is the most comprehensive map available. In this article, however, we will be highlighting the very best, Parks. These are the most exciting, and suitable parks for out-of-town visitors.
in Scottsdale, the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park is among the best parks in the nation. This park features a train that circles the park. This park also has a carousel, playground, and an indoor model railroad exhibit. Also at the park is a concession shop that sells ice cream and snacks at a very affordable rate. The park features excellent views of Camelback Mountain and is close to shopping and restaurants.
In Chandler, there is a train park that is very popular among locals. This park features a train that circles a Lake and also features a Christmas train during the winter. This part features, a Trussell, a playground, and other activities. Fishing is available at the lake.
Papago park in Phoenix
Papago Park in Phoenix is an excellent park to get a sense of the Phoenix desert. Here you can also hike call rock, see the Phoenix zoo, and walk around several reservoir ponds.
Click here to see our comprehensive map of Phoenix Parks.
Location: 1700 W Washington St. Phoenix, AZ 85007
Pricing: This Museum is Free for everyone
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
The Arizona state capital museum contains many artifacts from Arizona’s 100 years of state history. The museum includes dishes and items from the USS Arizona battleship, as well as any items from Arizona’s western history.
Location: 4619 E. Washington St. Phoenix, AZ 85034
Pricing: Adults (18-54) – $6 | Seniors (55+) – $5 | Children (6-17) – $3, Free on Sundays |
Under Age 6 – Free | Museum Members – Free
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 4:45 pm | Sunday: 1 pm – 4:45 pm
A Native American dwelling and museum.
Location: 4725 E Mayo Blvd Phoenix, AZ 85050
Pricing: Adults (18-54) – $20 | Teen (13-19) – $15 | Child (4-12) – $10 | Child (0-3) – Free
Hours: Open Daily: 9AM to 5PM
The Musical Instrument Museum contains the largest single collection of musical instruments in the world. It has been transformed into a beautiful museum where all of the instruments are on public display. The museum is divided by region and includes Asia, the Middle East, the Americas, Nordic, and European regions. We recommend beginning in the European area if that interests you the most. You may not have time to visit all of the areas of the museum, as it is very big. There are 8,000 instruments from more than 200 world countries.
What’s the best museum in Phoenix? We highly recommend the Musical Instrument Museum, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. This museum contains an incredible number of authentic and original musical instruments from around the world. These instruments are split by region, and by type. You’ll find everything from pianos to guitars, to harpsichords to wind, instruments, and thousands of unique instruments from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Check their website for current events. We recommend starting in the European section, as you may not have time to finish the entire building during your visit.
Location: 6101 E Van Buren St. Phoenix, AZ 85008
Pricing: Adult (18+): $17.00 | Senior (62+): $15.00 | Student (6-17): $15.00 | Child (3-5): $10.00
Hours: Open Tues-Sat: 10am – 6pm; last admission at 5pm
The Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting museum is one of our favorite museums in Phoenix and it is interesting for both adults and children alike. One of our favorite things to do here is to look at the old fire engines that they have on display – they have over 130 firetrucks dating from 1725 to 2004. This museum is open to the public year-round, and charges a nominal entrance fee.
Location: 2301 North Central Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85004
Pricing: Adults – $25 | Seniors (65+) – $20 | Students (w/ID) – $10 | Children (6-17) – $10 | Children 5 & under – Free | American Indians (w/Tribal ID or CIB) – Free | Heard Museum Members – Free
Hours: Open Monday-Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Are you interested in learning about native American history in Arizona? Are you interested in learning about the people who inhabited Arizona in centuries past? Then the Heard Museum is where you want to go. The Heard Museum is a nationally known and recognized museum. At this museum, you can see art, textiles, and other artifacts from all of the tribes in Arizona. This museum is truly a cultural experience and often features live music.
Western Spirit Scottsdale Museum of the West
Location: 3830 N Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Pricing: Adult Admission – $25.00 | Senior Admission (65+ yrs) – $22.00 | Military – $22.00
Child Admission (6-17yrs) – $12.00 | College Student – $12.00 | 5 yrs and Under – $0.00
Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat. | 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. Thursday (November-April)
9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday (May-October) | 11:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday | Closed Mondays
This museum is one of the most popular museums in Scottsdale, and it’s located, conveniently, in Old Town Scottsdale. Learn about life in the American west. Everything from Cowboys to Indians to the founding of Scottsdale. See, touch and learn about the history of Scottsdale.
Location: 1625 North Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85004
Pricing: Free between the hours of 6 to 9 PM Wednesday.
Hours: Monday-Tuesday – Closed | Wednesday – 10 am – 9 pm | Thursday – Sunday | 10 am – 5 pm
The Phoenix Art Museum holds a collection of fine art that is one of the biggest in the west. We highly recommend visiting the Phoenix Art Museum. If you are in town on the first Wednesday of the month, we recommend visiting for their free hours between 6 to 9 PM.
Location: 215 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034
Pricing: $14.95 for children and adults, and $13.95 for seniors (62+). Children under age 1 are free.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday – 9 am to 4 pm
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is no ordinary Museum and is a bit hit of the many options on our list of things to do in Phoenix. Here your kids can ride inside a pencil and paint their own masterpieces. They can go play grocery shopping and learn about gadgets and gizmos that are sure to amaze them. Your kids will enjoy running through a playground with boundless fun. This is an experience your kids will definitely want to repeat.
Location: 2600 E. Elwood St. Phoenix, AZ 85040
Liberty Wildlife is a wildlife nature preserve located in Phoenix. Visit to see a number of Arizona native animals. This organization seems to be teaching a humanist review, with the concept that animals have a spirit.
Camelback Mountain is a popular hike in Paradise Valley, Arizona. This hike is over 1 mile long and is for medium to advanced hikers. For visitors looking for things to do in Phoenix, hiking Camelback Mountain may be the ultimate Arizona hiker’s trophy. This is a beautiful hike to the large mountain that is central to Phoenix, Arizona. This hike has quite a bit of a vertical accent, and it’s not for beginners, who are looking for an easy hike. There are two trails for this mountain, the Cholla Trail, and the Echo Canyon Trail. Expect large crowds on weekends and holidays. We advise not hiking in the warm summer months due to heat.
Pinnacle Peak is a beautiful hike in North Scottsdale that features a 7-mile round-trip hike. This easy-to-moderate hike is a favorite among locals and is known for Its beautiful views of the valley.
Lost Dog Wash Park in Scottsdale is an excellent hike for families and individuals. This hike goes into a canyon and is fairly level. An excellent hike for those looking for an easy to moderate hiking difficulty.
Lost Dutchman State Park is home to the Superstition Mountains which offer a beautiful hike that affords amazing views of the east valley. The Superstition Mountains offer endless miles of trails and adventures. If you are feeling adventurous, you can hike up to the top. This hike offers options for easy to advanced.
Echo Canyon at Camelback Mountain is a popular trail that you are sure to love.
Piestewa Peak in Phoenix, Arizona is a fantastic mountain range that you can hike. This hike is suitable for both children and adults.
Dobbins Lookout South Mountain
Check out our guide to Phoenix hikes, here.
For Younger Kids
Location: 455 North Galvin Parkway Phoenix, AZ 85008
Pricing: Admission is $25 for adults and $17 for children 3-12.
If you are visiting the zoo with kids you can rest assured that they are going to have a blast. Beyond learning about all of the amazing animals at the zoo. There are some fun and interesting things you can do at the zoo like petting the goats. If you have some extra cash to spend you can also do fun things like riding a camel, feeding the sting rays, going on a safari cruiser, and much more.
Party Jungle is an ideal place to take the kids on a hot summer day. This indoor play place has lots of things to do for youngsters.
Enchanted Island Amusement Park is an outdoor amusement park located in Phoenix, Arizona. The park includes a train, swimming pools, bumper boats, canoes, and other rides.
The Arizona Science Center is a great place to take kids who are interested in science.
Check the calendar for upcoming events. Each Christmas they host a Winnie the Pooh Christmas play.
Urban Air is an indoor venue for kids of all ages. Here, you can jump on trampolines, ride zip lines, and climb rock walls.
Castles ‘N Coasters is an outdoor park that features, roller coasters, and other rides for kids of all ages.
Indoor go-kart racing at its best. If you were looking for a challenging, but fun thing to do indoors, K1 race factory is for you. There are several locations across the valley.
Take the kids to KTR for an afternoon of trampolines, skateboarding, and jumping. There are numerous locations throughout Phoenix.
For additional ideas of things to do in Phoenix with teenagers, read our guide.
Places to Eat
What are the best places to take kids to eat in Phoenix? Are you looking for restaurants in Phoenix that kids will like and adults?
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament combines excellent food and dining with medieval history, real horses, and tournament showmanship. You’ll need a reservation for this venue. Cheer your favorite jouster or knight as they battle it out while you eat dinner.
For over half a century The Sugar Bowl has been serving delicious ice cream in Old Town Scottsdale.
A fascinating niche restaurant concept that has been serving unique Cornish Pasty’s.
If you have an airplane lover in your house, you have to check out Hanger Cafe in Chandler, at the Chandler Municipal Airport.
Lou’s at Papago in Phoenix is an open air restaurant with beautiful views of Papago.
Thai House just might be the best thai food in Scottsdale.
Liberty Market is a restaurant and coffee bar, that has an almost idealistic setting, and delicious food.
There is an entree at Barrio Cafe called the Chiles en Nogada and it is considered one of the best variations on this entree in the world.
Every month Paradise Valley Burger Company creates a different special burger for the menu.
Where to Stay in Phoenix
What’s the best hotel in downtown Phoenix?
We recommend if you are staying in Scottsdale with a family to stay at Great Wolf Lodge.
Learn more in our upcoming guide to hotels and resorts in Phoenix.
The valley of the sun is known for its many beautiful golf courses. Just remember to book your tee times early as during peak winter golf season tee times can fill up quickly.
The metro Phoenix area includes hundreds of golf courses. Making this fun sport a top priority for things to do in Phoenix. You can easily find something suitable to your price range in the valley. During the summer, if you like to play golf and have an extended amount of time, we recommend driving north to Showlow, where it is much cooler Outdoors. With that said, people play in the summer year-round, and greens fees are much lower.
Calling all baseball fans! If you are looking for a baseball game, then head on over to the biggest baseball venue in Phoenix. Chase Field, in downtown Phoenix, is home of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.
While you’re in Phoenix, why not catch a baseball game at the beautiful Chase Field, in downtown Phoenix? The Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team has made this field their home for over 24 years. Visit their website for current jam times and other events.
The Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns call Phoenix Arizona their home. Check the Phoenix Suns website for game times and tickets.
Horseback riding in the Arizona desert is one of the best ways to explore the desert in Arizona. Take a horseback ride through the desert and see the scenery from a different angle.
Phoenix has a wealth of great public pools. There are a large number of pools spread out across the valley that are open to the public, and most include waterslides and a combination of indoor and outdoor options. View our Guide to public pools, waterparks, and splash pads here.
Location: 215 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034
Pricing: Adults $24.95 Children $14.95 Children under age 3 are free. Price increases to $29.95 for Adults and $16.95 for Children on Weekends and during special events.
The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix has an excellent walking tour where you can learn about the cactus in Arizona.
At this preserve, you can take a short hike of a quarter mile, and see real petroglyphs. There’s a museum and other things to do as well.
Who doesn’t love a great trampoline activity? Take your kids, of all ages, to the altitude trampoline park for tons of fun.
The Phoenix Bat Cave
The Phoenix Bat Cave is a place where you can see bats flying out of an old storm drain. It’s a fun experience and is a must-do on our activity list of things to do in Phoenix. These bat caves are typically only used by bats from May through October. Click here to see pictures.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Phoenix Zoo is a great place to take the kids in Phoenix.
Another excellent option is KTR, which is a trampoline and skate park with locations across the valley. Fun for all ages, even adults!
Encanto Park has an Enchanted Island Amusement Park with attractions geared towards children that are ages 1-10 years old.
Go swimming in one of the many public pools in Phoenix. One of the best public pools is the Salvation Army Kroc Center in downtown Phoenix.
The Arizona Science Center is located at 600 East Washington Street Phoenix, AZ 85004. At the Arizona Science Center, kids can experience science firsthand. There are many hands-on activities and exhibits available.
Hole In The Rock is an easy and enjoyable 0.3-mile walk/hike to do by yourself or with kids. This is a hike that all ages can enjoy. Hole in the Rock is a literal hole in a mountainside. The hike begins at a parking lot and loops around to the back side of the mountain to a cave-like opening. From here you can view the Phoenix downtown skyline, The Phoenix Zoo, and the rest of the valley. It’s a fantastic place to watch the sunset as you have a view of the valley, and the hike back to your car is not very long and can be reached before it is dark.
Most malls have a play area for kids. We also recommend searching the Phoenix with kids website for indoor play places, as there are many options, available in Phoenix.
See historic fire trucks at The Hall of Flame Fire Museum. Recognize worldwide, this is one of the best parks in the world and is fantastic at preserving old fire tracks. Here at the museum, you can see fire tracks dating back to the 1700s and 1800s. There are dozens of firetrucks to view, and many other Fire station memorabilia.
Desert Botanical Garden is a great place for kids and adults to learn about native plants in Arizona. Beautiful walking paths allow guests to amble through the beautiful desert landscape.
Another excellent option is the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum located about one hour drive east of Scottsdale is another excellent place with nature trails, and local plants.
Castles ‘N Coasters is an old favorite the older kids would enjoy, with roller coasters and more.
For older kids looking for fun, try go-karts at the K1 Race Factory now known as K1 Speed Go Kart Racing.
Family-friendly bike rides in Phoenix – we have quite a few favorite trails!
Take the kids pony and horseback riding, or go on a wagon adventure with Corral West Horse Adventures!
The Hohokam village at the Pueblo Grande Museum opened in 1929.
See thousands of musical instruments at the Musical Instrument Museum. Guided tours take about an hour to complete, but in our experience, it is difficult to see the entire museum in less than four hours.
Yes, you can watch a Diamondbacks baseball game at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, AZ.
The Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve is an archaeology museum and desert preserve, that gives tours to families.
Enjoy a nature walk in the Tres Rios Wetlands of south Phoenix.
We also recommend South Mountain Park.
Take a nature-themed class or enjoy the nature paths at Liberty Wildlife.
Visit the Phoenix bat cave at sunset (it’s not 🦇Batman🦇 related, but cool)! There are thousands of Mexican Free-Tailed bats flying nightly around an old storm drain at sunset from May to October. Click here for driving instructions and more info.
There are two primary water parks in metro Phoenix, Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor, and Great Wolf Lodge. Both of these are great water, parks, and your particular preference may be dependent on the time of year. For example, Great Wolf Lodge is a fully indoor facility, except for a large, outdoor pool and patio area. At The Great Wolf Lodge, the waterslide, wave, pool, lazy river, and water park are all indoors.
The Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is an outdoor waterpark, and it’s only open during the summer months. Our visits to Hurricane Harbor have been extremely enjoyable, and the facility has undergone many upgrades since Six Flags acquired it several years ago. Hurricane Harbor is a waterpark in the most traditional sense, and that’s a good thing.
The best hikes near Scottsdale are Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, Lost Dog Trail Head, McDowell Mountain Park, and Piestewa Peak.
Some other hikes to check out would be Cholla Trail, Hole in the Rock, Tempe Town Lake, and Echo Canyon Trailhead.
The most popular lake for sailing in metro Phoenix is Lake Pleasant. This lake is the lake that the Arizona Yacht Club uses for most of their sailboat races. There are two fairly large marinas at Lake Pleasant and numerous boat ramps. Entry is $7 per vehicle. There is a restaurant and many beach areas available to enjoy.
Another good lake for sailing is Bartlett Lake. Bartlett Lake is about one hour north of Scottsdale, Arizona, and is quieter than other lakes. If you are sailing a smaller boat under 20 feet, you’ll want to take a sail on Tempe Town Lake. Tempe Town Lake is highly popular with smaller boats, and the Arizona Yacht Club uses it on weekends for selling activities. At Tempe Town Lake, on the south shore, you can rent small boats, kayaks, and paddle boards by the hour
Some of the lakes that we have had the best success with our El Dorado, Chaparral Lake, Papago Park.
One of the best ghost towns in the state is conveniently located in Apache Junction, Arizona. Goldfield’s Ghost Town is one of the best ghost towns and abandoned western towns that you can visit in the metro Phoenix area. we have been taking our friends and family here for years, and each time is it enjoyable experience. This ghost town is built on the site of historic Goldfield Town, which was an active gold mine in the 1800s.
Today, it is mostly a reconstructed town and tourist attraction. There are two several very interesting things to do at Goldfield’s Ghost Town, one is the new zipline, which they recently introduced, and the other is the reptile exhibit, one of the best in the southwest. And if you remember the days when you could drive up to Scottsdale and go to Rawhide, then you’ll enjoy Goldfield’s ghost town. Another attraction is that they have a train that circles the little town. Nearby attractions include Tortilla Flats and the beautiful Superstition Mountains.
Yes, Papago Park includes many outdoor ramadas and picnic tables, which are free for youth. They are spread out across the entire park so you can find a place to eat lunch or host a small birthday party.