“There can be no education without leisure, and without leisure education is worthless.” ~Sarah Josepha Hale
Arizona State Fair (Phoenix)
In November of 1884, a group of citizens in the territory of Arizona wanted to organize an event with the family in mind. The very first Arizona Territorial Fair was held in Phoenix in late fall, near the Salt River west of Central Avenue. Fairgoers of the day were treated to horse, pony, and mule races along with exhibits including agriculture, home economics, and dairy and beef cattle. With statehood granted in 1912, the State Fair Commission continued the work of the Territorial Fair Commission. With the exceptions of 1921 (cotton crop failure), 1934 to 1939 (Depression era), and 1943 to 1945 (World War II), the Fair has been presented yearly. The Arizona State Fair is held annually in October. They have a Read & Ride Program which allows children to earn free ride passes by reading 2 – 4 books and writing a brief book report about each. To learn more about the Read & Ride Program and download book report forms, go to www.phoenix360.com/readride.
Big Surf (Tempe)
Arizona’s original waterpark and the first wave pool in America, Big Surf has been a Tempe landmark since 1969! Big Surf’s wavepool, Waikiki Beach, is the original North American wavepool and is ranked as the third largest according to size/volume. It holds 2.5 million gallons of water and produces a wave every 3 minutes. The Hurricane Falls slides are a favorite among young and old that frequent Big Surf every summer.
Castles n’ Coasters (Phoenix)
If you don’t go to the Arizona State Fair, you can visit this amusement park at Metro Center Mall anytime all year round. From the thrilling sky high roller coasters and exciting water rides, to the exotic countries of the world class miniature golf course and enchantment of an old fashioned carrousel, there’s magic and new adventures waiting for you and your family at Castles N’ Coasters.
Changing Hands Bookstore (McClintock and Southern, Tempe)
This independent community bookstore has a kids area and offers regular kids events, book clubs, and generous birthday discounts.
Dave and Buster’s (Phoenix)
The former Jillian’s in Desert Ridge Marketplace at Tatum Blvd. and Loop 101 in Phoenix is now Dave and Buster’s, with a Million Dollar Midway filled with the latest interactive and video games. In addition, D&B Lanes is an over-the-top bowling experience highlighted by a multi-media show. Enjoy a video wall showing all of the latest music videos, full-menu service and black light bowling. Great fun for birthday parties and youth groups!
Dolly Steamboat (Canyon Lake)
Experience a “Mark Twain” Voyage aboard The Dolly Steamboat, a replica of a Double-decked Sternwheeler. Cruise the secluded inner waterways of the “Junior Grand Canyon” on Canyon Lake. Relax while you admire the breathtaking flora and fauna of the lower Sonoran desert and listen to the captain recount some legends and lore about the Superstition Mountains. Bring your camera and binoculars; you may fortunate enough to spot some Bighorn Sheep.
Enchanted Island Amusement Park (Phoenix)
One of the Valley’s best places to take the family is conveniently located just west of 7th Avenue on Encanto Blvd, right in the heart of Phoenix’s picturesque Encanto Park. Enchanted Island is filled with charm and magic, offering nine fanciful rides and a variety of popular attractions geared especially toward children aged 2 to 10.
Fiddlesticks & Funtasticks (several locations)
Family Fun Parks in Tempe, Scottsdale, and Tucson.
The Game Depot (McClintock and Guadalupe, Tempe)
Arizona’s BEST and friendliest game store if you’re into board gaming, wargaming, miniature gaming, etc. A large part of the store is dedicated to gaming space where customers can break out games, play in tournaments, or use the store’s impressive selection of terrain for miniature wargames. Besides the games themselves, they also have a wide selection of dice, paints, and assorted gaming-related gadgets. Located at 3136 S McClintock Dr., Tempe. Call (480) 966-4727 for more info.
Golfland Sunsplash (Mesa)
Fun for the whole family or plan a special event for your group at Mesa SunSplash. In addition to the water park, within the castle walls lies Arizona’s ultimate family fun center. Play over 200 video games, challenge your friends to a game of laser tag upstairs.
IMAX Theatre (several locations)
Treat your senses to the most powerful and involving movie experience yet created, on the larger-than-life screen in an IMAX Theatre. Several locations around the Valley.
Kidding Around Playtown (Phoenix)
An indoor mini-town filled with playhouses and toys were children can imagine and play, have their birthday party, participate in song and story time, and take classes. They have an art area, church, boutique, grocery store, pet vet, Tiny Tot Park, fix-it shop, jail, firehouse, and a house with Grandma’s Attic above it! Located on the NW corner of I-17 and Bell Road in the Bell Canyon Pavilions Shopping Center, their hours are Tuesday – Friday 9 a.m – 3 p.m and Saturday 9 -4. They are also planning to offer classes for toddlers and young homeschoolers (preK – 4th grade). Check out their website or call 602-993-PLAY (7529) for more info.
Kiwanis Recreation Center (Tempe)
The Kiwanis Recreation Center is owned and operated by the City of Tempe. This multi-purpose facility includes an indoor wave pool with spiral slide, full service snack bar, full size multi-use gymnasium, fifteen lighted tennis courts, outdoor sand volleyball courts, classrooms, and outdoor picnic areas. The center offers numerous activities for the community including instructional classes, sport camps and leagues, birthday parties and much more.
Maricopa County Fair (Phoenix)
The Maricopa County Fair is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that receives no tax revenue. Food, fun and frivolity (all at an incredibly affordable price) await everyone at the Maricopa County Fair, which is held annually in April at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Every year the fair holds a different theme, but it’s always packed with fabulous family entertainment all FREE with your fair admission! It features livestock shows and exhibits from local 4-H and FFA clubs and chapters, arts, science fair, cook-offs, carnival rides, tractor shows, live entertainment, food vendors, and a rodeo. School Tours and Field Trips are free to all county public, private and home schools. It is an excellent opportunity to bring your class to the fair. Not only will the kids see animals and livestock, but they can view exhibits like sewing, photography, school art, science projects and more. There are also educational areas such as Farm Tours, Farmer for a Day and the Safety Zone – all hands-on, interactive displays. Students can ride the rides, too, for a small fee. The largest group of participants of the Maricopa County Fair is Arizona’s youth. If you are interested in entering a project, go to the competitive exhibits link and then click on Online Exhibitors Handbook. You’ll find all the entry information including rules and entry forms. The deadline for most entries is mid-March.
Oceanside Ice Arena (Tempe)
Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe is the East Valley’s original destination for hockey, figure and public skating activities. Conveniently located near Loops 101 and 202 in Tempe, their 200 x 90 ice surface is maintained year-round.
Polar Ice Entertainment (several locations)
Polar Ice has three locations throughout the Phoenix metro area including: Chandler, Peoria and Gilbert. All provide a family-oriented venue for safe and enjoyable ice activities for all ages.
Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass (Chandler)
Take an exciting trip back in time to an 1880’s Wild West town in Chandler, AZ.
Skating Rinks in Arizona (several locations)
Like to ice skate or roller skate? Check out this directory of Arizona Skating Rinks, Skating Arenas, and Hockey Rinks! Find rinks in Chandler, Flagstaff, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Tucson.
Telephone Pioneers of America Park (Phoenix)
This park opened in 1988 and is the nation’s first barrier-free park for physically challenged individuals. It features two beep baseball fields, a therapeutic heated pool, wheelchair accessible playground equipment, handball, volleyball, tennis, basketball and shuffleboard. There also are ramadas, grills and picnic facilities. Adaptive Recreation Services is housed out of the park and they offer a variety of outdoor recreation programs and special events for people with disabilities.
Tempe Town Lake (Tempe)
Take a journey to Tempe Town Lake, one of Arizona’s most popular outdoor destinations. Click on the photos to find information about a variety of Town Lake subjects including its history, flora and fauna, boating and fishing, parks and playgrounds, special events, and volunteering.
Tucson’s best online source of events and activities for children, with calendar pages full of fun, interesting, and educational events for kids who live in Tucson, AZ.
Wet’n’Wild Water Park (Phoenix)
Wet’n’Wild Phoenix is located in the Adobe Dam Regional Park on Pinnacle Peck Road, near I-17. Set on more than 35 acres in North Phoenix Wet‘n’Wild water park is the largest theme park in Arizona and features Maximum Velocity – the world’s first, gravity-defying, dueling Master Blaster water coaster in addition to more than 30 other exhilarating slide and attractions.
Do you know of another good field trip destination not listed here?