Things to do in Phoenix with teens. Let’s face it, teens today are around technology constantly. In our home, we are always working as a family to lower screen time and it can be quite a challenge, especially with preteens and teens. There are endless apps and games to keep them from feeling a drop of boredom, their friends are just a click away, and – especially in 2020 – most of their school is all wrapped around staring at a screen. It puts them into a zombie-like trance that can be hard to break, but we know how important it is to turn off those devices and do things together! With the help of my own teens, I’ve put together a list of 10 fun things families can do together right here in the valley.
Something as simple as “Let’s go to the park!” will usually prompt an excited response from your 5 year old, but it doesn’t quite have the same effect on your eye-rolling teenager. They need a bit more adventure, and we are fortunate enough to live in a state with amazing outdoor activities right at our fingertips. This is a broad topic, and I could have written an entire top 10 list with just outdoor activities, but here are a few of our favorites:
Go hiking! The winter weather is downright amazing right now so hiking makes for a great activity that can be done with your teens and smaller children. We are fortunate to have the Sunrise Mountain Trail start in our neighborhood cul-de-sac so we don’t even have to drive to take advantage of this fun family activity! Other trails that are highly recommended for families include Thunderbird Conservation Park, Phoenix Mountains Preserve, and Papago Park. Posts on Phoenix With Kids related to hiking can be found here.
If you would rather explore on bikes, go for a ride on a desert trail. If you are in the northwest valley, our favorite mountain biking destinations include the Beardsley Trail near Lake Pleasant and the Deem Hills Recreation area. In the East Valley, try Desert Trails Park.
Take it on the water! When summer hits and it’s ridiculously hot outside, you can still enjoy the outdoors by taking advantage of one of our state’s many lakes. Our favorite spot when it’s above 100 outside is Lake Pleasant. The new Pleasant Harbor Marina offers paddle board and kayak rentals. Did you know that this marina is also the location of H2-Whoa, the World’s Tallest Floating Waterslide? COVID closed the slide down for most of this year, but they are hopeful to reopen in April 2021. This is definitely on the list of things my teens can’t wait to try!
We find ourselves at Lake Pleasant several times a month when it warms up, taking our boat out so the kids can do some tubing or wake boarding, but we’ve even gone exploring in an inflatable kayak, so you don’t need a boat to have fun at this beautiful lake! There are also multiple excursion companies that will take you out for your own day of adventure on the water. Go here for pricing and information.
If you are on the east side of town, Tempe Town Lake also offers water sport rentals. You can make a day of it with a combined Segway Tour or a ride on the Light Rail. If you have older teens looking for a bigger adventure, you can book a Salt River Rafting excursion, or just rent some tubes and go out for the day! Bring a cooler with lunch and stop at various points on the river to enjoy the beauty of our state. If you are lucky, you’ll even get to experience local wildlife like the Salt River wild horses, donkeys, or even a bald eagle! More info about activities at the Salt River can be found in this blog post.
Go Kart Racing
If your gamer teen is into Forza or Need for Speed, they may love trying out their speeding skills in a go kart. Octane Raceway in Scottsdale has an indoor/outdoor track, and these karts can get quite a bit of speed behind them! While there are no age restrictions to drive, there are minimum height and maximum weight restrictions, so make sure you check online before you head out. If you go as a family, there is also an arcade to keep the littles busy. Lots to do in the Talking Stick Entertainment District area as well!
K1 Speed is another option for racing with 2 valley locations.
Miniature golf is a timeless classic that you can get the whole family involved in! For outdoor miniature golf there is Castles and Coasters or Golfland Sunplash, which is currently decorated with thousands of Christmas lights for the their “Winter Wonderland” event. For something a little different, check out glow in the dark indoor courses at Glow Putt in Scottsdale or Imagine 3D Mini Golf.
For a more driving range style of golf, Top Golf is a very popular option with different styles of games to play and plenty of food and beverage options so you can make an afternoon of it!
We’ve done escape rooms several times with our teens. This is a great activity for teamwork as you work together to solve puzzles and beat the clock. You can even get their friends involved in the fun. This makes for a very fun birthday party activity or just a Friday night out. One of our favorites is the North Valley Escape Room located in Anthem. They almost always have specials and Groupon deals and have a variety of scenarios with various levels of difficulty.
Bowling is another great option for families with kids of all ages, but if you want to specifically target your teens, take them out after hours for Cosmic style bowling! The lights go out, everything glows in the dark and the music is blasting! Most bowling alleys have a cosmic night. Check Bowerlo or AMF for a location close to you.
Things to Do in Phoenix With Teens
Indoor adventure course or rock climbing
There are various trampoline parks throughout the valley, but some of them are built with a little something extra to attract the older kids and teens. For my daughter’s birthday last year, we did a party package with Urban Air and it was fun for the whole family. There were bouncy areas and toddler slides for small children, and for the big kids there was rock climbing, a ropes course, and even ziplining!
If your teen is more serious about rock climbing, AZ on the Rocks is a popular climbing gym for all skill sets, and there is the new Gecko Climbing Gym set to open in Spring 2021 along Deer Valley near the I-17.
LaserQuest is a high tech spin on a classic game of “hide and seek” as players suit up in a multi-level arena and seek out their opponents with laser guns. With music, specialty lighting and fog effects, this is a fun time for teens of all ages.
If you are looking for higher stakes action, American Paintball Coliseum offers not only laser tag, but paintball and airsoft tournaments and even tactical training! Go here for more information.
All four of my kids love anything crafty, so pottery painting is always a fun activity that appeals to all ages, even the teens! As You Wish charges a flat studio fee of $7 plus the cost of the pottery piece you select, and then you have unlimited access to all the paints, stencils and tools for as long as you like. We painted some Halloween pieces a few months ago and it was still a great time, even with the Covid restrictions. They currently ask you to make a reservation to come in so there aren’t too many people in the studio, and you must wear a mask while painting. You can make reservations and see their calendar of events. They offer a waived studio fee day one Wednesday a month as well.
Dave and Buster’s or Modern Round
While it’s not necessarily a break from technology, Modern Round and Dave and Buster’s offer arcade and virtual style video gaming that is interactive for teens and parents! In fact, my husband and I had a great date night earlier this year at Modern Round. From first person shooters to duck hunt, you can find a game to appeal to everyone. They have private booths and are a full service restaurant as well so it’s a great place to enjoy dinner and a night of entertainment!
Dave and Buster’s offers a bit more variety with a full arcade, pool tables, bowling, and VR gaming in addition to their full restaurant. They also have a variety of party packages for birthdays and graduations that are a big step up from Chuck E Cheese and guaranteed to be “cool” enough for your teen.
If your teens are “foodies” as mine are, there are so many great options for local food in our state! A favorite of ours is trying local breweries. My son loves “craft root beer” and gourmet burgers, while my daughter loves locally sourced salads. Breweries are also great at offering entertainment options, such as the State 48 Brewery! Their Norterra “Rock House” location has cornhole and darts, and the Westgate Glendale “Funk House” location has bowling right inside the restaurant.
You can make an afternoon out of it, stopping at multiple food spots around the valley. Expand your teen’s palette and sneak in lots of time for conversation while you are at it! Whatever it is, taking the time to plan some fun activities that appeal to your teen equals quality time neither one of you will forget. If you have a favorite thing to do in phoenix with your teen, let us know!