Family-Friendly Phoenix Is Even Fun for Teens
Phoenix may be known for its golf courses and sunshine, but many travelers forget that major league sports, outdoor adventure, and top-notch cuisine commonly steal the spotlight in Greater Phoenix, making it the perfect destination for a family vacation.
Who better to share these bonding experiences and create long-lasting memories with than family? Phoenix can even be fun for teenagers! Tweens and teens can enjoy outdoor activities, hands-on museums, and animal attractions while parents indulge at luxurious resorts and spas, an assortment of restaurants, shopping in a Sonoran Desert playground, and the rare opportunity to see a smile on their teenager’s face.
Phoenix boasts more than 40 amazing resorts ready to accommodate every want and need. So if you want to play golf or need some spa time, don’t worry, Phoenix has it covered. Sometimes, however, it’s not as easy to please teenagers. Thankfully it is easy to get tweens excited about the new Kierland FlowRider at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, where they can experience boarding on a wave simulator. Almost all Phoenix resorts are equipped with pools, but the Westin Kierland also boasts a 110-foot water slide and the option to float around the lazy river in its Adventure Water Park. Other resorts also have unique ways to keep teens happy with outdoor games, such as lawn chess and checkers at the Arizona Biltmore.
The Westin Kierland brings the FlowRider experience to Phoenix. It’s all about the look of surfing, the ride of snowboarding, the tricks of skateboarding, and the boards of wakeboarding, all of which bring a fun, exciting, non-stop “wave-riding” experience. Kierland FlowRider is open year-round to guests of the Westin as weather permits, and the water is heated when necessary during the winter months. Flowboarding is offered with the purchase of a one-hour session for unlimited rides, and pricing starts at $20 per session.
The Westin Kierland also offers a Digital Kids Club program developed specifically for tweens. The Digital Kids Club, part of the resort’s FUN program, features individual sessions throughout the year as well as the following unique, five-day, digitally based camps during the summer: Stop Motion Movie Making, Produce Your Own Morning Show, and Media Madness. Budding movie directors capture footage and experiment with special effects, video game enthusiasts learn about design and creation, aspiring news anchors experience the world of reporting, and future graphic artists learn about animation and comic book design. A compilation of attendees’ Digital Kids Club experiences will be provided on DVD as a unique souvenir and memory of their family vacation in Phoenix.
Since 1929, Arizona Biltmore has been a destination of inspiration. With 39 acres of gardens, swimming pools, and iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture that stirs the city to life, the Arizona Biltmore provides a safe haven to celebrities and presidents while inspiring guests’ whims and wishes throughout this “Jewel of the Desert” resort. Championship golf, a more than 22,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, multiple restaurants, and a variety of amenities await. Experience the unrivaled grace of this timeless treasure with a spirited soul. Some fun activities for teens offered at the Arizona Biltmore include croquet, lawn chess and checkers, bike rentals, tennis, fitness classes, and hiking at nearby mountains. Cool off by swimming at one of eight pools, including the Paradise Pool, which features a 92-foot-long water slide. Summer guests can enjoy “Splash Cinema” dive-in movies shown on a screen suspended between palm trees and watched from inner-tubes in the pool.
Another tween-friendly property is the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which offers The Scene for teens. Teens can be “in the know” and hang-out at this cool hot spot at the East Pool. Special activities are planned just for teens Thursdays through Saturdays and include trying their hand at trick roping and playing volleyball, capture the flag, and other sports. The Scene is designed for young adults ages 13 to 17 and offers a social outlet to teens staying at the hotel to meet one another and participate in fun activities. The schedule is as follows:
- Thursday: roping, 10-11 a.m.
- Friday: water volleyball, 10-11 a.m.
- Friday: marshmallow roast, 8-9 p.m.
- Saturday: volleyball, 10-11 a.m.
Phoenix proves that museums are nothing like sitting through a boring history lesson, as teens might think. Each museum has a variety of different learning techniques, such as using photography, videos, music, storytelling, and even hands-on experiences. You won’t always hear the phrase “Look, but don’t touch!”
A must-do is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), the first global museum of its kind featuring a wireless headset as a personal tour guide. Displaying instruments from countries around the world, the museum will please ears and eyes with instruments never seen, including classic and famous instruments such as the piano that John Lennon used to compose the song “Imagine.” The newest addition to the MIM’s Artist Gallery is sure to grab teens’ attentions: an exhibit honoring international multiplatinum superstar Taylor Swift. Her collection is one of the largest for a single artist at the MIM, starting off with her early career of learning to play guitar and write songs to releasing her first single, “Tim McGraw.” The second section features Swift’s meteoric rise to superstardom, shown through instruments, stage wear, and set pieces from the Speak Now World Tour. Items on exhibit from this tour include her sparkly red Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, which she played while outfitted in her gold Roberto Cavalli dress for tour performances of “Mine.” Also on display will be a Deering banjo and a Leilani ukulele used on the tour, which demonstrate Swift’s talents as a multi-instrumentalist. Because this museum strives to be musically diverse, it was delighted to add Taylor Swift to its collection. Check out the latest news about the Taylor Swift exhibit at The Hot Sheet Blog reviewd by Visit Phoenix.
Arizona Science Center answers all those impossible questions kids, or even teens, love to ask. Exhibits are interactive, giving visitors the chance to participate in creating what they’re seeing (such as pedaling bicycles to demonstrate kinetic energy). Got kids who think “gross” equals entertaining? They’ll love watching how sneezes spread germs from the nose to the world beyond or the 3D display about the digestive process. It’s all designed to be educational, fun, and just yucky enough to appeal to the younger set. And since kids are encouraged to touch the exhibits, parents get a break from policing and can relax and enjoy the fun, too.
Learn about Arizona’s first residents at the internationally acclaimed Heard Museum. It is known as one of the best places to experience the myriad cultures and art of Native Americans of the Southwest. Explore artwork, video presentations, and the extraordinary exhibition “Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience.”
If art sparks your interest, then the Phoenix Art Museum will be sure to astonish with its impressive collection of more than 17,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, and modern and contemporary art and fashion design as well as exceptional architecture. Get caught up in the mystery of the Firefly Room and cuddle with a favorite snuggle buddy while standing in the dark room and admiring the lights of the “fireflies.”
The Hall of Flame fire museum and the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes has almost an acre of fire history exhibits, with more than 90 fully restored pieces of fire apparatus on display, dating from 1725 to 1969. Most of the exhibits are American, but there are also pieces from England, France, Austria, Germany, and Japan. The Hall of Flame sponsors the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, which honors firefighters who have died in the line of duty or who have been decorated for heroism. The hall also includes a gallery dedicated to the history of wildland firefighting in the United States. There is also an antique fire truck or two on display. How cool is that?
Phoenix’s weather reaches the perfect temperature for relaxation just as the majority of other states are stuck in winter hibernation. Don’t stay inside when you can come to Phoenix and play outdoors! Bring teens to experience their first horseback ride in the mountains at sunset; a day they will surely remember. Families can also explore the dessert in a hot air balloon or go on a four-wheeling adventure with an experienced, local guide such as Walker Remington of Arizona Territorial Adventures. If sports are your thing, check out a Cactus League Spring Training baseball game (15 teams are located in the Valley of the Sun), a NASCAR race, the BCS Bowl, the Waste Management Open, or the Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction. To keep the animal lovers in the family happy, plan a visit to the aquarium or one of the many zoos located in Phoenix.
Nestled in the foothills of South Mountain Park, the largest city park in the world, Ponderosa Livery Stables offers more than 50 miles of trails criss-crossing through 18,000 acres of pristine Sonoran Desert. There is more adventure here than one can imagine, exploring the vast majestic beauty under the watchful eyes of guides and riding first-rate horses.
Beautiful warm, sunny days and baseball. The two have gone together for almost a century here in Arizona. Each year people travel from all over the country to Arizona for Cactus League spring training games. Throughout the month of March, spring training baseball games are held every day. The Cactus League is home to 15 MLB teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, and the Texas Rangers. Play ball!
Fort McDowell Adventures, one of the most unique venues in Greater Phoenix, announced the launch of its 2012/2013 season (Labor Day through Memorial Day) with a full calendar of weekly activities for the whole family, including free things to do in Arizona, on its new enhanced website. The website, which was designed and developed by Phoenix-based digital marketing firm Double Dutch & Company, includes dynamic imagery, social media components, and an integrated calendar system supported by e-commerce that enables visitors to plan and purchase weekly activities and entertainment in advance, similar to what most major theme parks and amusement parks offer today.
Explore the trails and tales of the old west with Apache Trail Tours. Learn about the history, legends, Native lore and culture, desert resources, and the flora and fauna. The tour company offers rugged off-road 4X4 tours, on-road scenic journeys, and gold-panning. Combine types of tours or add a steak dinner at sunset for a unique experience.
View the beauty of the desert from land and sky with a hot air balloon ride with 360 Adventures. With a bird’s-eye view one can see almost 100 miles on a clear day. If a hot air balloon is not your style, why not hop in a helicopter for a better view.
Because it is a very expensive and long journey to Africa, Out of Africa brings it to us. See a wide variety of exotic animals from all over the world such as lions, tigers, black bears, hyenas, zebras, and leopards. No more waiting to experience an outdoor safari; it’s right here in Arizona.
Want to see lions, tigers and bears? (Oh my!) The Phoenix Zoo, one of the nation’s top 5 zoos for kids, is home to more than 1,000 wild animals. Special events bring tons of people to the zoo, with activities ranging from breakfast with the turtles to animal shows staged in the small amphitheater, showing acts such as an environmentally conscious bird that’s been trained to pick up trash. Family-friendly activities also include pedal-boat outings on the lake. During the summer, take advantage of extended hours designed to help avoid the midday heat; popular draws include the the Friday night Starry Safari events. The zoo plans events all year long, including “Zoolights” in the winter, “Rock the Zoo” and Earth Day in the spring, the “4th of Zoo-ly” and “Winter in July” in the summer, and “Boo! At the Zoo” and “Howl-O-Ween” in the fall.
Have a teen that dreams of becoming a race car driver? Octane Raceway is a Phoenix entertainment landmark and the Valley’s definitive “must do” adventure where one can enjoy the largest indoor kart racing venue in the US on two quarter-mile indoor tracks. Serving people in the Greater Phoenix area with high performance 45-plus miles per hour kart racing for more than eight years, Octane Raceway is the clear choice for competitive indoor kart racing action and anyone looking for something fun to do with an adrenaline rush.
SeaLife Aquarium Arizona transports visitors into the amazing ocean world, providing close encounters with a vast array of creatures including seahorses, sharks, rays, and tropical fish. To get any closer, one would have to get wet. This attraction is perfect for animal lovers of any age.
Click here for more information and to plan a family getaway.