Arizona Office of Tourism

Bring The Whole Family Out To Play.

Lake Powell

Slip and slide at waterparks, see the majestic cliffs of the Grand Canyon or trek the pine-filled forests of Flagstaff.

This summer, you’ll find no shortage of family-friendly excitement in Arizona.

Family Fun
Central Arizona

SOUTHERN ARIZONA

Otherworldly adventures in Southern Arizona

A road trip to Southern Arizona guarantees fun, and shhhh, a little bit of learning, too. You can take the interstate or enjoy the road less traveled and head south to Oracle via SR 79 to the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2. This engineering feat was designed and built to replicate a self-sustaining space colonization structure with earth’s (aka Biosphere 1) biomes. Between 1991 and 1994 two missions of scientists were “sealed in” for extended periods of time. Find out what happened and what the structure is used for today. If you’re heading to Tucson, you have to take the kids to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Considered one of the top ten zoos of its kind, the Desert Museum features native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds and the Warden Aquarium. Enjoy live animal shows, and during the summer, the kiddos can go creepy-crawly hunting with black-light flashlights when the sun goes down. About an hour south of the Tucson, spend an evening viewing and learning about the star-studded night skies from Kitt Peak National Observatory, home to the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes. Go from scanning the vast expanse of the universe to touring the wondrous underground world at Kartchner Caverns State Park in Benson. Guided tours introduce visitors to the delicate ecosystem of a living limestone cave that is at a constant 47° F year round. Also underground, don a hard hat, headlamp and slicker and descend 1,500 feet underground into the Queen Mine tour, in Bisbee, and experience what it was like to be a copper miner. Back on the surface of the earth, “Find Your Park” and the otherworldly “hoodoos” of Chiricahua National Monument in Willcox. Hike more than 17-miles of trails in this “Wonderland of Rocks,” and visit Faraway Ranch, the home of the Erickson Family —the region’s earliest European settlers.

Southeast Arizona

NORTHERN ARIZONA

Trains and Bears and Deer, Oh My!

Get your kicks along historic Route 66 with a visit to Williams, a picturesque mountain town with the personality of an authentic Western village. It’s the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” and sits at the end of the century-old Grand Canyon Railway line, which makes daily trips to the park’s South Rim. Take an unforgettable ride on one of its lovingly restored cars and be entertained by authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life. Before you depart, be sure to take the kids to Bearizona, a drive-through wildlife park with giant bison, nimble big horn sheep, stealthy wolves and adorable bear cubs. After you’ve viewed animals from the car, park the car and take a stroll through Fort Bearizona where you can get an up-close look at baby and smaller animals (including bear cubs). Pet the animals in the Bearizona Barnyard, talk to animal keepers, watch the shows including High Country Raptors and take a Wild Ride Bus Tour through the park with a knowledgeable staff member, but beware, the bus has no windows and your tour guide will likely be “punny.” If you like to get up and close with animals, check out the Grand Canyon Deer Farm where you and the kids can feed and pet deer, goats, camels and more.

Summer Family Fun in Williams Check out more ways to play in the pines.

Northern Arizona

Northern Arizona

All Aboard for Williams and the Grand Canyon.

Get your kicks along historic Route 66 with a visit to Williams, a picturesque mountain town with the personality of an authentic Western village. It’s the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” and sits at the end of the century-old Grand Canyon Railway line, which makes daily trips to the park’s South Rim. Take an unforgettable ride on one of its lovingly restored cars and be entertained by authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life. Before you depart, be sure to take the kids to Bearizona, a drive-through wildlife park with giant bison, nimble big horn sheep, stealthy wolves and adorable bear cubs.

Northern Arizona

Northern Arizona

Go to Extremes in Flagstaff

Kids of all ages will love Flagstaff Extreme’s thrilling tree top adventure course. Perched high in tall Ponderosa Pines and securely anchored between the trees, you can get a bird’s eye view from suspended bridges, swings, slides, nets, zip lines and an aerial surfboard. Afterward, take the family up the Arizona Snowbowl’s Summer Scenic Skyride for great views. The three-passenger lift shuttles you up Arizona’s highest peaks at 11,500 feet in elevation. From this elevation, you can enjoy views of the red rocks in Sedona, the cinder cone volcanic field, and the walls of the Grand Canyon. After frolicking in the trees and viewing the expanse of Northern Arizona, settle down in a back-country yurt at the Flagstaff Nordic Center. It’s like camping but better — beds, wood-burning stove, restrooms and a roof over your head. When you’re not sleeping, take advantage of on-site mountain bike rentals, lessons, guided bike tours and a plethora of well-marked trails. Since you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to visit Flagstaff’s three national monuments – Wupatki, Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon National Monuments. In addition to being relatively close to one another, these monuments also have another thing in common — they started with a “big bang” — the eruption of the Sunset Crater volcano in the 11th century. Initially a cause for alarm by fleeing locals, the volcano actually improved the soil, and as a result, the settlements of Wupatki and Walnut Canyon were established and flourished for about 100 years. Wupatki boasts seven pueblos, a community meeting room and a ball court, and Walnut Canyon features 25 cliff dwellers’ rooms.

Want more family-friendly idea starters In Flagstaff and beyond? Explore additional summer family thrills here.

Northeastern Arizona

EASTERN ARIZONA

Enjoy Peak Season Year-Round in the White Mountains.

The whole family will breathe a sigh of relief when they feel the cool, crisp air of the White Mountains in Eastern Arizona. With an elevation of 8,500 feet, the area boasts pine-scented forests, mountain views and sparkling alpine lakes. It’s the perfect location for hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, horseback riding and swimming. While you’re in the area, learn about the wildlife and ecology of the White Mountains at the White Mountain Nature Center in Pinetop. Take a nature walk with an expert who will point out what you’re not seeing and learn about wildlife rehabilitation. The White Mountains are also home to Sunrise Park Resort, a year-round recreational paradise. Busy during the ski season, the park doesn’t slow down in the summer. There are a ton of things to do and see — soar like an eagle on the scenic lift rides, fly above the trees on Arizona’s longest zip tour, ride the chair lift to the top of the mountain and bike to the bottom, tube down a 300 foot slide, free fall 30 feet into a giant air bag, play disc golf, attend culinary workshops, horseback ride, learn how to fish or perfect your technique at fly fishing clinics and test your archery skills at a 3D archery course that combines extreme yardage with extreme terrain (don’t worry, you can take the lift to the top). Once you’ve rested from a hard day of play, take a drive on the less-traveled Coronado Trail Scenic Byway, US 191, to Alpine where you’ll swear you’re in Canada. Known as the “Alps of Arizona,” Alpine is ideal for trout fishing, camping, mountain biking and hiking. If you don’t want to pitch a tent, stay at the historic Hannagan Meadow Lodge serving guests since 1926. The lodge prides itself on providing the three “Ss” to its guests: Sights, sounds and “wonderful” smells.

Western Arizona

NORTH CENTRAL ARIZONA

Copper, Canyons and Cowboys.

About 1.5 hours north of Phoenix sits the beautiful Verde Valley, home to a vintage train, a castle, exotic animals, Old West adventures, the World’s Oldest Rodeo and more.

Just north of Camp Verde, off the I-17, you’ll see signs for Montezuma Castle National Monument. Unfortunately despite what early European settlers thought, the Aztec emperor Montezuma never lived here. Instead the Singua Indians called this five-story, 20-room cliff dwelling home 600 years ago. To help quell your disappointment about the missing Montezuma, stop in and see the exotic animals of Out of Africa Wildlife Park. Ride, safari-style, through African animal habitats, watch tigers splash, feed big cats, watch caretakers play with bears and hyenas and let family members loose with giant snakes. When everyone is finished playing with anacondas, make your way to the former copper town of Clarkdale and the Verde Canyon Railroad train depot. This railroad originally carried copper and freight from the mine, but now it takes people on a four-hour train ride through the beauty and history of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness area. While you’re in Clarkdale, take the kids to the Arizona Copper Art Museum. Housed in the old Clarkdale High School, the museum features all things copper from art to artifacts. And good news, the kids are encouraged to touch the displays. When you’re finished touring Clarkdale, mosey on over to Cottonwood for some grub at the Blazin’ M Ranch, which offers a cowboy supper and entertainment. If you want to see real cowboys in action, be sure to whoop it up at Prescott’s Frontier Days when Prescott host’s the “World’s Oldest Rodeo” (June 28 – July 4, 2016). If the kids want to giddyup, spend some time at Kohl’s Ranch in Payson. Located at the base of the Mongollon Rim and along Tonto Creek, the lodge provides tons of things for the family to do including horseback riding with a wrangler.

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