Phoenix offers families so many things to do with kids that it’s sometimes hard to choose what to do next. You can experience some of Arizona’s natural beauty on family-friendly hiking trails, plus see an incredible desert botanical garden. Theme parks and water parks are always a fun choice for families, too. If you want indoor Phoenix kid activities, there are great museums and cultural centers that will suit both older and younger children. You’ll also find gaming spots and unique dining experiences.
Outdoor activities for family in Phoenix
1. Find your wild side at the Phoenix Zoo
The Phoenix Zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals, with habitat themes that include Africa, Arizona, and the tropics, as well as a children’s section. Kids can get close to many small animals on the children’s trail, and even meet some mellow farm animals at Harmony Farm. You may want to have some cash on hand for unique activities like feeding lettuce to giraffes, riding a camel, or giving snacks to the rays at Stingray Bay. Families spend on average 3 hours at the zoo, so bring sunscreen, hats, water, and swimsuits if the kids want to play in the splash pads.
2. Take great family photos at the Desert Botanical Garden
Explore the unique and diverse plant life that thrives in Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden. Here you'll find colorful butterflies and hummingbirds zipping through the air over vibrant wildflowers and prickly cactuses of all shapes and sizes. Most trails are stroller-friendly and offer incredible views of the surrounding mountains. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for family photos among the desert’s natural beauty. Early-morning opening hours offer a good way to beat the heat, but be sure to bring sunscreen, hats, and water for any visit.
3. Learn through play at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is a great option if you’re looking for fun things to do with young kids in Phoenix. Colorful indoor and outdoor exhibits are all fully interactive and designed to be hands-on, offering creativity, games, crafting, and exploration. The museum’s core audience is children under 10, and it includes areas specifically for kids younger than 3 as well as baby zones. Inclusive resources are also offered to support visitors with autism, anxiety, and other learning difficulties so that everyone can play.
4. Swim and splash with the kids in Phoenix
Kids in Phoenix love cooling off in the splash pads and public pools available through the summer months. With at least 12 different public pools across the city, plus multiple splash pad play areas, there are tons of options for Phoenix family fun. Lifeguards are present at the pools throughout the season. Check the Phoenix Parks and Recreation site for seasonal pool schedules, rules, and helpful information.
5. Explore the Wild West at the Pioneer Living History Museum
The Pioneer Living History Museum is a unique open-air museum offering a glimpse at what life was like in the 19th-century Wild West. In Pioneer Village, you can explore original historic buildings, plus interesting reconstructions including a blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, and dress shop. The Sheriff's Office even houses an old-style jailhouse. This village is a one-of-a-kind experience for kids in Phoenix that you won’t find elsewhere. Your admission also includes access to the Telephone History Museum, if you want to tease your younger kids about not knowing how to use a rotary phone.
6. Enjoy family fun at a Phoenix family resort
When your family stays at a Phoenix family resort, you’ll be able to enjoy pools and water parks in most cases. You'll find waterfalls, lush foliage, and palm trees surrounding outdoor pool areas often equipped with multiple waterslides, wave pools, floating rivers, and even hot tubs.. Younger kids can have plenty of fun too with special kids areas. You may even find water wings and swim vests available if your munchkins need them. You can also lounge in the shade with a drink and a snack from the poolside bar and grill since most resorts have on-site bars and restaurants.
7. Head to a skate park
Phoenix has a lively skateboard culture that's evident in the multiple public skate parks across the city. One of the best spots is the Pecos Skate Park, which is good for skaters of all skill levels with a combination of beginner and advanced features. Pecos Skate Park also includes a playground, a splash pad, and other amenities that are great for families in Phoenix. Other skate parks include Desert West Skate Park and Paradise Valley Skate Park.
Indoor fun for family in Phoenix
8. Be a kid scientist at the Arizona Science Center
The Arizona Science Center offers multiple floors of interactive exhibits for aspiring kid scientists. Climb into an airplane fuselage in the Flight Zone or conduct experiments in the Get Charged Up lab. You can experience powerful forces of nature in the Immersion Theater, like tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. Check out the planetarium for immersive experiences in art and science, or catch a giant 3D film in the theater. The Science Center is often less crowded on weekdays after 1 pm, offering a good opportunity to be indoors during the hottest hours of the day.
9. Play and explore at the Arizona Boardwalk
The Arizona Boardwalk offers many things to do with kids in Phoenix, all in one place. The attractions are all family friendly and include lots of indoor options, like the OdySea Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland, and Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs. You’ll definitely want to check out Surprise Your Eyes to snap some cool artistic photos with your family for social media. Even if you aren’t a gamer, you should try one of the virtual-reality games at VR Extreme, as the immersive experience is mind-blowing. You also have options here for dining and shopping, plus more amusement venues.
10. Learn about American Indian culture and art at the Heard Museum
The Heard Museum works to respectfully honor the beauty and diversity of American Indian arts and culture. Collections include Pueblo pottery, Navajo woven textiles, Hopi katsina dolls, and intricate jewelry pieces. Installations share the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective, including the profound Away From Home exhibit that examines the haunting experiences of 19th-century children who were separated from their families. You’ll learn about the challenges and inequalities that tribal communities still face today, and how your family can be an ally.
11. Get crafty at Pinspiration
Pinspiration is perfect for families looking for things to do in Phoenix where you can cool off indoors and be creative together. Choose a project from dozens of different do-it-yourself kits in the shop so each person in your family can create their own unique craft. The shop provides everything you’ll need to complete your projects together, plus a helping hand if needed. DIY kits are varied, so there are creative options to appeal to any age, gender, and experience level. You’ll get quality time together as a family, plus have unique crafts to take home as souvenirs.
12. Play instruments at the Musical Instrument Museum
The Musical Instrument Museum exhibits cultural music items from across the globe, plus instruments played by influential artists like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Pablo Casals. In the STEM Gallery, you’ll learn about the science of music. In the Experience Gallery, your family can try out lots of different instruments from around the world and make music or just make noise, because both are fun. This is a great spot to cool off in the afternoon when it’s less crowded, and most families spend around 3 hours here.
13. Enjoy dinner, music, and dancing at Rustler’s Rooste
Rustler’s Rooste is more than just a restaurant, as it offers an entire Western experience. Outside this hilltop steak house you’ll meet Horny, a live Arizona longhorn steer. You can enjoy panoramic city views while you dine, along with live country music and a full dance floor. The second floor offers a lounge and bar, plus a slide leading back to the first floor. Yes, there’s a slide in the restaurant, and yes, your kids will love it. On the menu are Wild West classics like steaks, ribs, chicken, and seafood, plus unique options like a rattlesnake appetizer.
Amusement and water parks for families in Phoenix
14. Play and ride at Castles N’ Coasters
Castles N’ Coasters offers lots of different kids activities in Phoenix, with a theme park, bumper boats, and go-karts, plus a retro arcade and mini-golf courses. The more than 20 rides and attractions include roller coasters, a log ride, a zip line, and an obstacle course, plus specific rides for young children. Rides have height and weight requirements, and flip-flop shoes aren’t recommended on most rides. You can customize your ticket packages with options like rides and one round of mini golf, or rides and an arcade pass. Mini-golf games can also be purchased separately for any of the 4 courses available.
15. Cool off at Hurricane Harbor Phoenix
Hurricane Harbor Phoenix water park is an excellent spot for family fun in Phoenix, especially on hot summer days. This park has lots of rides and slides for older kids and adults, but it also has a ton of great areas for younger kids and toddlers to safely enjoy. If you like rides but don’t want to wait in line, you can purchase Flash Passes to reserve a time slot on rides. Classic park food and snacks are available from restaurants and snack bars such as burgers, pizza, shaved ice, and funnel cake.