We tried out a bunch of family activities on our 2021 RV trip to Arizona. When we explore a new area, we usually alternate paid activities with lots of free family hikes, outdoor adventures and scenic drives. Here are the highlights of our favorite destinations and things to do with kids near Phoenix, Arizona.
In January 2021, we took our kids on a 3-month RV trip down to Arizona. We stayed at more than 15 different campgrounds and boondocking spots. We explored Arizona state parks, went to a few museums and visited several kids play centers.
It’s always a great idea to do activities that allow our kids to burn some energy by running and climbing. We love going to local playgrounds and city parks, and we found no shortage of kids activities near Phoenix, Arizona.
Video! Phoenix, Arizona Family Adventures
1. Uptown Jungle Fun Park
One afternoon we took our kids to Uptown Jungle Fun Park in Mesa, Arizona. This indoor kids play area has a large climbing structure, multiple climbing walls, tunnels, slides, ball pits and trampolines. We purchased discounted tickets on Groupon and our kids played for 2 hours. Uptown Jungle Fun Park also has a great parents lounge area. Of course, parents can always buy a ticket to climb and bounce along with their children.
Our kids Kiera (8), Sylvie (6) and Joshua (5) especially enjoyed scaling the climbing walls at Uptown Jungle. They were clipped into a safety harness by a staff member, after which they were free to climb as much as they wanted.
2. Pioneer Park in Mesa, Arizona
Our kids also loved going to Pioneer Park in Mesa, Arizona. This awesome playground has a tall twisty slide, elevated boardwalks, a suspension bridge, several climbing structures, slides, swings and more. Andy and I even followed the kids up the climbing structure to the top of the twisty slide and slid down. Our kids love it when we join them in exploring the playground.
Pioneer Park also has a cool old train engine that kids can see up close. We played for awhile at the playground and our kids went down the twisty slide multiple times. One of my favorite things about Arizona playgrounds is that most of them have large awnings suspended over them which provide great shade. It was around 80 degrees during much of our January visit. We heard from locals that the temperature in summer averages around 105 and can even get up to 110 degrees!
3. Hole in the Rock Hike
Another day our family tried out the Hole in the Rock hike. The trail to this natural rock formation is very popular. We passed a lot of people coming and going on the trail. Additionally, we found a lot of people at the top rock formation. The view at the top of Hole in the Rock overlooks Phoenix and you can see for miles. We watched the airplanes landing and taking off at the Phoenix Airport.
The hike to Hole in the Rock natural rock formation in Phoenix, Arizona is a great experience for families with kids of all ages!
4. Arizona Museum of Natural History
Next on our list, our family really enjoyed stopping by the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa, AZ. This museum is packed full of exhibits about Arizona’s cultural history and the greater southwest area. We learned about the early dwellers of Arizona and historical finds in the area. Our kids especially loved the dinosaur exhibits.
At the museum, our kids had a chance to pan for gold at an interactive mining exhibit. Also, we explored the jail cells built into the museum, which used to be part of an old Mesa, Arizona territorial jail.
The Arizona Museum of Natural History had a lot of replicated dinosaur skeletons and displays with facts about dinosaurs. One display included a number of animatronic dinosaurs, including a stegosaurus, T-rex and a raptor. This dinosaur exhibit also included a replicated “flash flood” demonstration with running water.
The dinosaur exhibits were especially cool because we had recently watched a “How it’s Made” video about making animatronic dinosaurs. We also watched the first Jurassic Park movie during a family movie night in the RV. Seeing dinosaur skeletons up close is amazing to consider the scale of each dinosaur’s size! Overall, the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa, AZ is a great place to take kids for an educational visit.
5. Explore Downtown Mesa, Arizona
Downtown Mesa, Arizona is another fun place to explore with kids. We went window shopping, stopped by a bookstore and enjoyed a low-key family afternoon. I think it’s fun to explore the local downtown shopping when we visit a new area. Often we get coffee and find a playground for our kids to explore.
One of our favorite experiences was RV camping at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Arizona!
6. Siphon Draw Trail at Lost Dutchman State Park
After visiting the museum and exploring downtown Mesa, we headed back to our RV campsite at Lost Dutchman State Park. This campground is 40 miles east of Phoenix in Apache Junction. It was a great place for us to stay and still enjoy easy access to the city. Lost Dutchman State Park has spacious campsites and plenty of easy trails for walks and hikes. One afternoon we took our kids up Siphon Draw Trail in the Superstition Mountains. The trail head was a short walk from our camp site, and the views were amazing!
Our kids had no problem doing this 4-mile round trip trail. We saw a lot of cacti and desert plants along the way. We didn’t see any animals on Siphon Draw Trail. Although we were wary of finding a rattlesnake, we were relieved to hear they aren’t very active in January.
The views along this trail speak for themselves! Siphon Draw Trail is a great hike for families with kids of all ages, even young families!
7. Superstition Mountain Museum
One day after doing homeschool in the morning, we visited the Superstition Mountain Museum. Exploring this museum was a great way to learn about some of the mining history of the area. We also learned about the efforts to find the allegedly gold-rich Lost Dutchman mine. One exhibit displayed some of the hand-drawn maps to the gold mine, which various prospectors made over time.
A lot of lore and mystery surround the Lost Dutchman gold mine. Stories claim two prospectors mined a large cache of gold from an undisclosed location in the Superstition Mountains. The two prospectors also allegedly hid their gold in the same mountains. After the deaths of both miners, no one has been able to locate the gold mine or a hidden gold cache.
In addition to historic legends and mining exhibits, the Superstition Mountain Museum also has an awesome electric train display. My kids really enjoyed watching the trains rumble down the track and seeing all the details of this intricate western town train display. We could almost imagine how it felt to live in a western town during the booming days of the gold rush!
8. Rush Fun Park
During our stay near Phoenix, Arizona, we experienced a few cold-weather days. On such an afternoon, we headed over to Rush Fun Park for a few hours of indoor play. This indoor kids play center has a huge jungle gym, ball pits, obstacle courses, climbing walls and plenty of space for kids to get some exercise. This play center was a blast for our kids and we even saved some money. We purchased discounted tickets for our 3 kids on Groupon.
The colorful climbing walls at Rush Fun Park near Phoenix, AZ are a great challenge for kids to grow in confidence while climbing. The climbing walls were definitely my kids’ favorite part of this indoor play center. My daughter really enjoyed walking up the tall pillars, while wearing a safety harness. No wall is too high for kids to scale at Rush Fun Park!
9. Go Out for Ice Cream
Of course, we had to occasionally stop for ice cream during our family adventures in Phoenix, Arizona. Ice cream is universal treat and you can always choose from classic flavors, or try something new! Prickly pear ice cream was one of the most unique ice cream flavors we came across at a convenience store in Tortilla Flat.
10. Visit the Tanger Outlet Mall in Phoenix, Arizona
Finally, we visited the Tanger Outlet Mall to stock up on some basics for our family RV trip. Our kids picked out some new t-shirts and we bought some hand soap and body wash at Bath & Body Works. I enjoy shopping at an outlet mall to find great deals on things our family needs. We often look for clothing, shoes, sunglasses and everyday essentials. This pretty butterfly mural on the wall at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Arizona is a fun spot to stop and take a photo!
During our family adventures, we love going on hikes, exploring nearby towns and doing a little bit of shopping. After our kids complete their homeschool work in the mornings, and we often explore for a few hours in the afternoons. We feel very blessed to be able to travel in our RV while living regular life, homeschooling and working virtually on the go.