Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and best known for its year-round sun and picturesque sunsets over the golden sand and cacti. The city is central to a lot of places, and has many small cities surrounding the metropolitan area. One thing that you can't go wrong with is hiking! When people ask "what is there to do around here with kids? " - simply say- "take a hike"!
Butcher Jones Trail - Easy to Moderate hike - about a 4 mile hike round-trip with gorgeous views of the lake. There is camping, outhouse, beach access, boat access, trails, and $5 parking.
Camelback -Moderate to Difficult hike - a 2/2.5 mile hike right in Scottsdale that's a classic oldie but a goodie! You can see all of Phoenix from the top! So fun, but harder than most expect. Don't forget to bring your water!
Canyon Lake - About 50 min from PHX area. Viewpoints are incredible. There are a lot of picnic areas and boat docks. There is a large marina where you can purchase tickets for a day-cruise, or rent small boats or kayaks. The drive is very beautiful and windy.
Lost Dutchman Ghost Town and Trail- Easy and Difficult trails to choose from, about 35 minutes outside of PHX - this destination is very fun for the kids! There are ice cream shops, $3 museum to see snakes/spiders/etc. Cheap souvenir shops and fun photo ops. There are also "mining" rides on a mini train. Make sure and try the "prickly pear ice cream" or apple dumplings from the Saloon!
If your boots are begging for more and your family is is in the mood for gorgeous views, check out Carrie's blog post -- Traveling AZ (in a nutshell) - she has some amazing hiking recommendations listed that include all parts of Arizona, a great resource for those that will be exploring the state beyond Phoenix.
Time to Eat!
There is a neat little strip in Gilbert's downtown that is lined with delicious restaurants. If you have worked up your appetite from all that hiking, sit back and order a delicious bite to eat at these all-time-favorite spots.
Joyride Taco House - can you guess what their specialty is?
Liberty Market - delicious cafe with everything from espresso to wood fired pizza.
Joe's Real BBQ - 1929 brick building that slow cooks their barbecue over pecan wood... is your mouth watering yet?
If none of those suit your fancy, then venture outside of Phoenix, and dine at these Fountain Hill eateries - Sapori D'Italia, All American Sports Grill, or this fun burger joint - Saddle Bronc Grill.
Other Things to Do:
Outside of Phoenix in Fountain Hills, there are delicious restaurants (listed above) that overlook the mountains and Fountain Park. The park has a fun splash pad for the little ones to play and cool off at on a hot, summer day. Walk around the Fountain at night (1.25 miles) - the paved walkway is lit up and its a great little stroll!
A unique place to visit with the kids is McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. They have all kinds of cheap, fun things for children (and parents) - train rides, a carousel, yummy snacks, and even a train restaurant! In the summer they put on concerts from local bands every Sunday night.
About two times a year there is a large Phx-Flea Market with hundreds of vendors that come together and share local gear and products. Always a fun way to get out and help support local businesses.
In Mesa area you can watch Chicago Cubs Spring Training! If you don't mind the crowds and plan ahead, this is a great time to spend together with the family. This is also where one of the coolest parks is located!
Slide Rock State Park- 7 miles north of Sedona, a stunning location with fun for the whole family! Great hiking trails and if you go in the summer/late spring or early fall you can swim too! Everyone will have so much fun sliding down the rocks. The colder it is the less people you will see which makes for beautiful scenery, but the warmer weather means more swimming and more people. There is also a place to grab a sweet treat. Most days this park is open until 6PM.