Phoenix Local Highlights

Published on April 05, 2022 - Updated on April 20, 2022

Phoenix may be known for its hot sunny weather, cacti and desert landscape, but there is so much more to explore in this family-friendly city and surrounding areas. From zoos to parks and tons of dining options, Phoenix offers something for everyone. Here is a list of our favorite local highlights!

Phoenix City Highlights and Local Favorites

The Children's Museum of Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix, 215 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034

Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum is located in downtown Phoenix and is definitely worth checking out with your children. There are three floors of exploration for the kids to play, use their imagination, and get creative. The stations and activities are designed to get kids thinking and exploring. They can play pretend in the grocery store, race cars down a track, or get lost in a noodle forest. There is even a room specially reserved for babies and toddlers. The museum can literally keep you and the kids busy for the entire day. The building is an old historic school building and there is free on-site parking available. 

Nearby attractions:

+ The Yard Milkshake Bar is great for one-of-a-kind milkshakes and ice cream sundaes.

+ The Old Spaghetti Factory is an easy family-friendly restaurant with a menu to make kids and adults happy.

+ Other downtown attractions include DiamondBacks Baseball Games, Arizona Science Center, and Phoenix Art Museum.

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

7301 E. Indian Bend Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park

The Railroad Park is one of the best attractions for families in the valley. There is so much to do with train rides, a carousel, the railroad museum, multiple playgrounds for all ages, and tons of places to explore. Seasonal opportunities like concerts in the summer and holiday lights in the winter are also available. Restrooms and plenty of ramadas are located on-site.

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Wildflower Bread Company is right across the street from the Train Park. You can stop in on your way to the park and pick up breakfast or sandwiches before heading to the park. A picnic and the park sounds like a great day to us! 

+ Scramble is a fast-casual breakfast place that also has a lunch menu.

+ Sweet Provisions is a cute ice cream and dessert cafe only a few miles from the Train Park. What a great way to end a fun day at the park than with an ice cream sundae-- or maybe it's the only way you can “bribe” your children to leave the Train Park!

Desert Ridge Marketplace

21001 N. Tatum Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85050

Desert Ridge Marketplace

Desert Ridge Marketplace is conveniently located in North Phoenix right off the 101 freeway. You’ll find shopping, entertainment, and dining galore. There’s even a newly renovated splash pad for the kiddos to enjoy!

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Copper Blues Live is a restaurant on one side as well as a venue used for standup comedy shows and live concerts. 

+ As You Wish Pottery Painting offers many opportunities to get your creative juices flowing. No matter how old you are, there are many projects for you to choose from.

+ ComicX is a fun family restaurant where all superheroes unite. The restaurant boasts life-sized statues of comic book characters and an amazing menu that caters to all ages. 

Phoenix Zoo

455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo offers over 125 acres of trails to explore and learn all about hundreds of animals. Every day the zoo offers a variety of animal encounters like giraffe rides, the petting zoo, and a monkey village. The zoo is great for young children with multiple playgrounds, a carousel ride, and tons of activities.

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Papago Park is a wilderness preserve that is both a local favorite and tourist landmark, known for its striking “Hole in the Rock” formation. Hikers of all ages can trek up this sandstone butte, at approximately a 200-foot elevation, where panoramic skyline views await them upon reaching the summit. You can also hike around lakes and up to the pyramid to see views inside the zoo grounds. There are several gazebos and picnic areas to enjoy when the weather is cooler. 

+ Visit Unbaked for edible cookie dough, milkshakes, and ice cream.

+ Desert Botanical Gardens offers a true education on all the amazing cactus and desert plants found here in Arizona. 

+ Lou’s Bar and Grill offers a great outside area and is open all day for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. They have a huge menu that is sure to please everyone in your party. 

Cactus League Spring Training Games

Cactus League Spring Training Games

Cactus League Spring Training Games are one of the most loved activities in Phoenix. There is nothing better than getting lawn seats to a spring training game, enjoying the beautiful weather, good food, and letting the kids just run around while you watch the game. If you go make sure you bring a blanket, a hat and plenty of sunscreen. The Cactus League plays at 10 different stadiums all across the Valley. Each stadium offers different food options. The website has an easy schedule to pick which teams and locations you would like to visit.

Westgate Dining and Entertainment District

Westgate, Glendale, AZ 85305

Westgate Dining and Entertainment

Westgate Dining and Entertainment District offers a little something for everyone. Located in the west valley, you’ll be within walking distance of dining, entertainment, shopping, and professional sports.

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Tanger Outlets offers shopping such as Lululemon, H&M and Saks off 5th.

+ Gila River Arena hosts a variety of concerts and State Farm Stadium hosts family shows and entertainment as well as being the home of the Arizona Cardinals. 

+ Opa Life Greek Cafe is an authentic Greek restaurant that has some of the best hummus you’ll ever eat. 

Arizona Boardwalk and Talking Stick

9500 E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale, AZ 85256

Arizona Boardwalk Sea Life Aquarium

Arizona Boardwalk and Talking Stick is one of the most popular family-friendly areas in town. This area has so many new places opening, there is always something new to discover. It is non-stop fun. Some of the attractions at Arizona Boardwalk include Sea Life Aquarium, Butterfly Wonderland, Odysea Mirror Maze, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and more including restaurants and gift shops all located in this one center. 

Family-friendly restaurants:

+ Frozen Penguin Ice Cream Shop, Johnny Rockets, and Pangaea Dinosaur Grill

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Top Golf, which is always a great time for all ages.

+ Octane Raceway, Maverick Bowling, KTR Indoor Trampoline Park, and iFly Indoor Skydiving are all right down the street.

Other nearby family-friendly restaurants:
+ Red Robin, Angry Crab Shack, Babbo Italian Eatery, Buffalo Wild Wings and tons more.

Wildlife World Zoo

16501 W Northern Ave, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340

Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium

Wildlife World Zoo has Arizona’s largest collection of exotic and endangered animals. They also offer a petting zoo, rides, and daily shows. Visitors can enjoy the Safari Park, Aquarium, or Dragonworld. 

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Dillon’s BBQ at Wildlife World Zoo is a fun restaurant with a huge fish tank that the kids will enjoy while the whole family indulges in some amazing Kansas City BBQ. 

+ Luke Air Force Base is located near the zoo and they have air shows throughout the year such as Luke Days. The USAF Thunderbirds perform some amazing aerial acts throughout the 2-day event.

Legoland Discovery Center

5000 Arizona Mills Circle, STE 135, Tempe, Arizona 85282

Legoland Discovert Center

Legoland Discovery Center, located in Tempe is a two-story indoor LEGO playground. The kiddos will enjoy millions of LEGO bricks, adventure rides, and the 4D theater. 

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Sea Life Aquarium is located right next door to Legoland Discovery Center and you can even purchase combo tickets for both attractions. The 360-degree ocean tunnel is always a big hit with everyone!

+ Arizona Mills Mall houses both of these awesome attractions as well as some great outlet stores. Some of the most popular stores include American Eagle, Crocs, and Hurley. After doing some retail therapy, head over to Rainforest Cafe for a bite to eat. 

Pioneer Living History Museum

3901 W. Pioneer Road, Phoenix, AZ 85086

Pioneer Living History Museum

Pioneer Living History Museum is a 90-acre open-air museum in North Phoenix. You’ll find 20 historic buildings that represent the early 19th century and the Pioneer Village. The buildings include a church, a blacksmith shop, and original homes.

Nearby family-friendly attractions:

+ Outlets at Anthem located minutes from the museum have some great outlet stores and a food court. You’ll get great deals at Gap, Bath and Body Works, and Nike.

+ Rock Springs Cafe is a legend in Black Canyon City. It’s only about a 15-minute drive from the museum and you can enjoy their amazing food. Save room for the world-famous pie!

+ Amped Coffee is a great place to sit on the patio and enjoy a latte or even a glass of wine. Most nights they offer entertainment such as live bands or trivia. 

Have you been to Phoenix? Does your family live in this warm sunny city? Let us know what your favorite local spots are in the comments below! Or tag us in your photos on Instagram @gethappyly for a chance to be featured!

Interested in other amazing cities around the U.S.? We've got a whole bunch of local-recommended spots in major (and not major!) cities across the country. Check out our blog for great advice on cities like Chicago, Denver, Maui, Chattanooga, and more! Or, if you are interested in getting information about taking the family to the national parks, we've got some great tips on Saguaro National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Haleakala National Park, and Mt. Rainier National Park!

For even more local activities and attractions at your fingertips, be sure to download the happyly app, the country's only mobile-first family activity planning app, for fast access to all of our frequent blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.

Thoughtfully captured by:
Angela Barako
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