Arizona with Kids

Choosing a Destination

You can make your trip one for adventure, education, or good ol' play time. Stay close to the urban areas surrounding Phoenix or Tucson if you want to revel in water parks, swimming pools, and resort children's programs. Travel north to Sedona, where you can see Snoopy Rock, before exploring the wonder that is the Grand Canyon. If you’re looking for an educational journey, don’t forget to stop by Phoenix’s Heard Museum for an introduction to Native American cultures, or spend some quality time in Northeast Arizona at Monument Valley or Canyon de Chelly, two geological marvels.

Choosing a Place to Stay

This is the Old West, after all, and there’s a great deal of “roughing it” that you could experience by staying at campsites, dude ranches, or motels near the Grand Canyon or Northeast Arizona. Don’t expect to always have great mobile phone reception or cable TV.

The cities of Arizona, however, have some of the most heralded resorts in the world. In Phoenix check out the Arizona Grand Resort, which has an extensive water park. Posh resorts like the JW Marriott Desert Ridge and the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa have special kids-only programs that include evening “dive-in” movies and daytime sports and recreation instruction.

Outdoor Activities

With its majestic landscapes and sites that are right out of a Hollywood script, you’re going to be spending a lot of your time in Arizona outside. Be sure to take advantage of the national parks’ Junior Ranger Programs. Of course, there’s nothing quite as up close and personal as a hike down the Grand Canyon, an adventurous rafting trip down the Colorado River, or a walk back in time through Kartchner Caverns State Park. Let your kids make the most of their digital cameras while they document the journey. If you prefer something slightly less adventurous, be sure to check out Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, and cool off at Slide Rock State Park. On one of your nights away from the city, take advantage of your location and search for constellations as you stargaze.

Indoor Activities

On hot summer days, choose indoor activities for the afternoon, when the sun is at its most intense, and your kids are likely to be their most impatient. This might be a good time to head to Downtown Phoenix and check out the Children's Museum of Phoenix, the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Arizona Science Center, all of which are steps away from the city’s light-rail system. If you’re in the cooler country, take advantage of nighttime programs and events at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, where you can watch the stars in relative comfort.

Road Trip Tips

Chances are, you’ll explore most of Arizona by car. There are kid-friendly stops along the way from Phoenix to Sedona or the Grand Canyon, including Meteor Crater and Montezuma Castle, that can help break up your hours in the car. Children and adults alike can be quite stunned by how quickly Arizona’s landscape changes. Your child could start the day in the desert, and wake up from a nap driving through a ponderosa-pine winter wonderland in Eastern Arizona.

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