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Phoenix City Guide | 5 min read

The Best Family Phoenix City Guide!

Familydaysout.com has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to with this ULTIMATE Phoenix City Guide to print & use!

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Lisa Downs

Lisa Downs

07 Sep | read


Phoenix, Arizona is a truly magical city, and a destination that just loves welcoming families and kids to explore and enjoy all it has to offer!  It's a city that offers vibrant modern culture blended with rich traditions, and blanketed in a stunning landscape of desert and mountains.

We at Family Days Out just love Phoenix, so we're excited to share with you our Phoenix City Guide featuring our "Top 9 Family Attractions", which are really just the tip of the iceberg in what you can find in "The City in the Valley of the Sun"!

So make sure check out our entire Phoenix City Guide that we've carefully put together especially for you, so you know just how to plan your exciting family day out in Arizona's capital!

Main Image Credit: Welcomia- Shutterstock.com

Image Credit: Visit Phoenix/Photo by dspaz.com

In this Phoenix City Guide, we outline our top 9 things to do with kids in this incredible city, plus some VERY fun experiences that will bring out the child in all! 

We know budgets are often a consideration when you are traveling with children, so also in this Phoenix City Guide we share some great FREE things to do with kids that won't break that bank account!

Getting around Phoenix without a car is super simple, so we share some tips on getting around Phoenix on public transport without any hassle.  We also have some really fun facts about Phoenix that might just surprise you! 

If you want to explore a bit further out for the day, our Phoenix City Guide outlines one of our favorite day trips plus we let you know some famous faces who were born right in the city!

So whether this is your first trip saying "Yes, take me to Phoneix" or maybe you have lived in the capital your whole life yet you never took the time to explore and you wonder "What is there is to do near me in Phoenix?", then keep reading because we have the top 9 things to do in Phoenix with kids...and so much more!

Image Credit: Grace Stufkosky

The history of Phoenix dates back millennia, with Paleo-Indians living in the region (as they did much of the Americas) around 7,000 BC for approximately 1000 years, with Woolly Mammoths being the primary source of food until they started migrating east, with the tribes following suit.  With the land now unoccupied, other nomadic tribes began arriving in the region.

Around 1,000 BC, farmers and villagers began to set up in the area and introduced maize into the culture. Hohokam civilization arose as a result, and after around 500 years canal systems to support agriculture had been established. 

By 1450, these peoples had disappeared (for reasons still unknown) so by the 16th century when the first Europeans began arriving in the area (these were Spanish explorers), two different groups of native Indian tribes now called the land home - the O'odham and the Sobaipuri.

At first the Spanish settled only the Tucson region, as well as the south, before 1800. During the early 1800s it was American settlers who made Central Arizona their home, and it's here the story of Phoenix as we know it really begins.

These settlers headed south, and the town of Phoenix was finally settlrd in 1867, and incorporated in 1881. The city served largely as an agricultural area that saw the economy focus on cotton, cattle, copped and citrus. Then came WWII which resulted in military bringing their families back to the valley area they once trained in. 

The population grew even more during the 1950s with the invention of air conditioning! Suddenly desert homes could be kept cool in the warmer months, and Phoenix became a truly inviting city. 

As of 2012, Phoenix had the fifth largest population of any city in the USA, and today continues to offer all who visit an incredibly rich and incredible memorable experience!

Image Credit: Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department

Phoenix has SO many exciting and fun attractions for the whole family, we can't tell you fast enough! 

Hands up who loves wildlife? If that's a big YES from you, then you will be excited to hear about attractions such as Phoenix Zoo and SEA LIFE Arizona where some of the world's most wonderful creatures are waiting for you!

Feeling active? You can use up all of that energy at places such as Urban Air Adventure Park and Westworld Paintball - where kids can run around, learn new skills AND have a great time!

Love learning? Whether it's history you love to learn about, or science, or even art, Phoenix has a host of amazing museums perfect for your interests, including the iconic Heard Museum, ASU Art Museum and Arizona Science Center!

With so many fun things to do in Phoenix with the family, you'll soon have that family itinerary filling up! The biggest question now is, which activity will you enjoy first?

Image Credit: Visit Phoenix/An Pham

Getting around Phoenix without a car is really easy, and there are a number of ways for you to navigate your way around the city!

The Valley Metro Rail runs right through central Phoenix through downtown and out to Tempe and Mesa in the east. Stations are close to some of Phoenix's best attractions including the Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, and Arizona Science Center.

A one-way pass on the light rail is only $2, or $4 for an all day (tickets can be purchased at the vending machines at each station) so it's a great option for families.

The Valley Metro also offers a local bus service which runs along a number of routes around the city - for more information check out Valley Metro

If you want to explore the city on wheels, e-Scooters are available. Just make sure you check the rules before heading out as they differ from other cities. 

Visit Phoenix has more information including maps and schedules to help you plan that perfect Phoenix family day out!

A really unique and inspiring experience to enjoy as as family during your time in Phoenix, is to take a tour of Taliesin West - Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home.

Here, you can see first hand an insight into how this masterful architect was inspired by the desert surroundings. It really is a stunning sight! During your visit, you can walk through rooms, as well as the gardens and even walkways, and you can also visit Wright's entertainment pavilion on the grounds as you learn about his organic architecture!

Taliesin West was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019, and it really makes for an insightful, creative and awe-inspiring family day out in Phoenix!

Photo Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Phoenix

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Image Credit: Visit Phoenix/Phoenix Zoo

Phoenix Zoo opened back in 1962, and today is the largest privately-owned non-profit zoo within the entire USA! Spanning 125 acres, Phoenix Zoo is home to over 3,000 of the most unique and wonderful creatures on the planet (in fact, they represent nearly 400 species!), and YOU can come face to face with them!

In addition to kids being able to meet their favorite animals, there are also informative talks and feedings, plus fun events and plenty of conservation education so they can walk away having enjoyed a completely enriching zoo experience! A WILD day out for the whole family in Phoenix!

Image Credit: Desert Botanical Garden

Located in Papago Park, the 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden is a beautiful and unique garden established back in the 1930s, which has grown to host over 50,000 plants. What's truly special about the Desert Botanical Garden, is that one third of these plants are native to the area to really showcase the region, including 379 rare, threatened or endangered species.

The aim of the Desert Botanical Garden is to really make people appreciate, understand and care for the beauty of the desert. With events and programs to make your day even more special, this really is a must-visit for any families visiting Phoenix!

Image Credit: Hall of Flame

One of a number of family-friendly attractions located in Papago Park, the aptly named Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting is a really interesting walk through history for the whole family! Inside the museum you'll find nearly an acre of exhibits showcasing the history of firefighting, with over 100 actual pieces of historic fire apparatus on display - some dating as far back as 1725!

A visit to the Museum of Firefighting will see kids learn all about the various firefighting equipments used through the years, and around the world, offering an amazing history lesson for kids of all ages!

Image Credit: Ruth Dempsey

Enchanted Island offers that classic amusement park fun filled with magic and charm perfect for kids up to 10 years of age, with all those classic rides, water fun and family entertainment we know you love!

Enchated Island features a host of rides and activities, including pedal boats, a splash area perfect for those hot days, a climbing wall, fun train rides, spinning thrills AND don't miss a ride on the historic Encanto Carousel too! With plenty of picnic space too, Enchanted Island has so much to fill your family day out in Phoenix!

Image Credit: Visit Phoenix

The Heard Museum is a culturally and artistically important museum to visit in Phoenix, as it is dedicated to American Indian art. The exhibits present the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective, plus there are exhibitions featuring traditional and contemporary works by American Indian artists themselves.

Also at the Heard Museum you'll find works of art that have been influenced by American Indian art! A creative day out, where history and art meet, and you never know what might inspire long after your day out!

Image Credit: Arizona Science Center

The Arizona Science Center is one of the country's most premier science destinations, and is an amazing opportunity for kids to spend the day exploring and discovering the wonders of science and the world through a engaging hands-on activities!

Permanent exhibits allow kids to discover the human body, the marvels of our solar system and beyond, and the challenges of flight.  They can learn how music and sounds are created, how nature works perfectly in harmony, and so much more, plus the Arizona Science Center features an amazing planetarium and theater too!

Image Credit: Urban Air

Urban Air is the ultimate indoor adventure park for kids in Phoenix, with a number of attractions that can cater for all the adventurers in the family! The activities are perfect for active kids to just play the day away, challenge themselves AND have a great time!

Kids can take on the various trampolining activities and bounce until their heart's content, there's glow in the dark mini golf waiting for those holes in one, lazer fun, go-karts and even indoor skydiving! With bowling, ropes courses and climbing walls to boot, could Urban Air Adventure Park offer TOO much adventure? Only one way to find out!

Image Credit: Arizona Museum of Natural History

The Arizona Museum of Natural History is an incredible and invaluable experience for the whole family, as it's the only natural history museum in the greater Phoenix area!

This iconic musuem features exhibits showcasing the natural and cultural history of the Southwestern United States, where kids can discover the wonderful world of impressive pre-historic dinosaurs, colorful minerals, fossils, and a host of human history including cultures of Ancient Americas and Native Peoples of the past! Don't miss the exhibits where kids can uncover the history within Arizona too!

Image Credit: Westworld Paintball

Enjoy some combat style fun with paint at Arizona's ulimate outdoor paintball experience! You don't need any prior experience (so the whole family really can enjoy it!)...you just need to be ready to have some FUN!

Westworld Paintball features it's iconic outdoor paintball field, Splatter Ranch, whcih includes a host of fun challenges and obstacles to run around, hide in, jump over and search out those opponents including trenches, buildings, structures, and urban environments! A great family day out for active kids over 10 years (and parents, you can join in too!) where so many skills are tested!

Famous Phoenicians!

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington was a American singer, best known as the lead singer for rock band Linkin Park, however fronted a number of other bands including Stone Temple Pilots.

Linkin Park's hits include Numb/Encore, In The End and What I've Done

Image Credit: Kristina Servant

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Lynda Carter

Lynda Carter is an American actress most known for her role as Wonder Woman in the 1970s live action series, yet her career spans over 30 years in film and TV.

Prior to acting, Carter was crowned Miss World USA 1972

Image Credit: Public Domain

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5 Fun Phoenix Facts

Impress your friends with your amazing Phoenix knowledge!

  • Phoenix doesn't follow Daylight Saving! In fact, the most of Arizona doesn't, so Phoenicians can enjoy the same timezone year round.
  • In 1981, a local Phoenician woman named Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female justice on the U.S Supreme Court!
  • North America has four of the world's deserts - Great Basin, Sonoran, Mohave and Chihuahuan - and Arizona is the only state to host a section of all of them! 
  • Speaking of deserts, Phoenix is the largest city within the Sonoran Desert and this desert is home exclusively to the USA's largest cactus, the saguaro. These iconic cacti can live up to 200 years, and it's illiegal in the state to damage or collect them, with very strict consequences for anyone that does.
  • Phoenix is the largest city in the country that AMTRAK doesn't service. In 1995, an accident occured where an AMTRAK train was derailed. The city never regained its service.

Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Phoenix

Arizona Capitol Museum

Arizona Capitol Museum

Image Credit: Studio 616 Photography

The Arizona Capitol Museum serves as a symbol of the state’s vast and colorful history. This free admission museum is where kids can learn all about the cultural, social and  political history as they see first hand the priceless collections offering a deeper understanding of Arizona’s rich heritage!

Located within the State Capitol building, kids can enjoy the rotating art and history exhibits, as well as items such as the Arizona Flag created from 113,998 lego bricks and the Arizona Takes Shape exhibit, tracing the history from territorial times to present day! The museum is open 9am - 4pm weekdays for self-guided tours.

Take a Self-Guided Mural Tour!

Take a Self-Guided Mural Tour!

Image Credit: Visit Phoenix/An Pham

Street art can be incredibly captivating, and one of the unique characteristics of Phoenix is all the larger-than-life art that celebrates local artists, heritage and culture found all through the streets!

One fun experience for the whole family is to enjoy a self-guided street art tour taking to you some of the coolest and most iconic murals within the city. Visit Phoenix offers a guide to their favorites, and you never know just how you might be inspired! (Street art also makes great content for your social media feed too!)

Visit a Farmer's Market!

Visit a Farmer's Market!

Image Credit: Uptown Farmers Market

Visiting a local Farmer's Market is always a brilliant way to get to know a city. The stalls are buzzing with locals, fresh produce and artisan products, and just walking around gives you such a great insight to the true character of a destination.

Phoenix has a number of farmers markets, including the Downtown PHX Farmers Market (held Saturday mornings), Uptown Farmers Market (held Saturdays and Wednesdays) and the daily Tempe Farmers Market, just to name a few! Markets are always free to stroll and explore, but it's always worth having some change in case you want to taste some of the incredible local flavors, or make it your lunch spot!

Take To The Hiking Trails!

Take To The Hiking Trails!

Image Credit: Visit Phoenix/Photo by dspaz.com

One things we just love about Phoenix, is that you're never far from desert adventure! For those families who love to get out and explore the great outdoors, you're in luck as Phoenix has a host of trails (that are free to use!) that will take you out to some incredible places!

The Phoenix region has dozens of parksand preserves, with hundreds of miles of multi-use trails waiting for both hiking and biking, with varying degrees of difficultyso you can always find something perfect for your family. You might want to just meander around Papago Park, or you might want to tackle the challenging Camelback Mountain. There are also wheelchair-accessible trails at a number of local parks too. We told you there was a trail for every type of family!

Visit the ASU Art Museum!

Visit the ASU Art Museum!

Image Credit: ASU Art Museum

The ASU Art Museum is an incredibly inspiring free admission art museum that is well worth a visit for any families who love contemporary art. In fact, it's one of the region's best museums for contemporary art!

Within the museum you'll find its permanent collection comprised of 12,000 objects, made up of historic prints, historic art of the Americas, Latinx and Latin American art, as well as contemporary art by regional and emerging artists. The museum also have rotating exhibits that cover a host of themes so you can always go back to enjoy something new!

Eating INDIAN FOOD for 24 HOURS in Phoenix, Arizona!!

A Fun Day Trip From Phoenix!

Around a two hour drive just north of Phoenix is one of the most stunning, unique, magical and truly special places within the country, and it's well worth a visit should you have some spare time during your Phoenix experience. Yes, we're talking about Sedona!

Sedona lies around 120 miles from the Arizona capital, and is perfect for those families who love the great outdoors. Once you visit, you won't be able to get those stunning red rocks out of your minds!

Image Credit: Visit Phoenix

Some people might say that the history of Sedona began around 350 million years ago! This is when those iconic and spectacular red rocks (that famously look like they are glowing during sunrise or sunset!) are thought to have been formed by the earth moving, erosion and even the ocean!

Others say that the history really began over 1000 years ago when primitive hunter-gatherers evolved into the Sinagua Native Americans, who farmed and traded with faraway tribes.

The first Anglo settler in the area arrived in 1876, with the following early settlers famers and ranchers. In 1902 the first post office was established, and the town had a population of 55 people.

In fact, the name "Sedona" itselt was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly, who was the wife of the city's first postmaster. Apparently, her mother named her Sedona for no other reason than it sounded pretty! (She actually made the name up!)

Even by the mid-1950s, when Sedona was being marketed as a getaway destination, the records show only 155 as the population, before the 80s and 90s that saw most of the city's development!

Today, Sedona is a magical retreat, with incredible landscapes, family fun events, shopping, outdoor adventures and so much more, making it an amazing family destination for all ages!

Here’s our top 4 Sedona things to do:

We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!

Let's get the family adventure started!

Lisa Downs Written by
Lisa Downs

Lisa has been a content writer for Family Days Out for nearly 10 years, and a keen travel writer for nearly 20. She loves experiencing the best of a city, discovering the many things to do and immersing herself in the culture, and sharing these experiences with others through her writing.

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